The Gluten Free Cheat Sheet
by April Peveteaux
Reviewed by Christine A. Krahling
When April Peveteaux’s publicist asked if I would be interested in reviewing her new book, The Gluten Free Cheat Sheet: Go G-Free in 30 Days or Less, I was thrilled. A fan of Peveteax’s since her first book, Gluten is My Bitch was published (2013), I couldn’t wait to see what she had come up with next. Fans of Peveteaux’s blog (http://glutenismybitch.wordpress.com/) as well as her column in Gluten Free and More magazine know what I’m talking about. Peveteaux has walked the walk when it comes to how it feels to be “glutened” (both before and after her celiac disease diagnosis in 2011) and she talks the talk about how to handle it, once again, in her new book. With an upbeat introduction and her trademark sense of humor, Peveteaux does not disappoint.
Upon picking up Cheat Sheet, you may be tempted to skip right to Chapter 5: “How to Rock your First 30 Days,” especially if you are a newly diagnosed celiac; however, I highly recommend reading the book in order. And I say this not just because I am a Class-A bookworm but because I think you’ll miss out on some great information if you skip ahead. If you can’t help yourself, then go ahead and read page 69 for “Five Snacks to Keep on Hand When you Just Can’t Deal,” and then promise me you’ll go back to the beginning.
In Chapter One, “The Problem with Gluten,” Peveteaux discusses the three most common medical reasons to go gluten-free (emulating your favorite gf celebrity is not one of them) as well as the difference between having a gluten sensitivity and a wheat allergy. She also sheds light on whether or not those with celiac disease should be telling restaurant wait staff that they have an allergy rather than an illness.
For those who love a good science lesson, Peveteaux defines gluten and its proteins. She also offers gentle caveats for those wishing to try the gluten-free diet who may not be medically required to do so, and dispels the (many) myths out there about going gluten-free.
Chapter Two, “A Quick Lesson in What Foods to Avoid and What to Eat Instead,” includes the dreaded cupboard-clearing lesson (a sad day for most celiacs) as well as advice on how to cook gluten-free pasta (wish I’d had this back in the ‘90s when my daughter was diagnosed). And then there’s the “Replace This with That List,” a godsend for the newly diagnosed.
In “Can’t Someone Else Just Cook for Me?” (Chapter Three), Peveteaux offers cuisine-by-cuisine advice, including information on cross-contamination, which is helpful for those who want to continue to enjoy dining out, special dietary needs or not. After all, the palate wants what the palate wants.
Kudos to Peveteaux for going where others sometimes fear to tread: a discussion on depression, anxiety and “general crankiness,” (Chapter Five). As a celiac—or for anyone on a special diet, for that matter-- feeling anxious prior to dining out is normal, though others may not understand where you’re coming from. That’s okay, though. With Peveteaux’s help, you’ll educate them. It’s also important to enlist the help of a supportive gluten-free community, (“GFFs” if you will) made up of a combination of friends and family (those who are up to the challenge, not the non-believers; you know who they are) rounded out by bloggers, knowledgeable health food store staff, and a local support group. Having a gluten-free “tribe”--as Peveteaux puts it--is a great help when navigating your way through the maze of a new lifestyle.
The remainder of the book includes cooking methods, panty essentials, a 30-day meal plan and 100 recipes. The recipes include both the foolproof (for quick weeknight concoctions) and the“fancy stuff.” (You know, for when you’re having people over who don’t believe you can eat well while eating gluten-free. See “non-believers,” above). Recipes on my list to try:
· Breakfast Strata
· Easy Chicken Soup with Rice
· Zucchini Pasta and Meatballs
Resources include Support Groups, Conferences, Books and Cookbooks, Chain Restaurants With Gluten-Free Menus, and—my favorite—Best Local Food Blogs (by state).
Lucky for us, Peveteaux realizes that it is a great time to be gluten-free! Enjoy the book, and let me know what you think. Happy reading!
(While I received a complimentary copy of The Gluten Free Cheat Sheet: Go G-Free in 30 Days or Less, all opinions expressed in this review are my own.)