Healthy Cookbooks for the New Year, New You

After a few weeks of eating, drinking, and being merry, I’m in the mood for something that’s more about vegetables than sugar or butter.

Roots cookbookAfter a few weeks of eating, drinking, and being merry, I’m in the mood for something that’s more about vegetables than sugar or butter. Nothing too light or ascetic, just good wholesome food. That’s why I’m poring over two new cookbooks—Roots and Clean Plates— and putting sticky notes on every other recipe. Carrot ribbons with pesto and goat cheese? Beet risotto with ricotta? Cauliflower soup with roasted garlic oil? Grilled veggie soft tacos? Yes, please!

Those first two are from Roots by Diane Morgan, which looks at some of the most basic of produce with a new eye. Carrots, potatoes, and beets are roots you probably know, but what really gets me excited are the ones I’ve never cooked with: galangal, crosnes, lotus root. I think there’s a New Year’s resolution in there.

Those latter two recipes are from The Clean Plates Cookbook, which was co-written by a nutritionist and a recipe developer. Their previous books listed the healthiest places to dine out; now you can make those same good-for-you restaurant dishes at home.

Inspired? Here’s that Carrot Ribbons with Pesto and Goat Cheese recipe from Roots to get you started!


• 4 tbsp/60 ml extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar

• ¾ tsp kosher or fine sea salt

• ½ tsp freshly cracked pepper

• 2½ cups lightly packed roughly chopped arugula

• 2 large garlic cloves, chopped

• ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

• ¼ cup pine nuts

• 1½ tsp fresh lemon juice

• ½ tsp kosher or fine sea salt

• ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil

• 2 large garlic cloves, crushed

• 2 tbsp kosher or fine sea salt

• 5 large carrots, about 1½ lb, trimmed and peeled

• 4 oz fresh goat cheese

1 To make the dressing, in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Cover tightly and shake vigorously to blend. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside until ready to serve.

2 To make the pesto, in a food processor, combine the arugula, garlic, Parmesan, pine nuts, lemon juice, and salt and process until finely chopped. Stop the machine once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the machine running, pour the oil through the feed tube and process until the sauce is combined. Set aside. (The pesto can be transferred to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Remove from the refrigerator 45 minutes before serving.)

3 Fill a large pot three-fourths full of water. Add the garlic and salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Have ready a large bowl of ice water and a pair of tongs to remove the carrots quickly after blanching.

4 Using a vegetable peeler, preferably one that is sharp and serrated, firmly peel each carrot lengthwise to create long ribbons, rotating the carrot so the ribbons are all the same width. Stop peeling when you reach the core, then discard the core. Add the carrot ribbons to the boiling water and cook until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Using tongs, transfer the carrots to the ice water to cool, about 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly and then wrap the carrots in several thicknesses of paper towels to dry. (The carrot ribbons can be wrapped in dry paper towels, slipped into a lock-top plastic bag, and refrigerated for up to 1 day before continuing.)

5 Place the carrot ribbons in a bowl. Give the dressing a last-minute shake, pour over the carrot ribbons, and toss to coat evenly. Make a pile of carrot ribbons in the center of each salad plate. Drizzle a spoonful or two of the pesto in a circle around each plate. Divide the goat cheese into small dollops and scatter the dollops evenly over the carrot ribbons. Serve immediately.

Still looking to treat yourself with some sweet and savory treats? These New Year’s Eve dinner ideas are perfect for any season.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest