Apple and Butternut Squash Pork Stew

Have you ever felt like a stranger to your own life?

Like you don’t really belong in your own story?

Like not a single soul in your immediate entourage is on the same page with you?

That’s basically how I’ve been feeling lately…

Apple and Squash Pork Stew | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

I went out for lunch today and spent the better part of the hour listening to people talking super excitedly about all the kinds of things that they like to eat, things that I simply can’t relate to anymore.

They just went on and on about how they LOOOOVED Cheez Whiz and had to put LOADS of it on their celery sticks and could probably eat the whole jar by the spoonful…

Or Velveeta, the cheese that’s so orange it almost glows in the dark, how they could go through an entire block of it or how they can’t get enough Bugles chips dipped in Chive & Onion Whipped Philly Cheese and would easily eat the entire bag.

Oh, yeah, and has anybody tried the new “spreadable” (read: loaded with chemicals) version of this or that cheese?

Of course, they all know that it’s a bunch of crap and that it’s really bad for their health and stuff. Yet, it seems they just can’t help themselves, they have to eat it.

And then I’m the weirdo, for not eating any of that sh*t…

Apple Squash Pork Stew | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

What saddens me though isn’t really the fact that the people around me are talking about stuff like that.

What saddens me is that I seem to be surrounded with nothing but individuals who happen to share that exact same mentality.

It makes sticking to a healthy lifestyle that much harder. Not because I don’t enjoy it, but because I feel I can’t connect with anyone anymore. I have nothing to talk about. People, they don’t want to hear about my crazy beliefs and stuff. They have but one life to live and they intend to live it to the fullest, which of course includes eating and drinking as much “good” stuff as they possibly can.

Even at the box last Friday!  After a particularly killer WOD week, I tell the guy in the cage next to me: “Thank goodness we’ll have the week-end to recuperate!” His retort came immediately: “This week-end? I’m drinking BEER! Oh yeah! BEEEEEEEER! That’s what week-ends are for!”


Is that really what week-ends are for?

This came from the very mouth of a regular CrossFitter. Maybe I have it all wrong, then!

Apple Squash Pork Stew | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Sometimes, you know, I feel I should reacquaint with the person that I used to be, just for the sake of connecting with the people around me.

So I can feel like I belong, again. Because we all need to belong, don’t we?

But hey! Thank goodness I have you all to understand me!  I feel so lucky for that.

I’m so thankful that I have each and every single one of you to help me stay on track and to keep me wanting to eat good food, and stay fit and healthy and come up with awesome, nutritious recipes.

And just like some of the best recipes out there, the one I’m offering today magically came to life on a day where the fridge was particularly sad and lonely, as in, pretty empty…

I was basically forced to use up whatever food was left in there, or it would’ve ended up in the trash!

It goes to say, sometimes the best things in life have to be forced out of you… you just need to have faith, trust yourself and go with the flow. I sure came up with a winner, that day.

Like I will come out a winner today!

Oh! and erm, hey… thanks for lending me your ear, you guys.

I really needed that!

Apple and Butternut Squash Pork Stew

Yield: Serves 4

NF based on 1 of 4 servings

Apple and Butternut Squash Pork Stew


  • 600g pork loin, cut into bite size pieces
  • ½ tsp Himalayan salt
  • ½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 star anise
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple cider
  • The juice of 1 lime
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • ½ medium rutabaga, (about 2 cups) cut into bite size chunks
  • ½ butternut squash, (about 2 cups) cut into bite size chunks
  • 150g baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot flour


  1. Heat a little bit of cooking fat in a large, heavy saucepan set over high heat. Add the pieces of meat and sear until golden on all sides. Stir in salt, pepper, garlic cloves, spices and apple cider.
  2. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down, cover and simmer on low for an hour to an hour and a half, until the meat is nice and tender.
  3. Add chicken stock, lime juice and chopped vegetables. Continue cooking until the vegetables are fork tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add chopped baby spinach leaves and continue cooking for another minute, until the spinach is wilted.
  5. In a small container, make a slurry by mixing the coconut milk and arrowroot together with a whisk, then add that to the stew. Stir well and bring back to the boil for a full minute to allow the arrowroot flour to fully cook and reach its full thickening power.
  6. Serve piping hot with lime wedges, additional coconut milk and a generous pinch of hot chili pepper flakes, if desired

Apple Squash Pork Stew | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Apple Squash Pork Stew | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Apple Squash Pork Stew | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie


  1. María says

    Sonia, what you say about not belonging–I know exactly how that feels. Unsupportive friends, families, hell negativity from just about everyone that has a mouth. For many years I trudged alone through my new healthy lifestyle; all the while being judged, insulted, and otherwise discouraged from what should have been a positive life change. At the age of 18 I now do not understand cravings for junk food, fast food, or any other kind of unhealthy shiz that people seem to consume. I feel like an alien and very awkward and uncomfortable when I go to get together a and turn down the pizza, ice cream, and other erzatz flavoured foods not because I think it’s going to kill me (ok maybe a little) but because I genuinely don’t want it. Why would I ever want to return to my days of inactivity, poor digestion, and other symptoms of poor health? I’ve learned that doing what makes me feel my best and healthiest should not be a cause of embarrassment or alienation. I love your blog and you are a huge inspiration to me. Stay strong (and healthy) and embrace your uniqueness! It’s what makes you you and that’s something you shouldn’t ever want to change :)

    • says

      Thank you so much Maria! Your intervention did me a world of good. For you to go it alone at such a young age, that is truly inspiring. I don’t think I could’ve done it myself. See, even at 40, I find it extremely difficult sometimes and just think maybe I’ve got this all wrong and should throw it all out the window, for the sake of belonging again.

      Hats off to you and keep up the positive and healthy attitude. We both know it’s all very well worth it in the end, even though some days are a lot harder than others.

      Embrace my uniqueness I will, and I will also keep your kind words in mind.

      Thanks again, so very much! You are a true gem! :)

  2. says

    I get the unsupportive people all round me as well….. do you know what I consider the weekend is for? It is for catching up with all that stuff that I did not manage to do during the week when I am at work…… so laundry, grocery shopping, cooking food for the next week and housework! that i what I do at the weekend. No BEEEEEEER! just lots of housework… I just allow myself an extra glass of red wine at the weekend instead.

    • says

      Ha! Same for me, Salixisme. The weekend is for doing laundry, running errands, attempting to clean the house, but mostly, that’s when I put my recipes to the test, eat them and take pictures! Or wait, is that the other way around? Take pictures and THEN eat! 😀

      Week-ends are the best, I only wish they had more days to them!

  3. Susan says

    Because we come together over food, I think eating differently takes on many meanings beyond health. How do you break bread together when you no longer eat bread? Going out to eat and going to parties requires thought and advance planning and spontaneity often means a plain salad and glass of red wine when out. But how I feel is worth it. I now entertain more and my friends count on me to bring the main dish to parties (so they can exclaim “this is delicious! Are you sure it’s paleo?”) It has been an adjustment. My son and daughter-in-law use it as a challenge. I go Sundays to watch the Patriots at their house and they always cook something wonderful that we all enjoy. You introduced me to this change in my life. After my husband passed and I realized that I was dropping weight but not eating well and not sleeping, I discovered your blog and the Whole 30. You started me researching and reading. Last April I did the Whole 30 and have dropped 40 pounds. There is no CrossFit near by but I do go to a gym for weights and walk every day. Weekends are for cooking and planning the week’s eating (I work in a boarding school with dining hall food as part of my salary so eating only what I bring is hard.) I think you underestimate the amount of people you have inspired in the virtual world (and we need to learn to express our gratitude more often!) Thanks for helping me keep true to this healthy lifestyle.

    • says

      Seriously? Oh my, Susan, you seriously just made my day. You’re right, I don’t even come close to realizing that I can have some sort of an impact on people’s lives. Well, not THAT significant an impact, anyway.

      I’m so happy that this life change is working for you and that you have people around you that help in making this fun. To have friends that see it as a challenge and that show interest in your new ways is simply priceless.

      Paleo Football Sunday. Now THAT rocks! :)

      Again, thanks for showing your gratitude, Susan. You have no idea how much it means to me. :)

  4. Mark says

    Sorry, but you’re coming off as being judgmental. If someone’s idea of a perfect weekend is watching football and drinking beer, then why is that wrong? Maybe your idea of a perfect weekend is taking a walk in the woods, but that doesn’t make it an intrinsically better pursuit, just that it’s better for you. For the same reason, if a person is having a horrible day and their guilty pleasure is eating cheese whiz on celery sticks, who cares?

    We should always keep in mind that for everything we do, there’s someone looking down their noses at us and thinking they wouldn’t do it. Do you drink wine? Well there are plenty of people that think you shouldn’t drink alcohol at all. Do you eat meat? Think of all the vegetarians that would be making the same cheese whiz remarks about you.

    I like your recipes, and I’m working to gradually improve the quality of the food that I eat. But I’m never going to be that person at the table giving other eaters the stink-eye and saying “Oh my God, you’re going to eat that? Do you know how many chemicals are in that? I can’t believe you’re going to eat that.”

    Nobody likes hanging out with that guy.

    • Zoe says

      I happen to agree with Mark. I shifted in my chair a few times reading this because the tone is condescending and uncomfortable.

      We can’t all be perfect.

      • says

        I’m sorry you guys feel that way, that’s really not how I wanted to come across. What I’m actually saying is “I” feel “I” don’t belong because of the life choices that “I” make, which are often not in accordance with those of the majority.

        As a result, “I” often feel extremely sad and lonely and get very tempted to go back to my old ways, just so I can connect with those around me again, like I used to.

        Far from me the idea of looking down on people because of the food choices that they make. In fact, I’m really not one to ever comment or even offer advice when it comes to that.

        To each their own is my philosophy.

  5. Zoe says

    Please forgive me – I feel really dense. But what are the round purple things in the stew that look like kalamata olives? I’ve scoured this entry and the recipe along with the pics, and I can’t figure out what they are.

    Nope, can’t figure out what they are.

  6. says

    I can’t get over how amazing all of your food looks. This makes me want to make a stew now….I’m just missing the pork. Maybe I’ll get some in my meat CSA pick up on Friday.

    I can completely understand how you feel about not belonging due to the lifestyle choices that we’ve made in order to better our health. In the beginning, I had zero support….even from my husband. I’ve now been Paleo for 14 months now. While he isn’t Paleo as I am, he has become extremely supportive of my desire to be Paleo becasue he can see how much better my health is. I have lots of friends that are supportive in my choices as well, even though they don’t believe the same things. Even though they are supportive, it’s still extremely awkward in social situations because I choose not to eat or drink what they do (insert going to a bar with friends for drinks and I just get water). And it’s been even worse with my family. My mother, as well as one of my brothers, have been the extreme opposite. My brother shoving in my face everything he eats knowing that it’s not something that I will eat. And my mother… matter how many times I talk to her about it, she always seems to find ways to sabotage my intentions of better food choices for myself and my kids. She was here for the weekend 2 weeks ago and was much better than the previous visit, so I’m hoping things are going in the right direction with her.

    Thank you for sharing how you were feeling. :)

    • says

      Thank you so much Amy, that is so very kind of you to say!

      And you are making me realize that it’s probably easier not to have a paleo life partner, or paleo friends and acquaintances that I could share / discuss the lifestyle with than to have a life partner, close friends and / or family members who are constantly pulling on their side of the blanket…

      At least, I have no one but me to think about when it comes to cooking and making food choices.

      Thanks for helping me see the bright side of things! 😀

  7. says

    When it comes to food choices I’ve decided to take a very chilled approach. Whatever one’s dietary beliefs are, I’m cool with it.
    My friends (and acquaintances) know that I eat a healthy diet, but they also know that I don’t make a big fuss about it.

    Over the years I’ve realized that people tend to get inspired when they notice that you eat a healthy and balanced diet and make it look so easy and natural.

    And when somebody is trying to give me a hard time about it, I play the “I’m a triathlete, I need the right fuel into my body” card; that, pretty much, ends all discussions.
    Because you just can’t run a triathlon on Cheez-It or Oreos, it won’t happen. Ever.

  8. Rose Marie says

    Hi, First, since you have a life style that works for you, might I suggest finding other people in your area with the same approach to eating and living? Seems you would enjoy your lunch dates more. Second – thank you for recipes like this one. I don’t follow the complete Paleo diet, but I am a healthy cook and baker and I have found many recipes on your blog that I really enjoy. Third – I love the cup/mug/bowl the stew is in!!! Great photographs!

  9. Vivian Huizinga says

    Hi there!
    Found this via Pinterest & made it tonight for my family! SO YUMMY!! I did add a little onion to the first step, just because I like it. I also think that a little chopped cilantro sprinkled on just before eating would be lovely!

    I too am eating real food; and yes sometimes people just don’t get it. But I do! You introduced us to 2 new things tonight – rutabega & arrowroot flour. Thanks for a great healthy recipe that I will be making again!

  10. Grace Reck says

    Awesome recipe! Just a question – what can I substitute for apple cider? I’m from Australia and our ciders aren’t the same as American ones.

  11. cindy says

    I’m on an AIP protocol and this recipe sounds delicious. With a few tweaks, it will work perfectly for me. Thank you.

  12. Rebekah says

    This recipe looks great! Im excited to try it out for dinner tomorrow night as I have a group of girlfriends coming over! I was wondering if you had any idea if it would work to brown the meat and then stick all the ingredients from steps 2 and 3 into the slow cooker on the low setting for several hours while running errands? Then continue with set 4 and so on.. I am still playing around with my slow cooker and finding which recipes transfer well!


  13. Anne says

    This is absolutely delicious.
    I have subbed both apple juice and shredded apple for the cider and both work great.

Leave A Reply