Choosing a healthy cookbook

Cookbooks come in a variety of forms featuring many recipes. Use these tips for selecting a healthy cookbook.

Cookbooks can be found in book stores, on the internet, at garage sales and even in attics! You can buy them through fundraisers or as gifts. They can contain a variety of recipes ranging from main dishes to desserts; they might be specialized – such as “soups only,” or they can be created from a variety of favorite family recipes.

Are all cookbooks created equal? Most cookbooks will contain recipes with the ingredients and measurements for each, directions on how to prepare the food and how much the recipe serves. Depending on what you are looking for, that may be enough information for you. If you are trying to eat healthier and make healthy food choices, preparing food from a recipe that with nutritious choices can be a tremendous help. When looking for a cookbook, Michigan State University Extension recommends the following tips in deciding which one to purchase.

Decide on which type of cookbook you are looking for. So you want one with nutritional information, easy meals or a theme? There are many cookbooks available that focus on low fat, low calorie cooking in general, but also have a theme. Look for a book that is authored or co-authored by an established health organization or professional. Does the cookbook contain several pages of nutritional information and healthy goals that are easy to understand? Do they avoid promoting a “magic cure” to perfect health?

Look for a cookbook that contains nutritional information for each recipe. This information can be calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein, sodium and fiber. Finding a book that promotes healthy eating guidelines according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is beneficial in promoting healthy habits in eating and cooking. Recipes that promote vegetables, legumes, fruits and lean meats, as well as a variety of healthier ingredients that are low in fat are important. Recipe books that contain healthy tips for cooking, servings and substituting ingredients adds value and variety to preparing and serving recipes.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Choose cookbooks that contain pictures of the finished product or step-by-step instructional pictures, especially if you are not familiar with certain cooking techniques. Practical advice such as label reading and menu planning in cookbooks can be very helpful in deciding which recipes to prepare for your family.

Once you have narrowed down what type of cookbook you would like, consider your cooking abilities – your available time to prepare recipes and your skill level. What price range do you want to spend and does the cookbook appeal to your tastes and those who you are cooking for? One last thing to consider for your cookbook is the physical appearance. Do you want a thick book with many recipes? Or, a thin book with fewer recipes – do you prefer hardcover or softcover? If you are tech-savvy, you may decide to create your own cookbook online, choosing from a wide variety of recipes to put into your virtual recipe book.

Overall, keep in mind that you would like to have a majority of your recipes with a healthy theme to them, and the ones that are not so healthy should be adjustable to make them healthier, while keeping their great flavor.

Happy cooking! Visit to learn more about healthy lifestyle living.

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