A few cookbook favorites

As I mentioned last week, one of the steps I'm taking to create a clearing in my life is to embrace wholesome and healthy foods and to minimize the not-so-healthy ones. (Cupcakes, I'm looking at you). I've always considered myself a pretty conscious eater, but I'm not going to lie: making this change is hard. I think, for awhile, I was fooling myself into thinking that, because I try to eat organic foods and try to eat a generally healthy diet, I was taking good care of myself. But when I decided several weeks ago to cut out the junk - including almost all processed foods, refined sugars, coffee, alcohol, and most dairy (as well as red meat and poultry, for health and other reasons) - I was amazed by how dramatic the change felt.

What's making this process, well, not exactly easy, but easier, is the variety of fantastic natural/healthy foods cookbooks out there. I feel like I'm learning how to think about food in a whole new way, and part of it is realizing how truly delicious wholesome foods can be with just a little bit of effort. So I thought I'd share some of the cookbooks currently in heavy rotation in my kitchen.

by Heidi Swanson
Written and photographed by Heidi Swanson, creator of 101 Cookbooks (one of my favorite cooking blogs), Super Natural Cooking explores a range of simple dishes that make use of unrefined ingredients like whole grains, natural sweeteners, and nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. Swanson also includes tips on creating a whole foods pantry, which I'm finding particularly helpful as I restock my kitchen shelves with healthy staples. Many of Swanson's recipes are gluten and/or dairy-free, a bonus for those with food allergies or those who (like me) simply wish to minimize those foods.

Recipe to try: Otsu (buckwheat noodles tossed with a fiery ginger-sesame dressing and a generous dose of cucumbers, scallions, and pan-seared tofu)

For: uncomplicated, delicious dishes with an emphasis on unrefined ingredients + equally scrumptious photography

by Mark Bittman
True, "vegetarian" is not synonymous with "healthy," but in his follow-up to How to Cook Everything, acclaimed New York Times food writer Mark Bittman ("The Minimalist") has compiled an astoundingly comprehensive collection of super simple recipes, featuring a mostly healthful assortment of whole grains, vegetables, and legumes. Bittman offers variations on almost every dish, and his easy-yet-flavorful concoctions are perfect for spicing up stuff like leftover brown rice, beans, and veggies.

Recipe to try: Fava and mint salad with asparagus

For: a seemingly endless supply of mostly health-conscious vegetarian dishes

by Alicia Silverstone
The collection of healthful recipes encompasses three separate levels - the first level for those who simply want to reduce their meat intake and eat a more plant-centric diet and the third level being totally macrobiotic. In other words, there's a little something for everyone along the healthy eating spectrum. Silverstone also includes insights and musings on her personal relationship to food, and her philosophy on eating well for our bodies and for the planet.

Recipe to try: Eggplant Chana Masala (an Indian-spiced chickpea dish)

For: Recipes and advice on making the switch to a plant-based diet, as well as tips for those flirting with veganism or macrobiotics

What are your favorite healthy cookbooks and recipes? I would love to hear!


Lauren said...

These are definitely three of my faves! I love the pics in Heidi Swanson's book, the lack of faux meat products (ick!) in Bittman's book (and that it has just plain veggie recipes as well as basic techniques), and the ideas that float around in Alicia Silverstone's book. That being said, I found some of the recipes in The Kind Diet to be a little out there (and have a bunch of ingredients I didn't recognize).

I love "The Vegan Table", anything by Deborah Madison and "World Vegetarian" by Madhur Jaffrey.

Allison said...

I am a huge fan of Heidi Swanson but I equally love Bryant Terry! He co-authored Grub with Anna Lappe (daughter of Frances Moore Lappe) and recently released Vegan Soul Kitchen--amazing! (I'm on a quest to make everything in the book.)

Green Chic said...

too funny! i just read your post....i ordered Heidi Swanson's book this morning and when I was at Barnes today I bought the Vegan Table!

Green Chic said...

i saw Heidi's book at Anthro this weekend...so i was sold :)

Post Grad Hair Cut said...

I've heard of the kind diet and I am totally intrigued!

Analiese Marie said...

Lauren, I know what you mean about The Kind Diet...it can be slightly "out there." Thanks for the tips...I'll check those out.

Allison, thanks for the tip about Bryant Terry. I keep hearing good things about Vegan Soul Kitchen. I'll have to check it out.

Green Chic, so funny! We are in each other's heads again! ;-)

megara said...

I love Heidi Swanson's stuff. thanks for posting this, i'll have to check all of these out! darling blog!!


Jenn said...

Awesome post. This is a change I've been thinking about a lot too, and I'm glad to learn about these cookbooks.

I've also been pretty good about buying local and organic foods, but I've been lax about watching my red meat intake, caffeine and refined carbs. You've inspired me to try harder!

Carolyn said...

Just got Mark Bittman's book and can't wait to try a recipe! Also want The Kind Diet, but I'm trying to pace myself. :)


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