Cookbook review: Wholesome family meals seasoned with humor

"Nom Nom Paleo Let's Go! Simple Feasts + Healthy Eats" by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $35)

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"Nom Nom Paleo Let's Go! Simple Feasts + Healthy Eats" by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $35)

‘Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! Simple Feasts + Healthy Eats’ by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong (Andrews McMeel, $35)

Michelle Tam grew up in northern California in a family of Hong Kong immigrants she describes as wai sek — a Cantonese term for “we live to eat.” She studied food science in college where she met her future husband, Henry Fong, and together they embarked on numerous gluttonous adventures at home and abroad.

She later earned a doctorate in clinical pharmacy and got a job as a night shift pharmacist in San Francisco, where Fong was working as a lawyer. They had kids, moved to the suburbs, and became increasingly conscious of their accumulating body flab. Both eventually became fit through exercise and a paleo diet that prioritizes whole, nutrient-rich foods (vegetables, grass-fed meat, healthy fats), and avoids grains, refined sugar, dairy, soy and processed foods.

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Tam began developing paleo-friendly recipes that appealed to their adventurous taste buds, and in 2010 started a blog, Nom Nom Paleo. Fong photographed every step of each recipe, and created cartoon characters of themselves and their two sons to tell their story.

Two bestselling cookbooks followed, along with a cooking app and a line of food products. The New York Times dubbed Tam “the Martha Stewart of Paleo.” Their third volume, “Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! Simple Feasts + Healthy Eats” (Andrews McMeel, $35), picks up on their kitchen journeys as they fed their family through the pandemic, with the step-by-step photos and witty, comic book format that made them famous.

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Its homey recipes reflect their broad international tastes: Singapore Noodles made with spaghetti squash; Hash Brown Fish coated in “crispity-crunchity potatoes,” Sunday Night Lasagna subbing pasta with sliced squash. Some call for “building blocks” to be made in advance: Cashew Cheese Sauce, Nomtastic Grilling Powder, and Grain-Free Tortillas made with cassava flour.

The Sheet Pan Italian Chicken, Albondigas (Mexican meatball) Soup, and Chocolate Pudding topped with Whipped Coconut Cream I made were a cinch, requiring no separate components. And each lived up to Tam’s promise of delivering paleo-friendly recipes “designed with healthfulness, practicality and deliciousness in mind.”

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.

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