“The pictures looked so good online. I don’t know why it didn’t turn out that way when I made it!”
Entire articles are dedicated to capturing people’s Pinterest fails when it comes to attempting new recipe creations.
It can be discouraging to put all of the effort into trying something new only to have it end up in the trash. It’s one of the reasons people don’t try new recipes.
“What if it doesn’t turn out right?”
“What if I ruin it?”
“I hate wasting food…and money on food.”
Yes, yes, yes! I’m with you on all three of those. I want my dishes to be tasty and delicious and to feel like buying the ingredients was money well spent.
One of the ways I’ve learned to give myself a better chance of making successful recipes over the years is using cookbooks. What I’ve found is if I like a few of someone’s recipes, I tend to be more confident that other dishes they’ve created will be good, too. And usually, I end up with a yummy meal.
Whether you’ve been cooking for years, are just getting started or are learning a new way to cook based on some health challenges or the way you want to feel, using a cookbook can be a great way to bring some excitement and variety to your kitchen.
Check out a few of my favorite go-to cookbooks when I’m feeling burnt out from Pinterest, am looking for inspiration, or just want to go old school and use an actual book instead of a website. I’ve also given you a list of the top cookbooks on my wish list. Any of these would make great Christmas gifts for yourself or the food lovers in your life!
Nourishing Meals: Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes for the Whole Family by Alissa Segersten & Tom Malterre
You know a book has good recipes when you have about 100 Post-it flags sticking out of it of all of the recipes you have made or plan to make. My nutritionist raves about Tom Malterre, the co-author of this cookbook, citing him as one of the best nutrition experts out there. He and his wife, Alissa, have 5 kids and are incredibly knowledgeable about how to eat for health AND make kid-friendly meals and snacks.
Favorite Recipes: Asian Chicken Salad, Apple Cider Baked Beans, Cajun Red Beans and Quinoa, Chipotle Yam Fries, Chana Masala, Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream and Peanut Butter Monster Cookies. I could go on forever! This is hands-down one of our favorites.
The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten & Tom Malterre
In their newest cookbook, Alissa and Tom feature 300 Delicious, Whole Foods Recipes, including Gluten-free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, and Egg-Free Dishes. They don’t just share recipes for everything from smoothies and muffins to dressings, dips and desserts. They also teach some vital information about food sensitivities (we’re not just talkin’ peanuts), digestive health, how to stock your kitchen, and cooking techniques. Not only that, but the photos are stunning!
Favorite Recipes: Banana Almond Pancakes, Apple-Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins, Gingered Carrot Soup, Spiced Citrus Salmon, Superfood Fudge, and Chocolate-Raspberry Hazelnut Tart. Hungry yet?
Clean Food by Terry Walters
Written by a graduate of my health coach training program, Clean Food, was a gift from my mother-in-law when I finished grad school. Chef Mario Batali said:
“Clean Food is the most exciting book based on fresh produce and simple produce I have used in years.”
He’s seen a lot of cookbooks, too! I love how Terry organizes the cookbook by season and promotes the use of whole, fresh ingredients. Also, for anyone who has food sensitivities or allergies to things like dairy and gluten, this cookbook will give you tons of new inspirations and alternatives, and you will not feel deprived or slighted in the least!
Favorite Recipes: Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette, Three-Bean Chili, Roasted Kabocha Squash, Ginger and Pear Crisp, and Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Undiet by Meghan Telpner
I’ve spent the past three months boosting my culinary nutrition skills and knowledge and being entertained by Meghan as she has taught me and dozens of other students the keys to culinary nutrition. Her book, Undiet, includes practical tips and guidelines for how to get yourself off the “diet” train so you can enjoy life, eat amazingly delicious and nourishing food, and thrive! Any recipe Meghan puts out there, whether it’s in the CNE program, through her blog, or in this book is a winner. She’s releasing her first full cookbook in October 2015, so stay tuned for when that happens. I will definitely be talking about it!
Favorite Recipes: Yogi Tea, Lemon Lentil Vegetable Soup, Sundried Tomato & Bean Hummus, Life-Affirming Chili, Veggie Rice Wraps with Almond Dipping Sauce, and Almond Power Cookies
The Beauty Detox Foods by Kimberly Snyder
I’m not entirely sure what prompted me to buy this book, but I’m glad I did! I use this book not only for the recipes but also for the guide that it includes to highlight which foods are best for which beauty and body goals. I often give this book to brides-to-be as part of a shower gift to help them beautify their bodies before the big day! Because it’s more of a detox-focused book, it’s not something I use every day, but I have found some staple recipes and have learned a lot about different foods and their beauty benefits, which has made this book worth it for me!
Favorite Recipes: Creamy Dijon–Tahini Dressing, Raw Purple Cabbage Slaw, and Raw Gorilla Taco Wraps
And now for a few cookbooks on MY Wish List 🙂
Don’t let the word “vegan” in this title scare you off. You’ll miss out if you do. One of the reasons I like vegan recipes is because they automatically nix dairy products (a trigger food for my history of health issues – and many other people’s as well!) and because they make plants the focal point of the dish. Most of us don’t eat enough plants, even though they are the most nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich foods out there.
Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health & A Whole-Foods Lifestyle by Danielle Sanfilippo
I’ve heard from multiple people that this book is a must-have for anyone living a dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free lifestyle. The cookbook includes 30-day meal plans, over 120 easy recipes, and even some handy tear-out guides.Danielle also writes for a paleo blog called Balanced Bites, which is definitely worth checking out!
The Blender Girl by Tess Masters
I’ve heard great things about this book (and the beautiful pictures in it) from one of my favorite people (and head of the CNE program I just finished), Meghan Telpner. She raved about this book, so I plan to get it! I’ve also checked out some recipes on Tess’s blog and love the variety, especially for smoothies. She even has a smoothie app now, too. The app lets you punch in what you feel (happy, sluggish, wired), need (a detox, to lose weight, to chill out), and crave (light and fruity, clean and green, an exotic ride) to find the right smoothie for that day. For great detox and weight loss smoothies, check out this list from Dherbs.
I was not familiar with this book, but a classmate from the Culinary Nutrition program I just finished suggested it as one of her “go to” cookbooks, so I thought I would add it to my list! Bill and I meal plan most weeks (as often as we can!) to make it easier and more affordable to eat the way we do – fresh, whole, unprocessed. Just this past week, we thawed out a vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie we had made in October and enjoyed it again for a few lunches this week. It saves so much time to have meals made ahead of time.
As the title says, use this book as a guide to learn every basic (and not so basic) cooking technique you could ever imagine. Bittman explains in simple, how to steps with lots of pictures and has even given a really great TED Talk about food. I gave this book to one of my best friends, who doesn’t feel confident in her cooking skills, as part of her wedding gift this year.