June 15, 2024


Free For All Food

Best healthy cookbooks 2021: Easy to follow recipes and ideas

To ensure 2021 gets off to the healthiest start possible, we’ve rounded up a selection of new, or soon to be released cookbooks, packed with recipes you’ll actually want to make.

Many of us spent more time than ever in the kitchen during 2020, and this looks set to continue. These titles will give you a much-needed dose of inspiration while keeping your nutritionals in check. Some also include sections on exercising too if you’re after more of a 360-degree approach.

Of course, “healthy” can have a multitude of meanings. Rather than focus on faddy diets, we’ve only included books that offer good, balanced advice, alongside a variety of whole foods. Whether you’re looking to get your gut health in shape, kick start healthy weight loss, up your veggies or just reduce your meat intake, we’ve found a title for you.

In order to find its way onto this list, these books had to contain beautiful photography, useful information and absolutely delicious recipes we couldn’t wait to make. Most importantly, instructions had to be easy to follow, and not require too many hard to find ingredients.

So with indulgent December behind us, these are the healthy cookbooks we recommend for the reset you deserve…

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent. 

‘7 Ways: Easy Ideas for Every Day of the Week’ by Jamie Oliver, Published by Michael Joseph

Jamie has a way of inspiring us with new takes on old classics without losing us completely with anything too tricky. This book focuses on 18 everyday ingredients that you probably already put into your trolly on auto-pilot (think mince, broccoli and eggs), and gives you seven exciting new ways to use them. Every recipe has a full nutritional breakdown and over 70 per cent of them are suitable for every day (with around 30 per cent more of a “treat” from a calorie perspective). From the fun harissa aubergine cake to the new-style salmon sashimi, there wasn’t a recipe we didn’t want to make.

‘Eat Better Forever: 7 Ways to Transform Your Diet’ by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Published by Bloomsbury

This informative book is split into two parts. Rather than just blindly following recipes that we’re told will be good for us, Fearnley-Whittingstall spends the first 200 pages breaking down the seven ways we can “eat better forever”. His sensible approach includes eating whole foods, looking after our gut and eating (and drinking) more mindfully. The recipes themselves will slip easily into your daily routine and cover everything from the simple banana and berry “thickie” (like a smoothie, but with added oats and yoghurt) through to tray bakes, one pots and satisfying salads. We can see the omelette slaw becoming our new go-to working from home lunch.

‘The Immunity Cookbook’ by Kate Llewellyn-Waters, Published by Quadrille Publishing Ltd

Gut health is proving to be such a hot topic and we think it’s going to be a real focus for how we eat in 2021. This book starts with a thoroughly interesting explanation of how the immune system works (70 per cent of which is in the gut), offering suggestions to get your insides to peak health, to strengthen your immunity. There are helpful meal plans to follow and beautifully photographed recipes. Highlights include zingy teriyaki salmon salad and broccoli lemon chicken with cashews, and there are even some sweet treats.

‘Be the Fittest: Your ultimate 12-week guide to training smart, eating clever and learning to listen to your body’ by Tyrone Brennand, Published by Quadrille Publishing Ltd

For a 360-degree approach to health, Brennand starts with individual exercise explanations which build into workout plans, suitable for complete beginners through to more experienced athletes. Next come the recipes which focus on sensible portion sizes, eating before 7pm, and avoiding processed foods. There are lots of vibrant looking hearty salads such as roast chicken, pepper and courgette, as well as warm substantial mains like the aubergine and tofu curry with brown rice. The book ends with a section on yoga, meditation, and a note on staying motivated. You’ve got this.

‘30 Day Kick Start Plan: 100 Delicious Recipes with Energy Boosting Workouts’ by Joe Wicks, Published by Bluebird

Most of us will have jumped onto the Joe Wicks bandwagon during lockdown and this book will help you continue with your healthy good habits. Combining nutritious recipes with fitness, goal setting and sleep, the 30-day plan is the ideal way to start the new year. In true Wicks style, the recipes are super easy to follow and only ever use a handful of ingredients, so you don’t need to be a chef to attempt. Many of the meat dishes have veggie substitutions and feature lots of feta and chorizo – we’ll be tucking into sausage shakshuka on non-training days and re-fuelling with carbonara risotto post-workout.

‘Pinch of Nom Quick & Easy: 100 delicious, slimming recipes’ by Kay Featherstone and Catherine Allinson, Published by Pan Macmillan

This is the third book from Pinch of Nom and like before, focuses on dishes with a low-calorie count. Not that you’d know it from tasting them. All 100 dishes are quick to make and easy to follow, designed to slip into your average day without too much effort. The four-ingredient section is super handy for when the cupboards are bare and the big batch basics will help you fill the freezer with healthy choices.

‘Speedy BOSH! Over 100 Quick and Easy Plant-Based Meals in 30 Minutes’ by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, Published by HarperCollins

If you’re after quick and easy plant-based meals, you’re in safe hands here. BOSH! are the UK’s bestselling vegan authors of all time. Whether you’re a full-time vegan or just looking to up your veggies/reduce your meat intake, these recipes make it easy – and will be on the table in under 30 minutes. Favourites include the tofu satay kebabs, spicy stuffed aubergines & Thai green curry bowls.

‘Green: Veggie and vegan meals for no-fuss weeks and relaxed weekends’ by Elly Pear, Published by Ebury Press

This one isn’t new (it came out in May 2019) but we’ve found ourselves turning to it time and time again this year. Author and Waitrose-columnist Elly Pear is big on minimising waste and simplifying great-tasting food (something we’ve also been very into for 2020). Big on flavour but with minimal effort, there are sections on batch cooking, chuck it together tray bakes and one-pot wonders. All the recipes are veggie or vegan, full-flavoured and super easy to follow, giving us much needed mid-week inspiration. Beautifully photographed, well-thumbed pages include the aubergine, tomato and chickpea tray bake and the various toppings for roasted sweet potatoes.

The verdict: Healthy cookbooks

We’ve awarded our best buy to Jamie Oliver’s 7 ways. With beautiful photography for every recipe, clear nutritional information and easy to follow instructions, it ticks all of our boxes and got us looking forward to dinner time again.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.