Nom Nom Paleo

Fig & Watermelon Salad with Honey Vanilla Cashews

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Fig & Watermelon Salad with Honey Vanilla Cashews by Michelle Tam

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

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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Tomato and Basil Salad

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Whenever I throw together a simple recipe, I’d like to think I’m channeling Alice Waters, but in all honesty, I’m way more Paula Deen.


That being said, this dish will taste awful if you’ve got crappy, mealy, unripe tomatoes: you can only go simple if you’ve got kickass quality ingredients.

Here’s what I gathered to feed 4 people:

Here’s how I made it:

I gathered my ingredients…

…and started chopping!

I marinated the sliced shallots in my favorite aged balsamic for at least 15 minutes to mellow their bite.

Lastly, I plated the sliced tomatoes with the shallots, a splash of olive oil, a sprinkle of fleur de sel, a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper, and basil chiffonade. 

That’s it! Make this delicious salad before summer is over!

Thai-Inspired Crispy Duck & Arugula Salad

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Remember how much I love Sarah Fragoso? She just posted an awesome recipe for Thai “No Peanut” sauce that anyone with a well-stocked Paleo pantry can throw together in a few minutes. This well-balanced sauce/dressing is downright remarkable –I bet you could drizzle some on an old shoe and it would taste yummy!

Tonight, I threw together a simple yet scrumptious salad with pantry staples and items from my weekly vegetable CSA box. What follows is not a strict recipe but merely a suggestion — please feel free to substitute whatever you have on hand. Most South East Asian saIads combine spicy, tangy, crunchy, savory, and sweet so try to come up with a combination that incorporates all of these components.

Wanna see how I made it? Follow the jump!

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Asian Almond Chicken Salad

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I’ve been hankering for an Asian chicken salad with a nutty dressing for a while – especially since I got my hands on some Red Boat fish sauce.

When I held the Red Boat fish sauce Twitter and Facebook giveaway a few weeks ago, George Z. posted a recipe for a Thai “peanut” sauce that he originally found on the wonderful Primal food blog, This Primal Life. I modified it a little bit by adding a touch of applesauce for sweetness and subbing out rice wine vinegar with coconut vinegar. All in all, it’s a tasty dressing that you can use as a dipping sauce or drizzle on your favorite meats and veggies.

Check out the recipe after the jump!

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Paleo Eats: 3/12/11

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Damn. I think I cursed myself when I blogged that yesterday’s work shift was nice and calm ‘cause I walked into a shitstorm tonight. 

When I finally had a chance to eat, I ate a box of leftover chicken cacciatore and broiled asparagus.

For my snack, I scarfed down some roasted red bell peppers, baby carrots, sous vide chicken breast, and Aubergine dip.

I also slurped up a ½ cup of coconut milk.

Right before I left work, I ate my last meal of the night: leftover Korean short ribs, roasted Brussels sprouts, and stir-fried broccoli greens and bacon.

After work, I picked up my weekly Full Belly Farm CSA box.

I’m anxiously awaiting the return of the Two Small Farms CSA deliveries next week because the Full Belly Farm box is just too small for our family.

When I woke up at 5:00 p.m., I decided to bake up a batch of mini frittata muffins to test out my new silicone baking cups. This time, I made some savory muffins filled with Arizona Dreaming seasoned ground pork, mushroom, and broccoli greens.

I served the mini egg muffins with a side salad.

Then, I gathered all my stuff and went to work.

Paleo Eats: 2/18/11

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Today was insanely busy, and I’m glad I had some hearty Paleo eats to power me through to the end.

The first activity on my morning docket was the women’s class at CrossFit Palo Alto, so about an hour before my workout, I made myself a quick and easy scramble with three eggs and leftover stir-fried kale and bacon.

See? I don’t always make myself a frittata. Scrambles are a lot quicker when I’m short on time.

After class, I came home and snacked on macadamia nuts and coconut flakes. Then, I accompanied my mother-in-law to her pre-op anesthesia appointment at the hospital. On our way home, we stopped by Calafia and picked up a rotisserie free-range chicken, which I shredded up to make salads with greens, carrots, and sugar snap peas. I dressed our salads with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

At dinnertime, I stir-fried some ground pork with a diced onion, four minced garlic cloves, ½ a pound of sliced cremini mushrooms, Arizona Dreaming seasoning, salt, and pepper.

I served the seasoned swine with roasted bell peppers and roasted curried cauliflower.

That’s all, folks! I gotta catch some zzz’s so I’ll be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the Whole9 Nutrition Seminar at CrossFit Palo Alto tomorrow morning. Can’t wait to meet more members of the gym and share some Paleo treats!

Day 28 of Whole30 Eats

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This morning’s schedule was jam-packed, so I made sure to ingest enough protein and fat to power me through ‘til noon. Yep, another frittata was just the ticket…

This breakfast frittata was made with ready-to-eat ingredients straight out of the refrigerator: 3 eggs, roasted bell peppers, and sauteed greens. I’m glad I got off my lazy ass and prepped these veggies on Sunday.

After my weekly volunteer stint at my older son’s school (it was a lifelong dream of mine to be a library helper), my hubby and I accompanied my mother-in-law to her oncology appointment. We’re super-relieved that she’s finally hooked up with a great breast cancer clinic and we have a definite plan of attack — the uncertainty was the source of a lot of stress these past couple of weeks.

When we got home, I had five hungry adults to feed: myself, my parents and my in-laws. Again, I thanked my lucky stars that I had tons of prepared goodies in the fridge with which to assemble a quick-and-easy chicken salad for everybody. Today’s salad was composed of mixed greens, baby arugula, sous vide chicken breast, hard-boiled eggs, roasted bell peppers, shredded carrots, cucumbers, and toasted slivered almonds.

After feeding all the adults, I kicked ‘em all out. While Lil-O napped in the afternoon, I spent some quality time with my older kid, Big-O, playing board games and reading books. Before I knew it, two hours had passed. Lil-O woke up and joined in on the fun.

By 5:00 p.m., I was worn out. I started preparing dinner, but I was seriously half-assing it. I’ve already spent enough time in the kitchen this week, so my goal was to whip up a no-fuss, no-muss meal.

Taking inventory of our pantry and fridge, I decided to cobble together some braised chicken with artichoke hearts and pearl onions. While the chicken sat in the oven, I tossed some broccoli with avocado oil and roasted it in my toaster oven for a super-quick veggie side dish. (Just TWO MORE DAYS ‘til I can add bacon back into my veggies! Not that I’m counting or anything.)

Braised dishes are my favorite! You do a little bit of work and — provided you’re willing to wait around for 45 minutes — you’ll be rewarded with a dish that’s tender, hearty and full-flavored. Plus, the smells from your oven’ll have you drooling before the food’s even plated. Braising is perfect for winter.

Here’s our dinner:

Yes, there’s chicken underneath the veggies. See?

Day 22 of Whole30 Eats

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My last night at work! Halle-effing-lujah!

So here’s the late-night nosh I brought to work:

Starting clockwise from the top left: coconut milk; blueberries; pistachios; can ‘o sardines; green tea; sauerkraut; macadamia nuts; coconut flakes; dinner box with leftover grassfed sous vide top sirloin steak, sautéed shiitake mushrooms, and braised cabbage; and leftover cream of tomato soup.

Yes, I ate every last thing pictured above. I’m a growing girl.

When I got off work, I walked my older son to kindergarten, trudged back home, and promptly conked out. (I knew I’d be getting less sleep than normal on my “flip day.”) After I woke up at 1:00 p.m., Fitbomb and I drove to the East Bay to meet his mother at her initial oncology appointment. We then fought our way through rush hour traffic back down the Peninsula to pick up my monthly meat CSA box before returning home.

By then, I was exhausted. I was THIS close to caving in and ordering non-Whole30 takeout — but I remembered I had some sous vide chicken breasts and salad greens still sitting in my fridge.

In about 10 minutes, I managed to cobble together a salad with sous vide chicken breasts, mixed greens, cucumbers, shredded carrots, avocados, and sweet peppers.

Then, I scarfed down a s-load of coconut flakes and some macadamia nuts for dessert.

I’m so relieved that my workweek is FINALLY over. Feeling physically taxed at the end of a 7-night stretch isn’t new to me (I’ve been on this schedule for years), but due to recent bad news, this week has been emotionally draining, too. Time to get some much-needed sleep so I can focus on getting all our ducks in a row for what’s to come.

Day 13 of Whole30 Eats

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Another day of Whole30 nosh while keeping my full-time mommy hat on.

This morning, I awoke to the sound of my six-year-old stomping/sprinting down the hall to tinkle in the toilet. So much for squeezing in some exercise before the kids got up.

After getting our older rugrat all presentable and decent-smelling for kindergarten, all four of us trudged the 0.2 miles in the crisp chill to drop him off. It was frigid today (for California, anyway); the grass at the school was frosted white. And shivering makes me hungry.

When I got home, I made myself a frittata again — this time, with three eggs, a ton of shredded chard, and half of a thinly-sliced onion.

While whisking the eggs, I threw in a large pinch of smoked paprika along with some salt and pepper. Smoked paprika adds a rich bacon-y taste to the dish. Man, I effing miss bacon! Today’s frittata consisted of more veggies than egg, but it was filling and tasty, especially after I topped it with salsa and homemade chunky guacamole. 

Lest you think I’m turning vegetarian, I also filled a little ramekin with a mini-portion of the beef stew I’m serving later this week.

After I returned from my younger rugrat’s yearly check-up (to my surprise, he’s growing quite nicely despite his refusal to eat anything but Neolithic agricultural products), I made myself another Chipotle-inspired lunch salad with shredded pork, greens, sliced jicama, shredded carrots, sweet peppers, sliced tomatoes, salsa, and a humongous dollop of guacamole.

Post lunch, my three-year-old settled down for a nap, so I recruited my older kid as my sous chef. We baked more kale chips

…and made some garlic cauliflower mashed “potatoes.” It’s amazing how much pride kids take in the  foods they help cook. Sarah Fragoso at Everyday Paleo, who cooks with her adorable sons all the time, has definitely inspired me to get my kids more involved in my Paleo cooking adventures.

I felt like I was snacking all afternoon: I downed a hard-boiled egg, tons of coconut flakes and macadamia nuts, and whole handfuls of kale chips. I gotta stop with the mindless snacking. Luckily, I’m returning to work in a couple days, so I’ll be sleeping most of the time I’m actually home.

Tonight for dinner, I made a roasted rack of lamb seasoned with Dukka and I served it with garlic cauliflower mashed potatoes, roasted Portobello mushrooms with balsamic vinegar, and sautéed spinach and orach with sliced shallots.

And because Melicious says I should eat some coconut butter when I feel like a cookie, I ate a heaping tablespoon for dessert.

Day 12 of Whole30 Eats

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Since the kiddos were spending the night at my in-laws, Fitbomb and I were able to sleep in today after a busy night of…blogging. We’re such nerds.

Shortly after getting up, I fixed myself some breakfast. I nuked some sous vide chicken breast and roasted broccoli over leftover vegetables from the chicken-in-the-pot left in the fridge (sadly, the drumsticks are long gone).

Then, we ventured to the local farmers’ market. Without the kids tagging along, I was able to make several rounds, slowly picking and choosing my produce. Although it was nice being able to stroll through the market, I was a little sad that the boys weren’t with me to gobble our weight in samples together. When you keep returning for the same samples as a kid-free adult, it’s pretty shameful.

After a short run around a nearby lake (just for the hell of it), we returned home and I whipped up a frittata for the hubs and myself.  To make enough for the two of us, I grabbed six eggs, a couple shallots, a handful of mushrooms, a tomato, and a bunch of chard.

I thought it was done after 10 minutes under the broiler…

…but I had to stick the frittata back under the broiler to finish cooking after I cut it and saw runny egg seep out of it. Guess I was just too damned impatient for that 6-egg frittata to make its way into my mouth. 

For dessert, I treated myself to a bowl of coconut milk and some macadamia nuts and coconut flakes.

After the dishes were done, the kids still weren’t yet home, so I had some time to do some extra cooking.

In preparation of my workweek (which starts Wednesday night), I made an oven-braised beef stew with carrots, parsnips, and lancinato kale.

You’ll see the recipe (and more photos) when I serve it later this week.

I was pretty pooped by the early evening, so I decided to take out the slow braised pork leg with citrus and fajita seasoning for tonight’s dinner instead of serving it during my workweek. Inspired by yesterday’s lunch at Chipotle, I made a salad with shredded pork, homemade guacamole, mini sweet peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes (from the farmers’market!), and shredded carrots.

I followed up my salad with a heaping tablespoon of coconut butter for dessert.

Today was nice, relaxing, and productive.  I was even able to flip through my new Dorie Greenspan cookbook, Around My French Table, to look for Paleo-friendly recipes. Too bad we still have our X-mas decorations up and our house is a pigsty — otherwise, I’d be gloating about our awesome homemaking skillz.