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100DaysofRealFood_bookI don’t remember how I first found Lisa Leake’s blog, 100 Days of Real Food, but I do distinctly remember thinking, “this girl is going to change a lot of lives.” This was several years ago, and I’d been blogging myself for about a year, during which time I’d become well-acquainted with the food blogosphere. My blogging focus has always been food literacy and food advocacy — rather than the nuts and bolts of a real-food lifestyle — but it all started with my own transition to real food. It had taken years to get there — lots of reading and researching and exploring first-hand — but, by the time I started blogging in 2010, that lifestyle had long since become second nature. Finding Lisa’s blog was like mapping that journey all over again. It was like reading a download of my brain.

But that wasn’t why I thought Lisa was onto something. It was her encouraging tone, her ability to clarify a seemingly complex subject, and, most of all, her authenticity. I had never seen a blogger so clearly and appealingly summarize why real food was both a worthy pursuit and a realistic one. Many of the real-food blogs I’d been reading were extreme or complicated or grounded in a specific food philosophy that could be off-putting to non-acolytes. I knew right away that Lisa’s blog was different, so I began recommending it to readers and friends who wanted to make changes but felt daunted by how to begin. And I started making her recipes, putting several in regular rotation. With other food blogs and cookbooks, I’d grown accustomed to making substitutions (maple syrup for cane sugar, whole-wheat flour for white, olive or coconut oil for canola, and so on). But with Lisa’s recipes, I didn’t need to make a single substitution. Love. At. First. Sight.

Over time, I also got to know Lisa herself. And while we have yet to meet in real life (it’s just a matter of time!), today I count Lisa as a friend. So it’s been thrilling to watch her journey and success as a blogger and now as a cookbook author. (Scratch that: a New York Times bestselling cookbook author.)

Lisa’s new book, 100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love, is as much a guidebook as a cookbook, covering all the real-food basics in a way that’s comprehensive without being overwhelming. The recipes (most of which are new and haven’t previously appeared on her blog) are diverse and interesting, but simple in both ingredients and preparation. About that: One of the only criticisms I’ve seen of Lisa’s book is that some of the recipes are too simple; e.g., how to make homemade popcorn. But you know what? That isn’t as much of a no-brainer as it might appear. In an era of additives and packaged everything, it’s not unusual for people to be genuinely surprised that you can make popcorn on the stove, in a pot, with a good-quality oil like coconut (or in a microwave, in a plain paper bag, with no oil at all). And that you can season that popcorn with real butter and real salt. Popcorn-making is a lost art, I tell you, so anyone complaining about that should chill out and turn the page. Plenty of other recipes await.

At this point, there have been lots of reviews written about 100 Days of Real Food, the book, so instead of an in-depth analysis or a recipe rundown, I’m going to share Lisa’s book video, which explains the blog’s backstory and also details what you’ll find in the book. I also decided to mix things up and ask Lisa a bunch of random questions that have nothing to do with food. Just for fun. Enjoy!

First, the video:

Now, the questions:

10 (non-food!) questions for Lisa Leake

What did you want to be when you were a kid? Well, when I was a really little kid I thought everything from being a cashier to a lawyer sounded appealing, but once I got to be a big kid I set my sights on being an event planner (which I was for many years)!

What was your first job? Aside from babysitting, my first real job was at a dry cleaner. I was actually only 15 (not quite yet legal age to work), but my mom got them to cut me some kind of deal (for some reason).

Do you collect anything? I do have a collection of different wine glasses. No name tags for glasses needed when we entertain over here!

Name three things that might surprise people about you. 1. I never in a million years wanted to be a writer (the thought didn’t even cross my mind until I started blogging). 2. I did not start learning how to cook until I was in college, and it was a completely self-taught — and not always pretty — situation (thankfully things have improved quite a bit since then!). 3. I once jumped out of a perfectly good airplane in New Zealand (with my husband!).

TV show you binge-watch? We are not big TV people, but we do love some “Orange is the New Black.”

Describe a memorable travel experience you had as a child. My parents took me to London when I was 12. I was just dying to leave the country and loved it!

What’s on your workout playlist? Black Eyed Peas and Beyonce.

Your favorite fictional character? This is a hard one, but I did dress up as Mary Poppins for Halloween last year. LOL.

You have an unexpected day off. Alone. What do you do? Finish making our photo album from our summer trip. I am a little behind at the moment!

When is the last time you laughed until your cheeks hurt? Our last dinner club get-together. Those are always loads of fun.

Check out Lisa’s blog and Facebook page. And buy her book! As a Cookbook Ambassador for 100 Days of Real Food, I received a free copy of the book, but I would have bought it anyway, and I plan to buy several as gifts for Christmas (and beyond). So this is for real, people!

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