The Spunky Coconut Cookbook – a review

Well I decided that if I was going to try a gluten and dairy free diet (background here) then I’d need a few books because I have one gluten free cookbook in my little library of cookbooks. And that is my thermomix one and there aren’t many pretty pictures. And I love pretty pictures and baking and cookbooks. So it was time to order a few. First one that arrived in my mailbox and first cab off the rank to be reviewed is The Spunky Coconut Cookbook – 2nd edition. I decided that a mother of young girls would have family friendly recipes and that is what my cooking is all about. Oh and she also has a blog, The Spunky Coconut.

Now the book is very easy to read, there is some great information on lunchboxes, making your own almond milk, what you need in your kitchen and some basic ingredients. Now will just let you know that the recipes tend to use vanilla stevia liquid instead of sugar in most of the baking. I’ve never heard of this but am sure I will substitute with something else and I like to improvise anyway so that doesn’t bother me. If you’re a stickler for following a recipe to a tee then you might like to use a stevia liquid or something like that.

There are some great recipes that I really want to try and the food is really what kids like to eat so homemade tortillas, chicken meatballs, lasagne (there is a mock ricotta lasagne as well as a butternut squash lasagne which I’ll definitely have to try), baked stuffing recipe (think thanksgiving) and good old mac n cheese to keep the kids happy. And for the adults some delicious salad dressings, soups and more meat dishes. But the book really shines in the baking department.

If you’re new to gluten and dairy free (hello, me!) then some of the ingredients might really be a bit new to you – coconut oil, coconut flour, stevia, dairy free choc chips- but the majority of ingredients are things that you will have. And by the way retro daddy picked up coconut oil and flour from our local supermarket and the dairy free choc chips are by Sweet William (thanks to my lovely facebook readers who helped me out with my chocolate dilemma) and also found at the supermarket in the health aisle but were hiding on the bottom shelf.

Ok so the baking – well how about brownies, blondies, custard pie, lots of cookies recipes including my favourite – jam drops! There is pecan pie, chocolate pie, key lime pie, strawberry cheesecake and more. The baking section really is fabulous and a great way to approach baking without wheat, dairy and sugar.

Now it wouldn’t be a review if I didn’t make a recipe so while the little ones were playing after shower time I quickly made the blondies. I substituted the honey for maple syrup which I had, left out the stevia which I did not have and made the blondies in a loaf tin because the mixture wasn’t big enough for my square tin. The recipe also called for almond butter but I have a thermomix which quickly turned some raw almonds into a lovely almond butter in no time. And I used sweet william choc chips which are gluten, dairy and sugar free. They kind of melted when the brownie baked but not that anyone minded in my house.

And???? A winner! This was really good. I tested it out on our helper for the night who loved it and retro daddy thought it was great too. Nothing came back on the plate from the kids and excuse the late night photo. Retro daddy demolished most of it and it’s actually quite dense and filling. Not too sweet and might take some time for some people to adjust to the no sugar but it was a delicious dessert.

So all in all I really like this book and think it’s great if you are after traditional family recipes that are converted to gluten and dairy free (oh and sugar free). These are the things that kids like to eat and they are aren’t too fussy. Be prepared to shop for some new ingredients but I think if you’re on a different diet or trying something new then that is expected.

And just a little note that the introduction does talk about not vaccinating your children. This did throw me a bit as it was first page of the introduction and not what I expect in a cookbook. I hadn’t read Kelly’s blog or facebook page but have since learnt more about her family. This is a hot topic that everyone has an opinion on. But I just wanted to let you know because if you do buy the book then I didn’t want you coming back to tell me that I didn’t mention it. So there. Mentioned it.


  1. I use Stevia sugar and like it because it is like equal and splenda etc except that is plant based rather than totally artificial. I would love to be able to give up sugar completely but I just can’t!

  2. Hi CorrIe, I am gluten and dairy free also, mine due to allergy. My fall back recipe is a combination of one box of Naturally Good, Deliciously Free Moist Chocolate Mud Cake Mix, found in Coles/ Woolies, and a block of Whittakers 50% Chocolate that is gluten and dairy free. (note that Whittakers warn that it is made on equipment that processes dairy but I’ve not had any issues). I make the mix as per the directions, put it into large fancy muffin papers, I get about 10, then I put two squares of the chocolate into the centre each muffin and push it in so it sticks out a bit. Cook for 18 minutes and then keep an eye out, they usually take about 20. These are Great!! I serve them as a desert with ice cream for everyone else and soy ice cream for me, but I have to say, on their own, microwaved for 30 seconds straight from the freezer, they make a killer breakfast.

  3. Is Maple syrup gluten free? Mine isn’t as far as I can tell.

  4. Looks great but we are a nutfree (including all nuts – and its me with the allergy, not the kids!) houmse. Gluten free ussually raises a big red flag for me – especially sweet things! All those killer almonds! :)

    • ohhhh that would be hard as lots of almond butter, nuts, yep! That makes it tricky too for school and church as we can’t take nuts there. Tricky!!!!! Coconut flour?

  5. We use a lot of all purpose GF flour, rice flour, and a lot of the GF cookbooks tell you what mixture to make. To me it is one big science experiment. The benefit of the almond flour for those without allergies is the extra protein. For us, we use a GF mix occasionally. My daughter used it and made S’more cupcakes. She had GF graham crackers in the crust, GF chocolate embedded in the cupcake and a boiled icing that she torched with a blowtorch (used for creme brule not construction). RE: being GF – watch some of the unusual suspects – e.g. you will need GF soy sauce. (My local sushi place does it automatically when I come pick up).

  6. Thanks for the review Corrie… it looks like a great cookbook! Alas my cookbook-shopping habit is almost as bad as my fabric and yarn addictions!
    I’ve been using stevia for some time (the brand available in Australian supermarkets is Natvia in case you were wondering. It’s in the sugar & sweetener section). I haven’t seen it as a liquid but I imagine dissolving some of the powder in a little filtered water would achieve the same result?? A word of caution with baking though… stevia is a LOT sweeter than sugar, so you wouldn’t substitute 1:1 if a recipe called for sugar. I’ve read that brown rice syrup is a ‘better’ (for health) alternative to maple syrup or honey. But I’m not sure if it’s GF and I don’t think I could ever give up maple syrup!
    I’m also a fan of Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar recipes. While she doesn’t exclude dairy, I think most of her recipes are wheat free. You could just omit the dairy too.

  7. We went to the gluten free expo this morning. A really good way to try out lots of gluten free (and dairy free, nut free, all kinds) products and then buy them cheap. I have just posted some photos plus a bit of a run down of what we managed to check out. It was huge. GF stuff is a lot better than it used to be, thank goodness. There were seasoned professionals there with wheely suitcases or making the kids carry a huge bag each.

  8. Last week I noticed a (new) whole section at my local supermarket with 4 or 5 brands of stevia products. I bought some tablets for my hot drinks at work, but it is very sweet and I need to halve the already tiny tablet. The tablets seem to leave a taste in your mouth, which I don’t mind cause then I don’t need the piece of cake/chocolate too. I also bought a bottle of stevia liquid a few months ago from pharmacy which I use in my drinks at home. It takes a while to get use to it, but now I like it.

    • ohhh it’s the stevia liquid that she uses in her baking so maybe I need to check out the chemist, hadn’t thought of that! thanks. I’ve never tried it!

  9. Have you noticed any improvement in elodie?
    Baking is a big part of why I’m too chicken to go gluten free.

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