Author: Susan O’Brien

Publisher: Da Capo Press-Lifelong Books – 226  pages

Book Review by:  Laxmi Chaandi

Veganism is the avoidance of animal products such as meat and seafood as well as animal by-products such as honey, milk, butter, cheese and other dairy foods. Gluten is a protein from wheat, barley and rye. Gluten-free foods are those that do not contain this protein.

Gluten-free vegan meals therefore do not contain meat and seafood and the items mentioned above. And what are comfort foods? They’re foods that make you feel good and satisfy your hunger quite well. You’d think that with all these exceptions and qualifications, there would not be much left to eat. But this is because the typical American diet contains mainly meat, seafood, and a lot of items made from barley, rye and wheat. You will be surprised to know that there is an immense variety of foods waiting to be discovered by you.

Susan O’Brien, who previously wrote The Gluten-Free Vegan, offers a large variety of comfort foods you can make to satisfy yourself, family and friends. Besides family classics like Vegetable Potpie and Eggplant Parmesan, she offers new ones like My Favorite Lasagna and Barbara’s Special Marinated Tempeh.

She has organized her book into 10 chapters, offering breakfast ideas, snacks and party items, favorite dishes loved by kids, “All-American” and familiar side dishes, thick, filling soups and substantial salads, and some ethnic favorites.

In Asia and in the Far East, most of the meals eaten are vegetarian, such as raw or cooked vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and legumes. When you discover those foods, I am sure your horizon on foods will broaden tremendously. The author Susan O’Brien has included an entire chapter on ethnic foods in this book.

In chapter 8, you will find the ingredients and recipe to making the Banana and Macadamia Nut Curry, a delicious dish from Hawaii, the land of the luau or feast.

The other dishes are the Curried Vegetable Stew, which I suspect is a dish from India.

You may or may not have eaten a falafel, a very filling dish from the Middle East made with chickpeas (also termed garbanzo beans) served inside a pocket bread or on a platter with a salad and some condiments. The Falafel Patties recipe is something you must try.

Also in this chapter are the Mango Guacamole, most likely from South America, made of  delicious mangoes, avocadoes and tomatoes, seasoned with a tablespoon or two of lime juice, pinches of cinnamon, cumin, ground pepper, and ¼ teaspoon each of coarse Kosher salt and pepper. The Nori Vegetable Rolls, most likely from Japan, are another offering in this chapter, and they light but filling.

The other delectable vegan gluten-free recipes offered in this chapter are: Spinach and Lentil Enchiladas, Succotash, Tempeh Tacos, Traditional Vegetable Lasagna, and the Vegetable Pakoras, which are fritters.

There is also a chapter in this book on your favorite part of a meal: desserts. Beside the staples like Apple Pie, Banana Cream Pie and Key Lime Pie, she offers you recipes for some new things for you to try like Cashew Cheesecake, Heavenly Raw Pumpkin Pie, Lavender-Lemon Shortbread, Coconut Black Rice Pudding and four kinds of dessert made out of chocolate.

The last chapter has recipes for making other things such as an egg-less Avocado Mayo, Cashew Butter or Peanut Butter Frosting, Fresh Berry Compote, Maple-Pumpkin Butter, and Cream Cashew Milk – all mouth-watering items.

Each page of this book of well-chosen gluten-free vegan dishes is organized in a simple two-column format, with the list of ingredients on one side and the preparation instructions on the other. Some full-color photos of healthful but delicious-looking dishes are provided in the center of the book. Susan O’Brien has done a good job. Get this book!