Historically speaking, I never really enjoyed cooking (unless it was homemade chocolate-chip cookies!). But recently—since changing my diet to include mostly vegan and gluten-free meals—I haven’t really had a choice. I’ve been cooking vegetarian for so many years, but I always paired the veggies with pasta, cheese and breads. After going vegan and gluten-free, I wondered, could I survive on lettuce alone? And secondly, what was I going to eat, anyway?

A total rethinking of my go-to cookbooks was in order. So after much Googling, talking to friends and testing in my own home kitchen, I’ve settled upon my top three veg cookbooks. Here they are, plus four more I can’t wait to try!

1. Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi: Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurant in Notting Hill is my favorite place in London! That’s where I first discovered his mouthwatering vegetarian dishes, which taste as good as they look. His cookbook has helped me bring those wonderful flavor combinations back home to the States.


2. Crazy Sexy Kitchen: 150 Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolution: Kris Carr is kind of my guru right now. I love her warmth, inspiring ideas and post-cancer attitude. Her cookbook has helped me to feel strong again in the kitchen and learn to cook the most amazing, healthy dishes. My faves from this book: Chickpea With Root Veggie Tangine, and the Black Bean and Roasted Sweet Potato Burger. Her blog is also worth a look.

CSK_CVR Select.indd

3. Decadent Gluten-Free Baking: Delicious Gluten-, Egg- and Dairy-Free Treats and Sweets: I love my sweets. I do! So giving up wheat felt so utterly depressing … until I discovered this cookbook. Now I don’t even miss my old way of baking! I absolutely LOVE the Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies (except I substitute chocolate chips for the cranberries).


Here are four more cookbooks I can’t wait to try; I’ve heard such amazing things about them:

1. Heart of the Plate


2. The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen


3. River Cottage Veg

river veg

4. The French Market Cookbook


What’s your favorite cookbook? I’m dying to know!

{P.S. A really beautiful vegan/veggie blog is 101 Cookbooks by foodie Heidi Swanson (she has a couple of healthy cookbooks, too, including this one.)}


11 thoughts on “What’s your favorite cookbook?”

  1. I totally forgot to mention my favorite cookbooks!
    I use recipes from The Gluten Free Gourmet by Bette Hagman – modified to use non-grain flour where possible.

    The Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook by Sarah Fragoso has some great stuff – I was thrilled to find pancakes that don’t give me that spacy feeling I get after eating carbs.

    The Food Matters cookbook – it has some really nice juices and smoothies along with some yummy raw foods.

    My very favorite is a scrapbook cookbook that is stuffed with all the recipes that I’ve gotten from other people, websites, books or just plain made up. I has papers sticking out all over, and I recognize the recipes more by the stains on the paper than the titles.

  2. As a mother with a son does not fare well without meat, I am very careful regarding where I source the meat we eat. We are blessed to live in a suburban area that has farms within a 30 minute drive. Our beef is pasture raised by a man who truly loves his animals and uses a small slaughterhouse 5 miles away that he has ensured is humane. Our eggs come from local farms where the chickens are used as insect control for the crops. They spend their days outdoors and nights in a large, mobile chicken coop. Poultry comes from these same farms.

    I have been gluten free fand mostly dairy free for decades I do eat some cheese but am finding that I feel better with no dairy whatsoever.
    Grains and sugar feel almost toxic and I do best without either one – both are very acidifying.

    So many people are very concerned about how animals are treated, but plants are sentient in their own way as well, and much of what is available in stores is grown the same way as animals – in overcrowded monocultures; in soils devoid of nutrition but pumped full of chemicals that act like steroids then sprayed with toxic pesticides. It is not about healthy plants or nutrition, or about nurturing the soil, but about plant yield and esthetics. Big and flavorless is favored over odd shaped and delicious, same as with animals. These are not healthy, ‘happy’ plants any more than the animals are.

    The food all of us eat – whether animal or plant – is a product of its surroundings; it absorbs the elements and constituents from the air, soil and water. Its vibration matches the energy of the land on which it grows, and emotions are captured within its tissues. The more naturally both plants and animals are allowed to grow, the better their general energy. The closer they are grown in proximity to where I live, the better they match my body energetically and chemically. So I am working on eating as locally as possible and as seasonally as possible. I’m realizing how difficult this can be in an area where not much grows for several months out of the year. Again, I depend on local farmers with cold frames or storage facilities as I have too much shade to grow much, but I’m also preparing and freezing foods to help get through the winter without having to buy food grown in another country.

    I don’t eat a lot of meat but do not think I would do well as a vegan. Being as connected as possible to my sources of food, and honoring that food and all involved in its growth and preparation each time I eat it is how I try to do my part to ensure my own health while supporting local family farms who are good stewards of the lands and animals they own.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story Lori. I love what you say about plants also needing nurturing conditions and environment. That makes so much sense energetically doesn’t it! 🙂 Living in Marin County we have beautiful local produce all year round; I feel so lucky!

    2. Lori, there is no such thing as “humane slaughter”. Animals do not ‘give’ their life to us, as the sugar-coated lie would have it. No, we take their lives. They struggle and fight to the last breath, just as we would do if we were in their place.
      Ditch the dairy. Go vegan.☺

  3. Those cookbooks look great.
    I have been a vegetarian for more then 15 years now and I feel so much better by it.
    When I became a vegetarian I took it slowly, first I let go of the red meats, then the chicken, and finally fish. baby steps is a good idea. You can also look for a dietician to support you in it.
    For me becoming vego is not just for health but also not killing animals. If more people would see ho we treat the animals we eat they would stop today eating them.

    1. Thank you for your insight. I am curious, do you eat dairy? I have a hard time with the realities of the modern day dairy farm ( especially the baby male calves being sent to veal farms a few days old) do either of you have a good dairy substitute or helpful advice if you have given up dairy as well. Thank you

      1. Hi Jenny,

        I love SO coconut milk in my granola 🙂 Almond milk is also good: Califia farms is yummiest brand of almond milk in my opinion, plus it has 50% more calcium than dairy milk.

        For pancakes and toast i use Earth Balance soy-free spread instead of butter: they have some wonderful flavored spreads too (I love their herb/garlic spread and also their coconut spread).

        Whole foods carries an amazing vegan/non-dairy/organic cheese (made of cashews and chickpeas) called “Miyoko’s creamery.” They have several flavors, but i love the double cream chive the best 🙂 It’s great on apple slices!

        If you think of it as an experiment in trying new and different foods, it can actually be fun eating a different way 🙂

    2. Hi Frans, Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂 I agree, a dietician is a great idea. I have a nutritionist who helped me get started with a menu plan in the beginning!

  4. Hi Jenny, Thanks so much for your post. I am mostly vegan, however i do still eat eggs sometimes. How did I make this decision? Well, four months ago, due to health issues I am having from my post-cancer treatments, I have gone gluten and dairy free. In addition to trying to keep my body alkaline with this diet, I also strive to have 1-2 cups of dark leafy greens 3 times a day for the calcium. I just gave up glutens and cheese (my health is a big motivator–healthy food is my “medicine” ), however I do give myself lee-way here and there. I think it’s important to remember “compassion for yourself.” This Christmas, I had a few decorated cookies that my daughter and mom created. 🙂

    I have experienced unexpected benefits from this diet: higher energy — and it’s more “even” throughout the day; my hair and nails are growing like crazy–my hair stylist can’t believe how thick and healthy my hair is; my skin is glowing–literally! I’ve had several people ask me what facial product I am using:); i have had a 75% lessening of hot flashes and join pain associated with my conventional post-cancer therapy (which I will be on for four more years, so anything that helps this is HUGE); I have been able to fight off colds that my family has had–knock on wood; and finally, having a sensitive stomach my whole life (having to be careful what I eat), my tummy has felt perfect for four months–that is a record for my whole life!

    I can say that I truly feel “lighter” and “cleaner” and much more healthy. I only wish that conventional doctors would recommend this diet to their recovering cancer patients, as it has been so helpful for me!

    Regarding my Reiki practice: since my focus has always been animals, I have to say that it makes my heart feel good each time I made a choice that is good for animals, and my heart is the center of my practice, so yes this has been a good change for my practice too!

    I think the thing that has been most helpful for me is to find wonderful recipes that are so delicious that I don’t even miss my old way of eating. I hope the above cookbooks give you some inspiration on your journey, and I would love to hear more suggestions!

  5. As I continue to on my journey I feel a strong pull to go vegan…..I have been a fish eating “vegetarian” for the past ten years……..when did you go vegan and how did you do it? cold turkey (no pun) or baby steps……did the switch make your reiki practice stronger? thank you

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