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This book does what every cookbook and blog post with a recipe in it should do (IMHO anyway). That is, to teach why as much a how. This book is divided into four parts: Salt, Fat, Acid & Heat and in each section, readers will start to understand why and when to use these four elements in cooking. The result is an understanding of the fundamental building blocks to good cooking and recipe development.
Fair warning to everyone on my Christmas list: you’re getting a copy of this book whether you like it or not. While this reference is not vegan-specific, the lessons in it will make you a better cook no matter what your dietary preferences are. Chapters are divided by topics, including lessons on salting vegetables, picking the right potato, controlling the heat from chilies and more! Each lesson includes several recipes through which to try new techniques. I learned so much from this book!
Sustainability & Climate Change
Give a Sh!t by Ashlee Piper
I spend a lot of time reading about why I need to improve my sustainability efforts. I just didn’t know how to improve them…until I read Give a Sh!t. It’s informative with highly attainable suggestions and it’s really, really funny.
If you’re concerned about the environment and how you can do better, you need to take a hard look at food waste. This movie opened my eyes to the tremendous amount of food that is wasted every day and the very serious implications that food waste has on the environment. It’s an eye-opening and inspiring watch!
Cooking, Nutrition & Health
Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson
I’m constantly pulling this book off the shelf to reference it. This book is a history lesson in the evolution of the fruits and vegetables we eat every day and how they’ve been changed through human interaction. The author divides the book into fruit and vegetable groups and then discusses what varieties within each group offer the best nutrition. She provides instruction on how to recognize them, store and prepare them.
How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger, M.D., FACLM
This book was recommended to me when I first starting thinking about eliminating meat from my diet. I’ve since read it two more times and pick it up as a reference tool constantly. It’s a friendly, informative read, divided into two parts. The first half of the book identifies the top 15 causes of death and then discusses how certain changes in diet and work to protect people from suffering from these outcomes. Part 2 of the book is divided into twelve food groups – things like cruciferous vegetables, beans & legumes, fruits and nuts & seeds. Each chapter discusses how these individual food groups affect disease in the body.
Like most people, I go to the doctor when I’m sick. But, I’ve also become interested in some of the protective & healing powers of essential oils. For example, I long suffered from an inability to sleep. After several years on prescription medication, I switched to using lavender oil to help me fall asleep. However, essential oils aren’t something to get started in without some guidance. This reference book will help you get started understanding the different oils and blends and how they might be used to assist some common ailments. In addition, many essential oils have uses for skin and haircare.
Vegan & Vegetarian Cookbooks
Vegan Reset by Kim-Julie Hansen
This vegan cookbook is a great starter book for anyone interested in exploring a vegan diet and a healthier lifestyle. Julie spends the early part of the book talking about things like mind-body balance and positive thinking before jumping into her 28-day vegan diet plan. The diet plan itself is broken into building blocks that make getting into vegan eating and vegan cooking much easier.
Whole Bowls: Complete Gluten-Free and Vegetarian Meals to Power Your Day by Allison Day
Bowls are all the rage these days and this cooking will have you making some incredible-looking bowls in no time. For example, my favorite: Miso Meal in a Bowl featuring roasted broccoli and sweet potatoes with tofu and shiitake mushrooms in a miso mushroom broth. Or, Mediterranean Pasta with Arugula, Peas, Yellow Tomatoes and Feta. And let’s not forget: Chickpea Cookie Dough for dessert!
Wicked Healthy by Chad Sarno, Derek Sarno and David Joachim
If you’re ever feeling like you can’t eat your favorite foods because of a vegan diet, think again. And also, pick up a copy of this cookbook. With super fun and creative recipes like King Satay with Spicy Peanut-Ginger Sauce, Plant-Based BLT with Tomato Habanero Jam and Herb Aoili and Bahn Mi with Lemongrass Tofu & Ginger Aioli you’ll be wondering why you didn’t go plant-based sooner!
Love & Lemons by Jeanine Donofrio
Winner of Saveur’s Best Cooking Blog Award, this vegetarian cookbook takes a unique twist on cooking that I love. Cooking by ingredient. When you’re trying to cook sustainably, cooking what’s in season is paramount. This cookbook breaks recipes down by key ingredient. Got asparagus? Make Jeanine’s Flatbread with White Bean Puree & Asparagus Ribbons. How about Brussels? I love her Creamy Miso Brussels sprouts Fettuccine.
But I Could Never Go Vegan by Kristy Turner
This vegan cookbook is the one I reach for the most. It’s super approachable with really tasty vegan meal options. A few of my favorites: Creole Corn Chowder (my picky 9-year-old routinely asks for this soup), Crispy Baked Onion Rings and Artichoke Crab Cakes with Sriracha Tartar Sauce.
Bowl by Lukas Volger
This vegetarian cookbook was one of my first purchases when I decided to start taking meat out of my diet. Why? Because I love ethnic food and once you remove animal products, going out for a really good bowl of ramen or dumplings becomes really hard. The only reasonable solution is to figure out how to make those same items yourself. This cookbook is full of so many fun and adventurous bowl-centered dishes. My favorites include: a sweet potato-based sushi bowl, edamame dumplings, and spicy tofu bibimbap.
Katherine’s vegetarian blog: Cookie & Kate was key to filling my table when I first started removing meat from my families’ diet. It only makes sense that I would want her cookbook when it came out. It’s full of tasty, approached vegetarian recipes. A few of my favorites are: Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup and West African Peanut Soup. If you’re vegan, gluten-free or seeking to eliminate dairy, don’t worry. This cookbook has substitutions to accommodate several dietary concerns.
Vegan Cheese by Jules Aron
Are you worried you’ll miss cheese? You might. At first. That is, at least until you figure out that dairy-free cheeses can be just as tasty as their dairy-based alternatives. This cookbook has a learning curve, but I’ve been able to master several of the recipes for my favorite vegan cheeses and they’re a blast to bring out at dinner parties!