Like many gluten-free recipe creators, Chef Olivia Dupin began eating gluten-free out of necessity. After ten years of symptoms that went undiagnosed, including the years she spent training as a chef at the Culinary Institute of America, she found out she had celiac disease.

By the time she received the diagnosis, Dupin was a private chef working for a family in New York City. She started to create recipes for meals that were naturally gluten-free, meaning the foods didn’t need any substitutions for ingredients that would normally contain gluten. At the same time she was creating delicious, nutritious gluten-free recipes, she was educating herself about her disease and how to successfully live with it day-to-day.

She took the recipes she created and the information she learned about eating gluten-free and turned them into The Complete Guide to Naturally Gluten-Free Foods, a book that’s one-third really useful information about celiac disease, gluten-intolerance, and tips on living with dietary restrictions and two-thirds cookbook.

The depth of information and advice in the first part of the book is impressive. It will be invaluable to anyone who has just been diagnosed (or has a family member who has been diagnosed) or for anyone who thinks he may be having problems with gluten in his diet. It has easy-to-understand information about symptoms and a diagnosis. Topics such as cheating on a gluten-free diet, how to handle gluten-free school lunches, eating a balanced diet, ordering in a restaurant and reading a food label are all included. There’s even a page that Dupin encourages readers to photocopy that contains a card to hand to servers and chefs in restaurants so they understand what you can and cannot safely eat.

The 100 recipes in the book are for everyday meals – everything from breakfast to desserts that use regular, but gluten-free, ingredients. As Dupin says in the introduction, “Because all of the recipes in this book use only naturally gluten-free ingredients that you are already familiar with and can find in your regular grocery store – forget those tiny $12 bags of flour, elaborate substitutions, and mediocre results – you’ll quickly discover that that this is the most practical approach to a gluten-free diet around.”

Mediocre results are unacceptable to the chef. She says that when it comes to creating recipes, she’s “not stopping till the foods I create are the same or better” than their gluten-full counterparts. That’s one of the reasons why at first, she created naturally gluten-free recipes. But, when it came time to write a second book, one for gluten-free entertaining, she knew she would need to include pies, cakes and cookies, so she created a gluten-free flour blend.

Gluten-Free Entertaining” was published just before the holidays this past fall, and it contains 100 naturally wheat-free recipes for parties and special occasions. Recipes were tested over and over. The vanilla cupcakes that Dupin tested over five dozen times to perfect are light and fluffy, unlike some of the dense gluten-free packaged cupcakes that are on the market. The chocolate cake “is to die for.”

It’s more than a gluten-free cookbook, though. It’s a guide to entertaining with specific menus for special occasions and holidays that sets home cooks up for success, complete with “countdown to the party timelines.”

“My recipes are really approachable,” says Dupin. “They’re not fussy. I use ingredients you can find in any grocery store and everything tastes amazing.” Her goal with her recipes is to change the way people feel about gluten-free eating.

I think these are gluten-free cookbooks that will be very useful to those following a gluten-free diet. But, even if you don’t need to restrict gluten in your diet, you might want one or both on your cookbook shelf – especially if you do entertaining and you need to accommodate someone who has issues with gluten.

For more information about Olivia Dupin’s gluten-free books and recipes, you can follow her Liv Gluten-Free Facebook page.

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