Top 8 Cookbooks {for every skill set}

By Alexandra Caspero on April 7, 2014

I freely admit that I hoard certain items: kitchen appliances, shoes, greeting cards, and of course- cookbooks. As much as I love food, I love cookbooks. I probably have over 100 cookbooks ranging from a variety of different cuisines: raw, indian, desserts, french, vegan, you name it.

They are one of my favorite escapes and something that probably only fellow cookbook lovers understand: I read them. Like, really read them. I have read and re-read my favorite cookbooks over and over again. To get inspired, to ponder flavors, and to drool over gorgeous food-porn worthy photos.

Over the years, I’ve tried to become more selective about the cookbooks that I purchase. Not for lack of want, mostly space. I also try to curb my habit to force myself to cook more out of the ones I do have. That’s one of the downsides of having a food blog- I spend most of my time thinking about dishes that I want to create and little time enjoying other’s creations.

In an effort to “slow down, think less, cook more” I’ve found myself reaching for the same cookbooks over and over again. The same few that I routinely give as gifts, recommend to clients, and secretly -or not so secretly- wish I published myself. So, whether you are an avid cookbook fan like myself or just looking to expand your collection, here are my top 8 favorite cookbooks that I recommend to everyone.


1. Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone by Deborah Madison {vegetarian, many vegan recipes}

This was one of the first vegetarian cookbooks I ever owned, and one that taught me a lot about how to properly cook vegetables so that they taste amazing. It’s also the cookbook that I credit for turning me onto a vegetarian diet forever.

It’s a pretty large book, over 700 recipes that cover pretty much every vegetarian recipe you could dream up. This is always the cookbook that I recommend to people who want to start a vegetarian diet but don’t know where to start. The only downside is that there are very few photos of the dishes, but with this many recipes- it’s understandable why that has to be!

Favorite Recipes Include: Leek and Potato Soup, Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Polenta Croutons, Italian Style of Cauliflower and Greens, Dal with Coconut Cream, Burmese Noodles, Tofu in Curry-Coconut Sauce, Classic Sandwich Bread, Fresh Fig Galette

2. The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone {vegan, gluten-free, mostly macrobiotic recipes}

I love this book for so many reasons. What ‘Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone’ does for vegetarians, ‘The Kind Life’ does for new vegans. A great primer on vegan nutrition, along with foundational recipes for those who are interested in trying both a vegan and macrobiotic diet.

Favorite recipes include: Moroccan Couscous with Saffron, Radicchio Pizza with Truffle Oil, Crispy Tofu Slices with Orange Dipping Sauce, Sicilian Collard Greens with Pine Nuts and Raisins, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups,  and Oatmeal, Walnut, and Plum Cookies.

If you’re interested in learning more about The Kind Diet, I recommend heading over to Alicia’s website, The Kind Life, for her blog and an awesome community following!

3. Clean Food: A seasonal guide to eating close to the source by Terry Walters {vegan, mostly gluten-free}

When I want to get back on the healthy eating track, I head to this cookbook for inspiration. Clean Food is exactly what it sounds like, delicious, simple recipes that focus on fresh, seasonal produce. I love to gift this cookbook to my friends who are trying to clean up their diet and don’t want a lot of complicated recipes to start.

Favorite recipes include: Seared Artichokes with Red Pepper Aioli, French Lentil Salad, Pineapple Tempeh Kebabs, Fingerling Potato Salad with fresh herbs, Baked Maple Mustard Tempeh, Spicy Coconut Pumpkin Soup, and Chocolate Pecan Pie.

4. Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli {vegan, more indulgent recipes}

How could you not love Chef Chloe? I first heard of this little darling when she won Cupcake Wars and have been hooked on her blog ever since. I love this cookbook for making vegan food approachable and delicious! Of the 100 recipes in this book, I’ve probably made 50 of them and they are all amazing.

This is my go-to book when I want an amazing meal to impress everyone, vegan or not. While her recipes aren’t always the healthiest, the are usually the best. This is a great cookbook to have on hand if you are looking to introduce more vegan meals into your diet.

Favorite Recipes include: Cheesy Broccoli Soup in Sourdough Bread Bowls, Sea Salt and Vinegar French Fries, BBQ Pineapple Pizza (hands down one of the best pizzas I’ve ever made), Double Double Drive-Thru Burgers, Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter, Mongolian BBQ Seitan, Orange Crispy Tofu, Baked Sprinkle Doughnuts, Chocolate Chip Brownie Bites, Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes with Raspberry Sauce

5. Isa Does It! {Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week} by Isa Chandra Moskowitz {vegan, many gluten-free options}

When this book came out last fall, I ran to the nearest Barnes and Nobles, pulled up a comfy chair and sat down to spend hours devouring every photo, hilarious intro, and genius recipe.

This book, it seems, is perfection. For those of you who are looking to eat more vegan meals that are not only easy but taste delicious, THIS IS YOUR BOOK. Isa is a culinary genius, a true testament to her amazing abilities is that I’ve enjoyed every single recipe I’ve made of hers. Every single one. One of my favorite cookbook authors, I also own Isa’s Vegan Brunch, Appetite for Reduction, Veganomicon, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. All are awesome in their own right but if you are looking for the vegan cookbook of all cookbooks, Isa Does It is my favorite.

Favorite Recipes include: (hard not to list the entire book) New England Glam Chowder, Quinoa Ceaser Salad, Bistro Beet Burgers, Jerk Sloppy Joes with Coconut Creamed Spinach, Pizza Mac, Pesto Risotto with Roasted Zucchini, Beefy Asparagus Stir-Fry, Cucumber Ranch Bowl with breaded Tofu, Chipotle Sausage Hash, Lemon-Blueberry Loaf, Chai Spice Snickerdoodles

6. Simply In Season by Cathleen Hockman-Wert & Mary Beth Lind {many vegetarian & vegan options}

If you’re looking to cook more in line with the seasons, this is your book. Categorized first by season, then by produce, this book is filled with simple recipes that will please a wide variety of palates.

I like to give this book to clients who are trying to use their CSA to plan their meals as well as individuals who want to eat more in line with the seasons. I read the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a few years back and was really inspired by the idea of eating only what you can grow yourself. I got this book in response and pick it up every few weeks to flip through, especially before I head to the farmer’s market.

While this book is not vegetarian, many of the recipes can easily be adapted for a dairy-free, egg-free or meat-free diet.

Favorite Recipes include: Spicy Tomato Tempeh, Spring Celebration Soup, Plum Tart, Cranberry Nut Loaf, Gingery Butternut Squash Soup, Red Lentil Coconut Curry, Sweet Potato Waffles, Apple Lentil Salad, Strawberry Pie

7. The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon {vegan, mostly gluten free, many nut-free and soy-free options}

The newest cookbook in my collection, this is quickly becoming a favorite when I am craving bright, bold flavors that are healthy, mostly gluten-free, and of course, vegan. Angela is one of my favorite recipe authors and I can confidently say that of all the dishes I’ve tried of hers, she never disappoints.

If you’re looking to get healthy in the kitchen, this is the book for you! The recipes range from simple (lots of nutrient packed smoothies, soups) to more time-intensive (chia power bread, lentil walnut loaf). The Oh She Glows blog continues to be one of my favorite places to find healthy, inspired vegan fare and this cookbook is an extension of that. For those of you who enjoy allergy-free recipes, many of the recipes have options for nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free and grain-free options. If you’re looking to nourish your body by eating more plants, enjoy the Oh She Glows Cookbooks!

Favorite recipes include: Maple Balsamic Tempeh, Chia Power Doughnuts, Gym Rat Smoothie, Warm Nacho Dip, Oil-free baked falafel bites, Cream of Tomato Soup with Roasted Italian Chickpea Croutons, Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites, Cacao Crunch almond butter-banana bites, Homemade Yolos

8. The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau {vegan, perfect for those who like to entertain}

I bought this cookbook when it first came out because I was intrigued by the idea of vegan entertaining. While I cook mostly-vegan food at home for BL and I, when it comes to entertaining- it can be more of a  challenge. I love how this book is organized by party size and menu ideas. Romantic meals for 2, formal dinners, casual gatherings, children’s parties, holiday feasts and more.

Favorite Recipes Include: Blackberry Pecan Crisp, Sweet and Sour Tempeh, Better-than-Tuna Salad, Pumpkin Curry, Tempeh Pate, Panini with Lemon-Basil Pesto, Southwestern Tofu Burgers, Beet Bundt Cake, Pineapple Upside Down Cake

And that’s my list! Did I miss your favorite cookbook? Which ones do you find yourself going back to over and over again?




Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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    1. Tina Muir
      April 9, 2014 AT 3:36 am

      Oooooh noooo! You are making me add more to my want list! They all sound great! I really want the Oh She Glows Cookbook especially! Thanks for the review… birthday may be over run with cookbooks…..but if they have nutritious meals in them… will only help my training 🙂

      1. DK
        April 10, 2014 AT 1:00 pm

        Yes! I always try to justify buying cookbooks as a way to cook more healthy meals… but really, it’s just a perk! The Oh She Glows one is great!

    2. jillconyers
      April 9, 2014 AT 3:14 am

      I have 3 of the cookbooks on your list. I would also add the Engine 2 Diet cookbooks. Oh She Glows is now my all time favorite!

      1. alexandra caspero
        April 10, 2014 AT 12:56 pm

        Mine too! I love it! Yes, I need to check out the Engine 2 book- haven’t done that yet!

    3. Dana @ conscious kitchen blog
      April 7, 2014 AT 8:27 pm

      I love cook books too! I’d love to check out the Simply in Season book. Right now, I’m working my way through the Complete Mediterranean Cookbook. It’s great. 🙂

      1. alexandra caspero
        April 10, 2014 AT 12:56 pm

        Oh fun! I haven’t heard of that one, I will have to check it out. Aren’t cookbooks so fun! 🙂