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Three 2014 cookbooks show creativity at its best

From “The Big Book of Sides” by Rick Rodgers

So many cookbooks, so little time to make all the wonderful recipes in them.

Here are a trio that stood out for me during 2014:

“Vibrant Food” (Ten Speed Press, $25): Kimberley Hasselbrink, the photographer behind the blog The Year in Food, created this breathtaking book. This is a wonderful collection of recipes grouped by season and thus local availability. Hasselbrink will take a classic dish, for instance a winter slaw for the season at hand, and then gives it an unexpected taste twist, in this case, heating it up a bit with garam masala. The results are intriguing. And the photos? They make fresh, seasonal food so very inviting. (The original review and a recipe from “Vibrant Food” are here.)

“Eat Clean Live Well” by Terry Walters (Sterling Epicure, $30). Walters is one of the foremost voices in the clean living movement. In addition to the recipes, she offers advice on how to embrace a cleaner lifestyle. She’s such a cheerleader for the movement, one can’t help but catch her enthusiasm and believe, hey, I can do this. The family-friendly recipes show clean eating can be done without a lot of fuss. For the most part they require a short list of ingredients and minimal work that even a newbie cook could master. (My original review and a recipe from the book are here.)

“Big Book of Sides” by Rick Rodgers (Ballatine Books, $30) is such a grand collection of the dishes that go along with the main event. Rodgers, a veteran cookbook author and instructor, provides more than 450 recipes; 100 of them alone deal with vegetables. But he also shows great ways to serve grains, breads, salads and much more. There are classic dishes as well as vegetarian offerings, weeknight options and dishes that work well for entertaining. The creative possibilities are endless. (The original review, and a recipe from the book, are here.)