It’s been said, “Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them.” So WholeFoods asked award-winning author Lisa Maxbauer Price for the health-related titles she loves to keep in her home library and give as gifts.
EGG: The Very Best Recipes Inspired by the Simple Egg by Blanche Vaughan
To me, the most gift-able books aren’t just inspiring reads, they are pretty enough to display in the home. And this minimalist cookbook is a work of art, worthy of being showcased on a clutter-free kitchen counter. (Those aren’t fiction. I hear they really exist.)
The subject matter of this cookbook is so powerful, no words are even needed on its cover. (It’s like Cher not needing a last name.) Inside, you’ll find 200 pages of photographed recipes that feature eggs as their star, developed by London chef and food editor Blanche Vaughan. But this isn’t one of those vanity recipe books that is all look and no cook. You’ll actually want to switch on your stove. The author celebrates the versatility of this affordable food staple with fuss-free recipes like mozzarella in carozza (a delicious egg-battered version of a grilled cheese sandwich!) Some of my other favorites: zucchini fritters with dill; lentil curry with eggs; salmon with egg and lemon sauce; and pistachio, apricot and orange blossom cake. Thank heaven for the humble egg!
Feast Your Eyes by Brittany Wright
If you love fascinating food photography, this is the book for you. It’s from the artist Brittany Wright who is credited with creating the colorful food-gradient trend on Instagram. (She’s known for her rows of rainbow citrus. And her image of a wheel of bananas, displayed according to ripeness, went viral on social media.)
I received this creative collection as a holiday gift last year. And ever since it has been displayed on my living room coffee table, where it has inspired countless conversation starters. Each page is an eye-catching collection of different natural ingredients. I often flip to the collage of roasted marshmallows and ask guests to find their ideal crispness among the 54 choices. There are similar explorations centered on degrees of burnt toast, darkness for chocolate, and the progression of popped corn kernels.
Some photographs ask you to soul search… Where are you on the visual color spectrum of wines (from white to rosé and red), or rows of Thai chili peppers (red, orange, yellow or green)? And other photographs just allow you to bask in the visual variety of food: whether it be spices, or flours or chicken eggs. Food is beautiful and Wright’s debut book, loaded with patterns of produce, is a powerful way to savor it. The images she takes in her California-based Wright Kitchen are so addictive they have been turned into art prints, puzzles and products. So whether you give this book away or keep it for yourself, it is a treat—just like the page featuring vibrant French macarons cookies!
Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown
This Caldecott Honor book is one of my favorite stories—food related or not—that has come out for children in recent years. And my three kids agree. The story is about a group of carrots that work together to try to prevent a local rabbit boy from visiting the carrot patch and eating their friends every day as snacks. Follow the rabbit’s paranoia, as he suspects carrots are hopping out of the ground and stalking him around town. Some sample prose: “Jasper was about to help himself to a victory snack… when he heard it. The soft… sinister… tunktunktunk of carrots creeping.”
The illustrations—done in all gray shades with bright orange accents—are captivating. (Kids will have fun spotting the visual illusions haunting the main character: One moment he sees spooky carrot shadows in his bedroom at night, the next he realizes they were just toys left on his floor.) And the twist ending is deliciously satisfying. You close the book believing carrots are some of the cleverest creations on earth!