Cookbook Review: 30 Days Grain-Free by Cara Comini
Good Jump Off for Starting Grain-Free—Solid Recipes, But Not Inspirational
The idea behind 30 Days Grain Free-is that you can pick up this book, buy all the items on the weekly shopping list and feed your family for 30 days, grain-free. While this premise is neat, I honestly can’t imagine following a book for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 30 days. I love to cook too much! I used this book for about a month, making about a quarter of the recipes. Here is my experience.
- “Normal” Foods—Comini understands that you might not be ready to give up your favorites, so she has created gluten-free versions of pancakes (pg. 47), coconut flour waffles (pg. 54) and zucchini lasagna (pg. 64), coconut bread (pg. 83), sesame-sunflower crackers (pg. 149). If you’ve done a whole30, many of these foods would be considered “sex with your pants on” and discouraged. I appreciate Comini understands my family might not be ready to eat 30 days of totally new foods, and we’ll need variations of our favorite staples (I have a 3-year old pancake fanatic).
- Book is organized well. Comini’s writing is fun and funny, encouraging and thoughtful. She really wants you and your family to succeed in eating grain-free. She’s considerate of including ideas for feeding kids in her meal plans.
- Economic/Efficient use of food—I love that in the morning you might make crepes with berries (pg. 70) and roll ‘em up with nut butter for lunch (pg. 71). You make meatballs at the beginning of the week and use them multiple ways (from the freezer) later in the book.
- The book is organized day by day, i.e. Day 1 Breakfast, Day 1 Lunch, Day 1 Dinner, etc. so it’s great if your ready to pick up this book and try everything (in order) for 30 days. If you’re new to paleo cooking, and need a place to start and no time to find new recipes, this book is for you. Using the shopping list you’ll have everything you’ll need for the whole week.
- Good section of homemade staples in the back (ketchup, pesto, salad dressing, etc). Even better were the “sweet treats.” I’ve made the chocolate truffles three time (pg. 176). Althea helping me roll the second batch in shredded coconut
- I found that I have a hard time following the timeline. We live in rural Maine, with limited access to fresh produce, so I would have had a hard time following all the recipes, even if I wanted to.
- There is a stark absence of seasoning in this book. I find, that when cooking grain-free, fresh spices and other seasonings are essential (once you remove all the sugar and other junk!). I found these recipes great starting places, but I’m not sure I made a single one without adding something. For example, just from the first week: Salmon-Coconut Patties (pg. 28), added lemon pepper and sea salt; Hot Cooked Apples (pg. 39), added lemon and cinnamon; Burgers (pg. 44), added my hamburger seasoning blend of smoked paprika and herbs, etc.
- Solid recipes, just not inspiring. I’m a cookbook fanactic, and love to look through and drool over the future meals I might make. I dog ear pages. After flipping through this book, I had very few dogged pages. The recipes are solid—just not inspiring! She does push the envelope with cultured salsa (pg. 171). Nice!
All in all, it’s a thoughtful book, considerate of a parent trying to feed their family healthy food. It’s not the book you pick up for inspiration, but for, “I can make that gluten free? OK!” I will return to those lemon poppy seed pancakes before the month is up! It’s also not the book you pick up for meal ideas, as the 30-day organization does not lend its self looking for dinner ideas (I much prefer the organization of the Whole30 Cookbook by protein type).
Tip: She doesn’t introduce “hot-buttered coffee” until page 134…I suggest you start with this on week 1! It’s the only thing that kept me from feeling starved by 10 am.
Spices: To make all the recipes in this book, you will need the following spices:
- Chili Seasoning
- Cumin (ground)
- Curry (seasoning blend)
- Coriander (ground)
- Garlic (granules)
- Italian Seasoning
- Lemon Pepper
- Mustard (powder)
- Paprika (Smoked)
- Pepper (cracked)
- Poppy Seed
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Sea Salt
- White Pepper (ground)