Living a healthy lifestyle rich in fermented and whole foods offers some significant benefits. If you aren’t careful, however, it can be a little too easy to reach for processed food items to speed up the cooking process – especially if your cookbook calls for them. We got tired of the accidental slips and last minute hunts for ingredients that would make good substitutes for artificial colors, flavors, and unhealthy foods. That’s where the following list comes from.
We’ve tried the recipes in these books, loved them, and think you will, too. You’ll notice that a few books are parts of series, and some authors repeat. Not every book on the list is a 'cookbook' per se, either - but they all include great dishes that are well-planned for nutrition and flavor. Our favorites are obvious, but not all the books include recipes – or at least, not as their main focus. A kitchen library can be a complex and delightful place. You’ll soon see what we mean…
Just so you know, we aren’t affiliated with anyone on this list, and we don’t earn a cut if you like the cookbooks as much as we do. If we’re missing a whole foods cookbook that you can’t live without, let us know. We’re always on the lookout for great new recipes. And if you own, love, and can’t imagine cooking without one of the books on this list, share your experience with us.
At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the art of eating well 1 By Amy Chaplin
Written by a professional chef who has cooked for Liv Tyler and Natalie Portman, this James Beard and IACP Award nominated cookbook is perfect for the vegetarian whole food kitchen. The photos will make you hungry, the flavors leave your taste buds dancing, and even the littlest members of your family will enjoy her recipes. The only downside? If you aren’t a grain eater, this may not be the right book for you.
The Rodale Whole Foods Cookbook 2 By Dara Demoelt
A truly whole foods cookbook, with an emphasis on great flavors and easy preparation. We love this volume for its variety of recipes, techniques, and the information it offers on phytonutrients. There are a few grain sections, but they focus on whole super grains like quinoa than on highly-refined grains. If you’re looking for something unique and scrumptious, check out the Moroccan Lamb Stew recipe – there won’t be any leftovers.
From Scratch: Traditional, whole-foods dishes for easy, everyday meals 3 By Shaye Marie Elliott
The woman behind The Elliott Homestead blog brings us a collection of delightful recipes with gorgeous photos. From tips on how to soak and sprout your own grains to new spins on many recipes we all know and love from Nourishing Traditions, this cookbook is a visual delight that’s easy to follow. Great for young families, but better if you know how to take a little creative liberty in your cooking, it may not be the best for new cooks. It is, however, an undeniably useful resource for anyone who is serious about eating more nutrient-dense dishes.
The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook 4 By Tom Malterre and Alissa Segersten
464 pages of nutritious recipes from a powerhouse duo of food writers – what more could we ask for? If you are on a specialized diet of any kind (gluten-free, egg-free, vegan, you name it), there are still plenty of recipes in this book that you’ll love. It’s an update of a classic, and the pages are packed with more than recipes. You’ll get a dietary education as you cook.
It Starts With Food 5 By Dallas and Melissa Hartwig
Brought to you by the creators of Whole30, this easy-to-follow book is an eating plan with a purpose. It takes the core principles of the Paleo diet and makes them fun, delicious, and every bit as nutritious. If you’re familiar with Whole30, this may be a bit too basic for you. If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a go. From scratch meals, loaded with nutrients, and delicious, too – it has our vote!
Thrive Energy Cookbook: 150 plant-based whole food recipes 6 By Brendan Brazier
Thrive and Thrive Energy are each movements in their own right, but the Thrive Energy Cookbook brings something delicious and nutritious to the family table. With more than 150 recipes written by a professional chef, nutrition and flavor work together to bring you a plant-based, whole food, allergen-free treat with every meal.
100 Days of Real Food: How we did it, what we learned, and 100 easy, wholesome recipes your family will love 7 By Lisa Leake
This New York Times Bestseller offers more than recipes. Join the Leake family, the clan behind the popular blog 100 Days of Real Food, on their journey to a healthier existence. A few tips on navigating the supermarket and a 10-day starter plan to help you ditch processed foods for good are a part of this delightful cookbook. Oh, and the recipes are great, too.
The Forks Over Knives Plan 8 By Alona Pulde MD and Mathew Lederman MD, with Marah Stets and Brian Wendel
Beautifully designed and delightfully written, this plant-based whole foods diet book strikes a major chord with a foodie like me. It advocates food as medicine, and reminds you that what you eat is what you become – like it or not. More than 100 recipes and a detailed four-week eating plan are part of the volume. It’s a great choice for anyone looking to change their lifestyle, and the fact that two MDs wrote it doesn’t hurt.
The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia: A comprehensive resource for healthy eating 9 By Rebecca Wood
An interesting volume that includes information on everything from the basic nutritional properties to the Ayurvedic and Chinese medicinal applications of some of today’s most popular whole foods, this is a useful kitchen resource for any cook. Bonus? The author offers tips on purchasing produce and ingredients, as well as the occasional recipe.
Clean Eating Made Simple: A healthy cookbook with delicious whole-food recipes forclean eating 10 By Rockridge Press
Although it isn’t perfect – there are a few recipes that hardcore “clean eaters” will avoid – it’s a great book to help you enter a clean eating lifestyle. Simply written and including several shopping lists, as well as the nutritional information for each recipe, it’s a volume that anyone who is trying to ditch the junk and eat better should definitely pick up.
The Whole Beast: Nose to tail eating 11 By Fergus Henderson
Looking for a cookbook that will help you get the most out of a meat-based diet? Tired of seeing things like tripe go to waste, but entirely unprepared to tackle them yourself? This cult classic has been a favorite among chefs for ages, but only recently was made available to the general public. Fergus Henderson has no diet agenda – he just likes to cook it all, and do it beautifully. Frankly, this is one cookbook every meat eater needs to own, even if you’ve never tried offal. You know…just in case.
Nourishing Meals: Healthy gluten-free recipes for the whole family 12 By Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre MS CN
Geared towards families, this colorful tome includes 80 full color photos of the recipes. If you’ve got little ones, you’ll find tips on everything from school lunches to dealing with food sensitivities and getting your kids to eat more vegetables. If you’re dealing with leaky gut, this is a great place to turn for recipes you’ll enjoy, too.
Practical Paleo: A customized approach to health and a whole-foods lifestyle 13 By Diane Sanfilippo
Let’s see….tear-out guides you can take shopping, 30-day meal plans, more than 120 recipes, and it’s Paleo? You can see why Diane Sanfilippo’s book caught our attention. She’s a BS NC with a lot to say about healthy eating, and if you’re interested in the Paleo diet, this is a great resource to use. Even those of you who have been eating Paleo for years may learn a few things in this book. All we can say is ‘Thanks, Diane!’
The Sprouted Kitchen: A tastier take on whole foods 14 By Sara Forte
As deliciously photographed as they are prepared, the dishes in this volume are a true culinary delight. Sara’s light flavors and unique take on traditional recipes makes the whole food lifestyle tempting for everyone – not just those of us who know the value of what’s on our plate. Our favorite? The buckwheat crepes with smoked salmon.
Well Fed: Paleo recipes for people who love to eat 15 By Melissa Joulwan
Built on the concept of a weekly cook-up, and loaded with great recipes, Melissa Joulwan’s book will have your mouth watering early on. Humor, humility, and a dash of fun make this one of our favorite cookbooks, but it’s more than that. You’ll get to know Melissa, the Paleo lifestyle, and a decent list of should and shouldn’t eats when you dive into this book.
YumUniverse: Infinite possibilities for a gluten-free, plant-powerful, whole-food lifestyle 16 By Heather Crosby
Attractively illustrated, extremely informative, and perfect for anyone who is switching to a plant-based diet, this book is one of my favorites. There’s just one caveat – it could use a few more recipes. Shopping tips, resources, and all the information a budding vegan or vegetarian could hope for is found in these pages. Meat eater? No problem. These dishes make great sides, too!
Nourishing Traditions: The cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats 17 By Sally Fallon
Sally Fallon didn’t write a cookbook, or a kitchen book. She wrote a dietary revolution. If you are interested in a whole foods, Paleo, or Primal lifestyle, do NOT skip this book. It’s one of the most commonly referenced, reliable, and thoroughly researched tomes on the market, and every cook should own a copy.
Fermented Vegetables: Creative recipes for fermenting 64 vegetables and herbs in krauts, kimchis, brined pickles, chutneys, relishes, and pastes 18 By Kirsten K. Shockey and Christopher Shockey
Looking for a great place to get started with fermented vegetables? This is it. I’d love to see something similar for kefirs and yogurts in the same format someday, but for now my kitchen is pleased. 64 recipes from Brussel sprouts to golden beets, all easy and delicious, for fermented vegetables and herbs. Make your tummy happy, and give them a try. WARNING: The photos will make you hungry.
Cultured Food for Life: How to make and serve delicious probiotic foods for better health and wellness 19 By Donna Schwenk
Another gold standard in the world of lacto-fermentation, you’ll find more than vegetables in this book. From kefir to kraut, and everything in the middle, Donna covers cultured foods in excellent detail, and simplifies the process of fermenting our own food so that it becomes a treat, not a chore. Best of all, she tackles the potential problems you might encounter while fermenting and how to fix them, making it almost foolproof.
The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-table recipes for the traditional foods lifestyle 20 By Jennifer McGruther
Brought to you from one of our favorite bloggers, the design and visual elements of this book are stunning. Moving past the pictures, you’ll find tons of info – from a dictionary of terms that makes life miles easier to a brief discussion of Weston A. Price, it’s a wonderful resource. Try the Roasted Tomato Salad with Mint – it’s a combination we never would have thought of, but that is undeniably delicious.
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