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Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 2)

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Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 2 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Hello again! As promised, here’s the second installment of Paleo Lunchboxes 2014, my collaboration with our pals at LunchBots—the gleaming stainless steel food containers you see in these posts. Our mission is to demonstrate that packed lunches can be simple, nourishing, and magically delicious for kids and adults alike. 

Like the first box in this year’s series, today’s lunch can be assembled the night before, so all you’ll need to worry about in the morning is dragging yourself out of bed and eating breakfast. And wiping the sleep from your eyes.

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 2 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Spicy Tuna Cakes are a big hit with our whole family…almost. (Big-O digs these portable veggie-and-protein cakes, but Lil-O doesn’t like spicy foods, so he’s less of a fan. Man, six-year-olds have no taste.)

Bonus: these tuna cakes taste great cold, too.

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 2 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

You can whip up a dozen (or even double the recipe!) in advance, and pack the next day’s lunchbox(es) before you go to bed. Your reward for planning ahead? Getting to hit the snooze button a couple of extra times in the morning.

My recipe for Spicy Tuna Cakes has been around for a while now; it was first introduced in my iPad app, and since then, it’s popped up in my cookbook and on my blog). So if you haven’t tried ’em yet, what are you waiting for?

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Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1)

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With a new school year just around the bend, it’s time for the 2014 edition of Paleo Lunchboxes—my annual collaboration with our friends at LunchBots. And this time around, I’m presenting 7—that’s right, SEVEN—new ideas to jumpstart your creative engines.

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

These lunchbox ideas are great for your school-age spawn, but trust me: the meals in this series aren’t just kid stuff. In fact, this first one’s a fast and satisfying lunch you can eat with your bare hands. Plus: we’re talking HOT DOGS.

“But wait a minute! How are hot dogs even Paleo?”

Fine. They’re not technically “Paleo™,” but I’ve got nothing against convenience foods that are made from wholesome, healthy ingredients. Most hot dogs on the market are filled with all sorts of chemical additives and cast-off CAFO animal parts—we should all avoid these freaky franken-weenies like the plague. There are, however, other options.

I’m lucky to have a brother-in-law who hand-makes his own hot dogs out of grass fed beef short ribs

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…but most of the time, I just look for commercially-available wieners made with sustainably-raised grass fed beef and a few simple seasonings and spices. The two brands I buy for my family are Applegate and Fork in the Road (I don’t sweat the small amount of sugar in the latter), and you can find them in most grocery stores. (For additional recommendations for high-quality grass fed hot dogs, check out this link.)

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Hot dogs have always been a kid-friendly favorite, but I recently hopped onto the bandwagon in a big way after discovering Flame to Fork’s game-changing idea to use the wiener as the “bun” (a.k.a. #hotdogasthebun) on Instagram.

Since then, I’ve been playing around with different fillings every time I make hot dogs for the kids. (The best thing about using the wiener as the “shell”? Sneaking extra veggies into your kiddos’ bellies!) Unlike hot dogs on bread buns, you can assemble ’em the night before; they won’t get soggy, and they taste great cold. Or maybe I’m just a weirdo for loving cold hot dogs. 

Personally, I like hot dogs piled high with sautéed peppers and onions or kraut and pickles, so for this lunchbox, I made both. Properly cooked onions take a while to sauté, so I always start them in the skillet over medium heat with my favorite cooking fat before I do anything else.

Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 (Part 1 of 7) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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Paleo Lunchboxes 2014 Preview!

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Kids: Put away the gadgets ’cause it’s time to head back to school!

As in years past, I’ve teamed up with our friends at LunchBots to show you that portable Paleo lunches can be healthier and more satisfying than a soggy PB&J sandwich. From tomorrow through Labor Day, I’ll be posting a myriad of midday meal ideas that’ll (hopefully!) inspire you to take a few moments out of your day to throw some meat, veggies, and fruit into a container. These aren’t just for kids, either—grown-up eaters will have plenty to feast on, too.

Plus, for those of you who’ve requested heartier fare for bigger eaters, I’ve got you covered! This year, you’ll find even more rib-sticking meals in this lunch series. 

Come back tomorrow for the inaugural post—and in the meantime, check out the previous years’ lunches!

August 2014 Whole30 Inspiration

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Participating in the worldwide official Whole30® challenge this month? Congrats—you’re halfway there!

August 2014 Whole30 Inspiration by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

You’ve valiantly persevered through bouts of carb flu and white-knuckled your way past the infamous “KILL ALL THE THINGS” phase. At this point, that Tiger Blood coursing through your veins is feeling pretty good. But despite your newfound superhero status, one nagging thought keeps flitting in and out of your brain like that jerkwad mosquito that buzzes by your ear at bedtime:

“I’m sick and tired of cooking every meal.”

August 2014 Whole30 Inspiration by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Yep. You’re thisclose to throwing out all your organic veggies and falling face first into a bag of cheesy poofs.

August 2014 Whole30 Inspiration by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I totally sympathize. Cooking and planning meal after meal (after meal after meal) can be a royal pain in the butt, so that’s why I try to make my dishes as pain-free and flavor-packed as possible. As much as it seems like a thankless chore, cooking at home with wholesome ingredients is one of the most important things you can do for your family—and it doesn’t have to suck the life out of you.

Here’s the thing: As I said in my Whole30 primer/survival guide, simple and quick does the trick. The majority of the recipes on my blog (and just about all of the recipes in my cookbook!) are Whole30-friendly, and all of ’em are rookie-proof. In fact, they all reflect the way I eat on an everyday basis. I’m the queen of lazy, so if I can do it, you can, too.

August 2014 Whole30 Inspiration by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

And now, I’ve got even more Whole30-compliant recipes that you can whip up as you enter the home stretch, including essential flavor boosters, simple veggie sides, and family-friendly entrées! Best of all, these dishes pack a whole lotta bang for the buck, and belong in your repertoire even if you’re not on a Whole30.  

Ready to get reinvigorated?

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Kelly Brozyna’s Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream + Ganache

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Doing a Whole30 this month? You rock. But QUICK! LOOK AWAY! THERE’S NOTHING TO SEE HERE!

Kelly Brozyna’s Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream + Ganache by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Really—this post ain’t for you…or at least, not right now. Go check out my Whole30 recaps, or better yet, go make yourself some Cracklin’ Chicken or Sweet Potato Hash with Fried Eggs. Come back in September—this ice cream’ll still be here. 

Still with me—and looking for a cool, dairy-free treat to beat the heat? Then follow along as I crack open my copy of Kelly Brozyna’s Dairy-Free Ice Cream and whip up some vanilla ice cream with chocolate ganache!

Kelly Brozyna’s Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream + Ganache by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Ever since a review copy arrived in the mail, I’ve been eyeing the vanilla ice cream. You’d think I’d make a beeline for the chocolate ice cream recipes in Kelly’s beautiful new book, but NOPE. Know why?

Kelly Brozyna’s Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream + Ganache by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

’Cause of this little guy.

Kelly Brozyna’s Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream + Ganache by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

As soon as he spied me dragging my long-neglected ice cream maker out of the garage, my six-year-old vanilla ice cream fanatic knew what was up. And he wasn’t shy about pointing out precisely which recipe he wanted me to make.

Kelly Brozyna’s Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream + Ganache by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Vanilla packs a huge wallop, and is anything but boring. According to Cook’s Illustrated, vanilla’s a “flavor potentiator” that not only increases our perception of sweetness, but also our ability to taste other ingredients that accompany it—like nuts, fruit, coffee, and chocolate. 

But as much as I share Lil-O’s love of vanilla, there’s no way I was going to let someone who can’t even tie his own shoes keep me from my beloved dark chocolate. 

The compromise? Ganache, baby. GANACHE.

Kelly Brozyna’s Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream + Ganache by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

As Kelly points out, ganache (a.k.a. fancy chocolate sauce) can be made dairy-free, too; just substitute full-fat coconut milk for the heavy cream. Drizzle some ganache over a scoop (or three) of Kelly’s rich, dairy-free vanilla ice cream, add a sprinkle of toasted slivered almonds, and you’re all set for one of the best frozen treats you’ve had since going Paleo.

Kelly Brozyna’s Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream + Ganache by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Who’s ready to scream for some ice cream?

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Forky Friday: 7/25/14

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Forky Friday: 7/25/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I know: it’s hot, you’re tired, and you need to rest your sweaty noggin. The remedy? Pour yourself a large glass of pineapple coconut water and lose yourself in my favorite links of the week!

Jimmy Kimmel’s No Master Chef

If your gut is friends with dairy, Gordon Ramsay’s method for making creamy scrambled eggs is well worth a try. The dish appears dead-simple to whip up—especially when Chef Ramsay (yes, that’s Ramsay with an “A”—caution butt photo ahead) makes it on TV—but looks can be deceiving. His recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live proves that not everyone can be a Master Chef. 

Don’t worry, Jimmy—practice makes perfect!

Hot Tubbin’ Steaks

It saddens me to report that my “defrost bowl” now sits empty most of the time. I’ve just been too lazy and forgetful to keep replenishing it with frozen meat from the freezer. 

Forky Friday: 7/25/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Still, I don’t sweat it if all my meat’s frozen solid ’cause I know of a sure-fire way to defrost steaks in a flash. You may have heard that you should only thaw meat in the fridge or in cold water, but in fact, you can dunk frozen meat in hot water to get it ready for the grill in just minutes.

Food scientist Harold McGee was recently interviewed on The Splendid Table about how it’s perfectly safe (and smart!) to thaw steaks in 100°F water. (And by the way, if you’re a self-proclaimed food nerd and you don’t have copies of McGee’s Keys to Good Cooking and On Food and Cooking on your bookshelf, I’m calling you out RIGHT NOW.)

Forky Friday: 7/25/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Slice and Dice Like A Ninja

You already know that the most important weapon in your kitchen arsenal is a sharp chef’s knife (and not just because it’s all sharp and stabby), but are you cutting your veggies in the most efficient way possible? If not, check out this great video by Andrew Zimmern as he demonstrates how to cut perfect batons, matchsticks, ½” dice, and brunoise (a.k.a. super-teeny-tiny dice).

Bonus round: Want an ingenious tip for slicing a bunch of cherry tomatoes all at once?

Grab two plates (or container lids), a sharp knife, and a handful of cherry tomatoes. And watch this video. Don’t forget to take a moment to admire how the posh British narrator calls ’em to-MAH-toes.

Really—this works like a charm. See?

Forky Friday: 7/25/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Forky Friday: 7/25/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Forky Friday: 7/25/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Mind blown, right?

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Forky Friday: 7/11/14

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Forky Friday: 7/11/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Dying to know what food-related links are top-of-mind for me this week? No? Well, just humor me anyway.

Taco Bell: Going Paleo?

Once upon a time, I proudly declared Taco Bell to be my favorite fast-food joint. As a high schooler, I made a Run To The Border™ on a regular basis with my fellow pimply-faced pals to order (and then annihilate) pile after pile of crunchy, cheesy Taco Supremes. I even wanted my very own caulking gun to squeeze reduced-fat sour cream on…well, everything. Weirdly and disgustingly enough, I have fond memories of Taco Bell. That’s why this Bloomberg article suggesting that Taco Bell’s attempting to tap into the Paleo market actually made me hopeful…for a nanosecond.

Forky Friday: 7/11/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Upon closer inspection of Taco Bell’s press release announcing its new “Cantina Power Menu,” though, it’s painfully obvious that the company’s just upping the protein on the menu without doing anything to improve the quality of the ingredients. And despite the misleading headline of the Bloomberg piece, Taco Bell’s new menu clearly doesn’t aim to be Paleo at all. After all, they should know that Paleos won’t stuff junk into our mouths just ’cause the protein volume’s been doubled. Our mascot may be a caveman, but we’re not stupid; Taco Bell’s food products—no matter how high protein or low carb—are nowhere near Paleo-friendly.

I still kind of want a Taco Supreme, though.

Guess Who (I Wish) Was Coming to Dinner

I’m not usually a fan of icebreaker activities, but there’s one get-to-know-you question I really dig. Melicious posed it to me a while back: “You can have dinner with any characters from movies, TV, or books that you want. Table for 8. Who’s at the table?”

Clearly, I have a hard time with reading comprehension, because instead of offering up a bunch of fictional characters like she asked, I spat out a list of celebrities like Andy CohenAnthony Bourdain, and George Takei. The only non-celeb on my list was BMO from Adventure Time — the best robot companion in the Land of Ooo.

But now, I’m thinking about swapping BMO out for the hardest working man in show business, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. Sorry, BMO, but a guy with 16 jobs trumps a cute little robot. Even one with an alter ego named Football.

Forky Friday: 7/11/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Not only has Questlove dazzled audiences (including Late Night fans) as the drummer/frontman of The Roots, but he also happens to be obsessed with eating fabulous food.

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Forky Friday: 6/13/14

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Forky Friday: 6/13/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Happy Friday the 13th! Yeah, I know it’s been a while. At the end of each week, my dear old dad’s been reminding me that I haven’t put up a new Forky Friday in eons, so I think it’s past time I put up a new post packed to the gills with my favorite finds from ’round the world wide web. So in advance of Father’s Day, this one’s for you, Pop!

Celebrate Your Dad!

Yep—Father’s Day is Sunday. THIS Sunday. Got something special planned for the big poppa in your life? If you’re still searching for a cool gift, I’ve got a feeling all the grilling guys (and gals) out there will love Chris Schlesinger’s and John “Doc” Willoughby’s The Big-Flavor Grill

Forky Friday: 6/13/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Ever since I received a review copy a few weeks ago, I’ve been testing many of the no-marinade, no-hassle recipes on our grill. The simple techniques in this book are a revelation: simply pick the right cut of protein, slap on a zero-fuss rub, grill the meat, and then toss the fire-charred goodness with a flavorful sauce. That’s it.

The Big-Flavor Grill has made a spontaneous griller out of me. It’s a game-changer.

One of my favorite dishes in the book is the recipe pictured on the book’s cover: Grilled Skirt Steak with Smoky Red Onions and Grilled Avocados. 

Forky Friday: 6/13/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

From start to finish, this meal took just 30 minutes to make. If—like me—you’ve had an irrational fear of grilling over an open flame, this book’ll get you over the hump, and it makes for an incredible Father’s Day gift.

But if you’re strapped for cash, you don’t need to buy a present to make your dad feel appreciated. Just let him know you’ll be making brunch, and reconnect with your old man over a plate of Bacon Pancake Sandwiches

Forky Friday: 6/13/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…or grill him a Chili Rib Eye Steak by following Chef Pete Evan’s drop-dead-simple technique!

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Nom Nom Paleo Dinner Party At Cookhouse

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Last month, as part of a special sweepstakes on this site, twenty of my readers scored an invite to a cozy Paleo dinner party in San Francisco with me and Henry. This exclusive shindig had secretly been in works since January, when Amanda Nudelman of Disqus (the company that powers the comments on my blog!) reached out to me with an idea to create an “IRL” (in-real-life) community event. It sounded like a whole lotta fun, and I couldn’t wait to see how it would turn out.

Nom Nom Paleo Dinner Party At Cookhouse Photo by Irja Elisa Photography http://nomnompaleo.com

The deck was stacked in our favor—gorgeous venue, incredible chef, and cool peeps—but as the date approached, I began to fret. After all, our guests were picked randomly from the pool of readers who entered the giveaway, so no one would know each other. Would our dinner companions get along? Would there be awkward silences? Paleo food fights? Would I have to break out my Fake Call App to bail me out? Or would we be making 20 new friends?

Nom Nom Paleo Dinner Party At Cookhouse Photo by Irja Elisa Photography http://nomnompaleo.com

Nom Nom Paleo Dinner Party At Cookhouse Photo by Irja Elisa Photography http://nomnompaleo.com

My questions were all answered on Saturday night. And as I should’ve known, I’ve got some of the coolest readers on the planet.

Nom Nom Paleo Dinner Party At Cookhouse Photo by Irja Elisa Photography http://nomnompaleo.com

Amanda hired a professional photographer (yay, Irja!) to document the festivities, which meant Henry could actually put down his camera and enjoy himself for once. Of course, my compulsive husband ended up snapping some shots with his phone anyway because HE. CAN’T. STOP.

Nom Nom Paleo Dinner Party At Cookhouse Photo by Irja Elisa Photography http://nomnompaleo.com

Want to see how twenty modern cavepeople (who don’t know each other) party in a San Francisco loft? Then keep reading!

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