The Two Best Cookbooks You Will ACTUALLY Use


Have you ever impulsively bought a cookbook you stumbled upon at the bookstore? It was full of beautiful, glossy, full-page color photos of tantalizing (and complicated) dishes that you just had to try, wasn’t it? You were going to make every one of those recipes, impressing your family and friends, and broadening your culinary horizons… But somehow you ended up promptly placing it on a bookshelf at home and guiltily donating it to Goodwill approximately four years later.

I know how this feels. Just this past week as Ethan and I purged our bookshelves, I got rid of seven cookbooks that I essentially never cracked open, despite my good intentions to use them.

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There are two cookbooks, however, that get used in our home every single week when we menu plan. The recipes are easy, flavorful, and do not call for any refined sugar, refined flour, preservatives, or processed junk.

The first cookbook came with a dust jacket, but I used it so much I eventually lost the cover. I love that the second one printed the cover right on the book!

100 Days of Real Food, and 100 Days of Real Food: Fast and Fabulous, are the result of an amazing blog experiment that went viral in 2010, showcasing Lisa Leake and her family committing to 100 days of not eating anything that wasn’t real food.

The dishes Lisa has created are easy to make and use simple ingredients, but they are absolutely delicious. Also, her recipes freeze so well! I bulk cook her meals for our deep freezer as I described in this post here, and it saves so much time and money not relying on take out when I am postpartum, sick, or too tired to cook after a long day.


My favorite of all is probably Lisa’s recipe for Parmesan Crusted Chicken. I love to prepare it for company and get so many compliments every single time. (It actually tastes as moist and flavorful as restaurant chicken!)

The Veggie and Bean Burritos with Cilantro-Lime Crema are a Friday night favorite in our house, as is the whole wheat pizza dough that freezes perfectly for some bulk meal prep. Her Lemon Raspberry Muffins are Philomena’s favorite breakfast food and I can’t get enough of her whole-wheat crepes as a Sunday morning treat. The homemade chicken nuggets are to die for, and you will never look at pre-made frozen ones again… that is unless you make a big bulk batch like I do to stock my freezer.

How great is this plastic splatter-guard cookbook stand? I got it with my Christmas gift card in my stocking from Ethan last year here off Amazon. It protects the cookbook from spills, and holds it up, freeing up far more countertop space than if it was laying flat while I use it. It would work great for reading recipes online off of an iPad or phone, too!

I love these cookbooks so much that I actually bought copies of the Fast and Fabulous one and marked my favorite recipes in it as a gift for my midwives and doula following Zelie’s birth. They were always commenting at prenatal appointments how good our meals look on Instagram, and I would almost always say, “Its from a 100 Days of Real Food cookbook…”

Oh these burritos! Philomena looooves these.

The first cookbook includes a full section all about their original experiment, how they define “real food,” menu plans, shopping lists, and fantastic information decoding confusing labeling and what you should actually look for when purchasing different categories like meat, dairy, eggs, produce, grains, flours etc.

Both books include breakfast, lunch boxes, soups, sides, salads, dinners, desserts, and a ton of from-scratch pantry staple recipes for chocolate syrup, barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, bread crumbs, onion soup mix and more.

Lisa mentions blueberries being swapped out for the raspberries in these whole wheat muffins. We tried that variation and loved it. Philomena wants ‘booberry muffs” as often as I will make them!

If you are looking to clean up your diet and get rid of processed junk, these cookbooks will do just that, but you won’t feel like you are missing out on anything! Plus, the meals are kid friendly; Lisa and her husband are going on this journey with their two young daughters, after all.

Lisa recently announced that they are working on a third cookbook and I can’t wait to see what she has in store. You can purchase the first one here, and the second one here and be ready for a New Years resolution to eat healthy.

What’s one cookbook you can’t live without?


Enjoy this post? You may also like Birthday Party + {Real Food} Salisbury Steak Dinner, and Grocery Haul/Menu + Instant Pot Grits

5 thoughts on “The Two Best Cookbooks You Will ACTUALLY Use

  1. I like cookbooks too. I have never bought myself a cook book but have been given them. I was going through my cookbooks and discovered one that is all about rhubarb. Why do I have a cookbook that only has rhubarb recipes?

    Thank you for posting this review. The cookbook looks great. I wish I could flip through it before buying. Would it work well for a GAPS family?

    My favorite cookbook is Joy of Cooking. It is old and very thorough. Everything in it is delicious and cross referenced. It is healthy too because it is so old.

    My favorite healthy cookbooks are Internal Bliss and Nourishing Traditions. If I only had two cookbooks, they would be Joy of Cooking and Nourishing Traditions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have Nourishing Traditions and want to get in to using it more, but it is so intimidating to me.

      As for these being GAPS Friendly, I am not sure. I am familiar with the stages of GAPS but not maintenance when you have sealed and healed the gut. Lisa’s recipes will often times call for diary or whole wheat flour, but perhaps if the dairy is raw and the flour sprouted the would be okay for yo

      If you want to check them out, I would suggest seeing if your library has them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they would, because they are New York Times Bestsellers. If your library doesn’t I would see about an interlibrary loan.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for sharing! Just looked on my library’s website and they have 100 Days of Real Food so I’ve put it on hold! I am tired of cookbooks being full of challenging steps and ingredients that are difficult to find. Looking forward to seeing/trying the recipes! 🙂


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