I use my crock pot year round, but there’s something about fall that draws me to use it much more often. Most of the time, I use my crock pot to make soups, stews, chowders, etc, but I tried The Whole30 Slow Cooker by Melissa Hartwig (it has some recipes for the Instant Pot, too!) because it has recipes that are more varied and not a re-take on chowder.
Let me begin with a disclaimer: I did not know what a Whole30 diet meant when I first saw this cookbook. I soon discovered that Whole30 is a month long (hence the 30) diet plan to eliminate certain foods and discover if there are food groups that are affecting your body negatively. I have not participated in a Whole30 diet and the recipes I tried I tried because I thought they looked good, but I did not choose this book to follow the diet, so my review will not comment on the affectiveness of a Whole30 diet plan.
Melissa Hartwig is a certified sports nutritionist and is the co-creator and CEO of the Whole30 program. She has written a number of books including The Whole30 Slow Cooker published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and released in 2018.
One of the best things, in my opinion, about a crock pot is the dump the stuff in, turn the power on, and walk away aspect of it. Most of the recipes in this cookbook offer that ease, but there are some that require a bit more preparation time. As long as you’re aware of the prep time – and they list a prep time for each recipe – you can plan ahead.
The first recipe I made was Spicy Italian Pot Roast With Fingerling Potatoes, Carrots, Onions, and Pepperoncini. Throughout the book, Hartwig includes recipes from guest chefs. This is one of those recipes and is from Simon Hall of Simon Hall Private Chef. I consider this to be a stew. And a yummy stew it was! It was my first introduction to pepperoncini and wow! It’s spicy – not hot, hot spicy but just a kick kind of spicy. The most labor intensive aspect of this recipe is searing the roast in a frying pan before adding it to the crock pot. This recipe does take all day to cook. It is lighter, though, and it doesn’t have the heaviness of a “normal” stew.
The second recipe I tried was the Mediterranean Chicken Wraps. This recipe is also light on the prep work – chopping some veggies and squeezing a lemon – but it was also quick on the cooking time needing only 2 1/2 hours to cook. The chicken is cooked with some onion, roasted red peppers, olives (but heaven forbid anyone in my house eat an olive so I omitted them), capers, and spices and it’s served on bibb lettuce. It really is pretty and fun to serve. There was only one little glitch. The bibb lettuce became limp from the heat of the chicken. Next time I would use a different lettuce that maintains its crispiness. Again, a light feel to the meal that is refreshing.
It’s probably a little odd to say, but my mouth felt “cleaner” after eating these meals. I keep describing them as light, but that’s exactly how I think of them. Not light in taste, but I felt lighter and full after eating them.
The cookbook is littered with pictures, but some recipes do not have photos. The extras included in the book concentrate on the Whole30 aspect of the cookbook, so if you are looking for how-tos, this might not be the cookbook for you. The recipes are eye appealing, and from what I’ve tried, they are delicious, so even if you have no interest in a Whole30 diet, this cookbook is worth trying.