One of my great personal tragedies of 2014 ended up being the loss of my love of cooking and food. I’m not sure how it happened, but even though I was lucky enough to eat amazing food across the world (Haiti, France, Hungary), the act of cooking lost its spark. Aside from a few inspired cooking sessions – my French cooking night was a hit, and I truly enjoyed making Abuela Maria Ice Cream and Sweet Potato Ancho Chili Ice Cream – cooking mostly became a required necessity for filling my stomach, rather than a process for feeding my soul.

What happened to the girl who spent an entire day cooking an elaborate meal for one, and by the end of it felt too full to even eat the food? In 2015, I vow to bring her back. And the first step in that process is to bring out these old favorites, these cook books that I have loved and leaned on for – in some cases – many years. I will read them, plan meals from them, cancel boring happy hour plans for them, and stand in my kitchen to ease each ingredient into perfection….

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1. The Great American Detox Diet

This book was written by Morgan Spurlock’s vegan chef then-girlfriend (now ex-wife), who created a detox diet for him after he ruined his body in the making of Super Size Me. I bought this book in early 2007 when my body was feeling really rubbish and while I was in the midst of a 6 month sweets-free detox (I’m still without sugar cravings 8 years later, thankfully….sadly now I have savory cravings 🙂 )

Don’t buy this book if you want to wow your guests with mouth-watering meals (though the recipes really are good), but buy it if you really want to change the way you eat for the long haul. My philosophy is ‘everything in moderation,’ but this book helped me push the reset button at a time when I needed to clean up my diet. I might be ready for a mini reset again.

2. In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite

Read this if: You’re a storyteller, you want to make something simple but slightly fancy, certain dishes bring back sharp and specific memories, you think food really does equal love.

Admittedly I’ve only tried one recipe from this cookbook (and yes it was delicious), but Ms. Clark’s writing is so warm and inviting you’ll want to read this one even if you aren’t much of a chef (though if you don’t care for cooking before reading, I dare you to feel so after).

3. The Healthy Hedonist

Read this if: You’re healthy, adventurous, and truly want to try something different. Or you want to serve a vegetarian dish that won’t leave your guests grumbling about the lack of meat.

My favorite (so far): Indonesian Corn Chowder

4. Turquoise: A Chef’s Travels in Turkey

Read this if: You love Turkey, you love traveling, you love pretty pictures, you need a good coffee table book, you want a new spin on familiar Mediterranean dishes.

Might I recommend: Hot Yogurt Soup with Chicken Threads and Corn; Green Olive, Walnut, and Pomegranate Salad

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I think you know when you’ve hit upon the right New Year’s Resolution when the very idea of it sparks such a happiness in your soul that you don’t want to wait until tomorrow, or the new year, or when you get home from work, to begin. Looking through these books and thinking about all this food – all of these recipes – makes me want to slice shallots thinly, smell onions sizzling in butter, watch bread rise, listen to the melodic churning of the ice cream maker.

Food feeds my soul. What feeds yours?

Does your New Year’s Resolution make you happy, or does it feel like a chore?

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