100% Real – 100 Insanely Good Recipes for Clean Food Made Fresh by Sam Talbot.

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Time Inc. Books for providing me with a free electronic ARC, via Netgalley, of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

Regular readers of my reviews will come to know I am very much into wholefoods, local foods, in season foods and eating as a part of life rather than a fad or trend… And so should realise that when I say I really loved this cook book, that it contains all of the above!

So what is 100% Real all about? It’s a cook book (duh!) that helps give a better understanding to just eating real food and enjoying it. And by real it isn’t meaning living off kale, mung beans and organic tofu…. Though hey – don’t knock them until you’ve tried them. 😉

No, 100% Real explains how pizza, pasta, burgers, cakes…. is all real! Well, it CAN be if made from the right ingredients. Ditch the synthetic substitutes, manufactured meat and other rather nasty things. Choose fresh, local, in season fruits and veg, choose good artisan bread free of all the bleaches and preservatives, choose ethical raised and finished meats, choose unrefined sugars. Eat what you like – in moderation of course – but make sure you choose the real version and not the man made fake version.

This is almost identical to my own food beliefs and so I found this book very inspiring, great to read (the non-recipes bits as well as the recipes) and honestly feel this is what cook books should be about today. Actually – cooking books, cooking shows, cooking lessons – they should all be about this simple 100% Real approach to food.

Gluten-Free Shells and cheese with peas – courtesy of Sam Talbot’s Facebook Page.

Though I will say here and now not all the recipes were appealing to me – yes my food intolerances and allergies got in the road. Won’t anyone think of we the allium intolerant? When you are lumbered with needing to cook/eat wheat, barley, rye, dairy, seafood, lamb and allium free (before we get into the fussy food issues) – you can really come across as a PITA (Pain In The Arse) when looking through a cook book.  But I am getting used to it and so know when to skip a recipe or study it for modification to a ‘Janis friendlier’ option. I’m a big girl, I can do it. And so, when I say not all the recipes are appealing to me… that doesn’t mean everyone is going to screw their noses up at them. It just means I am more limited to what I can eat, not that the recipes themselves sucked. They didn’t – it is totally my fault. 😀

TI will have to say there was one recipe that is all about roasting your own veg, making a sauce from scratch, etc… that then calls for a shop bought pre-cooked chicken. And that made me pause a moment. Why? I would much rather buy a local truly free range ethical chook (that’s chicken in Australian by the way) and cook it along with the veg… But hey, it’s not as if I HAVE to buy a pre-cooked chook. I could roast it myself and still rock it at that recipe!

That is what I am trying to say – the book allows to you to be flexible while still showing you how to cook and keep food 100% Real. Yes, follow the recipes to the letter to ensure you get as close to the same results as Mr Talbot as possible. But the recipes also seem to say – cook to suit yourself, as long as you keep it 100% Real. So, to me, this is a very user friendly cook book for home cooks of any level.

Oh, and I will add that Mr Talbot also tries to accommodate for the more main stream food intolerances and allergies and a lot of the recipes listed are gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian or vegan… sometimes a combination of these. So, although it’s not a book written to cater for any specific dietary requirement, they are still considered and easily recognised by the clear symbols at the top of each recipe. The introduction to 100% Real also explains all this – which is why people should really read ALL of a cook book and not just the recipes. Just saying. 😉

As for the review from a layout point of view – it is clear, precise and easy to read and follow, and each recipe has a gorgeous photo of the finished items to entice you into making it. Although the recipes are all in imperial measurements, there are a few different conversion charts at the back of the book so we on the metric system have been thought of. 😉

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. This really is the sort of cooking and therefore cook book we should all be following. It doesn’t dictate a trend, fad or what I call a “Foodism” – a food faith so out there it comes across as similar to a fanatic religion. No, this book is what the title says it is. 100% Real. And no, you don’t need to be diabetic to buy and use this book! I’m not (yet… genetics indicate type two likely) but love cooking with whole foods, local foods and real foods. I love unrefined sugars, making my own nut butters and all the fun things this gorgeous cook book encourages. This is not a diabetes cook book – it is a cook book on keeping EVERYONE’S food 100% Real. And so a very big YES to me recommending it to people.

Would I buy this book for myself?
Here I am torn as I really don’t know. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I LOVED most of the recipes and if we weren’t in single digits Celsius right now that avocado melon Lassi would be my morning tea! But I am still a very tactile person when it comes to cook books and so prefer playing about with them in paper version (but only half the cook books I am sent are in paper format). So as much as I want to play with the recipes in 100% Real more, and test some of the ones I would need to modify out… I would want to be playing with it as paper form. So, for now, would consider this something I would rather borrow from a library to see how we got along together in my kitchen before I would buy it.

But that is simply due to me being weird, and the amount of recipes I just can’t eat in their current form due to my own food issues. It has NOTHING to do with the quality of the book. This book looks awesome! I just need to get to know it a little better first before giving it a permanent space on my limited physical book shelves. I hope Mr Talbot understands and can forgive me for being so fickle. 😉

In summary: This is what cook books should be like – explaining why foods should be real, local, in season and ethical as well as showing how easy they are to cook with. Great book!

Until next time,



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