YOU GUYS! My 2nd cookbook, Simply Real Eating comes out November 19th, 2019. AS IN NEXT WEEK!!
My heart, my soul, and every cell in my body is SO FREAKING excited to finally be able to share it with you! And when I say finally— I mean it: this project has been 3 years from start to finish.
And today, I wanted to take you behind the scenes a bit, on the journey it’s been. About what this book is about, how it’s different than the first book, why I had to write it (even though I swore I wouldn’t write another cookbook), how it all came to be, the process behind making it, including all the weird moments, ups and downs, and phases along the way, and my own creative process through it all.
For how many books there are out in the world, writing a book is no joke. Especially if you don’t have a giant corporate team working behind you . And especially so for cookbooks (with high labor intensity, time intensity, food styling, photography, recipe writing and editing, testing, grocery shopping, food prepping, photo editing, design, etc).
Let’s start with the facts:
Truth be told, writing these cookbooks has been one of the most challenging, vulnerable, wonderful, amazing and most intense things I’ve done in my life. Twice, now. And I’ve done hard things (starting a business out of nothing, made it through a very sick pregnancy for 6 out of the 9 months, healed myself from hyperthyroid, SIBO and PCOS, and have given birth). But the books? They’re up there. But more on that later on.
And both overall, have been such great experiences. They are some of the things that I am the most proud of in my life: both creatively and for the impact they have made, and the amount of people they’ve helped.
So today, I wanted to talk about the real process behind it. A behind-the-scenes peek of what it’s really like to create something like this last book. In case any of you are curious, love cookbooks, or ever have a creative project that you dream of doing one day.
But not just the glamorous side of what you see when the book is out and in your hands (and ooooo weee, you guys. I’m so so over the moon happy and PROUD with how it turned out).
But, I also want to talk about the grittier parts. The long days. The process of writing a (100+ page) book proposal that took me over a year to do (and why). Finding the right agent. About why I decided to go the traditional publishing route this time after a crazy successful self-published book. And the nights I cried in frustration throughout the writing and creative process (including most recently this week).
I don’t know about you, but before writing a book, I would always hear the analogy that books are similar to pregnancy and birth. Now having done both, I gotta say, there’s something to it: you gestate on an idea for a long time, working like crazy internally to create and build a body (or body of work), all while no one else on the outside can really see what’s going on. But it’s rapid– the creation process. And then some parts feel effortless. You’re creating this thing that’s going to have a whole other life to it, once it’s out. And then so many points along the way that are harder than you expect them to be— mentally mostly, but sometimes physically too. There’s so much anticipation too. Of life after it. Of how it will be received (or cared for). And the looming question: will it be worth it?
Worth all the sacrifice? Worth all the work? It’s all unknown when you’re in it.
But the answer: yes. always. If you’re creating out of love.
WHY I WROTE THIS BOOK:
I wrote this book because I believe that real food will change your life.
And that we all need more daily ideas and inspiration on how to make that happen for ourselves, especially when life is busy (hi, my hands are up over here, I get it).
But that I don’t just want people to eat healthier food. I want them to live healthier LIVES. So they can show up more fully in their lives: whether that’s in their work life, as mama or dad, a business owner, student, sister or friend.
The food is just the beginning to a much bigger picture. To help people create a healthy lifestyle that lasts, and one carries them steadily and calmly through all the seasons of their lives.
Physically. Mentally. And emotionally.
And to know and realize how connected those three things are. THAT changes the game. But it also requires going a little deeper than just talking about food– it’s about your relationship to it, your mindset around it, and ultimately, your relationship to yourself, and how you show up for yourself and your life on the daily.
This requires taking a closer look at your daily habits, actions and mentality. And is so much more about learning to tune in to yourself, vs looking around at what everyone else is doing.
To say goodbye to the world of quick-fixes, not-enoughness, comparison, doubt and overwhelm, and enter into a headspace where we get to choose how we feel and how we want to live our lives: by what we eat, think and do daily.
It’s about living a more intentional life.
Because that is a healthy life.
So this book is all of it: the real-food recipes you need, but also the next layer deeper: about how to infuse them into your life. About the habits, practices and rituals that make them stick and become your go-to way of being— without the perfection. And ultimately, how to take care of yourself (and those you love), simply and daily.
How is this book different than the first cookbook?
The first book (The Simply Real Health Cookbook) is what I like to call the bible of real food, made simple. Most of the 150 naturally gluten-free and vegetable forward recipes, ranging from healthy breakfast and brunch ideas, make-ahead lunches, soups, salads, entrees, desserts & healthy cocktails, are under 5 ingredients or less and are 20 minutes or less. Like, hello. It’s meant to be a book you use daily and weekly, for it’s easy, simplicity and deliciousness.
The second book (Simply Real Eating) is all about real food too. The recipes are all in the same still simple and healthy style, but this book takes it to the next level. It’s food + lifestyle. Recipes + coaching, all around how to harness the power of real food and create habits, patterns, daily rituals and mindset shifts that help you stay healthy, day in and day out, season in and season out.
It’s the WHAT (to eat and make), and the HOW and WHY too, in the bigger picture.
It’s a how to guide around the rhythms of your day, your weeks, your months and your seasons. It’s a flexible framework infused with habits, practices and ideas that you can turn into your own grounding rituals throughout the day, with the tangible recipes to cook along side it.
What’s different about it?
Instead of the typical cookbook layout (smoothies, soups, main meals, etc), in Simply Real Eating, I wanted it to be used more like a handbook, so it’s layed out by the TIME OF DAY you might need some inspiration. The book is divided the following categories: MORNING MAGIC, NOURISHING NOONS, EFFORTLESS EVENINGS and SWEETS & SIPS.
Then there are 10 simple but powerful rituals that I teach for creating a healthy lifestyle that lasts, all according to how go through our days, weeks, seasons and years.
For each ritual, there are then connected recipes to help you put it into practice. Fun, right?
So, for example, one of my favorite rituals that helps me live a healthy life is creating a morning bevvie. So in the Magical Mornings section, I talk though what that looks like, what the steps are to creating your own version or practice of this, and then a big list of all the ways you can get creative with it and make it your own and a grounding point in your day. Then, it’s followed by my 6 favorite bevvie recipes for you to test out and try.
I move through an entire day and talk about not just the food, but the intention and habit beneath it. This is what that helps you create rhythms in your life to lean into when life gets busy. And to learn how to take better care of yourself in the process.
THE BACK STORY:
I wanted more than just another cookbook.
I wanted a life-book. A guidebook. A place to go whenever you feel like you need a boost and more inspiration. And something that could step-by-step help people create a healthy lifestyle that lasts. It has a little more of my coaching style infused throughout it, and a lot of talk about how your mental and emotional health are also connected to your physical one.
For me, taking the habits, practices and a few non-negotiable things (that encourage other healthy behaviors) and making them consistent daily or weekly rituals in my life, has made all the difference in the world. And not only that, has made me a calmer, more grounded and present person overall. It’s changed my approach and relationship to food, to self-care, and my LIFE, in such big ways over time.
And they’re all things that don’t take a ton of time– most of which revolve around food, cooking, and mealtimes, and the natural pause it gives us in the day to recalibrate all parts of ourselves. And to see that time with joy, and put some intention behind it, instead of rushing though it.
But yet, still keep it simple.
So it’s part cookbook. Part life coaching. Part nutrition coaching. Add in a little neuroscience, psychology, an obsession with both efficiency and really good food, and a little sprinkle of woo, and you’re there.
After I came up with the idea, and vetted it to a few mentors and people close to me, I decided I wanted to look into the traditional publishing route. I knew the self-publishing route well from the first book, which has been a crazy success, and was happy to repeat it. But I thought….. why not try the other way too, and then I’ll know which one I prefer better. Both have their upsides, which is a different conversation for a another day.
But in short, going the traditional route means: getting an agent, creating a (100+ page) proposal, rounds and rounds of editing and refining, and then pitching your book idea to the 30 ish big publishing houses for a book deal. If you get some bids, the publisher makes you an offer for a deal. If not, you can try again next year. The process can take years, and it’s often on top of your normal workload (unless being a writer is your full time job).
My thought, as it has been with so many things like it was: WELL, WHY NOT JUST GO FOR IT?
So, it took me about 3-4 months to find the right agent, interviewing as many as I could find. To be honest, a lot of them didn’t really get it or understand my vision. A lot of them wanted a “Simply Real Health 30 Day Plan” kind of a thing…. or some kind of catchy/diet-y/trend focused book (all instantpot meals? All keto recipes?).
My heart sank. But wait, didn’t they get the irony here? That that was actually the point I was trying to make: how to NOT do those things. How to not get sucked into the marketing and the drama of it, but instead, do the antithesis of that: about how to create a healthy lifestyle that actually lasts. With easy, real food. As in NO HYPE. No flashy pitches or quick fixes.
I can’t even tell you how many times I was advised to maybe “zyush it up” a little more. To make things a little more catchy. I’d get a pit in my stomach each time. Nope. That’s not at all what I want. That’s not what I’m or Simply Real Health is all about.
I should note here too that the cookbook world is a wild one, and different than fiction books. There are literally SO MANY cookbooks that get produced every year, and from massively big names and brands. Thus the need to really stand out and be different, and promise sales to whatever publisher decides to take it in. Meaning it has to be something that people want to buy. That there’s an audience for it. It is one of the most competitive markets out there (which is also surprising for how much time, resources, energy and money goes into creating one).
It’s actually the reason why I didn’t go the traditional route with my first cookbook. I wasn’t a “someone”. I didn’t have thousands and thousands of followers. My message wasn’t sexy or that popular at the time. But, I thought it was needed anyways.
And my people (you)…… oooo boy you guys were fierce. And amazing. And fully on board, and had been asking for a book for years. Back then, I just my serious mission, and message I had to get out. It wasn’t option in my mind—- those recipes needed to get in people’s hands to change the way they thought about healthy eating, cooking, and living their best life.
I’m so freaking glad I did.
Because when something comes from that much passion and purpose, there’s no way it won’t be a success. At least that’s how I think about it. It was going to explode out of me one way or the other. Plus…. let’s be real: I selfishly wanted all my favorite go-to’s in one place. I knew it would help every person in my own life, and that made it all worth it to me, no matter what it took to make it happen.
It was all worth it.
So, anyways when it came time for this second concept, I knew I could do the same. The first book has seen crazy success- more than anyone thought was possible. But it’s because it’s the easiest thing for me to talk about and share with others. I’m so proud of it. And want everyone to have it.
But there was always a thought in the back of my head—- what if this message can reach even MORE people. Like nationally, not just from my own connections throughout Seattle and word of mouth love to the amazon book listing.
That healthy eating didn’t have to be so hard. That eating real food simplified everything in your life and gave you back time and headspace to focus on the things that really bring you joy in life. And why it mattered. In a world so focused on quick results, or what identity camp you belong in (vegan vs vegetarian, paleo vs keto, high fat vs high fiber, etc) it felt like people were more confused than ever— and everyone was so all-or-nothing when it came to healthy eating.
No one was talking about how to create a healthy lifestyle— day in and day out. Season in and season out. Something that was totally doable. Sustainable. and joyful all at the same time.
It was worth going for.
And so it began.
WHAT CAME NEXT?
After finding my agent, Jenny– someone who finally got it and was all about my message (all the praise hands), it took me a year to write the 100 + page proposal. A YEAR PEOPLE.
For real, it was one of the hardest things I’ve done— not the recipes, because those were done already. But describing my business. My method. What real food is, and then why it matters. And then weaving in some of the introductory coaching and lifestyle concepts I teach about in my programs and connecting them back to each recipe. But in bite-size, easy to digest ways. All about rituals and taking time and space for the things that matter in life. Connecting food and our habits and our mindset.
But you know, keeping it simple. And do-able for busy women on the go.
It was one tall order.
Aka, so many pads of paper. So many hours sitting at the keyboard. A lot of doubt and fear and insecurity about whether this really WAS different enough. Or worth writing an entire book about. And so many rounds of edits (poor Jenny you guys– -she had to weed through alllllll my thoughts). Also so many calls to my sister who is an amazing writer and gets what I’m trying to say sometimes better than I can myself.
All of that to say, it takes a village. And at the same time— it takes battling all the noisy voices in your own head that try to stop you from your dreams. It takes so much mental toughness, even through I’m sure that sounds ridiculous. There were many times I wanted to stop. To focus on my real business instead of this side dream.
But then I reminded myself: this project is actually not about YOU. Get over yourself. If you can do this, you can help so many other people. You know a lot of things that they need to know to better their lives and relationship to food.
It’s a reminder I have to give myself a lot: it’s not really about me. Ha. It’s true.
And that even though immediate gratification always feels productive and fun and exciting, writing a book is pretty much the opposite of that. Which I think is healthy to practice too. So, I stuck with it.
YEAR 1, done.
Time to pitch the proposal out to all the big houses. We did.
We’d already started production on the book months ago– because even if I didn’t get a book deal, I was still committed to doing the book anyways. Carina and I were jamming (more on the behind-the-scenes of these crazy cooking and shooting days coming soon!).
Long story short: Out of the 30 publishers, only 4 thought my idea was worth doing, and offered me a bid. I was so discouraged at that ratio. But, nonetheless, all I needed was one. The right one. I ended up meeting with one of them in NYC (WW Norton & their imprint Countryman Press), and immediately knew that they were my first pick. Their vision was just like mine. They wanted it to be beautiful, and coffee table style. They didn’t want to change the messaging– in fact they wanted me to go even deeper in teaching.
When I got the bids back, I was so relieved to see that they felt the same. It’s like online dating, kinda. Swipe right please. I was pumped!
So, I accepted the book deal. SIGNED with Countryman, happily. It was March 2018. Let’s do this thing.
Production was more than halfway over.
And then, I found out I was pregnant.
Grab your copy of Simply Real Eating here. Available now wherever books are sold (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target & your local independent bookstore through IndieBound). The book is officially released November 19th, 2019.
photos by Carina Scrobecki Photography.