Fig & Watermelon Salad with Honey Vanilla Cashews

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Fig & Watermelon Salad with Honey Vanilla Cashews by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

We’re experiencing a heat wave in the San Francisco Bay Area, and for a gal like me who prefers crisp, chilly weather, this is a major pain. These scorchers make it hard for me to sleep during the day, and when I wake up bleary-eyed in the evening, the last thing I want to do is slave over a hot stove. Luckily, this refreshing Fig & Watermelon Salad’s perfect for the final throes of summer. 

Fig & Watermelon Salad with Honey Vanilla Cashews by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

In California, this is the time of year when both watermelon and figs are in season. (In fact, San Diego’s Fig Fest is today!) Complementing the ripe fruit is the tang of a simple lime vinaigrette and the salty crunch of Porkitos—not to mention the mild sweetness of roasted Honey Vanilla Cashews.

The toasted cashews can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container for up to a week. You’ll be tempted to eat the cashews right out of the oven, but make sure you save some for your salads. After all, even though eating a small amount of cashews is totally okay (I’m looking at you, Paleo Police), you should always mind your nuts.

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Forky Friday: 9/6/13 

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Forky Friday: 9/6/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Aaaaagh! After getting home this morning from my night shift at the hospital, I conked out in bed BEFORE FINISHING MY FORKY FRIDAY POST! (This is what happens to zombie drug dealers.) It wasn’t until I woke up this evening that I remembered that I left y’all hanging. Sorry, dudes.

Well, better late than never. Ready for another mess ‘o links?

Gimme The Real Poop

You’ve heard of Kopi Luwak, right? Also known as “civet coffee,” this brew’s made using the beans of coffee berries after they’ve been eaten and pooped out by little furry cats. I’m not kidding.

Kopi Luwak’s gotten so popular that some folks are shelling out hundreds of dollars for a taste of this stuff—so naturally, there are a ton of scammers selling counterfeit civet crap beans. Luckily, there’s now a test to check if you paid for the real deal.

Forky Friday: 9/6/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Yay?

The Tipping Point

Pete Wells, The New York Times’ resident restaurant critic, is (in)famous for his strong, unfiltered opinions. I’ve been a loyal reader ever since he wrote a scathing review of Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, filled with nothing but largely rhetorical questions; no matter if you agree or disagree with Wells, he’s certainly an entertaining read. His latest screed against tipping is a thought-provoking piece—especially for those of us who have worked in food service (both in front- and back-of-the-house roles). What say you—are you a firm believer in tipping? Or do you side with Mr. Pink? [FYI: Link is NSFW]

Forky Friday: 9/6/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Oh, Baby

As the child of Asian immigrant parents, eating nose-to-tail was de rigueur. Fresh fish would flop around in the shopping cart that we pushed around the local Asian market, and the poultry served at the dinner table invariably had heads and feet attached. I grew up eating all sorts of things that might turn some stomachs. Perhaps that’s why reading this NPR article about eating cochinillo asado, or Spanish roasted suckling pig, made me hungry rather than disturbed about chowing on a wee baby piglet. Having eaten Chinese roasted suckling pig on visits to Hong Kong since the age of three, I can tell you it’s insanely delicious. Am I a horrible person?

Actually, don’t answer that.

Forky Friday: 9/6/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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Forky Friday: 8/30/13

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Forky Friday by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Hello from Pittsburgh! I’m here to attend Bill and Hayley's wedding (a.k.a. the #paleoroyalwedding) this weekend, but before the festivities begin, I have some serious link love to spread. Ready for this week's Forky Friday?

Wear An Apron, Not A Hazmat Suit

I love when Michael Ruhlman rants on his blog. His latest screed, Bacteria! RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!, is a great (albeit NSFW) post about how we need to calm the *bleep* down about sterilizing our kitchen environments. Of course, as home cooks, we certainly need to engage our brains and be sensible about food safety—but freaking out over rinsing a chicken in your sink? Please.

Forky Friday by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

As Ruhlman put it: “Please, buy good food, cook it yourself, use whatever intelligence happens to be available in that tiny head of yours. Then open a bottle of wine and eat dinner with your friends and family.” Hear, hear.

(And for the record, I almost never wash my poultry before cooking it—but not because of bacteria fears. I’m just lazy.)

Seafood: More Than Meets The Eye

If you’re like me, buying seafood can be a bewildering experience. Thankfully, there’s the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and the National Geographic Seafood Decision Guide—and recently, my pal Diana Rodgers published a great article entitled The Complex Choices in Sustainable Seafood. Hopefully, they’ll whet your appetite to make a pot of Thai Steamed Mussels!

Forky Friday by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Marinating Before Grilling? Don’t Bother.

For the better part of a year, I’ve been grilling meats without marinating ‘em beforehand. I think it started when I first made Grilled Lamb Chops with Mint Chimichurri (the recipe’s in my forthcoming cookbook); with some experimentation, I realized that I could just rest my cooked meats in a marinade after the grilling was done, and it would soak up all the flavors just fine.

Forky Friday by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Just this week, my approach was validated: the New York Times posted an article entitled Welcome to the Post Marinade Era of Grilling, which points out that there’s no reason to marinate meats before grilling. A solid win for proscrastinators like me!

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How I Roll: Weeknight Paleo Dinner Prep

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I was asked about my dinner prep strategies during an interview last week, and I had to confess: I don’t give much thought to meal planning.

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I’m not proud of it. I often wish I were more like the marvelous Melissa Joulwan, whose ingenious Weekly Cookup and Hot Plates concepts in her cookbook, Well Fed, make meal preparation a breeze. Or like Tammy Credicott, whose new book, Make Ahead Paleo, just arrived in the mail yesterday. If I really had my act together, I might even try cooking all my meals a full month in advance, à la Tricia Callahan of Once A Month Meals

Sadly, I’m a shambling mess when it comes to meal prep, and there are days when I’m tempted to go foraging for a carnitas salad bowl with extra guacamole at Chipotle instead of turning on the stove. After all, meals are the one thing that can be easily and cheaply outsourced…

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But then, I remember: nothing beats home-cooked meals. 

Since going Paleo a few years ago, I’ve found that the only way I truly understand what I’m feeding myself and my boys is to roll up my sleeves and prepare our meals from scratch. In doing so, I’ve gained a newfound appreciation for whole, nutritious ingredients. Now, with countless hours in the kitchen under my belt, my culinary chops have slowly but surely improved. Like all skills, the only way to get better is to practice, practice, practice. 

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Plus, I love our little clan’s nightly ritual of gathering together at the dinner table; there, we can come together as a family to: Instagram the food (that would be me), wearily complain about all the Lego bricks underfoot (Henry), share defensive strategies in response to zombie attacks (Big-O), and count aloud the number of days until Christmas (Lil-O). I have fond memories of cracking jokes over supper with my parents, sister, and grandparents, and I want to pass on this important tradition to my kiddos. 

Besides, cooking at home is far more budget-friendly than dining out every night. 

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Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 4 of 5)

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Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 4 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“Miracles are like meatballs, because nobody can exactly agree on what they are made of, where they come from, or how often they should appear.” ― Lemony Snicket, The Carnivorous Carnival

I respectfully disagree with Mr. Snicket. I know exactly what goes in my meatballs. And I happen to think they should appear at least once every couple of weeks on my dinner table and/or in my LunchBots.

Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 4 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

For today’s lunch: Asian Meatballs with Bell Peppers & Blanched Broccoli.  

Yes, that’s right: BALLS OF MEAT.

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Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 3 of 5)

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Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 3 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Custom-made fancy lunches are fun, but in all honesty, my packed work lunches almost always consist of leftovers. Why should it be any different for the rest of the family? 

Today’s LunchBots Duo is packed with: My Sister’s Phenomenal Green Chicken, Roasted Rosemary Almonds, and crudités.

Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 3 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I always make extra Green Chicken so I can munch on the leftovers. These drumettes make for an an easy and delicious grab-and-go lunch option. Go ahead and pack your lunchbox the night before; everything tastes great cold. (Of course, if you don’t share my love for cold chicken drumettes, you can always keep them in an insulated container like a LunchBots Thermal.)

And if eating leftovers means I get to sleep in a teeny bit more the next morning, that’s just icing on the cake. 

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Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 2 of 5)

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Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 2 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Who’s ready for another Paleo lunch idea? (If you missed yesterday’s box, read all about it, and also check out last year’s five-part series of packed lunches I made with Jackie Linder of LunchBots!).

Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 2 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

In today’s LunchBots Duo, we’re packing breakfast for lunch: Prosciutto & Egg Roll-Ups, Mini Cinnamon Apple Scone, and Mixed Fruit Salad.

Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 2 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I know what you’re thinking: cold eggs?!? But these simple omelets make great wrappers, and they’re pretty darn good at room temp or cold. (I place an ice pack under my kids’ LunchBots.) In fact, Lil-O insists on eating his eggs cold, tamago-style (but sans sugar, soy, mirin, etc.). 

Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 2 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Silverware is optional, but your fruit salad should really be portioned into a silicone cup or a separate compartment to prevent any juices from running into the rest of your food. I know it all ends up in the same place eventually, but I HATE soggy food.

Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 2 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Wanna see how easy it is to put this lunch together?

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Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 1 of 5)

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[UPDATED: My entire five-part series is done! Check out all the lunches here—and don’t forget to enter our giveaway for a motherlode of stainless steel LunchBots swag, too! (Entry deadline is August 28, 2013!)]

Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 1 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Every year, it seems like summer ends just a little bit earlier. It’s only mid-August—Labor Day is still two weeks away!—but my kids are already back in school. (Just before his first day of kindergarten began, Lil-O announced to the kids clustered outside the classroom door that he farts out of his butt. This is going to be a looong year.)

Once again, we face the Dreaded Morning Scramble: a desperate race against the clock to get the boys scrubbed, changed, fed, and out the door—but not before getting their lunches packed. In the chaos of the morning, it can be a frustrating chore to make and pack fun, healthy, and easy mid-day meals. You know the feeling, right?

Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 1 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

With this in mind, I partnered last year with my buddy Jackie Linder of LunchBots—my favorite stainless steel lunch containers in the world—to come up with a week’s worth of Paleo-friendly packed lunch ideas. (Check out our five-part series here!) This year, we decided to put our heads together again to whip up another week of Paleo lunches.

Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 1 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

One thing to keep in mind before we kick off our new series of lunches: these are just ideas that are meant to inspire you to pack wholesome, healthful foods in your lunch boxes. Feel free to disregard the specifics, and pack whatever real foods you and your offspring will actually eat. After all, even if you’ve packed the most delicious and nutritious meal possible for your kids, it’ll all be for naught if it ends up in the garbage or traded away for a bag of chips and a can of soda.

Encourage your little ones to choose their own lunch items from your Paleo-friendly pantry and fridge. And have them help you make their lunches the night before. This way, the food you pack will actually stand a chance of getting eaten.

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And remember: lunches don’t have to be fancy. Lil-O still insists that his favorite packed lunch is cold scrambled eggs. (Weird, I know.)

Ready to read about a lunch you can pack tomorrow?

Another Week of Paleo Lunches! (Part 1 of 5) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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