The best cookbooks for weight loss and maintenance

Who am I?

I love to cook and it’s difficult to find something beyond chicken and salad when you’re trying to lose weight.  Over the years I’ve assembled a cookbook library that covers many topics (interested in how the Georgians ate green beans? I can help you out!), many of them as off-topic from weight-loss as my cookie cookbook collection. But I still return to what I call “abstinent” favorites, simply because they are so tasty.

I wrote...

Passing for Thin: Losing Half My Weight and Finding My Self

By Frances Kuffel,

Book cover of Passing for Thin: Losing Half My Weight and Finding My Self

What is my book about?

An intimate and darkly comic memoir of a woman who does a 180 with her body.

When she was in her early forties, Frances Kuffel lost half her body weight. In Passing for Thin, Frances describes with unflinching honesty and a wickedly dark sense of humor her first fumbling introductions to her newly slender body, shining a light on the shared human experience of feeling uncomfortable in one’s own skin. She gradually moves from observer to player—enjoying for the first time flirting, exercising, and shopping–as she explores the terrain on the “Planet of Thin.” As Frances gradually comes to know—and love—the stranger in the mirror, she learns that her body does not define her, but enables her to become the woman she’s always wanted to be.

The books I picked & why

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Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant

By Moosewood Collective,

Book cover of Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant

Why this book?

This big compendium of recipes is comprised of ethnic, vegetarian meals the Moosewood staff makes on their day off. If you’re craving Chinese or Russian, this is your motherlode. You may have to tinker with the recipes that have too many carbohydrates (use rice instead of noodles) or skip them altogether, but you’ll find gems you keep going back to. (Mine has bookmarks for Cheese and Nut Dessert Balls from India and Moroccan Stew.)

Indian Cooking

By Madhur Jaffrey,

Book cover of Indian Cooking

Why this book?

If you discount Northern Europe and North America, it’s amazing that most of the world has such clean food. I love Indian food and Madhur Jaffrey knows how to make it accessible and easy for the rest of us.  You’ll find dishes here that are not part of your local Indian spot: Dry Moong Dal, Goan-style Hot and Spicy Pork, Cold Yogurt Soup with Mint.

The Grains Cookbook

By Bert Greene,

Book cover of The Grains Cookbook

Why this book?

This was published in 1988, before anyone had heard of quinoa, and yet there it is: seven pages of the “new” grain.  These are homey recipes using barley, bran, and oat bran buckwheat, cornmeal, grits and hominy, millet, oats, different kinds of rice, semolina, amaranth, triticale, and, yes, about fifty pages of healthier wheat.  

The Classic Vegetable Cookbook

By Ruth Spear, Grambs Miller (illustrator),

Book cover of The Classic Vegetable Cookbook

Why this book?

Spear goes through the vegetable (and vegetables-that-are-really fruits) table alphabetically, explaining ways to steam, roast, boil, cut, blanche, and dress the plain vegetable, as well as recipes that use the vegetable in fancier ways. I’ve got to get an artichoke and finally learn the finesse.

The Modern Tagine Cookbook: Delicious Recipes for Moroccan One-Pot Meals

By Ghillie Basan,

Book cover of The Modern Tagine Cookbook: Delicious Recipes for Moroccan One-Pot Meals

Why this book?

These are one-pot meals that have extremely clean ingredients. Many of the recipes will call for couscous, which is a high-gluten marriage of wheat and semolina wheat, so you may want to put that rice cooker to work. Other than that, this is tasty, spicy, soul-warming food not always available in a big town like Missoula, Montana.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in weight loss, Morocco, and health?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about weight loss, Morocco, and health.

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine from South India, Heirloom Kitchen: Heritage Recipes and Family Stories from the Tables of Immigrant Women, and Feast: Food of the Islamic World if you like this list.