Three years ago, I couldn’t cook more than a mean egg scramble. (I wasn’t even in omelette territory.) I took a weird pride in my total incompetence in the kitchen, and was quite content to microwave, pick up or eat out. The more I learned, though, the more I realized that while cooking is not a passion of mine, eating well, living clean and staying strong ARE. So, I picked up a few recipe books over the course of the following months, and went to work. And, by “few,” I mean two dozen. Whatever.
Here’s what I learned:
I am not a cook. I don’t enjoy chopping, stirring, slicing or dicing. However, I REALLY enjoy food. Like, a lot. And, I can assemble simple, good meals pretty easily. Think “assembly” vs. cooking – I can handle that. So, now I almost always look at recipes with 5 or fewer ingredients unless there’s something remarkable happening (I don’t count salt/pepper or oil/butter), and I gave away at least half of those books (they stressed me out!).
While not everyone shares my limitations in the kitchen, we might all appreciate the need for easy “go to” recipes every once in awhile. Here are my Top 3 Go-To Cookbooks, with a little explanation for each. Happy assembling!
My Top 3 Go-To Cookbooks
Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat by Melissa Joulwan
[Paleo; lots of meat and veggies plus desserts]
Ironically, this book has some of the more complex recipes, but MAN, did it change my life. The intro outlines some of the basic principles of the author’s Paleo diet, introduced me to the ideas and helped me make some easy swaps in my pantry to eat GREAT food that was great for me. Try the cocoa cauliflower!
The Beauty Detox Foods by Kimberly Snyder
[Meat-free recipes for everyone (not just Vegetarians!), including desserts]
This book is only about 30% recipes. The first 2/3 speaks to the author’s point of view on what foods should be eaten for “optimal beauty” (that’s her “hook”) and cleansing. While I don’t agree with – or follow – all of her personal mandates, I did learn a lot about how to go easier on my digestive system, what certain physical signs can mean and how to manage them with better nutrition, and how to make some pretty delicious meals that are 100% clean. I use her book all the time for easy dressings, clever “hacks” (e.g. collard green wraps instead of wheat), and general inspiration. A lot all of her recipes exceed my “5 or Fewer” limitations, but I do consistently refer back to this book, and you since you probably aren’t as remedial as I am, you can handle it.
Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals: Delicious, Primal-approved meals you can make in under 30 minutes by Mark Sisson and Jennifer Meier
[“Primal” – meats, veggies, snacks and treats; not as strict as Paleo]
This is by far the easiest book of the three. As you might deduce from the title, it’s filled with simple, easy recipes that I can assemble in 10 minutes. Almost all of them meet my limited criteria and skill level. It’s awesome. I have too many favorites to mention. You see more more at the The “On Air with Ella” Amazon Store.