Q: What’s “Paleo”?

A: If you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say “Paleo,” please read this. Or, if you’re pressed for time, check out this handy-dandy infographic. To really dig into the details, get yourself a copy of The Paleo Solution, It Starts With Food, or Practical Paleo.

Q: Isn’t Paleo all about eating zero carbs and shoveling platters of bacon into your mouth? Or trying to eat just like a caveman?

A: Nope—the caveman is just a mascot, and any depiction of Paleo eaters as crazed bacon-gobbling carnivores is a (poor) parody of how most of us actually eat.

Three lemons and a cabbage on a cutting board.

Sure, high-quality proteins and fats are part of the equation, but so are lots of vegetables and even starches. I actually eat more vegetables than I did when I was a vegetarian—mostly because all that real estate in my stomach was taken up by pasta, bread, and baked treats. And I don’t eat more meat than I used to consume; I just eat higher-quality meat and seafood. Nowadays, I just do my best to avoid processed foods and ingredients that are more likely to be harmful than healthful, and prioritize real, whole, nutrient-packed food instead.

Want to learn more? Check out my Paleo 101 page for more information!

Q: What do I need for my pantry if I want to give this Paleo thing a try?

A: You can get a good sense by reading through my Paleo Pantry Guide, which contains lots of info about pantry basics. But for my super-comprehensive answer to that question, go read the “Stocking Your Kitchen” section in my iPad® app or check out my cookbooks.

A row of paleo friendly sauces.

Q: Do you have a good beef/chicken/pork/seafood/etc. recipe?

A: Absolutely! Check out my free recipe index, download a copy of my iPad app, or order any three of our cookbooks! You can also check out my favorite Paleo recipe sites by clicking through the links on my Resources page.

Q: And did you say you have a cookbook?

A: I sure did! Three, actually! Read more about them (and order a copy or seven!) here. (Or just ask your local bookseller. My book is available wherever books are sold!)

Michelle Tam's cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo Food for Humans.

Q: I see that you sometimes use dairy in your recipes, and you drink coffee, too—how do you reconcile that with eating Paleo?

A: I don’t think of Paleo eating as being an exercise in historical reenactment. Check out Kurt Harris’s take on this stuff, or what Chris Kresser has to say on this topic; they perfectly articulate how I try to eat.

(In fact, I’ve slowly reincorporated white rice and potatoes into my diet; as an active person not looking to lose weight or restrict my carb intake, I feel great with these “safe starches” back on the menu. Plus, they taste pretty darn good, too. So while I know this is blasphemy to orthodox Paleo eaters, I’ll occasionally serve potatoes or rice with dinner. Some folks think of it as eating according to the Perfect Health Diet, and I’ve heard folks refer to this as “Paleo 2.0.” Me? I’m just convinced that eating rice is encoded in my DNA.)

Long story short: It ain’t about eating according to Paleo orthodoxy for the sake of strict adherence. Rather, I’m trying to use a Paleo template as a guide to eating for optimal health. (And enjoyment—’cause every once in a while, it’s worth going off the rails.)

I love David Leite’s cheeky summary of my take on Paleo:

Q: But I’m doing a 30-day Paleo challenge and can’t have dairy, chocolate, and other non-Paleo goodies. What can I do?

A: I’ve done the Whole30 month-long strict Paleo gig—twice—and did just fine—and enjoyed tons of variety in my meals, too. Here’s a link to a summary of my first Whole30 experience, and here’s a link to all my meals from my second go-round.

You can also find my rundown of 30 days of Whole30 recipes here, and a dozen more Whole30-friendly dishes here.

Cooked steak on a plate with asparagus.

Q: Why do you call yourself a “zombie drug dealer”? What do you do for a living?

A: For over a dozen years, I worked as a clinical night pharmacist at a large hospital—which means I work graveyard shifts, doling out drugs to really, really sick people. I quit in July of 2014, but I’m still a licensed drug dealer.

Q: Did your background as a health professional lead you to the Paleo diet?

A: I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition & Food Science, and a Doctorate in Pharmacy, but while my science background has helped me understand a lot of the whys and hows behind the Paleo diet, I actually arrived at this approach to eating by happenstance.

An Asian woman eating at a table.

You can read my story over here, but in a nutshell, my husband started eating Paleo before I did, and after seeing the health benefits he got from it, I hopped on the bandwagon, too. Frankly, I know just enough about the science to be dangerous, but I’m much more interested in the flavors and varieties of food that are available to us Paleo guys and gals.

Q: Is that why you don’t post more about nutritional science?

A: Yes. This is a food blog first, and a Paleo blog second. I’m all about the food porn and recipes. If you want a dose of evolutionary biology and organic chemistry, there are lots of other bloggers who are doing a much better job of explaining that stuff than I ever could.

Meatballs cooking in a pan.

Q: But can you tell me why coconut oil’s better for you than olive oil? Or why I shouldn’t eat nothing but raw fruit? Or why Kitavans can eat so much carbohydrate content and still be lean? Or whether there’s such thing as a “safe starch”? And the nutrient density of mushrooms? And whether I should drink raw milk?

A: Here’s a tip: There is a handy search engine on the Internet called Google. Don’t know what that is? Google it. And then learn to use it.

In other words, don’t make me Google That For You.


A: Um, did you happen to read the answer above about using Google?

Okay—one more time. Green beans are more pod than bean, and are generally viewed as benign by most Paleo eaters and educators (including Robb Wolf, Sarah Fragoso, Mark Sisson, Melissa Urban). If you don’t want to eat them, don’t. But as Whole30 says, “if green beans are the worst food you’re eating, you have nothing to worry about.”

Q: Help! You have a lot of sous vide recipes, but I don’t have a sous vide cooker! What are my options?

A: If you don’t want to splurge on a Sous Vide Supreme (or the cheaper and only-slightly-smaller Sous Vide Demi), you can always make your own sous vide cooker with just a thermometer and a beer cooler. I kid you not!

A vacuum sealed piece of meat.

Q: Wait a second! Sous vide means you’re cooking your food in PLASTIC! Is that safe?

A: My sources say yes. Here’s a lengthy post I wrote about cooking sous vide and plastic safety. But if it’s going to keep you up at night, just stick with the slow cooker recipes. You’ll find lots of those in my Recipe Index, too.

Q: I see that you occasionally use your microwave oven to reheat leftovers and/or cook food. Don’t you know you’re exposing yourself to radiation?

A. I know this is controversial to some. But I tend to agree with Robb Wolf and Greg Everett on this issue (listen to the first 8 minutes of this podcast, in which they explain why microwaves are A-OK).

If you’re nonetheless skeeved out by microwaves, feel free to heat stuff up some other way. I promise I won’t ever put a gun to your head and make you nuke your food.

Q: Do your kids eat Paleo?

A: Pretty much—at least at home! I discussed our children’s diet at length in my first appearance on the Balanced Bites podcast, which you can listen to here.

Q: What does “NOM NOM” mean?

A: It’s the sound you make when you’re enjoying the heck out of your food: “NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM…”

And yes, I know the words “nom nom” make some people cringe. I’m sorry. It’s too late to change the name of my blog.

Q: Do you make money off this site?

A: Yes. A woman’s gotta eat, people! I host ads on my site, and I’m an Amazon and LunchBots affiliate (which means that when I link to stuff on those sites and you buy something, I get a small percentage of the sales). And I make some scratch from my iPad app downloads and my cookbook sales, too.

But trust me: This little hobby of mine takes a huge investment of time, effort, and money. If I wanted to get rich, I’d have gone into finance.

Q: How much do you spend on groceries each month?

A: Honestly, I don’t know, nor do I want to find out.

Q: Ooooh! I like your glass food containers! And your kids’ stainless steel lunchbox! Who makes ‘em?

The glass food containers are made by Snapware; you can buy a set on Amazon or at Costco. We use stainless steel LunchBots to pack our meals, snacks, and leftovers.

Q: What kind of camera/lens do you use for the photos on your site?

A: We have two DSLRs: A Nikon D7200 (which also does double-duty as our go-to camera for our videos) and an older Nikon D7000 that we occasionally use as a back-up. For food pics, we pretty much stick with a 50mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor macro lens, but for all-purpose shots, we go with a more versatile 18-200mm VR lens.

When I’m on the go, I take with me a smaller camera: a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 that I pair with a Lumix G 20mm/F1.7 ASPH lens. This little guy is super portable and produces fantastic shots. My Instagram pics are almost always shot with my trusty iPhone.

Q: Can I guest post?

A: I’ll occasionally ask someone I admire in the blogosphere to guest-post on this site, but it’s not a regular feature, and currently, I’m hopelessly backlogged with requests—so the answer is “not right now.” But thanks for asking!

Q: Can I join your staff? I can help do stuff!

A: Thanks for the offer, but I’m happy with my current “staff,” which consists of me and my husband. Henry and I are determined to stay a pair of small-time, mom ‘n pop hobbyist bloggers. We can barely remember to take out the garbage, let alone make payroll and manage employees. As things get busier, we may take on an assistant, but that day hasn’t come yet. (Update: we recently hired Loren a.k.a. our Masterbuilder and Henry’s cousin, Hillary, to help us out!)

Q: How can I contact you? 

A: Pick your poison: shoot me an email, send me a tweet, post a comment on my Instagram, ask a question during one of my Periscopes, or post a comment on my Facebook fan page. I respond to Tweets the quickest!