by Taylor Starek

If it’s the weekend, Taylor Riggs is likely in her kitchen.

As the Columbus-based writer and recipe developer behind the popular blog Simply Taylor, she uses Saturdays and Sundays to cook, bake and photograph, plus prep wholesome meals for the week ahead.

Such is the life of a real-food blogger (with a 9-to-5 as a dietitian at a local medical management company). And now Riggs, 24, can add this to her resume: cookbook author.

Real Food, Real Simple, published by Page Street Publishing in early January and available on Amazon and in Barnes & Noble stores nationwide, is a collection of 80 Paleo-friendly, five-step (or fewer) recipes.

“I wanted to make [healthful eating] seem more approachable for people,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to be too complicated.”

Riggs’ book, which is split between breakfast, entrees, starters, sweets and snacks, aims to shatter the assumption that what’s good for you comes with a steep price tag and a promise of hours in the kitchen.

The vast majority of ingredients in Real Food can be found at your local grocery, and the steps to completing the recipes are rarely more than a sentence long.

Riggs offers modifications, too, for those who prefer meat-free or gluten-free versions.

“I always want the main focus for the book to be on choosing whole, real foods and not necessarily on a certain label or diet,” she says. “It’s all about finding a balance that works for you, and everyone’s going to be a little bit different.”

Riggs, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 10, finds her balance in avoiding highly processed foods and maintaining a Paleo diet (with a few exceptions). Paleo, she says, acts as a good foundation for a healthy lifestyle, relying heavily on vegetables, nuts, roots and meats. But she’s not opposed to making mindful modifications.

Take, for instance, her Balsamic, Date and Prosciutto Pizza, which she suggests topping with arugula—and goat cheese, if you’d like.

Other highlights include her AB Flax Cookies (a reader favorite), Spicy Almond Butter Brussels Sprouts (Riggs’ favorite) and her Tropical Green Smoothie Bowl, which she shares below (and suggests topping with her Everyday Granola).

Tropical Green Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 large banana
½ cup frozen pineapple
½ cup frozen mango
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp ground flax meal
2-3 large handfuls of spinach
6-7 ice cubes

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth, about 30-45 seconds.

Photo courtesy Taylor Riggs

Cookbook Photography 101 with Allie Lehman

Each of Riggs’ 80 recipes is beautifully photographed—the handiwork of Allie Lehman, a Columbus-based photographer and the co-owner of branding agency The Wonder Jam. Learn more about her process here.