Cookbooks: Against the Grain

March 6, 2015(updated on August 30, 2021)

Against the Grain cover

I have no beef with gluten. I eat it happily and without any kind of gastrointestinal or autoimmune distress. Nonetheless, I have really enjoyed using some of the gluten-free cookbooks that have been published over the last few years.

The reason for my appreciate is simple. I like new ideas and opportunities to expand beyond my regular set of ingredients and these books are terrific at finding new, delicious ways to make things work.

peanut butter bars

What’s more, while I can eat wheat until the cows come home, lots of people I know cannot. I am always happy to discover novel recipes that I can share with friends and relatives who have to stay away from various grains or anything with gluten.

book and squares

A few weeks back, a copy of Nancy Cain’s Against the Grain appeared in my mailbox. I spent a few minutes flipping through and immediately identified a handful of recipes I wanted to try (Maple Flax Crackers! Cashew Chews with Cacao Nibs! Buckwheat Cheddar Puffs!). Later that night, I had a pan of her Peanut Butter Bars cooling on my counter.

peanut butter cubes

Made with just peanut butter, honey, an egg, baking soda, and a little bit of coconut, you might wonder how on earth these bars work. But work they do, whether you’re on a gluten-free diet or not. I cut them into small squares and ate most of the pan on my own, one or two at a time. They’re naturally sweetened, high in protein, and best when eaten at room temperature. Perfect for snack time or a late night nibble!

4 from 1 vote

Peanut Butter Bars from Against the Grain

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes


  • 1 cup smooth or chunky peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 shredded coconut optional


  • Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease an 8 x 8-inch baking dish, then line it with parchment paper, allowing the paper to overhang two sides of the dish.
  • In a bowl, with a hand mixer, blend the peanut butter, honey, egg, baking soda, and 3 tablespoons of coconut (if using) until thick and creamy.
  • Scoop the batter into the baking dish and use a rubber spatula to spread the batter until it is even.
  • Bake the bar for 18 to 20 minutes, or until set and the edges are just barely starting to brown (the center will be slightly lower that the edges when set).
  • This batter has a tendency to overbake very quickly, so be sure to check for doneness at around 18 minutes.
  • Remove the bar from the oven, sprinkle on the remaining coconut for garnish, and allow to cool fully in the pan before cutting.


Recipe reprinted with permission from Against the Grain by Nancy Cain.

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5 thoughts on "Cookbooks: Against the Grain"

  • Looks wonderful. Am wondering if other nut butters might work as well. As expensive as they are, and as much variety in texture there is among them, am hoping that any who have experimented might share the results with the rest of us.
    (Yep, we are developing some food sensitivities as we age – mine now include dairy and gluten and hubs has the peanut allergy.)
    Oh, and perhaps it will help others – my gluten allergy may not be gluten at all but the additives in flour that commercial bakers must use. So far, my home ground wheat causes little to no reaction. Still fine tuning it all, and not a doc here – just passing along my experience so far in identifying just what I am allergic/sensitive to.