Name: Michelle Tam
Occupation: Clinical Night Pharmacist at a large hospital
Michelle Tam is the talented woman behind the popular Paleo blog Nom Nom Paleo. Michelle majored in Nutrition & FoodScience at Berkley and later earned a doctorate in clinical pharmacy at UCSF. In the summer of 2010, Michelle made the decision to go Paleo and read everything she could about the science behind the Paleo diet. She started Nom Nom Paleo to chronicle her culinary adventures, share tips, and post recipes.
With tens of thousands of loyal readers, several food industry blog awards, and her own highly praised iPad recipe app, Michelle is considered to be an expert in all things Paleo. From her delicious recipes to her mouth-watering food photography, Michelle covers it all. And there is so much more....
Spend a little while reading Michelle's blog and not only will you find delicious recipes and insightful nutrition advice... you will get a peak into her busy (very busy) life as a wife, mother of two young boys ("The Double-Os"), CrossFitter, and Clinical Night Pharmacist working the graveyard shift at a large hospital. Michelles's inclusion of her day-to-day routine is just as helpful and inspiring as her Paleo knowledge. In addition to learning some great recipes I have learned a lot about the great balancing act of life. While raising two boys and working nights, Michelle still manages to make fitness and nutrition a priority - not just for herself, but for her entire family. That's right, the Double-Os are Paleo too!
How often have you heard (or used) the excuse: "I just don't have time to cook!" Guess what, no one has the time. Time is not a precious little gift that arrives at the foot of our bed every morning that we get to open up in the middle of the day when we are feeling overwhelmed, under prepared, or just really freaking tired. Time is made. By you. Time is a result of prioritizing what is important to you and committing to a particular way of life. If you're not willing to make time, you have to be willing to admit that whatever you aren't making time for is not a priority. If you keep making excuses, you will eventually convince yourself that simple things like cooking healthy meals - things that could drastically improve your life - are impossible. If however, you decide to make something like "clean eating" a priority and understand that you CAN make the time, you will succeed. But don't take my word for it, just peek inside a day in the life of Michelle Tam and it will start to become clear. At least it has to me.
Here's a quick glimpse at how the busy mom recently dealt with an age old question that has been haunting women since the beginning of time... "Mom! What's for dinner??"
If I’d had my way, I would’ve spent all afternoon meandering through the different specialty shops, but I had to pick up the Double-Os from school. It’s true — children ruin everything. (If I have to tell you I’m kidding, you must be new here. Welcome, and please be sure to try my recipe for Virgin Boy Eggs.)
By the time the sun started drooping from its perch in the sky, I, too, was slumping over with exhaustion. I would’ve marched everyone out to a restaurant if my aversion of Friday night crowds didn’t override my laziness.
What’s a tired mommy to do?
EMERGENCY PROTEIN, baby — in the form of sliders and veggies sautéed in the burger drippings.
I grabbed two pounds of ground beef from the defrost bowl in my fridge…
And just like that, Michelle guides us through her hectic life in a calm, cool, and collected manor and always with a touch of humor. It is reassuring, especially to someone like me (a business owner and mom-to-be)... life can be crazy without actually making you crazy.
The personal narrative aspect of the Nom Nom Paleo blog answers so many questions that come up as one is trying to truly make healthy eating a lifestyle. What should I pack in my kid's lunch? How can I eat out or order in and still stay Paleo? What should I keep in my pantry? How do I make the time? Nom Nom Paleo is about healthy behavior as much as it is about healthy food. To be successful on your Paleo journey you will need more than an arsenal of recipes, you will need routines. And after you establish your routines, you will need to figure out healthy ways to break out of your routines (gotta keep things interesting!) without completely going off the deep end. Thanks to Michelle's creative and personal approach you will not just learn how to cook, you will learn how to integrate your new skills and recipes into your own life... for good.
Q & A With Michelle
Earlier this month we asked our Facebook fans and Twitter followers to send in their Paleo questions for Michelle to answer. We received some great questions and Michelle has provided some very thorough answers. Thanks everyone! Enjoy!
Q: What are her thoughts on coconut sugar? Evil or not? -@ElleLoughan
A: Like agave nectar, coconut sugar is frequently marketed as a "healthy," lower-glycemic sugar, but when push comes to shove, it's still sugar. As a recovering sugarholic, I've done my share of looking for sugar substitutes, but unfortunately, there's no guilt-free sweetener that should be eaten in large quantities or on a regular basis.
Personally, I try to minimize my consumption of sweeteners because otherwise, I'd eat myself off a cliff. That's not to say I don't ever indulge, though -- when the off-roading is truly worth it, I'll happily dig in! (And I do love me some dark chocolate...)
Q:Love the nom nom blog. Wondering about Michelle's take on low carb. Ive been hearing about safe starches and wanted to get her opinion. I see she eats sweet potatoes but does she eat rice or white potatoes on occasion. Only after workouts, etc? –Victor
A: I don't think of Paleo as being necessarily low carb, though of course cutting out grains and added sweeteners does tend to reduce the overall amount of carbohydrate in my diet. To me, it's not that Paleo is "low carb" -- it just seems that way when compared with the super-high-carb Standard American Diet.
My meals consist mainly of meat, vegetables, fat, and tubers, but I don't go out of my way to avoid carbs. And yes, I do eat safe starches from time to time -- and white rice and potatoes are definitely on that list. It's best to eat them after workouts, though I'm not super-regimented about it. I think food is meant to be enjoyed, and let's face it: Sushi is best with rice. Plus, if the occasional helping of roasted potatoes or white rice is the worst thing on your plate, I think you're in pretty good shape!
Q: Organic dairy (cheese, cream, butter, etc) Why is it not included in Paleo but included in Primal? -Kristy
A: Dairy is a controversial topic in ancestral health circles. If you want to dig more into the nitty-gritty, read this blog post by my husband: http://www.fitbomb.com/2011/03/what-about-dairy.html
While "orthodox" Paleo eaters abstain from all dairy, many of us (including Robb Wolf, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, and Chris Kresser) include some forms of pastured, organic, full-fat dairy in our diets. Personally, I tolerate full-fat dairy (e.g. pastured butter, heavy cream) just fine, and I enjoy a fair amount of fermented dairy (e.g. full-fat, pastured yogurt and kefir). I don't eat it all the time, but if it's well-sourced and high-quality, I don't have a problem with it.
Q: Is it better to eat something non-paleo or go without and be hungry? –Kelly
A: It all depends on what you mean by "non-Paleo" and how hungry you are! I can normally pass on the cheap beer and pizza at a party and wait until I get home to eat something less gut-wrecking. Especially if your sleep is good and your stress levels are in check, a missed meal here and there won't hurt you.
On the other hand, if you eat healthy, nutrient-dense food most of the time, indulging in an occasional non-Paleo meal is unlikely to wreak too much havoc on your system. Some "cheats" will, of course, affect you more than others, so take note of what you're eating so you can better gauge what's truly worth the discomfort. If you've done a Whole30, you'll already know which items will wreck you and which ones won't (as much).
Q: Does it do any good to be 100% paleo but only 50% of the time? -Tyler
A: Well, it's certainly better than eating a Standard American Diet 100 percent of the time!
All kidding aside, the answer is: "It depends." Of course, if half your time is spent gorging on all manner of leaky-gut-inducing, inflammation-causing, blood-sugar-spiking badness, it's probably not going to matter that you're "clean" the other half of the time. Then again, if you're not swinging wildly from one extreme to the other, but simply "off-roading" a bit, the equation may be totally different, especially if your baseline level of health and fitness is high.
Personally, I feel better when I stick close to a Paleo template. As a night shift worker, my metabolism, sleep quality, and cortisol levels are already sub-optimal, so I operate best when I'm eating "clean" most of the time.
Q: Paleo Protein shake Options!!!!! – Shondelle
A: I haven't experimented with protein shakes, so unfortunately, I don't have any first-hand experiences to share with you. My post-workout food choices usually consist of some starchy carbs (typically in the form of a sweet potato) and some protein (like slices of roast beef). If you're a big fan of protein shakes, you may want to consider Mark Sisson's Primal Fuel or Stronger Faster Healthier's Recovery/Post Workout Whey Protein Shakes, which appear to have cleaner, higher-quality ingredients than most.
Q: Any paleo vegetarian suggestions? – Kate
A: If you're an ovo-lacto vegetarian (meaning you're okay with eggs and dairy), Paleo shouldn't be a problem. If you check out my recipe index (http://nomnompaleo.com/recipeindex), there are lots of non-meat options available. Also, you should definitely read this post on Paleo Nutrition for Vegetarians and Vegans on the Whole9 site: http://whole9life.com/2012/03/paleo-nutrition-for-vegetarians/.
Q: Where can i find out recipes for a week of paleo food that will be simple and easy. -Ana Isabel
A: My recipe index and iPad app contain many simple and easy recipes. With my busy lifestyle, I don't want to spend more than 30 minutes creating a meal, so most of my dishes are a snap to throw together. Also, there are tons of great Paleo recipe sites out there (besides mine!). Some of my favorite sources of Paleo food inspiration are: Everyday Paleo (http://everydaypaleo.com), Health Bent (http://www.health-bent.com), The Clothes Make the Girl (http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com), The Food Lovers' Kitchen (http://beta.primal-palate.com), PaleOMG (http://paleomg.com), Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations (http://civilizedcavemancooking.com), and The Domestic Man (http://thedomesticman.com). Good luck!
I would 100% recommend Michelle's Nom Nom Paleo app. It is simple to follow and full of a diverse array of yummy recipes. And talk about a time saver! The Nom Nom app will help you create shopping lists, stay organized, and walk you through recipes with gorgeous photos and simple written instructions. Not to mention the fact that while cruising through the grocery store with my iPad in hand full of healthy visual cues, I am less likely to stray into the "forbidden food" isles. Focus!
And when my little one is old enough to ask: "Mom! What's for dinner??" over and over again... I will be armed with plenty healthy options as answers.
What a lucky kid.
Last but not least, as a thank you for being our September Fashlete of the Month Michelle is receiving a customized sterling silver Nom Nom Paleo necklace.
Thank you Michelle!