Top Chef alum Sam Talbot is on a roll. The Season 2 favorite recently returned for another shot at the title on Season 14 (spoiler: he was eliminated in the third round). He opened a new restaurant, Pretty Southern, in Brooklyn, NY in January. And he just released his second cookbook, called 100% Real.
"It's 100 insanely, really delicious, clean recipes," he said in an interview with The Feast.
The book emphasizes clean eating—nothing overly processed, healthy swap-outs, and lots of whole, fresh ingredients. In addition to the drool-inducing recipes (like the Avocado Toad-in-a-Hole), there are plenty of tips from Sam: pantry essentials, energy boosters, and powerhouse ingredients (maca powder, anyone?).
As a type 1 diabetic, Sam geared his first book—The Sweet Life—towards people living with diabetes. But 100% Real is for "everybody," Sam declared. "It's really just about a cleaner lifestyle, and that's exactly what this book is about."
"it's how I eat, it's how I live," Sam added. "it's my lifestyle, compacted into a nice beautiful, clean book."
Some of the recipes are vegan or gluten-free and feature a lot of "cool swap-outs," he said. "Instead of using heavy cream or milk, maybe in a recipe that normally would call for dairy you would swap out coconut milk, or almond milk, or hemp milk, or whatever fits your lifestyle."
And don't expect to find any white sugar in the book. "All the recipes in the book, they have those healthy modern swap-outs, like date sugar for example, or coconut sugar or even beet sugar. A lot of these things are actually naturally sweeter than sugar but because white sugar can be so fabricated and the toxins are added it's a different animal," he explained.
There's no white flour in the recipes, either. "Instead of using white flour we talk about swap-outs using chickpea flour, or coconut flour, almond flour," Sam stressed. "If you're frying a piece of chicken, it goes great, or if you're just coating something that would normally call for breadcrumbs, one of these flours makes a great substitute. And it doesn't weigh you down, you're a little bit lighter on your feet."
And while no one likes to play favorites, Sam does admit to having a few favorite recipes in the book. "The White Fish Curry is spectacular," he declared. "[It has] a lot of beautiful spices, it's just a really fragrant, aromatic curry, great flavor, goes great with a coconut brown rice or jasmine rice."
The Frozen Honey Mousse is another standout recipe in the book. "Especially for the summertime, coming into spring and summertime," Sam said. "Just really vibrant flavors, really easy to make."
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