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A Paleo Shopping Guide from Nom Nom Paleo

 
Two-time New York Times bestselling cookbook authors Michelle Tam and Henry Fong are the critically acclaimed husband-and-wife team behind Nom Nom Paleo, the Saveur Award winning food blog and Webby Award winning cooking app. Their debut cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans, was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award, and their second cookbook, Ready or Not!: 150+ Make Ahead, Make-Over, and Make-Now Recipes by Nom Nom Paleo, is available now wherever books are sold.
 
I'm so excited to partner with Whole Foods Market all through January to showcase the paleo lifestyle. I love shopping at Whole Foods Market, and I can’t wait to share tips and tricks on how to make paleo fun, simple and nomtastic. Follow along and use the hashtags #FeedYourResolution and #nomnompaleo, so I can see and share all the ways you’re shopping and cooking along with me!
 
Ready to go paleo, but not sure where to start? Don’t worry — I’ll show you how to stock your kitchen with all the essentials to ensure a successful (and nomtastic) paleo journey. Best of all, it’s a breeze to grab all your paleo basics at your local Whole Foods Market!
 
Now, let’s stock your paleo kitchen like a boss!
 

Protein Power

Paleo is all about prioritizing whole, minimally processed, nourishing foods. So when it comes to animal protein, I aim for the most nutrient-rich and flavorful meat available: grass-fed beef, bison, lamb and goat, and pastured pork and poultry. Eggs and wild-caught or Responsibly Farmed seafood are awesome sources of protein, too. 
 
Shopping at the butcher counter at my local Whole Foods Market is always a breeze because I never have to guess about the quality of the meat — everything’s clearly labeled with information about how the animals were raised and sourced. (Also, my own special seasoning salt, Magic Mushroom Powder, will be available for sale on the counter in January!) I save money by stocking up on ground meat and poultry and budget-friendly braising cuts like chicken thighs, chuck roast, brisket and Boston butt roast. 
 
I also keep precooked “emergency protein” on hand to make quick meals whenever I’m too tired, lazy or stressed to whip up more complicated recipes. These emergency items include canned seafood (like wild salmon, sardines, and tuna), hard-boiled eggs and organic deli meat. And when I’ve got absolutely nothing in the house, I’ll swing by my local Whole Foods Market and buy a salt-and-pepper-seasoned rotisserie chicken to serve with a giant green salad. 
 

 

Eat the Rainbow

Some people think that paleo is a never-ending MEAT FEST, but that’s just a myth. Sure — on my dinner plate, you’ll find a palm-sized portion of high-quality protein, but the rest of my plate is usually overflowing with vegetables.
 
I always try to buy in-season, organic produce, and I make sure my family eats a rainbow of fruits and veggies. I also stock up on “emergency greens” by buying organic frozen vegetables, prewashed organic salad greens and baby kale. After all, when the veggies are already prewashed and cut, I have no excuse not to cook with them. For example, making some of my favorite Asian-inspired dishes like Paleo Chicken Chow Mein or Kimchi Cauliflower Fried Rice is insanely easy when I have veggie noodles and frozen or fresh cauliflower rice on hand. The prep is already done for me, and my kids don’t even notice that they’re happily eating more vegetables!
 
I also recommend stocking up on vegetables that can be eaten raw, like carrots, cucumbers, celery, bell peppers and jicama. Pair them with your favorite nut butter, salsa or dressing, and they’ll quickly become your go-to snack. 

 

Fabulous Fats

I can always find my favorite cooking fats at Whole Foods Market. If you peek in my pantry or fridge, you’ll find just about every single type of paleo-friendly cooking fat available: ghee, coconut oil, rendered animal fats (e.g., lard, tallow, bacon drippings and duck fat), avocado oil, macadamia nut oil and extra-virgin olive oil.  
 

 

Nomtastic Flavor Boosters

Nobody wants blah-tasting food, right? That’s why I keep certain ingredients on hand that magically transform meat and veggies from boring to nomtastic. The most important thing to know is which ingredients naturally boost umami, the fifth taste. I extoll the virtues of umami whenever I can because it truly is the shortcut to deliciousness. You can read about maximizing umami in both of our cookbooks or on this episode of our podcast.
 
Here are the flavor boosters that I always stock in my kitchen:
  • Coconut aminos: This dark, salty, aged coconut tree sap tastes remarkably similar to soy sauce but without gluten or soy.
  • Red Boat Fish Sauce: Fish sauce is a staple ingredient in a number of Southeast Asian cultures. It’s literally umami in a bottle. 
  • Fresh garlic, ginger, scallions: I do a lot of Chinese cooking, so I always make sure I have these three flavoring ingredients on hand — the holy trinity of Cantonese cooking.
  • Fresh herbs: Fresh herbs add brightness and flavor to your meals, so make sure you have plenty on hand.
  • Dried spices and seasonings: Stock your cabinet with dried herbs and your favorite spice blends — just sprinkle them on a garbage stir-fry, and you’re golden! Psst! Magic Mushroom Powder is my favorite seasoning salt!
  • Assorted vinegars/citrus: A splash of vinegar or a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice often adds much-needed tartness and brightness to your finished dishes. To stay paleo, just make sure that your vinegars don’t contain gluten (e.g., malt vinegar) or artificial additives.
  • Prepared sauces/dressings: It’s always better to make your own sauces and dressings from scratch, but to stay sane, I keep a few bottles of junk-free marinara sauce, Thai curry paste and salsa in the pantry.
  • Dried mushrooms: Add a blast of umami to all your stews and braises by tossing in a few reconstituted dried mushrooms.
  • Tomato paste: Just one squirt from a tube of tomato paste adds depth and umami to your stews and braises.
  • Bacon: Bacon is delicious, but I use it more as a flavor booster than as the main component of a meal. My kids go crazy over my Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Bacon because it has BACON.

 

Snack Attack

If I’m at home and my stomach rumbles ’cause I didn’t quite fill up on my main meal, my snacks tend to be mini versions of meals (like fruits or vegetables + protein + healthy fat). Of course, there will be times when you’ll be traveling or stuck in a paleo wasteland in between meals (say, at work or school), and you might want to have a little something in your bag to tide you over. My favorite portable snacks are nuts, jerky and kale chips. 
 

Thirst Quenchers

Your mom is 100% correct about water being the best way to hydrate, and I’m not going to disagree with her. You can make your agua fancier by adding sliced fruit or cucumbers (spa water!), or you can guzzle sparkling water. 
 
But if you’re craving something different, I recommend kombucha, assorted teas (with no sweeteners or dairy), coconut water, my Cold Matcha Latte or black coffee. On chilly mornings, one of my favorite drinks is a warm mug of bone broth, which you can freeze and store in convenient portion sizes. Don’t knock it ’til you try it!
 
When you’re stocking up your kitchen, remember that paleo is just about eating real, natural, wholesome foods. If you’re still feeling unsure, visit your local Whole Foods Market in the month of January, and you’ll spot my Nom Nom Paleo Picks signs throughout the store, pointing to my favorite paleo-friendly items. Plus, you’ll find tasty premade recipes from our new cookbook, Ready or Not!, available ready to eat at the hot bar!
 
Okay, folks, you’re now prepared to make this leap into a delicious new world, so without further ado: Ready, set…shop!