The 9 Best Healthy Cookbooks of 2020, According to a Dietitian

Get inspired for mealtime with these healthy guides

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: The Skinnytaste Cookbook at Amazon

"How to make delicious recipes using smart ingredient swaps that lower calories and fat, but don't sacrifice flavor."

Best Clean Eating: The Clean Plate at Amazon

"Easy and flexible recipes with delicious flavor and clean ingredients."

Best Plant-Based: Everyday Detox at Amazon

"Features 100 recipes that are packed with natural, whole-food ingredients designed to support optimal digestion and to help your body naturally detox."

Best for the Whole Family: Joy Bauer's Superfood! at Amazon

"Uses the healthiest, evidence-backed ingredients on the planet to create indulgent, crave-worthy dishes that are great for the whole family."

Best Vegetarian: Plenty at Amazon

"Recipes transform vegetables into vibrant dishes that will satisfy meat-eaters and vegetarians alike."

Best Allergy-Friendly: Love Real Food at Amazon

"Each recipe provides simple substitutions or modifications when applicable to make them free of dairy, egg, gluten, nut, soy, and animal products."

Best for Healthy Baked Goods: Just the Good Stuff at Amazon

"The colorful cookbook features over 100 recipes with tons of Paleo, plant-based, and gluten-free options."

Best for Bread Baking: Tartine Bread at Amazon

"Known as the bread-baking bible—is a go-to for anyone looking to make their own bread."

Best Junk Food Makeover: The Dude Diet Dinnertime at Amazon

"This cookbook transforms dinner into a meal that will satisfy everyone in the family and help keep your healthy habits on track."

A great healthy cookbook can boost your nutrition and inspire you to create delicious recipes that align with your health and wellness goals. Whether you’re interested in plant-based, produce-packed meals or healthier-for-you versions of your family favorites, there are tons of excellent cookbooks to choose from. Investing in a cookbook with healthy recipes that appeal to your tastebuds and flavor preferences can result in more budget-friendly eating habits and improved health.

While ordering in is tempting and convenient—and can usually be healthy if items like sushi or salads are on the menu—research shows that cooking at home is associated with better diet quality. One study showed those who ate home-cooked meals more than five times per week ate more fruits and vegetables than those who consumed less than three home-cooked meals per week. Additionally, the people who ate home-cooked meals were also 28 percent less likely to be overweight.

Here, the best healthy cookbooks.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: The Skinnytaste Cookbook

For a top-rated cookbook that will help enjoy your favorite recipes with healthier ingredients, you can’t go wrong with Skinnytaste. This healthy cookbook was created by Gina Homolka, the blogger behind Skinnytaste, and it’s designed to help you cut back on calories while still enjoying tasty meals.

The Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor is all about how to make delicious recipes without the high calorie count. Gina recommends smart ingredient swaps that lower calories and fat, but don't sacrifice flavor. She also offers helpful tips to create a healthier kitchen and lifestyle, such as meal planning, getting rid of processed junk food, and drinking enough water. She also encourages the reader to fall in love with real, whole foods, which is precisely what her mouth-watering recipes do.

There are 150 recipes in the book, all of which include nutritional information. You’ll find meals like Fettuccini Alfredo with Chicken and Broccoli, Make-Ahead Western Omelet "Muffins," and even Double Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies—yes, these mouth-watering recipes are all lower in calories but high in taste.

Best Clean Eating: The Clean Plate

Delicious, healthy meals made from whole food ingredients can help the body naturally reset and heal. If you're searching for a cookbook focused on easy and flexible recipes with delicious flavor and clean ingredients, Gwyneth Paltrow's The Clean Plate: Eat, Reset, Heal is an excellent choice. The collection of over 100 recipes includes everything from soups and smoothies to entrées, snacks, and even desserts. Especially if you're a fan of Paltrow's other cookbooks or many of the recipes on GOOP.com, this food-lover's cookbook is for you.

The recipes are simple, yet flavorful, and the book is chock-full of healthy tips from nutrition experts. Beyond the recipes, The Clean Plate offers specific meal plans based on health concerns, including adrenal support, heart health, and candida that are created by doctors and nutritionists. Recipes range from vegan favorites like Butternut Squash Tacos to easy weeknight meals such as Sheet Pan Chicken Broccolini and sweet Chocolate Chia Pudding.

Best Plant-Based: Everyday Detox

If you follow a plant-based diet, you may know that there are tons of plant-based cookbooks on the market. With so many options, it can be a challenge to find a cookbook with recipes that taste as good as the pictures look. An oldie, but a goodie—it was published back in 2015—Everyday Detox is a staple in plant-based kitchens and features mouth-watering, plant-based versions of your favorite foods. Known for her popular blog Detoxinista, Megan Gilmore creates delicious recipes that are easily customized for specific dietary concerns.

The inventive cookbook features 100 recipes that are packed with natural, whole-food ingredients designed to support optimal digestion and to help your body naturally detox. There are options for the whole family, including Banana Coconut Muffins, Skillet Fish Tacos, and Oil-Free Walnut Pesto Pasta. If you have a sweet tooth, you'll love the Almond Butter Freezer Fudge, Banana Soft Serve, and Raw Lemon Bars.

Best for the Whole Family: Joy Bauer's Superfood!

Nutritionist Joy Bauer's Superfood! Cookbook uses the healthiest, evidence-backed ingredients on the planet to create indulgent, crave-worthy dishes that are great for the whole family. Designed to promote eternal youth and vitality, the recipes are as nutritious as they are delicious. Joy and her team of top health experts reviewed countless studies and examined the healthiest eating habits of various cultures to create a cookbook filled with insanely delicious recipes that will help you to look and feel amazing.

From Blueberry Pie Oatmeal to Loaded Nachos and Buffalo Wings, NBC's TODAY show nutrition expert is a pro at converting indulgent family favorite dishes into healthy staples. The Soft and Doughy Protein Pretzels will quickly become a snack-time favorite, and the Vegan Tacos are perfect for your healthiest Taco Tuesday.

Best Vegetarian: Plenty

If you're looking for the best healthy—and delicious—vegetarian cookbook, you'll love Ottolenghi's Plenty. The cookbook features 120 fresh vegetarian recipes with exciting flavors. The celebrity chef's recipes transform vegetables into vibrant dishes that will satisfy meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. With gorgeous, visually stunning photos of each recipe, the cookbook is as much of a work of art as a collection of recipes.

Plenty also highlights the importance of seasonality and freshness. While it's true that fresh, seasonal produce tastes better, Ottolenghi draws inspiration from diverse food cultures and includes a variety of interesting spices that enhance the natural flavors of the vegetables. The recipes are organized by vegetable, so it's easy to find a variety of ways to prepare your favorites. For example, If you're a fan of eggplant, you can flip through mouth-watering photos of Lentils with broiled eggplant, Eggplant Croquettes, and Burnt Eggplant with tahini.

Best Allergy-Friendly: Love Real Food

For allergy-friendly, vegetarian recipes that taste great and will have you feeling even better, Love Real Food is the perfect choice. Known for her popular for blog, Cookie and Kate, Kathryne Taylor offers over 100 approachable recipes that have tons of substitutions to ensure meals are special diet-friendly. Each recipe provides simple substitutions or modifications when applicable to make them free of dairy, egg, gluten, nut, soy, and animal products.

Plus, if you're a fan of the blog, you'll be happy to know that the book contains about 90 percent brand new recipes, with a few favorites thrown in there. Vibrant photos capture the mouthwatering deliciousness of each recipe, enticing readers to try the soups, salads, appetizers, entrées, and sweet treats. Kathryne is passionate about seasonality, so she offers "Change It Up" tips for how to modify many of the recipes based on the season.

Best for Healthy Baked Goods: Just the Good Stuff

Healthy eating doesn't mean you have to deprive yourself of sweet treats and baked goods. In her first cookbook, Just the Good Stuff, Rachel Mansfield—popular blogger and Instagram sensation @rachlmansfield—proves that using better-for-you ingredients like grain-free flours and coconut sugar can allow you to indulge while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The colorful cookbook features over 100 recipes with tons of Paleo, plant-based, and gluten-free options. While there are lots of tasty meat and veggie recipes, the healthy baked goods are the standout stars. Mouthwatering recipes like Chocolate Chip Sweet Potato Waffles, Crunchy Coconut Tahini Chocolate Grain-Free Granola, and Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups will satisfy any sweet tooth. Plus, the recipes taste so great you may notice you only want the healthier, refined sugar-free treats.

Best for Bread Baking: Tartine Bread

Contrary to popular belief, bread can be part of a healthier lifestyle. Baking bread at home has had a comeback, especially if you're a fan of sourdough. Sourdough contains healthy bacteria, whereas storebought bread typically contains tons of preservatives and may have funky ingredients that you can't read. Tartine Bread—also known as the bread-baking bible—is a go-to for anyone looking to make their own bread.

Written by Chad Robertson, the baker at San Francisco's famed Tartine Bakery, the book provides clear instructions and step-by-step photos so that you can recreate your own beautiful loaves using only flour, water, and salt. If you're a bit more adventurous, Tartine also includes recipes for brioche, pizza, and focaccia. The cookbook contains delicious recipes to accompany your favorite loaf, including Kale Caesar Salad, Olive Tapenade, and Hummus.

Best Junk Food Makeover: The Dude Diet Dinnertime

If the question, "What's for dinner?" sends you into a tailspin, Serena Wolf's The Dude Diet Dinnertime will solve the eternal conundrum. With tons of healthier versions of junk food favorites, this cookbook transforms dinner into a meal that will satisfy everyone in the family and help keep your healthy habits on track. Commonly, people will eat mindfully throughout the day and then splurge at dinnertime due to tempting family meals or easy takeout menus.

This cookbook makes dinner indulgent and healthy, but not fussy. The humorous, quirky commentary adds to the fun of the gorgeous photos and inventive recipes. Dinner is done in only a few minutes with One-Pan Wonders and Kickass Casseroles, such as Chicken Parm Quinoa Bake and Trim Turkey Tetrazzini. There are tons of flavorful protein dishes such as Grilled Salmon with California "Caviar" and Pork Chops with Shaved Brussels Sprout and Apple Slaw. The "Sexy Sides" convert plain veggies into nutritious masterpieces such as Herb Potato Coins and Crispy Zucchini Fries.

What to Look for in a Healthy Cookbook

Ingredients and Recipe Lists: Before you purchase a cookbook, take a look at the recipe list, which is generally located in the table of contents. Review the recipe list to ensure that the recipes appeal to you and that they use ingredients that fit your dietary requirements. For example, if you avoid gluten, the recipes include gluten-free grains or offer easy modifications. Even if you are buying the book online, many online retailers give you the option to take a peek before purchasing.

Experience level: If you're new to cooking, you may need a bit more guidance and explanation of cooking methods. If you're more experienced, on the other hand, you may prefer a cookbook that's light on advice and heavy on recipes. Also, consider the time each recipe requires. If you're short on time or just prefer more uncomplicated recipes, many cookbooks offer simple, healthy dishes.

Equipment: Take a look at the kitchen tools you will need before investing in a cookbook. Many cookbooks feature quick, easy, and nutritious recipes that can be incredibly convenient—but only if you have the kitchen equipment needed.

Guidance vs. Recipes: Healthy or clean eating cookbooks tend to have a few chapters on lifestyle and nutrition education. Take a look at the table of contents to see whether the book is more focused on nutrition recommendations or recipes, and then consider how you will use the book. If you're looking to educate yourself, a book with tons of evidence-based nutrition recommendations, tips, and explanations may be best. However, if you are looking primarily for recipes, you'll want a cookbook that's light on guidance.

What Experts Say

"An excellent healthy cookbook can help get you excited and keep you motivated because usually when we think of making our habits healthier, we think about what we have to sacrifice. We believe we have to eat bland or boring foods, and no treats--in other words, deprivation. A good healthy cookbook will give you plenty of recipes for dishes you're excited to eat. Look for a cookbook with lots of variety, but be sure that it includes recipes that fit your life, not the other way around. Part of good health is minimizing stress, so make sure the recipes aren't too complicated."—Beth Lipton, recipe developer and cookbook author

Why Trust Verywell Fit

A personal note on my recommendations written above. As a dietitian and cookbook author, I am careful to provide lifestyle and diet recommendations, even when it comes to cookbooks. It's important to find resources that are based on solid clinical research and offer constructive, health-promoting information rather than anecdotal, trendy fads. In compiling these recommendations, I spent time reviewing the best cookbooks on the market and considering what I have recommended to clients and patients in the past. I own all of these books and have tried recipes from each.Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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