The ads on this page help pay for tea, coffee, and the odd fancy ingredient

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Review of Sweet Debbie's Organic Treats: Allergy-Free & Vegan Recipes from the Famous Los Angeles Bakery Sweet Debbie's Organic Treats

I was recently offered the chance to review a copy of Sweet Debbie's Organic Treats: Allergy-Free & Vegan Recipes from the Famous Los Angeles Bakery and jumped at the opportunity because I was really excited to give some of the recipes a try.

There's a lot to like about this cookbook, particularly if you want to make some stylish sweet snacks that are really quite healthy. And while yes, much of it is focused on sweet stuff, there are some breads and bars to try also.

This past week I made a couple of the recipes in the book and wanted to share my experiences and thoughts on the book with you so you can decide if this book is right for you.

So let's start with the pros: 

* The photos are lovely. The food styling is nicely done. 

* The recipes are clearly written out and well organized. Instructions are easy to follow and so far I haven't found any editing errors. 

* The writing style is pleasant and humourous, which is always nice. 

* The recipes are healthy. Some of them incorporate fruit or veggie purees, which I'm always a fan of, and I myself make use of puree in a lot of my own recipes. 

* The recipes I tried turned out surprisingly well-textured (as in moist and not crumbly) for not having any egg or egg substitute as a binder. Kudos to Debbie Adler for mastering that magic trick!

The cons:

Note: I say most of these with my own specific conditions in mind, and some may not find these to be cons at all. For some, these issues might even be a bonus instead of a con.

* Most of us with Oral Allergy Syndrome know that when something says "allergy-free", it just means that it's free of the top 8 allergens. These recipes are all heavily, heavily dependent on coconut oil and coconut nectar and all of the bars call for oats and/or dates and/or seeds of some sort. Other recipes call for buckwheat. If you have an allergy to coconut, oats, dates, seeds, or buckwheat groats and flour you'll have to find a work-around for some of these recipes, or skip them altogether (I worked around a couple of recipes, and the bars will just have to be off-limits for me).  For many people, though, this might not be a problem.

* This is my biggest issue, which for some people, again, may not be an issue at all. The ingredients for both the flour base and most of the recipes are not cheap, not always easy to find, and no substitute or alternative is offered. I have been playing with work-arounds for this (I'll explain below), but the author asks us to think of them as health insurance co-pay and, for the most part, I do agree that it is important to eat organic and use healthy ingredients.

However, the Poor in my blog's title isn't just for kicks. We live mostly off of one PhD student's fellowship funding. As in, two of us live off an income that for one person is considered below the poverty line. I'd love to buy expensive healthy ingredients, but it's not feasible for us to spend $7 for a bottle of Organic Coconut Nectar (but if you do decide to buy anything from the links on this post, I'll make a very small commission, so thanks!) 

Erythritol, Organic Coconut Oil , and Organic Coconut Nectar are not cheap ingredients, nor are they readily found locally, yet they are in almost every recipe in this book. Teff Flour and Organic Quinoa Flour form part of the flour base for every recipe in the book, and neither is cheap or easily found.

 But were the recipes worth it?

You might be wondering this. 

Well due to my own allergy restrictions and lack of said specialty ingredients, I played it really fast and loose with the recipes I tried. As a result, I can't actually give a 100% accurate account of how the recipes will turn out for you. But here's what I came up with:

I've tried two recipes so far - The Double Chocolate Chip Glazed-Over Donut Holes and Lemon Parsnipannies  and here's how I tweaked them: 

To get my flour base, I used my own combo of sorghum flour, rice flour and tapioca starch, rather than Debbie's more expensive (but more nutritious) blend.

Instead of coconut nectar, I used 1 part honey and 1 part applesauce. This reduced the sweetness, which was fine because I prefer it that way. For vegans, well... if you don't mind the higher glycemic agave nectar you could sub with that, but the cost difference would be negligible I think. Or maybe sorghum or brown rice syrup? Again, though, the cost difference might not be much.

Instead of coconut oil I used olive oil.

Instead of erythritol I used organic brown sugar. I did use a bit of the stevia called for in the recipe because I had some kicking around, but I don't know that it really needed it.

My recipes turned out very tasty, and I would try them again. However, my texture was off, and I can't say for sure if this is because of my flour mix. In one case it was too dry and the other too moist. It might well be that my flour combo was less dense and absorbent than the mix called for. I also found the icing to be overly sweet, and would probably do away with it all together next time, since the base alone was tasty and sweet enough. That's just my personal preference though.

Overall thoughts

I think there are some wonderful ideas in this book. I really liked the creative use of parsnips in the Parsnipannies, turmeric to make yellow icing, and other recipes that call for blended cauliflower, etc. I also really appreciate that the recipes held together without the use of eggs or flax eggs or substitutes.

I imagine that for those who follow the ingredients and recipes as is, they would probably turn out wonderfully. For those who don't mind playing it fast and loose like me for the sake of getting new inspiration, it might take some tweaking to find the right balance of flours, liquids, and whatnot, but there's tons of potential there to play around with. 

If money is not an issue, or you want to treat yourself or little loved ones, and the other allergens in the book aren't a problem, I'm sure there will be plenty here to keep you busy in the kitchen as the recipes look great and are easy to follow.

Lemon Parsnippanies, image courtesy of Sweet Debbie's Organic Treats

This post was shared on the following great link parties: Waste Not Want Not WednesdayMusings of a Housewife, Fat Tuesday, Healthy Happy Green Party, Gluten Free Wednesdays,

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'd love to hear from you so go ahead, leave a comment!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...