Nom Nom Paleo

Surviving the Night Shift

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A few days ago, a reader named June left this comment on my site:

"Michelle, I know this is a food blog, but I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how you make nightshift as healthy as possible for you. I am a new nurse and I love night shift, but I am freaked out about the health consequences of flipping back and forth all the time."

Surviving the Night Shift by Michelle Tam

This question has popped up more than once, so I thought I’d share in detail what my work schedule looks like, and how I’ve managed to cope with working night shifts for over a decade. I’ll also pass on some sleep strategies that apply to everyone—even you lucky ducks who don’t have to work through the night.

Interested? Read on!

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Paleo Eats: 2/25/13

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Sometimes, I loathe cooking. There. I said it.

Yesterday morning, after finishing my fifth night shift in a row, I arrived home feeling tired and cranky. I wanted nothing more than to plant myself on the couch and surf the web for articles about IKEA’s horsemeat meatballs. (Horsemeat is so Paleo.) The last thing I want to do after a ten-hour shift is make dinner.

But you know what? Sharing a healthy, home-cooked meal with my family is a top priority for me, so I suck it up and get crankin’ in the kitchen. In shades, no less.*


And because I took that extra 15 minutes in the morning, dinner was a breeze to pull together in the evening. Wanna see what I did?

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Paleo Eats: 11/5/12

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I’m more than halfway through my week of night shifts, and the work’s been steady — not too crazy and not too slow. It’s been juuust right. Sipping bone broth during my 10-hour shift staved off the hunger pangs, so my leftovers stayed in my lunchbox all night.

But when I walked through the front door and smelled the boys’ breakfast of eggs and sausages sizzling on the stove, I was suddenly famished. That Henry is a good daddy…

…AND a great husband ‘cause he made me a plate, no questions asked.

Breakfast for dinner!

Once the boys were out of the house, I set to work concocting a new Asian-inspired marinade with scallions, ginger, coconut aminos, rice vinegar (it’s Whole30-approved!), honey (gasp!), and Red Boat Fish Sauce (duh!).

I poured it over a bunch of chicken thighs…

…and stuck the chicken in the fridge before passing out in bed.

When I woke up several hours later, I grabbed the bag of thighs…

…and popped them into the oven. 

While the bird roasted, I cut up two bunches of kale…

…a few carrots, half an onion, and some garlic cloves…

…and tossed them in the pressure cooker to make a quick pot of braised greens.

As I waited for the chicken and kale to finish cooking, I pulsed a head of cauliflower in the food processor…

…and pan-fried some simple cauliflower rice.

In less than an hour after I stepped in the kitchen, dinner was ready. 

Here’s my plate:

And here’s me in all my bedheaded glory making dinner:

Obviously, I spend tons more time in the kitchen than I do in the powder room futzing about my appearance. But that’s all gonna change, people. I just ordered a mess of natural beauty products from the highly-acclaimed Primal Life Organics. Tape your jaws shut: The next time you see me, I’m going to be made up like Honey Boo Boo in full-on pageant mode, complete with Go Go Juice in hand.

Or not.

Paleo Eats: 6/30/12

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My work-hubby is off for a couple of nights to attend a wedding, so I was on my own after 2:30 am. The last time he disappeared for vacation,  the pharmacy was out-of-control crazy busy. Steeling myself for more of the same, I brought my meal in a LunchBots Clicks so I could gobble it all up straight from the fridge: sous vide tri tip, roasted broccoli, and napa cabbage kimchee.

Luckily, my shift at the hospital was non-eventful, and the work was slow and steady. Before I knew it, the sun was up, and I was peeling out of the garage on my way to the Downtown Palo Alto Farmers’ Market. There, I picked up beaucoup veggies, spices, seafood, and stone fruit.

I was still peckish when I came home, so I pulled out some chicken gizzards and hearts from the fridge.

What? You don’t have organ meat lying around? Shame, shame!

Just joshing. I rarely have any at the ready. But when I roasted a couple of chickens the other day, I made a conscious decision to keep the odd bits that came stuffed in the cavities. I froze the livers and neck bones, and threw the gizzards and hearts in the fridge. I know gizzards are best confited or braised, but I was HANGRY and short on time.

I decided to simply season them…

…sauté ‘em in melted butter…

…and toss in a handful of cherry tomatoes at the end.

The hearts were mighty flavorful, but the gizzards were too crunchy. Note to self: there’s a reason why sautéing isn’t a preferred method of cooking gizzards. My jaws were sore from masticating muscular bird stomachs.

Next time, I’m gonna sous vide the gizzards or follow this recipe from uber hunter-gatherer Hank Shaw. In the sage words of the Beastie Boys: Slow and low, that is the tempo.

Before heading off to bed, I tinkered with a new recipe for a Paleo cookie.

The recipe requires some additional tweaking, but Lil-O didn’t seem to mind gobbling up the test batch.

I passed out for almost eight hours and woke up later than normal — which is both a good and bad thing. I was able to chip away at my sleep deficit, but I had to scramble to get dinner on the table before the Double-Os’ bedtime.

Tabil Seasoned Sautéed Shrimp to the rescue!

I started by rendering bacon grease… which I added the seasoned shrimp…

… cherry tomatoes…

…and a chiffonade of basil.

Then, I stir-fried kale and bacon in the same pan.

Here’s my dinner plate:

Afterwards, I fished a flap steak out of the SousVide Supreme and seared it for my packed lunch.

Yep, the same dirty skillet for all three dishes. I hate washing extra pots and pans.

Once my kitchen chores were finished, I tucked the kiddos in bed before sneaking into our newly-cleaned garage gym (thanks, Fitbomb!) to practice double-unders, Abmat sit-ups, and push presses.  I need lots of practice.

By the way, how many of you are heading to the CrossFit Games in a couple of weeks? Fitbomb had a blast last year (check out his multi-part recap of the 2011 Games here: Part 1/Part 2/Part 3/Part 4/Part 5), but I missed out on all the fun.

That ain’t happening this year, ‘cause the Nombomb clan’ll be there in full force! If you see a couple of harried Asians dragging along their sweaty and exhausted spawn, come say hi!

I promise I won’t bite. Much.

Paleo Eats: 6/3/12

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If this blog was still expletive-laden like in the olden days, today’s post would explode in a massive fireworks display of Technicolor language. But since I’ve purged all the bad words on this site (now that Big-O and other wee ones are reading it daily), I’m just going to have to type BLEEP the BLEEPING BLEEP BLEEP. (You can fill in the blanks Mad Libs-style.)

Let’s just say work was draining. Too busy to eat. That is all.

Although I was tired and cranky when I came back to the hotel, I instantly perked up when the Double-Os welcomed me back with hugs and adorable Deadlift Girl portraits.

I look fierce, if I do say so myself. Especially with bug-eyes and a mustache.

After some much needed family bonding time, I dragged myself off the couch to cook my last meal before bedtime. My stomach was growling something fierce so I needed some fat and protein pronto. I ripped open a package of wild king salmon lox…

…fried a Thai omelet…

…and plated everything up with half an avocado and a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper.

When we returned home, I seasoned a couple of steaks and plopped them in the SousVide Supreme before heading to bed.

While I slept the day away, the boys ventured to the park for a birthday party…

…where they bashed a pretty princess to bits with a baseball bat to get at the candy inside. You know what they say: Girls are made with sugar and spice, and other pro-inflammatory, metabolically-deranging chemical substances.

In the evening, I woke up ready to tackle some new recipe development. I baked a batch of pork chips (a.k.a. crispy prosciutto chips)…

…that added a salty crunch to a bright and summery arugula and peach sala.

Next, I charred some shrimp and watermelon skewers on the backyard grill.

I also fried a batch of crispy cheater sous vide duck confit legs for extra protein.

We ate the skewers (with a generous squeeze of tangy lime) as an appetizer…

…and chased it down with our summer salad and duck.

I felt quite productive, and I hadn’t even left for work yet!

Before I bid you all adieu, please check out my guest post over at LucyInDaSkyWithDiamonds about my virgin experience with kohlrabi.

Also, I need your help answering an important question:

Where should the Nombomb clan eat in Seattle this weekend?

I’ll be at the BlogHer Food ‘12 conference most of the weekend, but I definitely want to sneak away to chow on mind-blowing Pacific Northwest cuisine. We have some family faves from previous visits to Seattle, but I’d love to get some new recommendations. Criteria: AWESOME food (even cheat-worthy is fine) and suitable for well-behaved kids with decent table manners. Shoot me your suggestions in the comments, Seattle lovers!

Thanks in advance!