Travel, Food & Drink

Restorative Reads: 3 New Recipe Books for Healthy and Happy Eating

Our roundup of the best new cookbooks that promise to boost your mood and your health this festive season

It’s official: what we eat is important for staying both healthy and happy. “The gut is the driver of health,” says Professor Felice Jacka of Deakin University in Geelong, Australia, who has researched the effects of diet on levels of happiness. “Whole, unprocessed diets higher in plant foods, healthy forms of protein, and fats are associated with better mental health.”

As we gear up to the holidays, that means a little extra indulgence. But it doesn’t have to be a dietary disaster. These three cookbooks are all about finding a healthy balance—with an extra serving of happiness.

My Pinewood Kitchen: A Southern Culinary Cure
by Mee McCormick

Mee McCormick is a rising Southern culinary and wellness innovator and restaurateur. She splits her time between Nashville and nearby Nunnelly, Tennessee—a tiny community in Hickman County. The latter is home to her biodynamic farm and restaurant Pinewood Kitchen & Mercantile.

Dish of carrot soup topped with roast carrots
Wholesome recipes from My Pinewood Kitchen: A Southern Culinary Cure by Mee McCormick include this warming carrot ginger soup.

Her recipe book stands out in many ways, not least for its foreword, which describes her “journey from death’s door” after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. McCormick discovered she has this severe long-term inflammatory bowel condition shortly after the birth of her youngest daughter. She has since become a leading expert on how food can help combat autoimmune diseases and other health challenges.

In My Pinewood Kitchen, she distills what she’s learned into a collection of whole-food recipes “for cooks who not only want to eat scrumptious food, but want to live a healthier life and feel great.” From smoothies, soups, and salads, to dinners and desserts, every recipe in the book is gluten-free and gut-friendly.

pinewoodkitchenandmercantile.com

East: 120 Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Beijing
by Meera Sodha

Those who are new to plant-based eating often imagine bland meals and hankering for “proper” cuts of protein. With this cookbook, Meera Sodha, who writes about vegan cooking for the U.K.’s Guardian, is here to prove otherwise.

Bowl of Thai green curry
Mood-boosting Thai green curry with eggplant, zucchini, and mange-tout features in East: 120 Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Beijing by Meera Sodha, and is packed with nutrients.

Drawing on ingredients and techniques from throughout Asia, East will inspire even the most ardent of meat eaters with its speedy, delicious dishes. You’ll find recipes such as bao with a hearty, peanut butter-thickened mushroom filling; coconut rice with tangy, tamarind-slathered eggplant; and a tomato, pistachio, and saffron tart. All are flavorful, easy to follow, and a wonderful way to fall in love with a vegan or vegetarian diet.

meerasodha.com

I Cook in Color: Bright Flavors from My Kitchen and Around the World
by Asha Gomez

A rainbow jumps from every page in Asha Gomez’s second cookbook. The mix of colors not only makes for beautiful dishes—it’s also good for our health. “We eat a wide variety of brightly colored foods,” she says. “It’s one of the best and easiest ways to make sure we get the nutrition we need.”

Yellow round cake with pomegranate seeds
Asha Gomez’s mango cardamom cake from I Cook in Color: Bright Flavors from My Kitchen and Around the World is a vibrant treat for those with a sweet tooth. Image: Evan Sung

Best known for her use of cooking methods from the American South and her homeland of Kerala in Southern India, Gomez uses I Cook in Color to explore the vibrant hues of ingredients found throughout the world.

Recipes such as spicy garlic shrimp with capers; a passion fruit, lime, and grapefruit grouper ceviche; and pomegranate and date molasses chicken, meld global flavor profiles with culinary traditions. It’s a joyous approach to healthy eating that’ll have you searching for the brightest fresh produce you can lay your hands on.

ashagomez.com

Banner image: Celebration brussels sprouts from My Pinewood Kitchen: A Southern Culinary Cure by Mee McCormick