My Favorite Cookbooks…

Adam and I usually eat dinner at home 5 out of 7 nights a week. While we do a lot of on-the-fly cooking without true recipes, we probably use our cookbooks a lot more than most people do in this age of food blogs and websites. Not a bad thing, considering how many we own! (Although, with our impending move, we’re planning on donating a lot of those we don’t use often… if you’re interested in receiving FREE cookbooks, just let me know and I’ll send you a list of what we’re giving away.) I thought I’d do a round-up of the cookbooks that we turn to most frequently. These are predominantly vegetarian, “whole foods” cookbooks, but I think that they’d be a great resource for anyone who just likes to eat good food.

Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson
This cookbook from Heidi Swanson (of 101 Cookbooks fame) is a staple in our house. I love it so much I’ve given it at least three times as a gift. This cookbook is divided up into five sections: Build a Natural Foods Pantry, Explore a Wide Range of Grains, Cook by Color, Know Your Superfoods, and Use Natural Sweeteners… plus a bonus section on Basic Recipes and Techniques. While we probably haven’t even made half of the recipes in here yet, that’s mostly because we keep making the same ones over and over again! A few favorites include:
+ espresso banana muffins (delicious!)
+ creamy wild rice soup with sweet potato croutons (has a great spicy curry kick!)
+ spring minestrone with brown rice (comes together pretty quickly and makes a ton!)
+ giant crusty and creamy white beans with greens (at one point, we were making this one weekly)
+ sprouted garbanzo burgers (also on her website)

Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson
The follow up cookbook to Super Natural Cooking, I purchased this book the week that it came out. She divides this cookbook up into meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, Dinner, Drinks, Treats, and Accompaniments. There are so many recipes in here that I have flagged that I haven’t gotten around to yet, but here are my favorites so far:
+ chickpea stew (made this recently and added in some fresh spinach to get some extra greens… so good!)
+ white beans and cabbage (excellent with a poached egg on top)
+ bran muffins (okay, this may make us sound like octogenarians, but both Adam and I really like bran muffins and this is a great recipe)
+ little quinoa patties (these take some time, but make them over the weekend and eat them for lunch all week)
+ kale salad (the combination of kale, coconut and soy sauce may sound odd, but it somehow totally works)

Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source with More Than 200 Recipes for a Healthy and Sustainable You by Terry Walters
This cookbook is broken up into seasons (uh, as indicated by the title), which is pretty handy. While there are times that I will make a winter recipe in the summer, or vice versa, it’s nice to be able to flip open to one section and see recipes filled with seasonal produce. Also, the recipes tend to be a little heartier in the winter and lighter in the summer, which is usually how I tend to eat anyway. As an added bonus, all recipes are vegan and almost all are gluten free (or can be adapted to be gluten free), but she’s not at all preachy about the vegan lifestyle. It just happens to be animal-product free, delicious food.
+ crispy sesame carrots (I’m not a huge cooked carrots fan, but these are goooood!)
+ sweet and sour stir fry
+ pineapple tempeh kabobs (a great bbq alternative to veggie burgers)
+ lentil apple walnut loaf (we made this A LOT this past winter – tastes just like stuffing!)

Clean Start: Inspiring You to Eat Clean and Live Well with 100 New Clean Food Recipes by Terry Walters
The follow up to Clean Food, I added this cookbook to my wishlist after enjoying so many recipes from the first cookbook. More of the same, but in a good way. :-) Haven’t had this one too long, so I haven’t made many recipes out of it yet. One I make frequently is:
+ Asian spinach with peanut ginger sauce (this is a super easy and quick weeknight meal, tossed with brown rice or rice noodles)

Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless
This is not a vegetarian cookbook, but Rick Bayless includes many “riffs” (as he calls them) on his recipes that are vegetarian, and his recipes are very adaptable. Although we tend to make a lot of the same (delicious!) recipes over and over again, it’s a rare week that we don’t make at least one recipe from this cookbook. A few tried-and-true recipes that we make often are:
+ Avocado-Mango Salad with Fresh (or Blue) Cheese, Bacon and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds (we make the vegetarian “riff” substituting caramelized onions for the bacon, and often skip the cheese)
+ Swiss Chard (or Spinach) Tacos with Caramelized Onions, Fresh Cheese and Red Chile (unless we make a special stop to pick up queso fresco, we usually use goat cheese)
+ Tomatillo-Sauced Enchiladas with Spinach and Mushrooms (I don’t even really like mushrooms, but I’ll eat them in this)
+ Mexican Beans with Chorizo and Greens (vegetarian “riff” sans chorizo – we eat this A LOT)

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
Now, we’re had more “misses” with this cookbook than we’d like, but it really is a great fundamental cookbook to have around that I have to include it on a list of recommendations. We’ve learned to read through the recipes in this cookbook more carefully… sometimes it’s as easy as adding sauteed onion and garlic to a recipe to boost up the flavor. Anyone familiar with Bittman’s recipes knows that he provides a ridiculous amount of variations for each recipe. There are so many recipes, I can’t even begin to go through the cookbook and let you know which ones are our favorite.

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1 Comment

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One response to “My Favorite Cookbooks…

  1. Sarah

    I know you’re getting rid of cookbooks…but, any interest in At Home w/ Michael Chiarello (signed copy!)? Or know anyone that would want one?