I’ve been following Lisa Leake’s 100 Days of Real Food blog for a while now, and found it a fascinating story of how an average American family decided to conduct an experiment and live without processed foods for 100 days. They started in 2010 from the point of never reading ingredient labels or buying organic or farmers’ market food. After reading Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food (see my short review of that book in this post here), they began to overhaul their family’s eating habits and to embark on a real food journey which they are still on today. In the meantime, the family have built their website to include a wealth of resources to encourage and help others joining them on the real food journey.
Fast forward to 2016, and Lisa Leake is now a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author and her second cookbook has just been released. 100 Days of Real Food: Fast and Fabulous hit the shelves this week with the tagline “the easy and delicious way to cut out processed food”.
I’ve been testing the recipes with my family this week. So far, they’ve all had a big thumbs up!
Fast and fabulous
One thing that stood out to me as we cooked our way through the book is that real food doesn’t need to be extreme or difficult. There’s plenty of scope for treats, for cheese, meat etc, as long you are eating the actual food and not a processed version of the real thing. Real food ingredients aren’t difficult to find, either, and can easily be sourced on a regular shopping trip.
The recipes in this book certainly prove that it doesn’t have to be difficult. I noticed everything we tried was really quite simple to make. I also realised that my teenage kids could make all these recipes themselves – I might have to follow up that idea and start making a roster!
It’s not just a recipe book but a resource, full of helpful ideas for sourcing, storing and planning to use real foods. There are recipes for breakfasts, lunchboxes, dinners, snacks and treats, which is just as well, as I know my family needs food all day long, not just at dinner time. Most of the recipes are allergy friendly or can be adapted using the chart in the book.
Our favourite: Veggie Cream Cheese
Our favourite was the veggie cream cheese, a surprisingly simple but delicious recipe which we tried both as a dip and as a spread on our wraps and sandwiches for lunch. As you can see, we LOVED this one and my kids gave it a “you have to make this one again” rating!
And here’s the recipe for this gluten free, nut free and vegetarian veggie cream cheese:
Some of the recipes can be found on the 100 Days of Real Food website, but most of them are new. I was a little surprised that there were recipes that still used shortcut foods such as shop bought bags of pre-cut coleslaw ingredients. Personally, I would avoid buying those salad bags and would prefer to chop the vegetables ourselves, but it was a good reminder that there are still plenty of time saving tips available even when eating real food.
A big question for us as an Australian household is whether this US published cookbook will fit well with cooking and eating on the other side of the world. I think it does. The book does use US measurements, but in most recipes there are only one or two metric conversions required. I didn’t find too many hard to find ingredients and nearly all the recipes weren’t really that different from typical Australian food.
To test this theory I tried the recipe that I thought would be most challenging for our Aussie family – the fish tacos. The challenge: tacos hardly ever appear on our “totally Oz” menu plan, I have never bought a jalapeno pepper, tortillas aren’t really a thing here, and one of our girls doesn’t like fish. Challenge accepted! By the time I replaced the jalapeno pepper (it was out of stock plus usually expensive at the two grocers I tried) with bullhorn capsicum, used Indian whole wheat roti flatbread instead of tortillas, and convinced the girls to try it, it was actually a fabulous dish (and fast).
So, if the most challenging recipe for an Australian household worked out so well, I’m pretty confident the rest of the book will cross that cultural divide! It seems real food can be fabulous the world over.
Disclosure: I am a Cookbook Ambassador for the 100 Days of Real Food: Fast & Fabulous book and was provided with a copy to review. This post includes affiliate links.