“I think Whole30 and slow cooking are a match made in heaven,” says Hartwig, who is a fan of letting the appliance do most of the cooking.
With over a million copies sold of her 2015 cookbook The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom, Melissa Hartwig finds continued inspiration in the Whole30.com success stories of those who’ve cut—at least for 30 days—sugar, dairy, grains, alcohol, and legumes from their diets in favor of her nutrient-dense (and still flavorful) eating plan.
Participants report “dramatic improvements,” she says, in sleep, energy, attention span, focus, digestive symptoms, skin conditions, joint pain and swelling, tendonitis, allergies, asthma, and migraines. The program helps people “pull stuff out that is commonly problematic, put it back in carefully and systematically—one at a time, like an experiment—and figure out how these foods work for you.”
Now Hartwig is helping Whole30 devotees cut prep and cooking time with her new cookbook, The Whole30 Slow Cooker, which contains 150 compliant recipes. “I think Whole30 and slow cooking are a match made in heaven,” she says. “It allows you to take real, whole-food ingredients and turn them into meals, but it lets the appliance do most of the work for you. And it gives you the factor of doing the prep and cooking when it’s convenient for you.”
What foods can people expect to eat on Whole30?
It’s not a carnivorous plan; you’re not eating a giant amount of animal protein. But you’re eating a moderate portion of meat, seafood, and eggs, three meals a day. You’re eating lots and lots of plants. You are filling your plate with vegetables—different colors, bringing seasonality into it, maybe shopping locally. You’re eating natural, healthy fats from things like avocados, olives and olive oil, nuts and seeds, maybe some ghee or coconut products. And you’re rounding it out with fresh herbs and spices and all of the things that make meals taste delicious.
What are some key ways these recipes transform slow-cooker staples?
You might put a pork carnitas or a buffalo chicken or some pot roast in, and maybe the first night for dinner you’re actually eating it as a pot roast. So you have meat on your plate and maybe a couple of veggies and a side of mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower. But the next day you’re taking the leftover (meat) and you’re shredding it and putting it on a salad. Or you’re making eggs with some veggies in the morning and stirring in some of that shredded leftover pot roast—and you’ve got this delicious, breakfast-inspired dish. Or you’re adding it as a protein base to soup. So you’re taking the same meal and remixing it a number of ways. And nobody’s bored because you’re transforming it into all of these different dishes with a variety of micronutrients and flavor profiles.
Your book has plenty of fish and shellfish recipes too.
A lot of people don’t think of seafood in terms of slow cooking. But you can. For
example, we’ve got dishes with shrimp and white fish, which don’t require a ton of time because you don’t have to cook them as long. But then you can take that and transform it into your dinner. If it’s salmon, you can use it in your breakfast the next morning or throw it on top of a salad or just remix it in various ways.
Which comfort-food recipes are great for fall?
We have a Whole30 version of a beef stew that’s big and hearty, and it feels comforting and is very family-friendly. I like the idea of throwing it in your bowl the next morning and throwing an egg on top and calling it breakfast. We have a coffee-rubbed pot roast that’s so good. We take a traditional meal and give it a modern feel with a mocha coffee rub. I also love our chili varieties. Most people think of chili, and they think of rice and beans and you’re eating them maybe on top of a corn tortilla. But we have a variety of options with no legumes that are really rich and hearty. They have a ground turkey or ground beef base. You can serve it with cauliflower rice or a thinly sliced jicama shell. There are a lot of ways to reinvent these family-friendly comfort foods Whole30-style.