A couple of weeks ago I saw a post from a fellow cookbook author, Melissa Monroe McGehee, asking if any fellow authors or restauranteurs would have time to help her out by doing a review of her book, “Satisfying Eats : Grain Free, Sugar Free & Hunger Free Cookbook” – this was an offer I took up readily! Any chance to go through a whole bunch of recipes and share my opinions with my fellow health- & food-fanatics is always greatly received.
I had already purchased Melissa’s book last December so I was familiar with the content but hadn’t studied it with the thought that was needed to write a complete review, so I started at the beginning again, and turned page after page, taking in Melissa’s reasoning for gravitating towards a grain-free and sugar-free existence, her inspiration for going down this route and of course the many recipes in the book. So let me share with you what I found in this wonderfully thought out book.
First of all, the full title of Melissa’s book is “Satisfying Eats: Grain Free, Sugar Free & Hunger Free Cookbook”. This pretty much gives away the premise of the book – to provide recipes that are free from all grains and added sugar, that are satisfyingly tasty and do not leave you hungry. Ok, so I like the idea of not going hungry and I certainly want to be satisfied by my food, meaning I will not want or need to snack my way through the rest of the day. Sounds good. But why grain free and sugar free? This is where Melissa’s story and introduction comes in.
Melissa had often struggled with her weight and suffered from long-lasting migraine headaches with her first pregnancy. One day she stumbled upon the book “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis. Some of you may be familiar with this book, it explains the concept that wheat and other types of grain bring about terrible inflammation in our digestive system, leaving us bloated, carrying extra fat and less able to absorb nutrients from the other foods that we eat. By eliminating grains from the diet, it is thought that we may more easily stabilise blood sugar levels throughout the day, have better sleep and improved mood, have less bloating and quite importantly have less belly fat. We all want that, right?!
Melissa was so taken with this concept that after her first child was born, she completely changed her diet to eat this way, eliminating all grains and added sugar. After doing so she dropped all the baby weight plus an extra pound within 7 months of giving birth, and in her second pregnancy, (she gave birth only 2 weeks ago! congratulations – see picture, right!!!) she did not experience any of the migraines and not as much weight gain as the first time round. She has more energy and does not need to snack between meals as the foods she is now eating are satiating and do not cause any spikes in blood glucose levels.
In Satisfying Eats, Melissa provides over 250 recipes, all of which have less than 9g of net carbs, most having less than 5g. As well as that impressive statistic, half of the recipes provided are also dairy free, with tips for substitutions in other recipes where possible, to make those recipes dairy free if you wish, too. So not only are all the recipes grain and sugar free, they are often dairy free too!
Melissa also provides some great tips on cooking, food preparation and how to succeed with recipes. One great tip I liked was don’t wait until your cakes are baked to taste for sweetness but instead taste the batter before it goes into the oven. This is a genius suggestions, especially for me as, when I’m developing new recipes it’s sometimes hit and miss to get the sweetness exactly right and by the time things are baked it’s too late to change. There are many other great tips like this in the book.
In terms of what types of recipes are contained in the book – two words – every type! From breakfasts to appetisers to main courses to desserts and drinks, everything is covered. Here is a link to the full list of recipes so you can appreciate for yourself the diversity of ideas that have gone into this book. One recipe that I couldn’t wait to try myself, was the alternative to traditional porridge, “Apple Cinnamon ‘Oat’meal”, which doesn’t contain any oats at all. Melissa has given me permission to share this recipe with you here.
Apple Cinnamon ‘Oat’meal by Melissa Monroe McGehee
- 2/3 cup semi-skimmed milk (or coconut milk for dairy free) (I used unsweetened almond milk)
- 2/3 cup water
- 3 tbsp chia seeds
- 2/3 cup chopped nuts (pecans)
- 1/8 tsp plus 3 servings KAL Pure Stevia (I used 6 drops of Vanilla Creme Stevia Drops)
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 small apple, peeled, cored & chopped
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (called mixed spice here in the UK)
- 1 tsp raw honey (optional) (I didn’t use)
- Mix milk, water and chia seeds in a small pan and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients and heat on stove top for 5-10 minutes on a medium-low heat, until apples are tender.
- Taste for sweetness and serve.
I made this for my breakfast this morning and boy was it delicious. I love my traditional oaty porridge but this was easily as good if not better. The combination of chia seeds and nuts gave the texture of a porridge and the apple with cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice really gave it a lovely sweet edge. And knowing this breakfast is grain-free with only natural sugars from the apple, means that those inflammatory grains have not entered my digestive system today. This recipe is a great alternative for those wanting to gain all the pleasure from a comforting hot breakfast but wanting to avoid grains. Here is a photograph of the prepared dish before I devoured it.
In summary, I would definitely recommend Melissa’s book to anyone wanting to try a grain-free and sugar-free lifestyle, in particular anyone who currently has digestive issues that are felt to be related to certain foods. Satisfying Eats is available from Amazon in Spiral bound printed copy and in Kindle e-book formats. Go to Melissa’s website for all the links to buy her book, to her Facebook page and many blog recipes.