Food Saved Me, a book review

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I’ve enjoyed Danielle Walker’s cookbooks and followed her journey on Instagram for years, so it was a treat to read her new memoir, Food Saved Me. Her story was especially interesting because I also live with food intolerances and chronic health issues.

The book is laid out in a linear fashion: from before she first became ill to the present time. She shared her experiences in her clear, sweet Danielle style: very personal and vulnerable. We get a behind-the-scenes look at a young woman who was hit with ulcerative colitis and, with the support of her husband, sought for answers and relief from Western and alternative medicine, herbal and other supplements, and dietary changes.

Her success as a cookbook author started in her own kitchen as she tirelessly experimented and learned how to make delicious dishes, including childhood favorites, with whole, unprocessed foods and without a long list of foods that trigger flare-ups. If you like cooking, cookbooks, and food blogs, you’ll love reading about how she became a household name–especially among those of us who have dietary restrictions.

She takes us through both the times of sunlight and dark despair. And although she is adamant that what she eats has made the biggest difference in her health, she doesn’t hide the fact that medication has been necessary at certain points.

At the end of the book are helpful lists of both recommended foods and those to steer clear of, as well as several recipes. And her husband, Ryan, has a helpful and encouraging note for the partners of those with chronic illness.

I loved this book because Danielle is very open and honest about her own journey. And I also appreciate that it’s a message of encouragement and hope that a person with an autoimmune disease can get through the difficult times, learn to thrive, and learn to cook and eat delicious, healthy food as well.

If you’re interested in cooking or food blogs, you’ll enjoy this book, but you’ll also want to read it if you have dietary restrictions. Or gift a copy to someone who does! Food Saved Me will be released on Tuesday September 14th.

  • I received a free e-book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Marinara Sauce for Mondays (or Any Night of the Week)

Here is a reprise of my weeknight mealtime go-to. I’m Italian-American and no matter what diet fads come and go, I’m never giving up pasta. Mine is gluten-free, of course, and drowned in Marinara. (This is my favorite brand.) It is such a fast, easy recipe, there is no need to purchase that sorry excuse for pasta sauce from the market ever again!!!

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This sauce can be made in about 15 minutes, start to finish, which is probably quicker than it’ll take your pasta water to boil. When I’m feeling tired, lazy, or like I need some comfort, I make this recipe. Pasta, salad, vegan meatballs from Minimalist Baker (or your favorite store bought version), and dinner is on the table.

It’s also great to dip pieces of gluten-free bread sticks, or vegan meatballs into at a party. I served gluten-free focaccia from Sarah Bakes Gluten Free and vegan meatballs from Minimalist Baker with a bowl of Marinara at this year’s Super Bowl Party, and all of our meat/dairy/gluten-eating friends couldn’t get enough!!!

Easy Marinara Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 cup of water, approximately
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons unsweetened non-dairy milk, such as almond (optional)
  • 2-4 tablespoons fresh parsley or basil, chopped (optional)

In a thick-bottomed pot on medium heat, heat the olive oil, add garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds until it turns golden, stirring and watching it carefully to prevent burning.

Add water and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any garlic that might be sticking.

Add tomatoes and the salt through milk, and bring to a simmer, stirring gently to combine. Simmer for 10-15 minutes and remove from heat.

Adjust seasonings. Add fresh herbs if desired.

Notes and Options:

This lasts for about a week to ten days in the fridge.

It can also be frozen and thawed for a later time.

Feel free to add dried fennel, basil, thyme, or other dried herbs you prefer.

Flourless Chocolate Cake, Gluten Free, Dairy Free (Recipe)

Last year, right before our birthday (Alan and I share the same day), I began looking for a cake recipe that I would actually like. I’m not much of a cake person–I like not-too-sweet chocolatey, creamy or fruity desserts and pies–as long as they are free of gluten and dairy. I started thinking about flourless chocolate cake and came across several that looked tempting. I decided on one from The Spruce Eats and gave it a try.

It was so easy to make and IT WAS DELICIOUS!!! I made it again at the end of September when some friends came for dinner and again at Thanksgiving. Then I forgot about it until last week when I suddenly wanted dessert and couldn’t think of anything to make, until, suddenly, the vision of flourless chocolate cake danced in my head! It was just as delightful as I remembered, so I am sharing it with you. (Recipe slightly adapted from The Spruce Eats)

Flourless Chocolate Cake

1 cup or 6 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate bars broken into chunks or chips

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup sunflower or other mild-flavored oil

1 Tablespoon brewed coffee or just use water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

4 large eggs

1/2 cup of cacao or cocoa powder

About an hour before, set eggs on counter so they’ll come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 F and oil either an 8-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper or a 8 or 9 regular cake or tart pan (if you’re feeling lazy).

Carefully melt chocolate in the microwave or stove top on super low heat, stirring often to prevent burning/scorching. (Yep, I’ve done it!)

Transfer melted chocolate to mixing bowl, add sugar and blend with mixing paddle. Add in the oil, coffee or water, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla.

Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition.

Add in the cocoa powder and mix well.

Pour batter into pan, even out with a spatula, and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top has a thin, shiny crust and toothpick comes out mostly clean.

Place pan on wire rack to cool. When cool, if using a springform pan, unlatch the side and invert the cake onto a plate. If using a regular cake pan, just serve and enjoy!

It’s really good with Coconut Whipped Cream and/or raspberry sauce!

I forgot to take a picture before I dug into it–it’s that good!

Pie Happy

“Mother took the pie out of the oven and it hissed fragrant apple, maple, cinnamon steam through the knife cuts in the top crust. She was making her world beautiful. She was making her world delicious. It could be done, and if anyone could do it, she could.”
J.J. Brown, Death and the Dream

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The day before Thanksgiving, I baked a grain-free pecan pie from Gluten Free and More Magazine and I told you I would share photos if it came out right. Well, I’m happy to report that it came out beautifully and it tasted scrumptious even four days after Thanksgiving when I finally got around to trying it.

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The crust came together easily, with few ingredients and pressed into the pie plate without crumbling. It cracked, but was moist and it was easy to repair and crimp the edges.

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The filling just mixed up in a bowl and then was poured into the crust and baked.

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I am going to use this pie crust recipe for all sweet pies from now on. Apple is next on my list, and raspberry after that.

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“America has developed a pie tradition unequivocally and unapologetically at the sweet end of the scale, and at no time is this better demonstrated than at Thanksgiving.”
Janet Clarkson, Pie: A Global History

 

What did you bake this Thanksgiving?