While the pandemic has left all of us eager to get back to our normal routines, one trend that I hope is here to stay is cooking more at home.
What once was a chore to many has morphed into a therapeutic creative outlet. According to the International Food Information Council’s (IFIC) 2020 Food and Health Survey, as many as 85% of Americans have made major changes in the food they eat or how they prepare food because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The study showed that the biggest change was that 60% of consumers reported cooking at home more often.
And this increase in home cooking has led to a major jump in cookbook sales, especially when it comes to celebrity cookbooks. They are a fun way to get a more intimate glimpse into what our favorite entertainers are cooking and what their family traditions and recipes look like.
I, for one, am in need of some renewed recipe inspiration after months of recycling the same old recipes. So I sifted through four of the best sellers and tried some of their standout healthy recipes, just in time for treating yourself to a little end of year gift.
Chrissy Teigen’s “Cravings Hungry For More”: Garlicky Cauliflower “Rice”
Teigen is known for being an open book; inviting us into her home, kitchen and day-to-day life on social media. Since the pandemic began, I have followed along on her Instagram stories as she effortlessly whips up an impressive array of mouth-watering dishes that are a truly gorgeous reflection of the cultural fusion that makes up her household. She’s usually cooking with one hand and holding a child in the other, all while somehow filming step-by-step tutorials of her extremely popular recipes. When I received her cookbook, I literally spent hours flipping through page by page. Not only are the pictures gorgeous, but I also love the passionate family history she includes with each recipe. Her recipes are influenced by her Thai heritage, which adds a delicious twist to each dish. I decided to try the Garlicky Cauliflower “Rice” because I love anything that includes cauliflower and this rendition is so full of flavor and amazing texture. It’s the perfect side dish.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s “It’s All Easy”: Seared Scallops with Watercress and Asparagus
I own nearly all of Paltrow’s cookbooks and adore the fresh and clean approach she takes while putting together a beautifully constructed dish. Her cookbooks are so gorgeous that they even make amazing coffee table books because of the artistic photography. I am often intimidated by complicated recipes and veer towards dishes that are easy and quick that use as few ingredients as possible. That’s why I was excited to try Paltrow’s scallops — the recipe is approachable, but feels fancy. She taught me the key to perfect scallops every time: get the skillet nice and hot, make sure the scallops are dry so they sear rather than steam, and to not touch them until they’ve developed a nice crust on one side and are almost cooked through. Now it's your turn.
Kristin Cavallari’s “True Comfort”: Roasted Maple Balsamic Acorn Squash
Ever since I received Cavallari’s cookbook I have been making her recipes weekly. I love the thoughtfulness she puts into making sure her recipes are truly family friendly. Making two separate dinners — one for the adults and one for the kids — can be very time consuming, so I appreciate the fact that we can all enjoy these recipes together. I also love that she swaps out ingredients that many have sensitivities to (flour and cow’s milk) and replaces them with alternatives like brown rice pasta and goat cheese (for mac and cheese, yum!). All of her recipes are meant to be healthier renditions of our favorite comfort foods and you truly can’t taste the difference — or the veggies she sneaks into her recipes. While looking for a new holiday side I found her Roasted Maple Balsamic Acorn Squash recipe and she’s not kidding when she describes it as an “explosion of flavor.” Calling for just five ingredients and 30 minutes of your time, this recipe has already become a new favorite.
Joanna Gaines’ “Magnolia Table Volume 2”: Weeknight Salmon with Baby New Potatoes and Fresh Dill
Over the years many have watched Joanna Gaines welcome us into her world of beautifying homes while she raises five children with her husband, Chip. We have gotten little glimpses of her family life from her show, but finally she has invited us into her home with open arms with her latest book. Throughout her cookbook, Gaines shares her favorite meals and traditions and expresses that while she loves food, her deeper message is that the purpose of food is to gather as a family. She grows many of her own spices, herbs, vegetables and fruits and each recipe reflects this clean and purposeful way to cook. Her recipes are meant to be crowd-pleasers that the entire family can enjoy making and eating together. My family and I made her salmon recipe for a Sunday night dinner and even my picky-eater kids loved helping to prepare and devour this meal, especially since they love potatoes. Now if only I had Joanna’s skills at setting a perfectly gorgeous table!