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 All HCPL locations will be closed Wednesday, June 19 in observance of Juneteenth.

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Healthy Cooking


Summer is coming and with it comes oodles of fresh produce--ripe tomatoes, purple-y eggplant, juicy peaches, and fresh plums. Light and healthy cooking is a great way to use all that produce and celebrate long days and warmer weather.  Once upon a time, eating healthy might have meant tubs of cottage cheese and boring chewy chicken breasts.  But it doesn’t have to! The collections below are full of (mostly vegetarian) delicious dishes that will tantalize your taste buds and fill you up without weighing you down.

If these books inspire you to get cooking this summer, you might find some of your friends from the Library among the farmstands at the Dorey Park Farmer’s Market, opening June 4.

Vegetable Kingdom by Bryant Terry - Drawing on African and Asian traditions, Oakland chef Terry presents a beautifully photographed treasure trove of luscious vegetable-forward fare.  From warm comfort food (Smashed Peas and Creamy Cauliflower) to summery salads (Warm Butter Bean Salad with Roasted Bell Peppers) this cookbook will prove that veggies are anything but bland. This title is also available on Libby.

Living Lively: 80 Plant-Based Recipes to Activate Your Power and Feed Your Potential by Haile Thomas This book focuses not only on good and healthy cooking, but also on how the rest of your life can support your health.  Thomas first asks you to find your “why” for healthy eating.  Do you want more energy to play around with your kids or grandkids?  Would you like a calmer, more positive mindset? Would you like to drop a few pounds? Then she leads into hearty breakfasts like Jamaican Breakfast Porridge, luscious lunches like Sun Dried Tomato and Walnut Tacos, and sweet treats like Pumpkin Pie Snickerdoodles.  Treat your body and mind to this feast of a whole foods cookbook!

The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen - People who eat the Mediterranean diet have some of the highest life expectancies in the world.  Bring this diet into your kitchen with America’s Test Kitchen.  America’s Test Kitchen runs thorough tests on recipes that avoid common pitfalls such as soggy pizzas and sticky pastas. The book covers not only Spain, France, and Italy, but includes spices and flavors from Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon as well. This title is also available on Libby.

Sumac: Recipes and Stories from Syria by Anas Atassi - If you look at a map of Syria, you might say, “How does this relate to Mediterranean cuisine?  They don’t even have a coastline!”  This may be true today, but in ancient times Syria extended over today’s Lebanese and Israeli borders—right up to the Mediterranean!  This ancient cuisine uses grains, olive oil, fresh vegetables and herbs in simple and delicious ways. Try sfeeha (mini flatbreads with beef and tomato—kind of like a middle eastern pizza!) or shish tawook (chicken kebabs marinated in yogurt and fragrant spices).

The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau - Has your doctor told you to follow a low-cholesterol diet?  Do you think you can’t have rich, buttery desserts at all anymore?  Well, think again! Patrick-Goudreau’s book teaches you how to bake without eggs or dairy. From blueberry cake to killer chocolate chip cookies, this collection has the healthier treats you’ve been craving. This title is available on Libby and Hoopla.

The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches to Go by Makiko Itoh - Every day in Japan, people of all ages enjoy beautiful and portion-controlled lunches filled with vegetables, grains, and lean proteins.  Learn how to pack a delicious and healthy lunch with simple recipes for Japanese lunchbox staples such as teriyaki chicken and simple sushi rolls. This title is also available on Libby.

Craving more cookbooks?  The Library has several great print and online options. From kids’ cookbooks to Mastering the Art of French Cooking, to cooking magazines available through our digital magazine platform, Magzter, the library has it all! Be sure to also check our events calendar for Cook & Book club every fourth Monday of the month at Varina Library. This club is hands on and takes place in Varina’s very own demonstration kitchen! 

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