Sunday, January 5, 2014

Cooking with Coconut Oil Review + Pork Chops & Apple Compote (Whole30 Day 5)

When I was offered a review copy of Cooking with Coconut Oil by Elizabeth Nyland of Guilty Kitchen, my answer was a resounding YES!  I am a huge cookbook junkie, and especially like to read books penned by fellow food bloggers.  Also, since I started eating paleo in August, I've loved using coconut oil in the kitchen, and was eager to learn more things I could do with it.  Today I'm sharing my experience cooking & photographing three amazing recipes from the book, and the recipe for Pork Chops with Apple Compote is at the end of this post!

Cooking with Coconut Oil arrived the day before I left to spend the holidays in Tennessee with Ben's family, so I did not get to cook with it right away.  I had plenty of time to page through it, though, bookmarking recipes I wanted to try and craving almost everything pictured in the gorgeous photographs.  This cookbook features a large, full-color photo of every single recipe, which I love.  (Cookbooks that only show pictures of some of their recipes are a huge pet peeve of mine--I never want to make any of the un-pictured recipes!)  The book also has informational sections that cover the health benefits of coconut oil, details about many of the ingredients used in the book, and ten tips for living a paleo lifestyle.  Did you know that the medium-chain-triglycerides in coconut oil improve brain function and can have therapeutic effects on Alzheimer's patients?  Yeah, neither did I!

The book includes 77 gluten-free, grain-free recipes divided into sections for Breakfast, Salads & Dressings, Sides, Mains, Snacks & Starters, and Desserts & Baked Goods.  Since I was starting off my Whole30, I tried to steer clear of the desserts section, but couldn't help but notice a luscious-looking dairy-free chocolate ice cream, chocolate brownie caramel cups, and a gorgeous carrot cake with dairy-free "cream cheese" frosting.  I can't wait to try some of Elizabeth's grain-free desserts as soon as my thirty days are over!  Most of the recipes in the other sections are Whole30 compliant, although some contain dairy or natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey.

Those who are new to a grain-free lifestyle will be happy to see gluten-free versions of several classics and fan favorites, like pancakes, waffles, cauliflower-crusted pizza (one of the few recipes in the book that calls for dairy), creamy almond butter pork pad thai, primal chili, and coconut oil mayonnaise.  There are also a few fancier, bistro-style dishes, like salt-roasted beet salad with honey-lemon-vanilla dressing and grilled skirt steak with chimichurri.

Since we were in the middle of a big snowstorm and needed something warm & comforting, I decided to start by trying out the Paleo Chili.  It calls for several ingredients that I haven't seen in other chili recipes, including kale and several other vegetables.  In the end, Ben and I could not wait for the chili to simmer for the recommended four hours--we dove in after about two and a half.  Let me tell you--this is now my favorite chili!  It has a fabulously rich flavor, and lots of interesting texture thanks to the vegetables.  I loved having some green in my chili--since paleo chilis don't contain beans, it's easy to feel like you're just eating a big pile of seasoned beef.  Not so with this recipe, though!  We enjoyed our chili with avocado on top like Elizabeth recommends, and added a squeeze of lime.  Ben and I both loved it, and also enjoyed having the leftovers for lunch the next day.

The next day for breakfast, I made the Caveman Porridge.  I wouldn't have thought it was possible, but Elizabeth has created a delicious paleo porridge made from banana, egg whites, and a few other magical ingredients.  I was skeptical, but this stuff was SO good!  I loved starting the day with a big bowl of protein, and the banana added just the right amount of sweetness.  I served my porridge topped with a little ghee, chopped apples, almonds and pecans, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  I did not share with anyone.  I can't wait to make this comforting bowl of goodness again!

The third recipe I tried is the one I get to share with you--Pork Chops with Apple Compote.  This meal is delicious and fancy enough for company, but it's so easy to make.  Usually I cook pork chops on the stovetop, and even though I use a meat thermometer and check them often, they somehow end up woefully tough and overcooked.  The method outlined in this recipe is much better--after searing both sides on the stovetop in a cast iron skillet, the chops finish cooking in the oven.  The result is tender pork chops with a really nice crust.  The compote is even easier--just throw all the ingredients in a pan and let them simmer while you make the pork chops.  I'll definitely be making this again!

Full disclosure: I only made two pork chops (the recipe called for 4, but it was just me and Ben), but still made the full amount of compote.  After thinking about how I could save the leftover compote and serve it with something else, I immediately caved and ate the rest of it with a spoon.  So yummy!

Without further ado, here is the recipe!  And, in case you couldn't tell, I highly recommend Cooking with Coconut Oil to anyone who wants to enjoy delicious, approachable dishes with no gluten and no grains.

Pork Chops with Apple Compote (from Cooking with Coconut Oil by Elizabeth Nyland)
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes


For the apple compote:

1 small sweet onion or 1/2 large onion, peeled and finely diced
2 small tart apples, such as Pink Lady, peeled, cored, and finely diced (I used Gala)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon honey (omit for Whole30--it's still delicious!)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Juice and zest of 1 lemon (since I omitted the honey, I only juiced half the lemon and the sweet-tart balance was perfect)
Pinch of salt (my addition)

For the pork chops:

2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 thick-cut pastured pork chops (loin or rib end)
Sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper, to taste

To make the compote, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 35-45 minutes, until the apples and onions are soft.

While the compote is cooking, prepare the pork chops.  Preheat the oven to 400.  Sprinkle the pork chops with salt and pepper on all sides.  Heat the coconut oil in a large, cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the pork chops.  Sear for 3-4 minutes on each side, then carefully transfer the pan to the oven.  Let the pork chops cook in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until a meat thermometer in the thick part of the chop reads 145 degrees.

Serve the pork chops with the compote spooned on top.

Want more Whole30 tips & recipes?  Come back for a new post everyday this month, and check out Day 1, Day 2Day 3, and Day 4 if you missed them!  For even more paleo recipes, check out these Whole30 posts from my archives or my Whole30 Pinterest board.  Also, follow me on Instagram to see pics of what I'm eating throughout my Whole30.

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You might also like:

Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp with Creamy Rutabaga (for the Whole30, use sugar-free bacon, coconut milk instead of cream, and ghee instead of butter)

Carnitas con huevo (Whole30 compliant)

Sesame Lime Steak, Zucchini, & Avocado Salad (Whole30 compliant)



  1. This sounds amazing. Thank you for the recipe! ♥

    1. Thanks, Kathy! Hope you enjoy it if you give it a try! :)

  2. Regarding the searing: should the skillet still be on medium-high heat when the pork chops are added? Or should the temperature be raised at that point? Sorry, I'm a very inexperienced cook!

    1. Yes, the skillet should still be on medium-high :). That's the best temperature to brown the chops nicely without burning them. Hope you enjoy them!

  3. I find using apple cider vinegar(I use Bragg's) in place of the citrus of the lemon lends itself much better to the flavor of the chop. 3 minutes each side and 8 minutes in the oven was enough cooking time.6 -7 minutes would have been fine still. I had thick, bone in center cut chops too. I actually used a basic brine,( added crushed garlic) and I'm glad I did. The compote was over the top GOOD!! Pow! It really elevated the flavor of the chop in a way that you have to try to believe. I impressed myself and my family. My daughter did like Rebecca and just had a scoop to eat by itself. I'm glad I was looking up coconut oil recipes when I did. I never would have found this. I cooked about 4 hours ago and I'm still thinking about this. Thank you for sharing this! This is a keeper and so simple. Thanks again.

    1. Thank you so much for that tip! I'll have to try apple cider vinegar next time I make this. I am so glad you enjoyed the recipe :) I agree that the compote is super special!!


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