Gluten-Free Living: Getting Rid of Gluten | Collection Development

An estimated one in 133 people live with celiac disease (CD) today in the United States. Many more cope with nonceliac gluten sensitivity. Awareness about gluten-free eating and gluten-free living has blossomed in recent years. More stores are stocking gluten-free foods now than in the past; more restaurants have gluten-free menus; many people know someone with celiac disease or gluten intolerance (GI) even if they are not eating gluten-free themselves. Thousands of people are seeking information about gluten-free living, and the publishing industry has taken note.

Building your collection

While excellent gluten-free cookbooks abound, don’t just stick to cookbooks in building your collection. Gluten-free eating isn’t only about following recipes. People who need to eat gluten-free seek a variety of information. Library users need information about medical concerns, nutritional guidance, how to handle social situations, maintaining a positive attitude, and finding support and encouragement (for themselves and/or family members) that they may thrive with a gluten-free lifestyle. Of course, they also seek solid advice on how to select ingredients, prepare foods, and keep their food safe from contamination by gluten-containing foods, whether at home or out in the world.

While there are a huge number of cookbooks and many books about nutrition and medical issues for gluten-free people, there aren’t many personal accounts from individuals about their experience finding a medical diagnosis and adjusting to a gluten-free lifestyle. The gluten-free diet is overwhelming at first, and it’s easy to believe one might never figure it out, let alone feel better. Learning how other people cope, survive, and, ultimately, thrive can give a reader hope. Many cookbook authors share details about their personal connection to gluten-free eating, and that’s appropriate, not only to establish their expertise but also so that readers can gain from learning about someone else’s experience. Four of these are listed in a section below called “Personal Stories,” but more books like this would be a welcome addition to what is currently available for ­purchase.

When selecting cookbooks of any kind, the sturdiness of the material is important. Spiral-bound items may not last through many circulations, but they do have the advantage of lying flat for consultation while cooking. Visual appeal is important as well. Some cookbooks have beautiful photos, while others include clever drawings. Of course, the accuracy of the content in cookbooks is crucial, but other issues are important as well. Does the author discuss how to set up a gluten-free kitchen? Does the book offer what it promises (e.g., if it claims to be dairy-free and gluten-free are all recipes included free of gluten- and dairy-containing ingredients?).

Laws on labeling

The federal Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act was passed in 2004. As a result, product labels now indicate if a food contains one or more of the eight most common food allergens. Additionally, manufacturers may not legally put “gluten-free” on their product if there are more than 20 parts per million (ppm) in sample tested batches. As awareness to food sensitivities and allergies grows, expect more patrons to ask for resources about avoiding other food allergens, in addition to gluten.

The selections below were chosen with the above concerns in mind. They are just a sampling, as there is an abundance of excellent materials available today. When choosing items for your shelves, pay attention to popular bloggers and the books they write (some bloggers and their books are listed below). If budgets allow, patrons will appreciate browsing magazines, as well. While the titles included are from their print versions, an increasing number are available in ebook format.


Wheat Belly and one cookbook focusing on the “paleo diet” are included here. Realistically, library users interested in the gluten-free diet may well ask for Wheat Belly and information about the paleo diet, too, depending on their reasons for going gluten-free. Please be aware, in directing patrons to information about the paleo diet that the program could be gluten-free, with its emphasis on low-processed foods, high protein and produce, and that eating grains is discouraged; however, without specifically naming and eliminatinghidden sources of gluten, the paleo diet doesn’t guarantee that followers are eating gluten-free.

What to weed

The usual weeding concerns apply: if books are stained or torn or have missing pages, let them go or replace them. Cookbooks get dirty faster than other materials, so pay extra attention to their condition. If a cookbook is older but still in decent shape and circulating well, there is no need to weed it, unless space is required for the plethora of newer cookbooks on the market. Also, some materials contain lists of resources, and while these lists are very helpful, especially for people new to gluten-free eating, they can easily become outdated (businesses close; websites change). If a newer book adequately addresses the other topics contained in an older title with a directory, keep the newer one.

Titles below marked with a star (Library Journal Reviews starred review) are essential for any core collection.


Library Journal Reviews starred review Green, Peter H.R. & Rory Jones. Celiac Disease: a Hidden Epidemic. rev. & updated ed. Morrow. 2010. 352p. illus. ISBN 9780061728167. $25.99.

Green, founder of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, provides solid information about CD and the related complications CD patients can experience, illustrated with many case studies. He addresses often unnoticed sources of gluten ingestion such as medications, nutritional supplements, and even lipstick. (LJ 4/1/09)

Korn, Danna. Living Gluten-Free for Dummies. 2d ed. For Dummies: Wiley. 2010. 384p. illus. index. ISBN 9780470585894. pap. $19.99.

The For Dummies books are always chock-full of helpful information that is easy to navigate. This title, as well, includes “Tips,” “Remember” notes, “Warning” boxes, and “Technical Stuff,” handily directing the reader to the most vital details about each subtopic. Korn covers eating away from home, traveling, and raising gluten-free kids, among other topics.

Lieberman, Shari. The Gluten Connection: How Gluten Sensitivity May Be Sabotaging Your Health—and What You Can Do To Take Control Now. Rodale. 2006. 304p. index. ISBN 9781594863875. pap. $17.99.

Clinical nutritionist Lieberman presents a solid resource for those patrons who don’t test positive for celiac disease but still suffer from symptoms of gluten intolerance.

McEachern, Nancy. Student’s Gluten-Free Cookbook for Dummies. For Dummies: Wiley. 2013. 368p. ISBN 9781118485842. pap. $16.99.

McEachern, author of the Gluten Freeville blog (, includes many tips specific to the hectic and often frugal lifestyle of college students, including sharing a kitchen with housemates who may not all eat gluten-free, dealing with the campus cafeteria, socializing, and assessing if a college will support your gluten-free needs when shopping for a school. Especially well-suited to undergraduate academic libraries and teen collections.

Wangen, Stephen. Healthier Without Wheat: A New Understanding of Wheat Allergies, Celiac Disease, and Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance. Innate Health Pub. 2009. 275p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780976853794. pap. $19.95.

This book would be more accurately titled Healthier Without Gluten. While the title suggests the focus might be solely on the health concerns associated with wheat, Wangen actually delves into the many health problems gluten causes for gluten-intolerant individuals (both celiac and nonceliac). He includes solid advice about testing for CD and other forms of GI. The only negative is the very technical and lengthy list of medical conditions associated with GI. Some descriptive information for the lay reader would have been helpful. (LJ 2/15/09)


Ahern, Shauna James. Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back…and How You Can Too. Wiley. 2007. 288p. index. ISBN 9780470137307. $25.95; pap. ISBN 9780470411643. $14.95.

Ahern, author of the popular Gluten-Free Girl blog, is enthusiastic about life and all foods gluten-free. She is candid about how sick she was prior to her CD diagnosis and happily details how she came to thrive on a gluten-free diet. Ahern offers helpful suggestions for avoiding gluten land mines, working constructively with waitstaff to get a healthy meal, and finding the ingredients to do your own nutritious cooking. (LJ 10/1/07)

Ahern, Shauna James & others . Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: A Love Story with 100 Tempting Recipes. Wiley. 2010. 288p. index. ISBN 9780470419717. $29.95.

Written by Ahern with her husband, Daniel, and Lara Ferroni, this book picks up where Gluten-Free Girl left off and is truly a love story, with recipes interspersed amid the text about the Aherns’ relationship to each other and to gluten-free food. The gourmet recipes may be too complex for some, but the authors offer numerous tips to help readers pull off the special techniques.

Bronski, Peter & Melissa McLean Jory. The Gluten-Free Edge: A Nutrition and Training Guide for Peak Athletic Performance and an Active Gluten-Free Life. The Experiment. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9781615190522. pap. $15.95.

Along with great nutritional advice, this book includes personal stories from top-level athletes—many of them female—who had to go gluten-free for health reasons. It is an encouraging title for readers who may have given up exercise and other athletic goals after suffering prior to diagnosis and adoption of a gluten-free lifestyle.

Hasselbeck, Elisabeth. The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide. Center Street. 2009. 256p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781599951881. $24.99; pap. ISBN 9781599951898. $15.99.

Hasselbeck, cohost of the talk show The View, shares her personal journey to gluten-free health in a positive, upbeat manner. Her celebrity status matters; she is someone who has navigated the ups and downs of gluten-free eating, while finding success in her life. This book covers many of the important issues, such as setting up a gluten-free kitchen, travel, gluten-free kids, and living with someone else who is gluten-free. Be aware that this book has some controversy, though. Some in the celiac community object to Hasselbeck’s description of celiac disease as an “allergy” and feel she includes poor medical information. With a foreword by Peter Green, founder of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.


Library Journal Reviews starred review Berghoff, Carlyn & others. Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen: Everyday Foods the Whole Family Will Love. Andrews McMeel. 2013. 192p. ISBN 9781449427603. pap. $19.99.

Written by a mother-daughter duo—a restaurateur and a teenager with celiac disease—this is the only book this reviewer has seen that specifically focuses on the needs of gluten-free teens. Mother Carolyn presents tips about preparing the kitchen and daughter Sarah writes about how to deal with CD, what to tell friends, and how to handle lunch at school. The book has nice photos and illustrations and contains recipes for foods gluten-free teens miss the most.

Hasselbeck, Elisabeth. Deliciously G-Free: Food So Flavorful They’ll Never Believe It’s Gluten-Free. Ballantine. 2012. 288p. illus. index. ISBN 978034552938. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780345529404.

Hasselbeck is back, with a cookbook of delicious recipe ideas, such as smoked salmon on corn fritters, Chocolista Chocolate Cupcakes, and French Toast with caramel rum banana. (LJ 3/1/12)

Lewis, Lisa. Special Diets for Special Kids. 2 vols. in 1. Future Horizons. 2011. 375p. illus. ISBN 9781935274124. pap. $34.95 w/CD.

Lewis helped her autistic son to transition successfully to a gluten-free, casein-free diet. Her advice is appropriate for both parents and anyone attempting a gluten-free, casein-free diet. She includes the latest research on how special diets can positively impact children with autism and ADHD. With appealing illustration and easy-to-make recipes.

Lord, Susan. Getting Your Kid on a Gluten-Free Casein-Free Diet. Jessica Kingsley. 2009. 191p. index. ISBN 9781843109099. $19.95.

Filled with straightforward advice and easy tips from a registered dietician whose daughter was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and has been on a gluten-free, casein-free diet for many years. The “Nutrition First” chapter has wise tips for anyone pursuing a gluten-free diet. (LJ 4/1/09)

Paleo Parents. Eat Like a Dinosaur: Recipe & Guidebook for Gluten-Free Kids. Victory Belt. 2012. 288p. illus. Index. ISBN 9781936608874. pap. $29.95.

Chapter 1 has lots of advice for parents about how to transition the family to a new diet. Chapter 2 is a “picture book,” told by Cole, the family’s oldest child. Beautifully illustrated, the story relates how “eating like a dinosaur” made Cole healthy. Recipes include lots of steps with which kids can help. Visually appealing to youngsters, with great photos of the recipe foods. (See caveat above about the paleo diet.) (LJ 4/1/09)


Ahern, Shauna James. Gluten-Free Girl Every Day. Houghton Harcourt. 2013. 320p. illus. index. ISBN 9781118115213. $29.99.

This item, just published in April, includes tasty combos such as zucchini noodles with spinach pesto and feta and sunflower seeds. (Surprise: the “noodles” are thin raw zucchini strips, creating a base for a cool summer salad.)

Amsterdam, Elana. The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook. Celestial Arts. 2009. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9781587613456. pap. $16.99.

Food blogger Amsterdam (Elana’s Pantry) offers simple recipes using high-protein, low-cholesterol almond flour, few ingredients, and no grains. This cookbook helped to bring to focus almond flour as an alternative to grains.

Brown, Gretchen. Fast and Simple Gluten-Free: 30 Minutes or Less to Fresh and Classic Favorites. Fair Winds: Quayside. 2012. 176p. illus. Index. ISBN 9781592335244. pap. $19.99.

Most of Brown’s recipes are indeed fast and simple, with recipe tips interspersed throughout the cookbook.

Hunn, Nicole. Gluten-Free on a Shoestring: 125 Easy Recipes for Eating Well on the Cheap. 2011. 280p. ISBN 9780738214238.
Hunn, Nicole. Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, Quick and Easy: 100 Recipes for the Food You Love—Fast! 2012. 264p. ISBN 9780738215938; ebk. ISBN 9780738216096.
ea. vol: Da Capo Lifelong. illus. index. pap. $19.

While some readers may not appreciate Hunn’s sometimes sarcastic, offhand style, these books and Hunn’s blog (Gluten Free on a Shoestring) address an important concept: eating gluten-free can get very expensive. The more one can learn to reduce costs and keep food nutritious, the better. Hunn’s books and blog have a strong following.

Lagasse, Jilly & Jessie Lagasse Swanson. The Gluten-Free Table: The Lagasse Girls Share Their Favorite Meals. Grand Central. (Life & Style). 2012. 240p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781455516889. $25.99.

The daughters of famous TV chef Emeril Lagasse share their love of cooking and food, along with their personal stories of recovering good health by eating gluten-free. This title is filled with visually appealing photos and gourmet-style recipes. There is also advice on stocking and preparing a kitchen for gluten-free meals and beverages.

Mayone, Kimberly & Kitty Broihier. Everyday Gluten-Free Slow Cooking: More Than 140 Delicious Recipes. Sterling. 2012. 240p. ISBN 9781402785535. $22.95.

This book includes tips on using a slow cooker, solid advice on avoiding cross-­contamination, a strong selection of bacon-eater recipes, recipes that are also dairy-free and labeled as such or that include tips on adjusting recipes to be dairy-free, slow- cooker dessert recipes, and easy side dishes.

Russell, Laura B. The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen: Recipes for Noodles, Dumplings, Sauces, and More. Celestial Arts. 2011. 208p. illus. ISBN 9781587611353. pap. $22.99.

Russell clearly understands the complexity of avoiding gluten in Asian cooking and ingredients for preparing Asian foods. This well-illustrated book includes a chart for identifying sources of gluten in common Asian ingredients and tips on where to find foods to stock a gluten-free Asian kitchen. (LJ 6/15/11)

Library Journal Reviews starred review Jardine, Denise. The Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free Kitchen. Ten Speed: Crown Pub. Group. 2012. 208p. illus. ISBN 9781607742241. pap. $19.99.

Many gluten-free eaters suffer from digestive issues and must also avoid dairy, especially when they are first healing from the damaging effects of gluten ingestion. The recipes in this book are both dairy-free and gluten-free, with a key at the top of each recipe to indicate what other common allergens and ingredients are excluded. Jardine includes recipes for food substitutions, such as black bean sauce, lean sour cream, and dairy milk alternative. (LJ 12/11)

Washburn, Donna & Heather Butt. 125 Best Gluten-Free Bread Machine Recipes. Robert Rose. 2010. 264p. ISBN 9780778802389. pap. $24.95.

The authors offer advice on selecting a bread machine, nutritional values for each recipe, and tips on how to use the gluten-free cycle for each recipe included. There are a wide variety of bread recipes, including sourdoughs, sweet breads, pizza dough, and even cranberry wild rice loaf.


Davis, William. Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find your Path Back to Health. Rodale. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9781609611545. $25.99; pap. ISBN 9781609614799. $16.99.

This is a book many libraries should own simply because many people want to read it, including gluten-free individuals. However, Davis’s explanation about celiac disease could lead uninformed readers to believe that elimination of wheat gluten alone is the answer for those living with celiac disease. He barely touches on other sources of gluten, but he discusses in depth the effects of wheat gluten and celiac disease.


Gluten Free Living

This bimonthly magazine is a great resource for your gluten-free patrons.

Living Without

This magazine for people with allergies and food sensitivities has creative recipes and well-researched articles.


Gluten Free Girl;

Blogger Shauna Ahern is very knowledgeable and offers creative recipes. Her website has visual appeal and is easy to navigate. She weaves together personal stories with helpful information and includes links to many other useful resources.

Gluten Free on a Shoestring

This blog has lots of fans, and a lot of online interaction between blogger Nicole Hunn and her readers.

Gluten-Free Resource Directory

This directory contains links to various GF products and services, including a “blogs, magazines and books” section.

Gluten Freeville;

Created by blogger Nancy McEachern, this site is nice looking and full of useful, relevant information.

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)

Well designed, with helpful information for the layperson just learning about a digestive illness, this site has good links to nongovernmental organizations related to celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

Christine Hann is Government Information Coordinator at Kalamazoo Public Library, MI. She has been gratefully living gluten-free since 2006 and sends a shout-out to the Greater Kalamazoo Area Celiac Support Group, which helped her keep her sanity during those early years of adjusting to life in the gluten-free zone

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  1. Me! says:

    Personally, anything with the “Hidden Epidemic” in the title will not be taken seriously by me. We want to proved our patrons with information not create paranoid fears through the title on the spine.