no wheat, no dairy, no problemDiagnosed seven years ago with allergies to wheat and dairy, Lauren Hoover was thrilled. Finally, she had a reason for the stomachaches and congestion that had plagued her for decades. All she had to do was cut every last bit of wheat and dairy out of her diet. How hard could it be, especially for a smart foodie and trained chef?

“I didn’t think I ate a lot of processed food, but the first time I went to the supermarket after my diagnosis, I stood outside in the parking lot and cried,” Hoover relates. Everything, it seemed, had some sneaky remnant of wheat or dairy in it. “I thought, what am going to eat, besides chicken, fish, fruit and vegetables? I decided right then that I wasn’t going to live the rest of my life without the foods I love.”

As a professional pastry chef trained at the California Culinary Academy, Hoover was better equipped than most to start tinkering with her favorite recipes. Having worked at numerous high-end hotels, resorts, and restaurants including San Francisco’s La Folie, she didn’t want to ditch her pot pies and chocolate cakes for quinoa and sprouts. Instead, she wanted her meals to be healthy but normal– the sort of thing anyone would be happy to eat, whether or not they had food sensitivities.

What began out of necessity turned into a mission. Returning to college to pursue a psychology degree, she had dreams of becoming a child-advocacy lawyer. In between classes, though, she kept baking, bringing wheat, dairy, and soon sugar-free treats to her study buddies. Friends clamored for her cupcakes and other goodies, and finally an enthusiastic friend insisted that she share her recipes in a cookbook.

“This has become my legacy, the way I can help people who are suffering,” says Hoover. The 150 sweet and savory recipes in her new book No Wheat, No Dairy, No Problem are the result of seven years’ worth of experimenting, testing, and teaching. She’ll be celebrating with a launch party on Saturday, July 18 at 3pm at Noe Valley’s Omnivore Books.

So, what are the must-haves for the wheat- and/or dairy-free kitchen? Since Hoover doesn’t cook with refined sugar, agave nectar is high on her list, although she also likes date sugar, sucanat, and maple syrup for sweetening. “Along with agave nectar, I’d say oat flour, olive or grapeseed oil, and some kind of milk substitute– I like coconut and almond milks, but you can use rice or soy milk, too,” she notes.

Making her book accessible, even to novice cooks outside the well-stocked environs of the Bay Area, was very important to Hoover. “I’m not interested in using a lot of weird ingredients; I think people should be able to make these recipes whether or not they have a Rainbow Grocery down the street.”

Accordingly, her recipes offer plenty of suggestions for substitutions, along with instructions for whipping up homemade basics like raw almond milk.

The back of the book also offers a crash course in supermarket label-reading, including a 4-page list of often-overlooked wheat and dairy derivatives, from whey protein to modified food starch.

Having seen too many food-sensitive friends give in to momentary brownie or pizza cravings only to suffer the consequences for days on end, Hoover promises that “with this book, you can have everything you love without having to suffer.” The hardest thing for her to leave behind? “Triple-creme cheese, and yogurt,” she sighs. “But I know, for me, it’s just not worth it.”

Summer Fruit Crisp

Adapted from No Wheat, No Dairy, No Problem by Lauren Hoover

Yield: 6-10 servings


3 pounds of stone fruit (nectarines, peaches, apricots, plums), washed, pitted, and cut into 1″ slices
½ cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon tapioca starch or 2 tablespoons oat or barley flour

1 cup oat or barley flour, sifted
½ cup date sugar, maple sugar or sucanat
1 stick Earth Balance, cold or frozen, diced
zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla powder, optional
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds)
½ cup old fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss fruit with filling ingredients and pour into a 9×12 glass baking dish or a 2-quart round soufflé dish. Set aside.

2. Put topping ingredients into a food processor with the ‘s’ blade, and pulse until it is until it is crumbly and the size of cherries. (This can also be done with a pastry cutter in a bowl.)

3. Pour topping evenly over fruit and bake for approximately 30 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and fruit is bubbling. Let cool for 1 hour before serving.

No wheat, no dairy, no problem 17 July,2009Stephanie Rosenbaum Klassen

  • This looks like a great resource with the background of a trained chef which means the food will taste good! I have recommended it to my dietarily challenged family members. I like that she stated she wanted the ingredients to be accessible by all!

  • Virginia

    This book is just what I’ve been waiting for, and the recipe sounds delicious. I think I’ll make it with some sweet and juicy nectarines and serve it still warm with some vanilla bean flavor Purely Decadent coconut milk ice cream.

  • Felicia

    I have the book and have made several of the recipies. The recipies are so good and I found everything I needed at Whole Foods Market! I also went to Lauren’s cooking class at the Whole Foods Market in Cupertino and she is such a treat! She really shows you how to complete the meal that is not toxic to us dietary challenged people. My son cannot have gluetin and he loves her chocolate mousse recipe. Its easy and fun to make and eat! I recommend even to my regular eater friends that this is an excellent cookbook to have!

  • cynthia cochrane

    hi there i want to purchase the book no wheat no diary no problem how do i go about this please i live in new zealand ta cynthia

  • Fiona Moore

    Just a quick question. Partner is wheat,dairy,egg and pulses intolerant will the recipes be ok for him?

  • Thanks for commenting, Fiona. You should check with author Lauren Hoover directly about your partner’s issues and whether her book would be helpful. You can find her at


Stephanie Rosenbaum Klassen

Stephanie Rosenbaum Klassen is a longtime local food writer, author, and cook. Her books include The Art of Vintage Cocktails (Egg & Dart Press), World of Doughnuts (Egg & Dart Press); Kids in the Kitchen: Fun Food (Williams Sonoma); Honey from Flower to Table (Chronicle Books) and The Astrology Cookbook: A Cosmic Guide to Feasts of Love (Manic D Press). She has studied organic farming at UCSC and holds a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. She does frequent cooking demonstrations at local farmers’ markets and has taught food writing at Media Alliance in San Francisco and the Continuing Education program at Stanford University. She has been the lead restaurant critic for the San Francisco Bay Guardian as well as for San Francisco magazine. She has been an assistant chef at the Headlands Center for the Arts, an artists’ residency program located in the Marin Headlands, and a production cook at the Marin Sun Farms Cafe in Pt Reyes Station. After some 20 years in San Francisco interspersed with stints in Oakland, Santa Cruz, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, she recently moved to Sonoma county but still writes in San Francisco several days a week.

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