Review: Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans by Michelle Tam & Henry Fong

February 18, 2015 2015 Review Challenge, 4.5 Stars, Book Review, Cookbooks, Edu-How To, Hardback, Non- Fiction, Paleo 1 ★★★★½

Review: Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans by  Michelle Tam & Henry Fong four-half-stars
Nom Nom Paleo by Henry Fong, Michelle Tam
Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing on December 17, 2013
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 276
Format: Hardcover
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By the creators of the critically-acclaimed leading Paleo food blog, Nom Nom Paleo features over 100 flavor-packed, nutrient-dense recipes using real, whole ingredients for foodies, fitness buffs, and families, presented in a fun, fresh style complete with awesome cartoons and tons of 4-color photography. Nom Nom Paleo is a visual feast, crackling with humor and packed with stunningly photographed step-by-step recipes free of gluten, soy, and added sugar. Designed to inspire the whole family to chow down on healthy, home-cooked meals, this cookbook compiles over 100 foolproof recipes that demonstrate how fun and flavorful cooking with wholesome ingredients can be. And did we mention the cartoons?

Nom Nom Paleo kicks off with a fresh introduction to Paleo eating, taking readers on a guided tour of author Michelle Tam's real-food strategies for stocking the kitchen, saving time, and maximizing flavors. Also, sprinkled throughout the book are enlightening features on feeding kids, packing nutritious lunches, boosting umami, and much more.

But the heart of this book is Michelle's award-winning recipes, 50 percent of which are brand-new—even to diehard fans who own her bestselling iPad cookbook app. Readers can start by marrying their favorite ingredients with building blocks like Sriracha Mayonnaise, Louisiana Remoulade, and the infamous Magic Mushroom Powder. These basic recipes lay the foundation for many of the fabulous delights in the rest of the book including Eggplant & "Ricotta" Stacks, Crab Louie, and Devils on Horseback.

There's something for everyone in this cookbook, from small bites like Apple Chips and Kabalagala (Ugandan plantain fritters) to family-sized platters of Coconut Pineapple Rice and Siu Yoke (crispy roast pork belly). Crave exotic spices? You won't be able to resist the fragrant aromas of Fast Pho or Mulligatawny Soup. In the mood for down-home comforts? Make some Yankee Pot Roast or Chicken Nuggets drizzled with Lemon Honey Sauce. When a quick weeknight meal is in order, Nom Nom Paleo can show you how to make Crispy Smashed Chicken or Whole-Roasted Branzini in less than 30 minutes. And for a cold treat on a hot day, nothing beats Mocha Popsicles or a two-minute Strawberry Banana Ice Cream.

Healthy cooking doesn't mean sacrificing flavor. This book gives you "Paleo with personality," and will make you excited to play in the kitchen again.

Nom Nom Paleo is a wonderful cookbook!

Nom Nom Paleo was one of dozens of cookbooks I borrowed from the library while searching for paleo recipes. I went through so many cookbooks that they’d all started to look alike to me. I was…so over cookbooks that when I got the email notification from my library that this one had arrived I just rolled my eyes and sighed. I was a little more excited when I picked Nom Nom Paleo up: Hardcover (thank god!) and bright red, there’s a friendly cartoon sticking it’s tongue out at me. Compared to the seriousness of the myriad other paleo cookbooks I’ve read…this was a refreshing change.

Non Nom Paleo is kitschy and whimsical – the book is chock full of old family photos, corny food jokes and tons of cartoons (signature cartoons?) – while still providing a wealth of information in a non-preachy manner. One of the things I hated the most about most of the paleo cookbooks I read was the incessant preaching of the paleo gospel. Please. Hold the saving and give me a side of good food.

There are a lot of “ticks” in this book that some people may not find enjoyable – Tam is quite fond of the quirky (as am I) and she diverges from a lot of the typical flavor profiles. If you are not willing to experiment, I’d suggest you borrow Nom Nom Paleo from the library for a test drive first. One word that Tam uses frequently throughout Nom Nom Paleo is the word “Umami.” “In Japanese, “umami” means “deliciousness,” and describes a robust, savory, mouth-filling quality to food. When something tastes insanely awesome in a way that’s not sweet, salty, sour, or bitter, you’re experiencing umami.” Tam notes that she is especially fond of food with umami flavors and thus you will find chicken recipes with fish sauce or vegetables with anchovies. Thus far I’ve enjoyed Tam’s flavor profiles but my husband is one of those people who doesn’t like experimentation in the kitchen, lol.

The recipes in Nom Nom Paleo are broken into nine (9) sections:
Building Blocks, Nibbles, Salads + Soups, Eggs, Plants, Seafood, Poultry, Meats, and Treats.

I love the Building Blocks section – this covers seasonings, ghee, condiments, sauces, dressings, etc. I haven’t made Paleo Mayo yet but I’ve already purchased the ingredients (love Mayo!). The Nibbles sections covers snacks and appetizers – not too much here that I have used (the Brussels Sprouts Chips are the best!) but I can see a few items in the future. The Salads + Soups section isn’t the most helpful for me, either – hubby doesn’t like soup and I’m not a fan of fancy salads. The Egg section…is a lot of recipes with eggs – including 3-4 deviled egg recipes. The Plants section is nice enough but I wish more recipes were included. I have a hard time finding enough vegetable recipes for sides and I was hoping that this would give me a much larger selection to choose from. The Seafood section is pretty much a wash for us: my husband is allergic to shellfish and there are only 3 non-shellfish recipes provided. I do think we’ll try the tuna recipe one day. The Poultry section feels a little bare: there are only about 5 or 6 recipes in total here. I think there are more egg recipes than chicken, lol. The Meats section covers everything from veal to burgers and pork and I’ve barely glanced at the treats section except to note that most of the recipes aren’t really to my taste.

I ended up keeping Nom Nom Paleo from the library for about 6-9 weeks (not sure how many renewals I had). When I had to return Nom Nom Paleo, I was quite heart broken. There were still a lot of recipes that I hadn’t had a chance to try! There IS a wealth of recipes on the official tumblr site but I hate cooking from digital – I like paper in front of me as I move around the kitchen. I finally gave up the ghost and talked hubby into buying a copy of it for me.

I’ve made several of the recipes at this point – and so I’m extremely happy I purchased Nom Nom Paleo. I do recommend it – not just for people following the paleo diet but for the wonderful and delicious recipes provided.

Recipes I’ve made:
Magic Mushroom Powder (pg 35) – This seasoning is MUCH stronger than it looks. The first time I tried it I used entirely too much – I allowed my previous experience in the kitchen to override commonsense so I used a heavy hand and went far beyond the instructions. It’s salty.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes (pg 38) – I didn’t use Tam’s recipe but I heartily suggest trying it. It’s an old favorite (especially with a little salt, pepper and fresh thyme. YUM).

Brussels Sprouts Chips (pg 70) – This was delicious and a great snack. I’ve made this plus the Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Bacon recipe from the website. Delicious! This was my first (two!) experiences with Brussels Sprouts and I think they will become a mainstay on our menu.

Bone Broth (pg 104-105) – This broth is often used in (optional) place of chicken or beef stock in several recipes. The recipe calls for either beef knuckles or chicken feet in addition to bones…and I decided to put both chicken feet and beef bones in the same pot. LOL! Even with that, the broth came out…with an interesting taste. I did not use it in any recipes as I totally screwed up the recipe. I do think I want to try it again because the flavor was still pretty interesting and…a bit of an acquired taste.

Broccoli Banga Cáuda (pg 148-149) – I wasn’t too sure about this one…anchovies are NOT my thing but I do love roasted veggies so I tried it. To be honest, you can’t taste the anchovies at all – though a quarter cup of olive oil is a bit much for me and I could use more red pepper flakes for a little extra kick.

Oven Baked sweet Potatoes (pg 164) – This is another recipe that I have used prior to reading Nom Nom Paleo – but I prefer my sweet potatoes roasted plain. This is a delicious way to eat sweet potatoes, however I thought it weird that such simplistic recipes were included.

Peruvian Roast Chicken + Aji Verde Chili Sauce (pg 201-203) – I LOVED this recipe and when paired with the Aji Verde sauce it was heavenly. My husband was not impressed and prefers my rotisserie chicken instead. The recipe called for the whole chicken to be splotch-cocked and roasted but I own a rotisserie and decided to use that instead. I’m sure that some of the flavor could have been lost in translation (for hubby, that is). The second time I did this recipe I…went a little crazy, lol. I decided to roast the chicken but I used thighs only and maybe 5-6? of them. The flavor – condensed into such a small area – was overwhelming…but the Aji Verde sauce made up for all of that.

Fiona’s Green Chicken (pg 193) – Both hubby and I really enjoyed this recipe. I have tried it twice now – once with thighs only and once with boneless skinless breasts. The thigh only version was delicious and tasted best fresh from the oven. I marinated the chicken breasts for about 2 days and then grilled them. Oh my! They were so tender and delicious – and I usually am not the biggest fan of chicken breasts.

Magic Wings (pg – 196) – THIS is the recipe I went hogwild on while seasoning with Magic Mushroom Powder. O_o My husband told me his lips were burning from all the sale.

Crispy Smashed Chicken (pg 197) – I liked this one but my husband wasn’t a fan of the coconut flour. He thought I was making an atrocious version of Parmesan Chicken, lol. Mostly he disliked the texture. I can understand that, I hate the texture of (grated) coconut with the passion of a thousand fiery suns.

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