10 Healthy Cookbooks for the Best Meals This Summer

Just a few days ago, I shared my top 10 favorite cookbooks of all time. These are the ones I turn to again and again, whether I’m looking to shake up my dinners for the week ahead or take on a new culinary challenge when I have guests coming over. They’re tried and true and have been tested (and retested). But when I’m looking for a nutrient-dense meal that errs a little more on the lighter side of things, these are the healthy cookbooks I have on hand.

My cookbook collection is growing and evolving at all times. I’ve stocked up on plenty for the summer months ahead, gearing up for al fresco dining and picnics aplenty. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s al fresco dining season, or the abundance of tomatoes, watermelon, eggplant, strawberries (you get the picture) at the farmer’s market that makes me giddy with happiness to cook my way through this season.

The warmer temps lend themselves to lighter, brighter flavors, plus all this beautiful produce makes healthy eating a snap. Which is a good thing, since we’ve got to balance out all those ice cream and snow cone dates somehow, right? The season certainly inspires a shift to cookbooks that are brimming with healthy recipes and are certain to make you crave those glow-inducing foods.

So if you’re ready to jump into the season with a spring in your step, scroll on for my 10 favorite healthy cookbooks. I’d love to hear about any new ones I need to discover in the comments!

Feature image by Michelle Nash.

10 Go-To Healthy Cookbooks That Are Inspiring All My Summer Cooking

Salad Freak: Recipes to Feed a Healthy Obsession by Jess Damuck

This is one of my favorite healthy cookbooks that’s come out this year. If you haven’t heard yet, I’m not alone in being fully obsessed with this book. Not only are the images gorgeous (bright and inspiring), but the recipes prove just how tasty and satisfying salads can be. A self-professed “salad freak” herself, Jess Damuck, recipe developer and food stylist, sought to give the oft-overlooked course the spotlight they deserve.

The cookbook is a love letter to her favorites: the fresh, vibrant ingredients that have no interest in being or tasting anything other than what they are. Damuck is driven by what’s in season, and known as the “Bob Ross of salads” (by herself, anyway), it should be clear that an aesthetic, delicious dreamworld awaits.

One: Pot, Pan, Planet: A Greener Way to Cook for You and Your Family by Anna Jones

Anna Jones is truly the “Queen of Greens,” amplifying vegetarian food with an approach that emphasizes plants’ beauty and style. Jones is apt at painting this way of eating and cooking in a modern light. (All healthy cookbooks should take note.) With every recipe, she puts not only flavor and nutrition first but centers everything around a focus on sustainability. Favorites include: Saag Aloo Shepard’s Pie and Carrot & Sesame Pancakes. They’re familiar foods with a much-welcome update. What’s not to love?

Unbelievably Vegan: 100+ Life-Changing, Plant-Based Recipes by Charity Morgan

Interested in experimenting with vegan cooking, but not sure where to start? Morgan is all about making a plant-based lifestyle accessible and attainable. With the term “plegan” (plant-based vegan) guiding her recipes, writing, and insights, Morgan invites readers to take a gentle approach, one that’s far from restrictive. Whatever reservations you may have about healthy cookbooks, be prepared to throw them to the wayside. Unbelievably Vegan is all about pairing practicality with inspiration—oh, and having fun with what you eat.

Healthier Together: Recipes for Two—Nourish Your Body, Nourish Your Relationships by Liz Moody

Food writer and health blogger Liz Moody once followed trendy diets and ate solely for fuel, not for flavor. That changed when she met her soon-to-be-boyfriend (now husband) and they started cooking nutrient- and vegetable-rich meals. She not only fell in love with food again, but she also discovered that setting goals and sticking to them is easier and more gratifying when paired with someone else.

Love & Lemons Every Day by Jeanine Donofrio

From quick weeknight dinners to bright weekend brunches, Donofro presents imaginative meals for any and every day. With recipes like Cauliflower Steaks With Lemon Salsa Verde, Rutabaga Walnut Ragu, and Chocolate Cake With Sweet Potato Frosting, this charming collection is filled with innovative ideas for using vegetable scraps, exciting ways to eat popular produce, and delicious dishes starring seriously underrated vegetables.

Modern Lunch: +100 Recipes for Assembling the New Midday Meal by Allison Day

I will never be one of those people who forget to eat lunch—it’s truly one of my favorite parts of the day. And you will certainly feel like treating yourself with author Allison Day’s brilliant recipes that are simple enough to pack up in a flash; think Chicken and Cucumber Ribbon Salad with Peanut Butter Vinaigrette and Walnut-Crusted Avocado, Feta, and Eggs With Pesto Rice.

Where Cooking Begins: Uncomplicated Recipes to Make You a Great Cook by Carla Lalli Music

Anyone who’s a fan of Bon Appétit has long been a fan (whether they realize it or not) of food director Carla Lalli Music’s laid-back and flavor-packed approach to cooking at home. I love the fact that she never adds a step in the process unless it’s absolutely essential.

Mostly Plants: 101 Delicious Flexitarian Recipes from the Pollan Family by Tracy, Dana, Lori & Corky Pollan

I love Michael Pollan’s balanced approach to cooking and eating that’s all about nourishing our bodies and souls, summed up in his now-famous mantra: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

So what does choosing “mostly plants” look like in real life? In families where not everyone is on the same vegetarian page the word “mostly” is key. The point isn’t necessarily to give up meat entirely but to build a diet that shifts the ratio of animals to plants to create delicious and nutritious meals sure to appeal to everyone.

Dinner for Everyone: 100 Iconic Dishes Made 3 Ways—Easy, Vegan, or Perfect for Company by Mark Bittman

In our world of rampant dietary restrictions (gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, lectin-free, grain-free, vegan, paleo, you name it!) Mark Bittman’s book is absolutely genius. He shares adaptations of every recipe to work for a range of diets and cooking approaches.

Every Day is Saturday: Recipes + Strategies for Easy Cooking, Every Day of the Week by Sarah Copeland

Words can’t express how much I love this cookbook, as much for its #goals approach to living each day like the weekend as for its delicious recipes. I want to make them ALL. From Morrocan Tomato Toast to Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream Cake, Sarah Copeland’s new book is all about making normal days feel a little more special—while still keeping things simple.

This post was originally published on May 14, 2019, and has since been updated.

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