Over the past two years I’ve developed a real passion for cooking. This came as a shock to everyone (myself included), because up until that point I’d been terrible in the kitchen. I once even managed to burn frozen peas!
Looking back, I think it was my struggle with IBS that sparked this interest in cooking. I was forced to be more thoughtful about each meal, and as a result I spent more time scrolling through the pages of recipe books.
I’m now in a much more stable place with my IBS, which I’ve learnt to manage through my diet. I’m a pescatarian, and typically cook plant based, gluten-free meals at home (although I’m not coeliac, I’ve realised that gluten is a key trigger for my IBS).
If you’re also trying to lean towards a more plant based diet, this year – whether that’s for health of environmental reasons – here’s my edit of the best recipe books to make that transition easier. Along with the hero ingredients you need to stock up on…
The Best Cookbooks for a (Largely) Plant Based Diet:
Ready, Steady, Glow by Madeleine Shaw ~ Madeleine Shaw’s second cookbook, Ready, Steady, Glow is a great entry point if you want to introduce more plant-based meals into your diet. I love this book so much that I’ve bought multiple copies for friends and family, over the past year.
Madeleine is a flexitarian, and Ready, Steady, Glow offers a nice balance of meat, fish and veggie dishes (all are gluten-free). My favourites are the Red Thai Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup, the Aubergine Stew and the Sticky Asian Prawns with Quinoa.
Much More Veg by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall ~ Much More Veg is strictly vegan, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it, because all 175 recipes are hearty and filling. I was given this book at Christmas, and already it’s taught me to be much more imaginative in the kitchen. So far my favourite recipes from the book include the Nutty Gratin of Greens and Leeks, the Aubergine and Pak Choi Stir-Fry and the Boston Bean and Squash Stew.
The Green Roasting Tin by Rukmini Iyer ~ The Green Roasting Tin features 75 one-dish vegan and vegetarian recipes, perfect for fuss-free cooking. I purchased this book last week, whilst I was browsing in Waterstones, and I haven’t had time to try any of the recipes yet. But I’m really excited to whip up the Oven Baked Shakshuka, the Crispy Sprout and Artichoke Gratin and the Storecupboard Pasta Bake.
Essential Cupboard Ingredients for Plant-Based Cooking:
Before attempting any of the recipes in the books highlighted above, I suggest filling your kitchen cupboards with these staple ingredients. You’ll find that you use them again and again, when cooking plant based meals…
A well-stocked spice rack: The spices I use most frequently are cumin, thyme, paprika, coriander, dried chilli flakes and curry spice mixes.
Tahini: Tahini is used in a lot of Madeleine Shaw recipes. It’s so useful for making healthy dips at home, and I also regularly use it as a salad dressing.
Tamari: Tamari is another Madeleine Shaw hero ingredient, and it’s also used in many of the recipes in Much More Veg. It’s perfect for flavouring Asian-inspired dishes.
Cashew Nuts: Many of the vegan recipes in Much More Veg use cashew nuts as a substitute for cream. This is great news for me, because although I’m not a vegan I have always disliked cream, and much prefer this nutty alternative.
Canned or dried beans: I always have a generous stockpile of beans and lentils in my kitchen cupboards, to add to stews, curries and veggie bakes.
Are you leaning towards a more plant based diet, this year? Which are your favourite flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan recipe books? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments section below…
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Photos by Kylie Eyra