Water Cooler: Get schooled in plant-based cooking

Plant-based eating is much more than eating salads everyday. Here are some cookbooks that can give you the inspiration and know-how you need to make a delicious variety of plant-based meals.

“Forks Over Knives,” by Del Sroufe – This cookbook is all about shifting the mentality from what you can’t eat on a plant-based diet to all the things you can eat – and on a budget, too. Learn to make berry smoothies and breakfast quinoa for the morning, get inspired with vegetable chowders and pea stews, indulge with mushroom stroganoff or stir-fried noodles, learn to make the perfect eggplant “steak,” fill up on millet-stuffed chard rolls, and satisfy your sweet tooth with berry cobbler and apricot fig squares.

“Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed,” by Bryant Terry – Bon Appétit magazine called this one of the best vegetarian cookbooks of all time. Terry is passionate about blending African, Caribbean and Southern culinary influences to create unique and mouthwatering recipes. His recipe for smashed potatoes, peas and corn with chili-garlic oil is inspired by a Kenyan dish, irio. His cinnamon-soaked wheat berry salad takes influences from a Moroccan tagine. His coconut-cashew soup with okra, corn and tomatoes uses classic Southern ingredients but is based on a popular Brazillian dish. Explore everything from simple comfort foods to innovative and intensely flavored dishes. Terry shares his own memories and culinary history to elevate each recipe from a how-to to a personal culinary experience.

“Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking: 101 Entirely Plant-based, Mostly Gluten-Free, Easy and Delicious Recipes,” by Dana Shultz – If you thought plant-based eating was complicated, think again. Shultz provides an arsenal of recipes that usually require 10 or fewer ingredients and only about 30 minutes to prepare. But don’t think you’ll have to sacrifice flavor for such convenience because her straightforward and simple approach only demonstrates the power of using a few high quality ingredients to make something fresh and satisfying.

“Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook,” by Thug Kitchen – Eating plant-based doesn’t always have to be so serious. Get a dose of swear-word riddled sass in this fun and practical cookbook that can be used by beginner cooks and home chefs alike. Leave your fear of the produce section behind and get ready to serve some vegetables with attitude.

“Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen: Traditional and Creative Recipes for the Home Cook,” by Richa Hingle – Indian cuisine is inherently a world of vegetarian and plant-based meals that have incredible depth of flavor, but this book hones in on those traditions and curates them for contemporary home cook and a vegan diet. Improve your skills and understanding of Indian cooking methods while pursuing your goal of decreasing consumption of animal products. It truly is a celebration of the brag-worthy flavors and textures that can be found in cooking with plant-derived ingredients. Try Hingle’s avocado naan, fudgy cardamom squares, a whole roasted cauliflower dish called gobi musallam, tamarind-date chutney, mango curry tofu, and dairy-free rasmalai, sandesh and gulab jamun.

“The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples,” by Miyoko Schinner – This is the essential guide for vegans and others wanting to eat a more plant-based diet. Learn to make high-quality home staples that will provide your cooking more flexibility, rather than having to depend on store bought vegan products. This is a dream resource for those who obsess over making even the smallest details of their home cooking from scratch. It provides a place for the overlap of the slow food movement and the growing appreciation for plant-based eating.