Co-authors Jenny Lass and Jodi Bager wrote “Everyday Grain-Free Gourmet” and the earlier book “Grain-Free Gourmet.” Both are good but, as most of us will agree, sometimes a cookbook really clicks with you. That’s how I feel about Everyday Grain-Free Gourmet and the recipes inside. (See the photo of their pound cake below.)
But first, Jenny’s story which some of you may be able to relate to. She grew up as a normal kid with a bit of a touchy stomach. In her mid-20s, severe fatigue and joint pain kicked in. Terrible colds, enough that she cracked a rib from coughing, seemed to be symptoms that her immune system was shutting down. Then diarrhea started and the frequency of trips to the bathroom increased to the point that she stopped going out. She says, “Around Christmas time 1999 things were really going south for me.” About that time, a family friend gave her a copy of the book, “Breaking the Vicious Cycle.” Jenny set the book aside.
Her doctor wasn’t able to give answers to her problems but a registered dietician suggested that she might have celiac disease. Jenny says, “She said to try the gluten-free diet and I just got sicker and sicker. It was Christmastime; I thought I can’t go to the doctor.” That’s when she remembered the book she’d been given. “I pulled the book off the shelf and thought I’d try it. I had a simple meal from it and the next day I wasn’t sick. I did my best to follow the diet and literally overnight got my life back. It was as if it was what my body had always wanted to eat.” She switched doctors and her new doctor diagnosed her based on her symptoms which pointed to celiac disease.
The diet in “Breaking the Vicious Cycle” is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet or SCD. (More on the diet next week but, for now, it’s grain-free and was the diet for celiacs before the gluten-free diet. Today it’s often used by those with ulcerative colitis, co-author Jodi Bager’s health issue, and crohn’s disease.) Jenny’s been on the SCD for 12 years. About the diet, Jenny says, “One of of the things that really angers me that I hear over and over again is that it’s hard to follow. It’s not that hard. I very rarely feel deprived. You just make all your old favorites in new ways.” She describes the food she eats as “healthy, whole food, something my body recognizes as food” and “food that your great great grandmother would recognize.”
In this, their second cookbook, Jenny and Jodi repeat some of the foundation recipes from the earlier book such as the yogurt that’s an integral part of the SCD. The cookbook is divided into breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. The majority of the recipes are suitable for every day with some – in spite of the title – excellent for entertaining or a special occasion.
Jenny says that of the two of them, Jodi is the who tends to write recipes that are “more upscale and fancy” so Jodi’s the creator of the recipes for Warm Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese on Organic Greens and Spinach Gnocchi. Jenny says, ”I tend to do slightly simpler recipes.” She created the Dijon Buns and Sweet Squash Kugel. Jenny, a writer by profession, wrote the fascinating history of the SCD in the beginning of the cookbook. Jodi came up with a brilliant system at the back of the book for mixing and matching the recipes to make meals.
I had a question for Jenny about why almond flour is used so much. Why not another nut? She says, “Almonds are very neutral in flavor, walnuts are bitter and quite oily, peanuts or hazelnuts are very strongly flavored, pecans have a slight bitterness. Almonds aren’t quite as oily and take on whatever flavoring you put with it.” That makes sense.
Jenny gave me permission to give you the recipe for Glazed Pound Cake. I was shocked when I made it. Even though it’s made with almond flour, it doesn’t have a nutty texture as many almond flour baked goods do. It just tastes like pound cake. She strongly preferred that I use butter in the glaze or use another glaze but I wanted to make it as close as possible to the way it was written and I don’t eat dairy. I substituted Earth Balance Coconut Spread and it was delicious. (I have one additional confession. Instead of letting the cake and glaze cool per the directions, I put the warm glaze on the warm cake and had a slice then. It was yummy warm.) This cake would be a great base for other flavors. I think next time we may add some orange or lemon zest to it. I also think it would be good with spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.
Glazed Pound Cake
2 cups (500 mL) finely ground almond flour (I used Honeyville)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/4 cup (60 mL) honey
1 Tbsp (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1. Preheat the over to 300° F (150° C) and line a greased 9 x 5 inch (2-L) loaf paper.
2. Mix the almond flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
3. Add the honey, vanilla, and eggs to the flour mixture and whisk together until combined thoroughly and smooth.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared load pan and bake until a knife comes out clean when inserted, about 40 minutes.
5. Let cool.
3 Tbsp (45 mL) honey
2 Tbsp (30 mL) butter, melted
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pure vanilla extract
1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until the glaze is even in color and texture. It should be runny and a little warm from the melted butter.
2. Let cool to room temperature.
1. Place the cooled loaf on a serving plate. Drizzle the glaze over top, allowing it to run down the sides of the loaf.
2. Refrigerate until the glaze is set, at least 1 hour.
Thank you Jenny for the wonderful interview! Some additional recipes can be found on their website.
Jodi is also the president of the food company Grain-Free JK Gourmet.