Cookbook review: 100% Real

I received a free copy of Sam Talbot’s new cookbook 100% Real to review and will now proceed to gush about it.

First, it’s beautiful. The pictures . . . the pictures. I mean, all it takes is a picture of a runny egg and a slice of avocado and I’m In. All In.

Sam Talbot, who was apparently on the show Top Chef, is a type-1 diabetic, but unless he’d said something about it I never would have known that he cooked with that in mind. Yes, the recipes are healthy, but they’re also sumptuous. He has a nice variety of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free recipes, but also cooks with bacon (score!) and makes cookies.

Photographer: Greg DuPree Food Stylist: Margaret Dickey Prop Styist: Kay Clark

Vegan Cookies, mind you!

Vegan Chocolate Chip and Salted Chili Cookies.

He’s definitely very enthusiastic about staying away from processed foods, eating healthy and using all kinds of alternative ingredients–sometimes to the level of things I’ve never heard of, like hemp milk. And almond cheese. Which, um–does that exist? Do almonds have udders? But, if you’re into the cheese that comes from the milk that comes from the udder of an animal, well, it shouldn’t be too hard to use regular cheese instead.

Me and regular cheese . . . we got an understanding. And the understanding is deep. And the understanding is beautiful. And the understanding is that I eat all of it. Especially when its name is Cambozola.

Enough about cheese.

Instead, let’s all spend a moment looking at this trip-tip steak thingy that’s calling to me.

I’ve made two recipes from 100% Real over the holidays–the sandwich pictured on the front (who could resist that glorious photograph), and the most amazing bowl ever.

Lemme tell you about this bowl. It starts with a base of cauliflower rice. My mother-in-law tells me cauliflower rice is the new rage. I’d never heard of it before. Maybe because I’m a mother of three young children and way out of touch with the rage. I’m more in touch with Frozen (yes, it’s still Frozen), Duplo vehicles and the notorious “Get me” game which involves my two oldest running up and down the length of the house and leaping into my arms at speeds upwards of 30 mph. Repeatedly. This usually begins 0.3 seconds after I walk in the door from work.

So far, no one has been injured.

This is not expected to last.

And I love it–the kids, the squeeling, the risk of bodily injury. It just keeps me very out of the loop. If there’s buzz around town about this or that, I can pretty much be guaranteed to miss it, entirely.

Anyway! Cauliflower Rice. It’s magical. Sam then tops it with roasted brussel sprouts and carrots, a shredded rotisserie chicken tossed with a MAGICAL DRESSING (yes, it’s necessary to capitalize that, and you won’t understand until you make it) and cashews.

Guys, this is the kind of recipe that during the work week I might look at, think too many steps and longingly set aside. But it turns out it’s totally doable and not as complex as you may think. I might need to capitalize that too–TOTALLY DOABLE. There, that’s better. And the payoff is worth every second spent on it.

Photographer: Greg DuPree Food Stylist: Margaret Dickey Prop Styist: Kay Clark

So. If you’re into healthy eating, if you like to eat vegan, dairy-free or gluten-free, if you’re diabetic, if you’re not diabetic but just like yummy food, if you hate food but like looking at pictures of food, well–this is an awesome cookbook that you should check out.

On the other hand, if reading the words “Almond Cheese” in an ingredient list makes you irrationally angry, then this probably isn’t the cookbook for you.

And that about sums it up.

And hey! I got permission to post the magical recipe below. Yay!

If you feel the uncontrollable urge to purchase this book for yourself, here’s a link to it on Amazon. If not, grab it at your library.

Enjoy the Chicken Bowl!

Easy Cauliflower Rice with Roasted Vegetables and Chicken 

Hands-on: 20 minutes Total: 55 minutes Serves 4


1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved lengthwise

1 (8-ounce) package peeled baby carrots with tops, halved lengthwise

1 small red onion, halved, cut into 3/4-inch wedges

1/4 cup olive oil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 rotisserie chicken

2 tablespoons finely chopped jarred preserved lemon

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon coconut sugar

1 teaspoon Madras curry powder

1 head cauliflower (about  2 pounds), cut into florets

1/4 cup chopped, roasted unsalted cashews

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Toss together the Brussels sprouts, carrots, onion, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper in a bowl. Spread the mixture in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until the vegetables are tender and caramelized, about 25 minutes.
  2. Remove and discard the skin from the chicken. Remove the meat, and shred to equal about 2 cups. Whisk together the preserved lemon, shallot, vinegar, coconut sugar, curry powder, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small bowl. Toss the shredded chicken with 3 tablespoons of the dressing.
  3. Pulse the florets in a food processor until the cauliflower is finely chopped and resembles uncooked rice or couscous. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high; add the cauliflower and remaining 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring once or twice, until just beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Divide the cauliflower evenly among 4 bowls; top with the caramelized vegetables and chicken, and drizzle with the remaining dressing. Sprinkle with the cashews.

TIP: You can use cauliflower rice as an easy side that goes with anything you normally would serve with regular rice. One head of cauliflower gives you about 4 cups of “rice.”

Excerpted from 100% Real by Sam Talbot. Copyright © 2017 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. All rights reserved.

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