Fast, easy, healthy food prep with books from celebrities Gwyneth Paltrow & Maria Menounos, as well as a real-food detox plan, clean-eating recipe makeovers, and delicious recipes that take only 6 ingredients and 6 minutes to prepare.

By Cara J. Stevens

This month we are looking to eat healthier without resorting to diets, fads or plans. The idea is that if you buy fresh food, eat real food and pay attention to what you eat, you’ll be happier and healthier!

It’s All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook, by Gwyneth Paltrow

An avid foodie, Gwyneth Paltrow has been advocating “real food” for the past few years, and even published an elimination diet cookbook, It’s All Good, a few years ago. Paltrow is back with a new collection of 125 recipes that are healthy, family friendly, versatile, and can be made in just 30 minutes — less than the time it takes to get takeout delivered. From on-the-go meals to lazy weeknight dinners, all of the recipes have little or no sugar, fat or gluten. Beautifully photographed, you can keep it out on your coffee table for inspiration and easy reference.


Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, by Michael Pollan, Maira Kalman

When did eating become so complicated? Michael Pollan has set out to bring our relationship with food back to the basics in several books and in his new Netflix series, Cooked. Pollan created a set of Food Rules that sound like folk wisdom, reframing the choices we make about what we eat. In this illustrated edition, each page of simple wisdom is accompanied by colorful, witty paintings in Maira Kalman’s signature style. The most basic, yet paradoxical tenet of the book is reason enough to pick up a copy for yourself and everyone you know: “When you eat real food, you don’t need rules.”


The 5-Day Real Food Detox, by Nikki Sharp

A multi-day detox usually involves serious abstinence and brings to mind days of “hangry” moodiness, small but expensive, pre-packaged tasteless meals, or juice cleanses that leave you craving a good crunch. Former model Nikki Sharp has a different view on cleansing your system, and it involves 5 meals a day with actual food that you can make at home for $80-$100 for the whole week. If you’re looking to reset your metabolism, gain energy and clear up your skin and don’t mind a few dairy-free, meat free days of healthy eating, you might want to give Nikki’s plan a try.


The Quick Six Fix—100 No-Fuss, Full-Flavor Recipes, by Stuart O’Keefe

Six ingredients, 6 minutes of prep time and 6 minutes of cleanup?  With recipes like these, it’s hard to find an excuse to order take-out. An Irish-born, culinary school-trained chef, O’Keefe focuses on using real ingredients and quick preparation techniques to create delicious, sometimes indulgent, homemade creations.  The recipes call for fresh ingredients, not skimping on the fat or calories, so the focus is less on the diet side of healthy and more on the benefits of knowing what goes into the foods you eat.


Lose Weight by Eating, by Audrey Johns

Johns’ philosophy is simple: nutritious food doesn’t have to be boring, expensive and difficult to make. Her personal journey began when she vowed to cut out “fake food”, including frozen meals, soda and anything labeled “diet”, and learned to cook her favorite foods from scratch. It turned out that cutting out prepared foods helped her lose 150 pounds in one year and spurred her to share her story on the Web, in magazines, on TV, and now in an easy-to-follow book with recipes and goals – no diet plans, no rules.


The EveryGirl’s Guide to Cooking, by Maria Menounos

Everyone has to start somewhere, and for many women, their first experience cooking three meals a day for more than just one person, starts when she has a family to feed. Menounos makes stocking your pantry with fresh, healthy ingredients, planning meals, and cooking delicious food look easy, and full-color photos peppered throughout the book inspire gorgeous yet simple presentation as well. Overall, it makes a great gift for women just learning to cook, moms looking to expand their repertoire and cut down on time spent in the kitchen, or experienced cooks looking for new inspiration.

Up next month: Brain training exercises and ideas to help you embrace your creativity and keep you happy, witty, and wise.