"If nondiabetics ate the way we diabetics eat, they'd be the healthiest people on earth," says chef Sam Talbot, a type 1 diabetic, in his latest cookbook, 100% Real. A Top Chef contestant, Talbot held the position of executive chef at several restaurants before opening The Surf Lodge restaurant in Montauk and, more recently, Pretty Southern in Brooklyn. Despite his condition, the young chef doesn't believe in overly strict diets. No, he isn't Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, or sugar-free—he is a chef, after all. He simply believes in the power of eating 100% real food: "People should be a bit more methodical in their eating habits," says Talbot. "They should be watching not only carbs but sodium and bad and healthy fat intakes. Everyone should really make sure that each meal has adequate protein fiber and healthy fat."
To maintain a healthy lifestyle, Talbot swears by a few miracle foods above others: coconut oil, coconut milk, fresh greens, lots of lemons, and fresh fruit. "I love peaches and apples, and I go nuts for mango." His pantry is always stocked with the essentials: coconut sugar and coconut flour, chili vinegar, and chlorophyll. After tasting his delicious food at a WildFlavor event at The Resort at Paws Up last month, we had to find out his secret for eating mouthwatering (and typically "unhealthy" foods) while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. By staying away from processed foods and making a few simple substitutions in his cooking, Talbot has achieved the cooking and eating goals we all strive for. Ahead, a few of his favorite recipes from his new cookbook prove that your food doesn't have to be fun-free to be healthy.
If You Have 15 Minutes: World's Fluffiest Waffles
"These waffles offer a pillow-soft texture that just doesn't happen with traditional white flour," says Talbot. "Try it and you'll see what I mean."
Hands-On: 15 minutes, Total: 15 minutes
1 cup (about 2 oz.) white rice flour
1/2 cup (about 1.62 oz.) chickpea flour
1/2 cup (about 2.13 oz.) tapioca flour
2 tbsp. coconut flour
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
6 tbsp. coconut sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup unsweetened hemp milk or almond milk
2 tbsp. applesauce
2 tsp. orange zest
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted, plus more for brushing waffle iron
salted butter, softened
pure maple syrup
Whisk together the flours, pecans, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
Whisk together the hemp milk, applesauce, orange zest, vanilla, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the melted coconut oil in a separate bowl.
Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer at high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes.
Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture, and gently stir until just incorporated (it's okay if there are a few lumps). Fold in the egg whites.
Pour about 1/2 cup of the batter for each waffle onto a preheated waffle iron brushed with melted coconut oil. Cook until the waffles are golden, about 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, and keep warm in a 200°F oven. Top with softened butter and maple syrup.
If You Have 30 Minutes: Flatbread With Pesto, Mozzarella, Tomato, and Arugula
"This simple flatbread is loaded with fresh vegetable toppings," says Talbot—making it the perfect quick weeknight dinner.
Hands-On: 8 minutes, Total: 31 minutes
2 cups halved grape tomatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 (2-oz.) multigrain flatbreads
1/4 cup pesto
4 oz. fresh mozzarella, shredded
4 cups loosely packed baby arugula leaves
1/8 tsp. red chile flakes (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Combine the grape tomatoes and 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, tossing to coat. Place the tomatoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until softened. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.
Place the flatbreads on 2 baking sheets. Bake at 375°F for 5 minutes or until beginning to crisp. Spread 1 tablespoon of pesto on each flatbread. Sprinkle each with 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup roasted tomatoes. Bake at 375°F for 8 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
While the flatbreads bake, combine the arugula and remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, tossing well. Top the flatbreads evenly with arugula. Sprinkle with the red chile flakes, if desired.
If You Have 1 Hour: Vegan Chocolate Chip and Salted Chili Cookies
"At my restaurant Pretty Southern, I offer classic comforts that people already know and love, but I update the recipes so everyone can enjoy them," explains the chef. "These scrumptious cookies put sweet and savory together in the best way."
Hands-On: 25 minutes, Total: 50 Minutes
Yield: 36 cookies
2 cups (about 8.5 oz.) organic flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. smoked ancho chili powder
1 1/2 tsp.fine sea salt, plus more to finish
1 3/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup date sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup organic apple cider
2 tbsp. applesauce or apple purée
1 to 2 tbsp. almond milk or water, if needed
1 3/4 cups dark chocolate chips (70% cacao)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, chili powder, and salt in a bowl.
Combine the coconut and date sugars, coconut oil, cider, and applesauce in a bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until well blended. Gradually add the flour mixture, beating at low speed just until blended. (If the dough looks dry, beat in 1 to 2 tablespoons almond milk or water, a little at a time, just until the dough comes together.) Stir in the chocolate chips.
Drop the dough by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Sprinkle the dough with the sea salt. Bake in preheated oven, in batches, until the edges are set, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool the cookies on wire racks.
If You Have 3 Hours: Frozen Honey Mousse With Lime and Sea Salt
"This summer dessert is as pretty to present as it is delicious," says Talbot. "The acidity of the lime smooths out the honey—and honey, we know, cures everything."
Hands-On: 30 minutes, Total: 2 hours, 30 minutes
3 large pasteurized eggs, separated
3/4 cup blossom honey
1 (13.66-oz.) can coconut milk, chilled at least 4 hours
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 tsp. organic vanilla extract
flaked sea salt (such as Maldon)
Whisk together the egg yolks and honey in a medium-size heavy-duty saucepan. Cook over low, whisking constantly until thickened, 12 to 15 minutes.
Beat the egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment on high until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.
Without shaking or tilting the can, carefully open coconut milk. Remove solidified coconut cream from the top, and place in a 2-cup measuring cup. Add liquid from the can to equal 1 1/2 cups, and transfer to a medium bowl. Add heavy cream and vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Gently fold the egg whites and honey mixture into the cream mixture; spread in single layer in a 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish. Freeze 2 hours.
Spoon into parfait glasses; top with lime zest and sea salt.
Next up: seven crazy-good salad recipes you'll actually want to eat.