5 Questions with “Well Fed” author Melissa Joulwan & a giveaway of her book!

Diane Sanfilippo Five Questions With, Paleo and Primal 166 Comments

There's a new kid on the block in the Paleo cookbook world! Check out this quick interview with Melissa Joulwan, author of “Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat,” available for orders here on her website (a signed softcover book or eBook) or via Amazon.com

And… Melissa has GENEROUSLY offered up a softcover copy of Well Fed to one lucky reader here! See details to enter to win at the end of this post!

1. What's your favorite thing about cooking?

I grew up in a big food family; my dad owned a diner and my mom regularly won cooking contests. The kitchen is where we show and feel love; we've always come together over meal planning, cooking, and eating… around the dinner table and in the kitchen. Even though I live far away from my parents, whenever I start rattling pots and pans, I feel connected to them — and an added improvement now is that with paleo cooking, the recipes we share with each other make us healthier, while we still feel that comforting food-love.

Cooking also fires up my imagination. I especially like international recipes because I love to dig into the culture surrounding the dish: the history, what the experience of eating the food is like in its local setting. It's similar to the way a great book can transport me to another place — only with the associated fun of eating.

Time in the kitchen can be relaxing and meditative, too. Chopping vegetables, stirring pots… it can be very soothing, especially on a weekend morning, when I'm sipping a cup of tea, preparing nourishing food for the week.

2. What's your favorite, time-saving cooking tip?

Definitely, definitely The Weekly Cookup I describe in Well Fed. I enjoy cooking, but hate “making dinner.” The difference for me is that cooking is creative, while making dinner is a time-sensitive necessity. I have a full-time dayjob, in addition to working out and blogging, so free time is pretty tight. I do a giant cooking party on Sundays, aka, The Weekly Cookup, then eat the delicious results all week long so that on any given day, my time in the kitchen is minimized — but on the weekend, I can still enjoy that play time in the kitchen when cooking feels creative.

3. What's your favorite but slightly more obscure/underused ingredient that's used in Well Fed?

I'm a spice junkie, so I'm a big fan of the Ras el Hanout spice blend in Well Fed. It's a Moroccan blend that includes 10 spices — although some Moroccan cooks include up to 30 or more in their personal recipes. It adds a spicy-sweet-peppery zing to vegetables and meats, without being overwhelming. A sprinkle of Ras el Hanout instantly transports your meal to an intrigue-filled alley in Marrakesh — and it takes two seconds to change boring chicken+butternut squash into Moroccan Chicken.

I'm also really excited about the recipes for Jicama Homefries and Jicama “Potato” Salad. It was a big experiment to figure out how and if jicama would even work — and it took several failed attempts to get the cooking method and timing right. I'm delighted that we figured it out and the response to those two recipes has been great. It was so much fun to have the experiment work — and it's great to have an alternative to white potatoes to recreate some favorite recipes.

4. What would your ideal day of food look like to put you in a happy place?

I love love love to start the day with a big pile of broccoli, sauteed with eggs, some ground beef, and a little butternut squash — with either Ras el Hanout or Tsardust Memories seasoning from Penzeys. When I eat veggies and eggs for breakfast, my energy is stable all day, and my hunger arrives at appropriate times… no cravings!

My favorite lunch right now is tuna salad with homemade mayo — or sardines packed in olive oil — arranged like a deli platter with raw vegetables, a scoop of Jicama “Potato” Salad, some little pickles, a few olives, and half a grapefruit. It all tastes light and fresh, it's easy to pack for work, and it's very satisfying. Plus, I love to arrange food so it looks like it came from a restaurant.

For dinner, I really like comfort food, especially now that it's dark so early in the evening: a coconut milk curry served over cauliflower rice, or paleo egg foo yong, which is really like Chinese breakfast-for-dinner and takes only about 10 minutes to make. Easy and hearty makes me happy at dinner time.

5. Why is Well Fed a must have for any paleo or primal eater?

There are two things about Well Fed that make it a worthy addition to a cookbook collection, even if you already own the other great paleo cookbooks that came out this year. The first is that I explain a system for The Weekly Cookup. This plan should help busy people keep their kitchens stocked with paleo food all week long, so their tastebuds will not get bored,  and they won't find themselves in a food emergency of being super hungry with no prepped and ready to be eaten. And by following the instructions, even a slow cook can make enough food for 4-5 days in about 90 minutes.

The second is that all of the recipes are Whole30-approved (Editor's note: That means they'll also be 21-Day Sugar Detox-friendly, hooray!), which means they're the cleanest of the clean. The definition of paleo- and primal-approved foods can be quite broad, depending on philosophy — and I think that's a huge advantage to this way of eating. I love that it's not a concrete list of rules because I think it's really important for people to find what works best for them within the guidelines. But my requirements for Well Fed were very strict — no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no added sugar, minimal nuts — because I wanted to create a recipe collection that would provide delicious food that can be eaten every day and would work for everyone. I've been eating these foods for the last three years, tinkering with the recipes so that they live up to my foodie tastebuds, but also make me healthier. The recipes in Well Fed — plus The Weekly Cookup and Hot Plates — provide hundreds of ideas for eating great every day with no “borderline” ingredients.

Well said, Melissa! Thanks for not only sharing some time with me but for sharing this beautiful and recipe/idea-packed book with us!

Grab “Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat,”  via Melissa's website (a signed softcover book or eBook) or via Amazon.com.


Do the following, then come back here and add a comment letting me know which you did!
NOTE: Only one comment per person will count as an entry. Posting more than one comment will disqualify you from the contest, so please just post once! Thanks!! 

1. Like the Well Fed (Clothes Make the Girl) and Balanced Bites Facebook pages.
2. Follow Melissa (@melicious11) and Balanced Bites on Twitter.
3. Subscribe via email to the Balanced Bites newsletter/blog updates.

Then add a comment below about which you completed! That’s it! No purchase necessary.

Note: This contest will be open through the end of Monday, January 9, 2011 and ONE WINNER will be selected using random.org and announced here on the blog, via Facebook and on Twitter. If you do not email me to claim your prize within 48 hours of the announcement, a new winner will be selected in your place.

Comments 166

  1. I would love to have a copy of Well Fed! I love Melissa’s enthusiastic, fun, sassy attitude. I already follow you both on Twitter and like the BB Facebook page; now I like Melissa on Facebook too!

  2. I can do 2 of the 3 I don’t twitter. Love all the things I’ve seen related to Well Fed. Would love to have the book.

  3. Like both of you on Facebook and follow you on Twitter. I love this book, and I definitely agree that her weekly cook-up is great for all of us who combine busy schedules and clean eating.

  4. I have liked both of your pages on Facebook! I don’t do twitter though. I have subrscribed to the Balanced Bites newsletter

  5. Loved the interview and that all the recipes are Whole30 approved. I’m pretty strict paleo, so finding good recipes is sometimes difficult for me.

    I’m a follower and fan of you both on FB and Twitter.

    I hope that cookbook finds its way to South Dakota! There aren’t too many of us paleo cowgirls out here, but I’m trying to show my family and friends that Grok-cooking is AMAZING and healthy for you too!

    Thanks for all you do!

  6. I just signed up for all feeds that I wasn’t already monitoring. Please enter me for the Well Fed Recipe Book contest. I am a student and struggling with the costs of eating on the program. I got the sample download of the cookbook and am very interested in having the book to guide me on the Whole30 Challenge, and beyond. Thanks!

  7. I already “like” both of you on FB, but I’m not a Twitterer. I also already receive your Balanced Bites newsletter! Thanks for the chance to win!

  8. I have “liked” you both on facebook and subscribed to the BB e-newsletter. Haven’t ventured onto Twitter yet. Cookbook looks fantastic!

  9. I’m an owner of the WellFed ebook, but would luve the real-deal to get dirty in my kitchen. I implemented the Weekly Cookup starting this week, and already dinner is less stressful. hoooorrrayyyyyyy!

    I already follow Balanced Bites on twitter, and have previously ‘liked’ both pages. I did add Melissa’s twitter to my list.


    Olive C

  10. No twitter but already “like” – no LOVE – you both on FB. Keep rocking and I have my fingers crossed I have a chance for such a valuable book as Melissa has created.

  11. I have like both your pages I also have bought ebook and a hard copy as I found I wanted to hold it in my hand and she it all laid out in front of me . If I am picked this copy will go to my daughter who is just starting out in this lifestyle !

  12. Already likes Balanced Bites. Just liked The Clothes Make The Girl. 🙂 I downloaded the preview of the book and it looks like a wonderful and full of useful tips.

  13. I like you both on facebook and subscribe to your emails, Diane. I am doing the 21 day sugar detox so looking for some great food to eat. Your cookbook looks awesome Melissa!

  14. Already a huge fan of you both and following on twitter, fb, and your blogs! Thank you for all of the amazing work you do!!

  15. I’ve liked both on FB, and am begging the random number generator gods to bless me with their power! I want that cookbook so bad, but just can’t afford it.

  16. I “liked” The Clothes Make the Girl on Facebook. Thanks for all you do…your info on “Balanced Bites” is very helpful.

  17. Already like Balanced Bites on FB and subscribe to the newsletter — went and followed you both on Twitter and liked Clothes Make the Girl on FB. 🙂

  18. I would LOVE to have this book! The recipes sound a little less traditional than what’s currently available–not to mention yummy! I liked both The Clothes Make the Girl and Balanced Bites on Facebook. Crossing my fingers!!! Thanks!

  19. I already follow Balanced Bites on Twitter and subscribe to your email newsletter, so I am now following Melissa 🙂 Even if I don’t win, I think I’ll be picking up the Well Fed cookbook.

  20. I already do all of this. I would love to win this book. I have a copy on the way but I know of someone I would really like to give a copy to.


  21. thanks so much for doing this interview, i am definitely interested in getting this book! it sounds awesome!

    i liked your facebook page & subscribed to the newsletter!

  22. I “liked” Clothes that make the Girl facebook page (i am already on Diane’s facebook page.) Fingers crossed- thanks!

  23. I subscribe via email and follow both pages on facebook. I’ve been dying to get this book and it’s been on both my christmas and birthday lists but no one is giving in 🙁 It would be an awesome birthday gift, especially when we’re in the midst of the Whole30. 🙂

  24. I liked Melissa and am now following her on twitter. I saw a picture of a tagine (sp?) which I know is used commonly in moroccan cooking and would love to learn how to use! Already following BB.

  25. I “like” both balanced bites and the clothes make the girl on facebook. Would love to win a copy of “Well Fed!”

  26. I receive newsletter updates and liked you both on FB! I’d love a book 🙂 I’ll buy it if I don’t win it. :):):)

  27. I already followed Balanced Bites, but have now been introduced to The Clothes Make the Girl. Thanks!! Looking forward to the cookbook…I’m on the Whole 30 now, so I may have to run out tonight and get a copy. However, if I win one that will go to good use as well, as many of my friends are paleo as well. 🙂

  28. Have been joyfully following Diane on balanced bites &21daysd and blog subscribed and also on Facebook and twitter follow Melissa now on her face book and twitter and need this recipe book to help me more achieve a life long way

  29. Hi Dianne,

    Thanks for sharing! Melissa seems like a pretty rad chick all the way around and makes Paleo easy to understand while living life full on. I like that. Also, after reading through her blog this morning, she has already given me some insight to a possible solution for my raging thyroid battle. Love it!! It’s really great to see Paleo bloggers helping each other out and creates such a wonderful community. I’ve been subscribed to your communications already and just updated to include hers. Thanks again!!

    P.S. I would love to win a copy of Well Fed too!! 🙂

  30. Like both on FB
    Follow you both on twitter
    subscribe to your newsletter
    Shared Trop Tradition giveaway on my FB timeline (not sure that was required for this :).

  31. I just “liked” you both of Facebook and followed you both on Twitter. Signed up for email. Glad to see you have come East coast. I live in Southern Maryland and could possibly follow you to Jersey. (Certainly easier than California.)

  32. I liked The Clothes Make the Girl on FB. I already liked Balanced Bites, follow on Twitter and get the newsletter.


  33. I liked both pages on Facebook and welcome the opportunity to have a paleo cookbook. My CSA veggie bin stopped coming beginning of December and I now need some meat and veggie inspiration, as I return to the grocery more often.

  34. I do all of the above. I added this book to my wishlist last month and now I want it even more since it’s so clean.

  35. Just completed all of the above. Would love the cookbook since we went quite abruptly grain free last week after discovering that my daughter has an enzyme deficiency and does not digest starches properly. We were already gluten free, but I feel quite lost now that we have cut out all complex carbs. Thankful for so many great paleo resources!

  36. I already had all your stuff covered Diane, plus I have you subscribed in my reader and I listen to your every podcast. (Liz MUST keep doing the funny disclaimer voice).
    My “Make it Paleo” TOME has arrived and I’m super stoked. After over a year of half-a$$ed Paleo, I’m kick starting off this year right with your 21DSD!!! … Started Friday and Day 5 is in the can! WOOOHOOO Ahem …
    “Melicious” was on my blog list already (love her!) and now her page is liked and she is now on my twitter!

  37. I just completed my first Whole30 – and used the Well Fed cookbook exclusively. I had great success on the Whole30 and it’s all because of the Well Fed Cookbook. The weekly cook-up saved me! I’ve never considered myself a cook but I really feel I made strides toward becoming a “cook”. I love using all those cool spices and trying different things. My husband had no idea he was eating “paleo” but loved the things I made. Thank you so much Melissa for writing this book.
    Also, Diane I really enjoyed hearing you speak at the Paleo Summit today. I’ll be delving into your website/blogs/cookbooks to learn more. Thanks, Teresa

  38. Ok, I follow you both on twitter already but I “liked” you both on facebook and subscribed to the Balanced Bites newsletter. I’d love to win this book! Just starting my paleo journey and need all the help I can get.

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