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How Do I Start Cooking Healthy Meals?

Photo: Morgan Dessalles

Before she co-founded cult wellness and beauty shop CAP Beauty alongside Kerrilynn Pamer, Cindy DiPrima was a stressed-out New Yorker, living what she calls “a very hot-and-cold life of juice cleanses and partying.” But a few years ago, she made the decision to commit to healthy eating under the premise that beauty begins with a good diet.

“I remember one of my dear friends’ mom was macrobiotic growing up, and I was just fascinated by her diet and her commitment to it,” she says. “I was amazed by the idea that that was a choice. You could live a certain way and stick to it.” DiPrima’s own eating habits consist almost entirely of fruit and vegetables these days, an approach she stresses isn’t necessarily for everyone. But there is a way to flirt with her lifestyle, starting with some great health-minded cookbooks. Here are her favorites.

At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin
$22 at Amazon

“I think this is a beautiful book for someone just getting into healthy eating because the food is really approachable and delicious, and her palate is just really refined. She does a lot of amazing combinations of flavors. I love the quinoa congee and the curried socca with cilantro-coconut chutney. There are also lots of veggie salads and slaws like her arame-carrot salad with sesame.”

Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters
$22 at Amazon

“Alice Waters wrote the book on vegetables and it’s organized alphabetically by vegetables. You look up cabbage and you get a whole chapter of recipes of different things to do with cabbage. I love this book because it really helped me loosen up and figure out really how to cook and not just how to follow a recipe. There’s an eggplant-caviar recipe in there that I’ve made at almost every cocktail party I’ve ever thrown for 20 years, and it’s just a phenom. You can go to the store and buy what looks great and then come home and look at the book and figure out what to make.”

It’s All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow
$21 at Amazon

“As a mom just feeding a hungry, athletic dad and two little ones, I don’t think they ever don’t have a batch of her gluten-free muffins in the freezer, and I put them in lunch boxes almost every day. It’s just a great recipe. Really simple, easy, and doable. I’ve used that book quite a lot, I have to say.”

The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without by Mollie Katzen
$23 at Amazon

“Mollie Katzen is the original chef and owner of Moosewood Restaurant, which was like a famous vegetarian restaurant from the ’70s in Ithaca. Her original books were kind of cream and dairy heavy and not really at all how I eat, but this newer book is organized in a very similar way to the Chez Panisse veggies book and has recipes based on the vegetable, and uses a lot of amazing Asian flavors. There are these spaghetti squash pancakes and things like that that are great substantial vegetable dishes that can be the base of a meal.”

How Do I Start Cooking Healthy Meals?