Friday, January 18, 2013

Eat Up: My Favorite Cookbooks

I know, I know; cookbooks are quickly becoming a thing of the past since tablets have arrived on the scene. They're much easier to stand up on the counter and can play music whilst cooking, but there's something so satisfying about flipping through the pages of a cookbook. Fingering through pages filled with gorgeous pictures delicious food, dog-earring my favorites so I'll have new ideas for dinner, I just love a good cookbook. I have a little collection of them with a few that are standout favorites for recipes as well and leisurely reading on days when I don't want to really think about much more than an awesome sandwich.

The Internantionals

I love food from other places, especially Indian and Mexican food. It may just be rice, meat and vegetables, but it's just the best thing in the world. 

1. Everyday Indian- Great quick and easy recipes that show you Indian food doesn't always have to be complicated. Once you have your spice collection, it's really easy to make Indian food from scratch. This book shows you how to make breads, curries, chutneys, and desserts that are all deliciously spicy and flavorful. I have used this book a lot since it also focuses on making healthy Indian choices rather than relying on takeaways that usually have a buttload of oil in them.

2. Rick Bayless Everyday Mexican- All the recipes in this book look friggin' awesome. Whether it's homemade refried beans or more traditional recipes, Everyday Mexican gives you the ability to have a Mexican feast in your very own home. No embarrassing sombrero wearing birthdays here! Bayless also focuses on the healthier side of Mexican cuisine, not the cheesy mess we sometimes find at restaurants.

3. Eat Right For Your Body Type- Okay, Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India may not appeal to everyone, but this book focuses on how people should eat in relation to their body type. She gives tips on how the three doshas (pitta, vata, kapha) keep all of their tendencies in balance and it's as simple as following certain dietary principles. Even if you don't buy into the whole dosha thing, she's got some amazing recipes in here that are all deliciously Indian and healthy. This book is great for a light meals that won't make you feel like a lazy lump after consumption.

The Specialists

I am not a vegan or vegetarian; this is well documented upon watching me eat chicken nuggets, but I do like vegan and veggie cookbooks because they help me add more fruit and veg to my diet. They even help me create my favorite meaty dishes sans meat which can lead to fewer calories, yay!

1. The Vegan Table- This book has whole vegan meal plans for every season, holiday, and dinner party situation that you can think of (hello trendy vegan Passover Seder!). I use this when I want to find replacements for stodgy comfort foods like meatloaf and spaghetti when I'm feeling a little less light on my feet. It's a great guide for having veggie friends over for dinner.

2. Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorite- This awesome book is totally vegetarian and low-fat and compiles lots of light and hearty recipes into one book. I made the veggie feijoada and it was amazing, it's now a E. By The Sea dinnertime favorite. It has soups, it has sandwiches, all the things your veggie heart desires!

3. The Best of Clean Eating- trying to lose the pudge (raises hand), want all the recipes but too cheap to buy all the magazines (raises hand again), then buy this book composed of recipes from Clean Eating Magazine. All of the recipes in this book are muscle-building friendly and won't leave you wishing for more food like some other diet cookbooks do. It has meaty, veggie and sweet-filled recipes for every occasion and makes eating well a little easier and more tasty than plain egg whites and grilled chicken breast.

Honorable Mentions

It's not that these are not special, they just don't fit into a certain category. They are eclectic and great in their own way!

1. The Family Chef- If you've got litlins', big hungry men, and a love for SoCal style cuisin, this book is perfecto (almost typed 'perfucto'). These ladies used to cook for Jennifer Aniston and since Jennifer Aniston looks better than me at 40 it must be good stuff. The food ranges from Mexican-inspired dishes like tostadas and quesadillas to pasta and steaks. All of it easy to makes and all of it healthy.

2. The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches- The name should speak for itself. Anyone who doesn't like sandwiches is no friend of mine because I'm obsessed with them. This book has just about every sandwich every created and some that I'm convinced were just made up (though there is no grilled Charlie!). This one is fun to flip through when I'm daydreaming of sandwiches (which happens more than what may be healthy), and gives me ideas for packed lunches when my live-in lover and I go on hikes.

3. Cook This, Not That- This recipe book does society a huge service: it takes every horrible, gut-busting food item you can think of and reinvents it in a healthier way. The recipes are crazy good and don't even make you miss the bad ones, some of them are even better. They show you how many calories you would be consuming if you were eating the original food item as opposed to the lightened version and it really makes you think about the choices you make.

Since this post was exceptionally long I'm not taking the time to put links to where these can be purchased. I got them all from where they were used and half the original price. Do yourself a favor and learn how to cook a few really good meals and you'll be surprised how easy it is to bring more recipes into your repertoire. Lighten up and make your own food!

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