We’re not sure that anyone nails grain, dairy and refined sugar-free baking quite like Sweet Laurel. We’ve been sharing the healthy duos’ killer recipes for years (these brownies!) and couldn’t be more thrilled to get their first cookbook into our almond-floured paws.

Grain-free devotees, get ready for a thrill – Claire Thomas and Laurel Gallucci’s brand new and long-awaited Sweet Laurel Cookbook is finally here!

Discover the inspiring healing journey that started it all with Laurel’s candid interview here, then try the girls’ unbelievable lemon poppyseed cake recipe below – perfect for spring. 

We asked one half of the Sweet Laurel duo, food blogger and photographer, Claire Thomas to share a few of her top food styling tips with us — oogle at them over in action on the Sweet Laurel Instagram. Claire knows how to conjur that drool and it has everything to do with these seven key tips… 

Food photography, or photography in general, can seem pretty tricky for a novice. When I started, my food was sad and, honestly, not the most appetizing. Here are some lessons I learned along the way.

The Lighting First, look at what you’re shooting. Is it colorful? Is there a lot of texture? Does it look delicious? Some things taste delicious, but shooting it is a whole other thing (chili and beef stew, I’m looking at you!). So take a good hard look at what you’re snapping, decide what you want to emphasize and then focus on that.

Don’t use flash. Ever. Natural light is your friend, so find a window. Turn off the other lights. This sounds silly, but in the beginning I kept getting a weird yellow spot on some of my images, and it took me forever to realize it was from overhead lights I had forgotten to turn off.

The Composition Don’t just look down at your food and shoot it, use a point of view. I always do three types of shots – the overhead, the straight on, the detail – right off the bat to cover my food.

The overhead: This can be beautiful with a colorful plate or something geometric looking. I like to sometimes push the subject to one side, creating asymmetry that lends itself to graphic elements.

The straight on: Get low, right at table level, and shoot your food from there. You wouldn’t shoot a person’s portrait staring down at them, so think of food in the same way.

The detail: I love using macro lenses, which allow you to get really close. Most point and shoot cameras have a macro setting, so try to find it. I search out my favorite detail (a perfect garnish, a piece of nut, any little detail) and focus on that. It brings out the texture and looks lovely in a series.

Those Backgrounds + Props I love to collect tea towels, small plates, anything kitchen related, and part of the thrill of shooting is finding the perfect prop that really sets off the food. Use small plates so you don’t overwhelm the eye, have fun with surfaces for the plates to sit on, decide if you want to see the background or utilize a wall. Recently, I’ve started playing around with using a white card as my background. I love the editorial look it gives the food and it’s a fabulous canvas to have fun with graphic design, as well.

The Final Edit Finally, don’t go crazy with the filters. If you bump the contrast and press “enhance” one too many times on iPhoto, it really doesn’t help the food look better.

Lemon Poppyseed Bundt Cake
Makes one 9-inch bundt cake


For the cake:
grass-fed ghee or coconut oil, for greasing the pan
arrowroot powder, for dusting the pan
4 cups almond flour
1⁄2 tsp Himalayan pink salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 large eggs
3⁄4 cup full-fat coconut milk
1 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp grated lemon zest
1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
coconut butter glaze (recipe follows)

For the glaze:
1⁄4 cup coconut butter
2 tsp maple syrup or raw honey
1⁄2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1⁄4 tsp vanilla extract
1⁄4 cup full-fat coconut milk or almond milk


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 9-inch Bundt pan with ghee and coat with arrowroot powder, shaking to discard any excess.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt and baking soda. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, maple syrup, lemon zest and lemon juice until combined. A little at a time, add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring well until a batter forms; then stir in the poppy seeds.

Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about an hour. Invert the bundt onto a plate to release the cake. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake, then cut and serve.

NOTE: When we say “grease generously,” we mean it. Almond flour is immensely sticky, and the nooks and crannies that make Bundt pans so beautiful also provide the perfect opportunity for ruining your cake. We’ve tried several different preventative methods and found that ghee truly does work best. Trust us — we’ve earned our doctorates in reconstructive Bundt surgery. Alternatively, try using a silicone Bundt mold for the easiest release.

To make the glaze:
Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring for 10 minutes, or until blended together. If you want thinner icing, add more coconut milk. For a thicker glaze, add more coconut butter. Allow the glaze to cool completely before drizzling over the cake.

Reprinted from Sweet Laurel: Recipes for Whole Food, Grain-Free Desserts. Copyright © 2018 by Laurel Gallucci and Claire Thomas. Photography by Claire Thomas. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.


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