on December 17, 2013
I am a fifteen year-old aspiring chef, and I LOVE to cook--especially wholesome, healthy food. I have been a fan of Nom Nom Paleo for a while now, and I've been anxiously waiting for the cookbook's release since I pre-ordered back in June.
My expectations were way beyond exceeded. The cookbook itself is absolutely gorgeous--it has a big, solid cover, easily turnable pages, and beautiful pictures that really make you hungry! You'd never guess that this was a "paleo" cookbook: it looks (and is) very professional.
Whether you are an experienced chef or a newbie home cook, you'll find a recipe that's just right for you. There are simple dishes, like shrimp and watermelon skewers, that are perfect for quick weeknight dinners, and more complex dishes, like the Southwest Cowboy Chili, that are great projects for weekend culinary adventures. So far, I have made the Spicy Coconut Shrimp, Peruvian Spatchcocked Chicken, Slow-Cooker Kahlua Pig, Polpette di Vitello, and Egg Fo Young--all five have been tasty, easy to prepare, and really pretty on the plate. (My favorite so far? Hands-down the Peruvian Spatchcocked Chicken.) I'm also looking forward to trying the Slow-Cooker Korean Short Ribs, Devils on Horseback, Pistachio Apple Salad, and Crispy Gizzard Confit, among many others...I know I'll keep turning back to this cookbook for months to come.
One other review complained that the recipes were "too simple." In my opinion, we sometimes get so wrapped up in fancy, complicated preparations that we forget what tastes best: things like a warm baked sweet potato, slow-cooked roast beef, or a perfect hardboiled egg. Michelle's recipes have really inspired me to get back to basics and just enjoy the taste of simply prepared vegetables and protein.
I'd highly recommend this cookbook for anyone who is passionate about healthy food, from those just exploring paleo to old-time pros. I promise you won't be disappointed.
This is one of the cookbooks I've been eagerly waiting for this year. When it finally arrived it did not disappoint. I've cooked from the author's blog for quite a while now so I had already made a few of the recipes in this book. Time hasn't permitted me to do a big cookup all at once but I've spent the past week slowly cooking my way through the book with delicious results.
My favorite thing about Michelle Tam's cooking style is that she uses a lot of ingredients that bring umami to your dish. Umami is that savory meaty flavor that comes from naturally occurring forms of glutamate (not to be confused with MSG...stay away from that junk) and a few other amino acids. It fires up your taste buds while filling your entire mouth with full deep flavor. You know those rich savory dishes that are just so incredibly delicious but you just can't quite put your finger on why? That's umami! Ingredients like mushrooms, beef, seaweed, fish sauce, tomato paste, caramelized onions are just a few of the ingredients that bring this special flavor to your dish and this cookbook is full of them.
The book begins with her and her husband's journey to Paleo, the basic 411 on what exactly Paleo is, as well her tips and tricks for running a kitchen as smoothly as possible. My favorite are the defrost bowl, which I've done forever and it's a huge time saver, as well as defrosting meat (wrapped in plastic...you don't want the water actually touching the meat) in water to defrost in a flash. I've done that for years but I always thought of it as my dirty little secret because I thought somehow it wasn't the safest or most sanitary thing. It was just too easy and convenient to stop though. My mind has been eased as it is apparently perfectly fine and safe. Yay!
I appreciate the fact that all of these recipes are actually Paleo and that the treat section is kept to a minimum. The recipes aren't full of copious amounts of sweeteners like maple syrup, dates, or honey. The author does use honey in a few but it's usually just a tablespoon or two. As someone who does a lower carb version of Paleo I can live with that small amount.
There are some non-recipe recipes that take up a lot of space. I prefer it when authors condense easy staples like zucchini noodles, mashed cauliflower, roasted squash, etc into a couple pages instead of each taking up the same space, or more, as a "real" recipe. Well Fed 2 does this perfectly. Still, I don't feel like these were added gratuitously to bulk up the book and I, as a reader, don't feel like I got conned into buying a book full of "recipes" for things like scrambled eggs and veggies, steamed broccoli, etc. For that reason this small nit pick doesn't merit any deductions in rating. It really is an excellent cookbook that is at the forefront of what is available in the genre right now.
There's a Building Blocks section full of condiments and ideas to quickly and easily boost the flavors of your meal. I love it when cookbooks put effort into things like this. Sometimes on a weeknight I just don't have the time to experiment with an entire recipe from scratch but sear or grill some meat with a fabulous new spice mix, sauce, or dressing and you have a delicious new culinary adventure on the table in minutes.
Despite this being a busy week I actually got to try out quite a few of her recipes (as well as having already cooked several from the blog) because so many are so fast and easy! Here's what I've made so far and what I thought of it:
-Dukkah: Love this blend. Initially I thought it was going to be too high of a spice to nut ratio but it actually works. It's delicious!
-Slow Roasted Tomatoes: Yum! This is a technique I knew about but never actually did. It's really fast as most of the work is done in the oven. I had them with a French Omelette (also in the book).
-Caramelized onions- I made a big batch of these to have them ready to add fast flavor to quick meals through the week. These do take some time and attention but do it all at once and enjoy them for several days.
-Ghee: I've been making ghee for years and I love it. This should be a staple in everyone's kitchen!!
-Macadamia Nut "Ricotta": It's like cashew "cheese" but with macadamia nuts. And fewer carbs with a healthier fat profile! Plus it tastes amazing!
-Citrus Vinaigrette: Bright tangy citrus flavors that light up your mouth. Super easy but super delicious!
-Devils On Horseback: Normally I don't do fussy little hors d'oeuvres type dishes but I already had the macadamia nut cheese and it looked really easy so I was like why the heck not. They are like bacon wrapped dates but better. They're not as sweet and a little more complex in flavor. An excellent idea!!
-Tomato and Basil Salad: I just so happened to have some nice heirloom tomatoes that needed to get used so this was perfect. Another fast easy dish that adds so much flavor.
-Madras Chicken Salad- Yum!! A delicious herby curried chicken salad. Some of these types of recipes get overwhelmed with the curry powder but this strikes the perfect balance of flavors. Next time I make this I'm going to try grapes in it! Or mango!
-Classic Coleslaw- A delicious version of a classic dish. The sesame seeds are the perfect touch and IMO they make the dish.
-Fast/Slow Pho- I did the slow method as I don't have a pressure cooker. I can't fully evaluate this recipe as I used subpar spices resulting in a bland broth. I ran out of my Penzy's coriander, which I love, so used coriander and star anise of questionable quality. I had to doctor up the broth to give it more flavor but I really think it was the spices I used. With the doctoring (garam masala, more ginger, and fresh lemon grass) it came out really good. It's a delicious idea and is a great lower carb dish for those of us watching carbs. Oh and I have an order in to Penzy's for more of the good stuff to try again. This is also not that much work. It's a set it and forget it type dish. ETA: It was definitely the crappy quality spices. Much improved with the good stuff from Penzy's. Although if you have fresh lemongrass it makes a delicious addition. I've made this 5-6 times since. I love it!!
-Thai and French Omelettes: I love that she included these. The french omelette is a good reminder to pay attention to technique. You will be rewarded with a delicious soft fluffy omelette. I used Penzy's Sunny Paris spice mix in it. The thai omlette is amazing. So simple but packed full of flavor. Both are fast and easy enough to make on a weekday morning.
-Broccoli Bagna Cauda: I love baugna cauda sauce but I've only ever had it on fish. This was a new idea that totally works!!
-Spicy Tuna Cakes: These make a delicious fast weeknight meal. I had them cold for brunch the next day too. I didn't have any sweet potatoes so I subbed pumpkin puree and it worked great. Fewer carbs too!
-Fiona's Green Chicken: This is a recipe from her blog that I've made many times. It's amazing. Bright, minty, citrusy, grassy and good! I've done it with grilled pork chops and it made a delicious turkey breast as well. It's a delicious and versatile staple for me.
-Crispy Smashed Chicken: This is the perfect weeknight meal. You can spice it up and top it however you want. I used Penzy's Arizona spice mix in the coating for the chicken and topped with pico de gallo. The cookbook recommends her Spicy Pineapple Salsa or Salsa Roja Asada (both are in the book). Either one sounds amazing and I am going to do the pineapple salsa next time!
-Slow Cooker Chicken and Gravy: Another recipe from her blog I've made quite a few times. It's easy and delicious. The "gravy" is sensational and a good way to use up the veggies from the bottom of the roasting pan that I've previously always tossed. What a huge mistake I've been making!
-Slow Cooker Korean Short Ribs: Short ribs are my favorite cut of beef so I always have to try any new recipe for them. This is amazing. Sweet and savory beefy goodness! I've seen this recipe on her blog but never actually tried it until the book came. It's another fast "set it and forget it" type recipe. I made both this and the Pho in no time at all on weeknights.
-Big O Bacon Burgers: This is a big 'ol whollup of umami for your taste buds. So delicious! Luckily I made a big batch and froze individual patties now they'll be ready even faster next time.
-Loco Moco: I'm from HI and this is a staple there. Using the Big O Bacon burgers just ups the flavor even more. I subbed umami gravy for the slow cooker gravy because that's what I had in the fridge. Served with cauliflower rice it's pure paleo comfort food!! I top mine with Furikake as well.
-Cinnamon Apple Scones: These are on the authors blog and I've made them plain, with the apples, and with pears. All the variations came out amazing.
-Strawberry banana ice cream: Do I even need to tell anyone that this is delicious? Well it is. I've done all kinds of berries and frozen fruits as well.
For not having a ton of time this week I sure have made a lot of recipes from this book. This is one of those books where I literally want to make every single recipe. Soon up to try are the Crispy Confit Chicken Gizzards, Magic Mushroom Powder, Magic Poached Tuna, Kahlua Slow Cooker Pig, Eggplant "Ricotta" Stacks, Uova In Purgatorio (spicy meat sauce baked eggs), and the Coconut Pineapple Fried "Rice". I could go on and on!
Paleo or not this book is full of good food and would be a great addition to anyone's kitchen!
on December 17, 2013
I'm pretty sure this book is the most highly-anticipated cookbook to hit the market (Paleo or otherwise) in quite some time. Yes, we know, there are lots of Paleo books on the market (we have two, and an e-book). But this one, well it's different.
It was not super surprising to hear that Michelle Tam and Henry Fong were going to be unleashing even more deliciousness to the world via Nom Nom's eponymous masterpiece (Nom Nom Paleo: Food For Humans). Despite having been somewhat on the inside loop knowing that this book was coming out, to say that I was beyond amazed once I got to see the book in the flesh would be a gross understatement. As I am very much a visual learner, seeing recipes accompanied by sometimes as many as 12 or 15 step-by-step photos is immeasurably helpful, providing the home cook with some guidelines as to what they should be doing and how things should be looking at varying steps during the cooking process. And, not worrying about ruining my iPad with some kitchen foibles was an added bonus (as the iPad app also includes lovely step-by-step photos).
Michelle's personality, her spunk and kitchen knowledge come across in spades in this piece of art. While I hesitate to use the word "foodie" to describe Michelle and Henry (a term I think gets over-used and abused), I can say unequivocally that these two LOVE food, and it is absolutely evident in the book. Michelle's educational background in nutritional and food science not to mention the in-home exposure to really tasty eats thanks to growing up in her mom's kitchen provided a strong foundation for such a love of all things culinary. As Michelle even shared in a recent blog post, when she travels, food experiences are her priority (adding that she "canceled a visit to see Michaelangelo’s David at the Galleria dell’Accademia because it got in the way of finding the best bollito misto in Florence"). It's this obsession with food that takes Nom Nom Paleo: Food For Humans to the next level.
While the over 100 recipes are fun, delicious and very often simple and easy to make, the animations and the special sections detailing everything from tool time to 20 tips to get you started in the kitchen to feeding kids this way to a fun cartoon about how Michelle lives her life as a blogger, mom, wife and nightshift working pharmacist are a visual feast and a veritable treasure trove for anyone and everyone - not just those living the Paleo lifestyle. While the book has Paleo in the title, this book deserves a place on just about every kitchen shelf (okay, maybe not a vegan's, as they might not like the gorgeous pictures of Michelle learning to butcher a cow).
What about the quality of the actual recipes, you say? Well, so far we've made homemade sriracha, siu yoke, kabalagala (plantain fritters) and none have disappointed. We've also bookmarked at least a dozen more we plan on making in the next week or two. For the complete listing of all the recipes included in the book, go to their whole page about the book and click on the section that says "Which recipes are in this book?" Not to mention so many of the recipes in the book are Whole30 compliant (and if you need more Whole30 inspiration you can check out the Nom Nom Paleo site where there are even MORE Whole30 recipes to send you on your merry way).
Still not convinced that you need this book in your life or to give it as a gift? Michelle and Henry are such giving sorts that they have a whole 50 page free downloadable preview for you. Go check it out ([...] all you buyers who need to test-drive something before you buy. Trust us when we say you want this book. You need this book. This book might bring you more happiness than sriracha (well, at the very least it will bring you the happiness that is sriracha via her homemade recipe).
Disclosure: we received an advance copy of this book, and have had a few weeks to test drive some of the recipes and pore over the pages. Our opinions are our own.
on March 19, 2014
I found so many great recipes on line with Michelle Tam, I could not wait to get the book. The book is a great way to learn about the Paleo diet, and understand some of the better ingredient choices like coconut oil over olive oil. But if you are looking for a ton of fresh whole food ideas I was let down. It does have some good recipes, and I'm pleased I purchased it. But it's a whole lot of paper and "fluff" photos and not a lot of content. I still go to her website more than I reference her book looking for ideas. I hope she writes another one and expands on this and has a lot more recipes next time around.
on June 13, 2015
We recently began eating Paleo. After using several other Paleo cookbooks and loving them, I purchased Nom Nom Paleo. I had high hope because of the high rating, but feel disappointed. The information, pictures, and cookbook overall is great. We loved Fiona's green chicken too; however; we found many of the recipes too oily and salty. After several days of cooking the recipes from this book my husband and I felt sluggish and sick, something we had not felt while eating other Paleo recipes.
This is a good first paleo cookbook for new cooks, but you'll go through the dinner recipes in no time and have to buy another cookbook with more "meat" (pun intended).
This is a fun book with a great sense of humor. It has info on how to stock your kitchen with food and equipment and it's got plenty of pictures to help prepare food. HOWEVER: There are only SEVEN recipes for poultry, and only FIFTEEN in the meats section -- that's 15 recipes to cover veal, beef, lamb, pork.
I'm glad I have the book, but if you only buy one paleo cookbook, don't make it this one. You'll quickly wish for more variety.
on December 17, 2013
Full disclosure: I'm friends and colleagues with Michelle Tam and Henry Fong. But this review is straight from the heart because I think their book is wonderful.
Five Cool Things About Food For Humans
1. The vibrant photography and illustrations.
If you’re a fan of NomNomPaleo.com, you’re familiar with the mouthwatering photography and charming comics of the family created by Henry, Michelle’s husband and creative partner. Like their app, this book is packed with glamour shots of sexy food — step-by-step process photos, full-page shots of the finished recipe, and in-between pages that grab you by the taste buds. Throughout the book, comic-style illustrations are like a Greek chorus, narrating the experience with jokes and other important info.
2. Michelle’s writing.
Nom Nom is a gifted storyteller, and her ability to spin a yarn shows up not only in her excellent essays — don’t miss “I’m Michelle and I’m a foodaholic” — but in her recipe headnotes and how-to information, as well. This isn’t merely a collection of recipes; although the recipes are excellent. It’s a love letter to food and family.
3. Expert advice.
A comprehensive list of kitchen tools, how to stock a paleo cook’s pantry, a primer on fats, an ode to the pressure cooker — Michelle shares how she created a paleo kitchen that works for a busy mom/pharmacist/cookbook author/dynamo. The recipes are also sprinkled with helpful tricks and cooking wisdom, including Tweak It! tips that show you how to modify the recipes.
4. Recipes for everyday and special occasions.
The content of the book is broad and deep, which means there are recipes for every cooking occasion. There are “staples” that will be in your weekly cookup, like bone broth, sauces, and cauliflower rice. And then there are fun recipes — like creative deviled egg variations and a few treats for sweet endings to your meals — as well as main dish recipes for meat, seafood, poultry… soups… veggies. Everything you need is covered.
This might be the best reason of all to buy this book: love and family. It’s evident on every page. Michelle and Henry love food, and they love their family. The best moments of my life have been enjoyed with my near and dear and something delicious on the table in front of us. This book celebrates moments like that.
Recipe Test Drive
I’ve made recipes from NomNomPaleo.com and the Nom Nom Paleo app plenty of times, so I knew that Michelle’s recipes are well-written, reliable, and delicious. I didn’t need to test them to be sure, but man! I wanted to. The table of contents is filled with luscious things that want to go into my belly.
I picked Macadamia Nut “Ricotta” because I was curious and my husband was skeptical; Slow Cooker Korean Short Ribs because I wanted something “hands-off easy;" and Slow Cooker Kalua Pig because… pork!
Macadamia Nut “Ricotta”: This was a huge hit! It’s shocking how quickly a pile of macadamia nuts can be transformed into something that is close enough to ricotta cheese to make even the Italian in me feel satisfied. I added minced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and fresh basil to the “ricotta,” then served it with my Old School Italian Meat Sauce. It was like deconstructed lasagna, and it was heavenly.
Slow Cooker Korean Short Ribs: Tender, flavorful, silky, and super easy to make, I can definitely see this short ribs recipe going into my regular rotation. When they came out of the slow cooker, I removed the bones and shredded the meat, then refrigerated the meat and sauce overnight. The next day, I removed the solidified fat from the surface, simmered the whole shebang, then served the meat on cauliflower rice. We happily ate leftovers for a few days on various vegetable beds.
Here’s a thing I love about Michelle’s recipes: They’re excellent on their own, but they also mesh well with the things I already make on a regular basis. Her recipes inspire me and that’s the highest compliment I can give to another chef. She inspires me, and I think she’ll inspire you, too.
on December 23, 2013
I'd forgotten I'd pre-ordered this book back in August, so when it arrived it was almost like a holiday gift from Amazon (any of you remember those early days when Amazon sent out travel mugs to early adaptors?), except that I'd paid for it...
It is an impressively hefty cookbook. First off, I will admit I'm not Paleo, although I do appreciate and use Paleo principles in meal planning. (I do eat dairy, some legumes, and rice in the context of Asian cooking.)
Pros: the photos are nearly all extremely professional and make the food jump right off the page and onto your plate. Some you can almost smell cooking.
You don't have to be Paleo or even Primal to appreciate the recipes in this book. This is a book where taste and healthy cooking reign together.
Topics are well-organized: Introduction (why Paleo works; what is red-light, yellow-light, green-light foods, basic chef principles applicable to all cuisines, food and seasonings to stock, kitchen tools); building blocks (condiments, dressings, stock, and other things that are referred to a lot in the full-fledged recipes to follow); Nibbles (chips and quick finger food); Salads and Soups: Eggs; Plants; Seafood; Poultry; Meat; Treats.
The authors like mushrooms. A LOT. (So do I... you can leave them out if you don't.) Mushrooms provide that savory umami to so many dishes, and I'm glad to expand my shroom repetoire, and I will make a variant of that Powdered Magic Mushroom seasoning (with less salt than she calls for, as some foods don't need added salt - even if others do).
The seafood section is extensive. The treats section is not, which is a good thing.
Directions are clear, and many recipes include ways to adapt to what you might have on hand.
They are raising two small boys -- there are practical ideas for transitioning kids over to healthy eating; and suggestions for their lunchboxes. They note that it is a good idea to keep the kids in the loop on home made school lunches. If they have say on their choice of healthy items, this increases the chance they'll actually eat the stuff. (A lot of the dressings and such covered in this book were inspired by feeding their children -- this is a truly family-friendly cook book.
I liked the personal touch, and the cartoons drawn by Melissa's husband, Henry Fong. I like Melissa Tam's honesty about failures and successes.
In the hardcover, at least, this book is well-indexed. And it may be too early to tell, but the binding on this book is good when it comes to being able to open the book up and really cook from it. A big plus. AND the print size is large enough to look at from a kitchen counter distance, even for us taller and getting-older folk.
Cons: (NOTE, none of these were sufficient for me to remove a star, but potential buyers might wish to know:
True basics like zucchini noodles or tomato basil salad don't really need a two-page spread, even if the photos are delectable. But, they don't...
I tried the poached egg suggestions. While they aesthetically look better than my usual, they're still not up to the level indicated by the photography. (But they taste good...)
Some may find the number of photos of their children off-putting. They probably should have used less, but they are indeed rather adorable children. (Who will eventually, as noted in the book, be embarrassed once they turn into their teens...)
The book is new at my home, but so far their Citrus Vinaigrette was awesome over my arugula/red leaf lettuce/watercress/leek salad, and over their Crab Louie (I opted not to use their Remoulade dressing in favor of the viniagrette, whether or not authentic to the spirit of Crab Louie). Whole Roasted Branzini will feature at my Feast of the Seven Fishes tomorrow. I'm dying to try Korean Short Ribs, West Lake Soup, Slow Pho, Curried Cream of Broccoli Soup, and Crispy Gizzard Confit.
PS: This review says it is for the Kindle Edition. I actually have the hardcover.
on December 19, 2013
This cookbook just came out a few days ago so this is just a first impressions review. I really like this cookbook, but as I sat down to write a review I had to think a while before I could put my finger on why I like it so much. Overall it has sort of a weird mix of extremely simple and obvious recipes like roast vegetables and more unusual and complicated recipes like slow roasted duck legs (which honestly is not that complicated). I have certainly read how to make my own mayonnaise before and I didn't need to be reminded again how healthy and mind blowing kale chip are. Sure the cartoons are cute and entertaining but they aren't lough out loud funny and certainly aren't worth buying the book over. So what is it about this cookbook that I like so much? Then I realized it. This book is an honest reflection of how two busy working parents actually feed their family healthy, home-cooked meals every day. Its not a flat, one-trick cookbook with nothing but slow cooker recipes or freezer meals. These feel like the recipes a family actually eats from the dirt simple every day foods to the once-in-a-while and special occasion feasts. It leaves me with the grateful and inspiring feeling of "I can do this too!".
I don't actually eat Paleo (don't hate me), but I love Paleo cookbooks and blogs because I aspire to cook whole, clean, healthy foods without processed ingredients and I long for flavor and variety. If you are new to paleo this will be a fantastic all-in-one start to your new way of eating and I highly recommend it. If you are already an accomplished paleo cook, much of this book is going to be a repeat of things you already know how to make, but you may find some new asian inspired flavors and dishes. If you are like me and just looking for some new clean and healthy recipes this is a great book and the author is in no way overbearing or judgemental about your personal food choices. I think this book will satisfy and inspire a range of cooks from beginner to intermediate.
I purchased this on Kindle. The pictures look great, and it is easy enough to read on both my Android phone and tablet (easier on the tablet of course). Most recipes span at least 2 pages even on the smallest text setting so its not the most convenient format for cooking, but everything does show up and is easy to read including the cartoons. I won't get into a philosophical discussion on whether a cookbook is better on kindle or in print, that is a personal decision :)
on January 22, 2014
I stumbled on this book in Whole Foods and was impressed with the quality in terms of pictures, humorous cartoons, thickness of the paper, things like that. I also read the beginning, how the author was a busy mom who worked a night shift, trained Crossfit, and cooked for her family of four so I thought there would be a lot of easy practical recipes.
I was disappointed to find that most of the recipes had a lot of ingredients, something the author complained about in other books. Many of the ingredients in recipes were also other recipes from the book, so for instance a chicken recipe may have 12 ingredients, one of which is bacon aioli which is 8 ingredients and another is cauliflower rice which is time consuming as well.
I also wasn't crazy about the type of recipes. I'm looking for practical everyday meals, and I keep finding paleo books that try to recreate gourmet restaurant quality meals. The author is an admitted "foodie" and it shows. She lives in San Francisco and is a part of that restaurant scene, and she flies to cities or other countries just to try a restaurant. I don't do any of that. I'm just looking for stuff I can make for my family that's easy and good. I feel as though she wrote this book for people like her and not people like me, but I guess I should have been more careful when buying.