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With a ban on sugar, dairy, grains, or alcohol, the Whole30 program requires willpower like no other. If you do take it on, you’ll spend a hefty chunk of time planning and prepping your meals. That means it’s incredibly helpful to reference a Whole30-compliant cookbook, especially one geared toward the most prep-friendly gadgets in the kitchen: the slow cooker and Instant Pot.

Melissa Hartwig, the co-creator and CEO of the Whole30 program, penned the new The Whole30 Slow Cooker cookbook ($30), featuring 150 Whole30-friendly recipes for the slow cooker and Instant Pot, so it’s legit as can be. The book features recipes by contributors other than Hartwig, so you might spot some of your favorite health bloggers, like The Defined Dish or The Castaway Kitchen, or find new ones to follow.

If you’re unfamiliar with Whole30 (or just skeptical that you can take it on), Hartwig outlines the rules, the results, the methods and, most importantly, the why of Whole30 in the intro. “Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black is. not. hard,” Hartwig writes. “It’s only 30 days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth: the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.”

Hartwig’s book is full of bright, exciting recipes you may never have thought to make. Before you get upset about grain-free, cheese-free meals, flip through The Whole30 Slow Cooker to find yourself drooling over items like chicken shawarma salad, smoky sweet potato chili, and shrimp scampi noodle bowls. These recipes are not the beige mush that you might associate with slow cookers.

One thing you won’t find in the book is desserts, since part of Whole30 is about quashing cravings for “less healthy” foods like ice cream and cookies. But your body will adapt with each day you cut out added sugar, and since you’ll be eating gourmet foods like scallops and potatoes with garlic-saffron aioli, you shouldn’t miss candy too much.

For Whole30 dieters who are new to the gadgets, Hartwig provides plenty of slow cooker and Instant Pot tips and suggests that you make the book’s meals in the most convenient ways for you. That might mean turning on your slow cooker before you leave for work or right before you go to bed (and yes, she’s seen that episode of This Is Us, she jokes in the preface).

Exciting, flavorful, and anything but boring, the book’s crave-worthy recipes will lure you back even when your 30-day journey is over. Read on for three must-make recipes, including slow-cooker chicken, lime, and avocado soup; Instant Pot chicken cacciatore with zucchini noodles; and Instant Pot Chinese sesame chicken.

Chicken, lime, & avocado soup

(Serves 6)

Cook Time: 8 hours and 25 minutes

This soup is a staple in our house. Not only is it easy to make, but it’s also filled with flavor and is oh-so-satisfying. Why? Because avocado . . . and lots of it! I just love this soup, rain or shine, and I know you will too.

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts Whole30-compliant chicken broth or chicken bone broth
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) Whole30-compliant diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium white onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle powder or regular chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 (2 pounds) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
  • 3 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, and diced

Directions:

    1. In a 6-quart slow cooker, stir together the broth, tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, garlic, chipotle powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken.
    2. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.
    3. Use tongs to transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Use two forks to shred the chicken. Return the chicken to the cooker and stir in the cilantro and lime juice.
    4. Top servings with avocado and serve with lime wedges.

Instant pot chicken cacciatore with zucchini noodles

(Serves 4)

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian and refers to a dish cooked with onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, herbs, and sometimes wine. This Whole30 version doesn’t contain any wine and subs zucchini noodles for the standard wheat pasta or rice that is usually served with the chicken, but it still has amazingly rich flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 8 (about 2 1/4 pounds) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 package (8 ounces) sliced mushrooms
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) Whole30-compliant diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup Whole30-compliant chicken broth or chicken bone broth
  • 2 tablespoons Whole30-compliant tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 package (10.7 ounces) zucchini noodles or 2 small zucchini, spiralized
  • fresh chopped parsley (optional)

Directions:

  1. Season the chicken with the oregano, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper.
  2. Add the coconut oil to a 6-quart Instant Pot. Select Sauté and adjust to Normal/Medium. When the oil is hot, add half of the chicken and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, 4 to 8 minutes. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
  3. Select Cancel. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  4. Add the onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, garlic, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pot. Add the chicken. Lock the lid in place.
  5. Select Manual and cook on high pressure for 12 minutes. Use quick release.
  6. Transfer the chicken to a plate; cover to keep warm.
  7. Select Sauté and adjust to Normal/Medium. When the sauce is simmering, add the zucchini noodles. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thickened and the zucchini is crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.
  8. Select Cancel. Serve, topped with parsley if desired.

instant pot chinese sesame chicken

(Serves 4)

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Here is my Whole30 take on the Chinese takeout staple. It’s clean, absolutely delicious, and will leave you oh-so-satisfied. The best part? It’s one of my kids’ favorites!

*To toast sesame seeds, heat in a skillet over medium heat, stirring, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

**To steam fresh broccoli florets, combine in a microwave-safe bowl with 3 tablespoons water. Cover and microwave on high for 3 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1/2 cup Whole30-compliant chicken broth or chicken bone broth
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Whole30-compliant fish sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 package (10.8 ounces) frozen broccoli florets, or 4 cups broccoli florets, steamed*
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted**
  • 2 green onions, sliced

Directions:

  1. Place the chicken in a medium bowl and sprinkle with the pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of the arrowroot and toss to coat.
  2. On a 6-quart Instant Pot, select Sauté and adjust to Normal/Medium. Add the avocado oil. When it’s hot, add half the chicken and cook, stirring once, until golden brown, about 6 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Select Cancel.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the broth, coconut aminos, vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce, and remaining 1 teaspoon arrowroot until the arrowroot is dissolved. Add red pepper flakes (if using).
  5. Return all of the chicken to the pot. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Lock the lid in place. Select Manual and cook for 6 minutes. Use quick release. Stir the chicken. Let stand until slightly thickened, 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, cook the broccoli according to recipe note directions.
  7. Serve the chicken over the broccoli. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and green onions.

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(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)

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