13 Healthy Cookbooks and Books About Food to Improve Your Brain and Body

UPDATED: May 14, 2024
PUBLISHED: April 10, 2023
father and daughter making recipe from a health cookbook

Do you want to eat healthier? Live longer? Spend less time on cooking and cleaning and more time with your family? All that and more is possible with these 13 best healthy cookbooks and books about food. They cover everything from tips for beginner chefs to improving your brain and body health through food. 

Best healthy cookbooks

1. Dinner in One: Exceptional & Easy One-Pan Meals: A Cookbook

By Melissa Clark

Dinner in One cookbook cover

A healthy, delicious home-cooked meal is wonderful—until you remember all the clean-up that has to be taken care of. From mixing bowls to measuring cups to pots and pans, sometimes doing the dishes can feel like more of a hassle than making the meal—especially when cooking for multiple people.

Author Melissa Clark is here to help. Dinner in One’s 100 recipes include everything from roasted chicken to savory bread pudding to salads, each intended to be made using only one pot—or sheet pan, casserole dish, instant pot, etc. as the recipe demands—and the minimum amount of utensils and mixing bowls. Not only are these dishes healthy and vegan-friendly (“For every dish in which it will work without diminishing the flavors, I’ve included a vegan variation,” Clark writes in the introduction), many of them can be made in under an hour. If you’re looking to make a nutritious, flavor-packed meal with minimum cleanup, this is the perfect healthy cookbook for you.

2. Milk Street: Cook What You Have: Make a Meal Out of Almost Anything (A Cookbook)

By Christopher Kimball

How many of us have brought home leftovers or put away groceries that we promised to use later, only to have no idea what to do with them—or, worst of all, forget about them and remember only after they’ve gone bad? As food prices rise, how can we start making use of the groceries we buy instead of watching the watermelon radishes we bought on a whim wither away?

Milk Street provides the answer. With 225 recipes in this healthy cookbook, from soups to frozen vegetable-based meals, your meals can be interesting and flavorful. Most importantly, you can utilize many of the ingredients you already have at home. Plus, each recipe is designed to be both simple—requiring “fewer than 10 ingredients,” according to the site—and quick, as many take less than 30 minutes to cook. 

3. Downshiftology Healthy Meal Prep: 100+ Make-Ahead Recipes and Quick-Assembly Meals: A Gluten-Free Cookbook

By Lisa Bryan

Downshiftology Healthy Meal Prep cookbook

Meal prep and batch meals are easy ways to keep meal stress to a minimum for at least a portion of the week—by preparing or cooking food in advance, you have less to worry about come mealtime. As author Lisa Bryan found out, however, this can quickly get boring. Once you’ve prepared and/or cooked the food, it has to get used or eaten. That can mean eating the same thing for several days in a row.

Downshiftology Healthy Meal Prep teaches readers how to utilize pre-prepared food in interesting ways, all while encouraging healthy eating and cooking from home. With chapters dedicated to everything from the proper containers to store prepped food in and how to thaw frozen food to breakfast recipes and meat, seafood and vegetable main dishes, Bryan provides readers with over 100 ways to level up your pre-prepared foods and make mealtimes easier.

4. The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100

By Dan Buettner

What if your meals increased not only your physical well-being, but also your longevity? After traveling the world and visiting “blue zones”—that is, places in the world where people are consistently long-lived—author Dan Buettner has gathered not only recipes from and inspired by the diets of those living in the five blue zones, but myriad personal stories to entertain and educate his readers. 

From Italian Sweet Potato Tarts to Grecian Winter Ratatouille to Costa Rican Horchata, Buettner shares 100 delicious and healthy recipes in his cookbook to improve your physical well-being and increase your longevity. 

5. Healthier Together: Recipes for Two—Nourish Your Body, Nourish Your Relationships: A Cookbook

By Liz Moody

Healthier Together cookbook cover

“The way to a man’s—and woman’s—heart really IS through their stomach,” according to research conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the brioche brand St. Pierre. And it seems that author Liz Moody agrees. After all, according to her book summary, “mincing garlic and sautéing onions together eventually led [her and her boyfriend] to marriage—proving that good food really is the universal connector!”

Now, it’s your turn to connect, whether it’s with a romantic partner, family member, friend or even a budding acquaintance. This healthy cookbook features over 100 recipes meant to serve two, so you have plenty of options to choose from. At the top of our list to try? Banana-Bread Cardamom Pancakes with Candied Coffee Walnuts, Stone Fruit & Basil ‘Mascarpone’ Bruschetta and Zucchini Latkes, all of which are gluten- and dairy-free and “plant-centered.” 

6. Help Yourself: A Guide to Gut Health for People Who Love Delicious Food

By Lindsay Maitland Hunt

For overall well-being, you can’t just focus on eating healthfully—you have to eat mindfully as well. Help Yourself was inspired by author Lindsay Maitland Hunt’s own food journey and her research into the science of healthy gut microbiota. 

This healthy cookbook is divided into 11 sections, with recipes including everything from Matcha-Raspberry Energy Bites to Poached Shrimp Caesar Salad to Spiced Vanilla Pear Crumble. Despite its focus on gut health, Help Yourself is not meant to be a diet or cleanse. Instead, it walks readers through incorporating better practices in their lives without forcing them to remove anything. Alongside the over 125 recipes, many of which utilize plant-based ingredients, Hunt shares the science and health impact of gut flora, as well as “original food philosophy and strategies,” according to her website, encouraging her readers to increase their gut health through interesting and delicious meals. 

7. You Suck at Cooking: The Absurdly Practical Guide to Sucking Slightly Less at Making Food: A Cookbook

By You Suck at Cooking

You Suck at Cooking book cover

Authored by the anonymous creator of the “You Suck at Cooking” YouTube channel, You Suck at Cooking is the perfect guide for anyone, from budding chefs making their first foray into the kitchen to experienced individuals looking for simple recipes and an amusing cookbook. 

The more than 60 recipes include Beanshuka Marinara, Cheddar Quiche Cupcake Muffin-Type Things and Curry Chicken Thighs, alongside a basics section that discusses tips and “things you might need”—such as “a heat source,” a section that includes a stove, an oven and, of course, the sun. With a mix of humor, loving mockery, illustrations and genuinely helpful tips and tricks, the author encourages beginner chefs to try their hand at crafting easy meals with unintimidating ingredients.

8. Truly Simple: 140 Healthy Recipes for Weekday Cooking

By Kristin Cavallari

Truly Simple healthy cookbook cover

Looking for some tasty, quick-and-easy recipes to make during the week? Kristin Cavallari has you covered with her new healthy cookbook. Truly Simple, which focuses on the meals she makes for her own family and her philosophy of spending less time in the kitchen and more time at the table, is meant for those looking to make mealtimes simple, flavorful and healthy.

With over 140 recipes, including Blueberry Cinnamon Sugar-Baked Oats, Tuscan Spaghetti Squash Casserole and Skillet Carrot Cake—many of which are gluten free—Cavallari’s cookbook will help you spend more time eating with your family at any time of day. 

Cavallari shares a recipe from her new book—her favorite on-the-go snack—below. 

Cashew Butter Espresso Bites

“I love snacks that are quick and easy, especially if I’m at the office, running around with the kids, or traveling. I always have a snack on me, no matter what, and these are healthy, easy to throw in your purse, and give you a little energy boost. Just be careful your kids don’t get a hold of these! Mine have eaten them—and they loved them—but coffee is the last thing they need!”

Kristin Cavallari

Makes 14


  • 1 cup cashew butter
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds


  1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the cashew butter, coconut flour, coffee, maple syrup and hemp seeds. Roll the dough into 14 golf ball-size balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Place the baking sheet in the fridge until the bites harden, about 30 minutes. Enjoy right away or store in a zip-top bag in the fridge.
  4. The espresso bites will keep well in the fridge for up to 14 days.

Recipe from TRULY SIMPLE. Copyright © 2023 by Kristin Cavallari. Published by Rodale Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC. Reprinted with permission.

Books about food

1. This Is Your Brain on Food

By Uma Naidoo

When we decide to pay more attention to how and what we eat, are we just focusing on how it will affect our bodies? Or do we consider how eating makes us feel holistically?

Food affects your brain health as well as your body. Changing how we eat is an important part of improving our whole selves. But where do we get started?

This Is Your Brain on Food was written just for this purpose. Author Uma Naidoo, M.D., shares the research behind the connection between food and mental health—from depression and anxiety to dementia to insomnia—and the ways in which we can make improvements to our diets. Alongside her recommendations in this book about food, Naidoo also shares 40 recipes to help readers improve their brain health and increase their holistic well-being.

2. Young Forever: The Secrets to Living Your Longest, Healthiest Life

By Mark Hyman

What if you could not only increase your lifespan, but feel healthier while doing so? Mark Hyman, M.D., shows readers how they can do just that in Young Forever. The three-part book discusses the science behind aging, how you can improve longevity and health, and the science and tips behind his own “Young Forever Program.” From optimizing your immune system to Hyman’s “Pegan Diet” to the future of aging research, Hyman creates an accessible toolkit for slowing aging and improving your overall health

3. Why We Eat (Too Much)

By Andrew Jenkinson

why we eat too much book about food

If you’re attempting to diet and lose weight but nothing seems to be working, trying the same thing over and over again hoping for a different outcome will only lead you down a path of negativity. Instead, it’s important to try something new. Author Andrew Jenkinson, a consultant surgeon at the University College London Hospital, offers one such option.

Instead of focusing on why our diets aren’t producing the desired results, Jenkinson looks to our metabolism, sharing the roles our body and environment play in determining our weight and strategies for how to go about losing that weight the right way. Alongside a discussion of COVID-19’s effect on weight gain, Jenkinson combines science, case studies and easy-to-understand explanations and tips to help readers start on their new weight loss journey.

4. Unapologetic Eating: Make Peace with Food and Transform Your Life

By Alissa Rumsey

How many people—how many women, in particular—have fixated on diet and weight to fit the social ideal? How much time do we spend trying to optimize our eating habits in order to attain the unattainable? In Unapologetic Eating, author Alissa Rumsey discusses all that and more.

Unapologetic Eating is no normal book about food. Instead of telling you what you should be doing, it asks you to discover that for yourself. Divided into four parts—“fixing,” “allowing,” “feeling” and “growing”—Rumsey guides readers through connecting with your body, exploring your relationship with food and learning to follow your intuition in order to make the best choices for your own well-being. Turning your back on social norms is no easy feat. But once you do so, you’ll be free to discover how to create a truly fulfilling life, rather than listening to what others say should be your goal.

5. Good for Your Gut: A Plant-Based Digestive Health Guide and Nourishing Recipes for Living Well

By Desiree Nielsen

Good for Your Gut book about food

When deciding what to eat, perhaps you have a goal in mind—plant-based, anti-inflammatory or even brain-boosting. But how often do you think about what’s good for your gut?

Desiree Nielsen certainly does, and she’s written Good for Your Gut to help you do the same. Nielsen takes a holistic approach in her explanation, sharing how both the mind and body can benefit from focusing on the improvement of your digestive health. And her insights don’t stop there. From “everyday gut stuff” to “gut-healing nutrition,” Nielsen thoroughly covers the benefits of paying attention to your gut. 

Nielsen’s book about food also provides over 90 recipes, divided into three categories: “soothe,” “heal” and “protect.” From breakfast ideas such as a Calming Rose Smoothie to the savory Sticky Sesame Tofu with Bok Choy to snacks including Easy Asparagus Fritters, Good for Your Gut provides a wide range of research-backed information alongside healthy, delicious recipes to help you put what you learn into practice.

Photo by Yuriy Golub/Shutterstock