We’ve all been there. It’s 5 p.m. and dinnertime is around the corner, but you have no idea where to even start. This gets especially tricky when you’re looking to make healthier choices, while also keeping everyone in the family pleased. Say goodbye to feeling clueless in the kitchen by cracking open a healthy cookbook to inspire fresher meals at your table every single night.
Having some healthy cookbooks on hand is a great way to inspire creativity in the kitchen, explains Marisa Moore, M.B.A., R.D.N., L.D., culinary and integrative dietitian.
“Cookbook authors can be quite creative in helping to inspire home cooks to try new combinations and cooking techniques,” she says. Plus, because most publishers require recipes to be tested before print, you’re more than likely to get a tasty recipe that’s been tried and tested, unlike many websites, so you don’t get stuck calling for takeout when your meal turns into a disaster.
Jessica Levinson, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N., a culinary nutrition expert in Westchester, New York agrees, adding that healthy cookbooks are great for people who may be new to cooking or just trying to eat healthier to teach the basics with step-by-step instructions. And cooking more at home instead of dining out or ordering takeout is going to be inherently healthier, she adds.
When choosing a healthy cookbook, it’s crucial to understand that there are many different definitions for healthy. Skip books that have rigid or restrictive meal plans and instead, determine what you’re looking for and what needs you need the recipes to cater to. For example, if you’re looking for a cookbook to support heart health, look for cookbooks that have plant-based recipes, prioritize healthy fats, and include high-fiber foods, Moore suggests.
Levinson adds that you shouldn’t pick up a book that cuts out any major food group, demonizes ingredients, or makes health claims without any scientific evidence to back them up. Choose books that are written by real nutrition experts, not just a celebrity or internet influencer.
She likes to pick up healthy cookbooks that include a variety of types of dishes, feature ingredients that are healthful (like low-fat dairy, lean meats, and healthy fats), and include dishes that get you excited and you can see yourself enjoying. Need a place to start? Here are our favorite healthy cookbooks to add to your shelves.
Best New Healthy Cookbook
From Burnout to Balance: 60+ Healing Recipes and Simple Strategies to Boost Mood, Immunity, Focus, and Sleep
For those feeling the symptoms of burnout, registered dietitian Patricia Bannan has 60 recipes plus tips and tricks to help you re-energize your life. “I love Patrica Bannan’s new book From Burnout to Balance,” Moore says. “It’s packed with simple and healthy recipes but lots of realistic advice on balancing different aspects of life.” We can’t wait to try the miso soup with greens and tofu, simple salmon burgers with grape salsa, and the zucchini and black bean chilaquiles skillet.
Best Anti-Inflammatory Cookbook
Meals That Heal: 100+ Everyday Anti-Inflammatory Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less
Moore says this is another favorite of hers, and we love the recipes registered dietitian Carolyn Williams presents to her readers. “The author provides well-researched and valuable information on eating with anti-inflammatory foods being top of mind,” Moore says. Think sheet pan steak fajitas, roasted veggie polenta bowls, zucchini taco skillet, and sheet pan honey-soy salmon with sweet potatoes and green beans.
Best Healthy Cookbook For Beginners
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking
Master components of cooking to become more confident in the kitchen with over 100 recipes that teach you how to make bright vinaigrettes, caramelized roast vegetables, tender braised meats, and more. “I love that the author explains the elements of flavor, taste, and texture so you truly learn how to combine ingredients when cooking,” Levinson says. “It’s not just a cookbook, it’s also educational and teaches you how to cook.”
Best Healthy Diabetes Cookbook
The Southern Comfort Food Diabetes Cookbook: Over 100 Recipes for a Healthy Life
We named this one of the best diabetes cookbooks, and Moore agrees. “Maya Feller’s Southern Comfort Diabetes Cookbook is one of my favorites for condition-specific recipes that are full of flavor and made with a healthy twist,” Moore says. Dig into Brunswick stew, quinoa-crusted air fryer buttermilk chicken, mac and cheese, and other healthier variations of Southern classics you know and love.
Best Healthy Cookbook for Two
The Heart Healthy Cookbook for Two: 125 Perfectly Portioned Low Sodium, Low Fat Recipes
Registered dietitian Jennifer Koslo makes cooking for two a breeze with healthy recipes that keep your heart in mind. Recipes feature ingredients that are low in sodium and fat, but high in flavor like pumpkin English muffins, sweet potato and black bean chili, curried vegetable stew with quinoa, grilled top sirloin steak with mango salsa, frosted bitter chocolate orange cake, and more in perfect two-person servings.
Best Meal Prep Cookbook
Fit Men Cook: 100+ Meal Prep Recipes for Men and Women
Fitness guru Kevin Curry knows a thing or two about quick, meal prep recipes that will support your health while saving you time and money. That’s because he’s done it himself! Follow recipes for Southern-inspired banana corn waffles, sweet potato whip, juicy AF Moroccan chicken, and more to get excited about meal prep. We especially love his meal prep plans with recipes that follow your specific needs, like budget-friendly planning!
Best Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook
The Skinnytaste Air Fryer Cookbook: The 75 Best Healthy Recipes for Your Air Fryer
We’re big fans of air fryer cookbooks, but Gina Homolka, the woman behind the incredibly successful Skinnytaste brand just takes the cake on a healthy air fryer cookbook. Using an air fryer, which circulates super-hot air like a convection oven, brings textural elements you love to healthier dishes, like crispy za’atar chickpeas, cheesy green chile-chicken chimichangas, Korean pork lettuce wraps, and blueberry-lemon yogurt muffins. Plus, the cleanup will be a breeze.
Best Mediterranean Diet Cookbook
The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: 101 Easy, Flavorful Recipes for Lifelong Health
Dive into the number one recommended diet in the world with registered dietitians Serena Ball and Deanna Segrave-Daly. They’ll explain the fundamentals of the Mediterranean diet, while also sharing 101 approachable, 30-minute recipes like roasted broccoli Panzanella salad, mushroom barley soup, and one-pan parsley chicken and potatoes.
Best Easy Healthy Cookbook
The Defined Dish: Healthy and Wholesome Weeknight Recipes
Endorsed by Whole30, (with plenty of recipes for any kind of eater) Alex Snodgrass makes the home cook fall in love with cooking again. Prepare chipotle chicken tostadas with pineapple salsa, black pepper chicken, and more with paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, and Whole30 compliant twists. Love this as much as we do? You can snag her newest cookbook The Comfortable Kitchen for even more healthy recipes.
Best Healthy Baking Cookbook
Sweet Laurel: Recipes for Whole Food, Grain-Free Desserts: A Baking Book
For those looking to get baking in their healthier kitchen, Lauren Gallucci shares her recipes for grain-free desserts, using whole foods. You’ll find double chocolate muffins, classic snickerdoodles, apple pie bars, and vanilla jam cake among her indulgent, yet healthy repertoire of recipes.
Best Plant-Based Healthy Cookbook
Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook
Whether you’re looking for the best vegan cookbooks or just a plant-based book to get you incorporating more plants into your diet, we’re big fans of any of Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks. In Ottolenghi Simple, he shares simplified and streamlined recipes for your home kitchen, inspired by the Middle East. From braised eggs with leeks and cauliflower, pomegranate, and pistachio salad, to lamb and feta meatballs and fig and thyme clafoutis, the images stun almost as much as the recipes are delectable.
Best Healthy Cookbook for One
Healthy Cooking for One Cookbook: 75 Delicious Recipes Made Simple
It can be difficult to keep a healthy diet when you’re cooking for one, but registered dietitian Lauren O’Connor brings 75 delicious, simple recipes for single servings to your kitchen. Alongside planning tips and tricks, she shares recipes for grilled peach and ricotta toast, braised tofu “BLT,” chicken gyro with bell peppers and onions, ricotta cheesecake parfait and so much more paired down for one.
Nutrition Stripped: 100 Whole-Food Recipes Made Deliciously
In this stunning whole foods cookbook from registered dietitian McKel Hill, you’ll find recipes that take you back to the basics of wholesome cooking, without any gimmicks or diets. Dive into a golden ginger honey smoothie, plantain flatbread with poached egg and honey drizzles, acorn squash rounds with dill-cashew cream, Southern-style skillet cornbread, zucchini pizza crust with lemony pea pesto, and so much more in this plant-based, gluten-free, and dairy-free cookbook.
The Pescatarian Cookbook: The Essential Companion
Let registered dietitian Cara Harbstreet guide you through cutting back on your meat consumption and leaning into a diet packed with plants and seafood. You’ll dine on dijon walnut-crusted fish, no-cook shrimp ceviche, zucchini pancakes with smoked salmon, and grilled swordfish with chimichurri and roasted vegetables. Plus, she shares no-fail tips for shopping and cooking seafood for stress-free meals.
Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors From My Israeli Kitchen
Bring the flavors of the Middle East right into your home with Adeena Sussman’s exquisite Sababa. Recipes focused on local, seasonal, and fresh ingredients bring Crudo with cherries and squeezed tomatoes, homemade hummus, freekeh and roasted grape salad, and roasted tomato and labneh pappardelle to your table. Read more about cooking from Sababa.
The Healthy Family Cookbook: 100 Fast and Easy Recipes for the Whole Family
Forget making three different dishes for dinner to please your family. Recipes like sheet pan steak fajitas, chicken BLT wraps, beef and broccoli lo mein, and avocado bean burritos will get everyone excited for dinner time. Registered dietitian Brittany Poulson set out to make dinnertime, family time again with recipes that require minimal steps and ingredients, less clean up, but all the fun and flavor of a good meal.
Just The Good Stuff: 100+ Guilt-Free Recipes to Satisfy All Your Cravings
Swap in grain-free flours, dairy-free twists, and other better-for-you ingredients in your favorite sweet and savory dishes for a lighter twist on classics with this indulgent cookbook. Recipes like sweet breakfast pizza with oatmeal crust, sea salt dark chocolate peanut butter bars, almond butter Pad Thai, and homemade pastry tarts with berry chia jam will have everyone excited to cook together in a healthier way.
The Well Plated Cookbook: Fast, Healthy Recipes You’ll Want to Eat
Gorgeous photos of sheet pan tandoori chicken, ridiculously addictive maple quinoa granola, sticky Asian cauliflower wings, one-pot creamy sundried tomato orzo, and more will have you dog-earing pages to make for dinner every single night. Erin Clarke’s recipes are fast, budget-friendly, and healthy to please every kind of cook.
Indian-Ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family
For a spin on Indian cooking for a modern kitchen, Priya Krishna’s cookbook celebrates the bright, plant-forward flavors of India that are naturally healthy and delicious. Recipes like whole roasted cauliflower with green pea chutney, spinach and feta cooked like saag paneer, and quinoa kheer, you’ll want to skip takeout in favor of these incredible, home-cooked flavors.
The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100
The areas of the world known as the Blue Zones boasts the longest-living residents, and scientists point to their day-to-day lives, including their diets, as the reasoning behind their long-term health. Written by longevity expert Dan Buettner, this book presents 100 recipes inspired by the Blue Zone, like Sardinian herb lentil minestrone, Costa Rican hearts of palm ceviche, cornmeal waffles from Loma Linda, California, and sweet potatoes from Okinawa. Alongside stunning photographs, these recipes also include tips for living your healthiest, longest life.
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