May 21, 2009

Book Review: GLEE! An Easy Guide to Gluten-Free Independence

I met Elizabeth Atkinson, a tween fiction author, on facebook. I also follow her on twitter and read her gluten free blog. I was thrilled when she wanted to send me a copy of her book. She wrote the book for college students including her daughter, who attends college in DC. I have been hearing about the book for several months, but it wasn’t until I received the book that I understood why it is called Glee!. This is the term Elizabeth uses in her house and throughout the book to refer to gluten free. Glee comes from the gl in gluten and the ee in free.

The book is a pocket guide and published by Clan Thompson. It is larger than I expected, but I think it is the perfect size to make it easy to read. The length of the book is almost 8 inches and the width is 5 inches, which will only fit in a large purse, but great for college backpacks. The large font makes it especially easy to quickly skim and find the information you need.

The book is positive and encouraging, and I enjoyed reading it. It is filled with important gluten free information. The chapter called “the practical information” is one you will find yourself using often. It includes the Clan Thompson 2009 smart list for candy. There are lists of over-the-counter meds, sodas, other beverages, and chips. The previous chapter “the lists” contains three detailed lists: “what you can eat, what you should avoid or question, and what you cannot eat” and is a very handy reference.

Glee! also includes information about cross contamination, restaurants, traveling, eating at college, apartment appliances, and basic recipes. Elizabeth teaches readers basic methods for cooking chicken, fish, pork, and beef in addition to other recipes. There are lots of great websites listed in the back, but unfortunately she does not mention anywhere in the book about gluten free blogs, twitter, facebook, message boards, and support groups, which are tremendous resources not only for college students, but for anyone with celiac disease.

There are a few things missing from the book that I would have added regarding cross contamination. Aluminum foil is useful for preventing cross contamination on grills, shared toaster ovens, and in ovens. At fast food restaurants, it is important to request that food handlers change gloves. When sharing an apartment with others who eat gluten, be especially cautious about cross contamination from cereal dust and airborne gluten flour. Teach roommates to wash their hands immediately after touching gluten to prevent gluten crumbs from spreading through the kitchen.

Glee! is written in a friendly style that will appeal to college students. Some parts are even funny. I especially like her reminder in the alcohol section that you need to be 21 to drink. In addition to being a great book for college students and their parents, I highly recommend giving Glee! to roommates, friends, and even extended family members who don’t fully understand the gluten free diet.

Note: Glee! is not a guide to selecting a college with good gluten free dining options. I searched and found these resources.


Anonymous said...

I had to wait a week to get my hands on a copy. My kids wanted to read it first.:) I agree with your review. It's a great resource. Thanks for including my Ohio State interview. Keep up the great GF reporting.

elizabeth atkinson said...

Terrific review, thanks! The publisher, Clan Thompson, plans to revise GLEE occasionally so will forward all your suggestions. Also, the book was supposed to be smaller, but the odd size increased the cost by several dollars, so we made the decision to go with a standard size to reduce cost to customer. And I totally agree about the wonderful GF online communities – unfortunately, GLEE went to the designer during the winter before I realized the power of Twitter, Facebook, et al . . . will definitely include when updated!