Book Review: Whole30 Slow Cooker

This new cookbook from Melissa Hartwig features many quick and easy recipes sure to become fast favorites that you will make again and again whether on a Whole30 or not because they will save you time and they taste good! These recipes were created for use in a slow cooker and/or instant pot so you can fix and forget them as you go about your day and have dinner waiting for you. If you choose the slow cooker, the delicious smell of dinner will greet you, if you choose the instant pot options, the beauty is dinner can be done in no time which is great for when you forgot to prep ahead or if you just prefer the benefits of pressure cooking. In the week since I’ve had this cookbook, I’ve made half a dozen of the recipes and all of them have been amazing! The only critique I have is that some recipes have had a little more liquid than I like, but that’s not a problem - it left flavorful extra to create a soup for lunch for me the next day. You can check my instagram feed for another recipe (Pork Tenderloin with Butternut Squash) as well as pictures of other recipes I’ve made. Today, I’m sharing Bacon-Mushroom Chicken with Sweet Potatoes courtesy of the publisher and Melissa Hartwig.

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BACON-MUSHROOM CHICKEN WITH SWEET POTATOES excerpted from The Whole30 Slow Cooker© 2018 by Melissa Hartwig. Photography © 2018 by Ghazalle Badiozamani Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Crisp-cooked and crumbled bacon provides a smoky, salty counterpoint to the sweetness of the mashed potatoes in this dish. Look for Whole30-compliant bacon at natural-foods grocery stores—it won’t contain added sweeteners, nitrates, nitrites, gluten, lactose, or MSG.

SERVE 6

PREP: 30 minutes

SLOW COOK: 6 hours (low) or 3 hours (high)

TOTAL: 6 hours 30 minutes

1 cup Whole30-compliant chicken broth or Chicken Bone Broth (see Instant Pot Chicken Bone Broth)

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 small sweet potatoes, scrubbed and halved lengthwise (about 1 pound total)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon black pepper

12 small bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed

3 cups thinly sliced cremini mushrooms

½ cup chopped red onion

1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted

3 strips Whole30-compliant bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled

Fresh thyme leaves (optional)

• IN a 6-quart slow cooker, combine the chicken broth and garlic. Place the potatoes, cut sides down, in the cooker. In a small bowl, combine the dried thyme, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and ½ teaspoon of the pep-per. Place half the chicken thighs, meaty sides up, on the potatoes. Sprinkle with half the thyme mixture. Repeat with remaining chicken and thyme mixture. Add the mushrooms and red onion to the cooker in an even layer.

• COVER and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or on high for 3 to 3½ hours. Remove the chicken and potatoes from the cooker. When cool enough to handle, remove the potato skins. Place the potato flesh in a medium bowl; add the coconut oil and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Using a potato masher, mash potatoes until smooth.

• SERVE the chicken and vegetables with the mashed potatoes and drizzle with the cooking liquid. Top the servings with bacon and, if desired, fresh thyme.

INSTANT POT CHICKEN BONE BROTH

MAKES 8 CUPS

PREP: 15 minutes

CLOSED POT: 1 hour 40 minutes

TOTAL: 1 hour 55 minutes

Carcass from a roasted 3- to 4-pound chicken

2 carrots, roughly chopped

3 stalks celery, roughly chopped

2 onions, roughly chopped

5 or 6 sprigs fresh parsley

1 sprig fresh thyme

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

10 whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon salt

• IN a 6-quart Instant Pot, place the carcass, carrots, celery, onions, parsley, thyme, vinegar, pepper-corns, and salt. Add enough water to reach 1 inch below the maximum fill line. Lock the lid in place.

• SELECT Soup/Broth. Use natural release.

• STRAIN the broth through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large bowl or clean pot. Discard the solids. Transfer the broth to multiple containers to speed up cooling—don’t freeze or refrigerate it while it’s hot! Allow the broth to sit in the fridge, uncovered, for several hours, until the fat rises to the top and hardens. Scrape off the fat with a spoon and discard it.

• REFRIGERATE the broth in airtight containers for 3 to 4 days or freeze for up to 6 months.

TIP: A properly prepared bone broth might look a little jiggly when cold. That’s just the gelatin from the collagen in the bones. When ready to use the broth, gently heat it and it will return to a liquid state.

Recipe: Dairy Free Mashed Potatoes

Dairy Free Mashed Potatoes

Prep Time: 8 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

·      3 pounds organic yukon gold potatoes

·      1 can whole fat coconut milk

·      1/2 cup ghee

·      2 teaspoons sea salt

·      1 teaspoon garlic powder

·      1/2 teaspoon black pepper

·      1/4 teaspoon paprika

Directions

1.  Wash and cut potatoes into fourths. Place in a large pot and cover with cold water. Turn the heat to medium high and stir occasionally until the water boils. This should take 8-10 minutes.

2.  Cover, turn heat to low and cook 10-15 minutes, until a fork can easily go through a potato.

3.  Turn off heat, drain potatoes and add them back to the hot pot. Add in coconut milk, ghee, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and paprika. Mash with a potato masher or hand mixer until smooth.

4.  Add additional sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Notes

*Can be made ahead and reheated - scoop onto parchment lined cookie sheet and flash freeze, then remove into freezer safe container or plastic bag for storage and reheat individual portions.

*To make in the Instant Pot-place potatoes in the bottom, cover with 1 cup water, cook on high for 14 minutes. Hit the "cancel" button, release the pressure and drain.

Whole30 72-Hour Food Kits

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The American Red Cross and FEMA both advise citizens to be prepared for emergency situations such as hurricanes, floods, fires, ice storms, etc. by creating a 3-day supply of food and emergency supplies to have available for immediate use at all times. This helps partner with government and relief agencies to enable people to provide care and sustenance for themselves in the short term until help can arrive. 

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I have lived on the Texas Gulf Coast for over 20 years through multiple Tropical Storms and several Hurricanes, the most recent being last year’s Harvey. Once Harvey’s historic 5-day rains passed, it was days before stores were re-stocked with food. This is another reason why keeping a 72-Hour Kit stocked and current with each household member’s current dietary needs is important.  While survival is of utmost importance, it is completely possible to create a 72-Hour Kit and make it Whole30 compliant. 

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I completed my first Whole30 right after Hurricane Harvey. I’d planned ahead of time to do it and then Harvey hit. I debated not doing it given the circumstances of all the chaos and emotions, but I decided there will always be something. And, as the original Whole30 book says, it changed my life. Be sure to check out this great article on natural disaster and preparedness on the Whole30 website.

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I didn't have Whole30 compliant food in my 72-Hour Kit back then. I was fortunate to not have lost power so I was able to follow my Whole30 program without the need for using one. With hurricane season being active here from June 1 through November 30, I decided to create a PDF planning kit to put together a Whole30 Compliant 72-Hour Food Kit containing tips, food suggestions, and food inventory list. Planning ahead is key, just as with any Whole30. 

Book Review: 100 Days of Food On A Budget

The subtitle of this book continues, "Simple Tips and Tasty Recipes to Help You Cut Out Processed Food Without Breaking the Bank." Cost is such a big concern I find when people consider making dietary changes from what they consider convenience and often overly processed foods to more whole and real foods. Lisa Leake and her family's entire experience of transforming their eating is what ultimately created the "100daysofrealfood" blog after she read Michael Pollan's book In Defense of Food. I have followed the "100daysofrealfood" blog since before there was a first book and have been impressed with the first two books. I anxiously awaited this 3rd cookbook’s arrival and preordered it last November when I first heard about it.

This 3rd book from Lisa really hits it out of the park visually the way each recipe’s budget is laid out (with a color photo and shopping list) in a clearly organized manner. Multiple dietary accommodations are shown with the recipes (ie: gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, etc.) as well as in a convenient table in the back of the book for handy reference. The dinner plans, supermarket comparison prices (some may surprise you) and packed lunch ideas for kids and adults all provide valuable time and money saving information for those seeking to use real foods in their kitchen. On top of all of these positive attributes, the recipes themselves use accessible ingredients and are not complicated. Lisa’s own children contributed recipes that look delicious and should encourage members of all ages in families to cook real food!

I am excited to share with all of you, that earlier this year, I was thrilled to be selected as a recipe tester for this cookbook! I was sent 3 recipes to make and provide feedback on regarding the actual cost of the items, making the recipe and our family's opinion of the actual recipe. Lisa was really interested in all of these aspects and I will add that I was able to be chosen to select dairy and gluten free recipes to test. The attention to detail in this book to dietary preferences as well as to cost in order to make eating real food accessible for everyone really shows and there are so many great recipes in it. 

I was also chosen to be a launch team member so I am able to share the following recipe with you to try yourself at home and also to see how the recipes are laid out. Note the budget details and dietary notations. If you are following a Whole30™ substitute cauliflower rice for the brown rice. I've made this recipe and it is really tasty and easy to make. I hope you enjoy it!

 

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Whole30 Back To School Lunch Box Series: Sub Theme

Head over to Instagram to see the first series of themed lunch box ideas that follow the Whole30 Meal Template. This week's theme was "Subs" and I showcased Italian, Club, Roast Beef, Tuna and Meatball. For anyone interested in receiving a handy downloadable collection of the entire collection of ideas along with some bonuses, be sure to sign up for my email list so that it will be emailed to you on 9/1/18. When you sign up today, you'll receive a Whole30 Friday Night Pizza Inspiration List as a thank you for signing up. 

One thing I'd like to note is that for all of these posts I chose fruits and vegetables that are colorful. Not all of them are seasonal and that can increase costs. Also, you/your kids may not like some of the ones pictured. Please know that you can substitute any of the ones shown with compliant fruits and vegetables and that these are just suggestions. You'll find a list of a lot of more ideas on the 80 Whole30 Back To School Lunch Ideas that I created here.

Recipe Booklet: Summer Bowls

Happy Summer, friends! I've created an e-book for you that contains a variety of delicious "Summer Bowls" for lunches or dinners that will hopefully save you time this summer. These recipes are all whole food based and naturally gluten and dairy free. Most of these recipes can be made in 30 minutes or less, so you will be out of the kitchen and back to the pool, beach, or wherever your plans take you other than the kitchen this summer!

I've included a bonus grocery list for further time savings - remember to cross off anything you already have before you head to the store to save yourself some (vacation? shopping? spa?) money ;)