This week, I share 3 cookbooks which I think are essential in every kitchen to help inspire a healthier, happier and more satisfied you. Below, I review each book and share with you my favourite recipes from each.
Naturally Sassy by Saskia Gregson-Williams
I first came across Naturally Sassy (aka Saskia) through her sister’s magazine-style blog, Hip & Healthy, where she first started to share her recipes and which led me to her healthy eating blog. To me, Saskia is a slightly unsung hero, in the shadows of more widely known names such as Ella Woodward; but that shouldn’t detract from her debut recipe book ‘Naturally Sassy‘ (currently £9 from Amazon) which includes a broad range of beautiful recipes that follow her philosophy of seeking to embrace food how nature intended it to be eaten.
Saskia started her natural food journey during her time studying sports nutrition. Her view on food changed from being something to enjoy with family, to something that could be a tool for her and her ballet. She has since swapped meat, gluten, diary and sugar, for ‘less refined’ and more natural versions, concentrating on plants (or as we know them… veggies, legumes, nuts and fruit).
So why do I love Naturally Sassy? For me, I don’t view the book as being a standard recipe book, instead, it provides me with inspiration to be able to create meals that fit around what I have in my cupboards and fridge. Saskia does this by providing a number of ‘How to Make…’ pages strategically nestled between recipes; the purpose of these pages being to provide you with the basic principles for making key staple dishes, including the likes of balance bowls and overnight porridge. She lists a number of mix and match ingredient options allowing you to pick and choose from what you have in the kitchen. Personally, these pages alone have truly inspired my cooking this year, giving me the tools and confidence to know how to develop each stage of a balance bowl, to make mine suit my own tastes and without having to strictly follow a recipe.
If like me, you enjoy making your own dishes rather than sticking to a recipe, I think this book would be perfect for you. It provides just enough structure through the range of Breakfast, Drinks, Soups & Salads, Mains, Snacks and Desserts recipes and the perfect instructions on how to make your own healthy dish. Sassy also provides a huge amount of information on how to get started with healthy cooking, superfoods, stocking up a pantry and even provides a selection of meal plans.
My Favourite Recipes
- How to Make a Balance Bowl (Page 158)
- Brown Rice Pasta Salad with Avocado, Rocket and Pesto Vinaigrette (Page 106)
- How to Make Overnight Oats (Page 46)
Cook Happy, Cook Healthy by Fearne Cotton
I must admit that when I first heard that Fearne was releasing a cookbook, ‘Cook Happy, Cook Healthy‘ (currently £7.99 on Amazon), I really wondered what it would be like and whether it would be worth getting. After a rave review from my Sister, I decided to buy it one lunch hour. I’m so pleased that I did as, much like Fearne, it’s a really down to earth, easy to follow book based around creating healthier family classics.
Fearne’s philosophy is all about making cooking and eating a fun, happy and healthy experience. Having had to learn to cook for her growing family, which includes two of her own youngsters and two older step-children, along with her husband, she understands the need for meals to be easy to prepare and to be able to cater for all tastes. This particular trait of her book is what I love. I like that in several of her recipes, such as the Asian Veg Stir-Fry, she suggests where to add meat for those who aren’t necessarily vegetarian.
For me, I enjoy this book because it’s not too pushy or extreme; she understands that people would like a treat now and then, and so she’s included a bountiful array of cakes and biscuits at the back end of her book. You won’t find an avocado lurking in a cake here; instead, Fearne opts to use less refined but readily available options to bake with, such as unsweetened cocoa, spelt flour, coconut oil – all of which can now be found within large supermarkets.
If you enjoy more traditional cooking and baking, and would rather stick to ingredients you’re used to (although you’ll still see chia seeds, coconut sugar and almond milk), I think Fearne’s book would be for you. She updates family classics such as spaghetti bolognese, fish fingers and chocolate cake, and inspires new favourites through recipes such as beetroot dips, fried quinoa balls and kale crisps.
My Favourite Recipes
- Asian Veg Stir-Fry with Noodles (Page 103)
- DIY Tomato Sauce, with Quinoa & Green Beans (Page 112)
- Spiced Oatmeal Biscuits (Page 182)
Deliciously Ella Every Day by Ella Woodward
Whether you love or choose to ignore Ella, I’m sure that you haven’t escaped the knowledge that she released her second book ‘Deliciously Ella Every Day‘ (currently £8.99 on Amazon) earlier this year, following the huge success of her debut book. I’m honestly not including this book because it’s a sexy one to list, but truly believe that it has helped to inspire me in the kitchen and has given me new ideas on how to use some really lovely veggies.
Ella’s mission for her second book was to make her healthy lifestyle and way of eating, accessible to all. This has meant that a fair few of the superfood powders which featured heavily in her first book have gone, and the format of the book noticeably easier to navigate by meals rather than types of ingredient, which was the case in the first. But what I love most about this book, is that it really does live up to its name. I truly feel that it can be called an ‘Every Day’ book because the large majority of ingredients are always lurking on my shopping list or in my kitchen. I no longer have to dash out to buy the random ingredients.
The most inspiring attribute of this book is how much flavour each recipe packs in. Ella puts the critics to shame who call healthy food boring as her food is filled with spices, herbs, tahini and other flavour enhancing beauties. And, in a similar way to why I love Saskia’s book, Ella’s ‘Healthy Eating On-The-Go’ section can be used as a way to create a varied meal of your own by picking a choosing a couple of each recipe. Personally, I love to combine – Miso & Sesame Brown Rice with Pesto Veggies and Spiced Squash and Sweet Potato Chunks.
You’ll love this book if you enjoy modern, less traditional cooking, lots of veggies and big flavours.
My Favourite Recipes
- Chickpea and Squash Salad (Page 96)
- Warming Pesto Butter Beans (Page 157)
- Mushroom Stuffed Peppers (Page 142)
Tips on Getting Inspired in the Kitchen
- Choose one of the books above to start cooking from in the kitchen – Naturally Sassy, Cook Happy, Cook Healthy, and Deliciously Ella Every Day;
- Choose a few recipes from your chosen book to cook throughout the week;
- Start creating your own ‘balance bowls’, combining a range of smaller recipes to use up the leftover veggies in the fridge.
I’d love to know which cookbooks inspire you the most in the kitchen, let me know in the comments below! I might even treat myself to a copy!