It's not enough to make resolutions each year; sometimes we need that extra help that can only come from a good book.
Like many of us in the thick (how apropos) of middle age, I’m more and more concerned with my health. I’m suddenly (and belatedly) concerned with future-proofing myself against the health issues that have dogged family members in the past couple of years. Since the consensus is that most people would benefit from eating more leafy greens and less meat, my resolution for 2020 is to flip the ratio of meat to vegetables in my diet. But I don’t want to be one of those people who announces a radical diet change on January 1 only to wimp out before the month is even over. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and in that spirit I had a ham & cheese croissant for breakfast this morning.
If only there were a book that could set me, and others like me, on the right track as we grapple with sticking to our 2020 resolutions. . .
The Plant-Based Diet for Beginners by Gabriel Miller
When it comes to testimonials, Gabriel Miller's own backstory is the best advertisement for the diet he lays out in his book, The Plant Based Diet for Beginners: 75 Delicious, Healthy Whole Food Recipes. A career-ending sports injury not only put paid to his dreams of playing college football, it laid him up so long he packed on 100 lbs. Miller tried, and failed at, several diets before stumbling on the one that worked: a whole-food, plant-based diet. It boils down to delicious, minimally-processed plant-based foods, no animal products, and limited use of salt, oil, and sugar. Not only did this diet lead Miller to drop that 100 lbs, it aided his digestion and cleared up inflammation in his joints too. While the weight loss success story is reason enough to try out this book, reducing inflammation—the root cause of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and arthritis—is the organic cherry on top. —Vannessa Cronin
After a friend commented on how uncomfortable I look in the kitchen she gifted Sheet Pan Suppers to me for Christmas, in an effort to improve my culinary confidence. This sounded like a great resolution to make for the new year. (Did I mention I once set myself on fire making bacon?) Gilbert’s book is full of mouth-watering recipes that even I can’t mess up. Granted, I did set two smoke alarms off making her salmon with roasted cucumbers and dilled yogurt sauce (which was delish!), but the alarms are very close together and unusually sensitive. And I didn’t need any skin grafts afterwards. Progress! Whether you’re culinarily-challenged like myself, or just busy but still want to eat well, Sheet Pan Suppers has you covered. —Erin Kodicek
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In 2020, I plan to read more indie authors. Unlike authors who are being published by large corporations, indie authors are doing it all themselves—the marketing, the publicity, the distribution—and are taking all the risks, too. I have a number of favorites already—Penny Reid, A.G. Riddle, Corinne Michaels, Sarina Bowen, and many others—but I want to make sure I spend more time with authors such as Lindsay Buroker, Vaughn Heppner, and L.J Shen. I’m looking forward to finding my next favorite author! —Adrian Liang
Preserving Italy: Canning, Curing, Infusing, and Bottling Italian Flavors and Traditions by Domenica Marchetti
Full disclosure: I’ve had this book on my kitchen bookshelf for…three years. I’ve flagged pages, told friends about it, and every winter thought, Next summer I will can and preserve. Well, I haven’t. But 2020 is the year I bust out some jars and can up some preserved fruits and veggies. Top on my list is making the boozy cherries. I see them in specialty markets and have them in cocktails; they are delicious and also really expensive. Marchetti has a recipe for making your own that looks amazing. An added bonus here is that jars of these beautiful cherries will make great gifts next holiday! My new year’s resolution: I will get all Italian homestead-y and make these cherries, along with Hot and Sweet Pickled Peppers, Oven-Roasted Tomatoes in Oil, and my own Giardiniera. Bring on the summer! —Seira Wilson
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat
I’m cooking more in the next decade and to do so, I’m calling on the experts to help inform, guide, and inspire me to make delicious food. Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is my starting point (yes, I may or may not be a few years late to the Nosrat party!). I love her jubilance and care in cooking and sourcing ingredients, and that she’s distilled the art of cooking into four elements. It doesn’t hurt that her book won a James Beard Award for Best General Cookbook, that there is a Netflix show based on her writing, and the book is filled with the most delightful illustrations. I also want to get better at cooking vegetables so I’m relying on Abra Berens' cookbook Ruffage to bring me to greener pastures. —Al Woodworth
Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg
This book is all about process. BJ Fogg founded the Behavioral Design Lab at Stanford, and he's developed a simple method for developing good new habits and ridding yourself of some bad ones. You won't find a book on habits that lays out the solution more simply. This is an extremely practical book, and I plan on keeping it on the shelf next to my home desk, right next to Essentialism, The Checklist Manifesto, and Getting Things Done. —Chris Schluep