We all start January with the very best of intentions, but quite often these start to wane a week or two into our New Year, New Me protestations. I believe the number one reason for New Years Resolution failure is boredom, as the monotony of a flask of soup or limp salad starts to set in we all start to reach for comfort food. The good news is, healthy cookbooks have never been more popular, so in cold, dark January you can pick one of the companions below to hold your hand (metaphorically, sorry Rosanna fans) throughout the journey to a healthier you.
Whether your resolution is to just eat ‘clean’ in general, try your hand at a meat-free month or start to eat well to fuel a more active lifestyle in 2017, the books below are tried and tested guides to keep you on track and have a delicious January. Each book is packed with tempting recipes you are sure to want to enjoy long after you have forgotten about your resolutions.
Eat Yourself Beautiful – Rosanna Davison
I can personally attest to the ability of this book to make the prospect of a month of veganism not only manageable but delicious. Although I am not a vegan, much of what I cook at home is plant-based and Rosanna’s recipes are quick and easy enough to whip up after work and are imminently lunchbox-able, and contrary to popular belief about vegan foods – very filling. Rosanna’s dishes are also quite economical, relying on hearty pulses like chickpeas and kidney beans for protein in many cases, so trying your hand at plant-based living won’t cost the earth.
I am mildly addicted to Rosie’s dressing, which is a flavour packed tomato based salad dressing with oodles of umami coming from a genius mix of tamari and nutritional yeast, pour this over any salad and watch it transform. Particularly delicious options include kale caesar salad with chickpea croutons and a dressing which you will never believe is cashew based, courgetti with a surprisingly luscious vegan red pesto and Rosanna’s signature beautifying Green Goddess Smoothie. Rosanna also includes meal plans designed to ensure intake of the essential nutrients and minerals every day, so there is no need to worry about missing out on the vital ingredients of a balanced diet when testing the vegan waters or cutting back on meat and dairy.
Deliciously Ella Every Day – Ella Woodward
While Ella doesn’t buy into the concept of labeling her diet as vegan or otherwise, if you are aiming to go plant-based for the month of January her best selling cookbooks are fantastic guides. Her original book, Deliciously Ella, is hailed as a health food bible but her second offering Deliciously Ella Every Day is a great January kick starter as it is focused on simple, inexpensive natural ingredients, think lots of roasted vegetables and pulses.
This book is ideal for carb lovers with lots of Buddha Bowls of rice, sweet potato and quinoa. Ella also makes sure sweet cravings are kept at bay with date sweetened goodies and lots of tempting dessert options. Hunger pangs are definitely not a part of this plan.
My Gluten Free Kitchen – Gearóid Lynch
While many books on this list adhere to a a gluten free policy, chef Gearóid’s is particularly good for transforming classic comfort dishes into gluten-free goodies without sacrificing any flavour whatsoever. Diagnosed as a coeliac in 2013, Gearóid has used his kitchen expertise to create a packed collection of tempting treats, which are ideal whether you too are a coeliac or if you suspect you do not tolerate gluten well.
GF products can be terribly expensive and packed with sugar and additives, so swap the pre-made stuff for things like Gearóid’s GF granola or cereal bars and soda bread for food on the go or enjoy Southern Fried Chicken and unctuous Sticky Toffee Pudding sans gluten. All recipes in My Gluten-Free Kitchen are accessible, homely and comforting with the tag-line “Meals you miss made easy”, this book is all about gluten free gorgeousness, not deprivation.
Honestly Healthy in a Hurry – Natasha Corrett
The thoughts of a fully alkaline diet may have you running for the hills faster than Gwyneth Paltrow from Burger King but rest assured, there is nothing scary about the delicious dish suggestions in Natasha Corrett’s new book Honestly Healthy in a Hurry.
While not entirely dairy-free, this book offers some handy substitutes as well as recipes for when the cheese craving is just too great! Natasha shows you how to cut back on dairy and processed food in general without feeling doomed. Ice cream cravings? Double Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream is coconut milk based and date syrup sweetened, all the devilish creaminess without a hint of dairy.
Eat, Live, Go! – Donal Skehan
While Donal’s Eat, Live, Go! isn’t marketed as a health food bible, and there are plenty of naughty little treats, I was surprised to find a number of brilliant little swaps and hacks to make delicious dishes more virtuous. Some crafty little swaps like Shepard’s Pie with Cauliflower Champ Mash or more nutritious upgrades like Sweet Potato Nachos and Sweet Potato Gnocchi are wonderful recipes for replacing stodge with veggies.
Donal’s salad game is also on point, think Buttermilk Griddled Chicken or Green Goddess with charred avocado. Super Green Omelettes, Scandi Quinoa Breakfast Bowls and Beetballs with Courgetti are just some examples of the Eat, Live, Go collection of inventive and inviting healthier recipes. This book is an all round winner as it is all about balance – meaning you can try some of the more indulgent recipes, many of which also include healthy swaps (cooked quinoa instead of flour in chocolate cake!!) as a treat knowing you’ve been good all week.
Good and Simple by Hemsley and Hemsley
The Hemsley sisters have taken the health food scene by storm and after two books are now the proud owners of a cafe in Selfridge’s London Body Studio along with their own range of spiralizers. When it comes to that particular kitchen gadget, Jasmine and Melissa are experts and their latest book Good and Simple is packed with innovative spiralised recipes as well as a host of inventive gluten, refined sugar and grain free treats.
The Hemsley’s had a stroke of genius when they decided to up their spiralised veggie spaghetti game replacing the common courgette with celeriac. Their Kale Carbonara with Celeriac Spaghetti is a revelation and with this hearty root veggie you will never miss your big bowl of pasta – promise. As all recipes in this beautiful book are grain-free, Good and Simple offers fantastic bread alternatives such as Flaxseed Buns and Carrot Flax Crackers as well as fantastic refined sugar free desserts like Melting Chocolate Pots and Canellini Bean Vanilla Cake.
The Ketogenic Kitchen – Domini Kemp and Patricia Daly
The Ketogenic Diet is set to be very popular in 2017, but even if you don’t fully intend to embrace the ketogenic way of life Domini Kemp and Patricia Daly’s Ketogenic Kitchen is a fantastic way to cut back on sugar and starchy carbohydrates. I love this book because it packs so much research-backed information alongside recipes that refuse to sacrifice flavour. While it isn’t easy to design a recipe with very little or no sugar, Domini, who has a wealth of cookbooks under her belt, makes it look so simple to create crave-worthy dishes, think Chicken Thighs with Pomegranate and Mint or Scallops with Cauliflower Puree.
You hear an awful lot about dishes that are ‘sugar free’ when really they are refined sugar free but contain bucket loads of dried fruit, syrups or honey. These are sweeteners with more nutritional benefits than table sugar for sure, but the Ketogenic Kitchen shows us how to create dishes which really are as close to sugar free as possible. Patricia’s White Chocolate Cheesecake is a revelation in this regard. I urge anyone and everyone to give this book a go, as it is a real eye opener filled with nourishment for the body and mind.
Ready, Steady, Glow – Madeleine Shaw
I have to say, Ready, Steady, Glow is one of my favourite cookbooks, healthy or not. Nutritional therapist Madeleine Shaw obviously has the credentials to write a health-focused collection of recipes, but she is so much more than just that. Madeleine has a very natural flair for flavours and the recipes she creates just sing, even though they are ostensibly very simple. Her second book, Ready Steady Glow has a recipe for every occasion, whether its a beautifying girls brunch, romantic meal for two or quick midweek dinner bursting with healthy ingredients but in no way resembling dull diet food.
Light seafood dishes like Sea Trout with Apple, Cucumber and Dill and heartier options like Slow-Cooked Beef Cheek in no way feel like a sacrifice. On the sugar front, Duck Bowls are served with a homemade, more natural plum sauce with no refined sugar to be found – I love having a jar of this on hand. Madeleine’s chocolate chip cookies, made with buckwheat flour and coconut sugar are an absolute triumph, the perfect way to start experimenting with more nutritious sweeteners.
The Fit Foodie – Derval O’Rourke
If getting fit (or fitter as it may be) is the top of your 2017 wish list, you will need to ensure that you are eating the right foods to keep you going during those jogs and gym sessions. Of course, balancing work, work outs and whipping up nourishing dishes is tough but Derval O’Rourke has you covered with her easy and accessible Fit Foodie guide.
My favourite feature of this snappy little guide is the fact all recipes are based on ingredients every household will have, none will require a dedicated trip to a health food store and each one is designed with satiety and slow release energy in mind. I particularly love Derval’s Almond, Hazelnut and Pine Nut Bread which is the perfect accompaniment to her Green Soup recipe – healthy lunch al desko sorted! Each recipe is accompanied by nutritional statistics, so you can be aware of your intake and ensure you are getting enough protein to recover after your exercise.
The Cultured Club – Dearbhla Reynolds
Has all this buzz about fermented this that and the other got your head spinning? Believe me, I am no expert, but Dearbhla Reynold’s Cultured Club Cookbook gave me the perfect introduction to both the health and flavour benefits of adding ferments to your kitchen repertoire. This book is a gentle guide to everything from kimchi to kefir to kraut and some surprisingly delicious nods in between.
Garlic is set to be a big deal in the health food world this year and I can confirm, if you like garlic you will LOVE fermented garlic and the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant punch it delivers. One thing this book isn’t “anti” is flavour and there is no shortage of inventive and exciting dishes to explore using the fermented goodies you will learn to create. This book is a treasure trove of inspiration and has the added bonus of teaching you new culinary skills which in turn allow you to be more frugal in the kitchen – so you’re nailing numerous resolutions in one fell swoop!
The Virtuous Tart – Susan Jane White
Susan Jane White’s books are worth reading for her cheeky commentary alone, the woman is hilarious. However, she compounds this comedic genius with sparks of culinary brilliance when it comes to creating dishes which pack a serious nutritional punch. No one is more familiar with the weird and wonderful superfood ingredients popping up in our health stores – Susan Jane takes the ‘hell out of healthy’ and fear out of the unknown.
Want to get to grips with camu camu, experiment with weird sounding flours like sorghum and teff flour or jump on the activated nut bandwagon? If you like Pina Kale-adas and getting caught in the rain, The Virtuous Tart is the book that you’ve hoped for, prepare to become a superfood guru in your own right.
Growing up with the name Darina, I was constantly asked if I could cook like my namesake. With that(and greed) as the ultimate motivator, I realised that baked goods make excellent bribes and an obsession was born! With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law I undertook a PhD, but a preference for cookbooks to textbooks persisted. As a (self-confessed!) demon in the kitchen, I am the only person to have contested both Masterchef and the Great Irish Bake off, fuelling my desire to focus on food in a serious way. Working with TheTaste allows me to satisfy this craving and marries my food fascination with my love of writing and ranting.