Ten Things With Melissa Joulwan, Author of Well Fed 2

When you get your hands on your very own copy of Well Fed 2, some things will be immediately obvious:

It’s gorgeous. Seriously. The book is packed with vibrant, mouthwatering, full-color photos by Dave Humphreys, Mel’s partner in life, food and all things Smudge.

It’s packed with 110 original recipes, most of which also include Mel’s signature, “You know how you could do that?” variations. Add to that 45 no-recipe-necessary quick meal ideas, autoimmune protocol variations, and “Tastes Great With” pairing ideas and you’ve got more Good Food than you’ll know what to do with!  (Okay, you’ll know what to do with it.)

It’s squeaky clean. No grains, no legumes, no sugar, no dairy no surprises there. But just in case you were wondering.

It’s a cover-to-cover cookbook. You’ll notice that Well Fed 2 has the same great style and captivating storytelling as the original, drawing you in from page one. It’s also packed with genuinely useful information like Mel’s “yes” and “no” food lists, a guide to the current paleo experts, and tips on “How to be a Paleo Social Butterfly.” Add to that her cooking definitions (haven’t you always wanted to know the differences between chopped, diced, and minced?) and foreign vocab words and you’re getting a real education. Even better, Mel’s stories are expertly woven throughout the book, like culinary time travel taking you to different moments and places in her life.


10 Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know About Well Fed 2

There are some things you wouldn’t know about this delicious cookbook unless Mel told you herself.  Don’t worry, though… you don’t have to chase her down  to find out. We asked, and she shared:

10. The recipes aren’t just Whole30® complaint, there are AIP adaptations.

All of the recipes in Well Fed 2 (except the sweet potato “waffle” and the banana pecan ice cream) are Whole30 compliant.

Mel says: In addition, I worked with Mickey Trescott to provide adaptations that make more than 100 of the recipes compliant with the autoimmune protocol  for paleo. I couldn’t make the whole book work, but the substitutions I included mean the recipes still taste great, even if you have to be even more strict than usual. Check out this preview of the AIP adaptations.

9. It started with almost 300 recipes.

And it’s a good thing they narrowed the list as much as they did! There are so many delicious-looking options, it’s hard to decide what to try first. Personally, I’ve got my eye on the Thai Pink Grapefruit Salad (p. 212), and according to Whole9 founder Melissa Hartwig, the citrus cauliflower rice (p. 188) is the perfect side dish for pretty much anything ever.

Mel says: When I started recipe development and testing last October, I had a list of almost 300 dishes that I was curious about or thought might be tasty. Dave and I went through a somewhat painful process of editing down the list to remove things that were too weird, too similar to each other, or really couldn’t be re-worked well in the paleo framework. The final book includes 200 recipes, variations, and Quick Meal ideas.

8. You don’t always need a recipe.

This is something that on-the-go and cook-by-the-seat-of-your-pants folks know well, but even the most experienced food concocters run out of ideas from time to time. Now, thanks to the 45 Quick Meal options in WF2, food boredom is a thing of the past.

Mel says: I have an almost pathological love for following a well-written recipe to a T. Cook’s Illustrated is my favorite because the recipe authors are SO picky and precise. But even I need to be able to just throw some food together at the last minute and know it’s going to taste good. That’s where the “Quick Meals” section of Well Fed 2 comes in. It’s a collection of almost 50 meal ideas that don’t require a recipe. If you know how to use a stove and can chop reasonably well, you can make delicious things to eat.

7. You will add new words to your vocabulary.

From fancy foreign terms to old-timey slang, you’ll have many opportunities to soak up some new verbage and impress your friends with it later.

Mel says: One of the things I enjoy about cooking international food is that it teaches me about the people, customs, and languages in other parts of the world. There’s tasty trivia sprinkled liberally throughout Well Fed 2. You might want to add this to a conversation soon: In Jamaica, “walk good” is an intimate way to say “goodbye” or “take care” to friends.


6. Cauliflower may be the moodiest vegetable.

We know it makes for great faux rice, cous-cous, and mashed “potatoes,” but we didn’t realize just how sensitive it was.

Mel says: I always have at least two heads of cauliflower in my refrigerator and bags of florets in the freezer. It’s such a friendly vegetable: It can be riced, mashed, roasted, puréed in soup, eaten in cold salads, and mixed with meat to mimic breadcrumbs and bulghur wheat. I mean, it’s almost as if it’s showing off! But it can also be quite moody, as we discovered when Dave took this photo of emo cauliflower. I was inspired to create an appropriately pouty dance-mix playlist for the kitchen; you’ll find it on page 30 of the book, but here’s a taste: “Lips Like Sugar” by Echo And The Bunnymen

5. All of the food in the photos is the real deal.

That means no glue, Vaseline, hairspray or any other clever food-styling tricks.  What you see is what Mel cooked.

Mel says: We started recipe photography in January 2013. I cooked (and cooked and cooked), and Dave took the photos — then at the end of every photography day, we ate the food we’d just shot. There are no photography tricks in our book. What you see is the real food that I cooked, following the instructions in the recipes. Dave is a master of making sure the light is just right so that the food looks like something you want to eat.

4. There were a few epic fails.

It’s hard to believe, but if Mel says it, it must be true!

Mel says: Oh, the doomed Enchanted Broccoli Forest! I wrote the whole, sad tale on my blog. Basically, I had a deep affection for a recipe from my younger days, and I thought I had a brilliant means to re-create it, paleo style. I could not have been more mistaken. Cauliflower rice, coconut milk, ground meat, and spices have never been so wrong.


3. Tomato sauce has the ability to erupt like hot lava.

She voluteered this picture when we asked her to provide proof of said kitchen fails. Amazing.

Mel says: The photo tells you just about all you need to know. It was the end of a long, successful say of shooting. The pot slipped. The sauce flew. That’s pretty easy to explain. Not easy to explain? That outfit. WHY AM I DRESSED LIKE THAT?

 2. Saying the word “balls” never gets old.

And now you have a good excuse –well, several good excuses – to say it!

Mel says: My favorite part of the cookbook is the Burgers, Balls & Bangers section: 15 recipes — inspired by international sausage — that can be shaped into meatballs, burgers, or sausage (a.k.a., bangers) shapes. Balls!

1. It’s possible for a garlic clove to draw blood!

Good Food can be dangerous, but in the end the chef shall prevail!

Mel says: I kept track of the number of cuts and burns I acquired throughout the cookbook production process. I can’t reveal the number here because we’re going to have a contest on my blog, but I’m glad to say it turned out to be less than I thought it would be… but more than I wanted. The worst was a cut I got on my left wrist from a garlic clove. Talk about adding insult to injury! I was smashing the clove with the side of my knife when it slipped and literally slit my skin with the tough skin on the root end of the clove. I guess it really didn’t want to be smashed! Ultimately, I prevailed, and I ate the little sucker.

Oh, but wait! There’s one more super-mega-awesome feature of Well Fed 2!

Eat Well, Do Good


Everyone who purchases a printed copy of Well Fed 2 is eligible to purchase a PDF copy for just $1.  The proceeds from those bonus copies, plus $1 from every regular e-book purchase, will be donated to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. This organization is dedicated to providing clean cooking methods for folks in developing countries.  Your purchase will not only help get Good Food cooking in your kitchen, but in kitchens all over the world.

Thanks to Melissa Joulwan for the fun interview. For all our readers, happy cooking (and eating) with your very own order of Well Fed 2, or…

Enter to win a copy!  We’re giving away two copies of this awesome cookbook to our readers. All you have to do is tell us about your WORST KITCHEN FAIL EVER. We want all the gory details and the best, most embarrassing sob stories will win. Leave your stories in the comments below and we’ll choose a winner on Wednesday, October 23rd.

Note: entries will not be accepted via Facebook. You must leave your comment on the article itself.

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  1. Kelly says

    My most epic kitchen fail actually happened while trying to follow a recipe from the FIRST Well-Fed cookbook. (Let me preface this story but assuring you all that it was MY OWN fault. :) ) I LOVE spaghetti squash, and I was attempting to cut one in half before I roasted it. I banged it on the counter like I was supposed to and it didn’t break in half the first time. So I tried to pull the knife out so I could reposition and try again. I’m still not exactly sure how this happened, but when I pulled the knife out of the squash, I nicked my thumb. Horizontally across the knuckle. Or anyway, I thought it was just a nick… It immediately started bleeding everywhere, but I thought it was no big deal. After a few moments of trying to stop the bleeding, I realized that my thumb felt weird and it was stuck bent forward. I could no longer straighten it up (like in a hitchhiker’s thumb position). Yup–you guessed it, I severed the tendon in my thumb. A week later, I had surgery, followed by 3 weeks in a huge splint, 1 week in a cast, 2 months in another splint and 2 months of hand therapy to regain use of my thumb. It was a ridiculous injury that turned into a huge ordeal! Who knew?! However, you’ll also be glad to know that I jumped right back on that spaghetti squash horse…it was a few months afterwards, but it’s been smooth sailing from then on. (Knock on wood.) :)

  2. Tim S. says

    I already ordered my copy but would love to win one as a gift for someone. Here goes my horror story from the kitchen.

    I was in college at the time (way before I ever heard of Paleo) living off campus. There was this girl (we will call her Katie) that I finally got the nerve to ask out on a date. Trying to impress her, I invited her over to my house for the date and with the plan that I would cook her dinner. I told my roommates (4 girls) that I would need the downstairs kitchen because of my date. I everything ready to go to make my meal which would be a stir fry with crab cakes and wine of course.

    Katie came over and I started to get everything ready to cook us a nice dinner. I insisted I needed no help as I put the oil in the wok and put the lid on it to prevent it from splashing too much. Distracted by my date, I forgot to pay attention to the oil in the wok. After way too long, I went and removed the lid from the wok and this is when all hell broke loose.

    As I removed the lid flames began shooting from the wok (due to the oil catching fire) which also included a fire in the lid. So I am holding a flaming wok lid, like I am the statute of liberty, while flames are shooting from the wok onto the wall catching the wall on fire. At this point I begin to panic and yell to Katie to get the fire extinguisher from upstairs. Problem being this is our first date and she has never been to my place before. The entire wall is now engulfed in flames so I yell for her to just get out of the house while the entire kitchen is filling with smoke.

    I run upstairs to get the extinguisher and to get my roommates out of the house in case I can’t put the fire out. Of course one just came out of the shower so is now running outside in a towel in February. Luckily, I am able to put the fire out, which has not burned a hole through the wall. But in the process I destroy all the food I planned on cooking for this first date.

    That is my worst kitchen fail.

  3. Jessica says

    My worst kitchen fail ever was Thanksgiving 4 years ago. I made several dishes from scratch- mashed potatoes, yeast rolls, and the turkey. I spent several days carefully thawing, brining and injecting the turkey. The food was ready on time, except for the turkey, which took an extra 4 hours to cook thoroughly. No one in our family ate turkey that day, but had alot of meat for the day after. To this day, no one can explain why it took that long, and I have lost turkey-roasting privileges. :-)

  4. Erin B says

    I was making a noodle dish in high school that said to place the colander in the pan to remove the liquids. Well, the colander was plastic. My dad was not happy about losing a frying pan, to say the least. Also the first time I tried broiling garlic bread in the oven, it got turned into charcoal. There was even smoke involved. I don’t think I realized at the time that broiling cooked things MUCH faster. :) I still hear about that darned colander sometimes, though. lol.

  5. Lynn Wetzler says

    If only I were web-savvy enough to also post a photo to visually show my epic kitchen fail (and I do have one!). I was making a lovely mirepoix for a soup base. The onions, carrots and celery were cooking beautifully in the stock pot, and I was going to add a few dashes of salt at this stage to start bringing out the flavors. I’d recently run out of the more conventional salt, and had purchased a nice bottle of sea salt at my local coop. As I turned the container upside down to sprinkle the salt, it wouldn’t come out. While still upside down, I hit the bottom (now top) of the salt container, to no avail. After a few whacks, the salt loosened up, as did the top (now bottom) of the salt container, and all of the salt came pouring out, right on top of the lovely mirepoix. All I could do was laugh. It was un-salvageable, but I did capture the mountain of salt, atop the bright orange carrots, crisp green celery and translucent onions on my phone before burying the disaster in the food/yard compost. Maybe this winter I will attempt mirepoix again.

  6. says

    We were newlyweds and I wanted to be “fancy” and cook meatloaf from the recipe on the ground turkey package (those were simpler times!). I wasn’t careful and spilled a lot of celery salt into it (called for a few pinches) and was too cheap to trash the meat and start over. Let’s just say my husband dutifully ate it but can’t smell celery salt to this day without giving me crap for it! Every time I say “I’m experimenting’ in the kitchen he gets scared – but we loved Well Fed and know he’ll love Well Fed 2! Melissa has taught us a lot about spices!

  7. Kittie says

    Mine happened one Thanksgiving when all the family was at our house. I’d made a pumpkin marble cheesecake with ginger snap crust that was cooling on a wire rack. The cheesecake was still on the glass bottom of the spring-form pan, the sides having been removed. My husband decided to help and bring the cheesecake over to the other counter so I could cut it. Little did he realize he should have moved the cheesecake off of the wire rack before trying to move it. As he picked it up and began to move, the momentum caused the cheesecake – with its nice, slick glass bottom part of the pan – to slide off the wire rack and coming flying across the kitchen toward where I was standing. Needless to say, it ended up all over the front of the counter, and on me. So there I was, cussing and grabbing handfuls of cheesecake and throwing it into the garbage. My father-in-law said he’d never seen me so mad. After the clean-up, I hastily threw together a blueberry sauce for vanilla ice cream, which in the end was actually a better dessert since we all were so full from dinner! :) Oh, and the glass bottom was intact!

  8. Jamee says

    I met this fabulous guy at the end of July and for my birthday in October he decided to make my birthday dinner. He went with a surf and turf theme. Steaks and crab legs. We sit down to dinner and start to eat and I take a bite of crab and it does not taste right. Being that we were still new in our relationship I did not want to say anything to hurt his feelings. I decided to focus on my steak. Eventually, he takes a bite from one of the claws and immediately spits it out and says, “this tastes like amonia.” We call the poison control number and ask what the side effects are for spoiled crab. Everything turned out fine, we didn’t end up getting sick, but he still won’t eat crab to this day.

  9. says

    Turkey slow-cooker meatloaf, suitable for discus throwing. In smaller chunks, it also could’ve doubled for Indian Rubber or a great self-defense tool. Or, another terrific kitchen fail, turkey chili (pre paleo) loaded with bell pepper goodness and BEANS…a LOT of ’em. A one-bowl GI nightmare, even better the next day. Need I say more?

  10. says

    One of my worst kitchen fails was when trying to prepare a paleo pulled pork roast for dinner. My husband was asleep in the other room and I decided to go ahead and start dinner early. Well, I had bought a giant roast and since it wouldn’t defrost fast enough to my liking, I decided to try to saw it in half with a meat cleaver. I worked on it for a good 10 minutes before deciding to try a different way. So I turned the meat cleaver toward myself and started digging in. It only took about a minute or so before I stabbed myself in the finger with the knife and my poor, confused husband came groggily running into the kitchen and helped me bandage my finger up. Needless to say, I walked around with bandaids on my hands for quite awhile after beginning paleo, but now I’m happy to say I haven’t had to wear a bandaid in quite a few months. ;)

  11. April says

    Oh man, has to be when I was going to be making chicken tortilla soup in my slow cooker- I was using frozen chicken breasts as I like to do that when I am cooking them all day in the slow cooker (they will get too mushy otherwise). And this was a weekday morning as well so I was doing this before heading into work. Well, I was trying to take the paper off the bottom of the chicken- the liner at the bottom of the package and I could NOT get it. I tried thawing it a bit in the microwave to take it off, cutting it off, etc. Finally I got my chef knife out and attempted to slice it off, when the blade slipped and I plunged it into my palm- the knife went in a good 1/4 inch which doesn’t sound like a lot but it certainly was!! Blood started pouring out of my hand and I was late for work because I had to bandage it up. And I had to throw away my chicken and everything else since I got blood in it. That happened a year and a half ago and I still have the scar- I think I’ll always have it!

  12. K says

    My worst kitchen fail has got to be what I call “hate baking” related. This occurs when you undertake a large-ish baking project on a weeknight and have to do things like frost still warm cakes. My last round of hate baking was when I was trying to whip up a yellow cake with chocolate frosting and just everything went wrong from beginning to end. Cake was dense, frosting tasted gross and grainy. Layers slipped off of one another. Hate baking. You’ll be gratified to know that it was not then “hate consumed.”

  13. Diana says

    Mine is simple but long lasting/ I dropped a glass jar of applesauce and it and the contents went flying! I found it on the ceiling, the windows, cupboard doors, and in the laundry room on the walls and ceiling (the laundry door was open) I kept finding it months later in places that it seemed impossible for it to reach!!

  14. Jessica says

    Amazon tracking says my copy of WellFed2 was delivered last week but it hasn’t shown up on my stoop yet. The suspense is KILLING me. I might have to order another copy!!!

  15. Martine says

    My worst kitchen fail occurred when I was a teen. I had some success coming up with a bannock type of bread, that could be cooked in a frying pan. For some reason, I decided I wanted to try something similar, but fried in oil. No clue what the thought process behind that decision was :)

    So I made a batch of batter and heated up oil in my mother’s old beaten up french fry pan. I dropped spoonful of batter in the hot oil. Everything was fine for a little while and then to my great astonishment, the dough balls started exploding spattering hot oil everywhere. I beat a hasty retreat to the other side of the kitchen and watched with my mouth opened in horror, as some of the oil on the stove started catching fire. I was going to burn the house down. My mother was gonna KILL me. Armed with my courage and a stupid little tea towel, I dashed to the stove, turned off the heat and moved the pot away from the ring, then proceeded to run out of the kitchen and cower behind a wall as the splattering escalated. Luckily for me, the splattering eventually stopped and the oil burned itself out without setting fire to anything. I has a massive cleanup to do and vowed that this the end of my culinary experiments.

  16. Rebecca says

    I had just moved to Germany when I attempted to cook Well Fed 1’s Rogan Josh stew. I was super excited to try a local butcher. I had prepared asking for it for a couple days, even consulting with a few native friends. When I asked for the meat he ended up chopping off a shoulder blade and wrapping it up. I was so overwhelmed that I left with the lamb shoulder. When I got home I was so flustered that I hid the meat in the fridge for a few days until I worked up the courage to cook the meal. A few days later I tried to cook it, but I didn’t have the proper knife and ended up spending 2 hours getting about a half pound of meat off the shoulder. I never went back to the butcher and still don’t understand what I said wrong. The stew tasted great though!

  17. Ana says

    During my whole 30, I was trying to make the chocolate chili…. bought the unsweetened cocoa powder… but when making the recipe got it confused with regular! realized next day when tried…. so.. not only had to donate my whole chili pot.. but had to start again the W30!!!!

  18. Shannon J says

    Let’s just say that a red velvet cake is not a red velvet if it comes out gray. My sister and I decided that we didnt need all the red food coloring and could make it with any food color. Not true…. That was years ago and I haven’t felt the same about red velvet cake since.

  19. Andria says

    I just received my copy of Well Fed 2! It IS beautiful! And….I saw a recipe for plaintains nachos! Wah?! Nachos!!!! I can’t wait to sit down and really peruse the recipes.

    Everything I have cooked from Well Fed 1 has been delicious :-)

  20. Talie says

    Trying to be frugal I had bulk bought and spent ages peeling carrots/swede and sweet potatoes, cooked them up and mashed with black pepper and ghee, it smelt delicious and was for with dinner and for the freezer. I reached into the cupboard for my foil freezer packs only to pull out a hidden wineglass which smashed on the counter and then further on the floor. I peer into my huge saucepan of delicous mashed goodness to see glistening bits of glass and had to bin the lot!!

    I also had a smoothie accident using frozen fruit and coocnut milk, it all froze together so i had the container and gave it a shake to loosen, screwed on lid flew across the kitchen, the liquid went in my face and down me and the lump of frozen fruit and milk flew over to land on the counter narrowly missing the cat, I grabbed for the lid and watched my breakfast “un”smoothie slide off the counter and fall into the open bin. I spent the rest of the morning cleaning up the mess and getting changed rather than enjoying a smoothie. needless to say i hold the top and container if shaking a smoothie to mix it up now!!!!

  21. Elizabeth says

    The worst unsalvageable kitchen mistake was my first time cooking after giving birth. My extremely fussy newborn was – finally!- napping. Unusually, I was wakeful, with the drive to cook again. I attempted a stand-by, an eggplant/goat cheese/tomato tart (adapted from the Green’s cookbook). I must have been experimenting with a store-bought crust, because it was in an aluminum pie plate. Everything was going well – eggplant roasted, check; eggs beaten, check; chevre crumbed and tomatoes sliced; check. Prebaked the crust, check. I filled it with the custard, picked up the pie plate (wearing hot pads), it collapsed on itself. Folded in half. Pie jumbled all over the floor. Baby wakes up, crying. Me, crying. No dinner. I don’t remember what we ate instead – maybe scrambled eggs? Honestly, I thought I’d never get to cook again. Five 1/2 years later, now I cook all the time – yea!

  22. Brenda says

    I just ordered both cookbooks after finding Mel’s blog tonight but still have to share my worst kitchen fail ever. I would love to share a cookbook with a friend as I am so excited about it.

    I am living in my first apartment and want to make rotel dip. this was before making rotel dip in crockpots as I didn’t even have one then. I made a makeshift double boiler with an aluminum pot on the bottom. I didn’t think to check the pot on bottom to ensure it still had water and certainly had no idea the pot could just melt if it ran out of water. Needless to say, I not only boiled the water out of the bottom pot, I melted the whole bottom out of the pot. I hung that bottomless pot on the wall at my apartment for years as a reminder to pay attention!!! :-) Thank goodness I never gave up on cooking.

  23. Anna says

    One night after work I decided to make chorizo and eggs. I got out all the ingredients and, much to my dismay, I realized that the chorizo was still frozen. I had a stroke of pure genius and decided I would speed up the thawing-meat-in-a-bowl-of-hot-water by putting the large glass bowl (containing several pounds of chorizo and some 10 cups of hot water) onto the stove. After congratulating myself on my time-saving brilliance, I turned the heat all the way up, and went into the living room to put my feet up while I waited for the thawing to occur. A few minutes later The Hubs and I heard a POP so loud it sounded like a gunshot. We dashed into the kitchen to find bits of chorizo plastered to every imaginable surface, water covering the floor, and the bowl replaced by glass shrapnel covering an 8 foot radius. Our 2 week old laminate flooring was totally destroyed. Turns out a sudden deluge of boiling water completely melts the adhesive. It took us several hours to clean up the clumps of meat covering the stove, cabinets, and ceiling fan, and we were finding glass projectiles for weeks. I was simultaneously relieved that no one was hurt and impressed at the velocity our weaponized chorizo must have attained to stick to the opposite kitchen wall. At least the Chorizo IED gave us a good laugh.

  24. says

    Labor day weekend. Two years ago. I am known among my friends as the person that cooks on the healthier side. Instead of the pre-prepackaged potato chips that most people eat during their BBQ, I decided I would show my friends you could make healthier baked sweet potato chips in the oven. Well I set up my mandolin slicer and began working. I bet you can probably see where this is going. I, like an idiot, decided I didn’t need the hand guard. Always, ALWAYs use the hand guard. 5 minutes later I’m clutching my hand because I sliced my finger tip right off. And began to squirt blood everywhere. Only it gets worse because I have a horrible tendency to faint at the sight of blood. Next thing I know i’m down on the kitchen floor, blacked out, blood everywhere. And that’s how my friends find me….Not my finest moment.

  25. Jessica says

    I know its past the 23rd, but I wanted to share my kitchen story.

    Delicious indian eggplant dish. Step one, roast eggplant. Well, I learned an essential thing about roasting whole eggplants, and this time learned the hard way when my oven EXPLODED and eggplant was EVERYWHERE. The door to the oven literally swung open and slammed shut, startling my innocent roommates.

    Like potatoes, always pierce a few holes in an eggplant before roasting, or else it turns into a bomb.