I love cooking so it’s probably no surprise that I have built up quite a large collection of recipe books over the years. Some of them only get used once and then get relegated to the back of the cupboard never to surface again, whereas a select few make it to pride of place on my kitchen countertop.
To reach this lofty accolade they need to meet at least two of the following criteria:
*Low calorie / healthy recipes
*Quick and easy to make
*Ingredients are easily bought at the supermarket
Here are my favourite recipe books that I go back to again and again. Where possible, I’ve included photos to show how my attempts turned out at home too!
Lean In 15 book is the first cookbook I’ve come across in a very long time where I want to have a go at pretty much every single recipe. Joe (a Youtube health and fitness star otherwise known as The Body Coach) has devised straightforward no fuss meals with easily sourced ingredients that will encourage you to cook rather than intimidate you.
There are three recipe sections: Low Carb, Post Workout and Snacks/Treats. The general rule is that each of the recipes can be made in 15 minutes and for this reason a lot of the recipes are stripped down from their traditional beginnings to allow you whip them up in the promised time. A traditional Massaman Curry, for example, is a beef and potato dish which is left to slow cook in all the flavour. Joe’s version cuts out the potatoes to keep it low carb and substitutes meaty beef chunks for lean chicken which is cooked in a frying pan to speed things up.
My only gripe is that there are no nutritional values provided for each recipe. Joe actually addresses this in the intro, explaining that it’s intentional because he doesn’t want people to obsess over daily calorie targets. Whilst I respect where he’s coming from, I’ve found that keeping an eye on my calorie intake works for me so I would have found this information useful to make my own informed choice.
Favourite recipes: Chorizo, Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash; Korean Chicken Rice Bowl (which is great for prepping ahead and freezing).
This book is my secret weapon for easy, healthy but seriously tasty meals!
20 Minute Suppers contains Asian-inspired recipes mainly using noodles, grains, rice and soups, the ingredients for which can be picked up at any decent supermarket. Most recipes come in at less than 300 calories per portion so they are perfect for days when I’ve had a pig out during the day and need to balance it out with a healthy dinner!
Don’t let the low calorie tag fool you though, each dish that I’ve cooked from the book has been packed full of flavour and satisfyingly filling.
I’ve found the meals really easy to prepare and cook too. There’s nothing too technical to do, just simple tasks like chopping, boiling and stir frying. The key ingredients that you will need are listed at the front of the book to help you build up a store cupboard which will allow you to whip up all the meals at the drop of a hat.
To give you an idea, here are some of the ingredients I now make sure I have to hand:
Sesame oil (great for stir fries)
As the book title suggests, the recipes are all designed to be cooked in less than 30 minutes which I’ve found to be pretty accurate. These days I cheat and use pre-chopped garlic and ginger. I know it’s probably frowned upon by the ‘fresh is best’ brigade, but hey it shaves off a few valuable minutes from prep time and I really can’t tell the difference so I don’t get too precious about it!
Favourite recipes: Red Coconut Curry Potsu (pictured below), Chilli Peanut Beef Noodles
Jamie Oliver has only gone and written a healthy cookbook – yay! It’s a beautifully shot feast for the eyes as well as your tum and is bursting with ideas for nutritionally balanced meals which are SO DAMN INSTAGRAMMABLE IT IS IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO TAKE A MILLION PICTURES OF EACH ONE!
I particularly love the Breakfast section which contains such a colourful and varied selection of recipes that you can’t help but be inspired. Where a standard cookbook would provide one scrambled egg recipe, for example, Jamie’s contains four, with combinations including Spinach, Parmesan & Chilli and Mushroom & Marmite, and there is a whole page dedicated to topping ideas for his protein loaf.
Unlike the books listed above, most of the recipes here aren’t quick to make. However a plus is that many of the breakfasts can be made up in large batches which you can then separate into individual portions to freeze or refrigerate so that you can cook them in minutes when needed.
Favourite recipes: Granola dust porridge (see my adaptation of the recipe here); Sweet Potato Muffins with Chilli Cheese and Seeds (pictured below).
My verdict on the recipes in this book can be summed up as follows: A bit fiddly to prepare but worth the effort!
…and that is why I count it as one of my favourite recipe books!
I’m not a vegetarian but I do love a good meat free meal several times a week and am constantly on the lookout for new and fresh ways to sex up my veg! (I’m so glad that I typed that correctly…)
Anyway I came across this book by successful Blogger and Instagram food photographer Nourish Atelier and it was love at first sight. It’s a smorgasbord of vegetable based dishes from around the world, with North African Stew, Slutty Puttanesca Pasta and hearty Indonesian Rendang to name but a few.
I only just bought the book so I haven’t tried many of the recipes yet, but I thought it was worth a mention for those of you looking for a good vegetarian based cookbook. I’ll keep you posted as I try out more of the recipes!
As well as collecting favourite recipe books, there are online resources that I use regularly too. These are the best of the bunch:
Rosie posts delicious, straightforward and fun recipes which have always turned out well when I’ve tried them for myself. Some are so wickedly indulgent that I feel like I’m going to put on 3 stone just looking at the pictures, but Rosie is all about leading a life of healthy balance so there are plenty of healthy options on offer too.
Favourite recipes: Lemon Drizzle Cake (for indulgence); Gruyere Egg Baskets (for fun, as seen below) and Lemon Tomato and Feta Coodles (when you’ve eaten the other two and need to make up for it somehow!).
Although HelloFresh is a food subscription service they still share all of the past recipes online in a huge archive that anyone can access for free, each with clear step by step photo instructions. Most of the meals are designed to be cooked in 30 minutes which gets a big tick from me, although I’m quite slow and find that they take me about 45 minutes on average!
Favourite recipes: Beef Bulgogi; Chicken Hainan (pictured below).
I hope you enjoyed this roundup of my favourite recipe books. Do you have a recipe book that you would recommend?