What Are Your Favorite Cookbooks?

Janelle Sorensen, Healthy Child:

I am a cookbook junkie and I love checking out new ones. But, only really good cookbooks make it into my kitchen – and there they take a beating. Two of my tried and true stand-bys for classic recipes are The Joy of Cooking and The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book. These guys are battered, stained, and the pages are literally falling out of them. Two of my newest ones have immediately become family favorites and they are both such stellar examples of the philosophy behind Healthy Child’s Eat Healthy program, I have to share them with you.

The Whole Family Cookbook by Michelle Stern

Michelle founded the children’s cooking school, What’s Cooking, and her new cookbook brings her classes direct to your kitchen. I knew it was going to be brilliant when my kids picked it up before I did, started paging through it, and repeatedly expressed how they couldn’t wait to try all the recipes. I was utterly floored when they said the first recipe they wanted to try was Tofu Triangles. And even more shocked that they liked them! Seriously, I think Michelle is magic.

I love that this cookbook goes way beyond just recipes. It also contains practical advice to teach you how to pick the best local and natural food without spending too much money, time saving tips for the kitchen, an appendix that organizes recipes by season, and great advice for cooking with kids. Truly, there’s no better way to teach your children to eat fresh, healthy, organic food than with recipes you can cook and eat together. Chef Ann Cooper says it perfectly:

If we are going to change children’s relationship to food, save their health and the health of our planet — then we need to find our kitchens again. To teach our children the symbiotic relationship between healthy food, a healthy earth, and healthy kids, we need to shop, cook and grow together. The Whole Family Cookbook is a wonderful and delicious tool to help us all eat better, feed our kids well and teach them about good food.

Want to try a few sample recipes on for size? Members of the What’s Cooking with Kids Facebook Community get a free e-book, complete with a handful of recipes from The Whole Family Cookbook and a behind-the-scenes look at some photos.

The Family Dinner by Laurie David

Most people know Laurie David as the climate change crusader who produced An Inconvenient Truth and might be surprised to hear her latest endeavor is instigating a family dinner renaissance. But, it actually makes perfect sense. As Laurie says in the book, “[t]he importance of dinnertime should not be underestimated, and when done well it will rock your world.”

Laurie’s book taught me out how family dinner rituals are really like the bedrock of society. What and how we eat lays the foundation for both our biological and psychological well-being. These communal moments shape who we are and what we bring to the world. Eating better and together really can create a ripple effect that leads to a healthier world.

Like Michelle’s cookbook, Laurie’s is packed with much more than just delicious recipes. She has chapters dedicated to setting the table, tips for table talk (“creative ideas to expand minds”), ways to show gratitude for the meal, recommendations for a green kitchen, and games for after dessert. My kids ADORE the table talk chapter so much – they ask what we can “play” at the table the second they sit down.

We were already a family that enjoyed our dinners together, but this book has launched us to the next level. Now, we not only enjoy our dinners together – we enjoy the whole process. From cooking and setting the table (my daughters make the most wonderful “fortunes” to put under our plates!) to eating and dwelling at the table to spend quality time together.

Now all I need is for someone to make doing the dishes as delightful.

What are your favorite cookbooks?