Cook your way to a healthy lifestyle.

One of the things that I find really constructive to creating a healthy lifestyle is cooking. Becoming familiar with cooking meals allows you to feed yourself with exactly what specifically your body needs. Feeling comfortable enough with making substitutions in recipes so that they better nourish yourself is an essential step to achieving overall wellness. Additionally, by cooking at home rather than eating out, you can ideally reduce the amount of processed foods you are eating. Eliminating as many processed foods from your diet as possible is another crucial step to a healthier lifestyle. Also, I think it’s really important to cook and eat food that you actually like. Sometimes eating healthy can feel like a sacrifice, like you have to cut out foods that you really like, and lose joy in eating. By cooking, you can learn to make the delicious dishes that you want, and realize that healthy food is actually really tasty!

I am often asked for recipes, so here are some of my favorite cookbooks.

I want to share a few cookbooks that I have found really helpful and that I personally really enjoy. Some of them are based on diets (Keto, Vegan, etc.). I don’t really endorse any specific diet, I think that overall wellbeing is an incredibly personal and multifaceted issue and I don’t believe that one specific diet is going to be the solution. With my patients, I look at many different variables—from lifestyle, to personal history, to diet, to bloodwork—to determine what kinds of adjustments should be made in their lives. Maybe certain food groups need to be cut out, or maybe certain supplements need to be added, but I wouldn’t generally tell people to start a certain diet. That’s not to say that these ways of eating don’t have value. Following these diets for some meals, or taking certain elements from them can be healthy and beneficial, but I don’t think it’s usually necessary or even a good idea to restrict oneself to a single diet. I find that the following cookbooks have recipes that are healthy, easily adjustable, and delicious. They’re great for those who are just starting out in the kitchen and those with more culinary experience. You won’t go wrong with any of these recipes.

Photo Credit: Emmy Kaza

The Essential Vegan Keto Cookbook, by Editors of Rodale Books

I love this cookbook because its recipes are easy, quick, and flavorful, and they provide really great substitutes for meat, dairy, other animal products, sugar, wheat, and processed carbohydrates. I recommend that a lot of my patients try and cut out processed carbohydrates, so this book is great for that. Cutting out animal products as well as carbs seems like a nearly impossible task—it’s like, what’s left at that point?—but this book makes it feel easy. Including quick recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, as well as appetizers and snacks, this book has got you covered. The recipes are simple and easily adaptable too. For example, if you’re only trying to cut out carbs, you could swap the ‘vegan dairy’ in the ingredients for regular dairy. I quite often recommend eating lots of vegetables, and these plant-based recipes are full of them. If you’re one of those people who’s on the fence or even adamantly against tofu (you claim it “has no flavor”) then this book might just convert you. The tofu we’ve made from this book is some of the best I’ve ever had. The book does a really great job with recipes for flavorful tofu through a variety of methods for all different contexts.

Essential Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, by Molly Devine RD

This cookbook is a combination of two well-known diets: Ketogenic and Mediterranean. These recipes are low-carb, and include high fat and moderate protein. These recipes are great if you’re looking to cut back on carbs. If you’re feeling lost or confused on where to start with cooking and eating, this book could be helpful because it includes a meal plan to help you stay organized. This book includes a lot of the science behind these different diets as well as lots of recipes.

Fast Food Good Food, by Andrew Weil MD

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons that most people don’t cook is that they don’t have time. After a full day of work, the last thing you want is to slave away in the kitchen for another two or three hours. And you’re hungry. Patience is running low. Lucky for you, this book exists. It’s chock full of nutritious and satisfying home-cooked recipes for every occasion that you can make in minutes. I also love this book’s emphasis on fresh and healthy ingredients. Good ingredients are the key to good cooking which leads to overall wellbeing. Dr. Weil’s book guides you on eating in an anti-inflammatory diet, and nourishing yourself well. Its recipes are a lot less restrictive than some of the other books’ recipes that I’ll be sharing on here.

True Food, by Andrew Weil MD

This book is pretty similar to the previous one. Its recipes come from the True Food Kitchen restaurants, which, if you are eating out, are about as healthy as you can get. These recipes are great because they’re seasonal—including the right ingredients that are going to be really fresh and delicious for the particular season. These recipes are quick, easy, nourishing, and satisfying.

Ottolenghi Simple, by Yotam Ottolenghi

As the title says, these recipes are simple. In one way or another—whether it be less than ten ingredients, or a cook time of less than 10 minutes, or something that can be made ahead of time—all of these recipes have been made simpler, easier, quicker. But don’t think that this means that flavor or tastiness is at all sacrificed. No, these Middle-Eastern inspired recipes emphasize and prioritize flavor. These recipes are truly delicious and impressive. They’re great for weeknight family dinners and guests alike. Often plant-based (or vegetarian) these dishes are full of healthy vegetables. These recipes aren’t as restrictive, and it’s a perfect all around cookbook with unique and flavorful dishes for all occasions. If you’re looking to try something new, this cookbook is perfect for you.