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Tracy’s Top Choices of Cookbooks to ROCK Your Socks OFF!!!

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So, are you sick of my husband’s craziness yet?  I’m sure he has more in store for us, but this week I wanted to feature my girl, Tracy, from Tracy’s Treasury.  I don’t get to see her often since she lives in OKC, but we keep up with each other online and I adore her site, which features tutorials and instructions for sewing projects, crafting, revamping, repurposing, home brews, and photography.  Some of my favorite posts are how to turn rain gutters into bookshelves,  how to make fleece hats with ear flaps, how to etch glass, and her recipe for snow ice cream, which reminds me of my childhood when Dad would make a big batch on the second snowfall of every winter (he said the first snowfall carried down all the pollutants in the atmosphere, so the second snowfall was a better choice).  Tracy has a great food philosophy and great taste, so please welcome her with open arms as she supplies the very first cookbook recommendation/review on my site!

Tasty AND Healthy Foods For the Family…

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Being the first of the year, I imagine a lot of us have resolved to make healthier decisions. To do that, I have FOUR FABULOUS cookbook recommendations for you. But first, let me just tell you a little about how I roll. I have a nutrition page on my site, which includes both HOW and WHY to change the way you cook & eat… so as you’d probably guess, I do care about making food that’s reasonably healthy and not complete junk. I’m not into all the packaged, processed, hydrogenated junk that turns us into chunky monkeys. But, my family likes regular food like pizza and enchiladas and I will forever be a mac & cheese lover. So where does that leave me as the main meal preparer?

Well, I can tell you one thing… if I’m going to the trouble of MAKING food for my family to eat instead of getting take-out, it better TASTE GOOD or else it’s not worth my effort! I’m not the kind of gal who eats rice cakes. I like real food with fresh ingredients. I don’t want to diet or weigh out serving sizes. I just want a collection of do-able recipes that are yummy and nourishing too.

If you’re interested in changing the way you cook and eat, you’re ready to wean yourself from excessive processed junk that makes you gain weight and feel sluggish, but you don’t really know where to go from here… then perhaps my cookbook recommendations will help. I’ve kind of bumbled around a bit in this area for a while, trying to find that happy balance between “healthy” food and “yummy” food… finding a recipe here and there that was fabulous, simple, and healthy. Now I finally feel like I have a couple of good GO-TO sources for recipes that fit my nutrition approach AND taste great.

So… Without further adieu…

Here are my top three choices. I can’t really rank them as #1 #2 #3 because they all tie for first place, for different reasons. You’ll also notice that these cookbooks have EXCELLENT reviews on Amazon so I am evidently not alone in thinking they’re great. In no particular order here they are….. (cue drum roll….)

My first #1 choice: “America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook:
A New, Healthier Way to Cook Everything From America’s Most Trusted Test Kitchen

I’m so excited about this cookbook! This is my most recent cookbook purchase, and I think it’ll be a looong time before I buy another one. It’s got over 800 All-American homestyle recipes that they made over to be healthier without sacrificing taste. The recipes are great, reasonably healthy choices the whole family will love.

It is NOT a diet cookbook. Their bottom line factor is taste, so you won’t find them plugging in bland cardboard-like ingredients just to reach a certain calorie count. They don’t play games with the serving sizes or nix all the tasty foods that contain fat (nuts, eggs, avocados, cheese, salmon); they “just use them judiciously.”

Here’s their recipe for Baked Chicken Fingers

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And Creamy Chicken and Spinach Casserole

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We’ve loved the recipes we’ve tried and are mainly eating from this cookbook right now as I continue to try more of them. I also love all the helpful hints and preparation tips sprinkled through with the recipes. It comes in a nice binder with tab dividers for all the sections- including dessert! We all need some brownies now and then, don’t we? Their desserts reduce fat and still taste deliciously dessert-y. If you don’t believe me, check out their fudgy-brownies, which are nice and fudgy WITHOUT using a cup of butter and a pound of chocolate. What are you waiting for????

My second and third #1 choices:
Whole Foods for the Whole Family
& “Whole Foods From the Whole World

These two cookbooks are fab-u-loso! They have loads of healthy, tasty meals as well as really helpful kitchen tips. I’ve found lots of great dinner recipes, and “Whole Foods for the Whole Family” is my go-to source for baked goods (pancakes, waffles, breads, muffins, etc.) made with mixed flour (I use half whole-wheat, half white/all-purpose). Their cooking philosophy is right in line with mine, and they give recipes for flavorful, nutritious meals made from non-processed foods.

They don’t have impressive covers. OK, one of them REALLY looks like it belongs in the 80’s. Aaaaaand they don’t have dazzling photos inside. Let’s face it- we ARE a little spoiled, aren’t we? We expect glamorous, color photos with each recipe (especially those of us following Veronica’s blog!)… but getting these two cookbooks is quite like gaining your great grandma’s collection of favorite recipes that have been tried and tweaked to perfection over many years. You don’t think your grandma was snapping pictures of her famous world-famous dish before she put it on the table, do you? No. She was probably snapping a rooster’s neck so she could throw him in the oven. You don’t see a great photo before you start cooking… so what? Just trust your grandma on this one- it’ll be yumm-O! And healthy to boot!

Here’s their recipe for yummy Carrot Spice Muffins, which are made with no butter, oil, OR processed sugar…

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I’d recommend “Whole Foods for the Whole Family” to anyone with a mouth. And I’d recommend “Whole Foods from the Whole World to those who are curious to taste family favorites from around the globe. I got a great recipe for Do Yuk Sahn Juhk from it. I may not pronounce it properly, but it tastes GREAT! :)

And my #2 choice…
Pampered Chef’s “Make it Fresh Make it Healthy

I am a Pampered Chef consultant (only in the most technical sense, I’ve never done a “home party” I just keep up my consultant status to reap the benefits since I LOVE their products) and I have SEVERAL Pampered Chef cookbooks. I will tell you this about PC cookbooks… their recipes are good. Really good. But a decent amount of them rely on packaged foods, which is what I’m trying to scale back on. This one doesn’t. The title says it all.

Coming from Pampered Chef, you KNOW the recipes will be rockin’. The only reason this book is slightly ranked below the first three, instead of having a FOURTH tie for first place is not because the recipes are less fabulous, it’s just because the cookbook isn’t extensive by any means, whereas the first three are.

It’s an assortment of deliciously fresh, healthy recipes you’ll be glad to add to your collection. One of our favorites from this book is Creamy Saffron & Asparagus Risotto. It is seriously SO good that if I had to pick only 5 meals to be served the remainder of my life over and over again, this would make the cut.

Pasted Graphic 3(Disclaimer: I don’t use wine, I substituted in slightly watered-down grape juice.)

The same gal posting the Risotto recipe also featured their Cracker-Crusted Chicken, which takes 15 minutes from start to finish. That’s a winner in my book.

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Well… That concludes my top choices of cookbooks to rock your socks off. Buy them, love them, and thank me later ;)

But, while I have your attention, I wanted to mention three more “honorable mentions….” which are each geared to more specific cooking needs…

For Babies & Toddlers…

Mommy Made and Daddy Too! Home Cooking for a Healthy Baby & Toddler,” by Martha & David Kimmel. This is a FABULOUS cookbook for making your own fresh baby food!!! It also has some nice transitional recipes for toddlers (& the rest of the family). I Love it. I bought it for my sister-in-law, who wanted to make her own baby food. She received a couple different baby food books as gifts, and this was her favorite as well. If you’re considering making your own baby food, be sure to check out my Mommy-Made Baby Food page!

For Sneaky Moms of Picky Kiddos…

Deceptively Delicious,” by Jessica Seinfeld. She has yummy, easy to make recipes that sneak in pureed veggies and improve store-bought foods. Here‘s her website for it. I have tried a couple of these recipes, and they were tasty. Luckily we don’t have picky kids (yet) so I don’t have to sneak stuff in. I do find this handy though when we’re making baby food purees and have them on hand anyway. If you like this sort of thing, she also has a sequel called Double Delicious!: Good, Simple Food for Busy, Complicated Lives.

For Those More Aggressively Trying to Lose Weight…

Cook Yourself Thin: Skinny Meals You Can Make in Minutes” cookbook by Lifetime Television.  This is a must if you’re wanting to hit it hard going healthy… Although it’s not considered a diet cookbook, I’d say it’s the closest thing to it that I’d use happily. They revamp your favorite recipes, keeping or improving flavor while increasing nutrients and cutting calories.  Their introduction is really good too, giving lots of helpful hints.  Click here for the show’s website, and here to read and print recipes they used on the show.

Well, that’s it! I hope my cookbook recommendations are helpful, and here’s wishing you a happy, healthy new year!

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About Veronica

I have a kitchen addiction and love to collect & share recipes. My passion is baking but I love to cook as well. The only thing I don't like to do in the kitchen is wash dishes, but my husband generally does them for me in exchange for his dinner.

8 responses »

  1. Thanks for linking to my blog, Veronica! Those carrot muffins are some of my favorite!!

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  2. Great reviews! The creamy risotto sure does look tempting, and I think I need to add that America’s Test Kitchen book to my Christmas list for next year, because I love everything they do!

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  3. Awesome review Tracy! The baked chicken fingers just got printed out, that looks yummilicious! I have the Pampered Chef cookbook and I like it too. I just left Amazon.com but, think I need to go back and order America’s Test Kitchen cookbook :)

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  4. Thanks Veronica for all these great recommendations! I read cookbooks like they’re novels and these all look wonderful to me!

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  5. Oh, I’m liking this list!

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  6. Great. More cookbooks that I want! (I will have to build on to the kitchen!) I agree, one of the covers does look like it comes from the 80s. I love all of the American Test Kitchen books too. Great guest post!!!!!

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