Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe | Balanced Bites Podcast | Ready or Not! with Michelle Tam

Podcast Episode #307: Nom Nom Paleo – Ready or Not! with Michelle Tam

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Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe | Balanced Bites Podcast | Ready or Not! with Michelle TamTopics

  1. News and updates from Diane [1:36]
  2. Introducing our guest, Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo [3:33]
  3. Something I'm into: Fitness tracking [6:13]
  4. All about the Instant Pot [11:06]
  5. Meal planning [20:33]
  6. Ready or Not! [23:09]
  7. Inspiration for recipes [27:49]
  8. Recipe flops [30:32]
  9. Most difficult cuisine to cook [32:39]
  10. Fitness regime [36:48]
  11. Book recommendations [38:30]
  12. Creative talents [40:23]
  13. Wardrobe and hair [43:13]
  14. Quitting the night shift [49:12]
  15. Breakdown of work for Nom Nom Paleo [54:05]
  16. Shooting recipes for the book [55:37]
  17. Most rewarding job [58:49]


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Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe | Balanced Bites Podcast | Nom Nom Paleo - Ready or Not! with Michelle Tam Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe | Balanced Bites Podcast | Nom Nom Paleo - Ready or Not! with Michelle Tam Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe | Balanced Bites Podcast | Nom Nom Paleo - Ready or Not! with Michelle Tam

You’re listening to the Balanced Bites podcast episode 307.

Diane Sanfilippo: Welcome to the Balanced Bites podcast. I’m Diane; a certified nutrition consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of Practical Paleo and The 21-Day Sugar Detox. I live in San Francisco with my husband and fur kids.

I’m the co-creator of the Balanced Bites Master Class, with my podcast partner in crime, Liz. And we’ve been bringing you this award winning podcast for nearly 6 years. We’re here to share our take on modern paleo living, answer your questions, and chat with leading health and wellness experts. Enjoy this week’s episode, and submit your questions at http://blog.balancedbites.com or watch the Balanced Bites podcast Instagram account for our weekly calls for questions. You can ask us anything in the comments.

Remember our disclaimer: The materials and content within this podcast are intended as general information only, and are not to be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Before we get started, let’s hear from one of our sponsors.

Diane Sanfilippo: Today’s podcast is sponsored by Vital Choice seafood and organics. Purveyor of premium sustainably sourced seafood and a certified B corporation. Vital choice offers a wide range of fish, shellfish, humanely raised meat, protein rich bone broths, and paleo friendly snacks like organic dark chocolate, super antioxidant trail mix, and bison jerky. As the days get longer and the grilling season heats up, www.vitalchoice.com is your source for real food.

1. News and updates from Diane [1:36]

Diane Sanfilippo: Quick update from me, you guys, before I get into my interview with Michelle. I am in the thick of book editing for the 21-Day Sugar Detox Daily Guide. I know lots of you guys are following me over on Instagram and in my Instagram stories. Sometimes I share a little behind the scenes of some recipe work. And I don’t really share too much of the other stuff because I’m kind of keeping it under wraps. But I’m super excited about it. I know you guys are excited. Not only for the recipes, but a lot of what this new book is answers questions and solves some problems that I’ve seen in the last; oh, well I’ve been running that program for more than 7 years now. And it’s been about 4 years since the original books were released. So I’m excited about it.

I think you guys are going to love this book. It’s really going to help you make the program easier to follow. And a lot more; how can I put it. Just easier to transition from making a certain recipe and then turning it into other things the way that I would very naturally. But I’ll be showing you how to do that in your own home, and in your own kitchen. So I think you're going to love it.

The other update I have for you guys is our home gym is coming along. It’s so exciting. I had hit a rut with training. I just kind of didn’t feel like going to the gym anymore. I also was sick for a little while as a lot of you guys know. Nothing crazy, just kind of a cold that sort of escalated with a lot of the stress of moving and buying a new house. So anyway, we’ve got a home gym. We’ve got mats on the floor, and tons of equipment kind of building up what we’ve got. Not going too crazy. But we have plenty there. And I'm real excited about it. All I need is a little good music on my Spotify, and I’m good to go with a barbell and some dumbbells. So I’m super excited about that. And I’ll be posting to my Instagram stories, I’m sure, little bits of workouts here and there. So follow along.

2. Introducing our guest, Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo [3:33]

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, before I get into my conversation here with Michelle. For those of you living under a paleo rock, Michelle is the cheeky food nerd behind the award-winning blog, Nom Nom Paleo. The Webby award-winning cooking app, author of the New York Times’ bestselling cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo, Food for Humans, as well as her follow-up cookbook, Ready or Not, that just released this week on August 1st. And we’ll be talking about that today.

In 2012, Saveur? How do you say that word? You guys. I can’t speak French! Magazine recognized Michelle’s site as the world’s best special diets food blog. I would concur. Her obsessions include dark chocolate, trashy reality television shows, and miniature toy food from Japan. Michelle has a degree in nutrition and food science from the University of California at Berkley, and earned her doctorate in pharmacy from the University of California at San Francisco. For over a dozen years, she worked the graveyard shift at Stanford Hospital and clinics as a night pharmacist. Michelle and Henry and their sons, Owen and Oliver, currently split their time between Palo Alto, California here in the Bay area, and Portland, Oregon.

And again, you guys, if you're looking for Michelle’s brand new book, you can just go to our website and the episode for this podcast has a link to it. You can also, obviously, go to Nom Nom Paleo any time for more details. If you want more from Michelle, make sure you check out our past episodes; numbers 44 and 107 we had her on the show. And we talked about a lot more basics, incorporating new ways of eating into the family and favorite recipes. What to do in a pinch. We talked about a lot of basics. So today we got into a lot more; let’s just say, kind of personal and, I don’t know, more of just casual conversation between the two of us.

Alright, Michelle. I think this is your third time back on the show. You're not expected to remember how many times you’ve been on the show before. But I’m excited to chat with you, so thanks for joining me today. I know you have a busy schedule right now.

Michelle Tam: Me too. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you. And it’s weird because we live; actually really close.

Diane Sanfilippo: I know.

Michelle Tam: But San Francisco and Palo Alto are like two different planets. It takes a lot to go to other places {laughs}.

Diane Sanfilippo: I mean, for us to go to Marin over the bridge, that’s effort. But we do it fairly regularly. But they have the bridge, so we get to drive over the bridge.

Michelle Tam: And it’s beautiful. But coming down to Palo Alto, it’s like. Hmm.

Diane Sanfilippo: I would only come down there for you, basically.

Michelle Tam: Aw, well thank you.

3. Something I’m into: Fitness tracking [6:13]

Diane Sanfilippo: But thanks for joining me. I’m really excited to chat with you about whatever we feel like chatting about today. And before we actually get into some Q&A and interview stuff. I want to ask you a new thing you're into lately, and if I can specify, I don’t want it to be something that, if we follow you. Because I obsessively watch your Instagram stories and follow. It’s like; I don’t want to hear you tell me a matcha latte, because I already know. So I want to know something that you're into that you haven’t already posted about a lot.

Michelle Tam: Hmmm.

Diane Sanfilippo: Challenging. {laughs}

Michelle Tam: No, no. I was like, there is something. But I can’t talk about it on air. {laughing} But I’ll talk about something on air that I can talk about.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh god. Now they’re all going to be dying wondering.

Michelle Tam: I know. I would be dying too. But it’s a secret. That only Henry and I know about. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} I love you.

Michelle Tam: But it’s not dirty like that. So you know. But I think I’m obsessed with my new fitness tracker. My Oura ring. It’s not; they’re not a sponsor. It’s really expensive, so I don’t even want to talk about it. So when people ask me about it, I don’t like to tell people I spent a few hundred dollars on this silly ring that tracks my sleep and everything. But I’m really into fitness trackers and I’ve tried them all. This one I like because it’s on my finger. And it has a really good sleep tracking mode. Like, it tells you exactly how much deep sleep you have. How much REM, and how much light sleep. And I feel it’s super accurate. Like when I wake up and I don’t feel great, even though I slept a long time, it totally tracks that. So I’ve been, especially because we’re going on tour, and I’ve been so busy leading up to the tour. I just want to make sure my sleep quality is really good. So this kind of forces me to go to bed at 10:30. Because that shows me that my deep sleep is better if I go to bed by 10:30 as opposed to midnight. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Which you’re kind of like; I probably knew that. But the data does not lie, right?

Michelle Tam: {laughing} Yeah. Totally. And it’s also, when I got that glucose monitor. Which I was really into a few months ago. And I still prick myself once in a while, but I kind of know already.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Michelle Tam: I’m like; I’m sure. Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s interesting. I have a Fitbit, so it just tells you much more basic data. And I would be curious about the deeper information. Because when I get a little more sleep sometimes, I don’t feel better.

Michelle Tam: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: And I think it’s just the timing of that REM cycle. And I think you're right though, about how long are these stretches of data valid for. Like, at a certain point, you're like; I don’t need to see that, because I’ve learned what I needed to learn.

Michelle Tam: Mm-hmm.

Diane Sanfilippo: Which is kind of what we do with the nutrition stuff, too. Same thing with the blood sugar tracking. It’s like, I don’t need this thing to prick me in the finger and tell me again that this food spiked my blood sugar.

Michelle Tam: Right.

Diane Sanfilippo: I already know.

Michelle Tam: Right. But I think that’s good. I think that’s how everybody should be, right? You don’t need constant verification. Because you should learn and adapt, right? {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Yes. We hope. We hope.

Michelle Tam: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Well that’s cool.

Michelle Tam: But sometimes it’s good to have that reminder. If you do need something to kind of keep you going in the right direction. It is good to have that data. But eventually, you should not necessarily need it.

Diane Sanfilippo: Especially if everything else in your life is constant, and that’s something that you're tracking. And I think this is something that I talked about. We talked about it a couple of weeks on an episode where if something is not changing, then you have to change something. And vice versa. If you stop losing weight and still have a lot of weight to lose, not you. Just you in general. And you think that everything is the same, it’s probably not. Probably something changed. So I think what you're saying about the sleep or blood sugar. And I know you do some monitoring on intermittent fasting. It’s like, all of those things for a period of time are valid. Then you're living the same way, so the information is not changing, not that interesting. Then something might change.

Like you were saying about going on tour. So it would be so interesting to still watch that data while you're on tour and see, is there something different you need to do. So, it’s like, maybe it comes in phases. Where you use this expensive ring, and then for a while you don’t use it. And then you come back and use it again.

Michelle Tam: But by the time you go back to use it, you can’t find your charger. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} I have recently purchased two off-market chargers on Amazon for my Fitbit, and a week later found it, of course.

Michelle Tam: Yeah, of course.

4. All about the Instant Pot [11:06]

Diane Sanfilippo: Anyway. Well that’s a good one. I’m actually glad that you shared something that’s not as inexpensive. Because I think we do hold back on sharing certain things sometimes. Just because we want to check it out, and it might be a little cost prohibitive, until we know how good it is. But anyway.

Ok, so we have a lot of questions. From listeners. And I put out a call for questions. And I thought it might have been a little bit mean, but Nicki my assistant said that it was not mean. I was like, ok. {laughs} I just didn’t want folks to ask a lot of the basic questions that we have covered before. And I know that you're asked these questions a lot, so I wanted to get into some different, maybe more fun stuff. Maybe a little bit that will be kind of basic.

But let’s just first talk about the Instant Pot, and get this out of the way. {laughs}

Michelle Tam: Mm. Yes. My new obsession.

Diane Sanfilippo: Your new obsession? This is not your new obsession.

Michelle Tam: Well not new. It’s like a long-time obsession. It’s been like three or four years. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Right. But it took the rest of us like two to three years after you became obsessed with it to really catch on. I want to know, when you first found it, was it just that you were looking for an electric pressure cooker? What happened when you first found it. I’m just curious what your thoughts are on the fact that you basically are the first one in our community, that I’ve seen, who was talking about it. So I just want to hear your thoughts on all that.

Michelle Tam: So, I initially found it because I was looking for an electric pressure cooker. So I had started using regular stovetop pressure cookers because I was cooking a lot of meat, and a lot of the cheaper cuts, you need to braise it. And I remember talking to my sister, who is a chef. She’s like, “Oh you should use a pressure cooker.” And I remember watching Top Chef. Every time they were making a stew and there was some sort of time challenge, they would break out a pressure cooker. And I was telling my sister how amazing this pressure cooker was. And I used to use one for beans, when I would eat beans all the time. And I still do eat beans. I mean, even though it’s not technically paleo, I do eat beans still.

And I remember talking to my sister. And she was like, “I have this electric pressure cooker, and it’s really great. Because you can just put stuff in, and it will be ready when you are. It’s kind of like a slow cooker, but the quality is better. And you should think about it.” I’m like, “Wow, that sounds pretty cool.” She had a Cuisinart, and I remember I looked at it and there weren’t a ton of really great reviews. I think the insert was like a nonstick insert. And I’m like, “Hmm. I’m not really super keen on that.” So then I went to this website that I had been going to called hippressurecooking.com. Laura Pazzaglia is this pressure cooking maven. And so I just went to her site. And she has all these recommendations for different pressure cookers. And she recommended the Instant Pot. And I saw it was a stainless steel insert. I’m like, wow this looks really cool. So I bought one. And I think the rest is history. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I remember watching you use it. And I was like, I don’t know about that. But you know how I feel about slow cooked meats. We’ve had a conversation over text.

Michelle Tam: Yeah, yeah. You don’t like braised things.

Diane Sanfilippo: I pretty much don’t. Michelle is making fun of me. She was like, Diane, you have caviar taste.

Michelle Tam: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: Because I said. But here’s the reality.

Michelle Tam: I only like steak! {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: No! I like ground meat. A lot.

Michelle Tam: That’s good.

Diane Sanfilippo: Just give it a second, alright. Yeah, there’s something about the texture of it. But I’m finding plenty of uses. And admittedly, the most use our Instant Pot currently gets is to cook chicken for the dog.

Michelle Tam: {laughs} That works. And it’s easy.

Diane Sanfilippo: Our spoiled dog. Yeah, we throw tons of chicken in there and just turn it on. A little bit of water. It doesn’t have to taste good for her, so it’s good. But anyway. I remember. So as fortunate as I am to have your phone number; it’s like having. This is a lot, to have Michelle Tam’s phone number. And I try not to abuse this privilege.

Michelle Tam: I am happy to answer your texts and calls, all the time.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} So I texted Michelle the first week that I had my Instant Pot. And I was like, “Alright. I get it. I get why everyone kind of freaks out.” Because I’m literally staring this thing down like, “Ok, now what.” And then also when it was telling me it was done, “Ok, now what?” And will my whole house explode? Right. {laughs}

Michelle Tam: Yeah. I think they have a really good product. They just don’t have a good manual. And I think it’s; they are super safe for pressure cookers. Because I know in the past, everybody knows somebody whose mom’s sister’s friend had it explode. And it was a giant catastrophe. Because yes, pressure cookers are cooking things under pressure. And the old pressure cookers, if you didn’t change the gasket, they can explode. But the newer ones are super, super safe. If you follow the instructions. But the problem with the Instant Pot is they aren’t super clear {laughs} about what the instructions are. If you buy the manual.

So I think people like me who found it, and love it, and want to spread the work about it. They just started making YouTube videos or posting recipes to help people figure out how to use it. Because it is a really great device for not a ton of money. I think you can buy one for under $100, especially during those sales. And I think it’s a really good investment. I use mine all the time. But I only use it for things that I would stew or braise.

People ask me, “How do you cook fish in it? How do you cook chicken breast?” And I’m like, “Don’t.” You can cook those things better and faster just the conventional way. You can’t just throw everything in here. You have to be a little picky. Like, I am lazy in terms of cooking. But I also want there to be some; I want it to taste good for the least amount of effort.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. I think that’s fair. I think the texture thing is what gets me, and I think you're totally spot on. It’s just about cooking things that you would normally have slow cooked in a lot less time.

Michelle Tam: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: So a couple of tips for people who are totally new. What would you say to someone who just took their Instant Pot out of the box, {laughs} and they’re just kind of staring at it like, “Ok, now what?” What would you say?

Michelle Tam: I think you should definitely go to YouTube and find the instructional videos. Because there are a bunch of people who have said, “This is how you take the Instant Pot out of the box.” You know, and it’s very, very clear. You can watch the video. You can follow along. And then once you know the basics, then you can go to places like my site or other people’s sites to look at recipes.

On my site, I really try to have it be step-by-step. Like, “Press this button. And then press the plus button until the number increases to whatever.” You know what I mean? Just be aware that it does take time to reach high pressure. Even though it says it cooks for 3 minutes under high pressure, your meal will not be done in 3 minutes. It will probably take like half an hour. Because it comes up to pressure, it cooks for the amount of time you set it for, and then it might have to come down to pressure. But during that time, you don’t need to be babysitting it. And you can go and help your kids do their homework. You can go on a walk. You can turn on Housewives. It’s just a convenience.

Diane Sanfilippo: I almost forgot that that was probably one of the top three reasons why I love you. {laughs}

Michelle Tam: {laughs} Oh, I was just flying on Virgin yesterday, and I haven’t watched TV in a long time. But I was like, “Oh! I can watch Bravo uninterrupted for an hour and a half.” I don’t care if we’re just taxiing forever. I can just keep watching TV. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Totally. I sometimes am looking around me, and I’m like, “Well, people feel free to judge me, because that’s what I’m about to watch for this entire trip.”

Michelle Tam: I know. It just brings me joy. And I just need to escape and laugh and just say, “Wow, these people are ridiculous.” Or not. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: No judgement, but it does make me feel really good about myself. {laughing}

Michelle Tam: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok. Those are good tips.

Michelle Tam: And the Instant Pot is not a sponsor of mine.

Diane Sanfilippo: Which, we’re all kind of like; “That’s a little ridiculous.” They pretty much should just at some point write a check.

Michelle Tam: They have sent me some free Instant Pots, when they have new ones coming. And they have sponsored giveaways. Like they will send one to people who win. But they don’t pay me to give out these things. And people say, “Why aren’t they a sponsor?” And I kind of like that I can kind of say how I feel. And if someone else comes up with a better pressure cooker or something else, I don’t have to worry about where my loyalties lie. You know what I mean?

Diane Sanfilippo: Totally. I do. I don’t have anything. We have sponsors for this podcast, and they all have been invited or reinvited as we see fit. And they’re also not necessarily told that anything is exclusive. If I like something, I’m going to talk about it. Because that’s our livelihood, is our integrity. Totally.

And not to mention, if we share an Amazon link, of course we want you guys to use them because that is how you can thank us for the recommendation. So it’s not for nothing entirely.

Michelle Tam: Right.

Diane Sanfilippo: But we all thank you. Because I made chicken broth last night in much less time. I’m using it; I’m using it.

Michelle Tam: That’s great. It is. And you should use it when you go to sleep. Because then it will be ready when you wake up. It’s kept warm. The pressure is already depressurized. So all you have to do is strain it.

5. Meal planning [20:33]

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s good stuff. Ok, so I think you are kind of like I am a little bit when it comes to meal planning.

Michelle Tam: Don’t do it? {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: We don’t do it. No.

Michelle Tam: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: We’re very similar. I just don’t have children. {laughs}

Michelle Tam: I wish I did it.

Diane Sanfilippo: Do you really though? Do you really though?

Michelle Tam: No.

Diane Sanfilippo: No.

Michelle Tam: {laughing} I mean, in some ways I totally understand how it would make my life easier. But I just can’t set aside several hours on a weekend day to just cook a whole bunch of stuff.

Diane Sanfilippo: I don’t think that that’s fun for us.

Michelle Tam: No. I like planning ahead in that I will defrost something, and it will be ready to cook that night. Like, “Oh. My ground beef is ready for me to make something.” And I’ll kind of, if I have an idea, I’ll have those ingredients kind of ready. But otherwise, it’s hard. It’s not something I enjoy. I think some people like meal planning because they like the control. And they like knowing something is already ready for them. But I don’t really need that. Because that’s just not my personality type. {laughs} I kind of just go with the flow.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think it’s also about being comfortable with cooking and being creative with your cooking. And I think part of; you have a family with two young-ish children. Not so young anymore. And it’s just myself and Scott. But we eat a lot of food, and we eat at home almost 3 meals a day. So we’re cooking a lot. And I think you and I probably both take a bit of pleasure in that unknown creative moment of, what am I going to make happen. Because it’s a little bit of magic, and you feel really good about it when you’ve made something that you’re like; “Huh. That came out pretty good.”

Michelle Tam: Yeah. Yes, and no. I think some of it is I’m such a procrastinator.

Diane Sanfilippo: Me too.

Michelle Tam: It’s not so much like, “Oh, I know something amazing will happen.” It’s like, “Oh no. I have this and I have this. We’re going to have stir fry again tonight.” {laughs} the kids are literally like, “Stir fry again?!” Like, I think. I don’t know how many times people are like, “Your kids must be so lucky that they get to eat your food.” I’m like, really? Because if you actually ask them, they’re going to give you a different answer {laughing}.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Yeah. Yeah. Ok. I mean, I think it’s partially also, there’s a little bit of it that has to do with time and scheduling. But you were this way even when you were working a full time job.

6. Ready or Not [23:09]

Michelle Tam: I may have been a little bit more scheduled. Because when I was working nights, I knew for sure there was no way we could go out to eat the 7 nights I was working. So I would kind of plan ahead, but it was more about me just dumping frozen meat into my defrost bowl in the fridge, and figuring out what to do with that meat. But at least I had the meat, and I knew I would have vegetables so I could make something.

But I think that’s kind of what; that’s why it was kind of a stretch for our new cookbook. We broke it up by how ready you are. So I know people really like to be ready. And there are people who are never ready. And somehow, those two groups of people want to learn from each other. So we put all of those into our new book. So you can figure out by your state of readiness, or how you want to be ready in terms of what to cook.

Diane Sanfilippo: I like that. It’s a very honest, like, please don’t kid yourself. You're not really ready to make dinner. So here’s what you should probably flip to instead of this two-hour process. How about you flip back here.

Michelle Tam: Right. Which you’ll be super frustrated that it took this long, and you're tired and cranky. But let’s say you're like, “Ok, I’ll do this 30-minute meal today. But it would be nice if I didn’t have to worry about it. So I will plan to make this in a few days. And I know this will take more time, but then I can use this to make this leftover makeover.” And all this other stuff. So hopefully it will help people.

Diane Sanfilippo: I actually really like that. Because I think that is how we cook by nature. We have leftovers, and they become something else, or a sauce. I know you’ve been doing your stir fry sauce. And it’s like, when you have that on hand, you can do a lot more with it. And I think by nature, if you or I were going to make dinner one night, we would make two or three times the sauce just because we know it’s silly to make it one time. You're already standing there mixing, cutting up the limes, whatever it’s going to be.

Michelle Tam: Right.

Diane Sanfilippo: So I think it’s pretty cool that in this book, you're basically teaching people that practice by showing them. This is what’s possible for you in the amount of time that you have, but if you want it to be possible to do something else, here’s how to think about it. Which I like.

Liz Wolfe: This episode of the Balanced Bites podcast is sponsored by our friends at Primally Pure Skincare. Primally Pure makes 100% natural and nontoxic skincare products that support radiant skin, a healthy body, and a happy self. They use ingredients like tallow from grass-fed cows; organic and fair trade coconut oil, and organic oils, herbs, and extracts to formulate effective products that also smell amazing and look beautiful sitting on your bathroom counter. At www.primallypure.com, you’ll find their bestselling natural deodorant that actually works; face mists made from locally sourced and organic rose and orange blossom hydrosols, and their brand new baby line. You’ll also find Diane’s favorite Primally Pure product, dry shampoo, and Liz’s favorite, the Everything Spray with magnesium. As a special bonus for you, Primally Pure is offering a free lip balm with your first purchase of one item or more. Simply add a lip balm to your cart along with any one item, and use the code “balancedbites”, one word no caps, during checkout to receive one of their lip balms for free with your order. Head to www.primallypure.com and check out their range of safe and effective all natural skincare products.

Diane Sanfilippo: Cool. So I’m excited that you have restructure the book in this way. Or restructured the way that you are presenting a cookbook. Because your first cookbook was more standard in terms of how it was organized, right? It was kind of like poultry, and all of that.

Michelle Tam: Yes. Like meats, vegetables. You know, 5 sweets. {laughs} And the new book also has like 5 sweets. But we did break it up by your state of readiness. We have a section called Get Set, and those are kind of all your mother sauces and dressings. And how to cook chicken breast perfectly. Kind of bulk protein that you can use later. The Ready section, which are kind of fancier recipes, are things that take longer. But they’re also things that you can reheat later in the week. The Kind of Ready section, which reuses the ingredients in the first two sections. So you maybe only have to make one or two things. But it shows you how to repurpose them. Or to do leftover makeovers.

Then the Not Ready section; which everything is 45 minutes or less. Some even 15 minutes. But you don’t need any premade ingredients, and you can get dinner on the table.

7. Inspiration for recipes [27:49]

Diane Sanfilippo: I love that. So somebody asked about your inspiration for recipes, whether it’s certain cuisines, whether it’s restaurants, whether it’s dishes that you used to enjoy that you’ve kind of paleofied and cleaned up. Where do you think you get most of your inspiration from?

Michelle Tam: I think it’s all of those things. I love to travel. And I travel to eat in certain places. {laughs} Like, if Henry suggests something that is a culturally great place to visit, I’m like, “Well, is there anything to eat there that I’d want to eat? Because otherwise we’re not going.”

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Michelle Tam: I think a lot of it is also influenced by growing up in the Bay area, and having the bounty of produce and all the great stuff available to the Bay area. And then growing up in a Chinese-American household. So I think it’s all of those things. I definitely know that my recipes are very Asian influenced {laughs}. Because that’s what I grew up eating. And there’s a lot of that in the Bay area. And we’ve also traveled to those countries.

I don’t recreate desserts and stuff. And I didn’t grow up eating, say, mac and cheese and stuff, so I don’t normally recreate those things. Sometimes, I don’t think it’s worth trying to recreate something that there’s just no way that you can paleoify. So I just try to do things that can be tweaked. My latest recipe on the blog, the paleo char siu, I thought was impossible and I didn’t even want to try it. But Henry always pushes me to kind of try things. Which I’m like, I don’t know that this will work. Like, no you should try it. So then I finally did get it. But it took a while. Because I was like, how will I replicate hoisin sauce, which is a big component of char siu, because hoisin sauce has all this sugar, and it has wheat, and it has fermented soybeans. It has all this stuff that is hard to replicate.

But we have a hoisin sunbutter sauce in the book. So I knew what I could kind of rejigger to kind of potentially get that recipe. And finally, after many attempts, I got it.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} You seem so excited about that.

Michelle Tam: It is! It took so many tries. I really love the recipe now. But the kids are so sick of it. They’re like, “Ugh, we’ve had this so many times.” I’m like, I know. Sorry. {laughs} We’re not going to waste this food. I don’t make it and dump it. I make it, and even if it stinks, we have to eat it.

Diane Sanfilippo: I am that way too. I think because you and I aren’t really bakers, that’s a similar thing. We’re eating this no matter what. I think I maybe have thrown away one or two things in the last six years of ever trying something, where I was like, this is bad. It’s really bad. Or, {laughs} yeah. Anyway.

8. Recipe flops [30:32]

Diane Sanfilippo: So, somebody was asking; any funny recipe development flops or cookbook recipe photo outtakes? Any flavor combinations you thought would be good, and just did not hit the mark?

Michelle Tam: Oh, yeah. Well, I think more so for my recent blog post. I think when I was trying to make wonton meatballs, and I discovered that fresh ginger will basically make your ground meat into mush. Because it’s got some sort of enzyme in it that is a protease, and breaks down protein. That was kind of a big one. It literally; the first batch, I didn’t put ginger in it, and it tasted really good. And then the second batch, I was like, you know what would make this better? If I added some ginger.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Michelle Tam: And then from then on, every batch, I kept in the ginger, not realizing that was the culprit. But it literally went from this really nice, bouncy texture to this mush that melted in your mouth.

Diane Sanfilippo: Not in a good way.

Michelle Tam: Not in a good way. And that was probably the big flop, that I was glad I realized what it was. And then after I discovered that, I was like, “What other recipes do I have fresh ginger!” {laughs} in a marinade that I need to change. And so I did. I went back and scrubbed; I put an edit in all my recipes on the blog.

Diane Sanfilippo: That is really interesting. Yeah.

Michelle Tam: But, I think if you have a whole piece of meat, as opposed to ground meat, it’s less of an impact. But if you’ve got ground meat, fresh ginger is bad.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s a really good cooking tip. I made that mistake with pineapple once.

Michelle Tam: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: Which, it’s the same reason. It’s got enzymes that break down protein. And both of those foods, pineapple and ginger, are fantastic for your digestion for that reason.

Michelle Tam: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s why people drink ginger tea, or use ginger as a supplement to help you digest food. But you don’t really want it breaking down you ground meat when you don’t want it to. {laughs}

Michelle Tam: Right. And I might be good; if you have an elderly person that you're cooking for, this might actually be a good thing to do. {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, or if you actually can’t digest food that well. Just lower your standards about the texture, I suppose.

Michelle Tam: Right.

9. Most difficult cuisine to cook [32:39]

Diane Sanfilippo: Really interesting. What do you think; you said that a lot of your inspiration, obviously, comes from Asian backgrounds. Which I remember somebody was talking to me on a podcast years ago. Angelo Coppola was commenting how a lot of my recipes seem very Italian. They all start with onions and garlic. And I’m like, sorry FODMAP people. My life starts with onions and garlic. I’m like, I don’t know how to cook if I don’t start with onions and garlic. {laughs}

Michelle Tam: It’s not complete! Without onions and garlic.

Diane Sanfilippo: And I made a joke to a friend at the farmer’s market a couple of weeks ago about garlic. And she was like, oh I always have the container of crushed garlic. I’m like, you're obviously zero percent Italian. Because no self-respecting any percent Italian person would use anything other than fresh garlic, like in the bulb. I digress.

Michelle Tam: Do you use the peeled garlic?

Diane Sanfilippo: No.

Michelle Tam: I do. I used the peeled.

Diane Sanfilippo: You're zero percent Italian, so that’s ok {laughing}.

Michelle Tam: I am zero percent. And my 23andMe actually substantiated that. {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: I think I barely used it when I had a meal business. I was like, ok I’ll try that. But, anyway. No. {laughs} I mean, I have so many stories about fresh garlic. But, the question is, what’s the hardest cuisine for you to cook.

Michelle Tam: Hmm. So I actually think it’s not so much a cuisine; I think it’s baking. Baking, and I think especially paleo baking. Just because you have to experiment so much with these unusual flours. I think I can do traditional baking. Because I have a scale. I did chemistry lab for many years in college, so I know how to measure things properly and follow instructions. But I think recreating paleofied treats; that is not my jam. Because it just takes too much experimenting and too much waste. That I just don’t want to do it. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: You know what? I agree. And I think part of it is also like, there is too much unknown potential for failure that I don’t enjoy.

Michelle Tam: Yes. Me too.

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m like; I can’t tweak this along the way. I can’t taste it and tell you if it’s going to be good or not. Or be like; oh it needs more acid. Or this or that.

Michelle Tam: And I do. That is actually an issue I have. Before I develop a recipe, I’ll try to research all the different ways that you can make it. And then I’ll try to come up with how I think it would work. And I kind of write it out. But sometimes if I’m not sure about it, that will actually keep me from making it, because I don’t want to mess it up. But Henry is always like, “You need to do it, or else you’ll never know!” And then once you do it, you can start tweaking. And I’m like, ok you're right. But it is. And I think with baking, or paleo baking, there are so many unknowns that I won’t go over that hurdle. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Do you think also; I’ve seen your love for vegan raw treats.

Michelle Tam: Oh yeah. Uh-huh.

Diane Sanfilippo: But do you think part of it is also; because I think this is for me. I just don’t even like cake that much. I’m not a cake person. I’ll do a crème brulee or something. I’m just not that into things that are flour based that often in that way. So I just don’t have a strong pull to making them. I’m like; whatever, someone else can make that.

Michelle Tam: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Do you think it’s a taste preference?

Michelle Tam: No, it’s crazy. I love puddings and custards. And yeah. I think that might be it. But again, it is me also not wanting. Because I used to love pizza and bread. So not maybe the sweet flour stuff, but I loved the non-sweet kind of baked goods. But I think when I realized I just felt so terrible after eating it, I just don’t even want to eat it. Or I don’t even necessarily want to recreate it, because I know what it used to taste like. And there’s really know way to replicate it. So I’m like, eh.

Diane Sanfilippo: OK, my last point on that. I think there’s also an element of flavor density that you don’t get from a cake, but you might get from something like a custard. Which I think I have an affinity towards. It’s just; it’s not like a punch enough. I’ll take a flourless brownie over a piece of chocolate cake any day. That’s just me. Anyway.

Michelle Tam: {laughs}

10. Fitness regime [36:48]

Diane Sanfilippo: So, ok. We have some questions unrelated to food that I would like to ask from our listeners here. One was from doula Suzanne. And she’s, a little jokingly, “Do you even lift?” But then she says, “Subtitle; do you have a structured fitness regime? If so please share.” It wasn’t meant to be a knock, it was just a silly.

Michelle Tam: No, I know yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok. {laughs}

Michelle Tam: So, I used to do CrossFit pretty regularly. And then I think a few years ago, I started just seeing a trainer. Because I think CrossFit is great, and I love the community, and I love the box that I was at. But my schedule just got so busy I couldn’t go at the times that I wanted to go. And I’m older; I’m going to be 43. So I wanted just to be stronger, but not get hurt. So I hired a trainer. And I joke that he does old lady CrossFit with me.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Michelle Tam: We lift things. But I was like, I don’t want to do a crazy met con. You can do a short met con, but I don’t want to be so exhausted afterwards I can’t work afterwards. And then I also do this thing called the Happy Body. {laughs} Which I found out about on Tim Ferris. And it’s like these; it’s a series of exercises that I joke. I’ve made fun of parents for doing stuff like it. It’s like calisthenics. Or if you're in San Francisco, you see all these old Asian people at the park.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yep.

Michelle Tam: But I was like; you know what, I need to just do this. I need to work on different parts of my body. I need to work on extending my back and doing kind of sit ups. So I do those too. I do old lady Asian stuff. {laughs}

11. Book recommendations [38:30]

Diane Sanfilippo: I love it. We also had a question about a book recommendation. I don’t know why I can’t find it on my little sheet here. But somebody wants to know what you like to read aside from cookbooks. Because we all know that you are an obsessive cookbook reader.

Michelle Tam: Oh. So recently this summer. I mean, I’m not a big reader. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: We have this in common.

Michelle Tam: Yeah. And I love magazines.

Diane Sanfilippo: I listen to audiobooks. I do like that.

Michelle Tam: Oh yeah. I do too. And I like podcasts a lot. But recently, this summer, I’ve been reading this series of book by Kevin Kwan. So it’s a series about Asian people. {laughs} Just because, this is the first time ever there’s been kind of a beach read about Asian people. And the first book is Crazy Rich Asians. The second one is China Rich Girlfriend. And the third and final book is Rich People Problems. And it’s just about all these rich people in Singapore. But it reminds me a lot of the Tales of the City; Armistead Maupin series in the 70s about San Francisco. And it’s kind of these soap opera-like stories. It’s a really nice way for me to unwind before I go to bed. And that way I make sure I’m reading a physical book and I’m not looking at a screen. And when I ring, my Oura ring says I have better deep sleep {laughing} when I wake up.

Diane Sanfilippo: I just can’t help but think that the name of that ring just sounds like it’s not something you just wear on your finger. It’s not something you just wear on your finger. It sounds like something totally different. I don’t know why.

Michelle Tam: Yeah. No, no, I know. There’s. Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know, it’s kind of funny. It’s like a Scandinavian company or something. So maybe; I don’t know. There’s like an accent on the U. {laughs}

12. Creative talents [40:23]

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh. Maybe. I don’t know. Do you have any other creative talents, besides cooking? {laughs} You can say no.

Michelle Tam: I don’t know. Oh, you know what I was really good at? It’s not really creative. It’s not creative. But when I was in high school, I used to be a master radio contest winner so much so that life 105 in San Francisco banned me.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing}

Michelle Tam: From winning. So then, to get around that, I would give all my friend’s names and their addresses. Not thinking that it was weird that everybody in Menlo Park was winning, randomly. These random people. I called myself Tammy Mitchell, and stuff. And then I remember one day my favorite DJ, I won again. And I thought it was safe to use my name again, because I’d just been using my friends for months and months. And he yelled at me and said I was a radio hog, and how I was banned, and I keep other people from winning. And I was like heart broken. Because I was like a little kid. And this was my life, was winning radio contests and getting straight A’s. {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: That is amazing. Also, I’m pretty sure I definitely tried to call into my local station back in New York/New Jersey. It was like, Z100. And I was calling the morning show all the time. Never won anything.

Michelle Tam: I would try every single contest when I was at home. Because I knew all the times that they had contest.

Diane Sanfilippo: What’s the best thing you won?

Michelle Tam: They had lame things. Mostly it was CDs and concert tickets. But then it was always a 21 and older, and you had your name on a guest list. So I had a fake name, and I was like 15. {laughs} So I could never go to the concerts. But they gave away like a skate bike. They gave away cowboy boots once. I mean, those are kind of lame things. But when you're a kid, it was really cool. And I would get these CDs, and I would go. Back then, back in the Ice Age, you could go to a used record shop and sell CDs and make money.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh, Michelle. This is amazing.

Michelle Tam: So I would go and I would sell these CDs. And I would make all this money. I mean, you know, for a kid. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Yes. This entire episode was worth it for that. Alone. So, thank you to the listener. That was Nicole who asked that question. I am just…

Michelle Tam: It’s my stupid human trick, is that I’m a really good radio contest winner.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s amazing {laughs}.

Michelle Tam: In fact, I think the last contest I won was a few years ago. I think I won Depeche Mode tickets or Weezer tickets, just to see if I could win again. {laughing} And I did! {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: Maybe you should play the lottery. I mean.

Michelle Tam: I don’t know. I mean, you have to use your magic.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, ok.

Michelle Tam: I don’t even know.

Diane Sanfilippo: There is some skill involved.

Michelle Tam: There is skill. That’s my creative skill.

13. Wardrobe and hair [43:13]

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s fair. Ok. Alright, so a couple more questions. Somebody is asking about your wardrobe. Do you have a capsule wardrobe, or is this just Michelle wears black all the time? What’s the deal?

Michelle Tam: Yeah. I do what Steve Jobs did. No, I’m just kidding. It’s funny. I was looking at that question on your thing. I was like, it’s not so much a capsule wardrobe. It’s more like a time capsule wardrobe.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing}

Michelle Tam: {laughs} Because Henry used to work at the GAP. And so the family would get discounts at the GAP and all the associated stores. So I just would buy all my clothes at the GAP, or Athleta, or Old Navy, or Banana Republic. So I just have a bunch of black T-shirts, or black long-sleeved shirts, and pants. And I haven’t really bought any since he stopped working at the GAP {laughs}. But yeah, I just. Clothing and makeup is just not my jam. I wish someone would come and make me over. I’m totally open to that. But I’m just not into that. And I like just wearing a black T-shirt, because that’s easy. And it hides things. So that’s what I do. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Well, somebody else is asking about your hair always being in pigtails.

Michelle Tam: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Right now, I don’t think it is. Is it?

Michelle Tam: Oh no, it is.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh it is. Just kidding. So do you ever wear it in a ponytail? Do pigtails have a fond memory for you? What’s the deal?

Michelle Tam: All the time. No, I think when I was a kid. And I grew up with my grandma. She would put my hair in pigtails, but it’s not like I’m trying to be 10 again. It actually is for practical reasons. I think at the gym, if you have a ponytail it’s hard to do sit-ups. And things where you're lying on the floor. So I think with braids, it kind of keeps things out of the way. Especially when I’m cooking. I think it’s a lot cleaner to have my hair in braids. My dad definitely things I’m too old for this look, and he’s always like, “Why do you always have braids?” I’m like, it’s too late. I have it immortalized in my action figure.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing}

Michelle Tam: This is how it’s going to be. The only thing I did recently is my hair suddenly went super gray just a few months ago. And it was on the back. So in the front, people couldn’t tell.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing}

Michelle Tam: So I started dying my hair so I wouldn’t look like this crazy old lady {laughing} with braids.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} I’m just laughing because I’m remembering the cartoon that we were looking at with the aging process.

Michelle Tam: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: For Asian women that you were showing me a couple of year ago in Austin. So I’m laughing, thinking just stay aware, Michelle. Stay aware. {laughs}

Michelle Tam: I know. When menopause hits, I’m going to shrink and expand. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s pretty amazing.

Michelle Tam: And I’ll never die. Asians never die. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Nope. Especially because you're paleo now.

Michelle Tam: Yeah.


Diane Sanfilippo: So, a couple of questions. Another one about just your life in general right now. Because I think a lot of folks are aware that you split your time quite a bit between Palo Alto, which is in the Bay area, and Portland. So how does that work with the schedule for the boys, obviously in school. Or whatever Henry; what is Henry doing right now? {laughs} Does he have a new job? I’m like, I didn’t know he didn’t work for GAP anymore. How does that all work logistically?

Michelle Tam: You know, this is actually a really interesting question. Because at the same time I think I tried to reveal, get people to know me through social media. But I’m also very private. And so it’s always funny that people will ask such pointed questions. Like, “Why exactly are you here right now? What school does your kid go to?” {laughing} And, like, “Where are you at 3 p.m. on this day?” And I’m like, well. I don’t really talk about that.

But in general, we bought a place in Portland because I love Portland. We started going there probably about 4 or 5 years ago. But everything about it I really love. So it is where I want to have our forever home when we retire. But, right now, Henry does have a full-time job in Silicon Valley. Which he’s very happy at. And the kids are really happy at their school here in Palo Alto. So we’re just trying to figure out what we’re going to do. We just bought a place last year, so it’s not like we’ve been doing this forever. We’re just trying to work it out.

But basically, any time the kids have a break, we go up to Portland. But it’s just a place that makes us really happy. So I want to spend as much time as I can there. But I can’t logistically, because we have both of our aging parents are here. So there are things that are keeping us back.

Diane Sanfilippo: Well, I think when it comes to making decisions to just enjoy your life now, that’s something that I try to talk to people about a lot. Just outside of the food thing. And that’s just a perfect example. You had the means to make that happen, so instead of just sulking that you can’t move full time, it’s like, well let’s just do what we can and be there when we can and enjoy it for what it is. And that’s the choice that we make. I think that’s a totally; I don’t know. It’s a good way to see that happy medium. There are ways to do things that you want to do now, without having to be 100% all in. It’s like a side hustle for living where you live. {laughs}

Michelle Tam: Right. And I think also, being super practical and being middle-aged, we’re also like, “It’s also a good investment.” It’s not like we just randomly picked some place. But it is a place that we love. And every time I go there, I am so happy there.

14. Quitting the night shift [49:12]

Diane Sanfilippo: I have no questions about that. Because I love it there too. I don’t love it there more than here, at this point, but I totally get it. So, question that I have is, what’s been the biggest thing that you’ve enjoyed or, I don’t know, may be a big relief or a big. Something that you didn’t expect when you left your job. Your left your overnight graveyard shift pharmacist job to do this. What?

Michelle Tam: My drug dealer job.

Diane Sanfilippo: Drug dealer. To do this full time. Because a lot of us had been poking you to do that for a long time. Myself included. But you know, I know it’s not easy to do that. And I know it’s not easy when you do have a family. And it’s like, ok. I’m not going to just decide that tomorrow.

Michelle Tam: Right.

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m just curious how that’s all been for you. You know?

Michelle Tam: Well it’s been, I think it’s been awesome. I’ve been really happy with the decision to stop working nights. And I think for a while I just kind of held onto the whole stability of it. I was like, oh, well health insurance for our kids is through my job. It could be through Henry’s job, but then we’d have to pay a little bit. But it was free through mine. And it was just the whole safety of it. But it wasn’t like I loved my job. I mean I loved it fine, and I loved the people I worked with. But it wasn’t my passion at all. But I love now that I really can devote myself to doing something I love.

And I’m also able to spend a lot of time with my family, which I wasn’t really able to do when I was working nights. Even though I thought; well, I’m kind of a part-time/full-time mom. I work 7 on, then I have 7 off. But I think because I was always jet lagged every other week, I wasn’t really there. And my memory from those 14 years is really bad. And I just like; especially the kids are 9 and 12. And they’re just going to get older; I just really like being able to be around them now. And I think it’s just, I’m really, really grateful for that.

Liz Wolfe: The Balanced Bites podcast is sponsored in part by the Nutritional Therapy Association. The NTA trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants (including me; I’m an NTP), emphasizing bio-individuality and the range of dietary strategies that support wellness. The NTA emphasizes local, whole, properly prepared nutrient dense foods as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal. Nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants learn a wide range of tools and techniques to assess and correct nutritional imbalances. To learn lots more about the nutritional therapy program, go to http://www.NutritionalTherapy.com. There are workshop venues in the US, Canada, and Australia, so chances are you’ll be able to find a venue that works for you.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think a lot of folks. I know you had mentioned when you were going to leave the job. It was obviously, it wasn’t like you were a single income family. So there was stability there, obviously. Henry has a job.

Michelle Tam: Right.

Diane Sanfilippo: Exactly. But I think that the value of your time, and how you spend every day. And like you just said, the time with your kids. I think that’s something I always want to encourage people around. Is that maybe you can’t quit a job that you hate right now, but finding a way to enjoy and spend hours of every single day doing more of things that you love than just doing them for the money. Because when you look back on your life, you're not going to wish you had worked more, or made more money. You're going to wish you had spent more time with the people that you care about. So I don’t know. I don’t know how else to encourage people on that, but I think your story does help.

Michelle Tam: And I think there are ways. Like, when I worked at the hospital, there were lots of different schedules that you can do. And I did purposely pick the night shift schedule, because I did like having more time with my family. And obviously, there are some drawbacks to that {laughs}. But I think that you can make it work. And I had made it work to now, where it actually works really great. And obviously the hours I work now are probably way more than I ever worked at the hospital. But, I really enjoy it. And I love being able to work with Henry on this project together. He is probably the hardest working person I know. Because he has his full-time job, which is really intense. And then when he gets off work, he works on all this Nom Nom Paleo stuff for me. So I’m always like, Henry. You need to go start meditating or go to sleep. Please don’t die. {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Michelle Tam: For many reasons.

15. Breakdown of work for Nom Nom Paleo [54:05]

Diane Sanfilippo: I think that’s awesome. So, a couple of things to kind of wrap up our call. One is, you’ve talked about before what Henry does and what you do. But can you remind some of our listeners how that balance works? Because I think a lot of times people assume that as the face of a brand, we do everything. And while my husband; he actually edits the podcast. Thank you, Scott. This award-winning, now, podcast. Which I’m like, I definitely have to give him credit for the way that it sounds, for sure. But we don’t do it all. And I think it’s important that people know that. So how does that break down of work happen for you guys?

Michelle Tam: So I do all the recipes, and I do all the writing and the voice of everything is me. And I do all the social media. Except Facebook. We have an assistant who helps post things on Facebook. But I still answer all the messages and stuff. And then Henry does all the stuff that people like {laughs}. The design, and the photos, and the cartoons. So all of our books, he has designed it cover to cover. Everything from; everything. Just picking the fonts, and the layout, and the cartoons and laying out every single picture. So he does everything about the kind of look and feel. And I am the voice. And the recipes.

16. Shooting recipes for the book [55:37]

Diane Sanfilippo: So, let’s wrap this up talking a little bit more about the book. Because I have it here in front of me. And I mean, I’m tired just looking at it, and when it comes to how much work it takes to shoot the process. Because as we’re shooting new recipes all the time, it’s like, should we take process pictures? The light in here or eh.

Michelle Tam: Yeah, yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: So how does that work for you? Do you shoot the process on a certain day separately from when you doing a final photo? Do you just do it all together. Is it like Henry, hurry up and get in here, I’m doing this now? How planned is it?

Michelle Tam: We’re not super planned. That book there, it’s really funny because I think it was like a 3-year process. Because we shot it all in our house. And it’s just the two of us shooting everything. And it’s not like we had a food stylist and a photographer come on one weekend and shoot everything. Literally, if you look, our kids age. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Michelle Tam: Throughout the book. And I also do. You can see more gray hair. Until I dyed it, so now no one can tell. But you can see, in some pictures, the kids look really young. And it depends kind of on the recipe. Because Henry likes to take pictures all the time. He’s like, “I don’t care if you're still working on the recipe. There might be something here that we can reuse for later for the same recipe.” So I don’t understand why he would do that, because it’s like, editing hell for him. Because he has tons and tons of pictures to go through.

But you can see my hair sometimes, it’s like I have bed head. In other pictures I have it in a ponytail. Sometimes I have glasses. Because it is me just cooking the meal in our home, and Henry is taking pictures of it, and most of the time. I guess for the later recipes, we did have it all kind of streamlined so we would do it all kind of in one take. But other ones, it’s kind of piecemealed together. Because we kind of did it when we could. Because I think until we signed a contract with our publisher, we were kind of just doing it on our own. And then when we talked to our publisher, they were like, “Ok, you need to come up with some very strict kind of outline, and how you want to do it. It can’t be a loosey-goosey thing.” So that’s when we came up with the whole concept of Ready or Not, and figuring out what fit into what state of readiness chapter. And then from there, we did it.

But I think because we do our blog, and we do process shots for the blog. We’ve just been doing it like this for the past 7 years, and so that’s just kind of how we did the book.

Diane Sanfilippo: Is it frustrating at all that that then limits you to when you can be cooking? Because Henry has to be home?

Michelle Tam: Sometimes, yes. But I also hate it when he does process shots when I’m not ready. But he’s always like, “No this is good. We might find something here.” But it really stresses me out, because it may not be exactly how I want it. And I don’t want him taking pictures, and then we’ll have to do it again anyway because I decided to add this other ingredient. But you know, it all works out. {laughing}

15. Most rewarding job [58:49]

Diane Sanfilippo: So, my last question is, through the last, what has it been? Five-plus years. Probably six or seven, almost, of blogging, writing cookbooks and social media. What’s been the most rewarding part of this process?

Michelle Tam: I think the most rewarding part is when I get emails from people. Just random emails of people telling me that they have taken charge of their life. They’re always like, “Oh, thank you for creating these recipes.” And I’m always like, no. This is not me creating recipes. This is you deciding to take charge of your health, and cook healthy meals, and changing your lifestyle, and changing your family’s lifestyle. I mean, that’s probably the most rewarding thing. And I can’t even take credit for that, because those are people taking responsibility for themselves. I just am amazed.

Because in my real life, none of my friends are paleo. {laughs} And I only kind of meet people at book signings and things that read my stuff. So it’s always nice to meet these people or hear from them. Just because it’s like, I create all this stuff. Henry and I create all this stuff, and we just put it out there, and we never realize how it can impact people. So when I hear that, it makes me more motivated to put out good content.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s perfect. I’m with you 100%. And I actually think that’s one of the reasons why book tours are not only so important, but they’re exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. Because you remember why you do this work. And why you do this work that’s so isolating so often. And then you're there, and you're like, “This is it. This is why. It’s all these people. It’s not the people who I see all the time who don’t want to hear about it. It’s those people.”

Michelle Tam: Yeah. It’s people who searched it out.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, exactly.

Michelle Tam: Yeah. And I am kicking off a book tour.

Diane Sanfilippo: I was just going to ask you about the book tour.

Michelle Tam: On August 1st. So yeah. Instead of doing it like our first one, which was kind of piecemeal whenever I had a weekend off from working nights. I am doing like two months of intensive book touring. Which is great, because the first two weeks, Henry and the kids will be with me. And we’ll be going to a lot of fun places. It’s not just about the book tour. Owen has this book called the Atlas Obscura, which is a really cool book about all these weird places within these different cities that you can visit. So he’s excited to check out all the things in Atlas Obscura. I’m excited to check out different food places. Ollie wants to buy an NBA jersey from every city we go to. {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Michelle Tam: The first two weeks I think will be really fun. And then the kids have to go to school. So I’ll continue on my own for two weeks. But I’ll have my sister meet me. And Lauren, my assistant from Arizona is going to be with me for part of it. And then when I’m back in September, I will be doing different stops in California. But on the weekends and stuff. So yeah. I’m excited, but I’m like a high-functioning introvert.

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m the same way.

Michelle Tam: I can act a really good game when I’m out and social, but I really, really need to just go into a cocoon when it’s over.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. I’m totally the same way. People would think I’m extroverted. But as soon as the event is over; I’m like, “I cannot socialize with anyone who doesn’t know me to the bone.”

Michelle Tam: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Like, I could spend 3 straight weeks with Cassy Joy. And while she is as energetic and bubbly as she appears, she also is just super real and we just had the best time. But yeah, total shut down after. Don’t try and have me meet anybody or be nice to anybody after the two hours of all the nice just came out.

Michelle Tam: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s just, like, you know, my energy is just dead after that.

Michelle Tam: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: So I’m quickly going to note a couple of tour stops. This episode will be airing the day that your stop in Lake Forest Park, Washington. Is that at Third Place Books?

Michelle Tam: Mm-hmm.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love that store. My first book signing tour, I signed books in the dark there, because there was a power outage. I’m sure somebody listening was at that signing, because that’s how it works. So August 5th in Denver, August 9th in Edina, Minnesota. Is that how you say it? Skokie on August 10th, and Chicago the 11th. And you guys can check out the full tour. She’s got it on her website, and it’s also hashtagged on Instagram, #NomNomBookTour. It’s extensive. And it looks awesome.

Michelle Tam: We’re going to be giving away swag. So if you go there, hopefully we bring enough. So that’s why we want people to RSVP. But I think we’re giving away calendars. I’m going to try to ship action figures because we have so many. {laughs} Still. And stickers, and magnets. Kind of fun stuff.

Diane Sanfilippo: Super fun. Yay. Well thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been really fun chatting.

Michelle Tam: it was so fun chatting too.

Diane Sanfilippo: You guys go order Ready or Not cookbook, if you have not already. And make sure that you go to her events. It’s just the best when you show up in your local area. We just appreciate it so much. I know Michelle will appreciate it so much to see your smiling face there. So thanks guys. And thank you for joining me.

Michelle Tam: It was so much fun. Thanks Diane.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s it for this week. You can find me, Diane, at http://dianesanfilippo.com. And Michelle at www.nomnompaleo.com. Don’t forget, you can get details about her upcoming book tour events at www.nomnompaleo.com/events. Don’t forget to join our email lists for free goodies and updates you don’t find anywhere else on our websites or on the podcast. While you’re on the internet, please leave us an iTunes review. We’ll see you next week.

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