This is the first time I’ve seen a gluten-free book that also includes an exercise component, specifically yoga and Pilates. The author, Caroline Shannon-Karasik, blogs at Sincerely Caroline and is a personal trainer. She seems like a lovely, enthusiastic person, and the book is the first I’ve seen that includes an entire section of exercise tips, illustrated with how-to photographs.
Layout and design:
The book is organized with an introduction and three chapters which might have been more accurately called sections. The introduction includes a bit about her story, being diagnosed with celiac disease in 2010, and trying to find the “sweet spot” for health and fitness in her life. Chapter One covers setting up your kitchen, with some great money-saving tips for young women just starting out. Chapter Two provides 63 recipes, divided into sips & smoothies, breakfast, dressings marinades & toppings, just a bite, salads & sides, the main event, and something sweet. Chapter Three covers exercise and fitness, including yoga, running, Pilates, and beauty.
Sections of the book are either salmon pink or robin’s egg blue. The old-fashioned interior design choices make the book very difficult to read and navigate, which is a shame because the information is good. The author’s very good content, and target audience of twenty-something women, would be much better served by different design, like a fun, spiral-bound square handbook that placed as much emphasis on the exercise photographs as on the food.
The publisher’s choice to print the book as an oversized, full-color, hardcover book sets up the expectation that it will be a coffee-table book, which doesn’t align well with the content. It’s the first time I have felt that the material was produced by the wrong publisher, as Sasquatch Books or Quirk Books would have knocked this out of the park.
Close-ups of the food give the reader a sense of the finished dish. Exercise how-to photographs are extremely helpful.
Recipes include raspberry coffee pick-me-up, goat cheese & asparagus quiche cups with caramelized onions, lemon garlic cleansing dressing, black bean and banana salsa, rainbow quinoa salad, cheesy tuna tater pie, and apple cheesecake pie with oatmeal crust. Most of the recipes include a vegan option, all are gluten-free, some use white or brown sugar. A few include fish, eggs, and cheese.
What I liked about the book:
The focus on fitness is a different twist, and I appreciated the how-to fitness photos.
I wasn’t so keen on:
Recipes were not coded for special diets beyond noting which are vegan; nutritional analysis is not provided, which would be helpful for low-sodium eaters. The design of the book detracts from its usability.
Fitness-minded vegans, vegetarians, celiacs, and gluten-free people
Not recommended for:
Migraine or low-sodium diets
A note about my cookbook reviews: In the past, I tested at least three recipes from each book, took photos, and described my experience. Due to my dietary limitations (extremely-low-sodium for my Meniere’s Disease and trigger-free foods for migraine relief), it is no longer possible for me to test the recipes and do them justice.