Cookbook Create community member Chelsey Amer, MS, RDN is a New York City-based private practice dietitian and creator of CitNutritionally.com. She’s an avid user of Cookbook Create, so we asked her to show us how she uses the platform for her professional meal planning.
I am so lucky that one of my blog’s biggest fans is my grandma! Every time I publish a new recipe I get an email from her detailing whether or not she would make the recipe herself and a question like “what does FOMO mean?” (FYI, FOMO = fear of missing out!).
When I visit my her, I see the growing stack of my recipes that she prints out too and I get the spiel, “One day you’re going to publish your own cookbook so I can stop printing these out!”
Little does my grandma know that as a professional dietitian, I actually need to publish cookbooks all the time.
My cookbooks are carefully customized from a core group of recipes I’ve developed for clients with special dietary needs. Instead of old-school bound printouts or PDFs, I’m able to produce beautiful and professional-looking custom books in about 20 minutes with Cookbook Create.
How I Use Custom Books
Sometimes it’s easier to show instead of tell. So I wanted to show you how things work by walking through one of the many books I’ve pulled together.
Breakfast happens to be my favorite meal of the day, and one of the hardest meals for my clients to eat, so I naturally made a food allergy friendly cookbook with 20 Nut Free Recipes for Breakfast!
The thing that drew me into using Cookbook Create as opposed to other recipe tools I’ve tried is that creating new book isn’t cumbersome. It’s designed for anyone to be able to create a book, but I think it’s especially useful for fellow dietitians.
I’ve used these custom books in a couple of ways — It’s a beautiful product to showcase my creative recipes, and it’s also a wonderful product to give to clients to take the intimidation out of the kitchen!
I like to give books to clients during food prep sessions as well as when they first start working with me, so that they can start off with plenty of ideas.
In this case, I created a book for a family with a child who was recently diagnosed with tree nut and peanut allergies, and needed some major inspiration to get the day started right with a whole new nutritional plan. A gorgeous book is a lot more accessible and inspiring to overwhelmed parents than a list of do’s and don’ts.
A Cookbook in Just Four Simple Steps
Cookbook Create’s publishing platform includes a recipe bank that I save my own recipes in, as well as from other community members. I never need to start from scratch every time I decide to create a book. The combinations of recipes are endless and there is no minimum order, so every client can get something personalized to their nutritional needs! How awesome is that?
Before I found Cookbook Create I was sending clients a list of links to my blog or printing out my own recipe packets, which can sometimes less professional and polished. But in using Cookbook Create, the process was simple and there are a bunch of other perks of the platform that are worth noting…customizable and full-color printing, a choice of binding styles, volume discounts and priority printing when I need it…. Not to mention a professional-looking finished product!
Make a Book Cover That’s Worth Judging
I swear, coming up with a fabulous cover and title can be the hardest part of pulling together a cookbook.
In this case, I’m faced with a few tough customization choices:
- Do I want a hardcover book or a more casual spiral binding?
- Do I want a clean cover with the title that pops or a larger image that will make my clients’ mouths water?
- Do I want a bold font for my title or a more whimsical family heirloom feel?
- What’s my preferred color scheme? Should I matching your practice logo?
- What page background do I prefer? I want it to match my brand.
I got to work. My book is for families whom I’d like to enthusiastically adapt to a new tree nut or peanut food allergy, so I wanted my cover to be as colorful as possible. I made a collage of images from the book and I absolutely LOVE how fun it looks on the cover. I used images from my recipes and decided to pull them all together to create the cover. I used a free photo software, like Canva or PicMonkey to create this collage. It took me about 10 minutes to save the images and pull together the cover.
I kept my font clean and professional (after all, this is for clients!), and kept each page background simple as well.
It was tough to make my decisions because I loved everything, but in the end, I chose the spiral version so I can easily fold it in half. Let’s be honest, I need to save as much space as possible in my tiny NYC kitchen!
Prune Recipes for the Perfect Collection
Since I’ve organized all of my recipes on Cookbook Create already, it takes just a few clicks to import them into my custom cookbook. I can create as many chapters as I want, which keeps my cookbooks just as organized as my recipe collection.
For this cookbook, I decided to make the first chapter all about sunflower seed butter, a popular peanut butter or almond butter substitute, which is usually more expensive than the alternatives at the store. Since my book is all about breakfast, I then divided the remaining chapters based on common breakfast items like oatmeal, smoothies, savory and then sweet breakfasts.
Another cookbook topic I know many of my clients would love is on food prep! I always encourage my clients to prep veggies, a whole grain and a couple of proteins for the week, so providing a bound book divided into chapters with an arsenal of veggie-heavy recipes, a variety of whole grains and also lean proteins would definitely be useful.
The options for how you divide your book are endless! You can even take my idea above one step further and create several books dedicated to one of the food groups above. For example, a whole grains cookbook can be divided into chapters highlighting different whole grains — quinoa, brown rice, farro, buckwheat, and more. You can include as many, or as few, chapters as you would like!
Dramatize Drool-worthy Meals with Visuals
One of my favorite parts about Cookbook Create is that there are SO many opportunities to really personalize my books with images. I know that nothing makes me want to cook recipes in a beautiful cookbook like gorgeous images.
I chose my favorite recipe from each chapter to highlight on the full-page image opposite each chapter’s title page, like the maple cinnamon sunflower seed butter above.
Then, I can insert an image on each recipe page or add several additional full-page images for a little drama. It’s easy to get carried away because each image only takes a couple of seconds to upload.
I like to use the full-page image spreads to visually explain recipes or provide step-by-step details. As you can see below, I added a full page step-by-step tutorial for making your own sunflower seed butter in my cookbook, which helps bring the recipes to life!
Visual step-by-step guides are a great way to teach new cooks how to get comfortable in the kitchen. You can even create an entire cookbook just about basic cooking techniques and insert applicable images. Things that culinary dietitians may overlook — like the difference between simmering and boiling water — can be visually described using this medium.
Give it One Last Glance and Order!
Once you press publish there’s no turning back, so I always make sure to proofread my work for typos or little errors. After all, it’s pretty hard to take a dietitian seriously if she misspells the names of her favorite superfoods! I usually have my fiancee or a friend glance through the book as well because an extra set of eyes, unfamiliar with the project, may find something I’ve glanced over a few times. After that, the only thing left is to press publish and then patiently wait for my book to arrive… trust me, it is hard to wait!
A Little Last Inspiration…
Ready to jump into making your own book for clients but not sure where to start?
Here are some of my favorite ideas…
- Low carb breakfasts (perfect for your patients with diabetes!)
- How to eat your healthy fats, with heart-healthy recipes!
- Diabetic-friendly dinners
- Nut-free safe school lunches
- Veggies at every meal for picky eaters
No matter what your cookbook is about — ohhh the possibilities — I know you will have a beautiful finished product to share with your clients!
What collections are you excited to share with your clients?
-Chelsey Amer, MS, RDN, New York City-based private practice dietitian and creator of CitNutritionally.com