Holiday Gift Recommendations for Plant-Based and Vegan Cookbooks and Blogs

by Anouk Booneman

Christmas is right around the corner. Over the years I have drastically downsized holiday decorations. It’s actually that time of the year when I want a little less around me, not more. I’ll make an exception for books though, because there is no such a thing as too many books.

I promised myself I wouldn’t purchase more cookbooks this year, and I failed again. Every trip I took this year or an interview I listened to has led to a new acquisition to my already very full bookcase. 

My favorite author this year was Hetty Lui Mc Kinnon. I would recommend any of her books, but so far I have mostly cooked recipes from her book Tenderheart. Every recipe I made from this book has turned out beautiful and delicious. The recipes are meat free, creative and easy to make. There is room for personal tweaking and personal interpretation. Every recipe has a substitution list as well. 

Another personal favorite is Jose Andres. He really is doing it all. He is not only a very accomplished masterchef, but also a very successful restaurateur and author of several cookbooks. He is also the founder of the World Central Kitchen (WCK) an organization that feeds communities impacted by natural disasters and humanitarian crises. I just purchased (but haven’t cooked from) their recent book The World Central Kitchen Cookbook: Feeding Humanity, Feeding hope. Proceeds from the sales will go to WCK. In a previous article I have also mentioned his excellent vegetable book Vegetables Unleashed, a book I cooked from a lot. Jose Andres was born and raised in Spain and is often credited with bringing the small plates (tapas) concept to the USA. He also wrote a few cookbooks about Spanish cuisine with very accessible and creative recipes. For more information (and donations!) check out the WCK website.

While visiting the African American Museum in Washington, I purchased Terry Bryant’s Afro-Vegan cookbook. Terry Bryant is an African American vegan chef, food justice activist and author. His books are beautiful and the recipes very accessible. 

This year I added a few more “salad” books to my ever growing stack. I love Julia Sherman’s book Salads for President with wonderful creative, easy recipes. The photos are gorgeous too. 

This year we had a foraging workshop at Spring into Health. Local musician and forager extraordinaire Sean Rowe led us through my yard, picking weeds that he turned into a delicious meal. It was amazing to see how many of the plants around us we can eat. This inspired me to purchase Alan Bergo’s book Flora. I am still dabbling in foraging, mostly using edible flowers in my recipes, but I plan to use this book often.

This brings me to Loria Stern’s gorgeous cookbook: Eat your flowers. The book is just worth it for the pictures. The recipes are not too complicated. 

Blogs are also an excellent source for cooking inspiration. These are the ones I read regularly. There are enough recipes on her site to try. It’s a good site to get acquainted with her style, if you are on the fence about her books. She also has a nice newsletter that she sends out occasionally. The Smitten Kitchen blog has been a favorite for years. Debbie Perelman also wrote three cookbooks (and yes I have them all). She is funny, creative and her recipes are easy to make, unpretentious and always delicious. if you are interested in foraging, don’t miss Sean Rowe’s website. Sean led a foraging workshop with Spring into health this year and it was a fantastic experience. He has tons of knowledge, is very engaging and is a great musician as well! for even more information on foraging and cooking with wild food, check out this website. Chef Alan Berg also has a newsletter that he sends occasionally. I never miss reading David Leibovitz blog. David is a cookbook author and pastry chef living in Paris, sharing sweet and savory recipes (definitely not vegan or vegetarian) that are doable for home cooks, along with Paris travel tips and humorous stories about life in France. I have most of his books and had a lot of fun reading his book L’Appart about the renovation of his apartment in Paris. has been a favorite for years. Alexandra cooks offers mostly simple, seasonal recipes. She has very clear tutorials and has a new cookbook coming out with pizzas and salads.

                         Attendees at one of Spring Into Health workshops


Anouk Booneman
Anouk is co-founder of Spring Into Health, was a baker at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies and a language teacher before moving to Clifton Park. She believes that industrialized eating has created major health crises all over of the globe and that food can be the strongest medicine. She is also a yoga instructor. Click on her pictures for her articles


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