The 9 Best Cookbooks of 2009

Here are our favorite healthy, vegetarian and vegan cookbooks to hit the shelves recently. Also try these vegetarian and vegan recipes.



The Adaptable Feast

The Adaptable Feast could save your relationship. That is, if you're an omnivore trying to have a relationship with a vegetarian (or vice versa). The Adaptable Feast: Satisfying Meals for the Vegetarians, Vegans, and Omnivores at Your Table is the product of author and meat lover Ivy Manning falling for and eventually marrying a vegetarian (who she lovingly calls Mr. Tofu). Each of the 90 recipes look traditional enough, the only difference is that they highlight one step that explains how to make the dish vegetarian. "Just remove the meat," you say? Not so! These recipes take into consideration taste and nutrition with their veggie variations -- there's even an Alternative Protein Primer at the front of the book. Dinners like Halibut with Miso Glaze with a vegetarian counterpart of Japanese Eggplant will bring health and peace to your meals.

Big Green Cookbook

Forget simply cooking green, Big Green Cookbook helps you get your whole kitchen eco-friendly. This book is designed to save time and energy while you make fresh, nutritious meals. The second cookbook from registered dietitian and author Jackie Newgent is loaded with sustainable recipes that make seasonal cooking effortless. The recipes are split into spring, summer, autumn and winter sections. Each recipe features a "little green cooking tip," with fun facts, simple ingredient alternatives, tips on making the recipe easier and other useful information. The book also has a section on party tips, tools every green kitchen needs and ways to use leftovers. Newgent's straight-forward recipes and approachable and amusing language make cooking with this book easy and enjoyable.

Recipes from Big Green Cookbook

Clean Food

There is something to be said about simplicity. Clean Food's no-frills cover is mimicked throughout the book with straight-forward recipes and advice, including the tools you'll need and the ingredients you should be familiar with before you begin. In her uncomplicated style, author Terry Walters lays out how and why we should eat seasonally and sustainably, but don't mistake simplicity for bland tastes when it comes to the recipes. These dishes have sweetness, spice and everything in-between and bring influences from around the world. In a confusing food world, Walters brings order to your dinner table, and this straight-forward guide empowers you to make smart, clean culinary choices.

The Conscious Cook

When Oprah promotes a book it becomes a best seller, and when she loves a chef they become an international sensation, so the fact that Oprah has taken a shinning to Tal Ronnen and his book The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way you Eat is cause for celebration in the vegan world. Ronnen uses classic French cooking techniques to bring vegan dishes style and flare. Ronnen is a recovering steak lover, so for those of you not sure about this whole vegan mumbo-jumbo he starts off by "Busting the Top Five Vegan Myths." Interspersing charts, interviews with other chefs and important bits of info (like what Gardein is) among the recipes keep this cookbook lively and informative. With beautiful recipe images that will encourage your cooking and ingredient shots that will help you shop, you're ready to discover the joys of meatless meals.

Earth to Table

We keep hearing about eating seasonally, but where does all this seasonal food come from (or where should it come from, anyway)? Authors and chefs Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann help us sort this out in Earth to Table: Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm –– a must for any farmers' market or CSA fan or anyone thinking of growing their own food. This book embraces Slow Food and seasonal eating in its recipes, but it's not just recipes that make for a seasonal chef: there's a guide to foraging, a how-to on canning and navigating your farmers' market, profiles on sustainable chefs and so much more to help you embrace seasonal eating as a whole. But speaking of those recipes, there are 100-plus mouthwatering dishes with gorgeous photos of the finished dishes and how-to shots of the more complicated recipes. This book gives you an intimate look at your food and could very well motivate you to start your own farm, or at the very least get to know your local farmer.

Jamie's Food Revolution

Jamie Oliver is everywhere. A winner of this year's TED prize, Oliver has starred in 12 television series and has two restaurants, 10 cookbooks, a dating site and a lot of energy. His newest cookbook, Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals, focuses on a personal mission of his: fighting obesity and spreading the love of cooking and healthy eating to the masses. The cookbook's photography is a throwback to the '50s, but the text is very contemporary. Jamie understands all of the roadblocks that stop us from cooking. The cookbook features everything from 20-minute meals that are based on dishes you would normally order in, to big family roasts, all with photos that illustrate the recipes step by step. It's not just about teaching you to cook. Jamie wants you to pass on your new cooking knowledge. At the very start of the book the reader is asked to pledge to learn one recipe from each chapter and to teach these recipes to family and friends. Let the revolution begin.

The Kind Diet

Alicia Silverstone is cooking for you, and she wants to know if you're a Flirt (perhaps an aspiring vegetarian), a Vegan, or a Superhero (eating a macrobiotic diet and so much more)? Whatever your answer may be, you can come as you are when you crack open Silverstone's The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet. She uses her real experiences as well as important health information to help steer you away from meat, fish, milk and cheese; then she seduces you with delicious recipes and whimsical photos of her having a blast in her kitchen and garden to sweeten the deal. This cookbook encompasses more than what's on your plate. Silverstone asks, "When was the last time doing something wonderful for yourself actually had amazing benefits for everyone else around you? That's exactly what happens when you make the choice to forgo meat and dairy foods in favor of a plant–based diet. Not only are you giving your body the gift of good health, you are taking concrete steps to reduce your impact on the planet and preserve our precious resources."

Vegan recipes from Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet

The Modern Vegetarian

The Modern Vegetarian: Food Adventures for the Contemporary Palate closes the book on the notion that meatless dishes are unsophisticated. This inspirationally photographed book could make any meat eater drool. Dishes range from simple, Fresh Pea Stock, to unique, Sumac-Spiced Eggplant "Schnitzel," divided into sections such as Stylish Starters, Sensational Mains, Sofa Suppers and Stunningly Sweet –– 120 recipes in all. Author, and BBC chef, Maria Elia doesn't hide veggies and grains in faux meat dishes, instead, she embraces the ingredient's true flavors. This book is perfect for someone who's comfortable cooking meatless dishes and wants to advance toward adventurous meals that are proudly vegetarian.

Love Soup

Love Soup: 160 All-New Vegetarian Recipes from the Author of The Vegetarian Epicure is perhaps not the easiest sell -- but seasoned cookbook author Anna Thomas artfully convinces you to enter her veggie soup-loving world. She explains the wonderful importance of soup in her life and tells the reader how soups can change the way you eat, cook and entertain. Soup, as Thomas tells it, is the gateway to home cooking. In fact, she writes, "It seems to me that soup is the last best hope for home cooking." Any cook will find hope in this book. Seasonal soups that comfort (split pea) and surprise (cherry lemon) are interspersed with helpful tips and information. When you crack open this cookbook don't forget to read the personal stories as well as the recipes; they are almost as nice to curl up with as a warm cup of soup.