Whole30: An Interview with CEO Melissa Hartwig Urban
You might not know the name Melissa Hartwig Urban, but you have undoubtedly heard of Whole30, aka the diet everyone and their sister has raved about over the last few years. Melissa is the co-founder and CEO of Whole30, and currently has two books on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Not to mention, ya know, a nutrition empire encompassing an interactive website (including an entire “Whole Mama” section), certified coaches, newsletter, apps, product partnerships, and more. We spoke to this mom of one about one of her favorite family-friendly Whole30 recipes, her brand’s meteoric success and her hilarious take on the motherhood-work balance.
This chicken recipe looks delicious and so easy. Why did you want to share it?
What I love about this dish is how dinner happens while you work, play with your kids, or adventure out as a family. You just dump everything into the slow cooker, set it, and walk away. Six hours later, like magic, dinner is served—with only one pot to wash.
Gotta love the “set-it-and-forget-it” recipes! And one-pot is key. Is Whole30 family-friendly?
Parents report that doing the Whole30 as a family improves their relationship and helps them spend more quality time together, something you don’t ever hear about weight loss diets. Kids are helping with meal planning, shopping, and cooking, which helps them feel involved and teaches them valuable skills like label-reading and meal prep. And families are cooking together in the kitchen and dining together around the table, something that strengthens a family’s bond and leads to healthier food choices overall, especially in children.
If serving Whole30 dinners to your kids, should you add certain ingredients that aren’t necessarily compliant with the eating plan?
Age, temperament, and past food habits all play a role in whether parents decide to go “all in” with their kids (eating only Whole30-compliant meals and snacks for 30 days) or ease in more gradually. I will say that making multiple dinners every night is madness. (You’re welcome.) If parents are doing the Whole30, then the foundation of the kids’ meals will be Whole30, too. You can then decide if you want to let the kids add their own side of bread, rice, or a sugary condiment.
Great tip—and agreed, being a short-order cook is insanity. Where can parents find other Whole30 meals that kids will love?
There are a thousand Whole30 recipes found in one of our four cookbooks (The Whole30, The Whole30 Cookbook, The Whole30 Fast and Easy, and The Whole30 Slow Cooker). Our @whole30recipes account on Instagram also has a treasure trove of ideas; with more than 1.3 million followers and 5,000 posts, there’s enough recipe inspiration there to see you through a decade of Whole30 meals. Finally, we feature Whole30 recipes and recipe round-ups for holidays and celebrations on our blog (whole30.com/category/recipes/).
What recipes does your son love? And does he understand the household name that Whole30 has become?
My son (who is six) has no idea what I do, but he will walk into a Barnes and Noble and say, “Oh, there’s your book, Mom.” He basically eats what I eat, and loves sweet potato chili, Applegate grass-fed hot dogs, roasted sweet potatoes, and sushi. I recently introduced him to prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and he couldn’t get enough. If I really want him to eat something, I just wrap it in a pork product, stick a toothpick in it, or offer a date-sweetened ketchup for dipping—works every time.
Ha, my son is also all about dipping! One more question I have to ask—how do you find balance as a working mom? Or is that a complete myth?
It’s important to note that I have a TON of privilege here. I set my own hours, work from home, and have a nanny for after school and snow days. Still, running your own business, it’s hard to leave work “at the office” when he gets home. I think less about balance and more about presence. When I’m at work, I work. When I’m home with him, I’m not on email or social media or taking calls. And I show myself a heck of a lot of grace, because it’s impossible to get it right 100% of the time, and as long as he’s not playing with a hairdryer in the bathtub, I’m pretty much winning.
CHICKEN THIGHS AND BABY POTATOES WITH GREEN CHILE SAUCE
PREP: 25 minutes
SLOW COOK: 6 hours (low) or 3 hours (high)
TOTAL: 6 hours 25 minutes
The sauce for this chicken dish is essentially salsa verde—savory and tart with the lemon–green apple flavor of tomatillos and lime and just a touch of heat from green chiles. Serve it with a simple slaw of grated jicama dressed with lime.
1 1⁄2 pounds baby red or gold potatoes
8 bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 pounds total), skin removed
1 can (4 ounces) Whole30- compliant diced green chiles
1⁄2 cup Whole30-compliant chicken broth or Chicken Bone Broth
2 medium tomatillos, husks removed and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander 1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper Grated zest and juice of 1 lime 1⁄2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- PLACE the potatoes in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Arrange the chicken over the potatoes. In a medium bowl, combine the green chiles, broth, tomatillos, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Pour over the chicken and potatoes in the cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours.
- DRIZZLE the chicken and potatoes with the lime juice and sprinkle with the lime zest and cilantro.
INSTANT POT VARIATION:Follow the directions in the first step using a 6-quart Instant Pot. Lock the lid in place. Select Manual and cook at high pressure for 35 minutes. Use natural release for 10 minutes, then quick release. Follow the remaining directions.
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.