Friday, July 18, 2008
When you want to eat healthy for life, learning how to cook is essential. Choosing healthy, whole ingredients and using healthy cooking methods is one of the best and easiest ways to ensure that what you're eating is good for you (and isn't just masquerading as healthy at the store or from a restaurant). One of the easiest ways to start learning your way around the kitchen is to try out a new cookbook.
It's no secret that I'm a long-time vegetarian, so all of my favorite cookbooks are vegetarian ones. But don't write them off if you eat meat yourself! Here's why: For one, food prices are rising, and that means meat prices are going up, too. Opting for meatless meals—even just once or twice a week—can save you money. But even if money isn't an issue, many major health organizations say we'd be better off if we relied less on meat to make a meal. Plus the carbon footprint of meat is high—it takes more natural resources and produces more waste to bring meat to market than to grow food from plants. But at the very least, we could all benefit by consuming more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and these cookbooks will help you do all of those things.
The picture above is from my very own kitchen, where I keep my cookbooks close at hand. I've written about some of these in former blog entries, so I’m going to give abbreviated reasons as to why each of these is great.
- Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. My top pick! In addition to being one of the thickest cookbooks ever (hello tons of recipes that never get old), this book really teaches you about food (like when it's in season, how to pick it, prepare it, store it, etc.) AND gives you great information about HOW to cook. I learn something every time I open it up.
- Vive Le Vegan! by Dreena Burton. Vegan cooking is very creative and uses foods and products that might be new to you, but it's also low in fat, cholesterol-free and dairy-free, which is great for people with health conditions or sensitivities. This book has great dessert and snack recipes.
- RAW: The Uncook Book by Juliano. This guy started a successful raw vegan restaurant in California. While I don't recommend a 100% raw diet, some of these recipes are to die for: guacamole, delicious and beautiful salads, dehydrated fruits and "grawnolas," and more. It's fun and adventurous!
- The Candle Café Cookbook by Joy Pierson, Bart Potenza, and Barbara Scott-Goodman. This is great for all the "foodies" out there who like to cook more complicated, gourmet and exotic food. The recipes come from the successful Candle Café vegan restaurant in New York City.
- How it All Vegan by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard. This is by far the best cookbooks for vegan food. Every recipe I've ever made from this was a hit, even with meat eaters. My favorites are the Sloppy Joes (you'd never know they're meatless) and Spicy Black Bean Burgers. These recipes are easy to make and use pretty common ingredients, too.
- The Garden of Vegan by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard. This is the follow-up to the book above. In addition to yummy recipes like oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (which use healthy ingredients like whole wheat flour), it also has recipes for non-toxic cleaning supplies and home beauty products.
- The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook by Louise Hagler and Dorothy R. Bates. The photos and styling in this book look as old as it truly is (1975). These vegetarian foods are like "comfort" foods to me, and if you're interested in cooking more soy foods, this is the book for you.
What's your favorite healthy cookbook? Share in the comments below!