The Best Healthy Cookbooks For Summer 2023

Melissa Helmsley pouring olive oil into a dish
Melissa Helmsley’s Feel Good cookbook features recipes which are easily modified to accommodate free-from diets and the ingredients you have to hand. (Image credit: Ebury Digital)

Eating healthily should be enjoyable and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Cookbooks are a great source of inspiration in the kitchen and can help you to eat better, too. I thoroughly enjoyed trying out these recently published cookbooks with a healthy spin. 

To meet our criteria for being “healthy”, cookbooks need to include recipes that feature plenty of veg, are easy to make and, most importantly, taste great—and all of these hit the mark. Here are my top picks for summer 2023. Below that you’ll find our selection of recipe books from January 2023.

The Best Healthy Cookbooks

Dr Rupy Cooks by Dr Rupy Aujla

(Image credit: Ebury Press)

1. Dr Rupy Cooks

By Dr Rupy Aujla

This was my favorite cookbook of the bunch. It’s gorgeously designed and full of beautiful, vibrant photos that are sure to entice you into the kitchen. 

Rupy Aujla is an NHS GP as well as a food writer, and he’s passionate about teaching nutritional medicine through cooking (in 2021 Aujla gave Coach readers tips for making healthy packed lunches for kids). In the introduction, Aujla explains how his Indian culinary heritage, academic studies and medical practice have all influenced his ethos. There’s also information on gut health, targets for your fruit and vegetable intake, and the role that diet can play in preventing disease and supporting recovery after illness or surgery. 

If that all sounds a little clinical, don’t be put off—the recipes really do look and taste delicious. The book is broken up into chapters: Brunch, Soups & Broths, Stir Fries & Sautés, Rice & Pasta, Light Meals, Sides & Salads, Casseroles, Traybakes, Curries, Healthy Feasts and Sweets. There’s a good range of different flavors and cuisines, all adhering to Aujla’s guidelines for good health.

One Pot Chicken Cacciatore from Dr Rupy Cooks

(Image credit: Sarah Leinard / Future)

The recipes are built around minimally processed wholefoods, a variety of fiber types, healthy fats, and diverse and colorful ingredients, with a particular focus on plant ingredients. Each meal contains three or more portions of fruit, veg, nuts or seeds per person. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free dishes as well as recipes that contain nuts are clearly marked. 

There’s a cook’s index to help you find no-cook and low-cook meals, prep ahead recipes, batch cooks and one-pan dishes. In order to make the most of the book you’ll need a well-stocked spice cupboard and some specialist ingredients, but there are tips at the back of the book to use up some of the more unusual items, such as pomegranate molasses or caraway seeds. There are also substitutions included in the recipe notes for when you can’t get your hands on a particular item.

I tried the delicious One-Pot Chicken Cacciatore, using chicken thighs, veggies, black olives and cannellini beans. The flavors were beautifully balanced and the portions generous. Next on my list to make are the White Bean Prawn Saganaki and the Spicy Halloumi Bake.

Healthier Planet Healthier You by Annie Bell

(Image credit: One Boat)

2. Healthier Planet, Healthier You

By Annie Bell

If you’re interested in eating more sustainably, this is a great book to get started. Author Annie Bell is a cookery writer and Registered Associate Nutritionist with the UK’s Association for Nutrition, and has written an impressive 20 cookery books.

The introduction explains what the Planetary Health Diet is: A way of eating designed by scientists to help feed the global population a healthy but sustainable diet by 2050. There’s a list of recommended daily food intakes, such as eggs (13g), natural yogurt (250g), and starchy vegetables (50g), along with how to adapt for vegetarians, vegans and flexitarians.

Crispy salmon with freekeh and cavolo nero fromHealthier Planet Healthier You

(Image credit: Sarah Leinard / Future)

The main recommendation is to reduce meat to 100g per sitting, so the book features many redesigned classics such as roasts, pies, burgers and lasagne, plumped up with plant-based ingredients. There’s also a whole chapter of recipes you can make using just one egg.

Meal plans give an idea of how the Planetary Health Diet might work in practice. There are also top tips to avoid food waste, plus recipes to use up frequently forgotten items. The tone of the book is positive, upbeat, encouraging and, most importantly, practical.

I made the Crispy Salmon with Freekeh and Cavolo Nero, drizzled with a punchy dressing of pomegranate molasses, mustard and ginger. I couldn’t find freekeh in the huge Tesco superstore I visited, so I used quinoa instead. The recipe was easy to cook, extremely filling and packed with flavor—and I could feel good about doing something beneficial for the planet, too.

Slimming One Pound Meals by Miguel Barclay

(Image credit: Headline Home)

3. Slimming One Pound Meals

By Miguel Barclay

With a cost-of-living crisis to cope with, the kitchen is the first place that many people are looking to fight inflation and claw back some of their budget. This ingenious cookbook, from author Miguel Barclay, features meals that all cost £1 to make for a single portion.

They’re all super-accessible, fuss-free and easy to follow, with pared-down ingredient lists and clever hacks to speed up the cooking process. The recipes all come in under 500 calories and have been designed to fit in with several common diet approaches: low-carb, low-calorie or fasting plans. Calories and carbs are given on each page, with full nutritional information listed in an index at the back of the book. Vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free symbols are used throughout to make it easy to cater to dietary requirements.

All recipes are for a single serving, making this book a great choice if you’re often cooking just for yourself. If you’re cooking for more, the book recommends “adjusting to suit your circumstances” (presumably doubling or quadrupling the ingredients). I doubled the ingredients in the recipe that I tested, and it worked very well.

Lentil chilli bowl from Slimming One Pound Meals

(Image credit: Sarah Leinard / Future)

Quantities are often listed in handfuls, small handfuls, big handfuls or mugs, so if you’re strictly counting calories or carbs, this could cause discrepancies. However, I found it refreshing not to get the kitchen scales out for every ingredient.

There are breakfasts and brunches, including tacos, shakshuka, omelet and overnight oats. Lunches include salads, soups, savory pancakes and stuffed peppers, while dinners are super-satisfying, from pasta and fajitas to hotpots and stews.

I tried the Lentil Chilli Bowl topped with crème fraiche and coriander, which provided a generous portion for only 470 calories. As the recipes are designed for one portion, the quantities of ingredients can sometimes mean you have leftovers—for example, if you follow the recipe as written, you’re left with half a tin of chopped tomatoes, half a vegetable stock cube, and ¾ of a tin of kidney beans. Still, it was a delicious, easy, budget-friendly dinner that I’d definitely make again.

Bored Of Lunch The Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook by Nathan Anthony

(Image credit: Ebury Press)

4. Bored Of Lunch: The Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook

By Nathan Anthony

It seems everyone and their dog has an air fryer these days, and that includes me (although sadly I don’t have a dog). This is Nathan Anthony’s second Bored Of Lunch book, following the previous installation focusing on slow cooker recipes. He’s now turned his attention to air fryers and all the delicious things you can cook in them.

The introduction includes a quick guide to air fryers and a cooking guide, giving rough instructions for a variety of foods. There’s also a short list of pantry essentials that you can use in many of the recipes in the book.

It’s worth stating that the term “healthy” in the title is quite loosely applied here, with a focus on lighter versions of indulgent dishes, such as Pepperoni Pizza Bagels and Garlic Chicken Kiev. If you’re after nutritionally balanced meals that deliver all five of your five-a-day (fruit and veg portions, as per UK government guidelines) in one sitting, you won’t necessarily find them here. If, however, you’re after some revamped classics that are delicious, easy to make, lighter on fat and calorie-controlled, you’re in for a treat.

Lentil chilli bowl from Slimming One Pound Meals

(Image credit: Sarah Leinard / Future)

Chapters include Starters and Snacks, Speedy Lunches, Weekday Dinners, Fakeaways, Sides and Sweet Treats. The recipes are short and easy to follow but surprisingly impressive, ranging from Crab Puffs to Salted Chilli Chicken. Calories are called out in a roundel on each page.

I tried the Falafels in Pitta with Tahini Sauce and Pickles, which made for a gorgeously summery plant-based dinner. The falafels cooked beautifully in the air fryer with just a few spritzes of low-calorie oil spray. I loaded them up with home-made tahini and yogurt sauce, aubergine slices, hummus, tomatoes and pickles in toasted pitta breads. 

Eat The Rainbow: Vegan Recipes Made With Love From Bo’s Kitchen by Harriet Porterfield

(Image credit: Leaping Hare Press)

5. Eat The Rainbow: Vegan Recipes Made With Love From Bo’s Kitchen

By Harriet Porterfield

Those who are after some vegan inspiration, look no further than this beauty of a book. Harriet Porterfield shares her colorful recipes and top tips for plant-based cooking, from shopping seasonally to stocking a vegan store cupboard. All the recipes are extremely Instagrammable, so if you’re looking to dazzle your social media following with your smoothies, this is how to do it.

A quick flick through reveals recipes for Breakfasts and Smoothies, Brunches, Mains, Salads and Sides, Kids’ Recipes, Everyday Essentials, and sweet treats including Desserts, Cakes and Bakes.

Zingy poke bowls from Eat The Rainbow Vegan Recipes

(Image credit: Sarah Leinard / Future)

No nutritional information is provided, and some recipes do call for specialist ingredients such as chia seeds and coconut sugar. This is more relevant to the cakes and bakes, however, and most of the savory recipes use ingredients you should be able to get at most supermarkets.

I made the Zingy Poke Bowls, which were a fun way to mix up my midweek recipe repertoire. The spiced crispy tofu was a revelation, marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and ginger, then roasted into crispy cubes and served atop rice, cucumber, carrots, edamame beans, avocado and pickled red onion.

Our Favorite Healthy Cookbooks From January 2023

Chicken Meatballs with Sesame Greens from Fresh MOB cookbook

Chicken Meatballs with Sesame Greens from the Fresh MOB cookbook (Image credit: Sarah Lienard / Future)

1. Fresh MOB

By Ben Lebus & MOB Kitchen

This is, hands down, my favourite book of the bunch. The food photography is beautiful, the flavours are fresh and exciting, and the recipes are easy to follow.

It’s packed with over 100 recipes that are described as “healthy-ish”. You won’t find any calorie counts in these pages, but you will find an array of vibrant veg and clever tweaks to classic dishes to dial down the fat, salt and carbs. A skew toward healthier cooking methods (think baking, not frying) adds to the nutritional credentials too. 

A helpful introduction sets out the general approach of the book: basically, eating plenty of the good stuff without compromising on flavour. So far, so good. Tags help to identify at a glance which recipes are veggie, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free or ready in under 30 minutes. The chapter names are somewhat chaotically named, yet irresistible to explore – you’ll find Brunch, Speedy, Hearty, Freshest, Weekend, Summery, Sharing and finally, Puddings.

I tried the Chicken Meatballs with Sesame Greens, which was easy and filling and looked great on the plate, giving an impression that I’d spent far longer in the kitchen than I actually had. A big thumbs-up from me. 

Baked Feta and Ras El Hanout Broccoli Salad from Feel Good cookbook

Baked Feta and Ras El Hanout Broccoli Salad from the Feel Good cookbook (Image credit: Sarah Lienard / Future)

2. Feel Good

By Melissa Hemsley

Feel-good food isn’t just about nutrition or sheer indulgence, and that’s something that comes through in Hemsley’s relaxed approach to cooking. These recipes make whole foods and vegetables the star of the show, and there are options to suit every mood.

Gluten-free options are included for all recipes, and vegetarian and dairy-free swaps are suggested to accommodate free-from diets. The recipes are very flexible, with alternative ingredients offered so you don’t have to fill up your shopping basket with specialist ingredients which then languish at the back of the cupboard. Hemsley also makes suggestions for sprucing up leftovers and avoiding food waste where possible. 

Chapters include Breakfast and Brunch, Comforting Bowl Food, Lunchbox Heroes and Satisfying Salads, Pasta, Pulses, Noodles and Quinoa, Veg Powered and Plant Based, Meat and Fish, Stress-Free Sharing With Friends, Easy Puddings and Simple Snacks.

I tried the Baked Feta and Ras El Hanout Broccoli Salad, which was a revelation: roasted, spiced broccoli florets blend beautifully into a lemony quinoa base, topped with melty, salty cheese. Now that’s my kind of salad.

Thai Basil Beef from Bored Of Lunch cookbook

Thai Basil Beef from the Bored Of Lunch cookbook (Image credit: Sarah Lienard / Future)

3. Bored Of Lunch: The Healthy Slow Cooker Book

By Nathan Anthony

Every year I make the same resolution to use my slow cooker more, but by February, it’s relegated to the back of the cupboard again. Enter the Bored Of Lunch cookbook. Nathan Anthony started his lockdown food blog on Instagram during the pandemic and has now collected his easy slow cooker recipes into this healthy cookbook, out on 5th January 2023.

A quick flick through reveals an array of hearty, appetising options from Indian, Thai and Vietnamese-inspired “Fakeaways” to slow cooker classics such as chilli con carne and Irish stew. You’ll also find weekday dinners, comfort food dishes and ideas for entertaining.

A note: not all the items pictured and listed as serving suggestions are included in the ingredients list or the final calorie count—so add these to your nutritional totals, if you’re interested in tallying up the numbers. At the very least, do remember to add them to your shopping list to avoid a last-minute dash for potatoes.

I tried the Thai Basil Beef, which was delicious and super-easy to make. I just dumped all the ingredients in, stirred, and let the slow cooker work its magic over several hours. I served it over half a packet of pre-cooked brown rice zapped in the microwave. So simple, yet so satisfying. 

Chilli salmon and greens from The Kitchen Prescription cookbook

Chilli salmon and greens from The Kitchen Prescription cookbook (Image credit: Sarah Lienard / Future)

4. The Kitchen Prescription

By Dr Saliha Mahmood Ahmed

If you’re holding out for a more science-y nutrition cookbook, hold on a little longer—you’ll have to wait until March 2023 to get your hands on it. In The Kitchen Prescription, MasterChef winner and gastroenterologist Dr Saliha Mahmood Ahmed lays out her three-pillar prescription for good gut health, while eschewing nutritional breakdowns, calorie counts or sensationalist language such as “superfoods”. The introduction is fascinating but not for the faint-hearted, though gut-health enthusiasts will love to geek out on the facts.

On to the recipes—all 101 of them. The approachable, everyday dishes pack plenty of flavour, and there are some healthier sweet treats, too. Each page includes key facts explaining why particular ingredients are good for you, which adds to the overall feel-good mood of the book. 

I tried the Chilli Salmon and Greens, which packed a real flavour punch into each foil parcel and made an ideal easy midweek meal. 

Smoky Sweet Potato Mixed Bean Chilli from Nourishing Vegan Every Day cookbook

Smoky Sweet Potato Mixed Bean Chilli from the Nourishing Vegan Every Day cookbook (Image credit: Sarah Lienard / Future)

5. Nourishing Vegan Every Day

By Amy Lanza

This is the debut cookbook from Amy Lanza, better known from her food blog Nourishing Amy. Whether you follow a vegan diet or you just want to add more plant-based dishes to your weekly repertoire, it’s packed with vibrant vegan dishes you’ll want to try. You’ll also find tips for replacing animal products in recipes and some brand suggestions for specific vegan products to try.

As you'd expect with recipes made for a special diet, some of the ingredient lists are on the long side, and they do rely on certain vegan staples such as nutritional yeast, chia seeds and coconut cream. That said, there are plenty of dishes that don’t use anything out of the ordinary, and most ingredients will easily be found in a supermarket.

The book is split by meal type: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, Sweets and Celebrations. There are no calorie counts, but most of the savoury dishes are conspicuously wholesome, packing in hefty portions of veg. On the flip side, some of the desserts are seriously indulgent—Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer Cake, anyone? But if you’re of the “everything in moderation” mindset and want to embrace a plant-based diet, these will fit the bill for special occasions nicely.

I tried the Smoky Sweet Potato Mixed Bean Chilli, which was nourishing, filling and delicious. Next on my list to try: Almond Satay Tofu Summer Rolls and Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Tomatoes and Kale.

Sarah Lienard

Sarah is an experienced health, fitness, nutrition and beauty writer, and was previously health editor at BBC Good Food. She has contributed reviews, interviews and features to Coach since 2019, covering exercise bikes, fitness trackers and apps, among other topics. In her free time, she can be found hiking, swimming, cycling or trying (and failing) to do a headstand on a yoga mat.