Need inspiration? This page is dedicated to my cookbook collection. I have learned an invaluable amount of information through the years by pouring through the pages of these books.
Cookbooks with a Focus on Little Ones
Simply Natural Baby Food by Cathe Olson
This cookbook is geared toward the little ones with recipes for purees and toddler foods. The recipes are broken down by age group in four different sections.
Pros: This book can bring you through the stages of feeding your little one. It focuses on whole foods and recipes without added sugars. Many of the recipes are just simple ideas you can do with every day foods.
Cons: There are no pictures to accompany the recipes and I have made a few things where the ratios seemed off.
Favorite Recipes: Split Pea Soup, Avocado and Nutritional Yeast Sandwich, Squash-Millet Balls
Recipes I Want to Try: Almond Butter Noodles, Animal Crackers
Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron
This is more than just a cookbook. This is an informational super book, with in-depth details on everything you ever wanted to know about feeding your baby. It is filled with nutritional information, time-saving tips, and meal plans for babies and toddlers.
Pros: This book does a great job breaking down just what your baby/toddler needs to be eating each day from a nutritional aspect. There is a treasury of interesting recipes and tips for making eating fun and healthy for our little ones.
Cons: She suggests that our baby’s staple meals should be her “super porridge” and “super yogurt” recipes. I tried them both for Meghan and she couldn’t gag them down. She has you adding vegetable purees, among other things, to both the porridge and yogurt and they tasted pretty horrible. The book is still extremely valuable even without using those two staple recipes.
Super Foods For Babies and Children by Annabel Karmel
A kiddie cookbook that starts with purees and ends with meals the whole family can enjoy.
Pros: This really helped me when I was making Meghan’s purees. I tried a lot of combinations I probably wouldn’t have thought to serve my baby on my own. There are great pictures to go with a number of the recipes. A lot of the recipes can be frozen.
Cons: Meghan didn’t care for a few of the dishes for older babies, which was a drag since some of the recipes were quite time consuming.
Favorite Recipes: Carrot Puree with Lentils and Cheese, Tasty Trio of Root Vegetables, Sweet and Sour Turkey Balls
Recipe I Want to Try: Spinach, Cheese, and Tomato Lasagne
Cookbooks Focusing on (natural) Sweet Treats
babycakes by Erin McKenna
This is a vegan, gluten-free, and mostly sugar-free baked goods cookbook based on treats from the New York City bakery babycakes. This book introduced me to a world of different flours and helped me better understand vegan baking.
Pros: You will not find a recipe calling for white sugar in this book! Occasionally a recipe will call for evaporated cane juice, but most recipes use agave nectar. Gluten-free is also a pro if you have an allergy or sensitivity to gluten. The oil of choice in most recipes is coconut oil, which in my book is a great fat choice. There are lovely pictures for every recipe.
Cons: The recipes are very particular and fussy. Vegan baking can be tricky, add in sugar and gluten-free and it’s downright tedious. This means you really have to follow the recipes carefully (which is not my strong suit!). They also call for large amounts of expensive ingredients, like agave nectar and coconut oil (yes, I know I put the use of coconut oil as both a pro and a con).
Favorite Recipes: Zucchini muffins, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Apple Pie
Recipes I Want To Try: Chocolate Shortbread Scones with Caramelized Bananas, Meyer Lemon and Bing Cherry Cupcakes
Sweet Freedom by Ricki Heller
This is another cookbook devoted to vegan, gluten and refined sugar-free baked goods. There are sections dedicated to breakfast baking (muffins, etc.), cookies/bars/squares, cakes/cupcakes/toppings, and “cheesecakes”/pies/baked puddings. Everything that I’ve made from this one has been fantastic.
Pros: There is a good mix of easy and complex recipes. She uses a variety of different sweeteners, from agave nectar to molasses to Sucanat, but no refined white sugar.
Cons: While there is a small picture section in the middle, there are not photos for every recipe. A lot of recipes call for sunflower oil, which I don’t think is the healthiest fat choice.
Favorite Recipes: Maple Millet Muffins, Amazing Bean Brownies, Cocoa Nibbles
Recipes I Want to Try: Mrs. K’s Date Cake, Glazed Almond Bars
Sweet and Sugar Free by Karen E. Barkie
This is a dessert cookbook where everything is sweetened with fruit. None of the recipes call for any additional sweeteners, relying only on fruit and fruit purees.
Pros: Everything is sweetened with just fruit, which makes for truly wholesome desserts.
Cons: With absolutely no additional sweeteners, the desserts aren’t especially sweet. You have to make sure your palate is ready for sweets that are less sweet than a standard dessert. A lot of recipes call for “vegetable oil”, which is not the healthiest oil choice. Most recipes with flour call for white flour rather than whole grain flours. I have substituted in some recipes with success.
Favorite Recipes: Blueberry Banana Muffins, Fig Spread
Recipes I Want To Try: Harvest Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies
Vegan and Vegetarian Cookbooks
Skinny Bitch in the Kitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
This is the follow up cookbook to Rory and Kim’s bestselling book, Skinny Bitch. Their cookbook is written in their classic no-nonsense style and includes vegan recipe makeovers for traditional favorites.
Pros: Good for transitional vegans who want to ease into cutting out animal products because when you are eating their version of Caesar Salad, you won’t even notice that it’s dairy-free.
Cons: The recipes call for way too many fake food ingredients. It is not necessarily better (and by better I mean healthier) to cut out animal foods when you are replacing them with fake, processed non-dairy cheese or a piece of food that was made to look like a chicken patty.
Favorite Recipes: Caesar Salad, Balsamic Portobello Mushrooms over Grilled Vegetable Couscous
Recipes I Want to Try: Edamame Three-Bean Salad, Garlicky White Bean Spread on Crostini
Main Course Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin
This was my very first vegetarian cookbook. Before this cookbook I thought of vegetables as a side dish, but this book taught me how to make a meatless meal and many recipes have become staples for our family.
Pros: Everyday ingredients are transformed into delicious meatless meals. There aren’t really any recipes that call for hard-to-find or exotic ingredients, which makes this a great pick for the everyday family cook.
Cons: There are not pictures to accompany the recipes.
Favorite Recipes: Baked Garlicky Butternut Squash, Pumpkin and Corn Chowder, Linguine with Peppers and Goat Cheese, Stuffed Basil Crepes with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Recipes I Want to Try: Corn Pancakes Topped with Black Beans, Linguine with Spicy Artichoke Sauce
Clean Food by Terry Walters
A cookbook that is built on Terry’s philosophy: “Eat all the colors of the rainbow, all five tastes, a varied diet, locally grown, seasonal foods, and enjoy your food and mealtime”. I totally agree with her philosophy and love her cookbook!
Pros: I love how the book is broken down by season, encouraging you to eat foods that are in season and therefore most fresh. The recipes I have tried have been bursting with interesting flavors. There is a thorough information section at the beginning that discusses nutrition, gives instructions for basic cooking techniques, talks about kitchen tools, and defines ingredients.
Cons: While the cookbook is flecked with beautiful artistic paintings and drawings, there are no food pictures.
Favorite Recipes: Millet Black Bean Patties with Corn, Chocolate Lover’s Tart (here’s my adapted version), Carrot Ginger Soup
Recipes I Want to Try: Sinful Stuffed Dates, Baby Greens with Grilled Balsamic Pears
1,000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Roberston
This cookbook is filled with so many great recipes, from basic to unique. It’s one of those cookbooks that is falling apart because I’ve used it so much. This cookbook taught me how to make my own pizza dough, helped me get creative with soups, and showed me how to make a hearty vegan main course.
Pros: The large variety of recipes means there is something for everyone.
Cons: There are no pictures to accompany the recipes.
My Favorite Recipes: Winter Vegetable Stew with Barley, Chickpea-tomato Wrap, Root Vegetable Bisque, Marinara Sauce, Basic Pizza Dough
Recipes I Want to Try: Walnut Oat Crackers, Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins
Cooking the Whole Foods Way by Christina Pirello
A vegan cookbook that focuses on cooking with whole foods. It is divided into sections: basics, grains, soups, tofu/tempeh/seitan, vegetables, pasta, salads, dressings/sauces, bread, and dessert.
Pros: With 500 recipes, there is a big variety of whole food, vegan recipes to choose from. There’s a helpful glossary of terms that describes ingredients as well as advice for how to plan for whole food cooking. I haven’t tried a whole lot of recipes from this book yet, but the ones I have tried have been tasty.
Cons: Some recipes have unusual (and hard to find) ingredients, but I’ve subbed in more common ingredients with good results. No pictures.
Favorite Recipes: Baked Beans, Not Your Momma’s Meat Loaf
Recipes I Want to Try: Creamy Carrot Bisque, Roasted Garlic Sauce
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
I love Mark Bittman and this cookbook does not disappoint. At 996 pages, this cookbook leaves no question unanswered when it comes to vegetarian cooking. Mark Bittman knows how to make simple food taste fabulous and thats what I love about this cookbook. Nearly every recipe has a basic recipe followed by a number of variations, which encourages me to explore new flavors.
Pros: Great descriptions of culinary techniques, with illustrations, are sprinkled in every chapter. Every recipe I’ve tried has been tasty.
Cons: There are no pictures to accompany the recipes.
Favorite Recipes: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic, Carrots with Dates and Raisins
Recipes I Want to Try: Chickpea Fondue, Honey-Spice Cake
This is not my entire cookbook collection, so stay tuned! I’ll be updating this page as time finds me.