Deuteronomy 6:6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Simplified Pantry - A Review

I often reflect on how blessed my family is to be a part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. We have the opportunity to try out so many wonderful homeschool products. And my husband will tell you that little else gets me as happy as a cool new piece of curriculum. Still, every once in a while, I receive a product that's (mostly) for me! And that's pretty neat too :)
This month, I was pleased to review one of not one, not two, but THREE e-books by Simplified Pantry .
And while I'm enjoying the process of getting through all of the books, for the purpose of this post, I've focused on Simplified Dinners - Gluten Free/Dairy Free .

I've done the gluten free thing in an on again, off again kind of way. Truth be told, I feel a lot better when off of both gluten and dairy. But, being the only one in a house of five to whom that applies, it can be difficult when you have a lack of willpower. So sadly, much of the time I walk around stuffy and sometimes wheezy as I indulge in exactly what I shouldn't be eating. All that to say that this little cookbook inspired me to give it another try, and even get the family on board.

What this book is not:
Author Mystie Winkler comes right out upfront and lets you know that this is not what might be called a "typical" gluten free/dairy free cookbook that requires specific, pre-made gluten free products and mixes. Neither is it a recipe book in the traditional sense. It's more of a collection of ideas for meals, using foods that are readily available that are naturally gluten free- think lots of fruits and veggies, meats and such.
An advantage to approaching the gf diet in this way is to kind of get an idea of what's involved, to see if it works for you, and keep it simple. This is part of the theory behind the book's design.

The first pages include a list of ingredients that may possibly include gluten and dairy as well as a master pantry list to help you stock up and prepare. Then, meal ideas are divided up as you would expect, with main dish meals, meats and fish, stews, soups, side dishes, salads, and desserts.
The last page has a sample menu plan and then a blank plan to fill in yourself.

I mentioned that this is really more of a collection of meal ideas than recipes, and that is very true. Most pages provide a basic idea using a main ingredient, whether it's chicken, beef, pasta, veggies. . .and then give a general preparation technique. There are then anywhere from 4 to 6 variations on that theme that offer different ingredients and seasonings, but not the exact measurements. This was the part of the book that I didn't care for so much, because while I'm not a complete disaster in the kitchen, I am far from an intuitive cook who can throw things together willy nilly and have it turn out great. I need the exact measurements, at least until I'm comfortable enough with a recipe to experiment a little. Because of this, I was careful in choosing more familiar looking ideas that didn't look like I could mess them up.
I will say that I do appreciate having a fresh group of meal ideas to try though.
As long as you understand what the purpose of the book is up front, this could be a great way to get started on the gluten/dairy free diet. Or at least have meal ideas in your pocket for friends or family that have allergies and intolerances.

Here are just a few of the recipes our family has tried. Some worked better than others, but my kids were surprisingly on board with some new things. Of course, any time that they can help prepare a recipe, they are more willing to sample the finished product.

     Fajitas have been on our menu before, although I will admit, ours do include cheese. They        always go over well with us. This time we used leftover chicken, onions, and peppers.

                                                          The house smelled so good!

                                                                  Ready to eat. Yum!

I thought that the rice flour muffins would appeal to the girls. We went with blueberries for the fruit.

These were so/so, and I'll be making adjustments for this recipe next time. They need a little more sugar, and I think I'll try rice milk instead of the soy milk I used. Baby girl still liked them a lot though.

We've also especially enjoyed the peanut butter cookies. They use no flour, and only have a few ingredients, making them very easy. My middle daughter says they're a little rich for her, but the rest of us gobble them down.
We also enjoyed the lemon chicken on the grill. The flavor was subtle and yummy, really good on its own or in a salad.
We continue to make our way through the recipes, and next up is the vanilla ice cream, using coconut milk in place of the traditional dairy. I'll let you know how it turns out :)

Sound like a book you might be interested in taking a look at? You can find information about this and the other 2 e-books I received in the links below.
And here's a deal to take advantage of. From May 20 through June 3, you can get a 30% discount by using the coupon code TOS2013 at checkout. Happy cooking!

Simplified Pantry

Simplified Dinners - Gluten Free/Dairy Free - $12.99 - PDF

Simplified Dinners - $12.99 - PDF

Paperless Home Organization - $3.99 - PDF or Kindle

Click to read more reviews about this e-book, as well as the other titles, from other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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