Last-minute gluten-free holiday gift idea: Fun cookbooks with flavorful recipes

Holidays can be busy and overwhelming. Amidst all the hubbub, you might find that you’ve forgotten to buy a gift for someone. If you need a last-minute gift for someone who is gluten-free, a cookbook is a convenient and appreciated choice. Not only is it something the recipient can use for many years to make lots of delicious meals, but it’s also something that can be bought and shipped pretty quickly (thank you, Amazon Prime!). If you need to find just the right cookbook to send to a gluten-free friend or loved one, check out these great choices!

The JOYful Table, by Susan Joy

What it is: A collection of recipes that are gluten-free, grain-free, and Paleo-inspired

Why it’s helpful: It’s a back-to-basics approach to creating meals that are as flavorful as they are nutritious. Ms. Joy fights the notion that eating healthy is boring and bland, proving her point by providing recipes for a wide variety of meals and snacks that are often simple to make and always enjoyable to eat. If you enjoy recipes with an international flair, you’ll love these, as some of Ms. Joy’s recipes are inspired by traditional Australian dishes (damper, Anzac biscuits, Lamington cake, and others).

Standout recipes:

  • Grain-free “granola cereal” made from nuts, seeds, dates, and coconut
  • Sweet potato hash brown patties
  • “Potato” and leek soup (it doesn’t actually contain potatoes!)
  • Naan bread (this recipe is much less complicated than other gluten-free naan recipes I’ve seen online)
  • Cranberry meatballs (beef meatballs with a flavorful sauce made from cranberries, sweet chili sauce, tomatoes, and more)

Baking for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet™, by Kathryn Anible

What it is: 100 gluten-free, grain-free, and sugar-free recipes

Why it’s helpful: People with certain incurable digestive disorders (such as Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and IBS, among others) often turn to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which restricts the consumption of complex carbohydrates and eliminates refined grains, sugars, and starch. Ms. Anible’s cookbook aims to help those following this special diet still enjoy delicious baked goods. The cookbook includes recipes for a variety of breads and crackers, muffins and cakes, cookies and bars, pies and cobblers, and custards and souffles, plus frostings and sauces that complement the baked goods.

Standout recipes:

  • Sandwich flatbread, made with almond flour (this recipe is amazingly simple to make!)
  • Bacon cheddar bread, made with nut butter and coconut flour
  • Coconut cream biscuits, a perfect addition to your breakfast or dinner
  • A light, fluffy sponge cake
  • Peanut butter cake (make Ms. Anible’s cocoa butter frosting or banana frosting to go along with it!)
  • Strawberry scones
  • “Oatmeal” raisin cookies (featuring coconut flakes and almond meal instead of oats)
  • Pastry-covered baked apples
  • Sticky toffee pudding, a traditional British dessert

Fresh Made Simple, by Lauren K. Stein and illustrated by Katie Eberts

What it is: A deliciously different kind of cookbook that makes it easy and fun to cook tasty, healthy meals

Why it’s helpful: This cookbook is a truly fresh take on eating well. The book features minimalist recipes, most with five ingredients or fewer, that are simple to make and easy to enjoy. The recipes are paired with vibrant illustrations that make even food you may not ordinarily find exciting (parsley, dates, celery) look fun and fancy. If you weren’t hungry before you opened the book, your mouth will be watering after you’ve perused a few of its pages. Not all recipes are gluten-free (but most are); Ms. Stein encourages you to make substitutions where needed or desired. She intends for this cookbook to be a jumping-off point for your culinary experiments!

Standout recipes:

  • Leek Corn Egg Bake
  • Red Water (using watermelon and strawberries!)
  • Apple Manchego Salad
  • Spinach Salad (the standout ingredient here is sautéed onions—yum!)
  • Ginger Lemon Honey Butter
  • Cheddar Pepper Spread
  • Blueberry & Corn Pancakes (use your favorite gluten-free pancake mix, of course!)
  • Black & White Bark

Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple, by Danielle Walker

What it is: A comprehensive cookbook packed with gluten-free, dairy-free, and Paleo recipes

Why it’s helpful: Ms. Walker’s cookbook is a great resource to make eating grain- and dairy-free easier for busy families. Against All Grain includes tons of delicious recipes, including eight weeks’ worth of dinner ideas (including shopping lists and great ways to use up leftovers) to help take the guesswork out of meal planning. Ms. Walker aims to make meal preparation fun, and her cookbook includes a wide variety of meals so there’s no chance of getting bored from eating the same ol’ thing for dinner again!

Standout recipes:

  • Overnight breakfast casserole, featuring white sweet potatoes, eggs, and sausage
  • Freezer waffles—a healthier and homemade version of your store-bought favorites
  • A variety of “simple scrambles” that are easy to whip up
  • Mexican chicken soup, which features shredded chicken and is full of flavor from veggies and spices
  • Pesto-stuffed prosciutto chicken
  • Meatloaf meatballs
  • Slow cooker Thai beef stew
  • No-cook chocolate pudding, made with coconut milk

Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat, and Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat, both by Melissa Joulwan

What they are: Two cookbooks jam-packed with flavorful paleo recipes, many of which have a multi-cultural flair

Why they’re helpful: These cookbooks were inspired by Ms. Joulwan’s own journey—for so long she’d been yo-yo dieting and viewing food as the enemy. After a thyroidectomy, she adopted the Paleo diet, which helped her eliminate cravings and reduce emotional eating. The author’s love of food and flavor shines through in these cookbooks, where her Paleo recipes are always fun, tasty, and full of meaty goodness. Both books also include recipes for several sauces that pair nicely with the entrée recipes.

Standout recipes:

Well Fed:

  • Grilled Chicken Thighs, deliciously garlicky
  • Cinnamon beef stew with orange gremolata, a Greek-inspired recipe
  • Moroccan meatballs, made with lamb
  • Chocolate chili, where one of the ingredients is unsweetened cocoa!
  • Meatza pie—it’s like a pizza without the traditional crust, where the base is made of meat (yum!)
  • Scotch eggs, based on a traditional English recipe
  • BBQ pork fried rice, where the “rice” is actually cauliflower
  • Bora Bora fireballs, made from coconut, pineapple, pork, and lots of spices!

Well Fed 2:

  • Pina Colada Chicken, which is sweet and a little spicy
  • BBQ beef “waffle” sandwich, where the “waffles” are made from grated sweet potatoes
  • Chinese five-spice pork ribs
  • Faux pho, made with zucchini noodles
  • Plantain nachos
  • Mulligatawny stew, a flavorful Indian dish
  • SB&J burger—kinda like a Paleo PB&J
  • Pizza veggies (they’re topped with pepperoni!)

Disclaimer: Some of the cookbooks mentioned in this article were provided to me for review purposes. Under no circumstances has this affected the integrity of the article. If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t cover it here. See my personal disclaimer for more details.

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