Cookbooks make a beautiful gift. Even for someone like me, who spends ages online and loves delving into food blogs…there’s something just so nice about sitting down with a printed cookbook. It’s a little more of a calming, leisurely ritual than scrolling through the Internet.
There are SO many amazing recipe books out there, I know. At any given time I could walk into a bookstore and buy more than I could carry. But to help you cut Christmas shopping time down, here are ten healthy cookbooks for your nutrition-conscious pals. I’ve asked my friends over at Quarto publishers to help me put this together, so you’re getting a great list compiled by those in the know!
(A quick disclaimer before you read; each title below is hyperlinked to the book on Amazon. These are my Amazon affiliate links, i.e. if you purchase the book on Amazon after clicking on the link I earn a small commission on the sale, but at NO extra cost to you!)
Healthy cookbooks in alphabetical order by author…
- Eat With Intention: Nourishing Food and Meditations for Mindful Eating, Cassandra Bodzak (Quarto recommended). Bright, bubbly Cassandra is a wellness coach, meditation expert and presenter of Eat with Intention TV. She promotes eating nutritious food and eating it mindfully; finding pleasure in food and loving our bodies. This cookbook contains plant-based recipes together with mantras for eating and guidance on meditation and self-care. This would make a lovely present for your foodie friend with a hippie soul.
- River Cottage Gluten Free, Naomi Devlin. I am sure there are a ton of gluten free foodies who would love to spend time out at River Cottage in Devon cooking up a storm in one of Naomi’s GF cookery classes. For those who aren’t able to make it out there this book is obviously the perfect gift! A coeliac herself, Naomi has created this beautiful book with 120 recipes plus guidance on GF subtitutions and how-tos.
- Green Kitchen Smoothies, David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl. Couple David and Luise, co-founders of food blog Green Kitchen Stories, capture healthy vegetarian food in some amazing photography. Their most recent cookbook is this gorgeous smoothie recipe book, which also includes recipes for granola and other bits to give your smoothies more grunt. This would be a lovely present for your busy-but-health-conscious pal who needs some recipe inspiration for quick brekkies and healthy snacks.
- Savour: Salads for all Seasons, Peter Gordon (Quarto recommended). When Ottolenghi describes a cookbook as a “thing of beauty” it’s definitely a good one! This stunning book is my gift pick for any creative, wholesome foodie. Peter Gordon is an incredible chef who creates fresh, beautiful food. Savour celebrates salads in all their forms, from an elaborate burrata topped with chilli mango, hearty salads with meat, as well as a chapter dedicated to simple salads for easy days.
- Good + Simple, Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley. The Hemsley sisters have an impressive online and offline presence. I love a cheeky work meeting at their cafe inside Selfridges, Oxford Street. Their second cookbook Good + Simple continues their paleo-ish, “boil your bones”, real food vibe and has lots of simple recipes as well as shopping and ingredient guides and meal plans. Wrap this one up for your friend who loves their bone broth, sweet potatoes and homemade bounty bars.
- Clean Cakes, Henrietta Inman (Quarto recommended). I can’t speak highly enough of Henrietta, and am lucky to know this author personally and have tasted creations straight from her kitchen! Clean Cakes is a collection of over 75 recipes free from gluten and dairy, and which use natural sweeteners instead of refined sugar. I’ve written whole blog post reviewing Clean Cakes that you can read here. The perfect gift for that friend who’s always baking healthy treats! (And, jump to the end of this post for a bonus from Clean Cakes!)
- Power Food: Original Recipes by Rens Kroes for Happy Healthy Living, Rens Kroes (Quarto recommended). I’ve got a bit of a girl crush on Rens Kroes, a Dutch superstar nutritionist, author and blogger. Her website is full of delicious recipes and nutrition tips; and she’s all about balanced eating and enjoying food, not crazy diets. Power Food is a collection of tasty healthy recipes by Rens, together with nutritional information about the superstar ingredients she uses. One for that nutrition guru who wants to supercharge their meals.
- Hungry Healthy Happy: How to nourish your body without giving up the foods you love, Dannii Martin (Quarto recommended). Dannii is a mega popular UK healthy food blogger. She personally underwent an impressive journey making lifestyle changes to reach a healthy weight and overcome her health problems. Dannii’s debut cookbook includes a range of achievable, healthy recipes for all your favourites from pancakes through to curries and desserts too. It’s a motivating collection of easy-to-follow recipes suitable for anyone ready to start their health kick after Chrissy!
- Thug Kitchen 101: Fast as F*ck, Thug Kitchen. “We’re the only website dedicated to verbally abusing you into a healthier diet.” Yep, that’s Thug Kitchen, a funny and in-your-face blog. While not all recipes on TK are gluten free and/or sugar free, TK is all about encouraging you to make your own real, simple plant-based food. I think this Thug Kitchen cookbook would be a fun gift for someone who wants to make more wholesome vegetarian food but not take it too seriously. (Not suitable for younger readers or those sensitive to strong language!)
- I Quit Sugar: Simplicious, Sarah Wilson. The I Quit Sugar Queen, Sarah Wilson and her IQS team have released a number of cookbooks and this is one of my favourites. While I think it’s great for people to reduce their sugar intake, the main characteristics I like about this book are its focus on quick “mish mash” meals from flexible recipes, and the emphasis on using up scraps and reducing waste. This one is for your healthy friend who likes to sprout their own legumes and freezes any kind of leftovers.
I’m excited to be able to share with you another of Henrietta’s brilliant recipes; this one perfect for the festive season.
Christmas would not be the same without mince pies, bursting with rich dried fruits, spices and citrus notes. After a glut of quince one year, I decided to add them to the mix, rather than the usual grated apple, and this was the delicious result, giving the mix a sweet, tart twist. Freshly chopped ginger lifts all the flavours up.
Makes 24 quince pies with leftover baked quince mincemeat
600 g (1lb 5 oz) quince (2–3 quince)
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 x recipe basic pastry (see below), rolled out to about 3 mm (⅛ inch) thick
50 g (1¾ oz/⅓ cup) unsulphured dried apricots
100 g (3½ oz/⅔ cup) dates
100 g (3½ oz/scant ⅔ cup) raisins
100 g (3½ oz/⅔ cup) currants
100 g (3½ oz/⅔ cup) sultanas (seedless golden raisins)
25 g (¾ oz/3 tbsp) almonds, preferably soaked for 8–12 hours, roughly chopped
15 g (½ oz/2½ tbsp) peeled ginger, finely chopped
¼ whole nutmeg, grated
½ tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Finely grated zest and juice of ½ large orange
Finely grated zest and juice of ½ large lemon
50 g (1¾ oz/scant ¼ cup) apple purée
¼ tsp coarse sea salt
1 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup
50 g (1¾ oz/¼ cup) coconut butter
- Preheat the oven to 160°C/310°F/Gas Mark 2½ and you will need two tartlet tins. Peel, core and cut the quince into eighths; you should have about 400 g (14 oz) of quince flesh. Place on a baking tray, drizzle with the melted coconut oil and bake for 30–40 minutes, or until tender. Turn up the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.
- Cut out 24 rounds of pastry with a cookie cutter, large enough to fit your tartlet holes, and press the pastry in gently. I like to use a 6 cm (2½ inch) fluted cutter, but a plain one is fine. Cut out 24 tops (either make traditional plain round tops or cut out shapes like stars, hearts or holly) and place on a tray lined with baking parchment. Chill the tart cases and tops in the fridge until needed.
- In a food processor, blitz the apricots and dates until small pieces. Add half the raisins, currants and sultanas (seedless golden raisins) and blitz again. You want the mix to all come together and be in small pieces, almost like mince, but not a paste. When the quince has cooled, add it to the dried fruits and blitz again until almost pulp but with some texture.
- Remove from the food processor, tip into a large bowl and add the rest of the raisins, currants and sultanas (seedless golden raisins), the chopped almonds, ginger, spices, orange and lemon zest and juice, apple purée, salt and honey or maple syrup. Grate in the coconut butter, or finely chop it. Mix everything together with your hands, squeezing the mix through your fingers to make sure it is all really well combined and there are no large lumps of coconut butter.
- Fill the lined tartlets with a generous amount of the quince mincemeat and then top with your prepared pastry discs or shapes. If you are using discs, slice a small cross in the middle of each pie disc using a sharp knife. Bake for 10–12 minutes, rotating the tray halfway, until the tops are golden-brown. Serve straight from the oven or leave to cool and then warm up when needed.
- These quince pies last for at least five days in an airtight container. The mincemeat will keep for up to ten days in a sealed glass jar in the fridge or you can freeze it. It’s best to make this quince mincemeat fresh every year – I do this by storing quinces from October.
I have given the amount of pastry to make 24 quince pies, but the quincemeat is enough to make at least 40 quince pies so increase or decrease the quantities accordingly if you prefer. I like to make one big batch fresh every year, bake off about half, and then keep the rest in the fridge or freezer ready for impromptu visits from family and friends, of which there seem to be a lot at Christmas!
Freeze any leftover pastry for at least one month or bake off as biscuits (cookies).
Makes 550 g (1 lb 3 oz) pastry, enough to line two 23 cm (9 inch) round tart tins
150 g (5¼ oz/1 cup) buckwheat flour
150 g (5¼ oz/1¼ cups) ground almonds (almond meal)
60 g (2 oz/½ cup) coconut sugar
20 g (¾ oz/2½ tbsp) arrowroot
½ tsp Himalayan pink salt
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
100 g (3½ oz/½ cup) coconut oil, plus extra for greasing
70 ml (2½ fl oz/¼ cup plus 2 tsp) cool water
I use a freestanding mixer with a paddle attachment to make this pastry, but you can use a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon or spatula if preferred.
- Grease your tins with coconut oil. Combine all the dry ingredients, including the lemon zest. A whisk is good for this as it gets rid of any lumps.
- Melt the coconut oil and gradually pour it into the dry ingredients, followed by the water, mixing until everything is well combined. At this point the dough can be wrapped in baking parchment and then cling film (plastic wrap) and frozen for up to one month or kept in the fridge for about five days.
Recipe and images extracted from Clean Cakes by Henrietta Inman, photography by Lisa Linder. Published by Jacqui Small (£20).