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Recommendations for healthy cookbooks

As I've been cooking a lot recently, I realized that everything I've been cooking isn't very healthy. In an effort to prevent a coronary, does anyone have any recommendations for healthy, but yummy, cookbooks? Thanks in advance!

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  1. It depends on what you consider healthy. There's no consensus, and indeed there's a lot of contention, about what's conducive to good health.

    1. For me, healthy cooking means less meat & animal fat, more vegetables & whole grains.

      Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" is a favourite of mine because his recipes use ingredients I generally already have in my pantry, or are available at my grocery store. With most recipes, he also provides lots of little ways of altering the flavour, or suggestions of other ingredients to add. The book may be in your local library - check it out & give it a "test drive" before buying!

      I also have found that asian food tends to be much lower in fat & higher in vegetables - if you like Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, etc., try to find a cookbook for one of those cuisines. I'm sure there are many threads about cookbooks here.

      Lots of great healthy food blogs out there as well - there was an interesting thread going not too long ago about favourite food bloggers.

      Good luck, and have fun!!!

      6 Replies
      1. re: hungryjoanne

        For this type of healthy I recommend looking at flexitarian books. I also use my normal cookbooks and lighten recipes myself.

        1. re: hungryjoanne

          "For me, healthy cooking means less meat & animal fat, more vegetables & whole grains."

          And for me, it's the opposite, with emphasis on meat and dairy from pastured animals free of drugs and pesticides, pastured poulty, wild fish and tons of non starch veggies and healthy oils from unpolluted sources.

          Which is why one is probably always better off asking for "low fat" or "low carb" or "vegetarian" than using the word "healthy."

          1. re: mcf

            I know for me, "healthy" just means reasonable in the amount of calories. I can only eat around 1800 calories a day for the most part, so a "healthy" meal to me is one that's 600 calories or less. There's splurge meals here and there, but overall, I try stick to under 600 average for lunch and dinner (so 1200 combined between the two). I personally like meat and vegetables, and would rather have a larger portion of meat, even if it means cutting out the grains to be able to have it. But everyone is different as we always learn here when the word "healthy" comes up.

            But, I know the OPs history, she has been learning how to cook. And, from what I recall, cooking a lot of Ina Garten recipes, which, while good, aren't something you can really eat a lot of every day. So I was keeping that in mind when giving my suggestions.

            1. re: juliejulez

              I love Ina but can only cook a very small number of things she makes due to high sugar and starch content. Still, she's so worth it for the way she simplifies technique and helps to build confidence.

              My only point is that to get the kind of recipes you want personally, given the lack of consensus, it might be more to one's advantage to specify by qualities more definable, based upon past experience of such threads.

              1. re: juliejulez

                You're right--I have been cooking from Ina Garten's books a lot, which is why I asked this question. The recipes are so yummy, but they're also very dairy and carb heavy. I'm afraid I'll induce a coronary in my husband if I cook like that every day. :)

                For me, healthy (or healthier) means less dairy (I really love cheese), less refined carbohydrates and lots of vegetables. I don't eat a lot of meat naturally, so that isn't really a problem. I am a carb-a-holic though.

            2. re: hungryjoanne

              I'm definitely purchasing the Mark Bittman book. I have the original How to Cook Everything, but the vegetarian version a lot of different recipes. I don't eat a lot of meat naturally, and won't eat it if I'm just cooking for myself. I think the Bittman book would be great.

            3. Although they have cookbooks Cooking Light is one of my favorite sources for good healthier recipes. Typically I use their online site. Recipes from the last decade are better because they use real ingredientS on small doses. So many of my go to recipes have come from them. I have one cookbook from a friend but it contains all the online available recipes.

              1 Reply
              1. re: melpy

                A friend of mine uses Cooking Light and really enjoys it. Think I'll check it out.

              2. I take the view that no food is inherently un/healthy, only the amount you consume of it over a period.

                I would simply buy cookbooks that appeal to you and your style of eating. All you need to do then is keep in mind the basic tenets of sensible diet - generally lower in animal protein, sodium, fat and smaller portion sizes than you previous ate.

                1. The cookbooks by Ellie Krieger are very good. I have "Comfort Food Fix" and I got my mom "The Food You Crave". A lot of the recipes are available on Food Network's site too because she used to have a show there. She takes non-healthy recipes, and twists them to be healthier, without using a bunch of fake ingredients. Her turkey meatballs are my go-to recipe for those.

                  A lot of the cookbooks out there that advertise them being "healthy" end up using a lot of weird fake ingredients (I'm looking at you Hungry Girl).

                  Also, kdlalib, since I know you cook for two, you might want to check out "One Pan, Two Plates" by Carla Snyder. It's a newer book so it's probably not available in the library but I've been really enjoying cooking from it, and so far most of the recipes aren't too heavy/unhealthy at all. She has lots of good tips, and there's even an index in the back about which recipes to make in which seasons, which I find helpful as I learn more and more about cooking seasonally.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: juliejulez

                    check out the Whitewater collection of cookbooks.

                    Also the blog 101 cookbooks.

                    And Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook My Father's Daughter. I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding her cooking, in this one she is Flexitarian and uses a lot of whole grains and alternative ingredients that you may find helpful/interesting.

                    1. re: cleopatra999

                      Yeah, that and she developed osteopenia at a much less than typical age.

                      1. re: mcf

                        I think that was more when she went vegan wasn't it? The recipes in this book are very good, well balanced, healthy (IMO). Fish, chicken and dairy are all featured.

                        1. re: cleopatra999

                          I don't know, but I saw and heard it reported in the past year or two.

                      2. re: cleopatra999

                        I do use Gwyneth Paltrow's book a bit. I do enjoy that she provides "healthier" alternatives.

                      3. re: juliejulez

                        Thanks for the suggestion on One Pan, Two Plates. That sounds right up my alley. :)

                      4. It is more practical, in my opinion, to develop an understanding of what makes for healthy eating, then select recipes from ordinary cookbooks which conform to that. I would not want a cookbook presenting itself as "healthy" because there are countless good recipes in regular cookbooks which are not unhealthy. A "healthy" cookbook would be much too limited.

                        1. Two cookbooks I recommend to set you on the right track are:

                          >Mark Bittman's "Food Matters Cookbook". Here he presents recipes and variations of those recipes where the main star is either vegetables, grains, or pulses, with meat playing a minor role. I've cooked many recipes from this book with very good results.


                          >Edward Giobbi's "Eat Right, Eat Well: The Italian Way", second edition. "...every recipe follows the guidelines prescribed by the eminent cardiologist Dr. Richard Wolff to reduce both fat and cholesterol. The result is a wonderfully wide-ranging, imaginative array of recipes so utterly delectable and satisfying that no one will ever suspect they're "diet" dishes." That's from a review of the book, but I can attest that the statement is accurate. These are Italian recipes that are absolutely delicious, more than 550 recipes at that.


                          Having said that I agree with those who have stated that the best way to eat healthy diet is to eat smaller portions of food you like, use less butter and salt, eat food that are without ingredients you can't pronounce.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Gio

                            It's the butter and cream that always get me. They just make food taste so much better.

                          2. Here are a couple of books you might check out from your library to add variety to your meal plans and decide whether the recipes fit your style and tastes (before buying).

                            The Mayo Clinic - Williams-Sonoma cookbook Siimple Solutions for Eating Well has good-tasting recipes, great photos, and sound nutritional basis.


                            Chef Paul Prudhomme's cookbok Fork in the Road also has great-tasting recipes.


                            1. Sorry I didn't respond earlier. I had a bit of a health hiccup. Thanks so much everyone for responding. I really appreciate it!

                              1. If only we had a definitive answer for what healthy cooking is.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: wekick

                                  I believe there is no single general definition of what Healthy Cooking is. It's a lifestyle much like dieting isn't a single application but a way of life.

                                  The Mayo Clinic says it's, "...using healthy cooking techniques, you can cut fat — and calories."

                                  The Am. Heart Assoc. says, it's making smart choices regarding what ingredients one uses and the methods those ingredients are prepared:

                                  1. re: Gio

                                    Cutting the fat may not be the healthiest thing for everyone. "heart healthy" grains will kill some people. There was a recent study that implicated bacteria in your stomach in cardiovascular disease.

                                    The problem is that the path to heart disease and many other diseases is varied. Blanket recommendations fail. What might help one person might be detrimental to another. It is amazing how the significance of the lipid panel numbers has changed over time and what the new tests are. The AHA is slow to change its recommendations in my opinion.

                                  2. re: wekick

                                    It varies for everyone, but if you read the entire thread, you would see the OP stated what she was looking for, to be healthy, for her: "For me, healthy (or healthier) means less dairy (I really love cheese), less refined carbohydrates and lots of vegetables. I don't eat a lot of meat naturally, so that isn't really a problem. I am a carb-a-holic though."

                                    1. re: juliejulez

                                      I read it all. If you follow this post up, it was general commentary on the original post.
                                      "In an effort to prevent a coronary"
                                      This is a subject near and dear, as part of my job over the last many years has been teaching about a "heart healthy" diet. My husband also had a heart attack at an early age. It was a lot easier when there was one version of a heart healthy diet.

                                  3. Anne Lindsay (Canadian) has a good collection, you can find them on Amazon:


                                    Clean simple layout, not a lot of photos but some good nutrition info in the beginning and easy to browse.

                                    1. I have similar feelings towards 'healthy' as you - OP- do. I LOVE cheese and carbs. But, I also LOVE veggies - the boy is more meat and taters, but over years has come to eat more veg. I really love 101 cookbooks blog for recipes - they are different, and I read it religiously for a long time before cooking from there, but I've been really pleased. It is nice because the recipes are for things that should taste good, but don't try to imitate something else. Anything by Yotam Ottelenghi is good too - some ingredients are exotic, but I find the preparations to not be overly complex.

                                      Finally, non-cookbook advice - waiting for vegetables to be in season makes them 'special' we are LOVING spinach and asparagus right now because it is what is in season, affordable and delicious. Of course over the cold months we eat veg, but a vastly limited selection. It's exciting to eat asparagus or fresh tomatoes for the first time in months and makes it easier to steer away from (at least some) of the cheese and pasta! Good luck on your search, everybody has different habits that work best for them and theirs... I'd love to hear what you find works well for you.