The Guilt-free Gourmet

Author: Jordan and Jessica Bourke
Publisher: Ryland Peters & Small
Book Publication: 2012

Sugar, wheat, and dairy are staples in the standard North American diet as these ingredients add sweetness, flavour, lightness, and consistency to food. However, many people have allergies, sensitivities, or want to avoid one or more of these three popular ingredients. The problem is, making sugar-, wheat-, or dairy-free meals is thought to be too difficult by some who fear disappointing results. The Guilt-free Gourmet: Deliciously Indulgent Recipes without Sugar, Wheat or Dairy sets out to prove those nay-sayers wrong.

The Guilt-free Gourmet features more than 60 recipes, with tantalizing titles such as “beetroot burgers with wholegrain mustard mayonnaise,” “pasta with cashew pesto and roasted cherry tomatoes,” “aubergine, puy lentils and sun-dried tomatoes with mint oil,” and “cashew butter ice cream.” Most of the main meals in the cookbook are for gatherings of four or more, so keep in that in mind when considering what to make. The book also features a “foods from afar” section with meals from Thailand, Japan, Morocco, and Korea. There are also a lot of treats and baked goods, about a quarter of the total, including chocolate truffles and sticky toffee pudding.

Agave syrup and rice flour are both featured in many of the recipes, as is xylitol (a controversial sweetener) in nearly all the dessert items. However, fruits and vegetables appear with regularity in the cookbook and nearly all the ingredients can be purchased with ease from your local grocery store and/or health food store. The Guilt-free Gourmet is not a vegetarian cookbook, but there are a large number of meat-free recipes featured throughout.

Many of the recipes in The Guilt-free Gourmet feature a “guilt-free because…” paragraph that has information about one of the ingredients, such as the avocadoes in the “chocolate tart” (three avocadoes in total), which, as regular Vitality readers likely already know, are high in essential omega fats. For the “roasted quail with quince and figs,” one learns that figs have more calcium than whole milk by weight.

Jordan and Jessica Bourke, the brother and sister writing team behind The Guilt-free Gourmet, both have lots of experience in the culinary arts, going back more than a decade. Jordan is a professionally trained chef who has worked at Michelin-starred restaurants, while Jessica is a nutritional therapist and media personality in their native Ireland. The full-colour and beautifully staged photographs in The Guilt-free Gourmet will whet your appetite and might inspire you to attempt one of the more daunting recipes. (One of my co-workers commented on the delicious-looking brownies shown on the cover as she walked by my desk.)

We have reprinted the “Soba Noodles with Gomadara Sesame Seed Sauce” recipe from The Guilt-free Gourmet in our miso food feature for the May 2013 issue of Vitaltiy.

My only criticism of the book is that not every page is numbered, so it might take a little math to get to the recipe you have your heart set on.


Victoria Moorshead is an editor and writer, and a former staff member of Vitality Magazine.

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