Blog | Rachel Begun, MS, RD | Page 2

Cookbook Review and Giveaway: Cooking Allergy Free

Cooking Allergy Free Cover

Photo: © 2014 Helen Norman

I’ve done many cookbook giveaways, but this one I’m a little closer to.

Cookbook editing is one of the many things I do, and I had the honor of being a contributing editor to Cooking Allergy-Free: Simple Inspired Meals for Everyone, authored by Jenna Short, and published by The Taunton Press in 2014.

In fact, the cookbook is scheduled to be released on November 11, 2014, so this is somewhat of a special preview.

I’m not doing a giveaway just because I helped contribute to the book. In fact, I am not getting compensated in any kind of way to do the giveaway (see disclosure statement below).

I’m doing a giveaway, because while helping to edit the book I got to know the recipes intimately and think they are fantastic for people with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and food allergies, as well as for those choosing to eat vegetarian or vegan.

Bloody Mary Salad. Photo © 2014 Helen Norman

Bloody Mary Salad. Photo © 2014 Helen Norman

Here’s how the cookbook works:

  • There are recipes throughout the book that meet the needs of those who have to eat gluten-free or want to avoid the following allergens: wheat, milk, nuts, eggs, shellfish, fish, soy and corn.
  • There are also many vegan and vegetarian recipes to choose from.
  • Not every recipe is free from all of these foods.  However, every recipe comes with an allergen and diet key, so you can choose the ones that fit your dietary lifestyle.
  • In addition, many of the recipes come with suggestions for variations so you can make it free from the foods you choose/need to avoid should the original recipe contain them.
  • The cookbook contains the following chapters:
    • Kitchen Essentials for Allergy-Free Cooking
    • Starters
    • Soups & Salads
    • Mains
    • Sides
    • Desserts
    • Breads & Breakfast
    • Dressings, Sauces & Dips

Why I love Cooking Allergy-Free and think you will, too:

  • the recipes are made with mostly wholesome ingredients, are easy to make, and use common ingredients that can be found in most mainstream grocery stores
  • it is filled with healthful recipes that aren’t faddish in their approach to health.  In other words, it’s a real food cookbook that focuses on quality, nutrient-dense ingredients
  • while many recipes provide vegan/vegetarian variations, there are a plethora of meat, poultry and fish dishes to choose from
  • it is a beautiful, hard-cover cookbook filled with lovely food photos — an excellent gift for yourself or a loved one
Nutella Peanut Butter Blondies. Photo © 2014 Helen Norman

Nutella Peanut Butter Blondies. Photo © 2014 Helen Norman

To enter the giveaway to receive a complimentary copy of Cooking Allergy-Free, please read the contest rules below, which includes information about how you enter the contest.

What’s great about this giveaway is that everyone is a winner.  Even if you don’t win the complimentary copy, all can purchase the book at a 20% discount!  Click here to purchase the book at a 20% discount.  Where prompted for a promotion code, type in “GFRD20.”  The 20% discount is valid for purchases between 11/3/14 and 11/14/14. 

Giveaway Contest Rules

Today’s giveaway offer:  one complimentary copy of Cooking Allergy-Free: Simple Inspired Meals for Everyone, published by The Taunton Press.

What you have to do to enter:  in the comments section below, please share a thought about why you want or need to cook free of gluten and allergens, or vegetarian/vegan.

Rules for disclosing on social media: if you plan to tweet, retweet or share this giveaway via your social media outlets, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines require that you use one of the following hashtags in your posts: #Contest or #Giveaway.  For social media outlets not confined to a certain number of characters, you can also say “Giveaway sponsored by The Taunton Press.”

Official Rules: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Participants must be 18 years or older to enter and live within the continental United States. Contest will start on Monday, November 3, 2014 and will end on Monday, November 10, 2014 at 12:00 pm EST. In the comments section below, please share a thought about why you want or need to cook free of gluten and allergens, or vegetarian/vegan. One (1) winner will be randomly selected using to receive one copy of Cooking Allergy-Free: Simple Inspired Meals for Everyone. Approximate retail value of the prize is $29.95 + shipping and handling. The odds of winning are determined by the number of eligible entries. The winner will be selected by Monday, November 17, 2014 and will be announced in a comment on this blog post. The winner’s name can be obtained by visiting the comments section of this post after the winner has been announced. The winner will be notified by email. If participants choose to share the giveaway on their social media outlets, please disclose according to Federal Trade Commission guidelines, as mentioned and recommended above. In the event that the prize is not claimed within one week of the winner being notified, the prize will be forfeited. Rachel Begun Food and Nutrition Solutions, LLC, The Gluten Free RD and its associates are held harmless in the event that the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner or recipient. This contest is being regulated in the state of Colorado. Void where prohibited by law. By entering the contest, you are agreeing to the Official Rules. Sponsored by The Taunton Press,

(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Cooking Allergy-Free: Simple Inspired Meals for Everyone.  I was not paid to write this post or conduct the giveaway.  When promoting this giveaway on social media, I will be sure to disclose that this is a contest/giveaway by using the #contest and/or #giveaway hashtag or stating “Giveaway sponsored by The Taunton Press.”)



National Oatmeal Day


I love oatmeal!

It is, without a doubt, my favorite, go-to comfort food.  My mother and grandmother made it for me regularly growing up, and I have been eating it every since.  I love the creamy, grainy goodness and it’s mild flavor makes it perfect for doctoring up with an endless variety of flavors and toppings.

So, while I don’t “celebrate” all the food holidays , National Oatmeal Day is one that I am more than happy to support.

In addition to being a comfort food, there are many health benefits to eating WHOLE oats.  I emphasize WHOLE, because many of the instant oatmeals out there are highly-refined and loaded with added sugars and other unwanted ingredients.

Trust me: The real thing is so much more satisfying than the highly-processed instant varieties.  You can’t even compare the texture between the two.

It’s easy enough to make your own oatmeal from whole oats, and flavoring it with other wholesome ingredients. 

To get you started, I’ve provided both a sweet and savory oatmeal recipe from me, followed by a round-up of other seasonal oatmeal recipes you’ll love.  If you’re short on time in the morning, I highly recommend making your oatmeal via a slow cooker overnight.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, be sure to choose certified gluten-free oats, as not all of the attached recipes call for them.

Sweet Overnight Oatmeal


6 1/2 cups water
2 cups steel-cut oats (for those with celiac disease, choose certified gluten free)
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup apples, diced
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
Honey (optional)


  1. Combine the water, oats, salt and raisins in a slow cooker.  Cover with the lid and cook until the oats are tender and creamy and the raisins hydrated–about 7-8 hours on LOW or 4 hours in HIGH–adding the diced apples either 5 hours (HIGH) or 3 hours (LOW) the way through.
  2. When fully cooked, stir the oatmeal mixture well and drain out any excess water.
  3. Add in the chopped walnuts.  Mix until distributed.
  4. If desired, drizzle with honey to sweeten.

Makes 8 servings. 

Italian Savory Oatmeal


2 cups cooked oatmeal (certified gluten free)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup asparagus, chopped
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Cook oatmeal according to package directions.
  2. Add olive oil to a large pan on high heat.  Once hot, add onions, garlic, mushrooms and asparagus and sauté until onions are translucent. Fold in the cooked oatmeal and cook until it is warmed, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Gradually stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano until it melts into the oatmeal mixture.
  4. Add the thyme.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 4 servings for side dish; 2 servings for entree.


Slow Cooker Apple Pie Oatmeal – from

Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats – from

Carrot Cake Oatmeal – from

Slow Cooker Banana Nut Oatmeal – from

Cranberry and Fig Overnight Oatmeal – from Alton Brown via

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