Like most people, you might have started 2014 with new resolutions. If your goals for this year include maintaining a healthier lifestyle, Joplin Public Library should be one of your first stops. Our collection features an array of diet, exercise and motivational books, audio books and DVDs. My personal favorites, though, are the cookbooks – specifically, the vegetarian variety.


Thanks to the influence of my mother and grandmothers, I’ve always enjoyed spending time in the kitchen. But when I became a vegetarian more than 20 years ago, my cooking skills sharpened considerably through necessity. Preparing food from scratch became crucial, and to expand my repertoire beyond vegetable fajitas, spaghetti with tomato sauce and tofu stir-fry, I frequently turned to cookbooks.


The following cookbooks have been invaluable to me, and I hope they offer you some inspiration.


“Moosewood Restaurant Favorites” by the Moosewood Collective


Founded in 1973, The Moosewood Restaurant has grown from a small, natural-foods eatery to a highly influential restaurant. If you’re unable to make it to Ithaca, New York, to sample the vegetarian cuisine, you can still experience it via the collective’s 13 cookbooks, four of which can be found in the library’s collection, including the latest, “Moosewood Restaurant Favorites.”


Several of the recipes in this volume are variations of those I first attempted years ago and loved so much that they’ve become my personal comfort food, such as French Onion Soup, Ratatouille and Southeast Asian Rolls. Others, such as the Dixie Tofu-Pecan Loaf or the Creamy Hungarian Mushroom Soup, are new to me, and I can’t wait to try them.


Aside from their tasty recipes, the Moosewood cookbooks are priceless because they feature something for everyone. There is usually a fish and seafood chapter for those who partake, and recipes range from what I call hippie food, such as the Tofu “Meat” Loaf, to the more exotic West African Peanut Soup. And Moosewood never, ever scrimps on the desserts. In fact, they have an entire cookbook devoted to sweet ways to end your meals.