Refrigerator Look Book: Dallas and Melissa Hartwig

The Paleo power couple behind "It Starts With Food" has a tray of cubed beef liver in their freezer—and a plan to revamp your unhealthy eating habits.

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Dallas and Melissa Hartwig are a Paleo power couple, certified sports nutritionists, and the founders of Whole 9, a Salt Lake City-based company that uses nutrition and other healthy habits to revamp people’s lives.

Their business name refers to “the nine factors we evaluate when working to bring a client back to a place of excellent health,” they explain. “We think nutrition is the largest of those factors, and the one that’s the most foundational to any good health and fitness program.”

Their first book, It Starts With Food, was released this past June and made it on to the New York Times Bestseller List in September.

So what food does the healthy couple start with at home? Prepare yourself for a few surprises…

What’s in the wrapped packages on the top shelf and in the top drawer? On top is a pork roast and two steaks from Utah Natural Meat, about 30 minutes from our home, and the EZ packs are ground beef and ground pork, also from there. We recently visited the farm and observed firsthand how well the animals are fed and treated. Happy, healthy animals makes for good meat! We’ve also got some wild salmon in there—it’s heading out of season now, but we bought a bunch while it was fresh and froze it, too.

Whole 9 fridge

Your freezer is full of meat, too. How much do you eat daily? We buy produce nearly daily, but we stock up and freeze meat from local farms whenever we can. Chickens take a long time to grow, so we buy about a dozen at a time. We eat a modest amount of meat with each of our three meals a day, but it’s nice to know you always have pastured, grass-finished, organically-raised chicken, beef, pork, and seafood whenever you want it. We also have some organ meats stored—beef liver and heart, chicken liver, beef marrow bones, and bones for soup stock. These “leftovers” are cheap (or free!) from the farm, and pack some major nutrition.

What’s on the trays? That’s beef liver, cubed and refrozen. Beef liver is extremely nutrient-dense, but the flavor is off-putting to many (including one of us!). So we thawed it, chopped it up into pill-size portions, and re-froze it. We take them like frozen supplement pellets a few times a week—all the nutrition without any flavor.

Whole 9 Frezer
Cubed beef liver trays in the Hartwig freezer.

Okay…moving to produce. On the bottom shelf in the green bowl, are those figs? No, those are red and golden roasted beets from our neighbor’s garden. We’ve been putting them in everything from salads to chili.

Yum! And what’s in the jars on the top shelf on the door? On the far left is the Dreamy Avocado Dressing from It Starts With Food. We put it on everything from eggs to salads to Southwest-seasoned ground beef. The middle jar is Pure Indian Foods ghee—organic clarified butter made seasonally from pastured cows. It’s perfect for cooking, even at high heat. On the right is heaven…AKA homemade mayo from It Starts With Food. I don’t know how we could survive without it! It’s the foundation for everything. When we make it, I literally lick the spoon!

Give me an example of how you put all of this together into a typical dinner. It would go a little something like this: Roast the butternut squash, carrots, and some garlic. Puree with the ghee to add richness and flavor. Then take the ground pork, put it into a bowl with an egg, chopped basil, garlic, black pepper, and a tablespoon of the homemade mayo. Mix. Shape into balls. Bake. Finally, sauté a bunch of chard in ghee. Voila! A ridiculously delicious and nutrient dense meal.

You guys have been eating this way for a while, but what kinds of challenges have you witnessed as you switch your clients over to a whole foods, Paleo-based diet? The psychological attachment to unhealthy foods and the resulting changes in our hormones and taste buds can make it difficult for people to embrace and enjoy a whole foods-based diet, like the one we teach called the Whole30. So the program addresses this from Day 1, in a very direct and supportive way. Change your habits and your tastes, and it’s suddenly quite easy to turn healthy eating into an effortless, satisfying lifestyle! —Lisa Elaine Held

For more information, visit or pick up a copy of It Starts With Food

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