So many cookbooks! How do you choose?

Follow these tips the next time you’re shopping for a cookbook.

There are so many cookbooks available today. Low fat, high protein, gluten free, sugar-free, fast and easy, slow cooker, grill, roast, smoothies, desserts and so many more! How do you choose, especially if you want to focus on a book that provides healthy recipes? Michigan State University Extension has a few tips that may help you decide.

First it is important to consider what type of cookbook you want. Are you looking for grilling ideas now that warmer weather is here? Do you want quick and easy recipes so that you can spend more time outdoors? Perhaps you’d like ideas for using all of the fresh produce from your local market that will soon be in season? Once you decide on your theme you’ll be ready for the next step.

The next thing you’ll want to do is review the options available. To help you narrow your search, consider the source of the cookbook. Who is the author or organization? If you are interested in healthy recipes you’ll want to look for an author that is endorsed by established health care societies, organizations or nutritional professionals, such as the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association or the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

It’s also a plus if the book includes tips on nutritional goals or healthy eating. You’ll want to make sure the information is well-organized and easy to follow. Cookbooks that group the recipes by type, for example, such as appetizers, main dishes, vegetables and desserts are easy to use.

Another thing to look for is nutritional analysis for recipes. Data on calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein, sodium and fiber can be so helpful when determining whether the cookbook will help you maintain your nutritional goals. How about the ingredients? Do the recipes call for whole grains, vegetables, fruit and lean meats? Do they include a variety of healthy foods? Put these questions into consideration too.

When reviewing your options, look for books that have simple and clear instructions to make cooking easy. A glossary and index, pictures of the prepared foods and directions for cooking techniques are all significant components. It may also be helpful if the book contains tips on selecting healthy foods as well as menu suggestions.

Finally, take your own personal preferences into account. Look through the recipes. Is the amount of time required to prepare them reasonable to you? Are the techniques familiar? Do the recipes include ingredients that you are likely to find and that appeal to you? How much does the book cost? You also have format to consider. Do you like a print cookbook or would you prefer a digital book to read on your tablet or e-reader?

Hopefully these tips will help you narrow down the many choices you have when purchasing a cookbook!

Happy cooking!

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