Though I’ve been writing these “Top Books” lists for years, last year was the first time I complied the best “hybrid” books of the most recent 12 months. A hybrid book is one that doesn’t qualify as a cookbook, but has too many recipes for my annual non-fiction list. Usually the book begins with a narrative, often on a specific subject or health concern, then finishes with a large section of recipes that complement the first half. Here are my top 5 of 2012.
Eat Vegan on $4 a Day: A Game Plan for the Budget Conscious Cook by Ellen Jaffe Jones (Book Publishing Company)
Ellen Jaffe Jones had the surprise book of the year, a very worthy “budget” conscious work for these lean, still-recovering-from-the-recession times. After a quick yet thorough primer about the whys and economics of veganism, she delivers a healthy variety of mostly easy, tasty recipes that will save both your wallet and your health.
I’m Mad as Hell, and I’m Not Going to Eat It Anymore: Taking Control of Your Health and Your Life—One Vegan Recipe at a Time by Christina Pirello (Perigee Trade)
If you are sick food politics, government subsidies, and crappy health, Christina Pirello is for you. In full-on Network fashion, the award-winning TV host and chef tackles all that is wrong with our current food system, then gives you nutritious recipes to assist in fixing it, one bite and one meal at a time.
21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol, and Dramatically Improve Your Health by Neal Barnard, MD (Grand Central Life & Style)
Physician Neal Barnard and chef Jason Wyrick team up for this one, a vegan weight-loss classic that provides a top-notch education on health (courtesy of Barnard) along with an amazing assortment of kick-butt recipes and menu plans from the talented Wyrick. Either half could have easily been its own book.
The Plant-Powered Diet: The Lifelong Eating Plan for Achieving Optimal Health, Beginning Today by Sharon Palmer (The Experiment)
Registered Dietitian Sharon Palmer wrote a book that is much like a superfood: dense with the good stuff. The abundance of information in the first half is worth its weight in kale, then followed by 75 of the author’s own, family-tested recipes. This is a tome ideal for flexitarians and new vegans who are still learning.
The Starch Solution: Eat the Foods You Love, Regain Your Health, and Lose the Weight for Good! by John McDougall, MD and Mary McDougall (Rodale Books)
Four decades into his career advocating a vegan diet, internist John McDougall presents a plan that boils down his practical advice to: eat carbs—the good ones. This book will settle the issue for you once and for all, along with his wife Mary’s recipes, delicious and inviting as always. Starch it up.