I reached a metaphysical quandary about Whole30 over the weekend. I was frustrated because I couldn’t tell if Whole30 was actually working for me or if was working largely because I subjectively thought that it was. Of course, if I thought it was, and I thought I was feeling better and less tired, then wasn’t Whole30 actually working anyway? Does that make any sense at all?
So, counter to the program’s instructions telling me not to, I stepped on a scale. I needed to know. And wouldn’t you know it? I’ve lost 12 pounds already. I couldn’t believe it, especially because I thought I’d be able to gauge my success with Whole30 based on how much looser my pants pants were getting. Of course, that belief only works if you don’t wear stretchy pants pretty much all of the time, which is what I do. My pants may not be working as hard to contain me, but I can’t tell. Stupid elastic and accommodating spandex.
Anyway, the short story of all of this is that Whole30 is actually working. I know there are purists out there who will tell me that the goals of Whole30 aren’t to lose weight, but that’s the only way I can justify depriving myself to this degree. I needed to know that all of these limitations were actually doing something to help me. Now that I do, I’m okay with abstaining from the scale until the program is over (for us, that’s just 14 days from today).
Today’s recipe is seared pork chops with sweet potato and apple hash, an easy weeknight dinner recipe that I found filling and helped me get my sweet fix in the early days of Whole30. This recipe was also a winner with my kids, who love apples and sweet potatoes.
To speed up this recipe, I used two pans on separate burners at once to let both of the main parts of this recipe cook at the same time, but the end result is that you end up with a lot of cleanup, since I also boiled my cubed sweet potatoes a little bit before finishing them in the pan with the apple hash. If you loathe cleanup after dinner, I’d make both the sweet potato hash and the pork chops in the same pan.
As for flavor, don’t forget to use some sort of acid (I used apple cider vinegar) to marinate your pork chops, as it helps tenderize the meat. I also loved cooking down my apples just a little bit more, so that they had this tender bite to it. If you’d prefer to keep your apples crunchy, wait until the sweet potatoes are almost completely cooked before adding them, and you’ll get a nice textural contrast between the soft sweet potatoes and the crisper apples. Overall, this is a simple, sweet/savory dish that feels like a complete meal on a plate.
By the way, I owe a big thank you to all of the friends, fellow bloggers, and new readers who e-mailed me encouragement last week about sticking with Whole30! It’s been great to hear about your experiences with clean eating and some tips on how to make it easier to digest (literally and psychologically). There was a period of a few days there where I felt like one of those comic strip characters with a thought balloon hanging over my head all the time, and the only thing in that thought balloon was a picture of a cupcake, followed by one of those angry scribbles.
I’m better now, in no small part to you guys. When this is all over, let’s have a cupcake together. Happy scribbles.
- 4 bone-in pork chops, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons coconut aminos (substitute for soy sauce, available at Whole Foods)
- 2 sweet potatoes, cubed
- 1 large gala apple, peeled, cored and cubed
- 2 sprigs thyme, chopped
- ½ white onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Do ahead: mix together 2 tablespoons of olive oil, coconut aminos and apple cider vinegar in a glass or other bowl made of non-reactive material. Add pork chops and turn to coat thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (you can even do this in the morning and let it sit all day in the 'fridge).
- Bring a large pot of slightly salted water to boil. Add sweet potatoes and boil approximately 5-7 minutes, until slightly tender but not cooked all the way through. Drain and let cool (note: this step can be done ahead of time, and you can store the sweet potatoes in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you're ready to use them).
- Heat a large, flat skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil over medium. Add onions, garlic and cook until soft, 4-5 minutes. Add apples (you can also add them at the same time as the onion and garlic and cook them down if you want softer apples) and cook an additional 3-4 minutes. Turn heat up to high and add sweet potatoes, cooking until soft, another 2-4 minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh thyme and cover to keep warm.
- Heat another flat-bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle approximately one tablespoon of olive oil and add pork chops, searing for 3-4 minutes per side until cooked.
- Spoon hash onto plates and top with a pork chop. Serve immediately.
This recipe by Gusty by Nature served as a starting point for my sweet potato hash.