Just interested in the recipe for Slow Cooker Carnitas with Apple Slaw and Guacamole? Click here!
For most of March, I did the Whole30 Program (mine was more of a Whole28, although I did quit drinking a few days before it started).
Wait, what’d you do???
There’s a million books, blogs, articles, websites about what the Whole30 is, but it’s basically 30 days of no dairy, booze, grains, legumes, sugars, soy and other foods.
Why did you do this???
Well, a bunch of my badass friends had just done it and inspired me. I started the Whole30 because I needed a food reset. Years ago, I firmly lived in the food as fuel space. It was sad and depressing. I now live in the food as delicious fun space, which is satisfying, until my pants don’t fit. I thought this would help me find the balance between food as energy and indulgence.
And it did. I became so much more cognizant of what I was putting in my body. We all know that sugar is in everything; but it’s not until you’ve embarked on something like Whole30 that you realize SUGAR IS ACTUALLY IN EVERYTHING.
This program (and others like it) require a TON of time, planning and cooking. If you think you’ve cooked enough, cook more! Yes, you could do the Whole30 by eating roasted veggies and chicken every night. But I know I personally wouldn’t make it and would end up face-down in a pizza by day 7. I cannot do anything where I’m bored or hungry, so that wasn’t an option for me. So, yes I ate well. Look at these perfect little compliant lamb chops Jay made me.
Whole30 forced us to get a bit creative in the kitchen, finding new recipes, creating our own and altering what we already make. Below are a few tips for staying sane during Whole30 including my new favorite dish, Carnitas with Apple Slaw and Guacamole.
- COCONUT AMINOS – BUY THIS. TRUST ME. IT IS DELICIOUS. And no, it tastes nothing like coconut. They should probably rename it. You can find Coconut Aminos in local health food stores.
- Deliciously Compliant Snack Idea #1 – If you follow the book to a tee, you’re not supposed to snack (3 solid, balanced meals a day). But sometimes a girl’s gotta snack to survive. Whole30 vet and Carolina alumna Nicole hipped me to one of her favorites – homemade plantains and guacamole. I love these and will make them forever. Hit the google and you’ll find a ton of recipes. My preferred method for the plantains was to spray them with coconut oil before roasting them. Careful, they will burn!
- Deliciously Compliant Snack Idea #2 – My other favorite snack was rolling smoked salmon (many brands have sugar, but some brands don’t – check your labels!) in roasted seaweed and dipping in coconut aminos.
- Make this – crispy chicken thighs. Jay made them for me and then told me he extra-salted the skin because he knew I’d love that. Salty, crispy, chicken skin is my love language.
- Also make this – marinade for skirt steak. If keeping it W30, replace the Worcestershire with coconut aminos. If non-whole 30, add a bit of honey to punch up the marinade a bit. It’s divine.
- Mmmm, carbs – Potatoes are allowed on Whole30 (and I needed carbs to continue to work out and train for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler) so I started making fried eggs and sweet potato hash browns. The hash browns are phenomenal. A proper food processor with the right attachments does all of the work for you. I incorporated some shredded onion and a bit of white potato into the hash browns and fried them up in my homemade ghee (Lord, I sound insane).
- Buddy System – Jay sooooort of did it with me. He lasted about 7 days (which is about 4 more than I expected him to) and then did compliant meals when he was with me. My mother did a pescatarian version from afar. It’s nice to have someone to check in with and help hold you accountable.
You seem to love it….what’s the catch???
I’ve spoken so glowingly of Whole 30, is there anything bad to say about it?? Yes, it’s hard as hell! Whole30 is absolutely not for everyone. But it’s 30 days. Do you know how short 30 days is? I thought for me the hardest parts would be the sugar and and the booze. While not drinking during the beginning of patio season and March Madness was tough, I found the thing I missed the most was cream and sweetener in my coffee. I cursed black coffee so much.
One of the more difficult parts of the program is because there are so many hidden ingredients in sauces and condiments (especially sugar), if you want them, you have to make them. Condiments I made include:
- Mayo – it was amazing – way better than store-bought mayonnaise.
- Sriracha – I didn’t puree mine enough, but good for adding some heat to foods.
- Ghee – I love this stuff so much, I made another batch post-Whole30. Seriously, who am I? But have you ever smelled ghee??? It smells like better butter. WHO KNEW THAT WAS POSSIBLE???
SOOOO…..DID IT WORK???
The million dollar question – did it work??? Depends on your definition of working. I lost a few pounds (about 8 to 9), felt more well-rested, and had more energy. But most importantly for me, it eliminated a lot of my cravings and restructured my mindset around food, which I believe is most helpful for long-term change. Living a Whole30 life, 24/7, is impossible for me, but if I can base a lot of my weekday meals around its principles, I believe I’ll be living a healthier, but still satisfied, life.
Just give me a recipe, Lady.
We eat a lot of Mexican-inspired food and I had the idea to riff off of carnitas. These Whole30 compliant Slow-Cooker Carnitas with Apple Slaw and Guacamole are my new jam. If you aren’t trying to keep it healthy, feel free to tweak – use regular stock, throw a beer in the slow cooker, etc, etc. Or try it the Whole30 way and see how delicious these foods can be! This pork is great to cook on a Sunday or while you’re at work and then doctor up when ready to eat.
- 1 package of Pork tenderloins (usually includes 2 loins) or ~2lbs pork shoulder
- 4 cups Compliant Chicken Stock or Water
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 Medium Onion
- Coconut Aminos (If non-compliant, you can use Worcestershire, soy sauce, etc. I personally now prefer the taste of coconut aminos, as it’s a tad sweet)
- 1 can Crushed Pineapple (not necessary, but adds a nice layer of sweetness)
- 4 cups Shredded Cabbage or Packaged Cole Slaw (admission: I HATE the idea of pre-cut veggies, but I can never get my cabbage as fine as I want it to be. I started buying pre-shredded and my life has changed. Most stores carry it, also TJ’s has an awesome kale, broccoli, Brussel sprouts slaw to kick up the nutrient level)
- ½ cup Shredded Carrots
- Cilantro Leaves
- 1 tbsp Compliant Mayo
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 thinly sliced Apple
- Chopped Jalapeño (optional)
- Your favorite compliant guacamole (all guac should be Whole30 compliant – if yours isn’t, reconsider it).
- Cut the meat into large cubes. Season with salt, pepper, cumin and cayenne. Sear over high heat for about 5 minutes on each side.
- Add to slow cooker and cover with stock/water and orange juice. Add in one sliced onion. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.
- As the meat is cooking, mix your cabbage, carrots, apples, ~2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro, jalapeño (if using), mayo, vinegar and salt and pepper. Let sit to let flavors meld. (note: I don’t like a very creamy slaw – if you do, feel free to add more mayo – but I’d start with a tablespoon and work your way up. Also, if I have kale on hand, I’ll finely chop it and throw it in the slaw)
- Make your guacamole!
- When meat is cooked through and easily falls apart, remove from liquid. Heat a skillet with a 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Sauté meat, adding additional salt, pepper, cumin and coconut aminos to taste. Add a little reserved liquid from slow cooker if meat begins to dry out. As meat begins to crisp up, add crushed pineapple if using.
- In a bowl, add your slaw. Top with the carnitas, then the guacamole and dash a bit more coconut aminos on top (I have a coconut aminos problem, it’s bad). Top with cilantro and voila! Guilt-free happiness!!
Have you tried the Whole30? If so, what’d you love and hate about it? Any favorite recipes? If you’ve considered, but haven’t tried it, what’s stopped you??
Jay and I just got back from Thailand so next week will be “What I ate in…Thailand” including one of the worst meals ever. Thankfully, it was an exception, not the norm!