The words “healthy eating” have become so buzzy that they’ve almost lost their meaning. To get it back, we reached out to a handful of nutritionists and dietitians with one simple question: What cookbooks do you turn to for healthful, balanced recipes? Below, you’ll find their recommendations (plus some of our personal Delish favorites!). Whether you’re looking to eat more veggies, cut down on processed foods, or try a vegan lifestyle, these books will help—in the most delicious way possible.
Shopping for more cookbooks? We can help. Shop our editor-approved round-ups including the best cookbooks of 2020, the best cookbooks by black authors, the best vegetarian cookbooks, the best Korean cookbooks, the best Mexican cookbooks, and the best cookbooks for kids.
“In an effort to eat clean and be healthy, eating more vegetables is definitely a must,” says Leslie Fajfar, Chief Managing Consultant of Community Fitness NYC and CEO and co-founder of Community Amenity Management. “This cookbook is full of exciting, accessible, and spiced up vegan dishes.”
The Anti-Inflammation Cookbook
“Inflammation is indicative of oxidative stress which is the preamble to a whole host of disease in our bodies, not to mention premature aging. There are some very simple ways to combat these issues with the foods we eat,” adds Fajfar. “This book provides super tasty recipes filled with antioxidants and anthocyanins that also help heal the body and keep you young.” (Psst: Anthocyanins are compounds with antioxidant effects!)
Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
“Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way by Lorna Sass is my favorite cookbook. I love the section on pancakes and waffles,” says Niti Patel, dietician and founder of Wellness on the Go. “The cookbook is designed for a novice cook, which is great for me. I am a dietitian that does not love to cook—when I do, I need a good recipe with tips along the way. When following [Lorna’s] recipes, it’s like she is there teaching me the easiest way to make the dish. A simple side note such as ‘you may need to add half the greens, cover, and let them wilt before you have room to add the remaining greens’ helps me a lot.”
The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
Vanessa Rissetto, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and the co-founder of Culina Health, calls this book her go-to “because they try the recipe a number of different ways and tell you the best methods to get the best results. Also the cookbook has everything labeled so it’s easy to reference—and the meals are really quick and easy to make for any given day of the week.”
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
Rissetto also recommends this classic cookbook from Ina Garten. She describes the book as “really easy to follow and whatever you make is always excellent.”
Salad for Dinner
Ah, the humble salad—this easy dinner is actually one of the most versatile (and nutritious) meals you can make. If you’re in a salad rut, try these creative recipes, like kale with lemon, parmesan, and almonds; Indonesian chicken salad with pineapple slaw; and salmon with quinoa, sorrel, and yogurt.
Simple is actually an acronym: S for short on time, I for ten ingredients or fewer, M for make ahead, P for pantry-led, L for lazy-day dishes, E for easier than you think. Now picture all of that with fresh, healthy ingredients.
The Pescatarian Cookbook
Want to cut down on your red meat consumption, but don’t know where to begin? This cookbook is a great place to start. Add some omega-3s to your diet with recipes like Zucchini Pancakes with Smoked Salmon and Grilled Swordfish with Chimichurri.
The 30-Minute Vegetarian Cookbook
The most common explanation for eating fast food is convenience—but in the same amount of time it takes to go to McDonald’s, you can make a tasty, home-cooked, plant-based meal.
Don’t let the title fool you—this book isn’t about elimination dieting or restrictive eating. What the cookbook does focus on is cooking with natural, whole ingredients.
Another stunning book by Bryant Terry, this cookbook focuses on taking classics from African, Caribbean, and Southern dishes, and putting a healthy, vegan spin on them.
Taco! Taco! Taco!
In this book, Sara Haas turns a traditional comfort food into a healthy meal simply by adding nutrient-dense ingredients.
Half Baked Harvest Cookbook
Fans of Tieghan Gerard’s blog Half Baked Harvest will love her cookbkok of seasonal recipes like No-Guilt Broccoli Fettuccine Alfredo and Blackened Mahimahi Tacos.
The Vegetarian Flavor Bible
If you or someone you cook for complains that all vegetarian food tastes the same, crack open this book. It’ll show you what spices to pair with your veggies for a delicious meal.
The Laura Lea Balanced Cookbook
Healthy eating isn’t just about the right ingredients, it’s also about quality and moderation, which Laura Lea will tell you all about in this book.
Eat Your Vitamins
$8.99 (44% off)
It’s a well known fact that your body processes vitamins, minerals and nutrients better when they’re in food form than as supplements. That said, it can be hard to get everything you need from diet alone…until you read this book. Davis’s book breaks down how to get all that you need from diet alone.
The Blue Zones Kitchen
You’ve probably heard about this buzzy book before. It’s full of recipes inspired by the “Blue Zones,” locations around the world where people live the longest.
The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook
Because everyone can benefit from some more veggies, healthy fats, and omega-3s in their diet.
Eat More Plants
This book isn’t about converting people to vegetarian or veganism. It’s about adding more powerful anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense plants into your diet with fun, low-stakes meals like Blackberry Ginger Muffins, Edamame Hula Bowl with Almond Miso Sauce, and Socca Pizza with Zucchini.
Prep: The Essential College Cookbook
French fries and ice cream from the dinning hall aren’t exactly healthy. This book teaches you not only what to eat, but the basics to feeling comfortable in the kitchen.
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