Cooking with love: a review of The Happy Planet Cookbook, Recipes for life. By Dana Karic.

This is so much more than just a recipe book. Written by Dana, one of my lovely neighbours here on Palm Jumeirah, this book is a homage to food and how it sustains us, and an invitation to revisit our relationship with food and to share good food with others. A good friend of mine used to say that food should be cooked with love – this book is all about cooking with love. 

One of the things that Dana has provided with this book which is truly unique are the inspirational note cards. In the deluxe version of the book these are tucked into a pocket inside the cover, and I love Dana’s suggestion of putting them as place settings for guests. The note cards are described as a gift to you, and like all good gifts they lift the spirit and are best shared.  

The Happy Planet Cook Book

The book can be enjoyed alongside Dana’s beautiful jazz album Our Secret Place. Music and food are a very special combination, whether it is inspiring music to cook to, or music to set the mood for a dinner party. I don’t know about you, but I have a ‘dance around the kitchen’ playlist!  

Dana communicates beautifully how the food we eat nourishes our bodies and how a positive relationship with food nourishes the soul. She encourages us to pause or to pray before meals “to make sure that our emotions are in check and we’re eating from a place of peace and joy, not guilt, stress or anger”.  

I love the encouragement Dana gives to host dinner parties. My husband and I try to host one every couple of weeks (although lockdown curtailed this for a while!) and they are something which should bring joy not stress.  Dana provides some wonderful tips for hosting a joyful dinner party, including decoration ideas and choosing music to fit the mood.  She communicates really well the ‘togetherness’ of sharing food – and to me that is the main point, your cooking doesn’t have to be perfect because there is something really special about sitting around a table together.  In my experience people are always genuinely touched to have been invited into your home, and you end the evening closer to them than you would have done after a night out. 

So, I have told you all about the things which make this book so much more than a recipe book, but what about the recipes?! The recipes are mostly vegan, but Dana encourages the reader to experiment and use your imagination “If you think that a nice piece of fish would go well with a certain meal, go ahead and add some fish!”.  If you are the kind of person that likes exact measurements in a recipe then this book might not be for you, but for me it is perfect and exactly how I cook; look at a recipe for inspiration, maybe follow it exactly the first time but then add a bit of this, take away a bit of that…  

I couldn’t write a review of a recipe book without testing one of the recipes! I made the vegan pancakes which were perfect for a relaxing family weekend breakfast. I would never have thought about putting sparkling water into pancake mixture to make it fluffy, I will definitely be doing that again! I forgot to take a photo of our efforts because we were too busy eating them all up! 

You can read an excerpt of the book and order the paperback version at If you would like the beautiful hardback deluxe version then contact Dana direct on her Facebook page @danakaric. You can also follow Dana and her lovely recipes on Instagram @thehappyplanetblog.

Enjoy, and don’t forget to cook with love! 

The Happy Planet Cook Book
Dana Karic