Review: The Complete Gluten-Free Whole Grains Cookbook by Judith Finlayson

Going gluten-free isn't an easy dietary transition. Although I've been without wheat, barley and rye for a little over a year, I still have a lot to learn.

When I was approached to review The Complete Gluten-Free Whole Grains Cookbook by Judith Finlayson on Whole Foods Living, I agreed and added the cookbook to my bedside stand. Yes, really. I'm not into regurgitating press releases.

(Disclaimer: Yes, the cookbook was provided free of charge for review purposes. But, all opinions expressed on Whole Foods Living come from me, Angela Tague.)

Since going gluten-free, I've struggled with two areas: how to explain sources of gluten to family and how to bake without wheat-based flour. The Complete Gluten-Free Whole Grains Cookbook by Judith Finlayson has nailed these two concerns.

The cookbook starts with 33 pages of background information on gluten and uncommon whole grains such a job's tears and amaranth. In addition to a glossary titled "Just the Grains" which showcases several types of gluten-free grains, there are sections called "What is Gluten and Why Does it Matter?" and "A Whole Grains Primer". Anyone who is new to a gluten-free lifestyle, or who needs a few talking points to educate others, must read this cookbook.

Finally, the recipes!

Like all great cookbooks, this one offers variety. There's 125 recipes broken into the following chapters:
  1. Bread and Breakfasts
  2. Appetizers
  3. Soups
  4. Salads
  5. Poultry
  6. Fish and Seafood
  7. Meat
  8. Meatless Mains
  9. Side, Sundried and Basics
  10. Desserts
As a bonus, there's an appendix listing diabetic food values (carbs, fats, food groups) for each recipe.

The other night I turned to the Desserts section and had to test one of the recipes. Since I struggle with baking gluten-free, I wanted to try a dessert. I decided to make the Oatmeal Shortbread Squares on page 198. This simple recipe wasn't covered in chocolate, fruit or any other disguise to "make it taste better."

The recipe was quick to assemble in my food processor and came together just as promised in the recipe. Since I used a slightly smaller baking pan than recommended, I had to bake the cookies longer, but also enjoyed thicker treats.

The Oatmeal Shortbread Squares were fabulous: tender, flaky and sweet. In addition to eating them plain, I served them topped with fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream for dessert. The gluten-eating hubby even went back for seconds. We were both impressed and have already marked this page in the cookbook as "Great! Tender and buttery. Let cool or they crumble."

Yes, I write in my cookbooks. And yes, I ignored the instructions to let the dessert cool or they will crumble. I have an addiction to warm cookies. The leftovers were perfectly formed squares--as promised by the author.

Now I'm anxious to try more recipes in the The Complete Gluten-Free Whole Grains Cookbook by Judith Finlayson. My short list includes:
  • Cranberry Orange Pecan Muffins, page 36
  • Vegetable Tempura, page 63
  • Asian Style Quinoa Salad with Chili-Orange Dressing, page 84
  • Gluten-Free Pizza Crust, page 184
  • Rhubarb-Strawberry Cobbler, page 204
Each recipe includes a helpful "Nutrient per Serving" information box, cooking tips and variations on the original recipe. Most recipes are paired with a colorful photo sure to make you drool.

OK, time to finish off those Oatmeal Shortbread Squares with a cup of tea.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

PS: Here are more titles from this author:



  1. You make me yearn to taste one of your oatmeal squares. However, I eat plenty of oatmeal. I toast plain oats on sheets in the oven. When they're dark golden, I cool and add to my breakfast cereal--bran, because I'm okay with it and linseed, otherwise known as flax seed. I eat it with milk and a teaspoon of honey. Lovely.

    1. Good for you! Oatmeal is a such a wonderful whole grain! I have never added it to my cereal, but I might have to try. Thanks for the idea! ~Angela

  2. Thanks for the review. I know little about gluten free but I know it's all the rage right now. I'd love to learn more and will definitely keep this book in mind.

    1. HI Martha, Thanks for stopping by! Yes, gluten-free living is getting a lot of press right now. I know some celebrities are trying this route for weight loss. For me, I have an intolerance/allergy, so I have to avoid gluten. It makes me feel like I'm getting the flu, complete with joint pain! ~Angela

  3. You have a great site here! I'm going to send my sister over to look at your blog. I think she'd be interested in this vegetarian cookbook as she's been a vegetarian for about 2 months now.

    1. Hi Tony! Thanks for stopping by. Yes, this cookbook has some great recipes. They aren't all vegetarian. But, there are lots of good protein-rich non-meat recipes. Plus, I highlight a lot of vegetarian foods/recipes on my blog since I am also a veggie -- of over 15 years! :) ~Angela

  4. Thank you for sharing. I just purchased this book! I was hoping to get your recommendations on GF brands. Do you have any favorites? I just tried Bavarian gluten free whole grain and love it but I am always on the look out for new brands to try.

    1. Hello! Thanks for stopping by! I have tried so many brands, and a few stick out in my mind for sure. Pamela's makes an amazing pancake mix. I really like Kinikinnick for donuts. And Udi's is my go-to for pretty good bread, pre-made pizza crusts and muffins.

      I have also started experimenting with baking GF and using xanthan gum. It's not too difficult and the goodies taste so much better than store bought! ~Angela

    2. PS: OH, and try the GF Bisquick mix. It makes an awesome fluffy pizza dough!! The recipe is on the box. I bet the mix makes great biscuits too, but I haven't tried it for that yet.


Please leave a comment or suggestion.