Food for thought: the Cookbook Guide

Looking to overhaul your eating habits in 2015? Some cookbooks offer better recipes for planet-conscious meals than others.


TORONTO COOKS

If you’re digging the local culinary scene, you may already have snagged this beautiful collection of recipes from dozens of the city’s veteran chefs and rising stars. It’s exciting to see a few chefs call for greener ingredients, like Ocean Wise fish, organic chicken or wild Canadian mushrooms.Unfortunately, most of them don’t take that opportunity. While there are some really great recipes in here, the presence of foie gras in more than one of them means I just can’t give this cookbook more than NNs.

SCORE: NN


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SLIMMING MEALS THAT HEAL/JOYOUS HEALTH 

Ever dream of a hiring a holistic nutritionist to curate your meals and tweak you toward optimal health? You’re in luck. Both of these cookbooks, by Julie Daniluk and Joy McCarthy respectively, offer super-clean and flavourful recipes largely free of dairy, gluten and refined sugar and are packed with advice on holistic approaches to healthy living. They do include some meat recipes, albeit organic/grass-fed options. For strictly plant-based alternatives, check out triathlete Brendan Brazier’s Thrive Energy Cookbook, Doug McNish’s Eat Raw, Eat Well or Megan Telpner’s healthy eating guide UnDiet.

SCORE: NNNN


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THE FOREST FEAST/ISA DOES IT

The Forest Feast pulled me out of a serious slump. Early fall, I was getting tired of the same old vegetarian meals ideas until this beauty by erin Gleeson lured me back into the kitchen with its super-quick three- and four-ingredient recipes that’ll please veg heads and omnivores alike. Now that I’ve got my mojo back, I’ve moved on to other more intensive cookbooks, but this one’s great for time-pressed souls looking to move away from meat. Note: the author does love her cheese. For its vegan equivalent, check out Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s equally quick ‘n’ tasty Isa Does It.

SCORE: NNNN


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THE OH SHE GLOWS COOKBOOK

How did a vegan cookbook by a self-taught Oakville-based food blogger, Angela Liddon, earn top spot on the New York Times bestseller list and gets voted Indigo’s best book of 2014? You’ll just have to get yourself a copy to find out. Besides being packed with 100 delicious recipes that will get your mouth watering, you’ll rack up some serious environmental cred. Vegan diets aren’t just good for your heart and waistline (see Bill Clinton) they also have the smallest carbon footprint, even if a good chunk of the ingredients may not be local. 

SCORE: NNNNN


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PLENTY MORE

Like much of the foodie world, I’m in love with Yotam Ottolenghi. The world-renowned Israel-born chef’s bestselling Plenty and Plenty More cookbooks offer palate-blowing vegetarian dishes rooted in the Mideast, with a global twist. If anyone can convert legions to eating less meat (a move the UN says is vital to planetary health), it’s this man. He himself eats meat but says it should be saved for special occasions. He does use dairy, which is also carbon-heavy, and, yes, some of the ingredients are far from local (true for most of the cookbooks mentioned here). But many of his dishes are vegan and can be made entirely from farmers’ market bounty. My biggest complaint is that the fistfuls of fresh herbs packed into these dishes can involve a lot of plastic casing come winter (time to start growing mint indoors). But I’m giving a Plenty More top billing for making vegetables so damn sexy and divinely delectable at a time when most star chef cookbooks are still going whole hog.

SCORE: NNNNN

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