Monday I talked about meal planning and how it keeps me on track. I promised y'all I'd share some of my favorite cookbooks and an app that helps me with the whole meal planning process.
First, the cookbooks. I have a lot of them and cull them yearly to make room for the news ones I pick up each year. I have some with super complicated recipes. I have some that are vegetarian and vegan, even though I'm an omnivore. I have some that focus on international cuisines--which I'll probably feature in a future post because there are some great ones. But today, I wanted to highlight the non-intimidating ones. The ones that are the workhorse cookbooks that provide doable, healthy recipes that don't take too much time and don't require hard-to-find ingredients.
Two words: Mark Bittman. Of all the cookbooks I have, I find Mark's to be some of the most comprehensive and foolproof. And they aren't "diet" cookbooks, but it's healthy whole foods using real ingredients--which is how I try to eat. He's also great at the recipe "riff", meaning he lists the main recipe and then he'll give you three or four variations using different meats or vegetable or spices. He teaches you not to be afraid to spin a recipe for what you happen to have on hand. He even recently released a cookbook that's all about spinning one core recipe into many variations called Kitchen Matrix. I, of course, had to buy that one, too.
But the main ones of his I reach for over and over are the ones in the "everything" series. How to Cook Everything, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (because veggie cookbooks really know how to elevate vegetables), and How to Cook Everything Fast. The last one is my jam. And I can't tell you how helpful it is that when I get a big pile of fruits and veggies from the produce co-op that I'm in, that I can just pick up one of these tomes, flip to the index and find multiple yummy recipes for the produce I've got on hand.
And though there are some recipes that are more complicated than others, in general, you're going to find easy to follow recipes with no intimidation factor. Plus, I have yet to try a recipe from these books that flopped. He even has a recipe that got me eating grapefruit--a feat. (Spoiler, you broil the grapefruit with a brown sugar almond topping. Yum.)
So, you can't go wrong with those three. I'll also give an honorable mention to the magazine Cooking Light. I've been a subscriber for at least a decade and I still look forward to every issue. They consistently have great recipes and fresh takes on things. Now, be warned, they vary in complexity. But each issue usually has a good mix of quick and easy stuff along with some "challenge yourself" stuff. And they don't do fad diets. All the recipes focus on healthy, fresh ingredients prepared in a way that isn't too calorically dense.
Lastly, the app I use for recipes. There are a ton of recipe apps out there, but I needed something to organize my online recipes from Pinterest and from Cooking Light (all their recipes are also available online, so I look up my favorite to save instead of keeping a million magazines). Because if you've tried to cook from Pinterest, you know that if the screen goes dark on your phone, Pinterest often resets WHICH IS NOT AWESOME WHEN YOU'RE MID-RECIPE. Enter the Paprika App. This app easily stores all your online recipes (you can easily "clip" recipes from anywhere) and you can organize them into categories, pop them into meal plans, all kinds of cool things. But for me, the most important feature is that when you open a recipe, it keeps your screen on. No touching your phone or tablet with flour-covered fingers. Hallelujah. Plus, it syncs across my devices, so if I find a recipe on my desktop and send it to Paprika, it will be on my phone as well. Perfect.
So those are my picks. Do you have a favorite cookbook or recipe app? I'd love to hear about it. :)