If you are a fan of Desert Health, you’ve probably heard many top docs say that the healthiest way to improve overall wellbeing is to cut sugar and carbs, leading culprits in today’s chronic disease and obesity epidemics. 

Rogers donates a portion of proceeds to the valley’s Loving All Animals.

One of the easiest means is to remove processed sugars and grains, key principles behind Paleo and keto. Those of us who follow that path quickly realize the significant benefits, but often miss comfort foods like French bread, fried chicken, pasta and pies. Substitutes can always be found, but online recipes can disappoint, and packaged products are often filled with unhealthy additives.

Look no further because It’s a No Grainer Cookbook has arrived, offering more than 180 delightfully gluten-free, grain-free, low-carb and keto-friendly recipes. The best part is that this beautiful compilation was inspired locally and created by Palm Desert resident Barbara Hankey-Rogers.

Banana coconut pancakes with lavender sprinkles

 Rogers is not a professional chef, nutritionist or health care practitioner, just a self-proclaimed foodie who took her health into her own hands and researched all she needed to know to dramatically improve her health. Her research included many of the books we’ve recommended in Desert Health over the years including William Davis’ Wheat Belly, Permutter’s Grain Brain, Bredesen’s The End of Alzheimer’s and local doctor Joseph E. Scherger’s Lean and Fit: A Doctor’s Journey to Healthy Nutrition and Greater Wellness

Cauliflower cheese bread

In fact, it was Scherger who first inspired Rogers to write her book. In the beginning, she compiled a few recipes in a computer-generated copy which Scherger shared with patients and friends. Rogers was surprised when I showed her the copy I kept from nearly a decade ago.

BBQ citrus salmon

Luckily for us, Rogers has summarized what she learned in an easy-to-digest introduction chaptered “No Grainer Basics,” followed by the enticing benefits of living gluten and grain free. There are also valuable resources such as the world’s 41 most nutrient-dense foods, a chart listing the glycemic index of foods and a section comparing keto to paleo, vegetarian to vegan, Mediterranean and more. 

Fried chicken (flourless and non-fried)

Next, you’ll find nutritious recipes and colorful photos for pancakes, cookies, breads and pizzas, things you may think forbidden with a grain-free lifestyle. There are also nutrient-dense comfort foods and dinners featuring meat, fowl and seafood. She even shares her “love affair with bacon” including the uncured version (free of nitrates, antibiotics and other additives) in several recipes.

Chocolate chip cookie dough bites

More and more people are finding that eliminating foods that bother them reduces inflammation, bloating, low energy and even aging, she says, but unless you keep it fun, many won’t maintain these healthier habits.

“This book provides recipes that can fulfill your desires for delightfully tasty foods by exchanging grains and gluten [and sugars] for cleaner nutrients that enable your body to function well.” Creative substitutes include cassava, coconut and almond flours, stevia, monk fruit and erythritol, a sugar alcohol naturally present in fruits and fermented foods with the consistency of sugar, but a zero glycemic index so it does not affect blood sugars. Look for non-GMO labels and those without additives like aspartame.

The book took Rogers eight years to write with unfortunate tragedy along the way. “I lost my son in the middle of it all and really gave up,” she shared in our interview. “I didn’t want to do anything as this was to be his legacy. But then I heard him speak to me and knew he would want me to finish.” The book is dedicated to Taylor.

At 74, Rogers is the picture of health and an avid pickleball player. She takes no medications and attributes her sustained energy, ideal weight and overall wellbeing to her grain-free lifestyle. But like many, it took her awhile to get there. Throughout her life she tried low-fat, vegan and gluten-free diets which didn’t work for her.

“I used to take supplements to try and break down foods, but nothing worked; those last 5 to 10 pounds never came off. Once I read Scherger’s Lean and Fit and Davis’ Wheat Belly: 10-day Grain Detox, I realized how wrong I was eating,” she says. “Going grain-free, I was able to get to, and easily maintain, my ideal weight while still enjoying all the foods and flavors I crave – without taking any supplements.”

Many wish to improve their health, but don’t know where to start, says Scherger. “Barbara did her research reading a number of recommended books on healthy nutrition and combined that with her love of cooking to create a beautiful and unique cookbook for the rest of us.”

It’s a No Grainer helps readers understand the spectrum of grains (yes, tortilla chips are grain) and provides delicious, nutrient-dense alternatives that deliver similar flavor and consistency. An important thing she notes is that gluten-free doesn’t mean grain-free, but if it’s grain-free, its automatically gluten-free. 

There are many quick and easy offerings for breakfast, lunch and dinner along with snacks, sauces, baked goods and desserts. She has also included her favorite recipes for main dishes like lobster, prime rib, roasted chicken, crab and more.

This is a cookbook for everyone inspired to make healthier choices, she says, and the only one she has found that is both keto and Paleo friendly. Her recipes are either naturally keto or with options to make them so.

Rogers’ initial inspiration was to simply lose weight and prevent disease as she aged. Now, she is living her best life and eager to share her creations with others on the same journey. As one who has also been grain-free for years, I was over-the-moon to discover her beautiful masterpiece. My friends and family have enjoyed all that I’ve made, and I’ve even learned a few things (who knew romaine lettuce was so nutritious?).

“Life is amazing when you savor how you live, how you work and how you eat,” Rogers writes in her preface. “It is my hope that the information and recipes I’ve provided in It’s a No Grainer will start you on a journey to a long, healthy and active life.”

It’s A No Grainer is available on Amazon and their website. A portion of proceeds benefit Loving All Animals, a Coachella Valley animal welfare and adoption agency. See our Fresh Cuisine section for a few of Rogers’ recipes and visit www.ItsANoGrainerLife.com for more information.

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