Two-time New York Times best-selling 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 on my blog, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, and use the hashtags #FeedYourResolution and #nomnompaleo, so I can see and share all the ways you’re shopping and cooking along with me!
No one wants to eat bland or boring paleo food, least of all me. But like most folks, I’ve got a pretty busy life, and I can’t spend hours in the kitchen slaving over a meal. So the trick is to coax the most deliciousness out of our food with as little time and effort as possible. And as long as paleo continues to be both delicious and fun, it’s easy for me to stay committed to this way of eating. That’s why my cookbooks, blog and app are filled with tons of photos, step-by-step recipes and cheeky cartoons that show folks exactly how to get lip-smacking, nomtastic meals on the table with minimal fuss.
To help boost your kitchen mojo, I’ve compiled my favorite paleo cooking hacks, so you can get umami-packed meals on the table in a flash:
Umami-fy Your Meals!
Virtually all of my go-to pantry staples add umami: the fifth taste (beside sour, sweet, salty and bitter). Umami is the Japanese term for an ineffable deliciousness — a robust, savory, mouth-filling quality. Combining umami-packed ingredients can create amplified and lingering taste sensations, so in order to make your dishes pop with flavor, regularly cook with ingredients that are naturally high in umami. Umami is the key to effortlessly delicious cooking.
Some of my favorite umami-packed ingredients include coconut aminos (a soy sauce alternative made from coconut nectar), fish sauce, dried mushrooms, paleo-friendly bacon and tomato paste. I’m also incredibly excited to share with you that my own special umami booster, Magic Mushroom Powder, is now available at the butcher counter at your local Whole Foods Market!
Whether you’re making a stew, soup, stir-fry, scramble, or roasted vegetables, adding a little bit of umami goes a long way. You’ll end up using less salt, and the depth and complexity of your recipes will be out of this world!
It’s a myth that paleo people eat nothing but red meat. In fact, we’re crazy about vegetables. Eating a variety of veggies is a priority for me and my family — that’s why I stock as much ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook produce in my fridge and freezer as possible. Whenever I’m cooking up a stew, I always toss in a package of frozen kale or mixed vegetables straight from the freezer. These vegetables provide flavor and nutrition — all without the need for me to wash, cut or prep them.
I also love the convenience of buying pre-spiralized veggie noodles to make some of my favorite recipes in a flash, including Crispy Swoodles and Bacon, Paleo Chicken Chow Mein and Zoodles and Meatballs.
Prewashed salad greens are a huge time-saver, too. Eating a breakfast salad like my Sunnyside Salad is one of the best ways to start the day!
When you get home from the store, take a few minutes to wash, dry and store your leafy greens. Most greens will stay fresh in a sealed, paper-towel-lined container for up to one week. And don’t let your produce go to waste. Instead of throwing out your wilted veggies, roast them with your favorite cooking fat or use them to make a giant pot of vegetable soup.
Batch-Cook Your Proteins!
Ideally, paleo meals feature both protein and vegetables, but I find that it’s usually faster and easier to throw together a vegetable side dish than to cook up a meaty entrée. That’s why I like to batch-cook my proteins. After all, leftover meat can always be repurposed in different ways to keep your meals exciting.
In addition, I routinely prepare a bunch of hard-cooked eggs (they’re super simple and easy to peel if you make them in an electric pressure cooker), roast a couple of chickens at a time or slow cook a pork shoulder to have extra protein on hand. Armed with ready-to-eat protein, I can easily throw together a hearty salad, sensational stir-fry or frittata.
Make Over Your Leftovers!
Even though I’m only cooking for a family of four, I always make extra so I can repurpose my leftovers for another meal. This simple hack saves me time and gives me a head start on tomorrow’s supper.
Of course, my kids would revolt if I simply served the same meal the next night, so I’ve come up with unique and equally exciting ways to repurpose my leftovers. For example, almost any stew can be transformed into soup. I simply dilute the stew with bone broth or stock and add a bunch of fresh vegetables to the pot. Also, leftover stir-fry can be transformed into a frittata by adding some whisked eggs and baking the whole thing. Serve it with a big salad and everyone’s happy!
Remember: You don’t need to eat specific foods at certain meals. Breakfast and lunch can look like last night’s dinner!
Sauces can make even the blandest meal shine! In our new cookbook, Ready or Not!, we have a whole section devoted to simple sauces and dressings that you can make ahead to boost the flavors of your dishes. Examples include my All-Purpose Stir-Fry Sauce, Spicy No-Nut Thai Sauce and Nom Nom Sriracha. On busy days, you can just toss your ready-cooked protein and veggies with some sauce, and you’ve got yourself an easy and tasty breakfast, lunch or dinner.
No time to make your own sauce? I regularly use Primal Kitchen marinades and dressings and Rao’s Marinara Sauce, too — and I’m not shy about leaning on these flavor boosters to shape my meals. For example, my “recipe” for Poached Cod in Tomato Sauce is nothing more than cod fillets simmered in marinara sauce. It’s crazy-simple and delicious, and has become one of my go-to weeknight meals.
Recipe: Nom Nom Paleo's Sunnyside Salad
Cavemen Would’ve Used Electric Pressure Cookers If They Had ’Em
Okay…maybe not. Still, I’m a big proponent of cooking with an electric pressure cooker when you’re too busy to babysit the stove or oven. An electric pressure cooker will cook stews and braises in about half the normal time — plus it’ll keep your meal warm until you’re ready to eat it. Modern electric pressure cookers are loaded with safety features and easy to use — and best of all, I’ve got tons of step-by-step pressure cooker recipes over here to get you over your jitters.
To keep your meals from getting repetitive and boring, make sure to keep your creative juices flowing. Inspiration for new flavor combinations and ingredients can come from traveling, dining out, flipping through cookbooks or simply surfing the web for recipes. My collection of step-by-step paleo recipes is a great place to start!
Hot Bar Noms at Whole Foods Market
No time to cook? Or looking to take a break from kitchen duty? I hear you! That’s why I'm partnering with Whole Foods Market throughout the month of January to offer some delicious recipes from our new cookbook, Ready or Not!, at the hot bar! Everything is family friendly, made with wholesome, paleo-friendly ingredients, and packed with flavor.
Armed with these hacks, I’m sure you’re itchin’ to get in the kitchen. But before you do, I have one final tip: Get someone else to do the dishes!