The best cookbooks for weight loss and maintenance

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant

Frances Kuffel Why did I love 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.)

By Moosewood Collective,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since its opening in 1973, Moosewood Restaurant has been famous for creative food with a health conscious, vegetarian emphasis. Each Sunday diners have been offered a new ethnic or regional cuisine, deliciously adapted from traditional recipes. In this cookbook, each of Moosewood's 18 collective members who prepare and serve its meals has contributed a chapter on his or her regional or ethnic speciality from Northern Africa to China and Japan, from Scandinavia to the Caribbean and from the south of France to the Southern USA. Each chapter includes a cultural history, characteristic ingredients and cooking styles, and a tantalizing array…


Book cover of Indian Cooking

Frances Kuffel Why did I love 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.

By Madhur Jaffrey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Indian Cooking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Chef magazine called this book�s author �the best-known ambassador of Indian food in the United States� . . . and the Boston Herald referred to her as �the renowned author and actress [who] teaches home cooks about the sophistication and infinite diversity of Indian fare.� The New York Times described her simply and succinctly as �the Indian cuisine authority.� For many years a best-selling cookbook, Madhur Jaffrey�s seminal title on Indian cuisine now has been totally revised, redesigned, enlarged, and enhanced with 70 brand-new full-color photos. With chapters on meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables, as well as pulses, relishes, chutneys,…


Book cover of The Grains Cookbook

Frances Kuffel Why did I love 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.  

By Bert Greene,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Grains Cookbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Published posthumously, The Grains Cookbook is Bert Greene's tribute to the healthy grain with over 400 delectable recipes. Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club's HomeStyle Books, The Quality Paperback Book Club, and Better Homes & Gardens Family Book Service. Winner of a 1988 IACP/ Seagrams Food and Beverage Book Award. 95,000 copies in print.


Book cover of The Classic Vegetable Cookbook

Frances Kuffel Why did I love 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.

By Ruth Spear, Grambs Miller (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Classic Vegetable Cookbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gathers recipes for mixed vegetable dishes, rice, stocks, and sauces, as well as vegetables from asparagus to zucchini


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

Frances Kuffel Why did I love 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.

By Ghillie Basan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Modern Tagine Cookbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

These hearty one-pot meals, flavoured with fragrant spices, are cooked and served from an elegant, specially designed cooking vessel, also called a tagine. In Ghillie Basan's collection of deliciously authentic recipes you will find some of the best-loved classics of the Moroccan kitchen.

Try the sumptuous Lamb Tagine with Dates, Almonds and Pistachios, and the tangy Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon, Green Olives and Thyme. Also included are less traditional but equally delicious recipes for beef and fish - try Beef Tagine with Sweet Potatoes, Peas and Ginger or a tagine of Monkfish, Potatoes, Tomatoes and Black Olives. Hearty vegetable…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in weight loss, Morocco, and health?

11,000+ 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.

Weight Loss Explore 24 books about weight loss
Morocco Explore 46 books about Morocco
Health Explore 117 books about health