Whenever I try to talk up the Whole30 lifestyle to almost anyone, I hear things like:
“I could never do that. It sounds really hard.”
“I’m only one person.”
“That sounds complicated.”
I get it. I do. When we started this lifestyle, we were scared. It was challenging.
Once we got the hang of it, it just became everyday life. Now, I think it is easy. It became fun. We were able to experiment with foods we had never tried before. We found new uses for foods we were familiar with. I learned to love being in the kitchen even more than I did before. I learned to use spices. And, I think it brought Lance and I closer. We spent many nights experimenting with our dinners in the kitchen and now, cooking is something we enjoy doing together.
On top of that, we both feel amazing. I didn’t even realize I felt bad before. But these days, my head is clearer, I don’t feel bloated and I am no longer fatigued in the middle of the day.
Lance lost more weight than I knew he even carried around.
We still eat this way 90% of the time. We aren’t completely strict. We enjoy dining out. And we enjoy beer and wine a few nights each week. However, we don’t have anything in our cupboards or refrigerator that is not Whole30 approved. It isn’t a challenge anymore. It’s our life.
You can do this.
It is just 30 days.
You can do anything for 30 days.
Make a new habit.
So let me start by suggesting that you actually read the book, “It Starts With Food”. This book talks about the science and philosophy behind the Whole30 lifestyle. I don’t think you can truly appreciate and stay committed to this challenge without reading the book, but that is just me. One of my best friends did the challenge based on reading portions of the book, and utilizing the tips I gave her, which I will now give to you.
I will also say that everyone will have their own personal challenge with this lifestyle change. My hardest task was cutting the sugar addiction. Trust me, it is real. I had a severe headache for a week. It was not fun. However, I felt great after that week and now, tons of sugar doesn’t even sound good. It is amazing how my palate has changed. I love it. I can enjoy flavors that I was missing out on before, and I am now more inclined to grab a vegetable or more protein than dessert.
Reiterated: Just read the book. Or at least, the website.
And as always, consult a physician if you have any chronic/acute health conditions before starting any diet and/or exercise program. I’m just a nurse, and I never claim to be an expert. This is simply what my experience has been.
- FYI these are also listed on the Whole30 webpage: http://whole30.com/
- No sugar, dairy, grains, legumes or soy
- This means NO GRAINS. Not even quinoa, rice, corn or oatmeal. No grains at all.
- SUGAR is in almost every shelf-prepared food and condiment. Even mayonnaise. So read your labels. No no’s include honey, agave and stevia as well. Fructose, Glucose, Sucrose? All sugar. So, utilize Google or feel free to ask me about homemade, Whole30 friendly condiment recipes.
- DAIRY does not mean eggs. Please eat a lot of eggs. They will be your new best friend. It does mean, NO BUTTER
- No LEGUMES? Nope. Not even peas or peanuts. That means no peanut butter. Or beans of any kind, except green beans.
- SOY is another hidden ingredient. So again read your labels.
- No smoothies. You aren’t allowed to drink your nutrients. The entire idea behind the whole30 is retraining your body and taste-buds to feel satiated. They can’t feel satiated if you are not chewing your food and fulfilling that bodily need.
- No coffee after noon. No creamer or sugar in your coffee. This was hard for me, so I discovered that I could put about 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil with my coffee in a blender, and it tasted pretty darn good. I now drink my coffee black.
- No alcohol. No beer. No wine. Period.
- No chocolate. No, not even the darkest of dark chocolates.
- Monitor Carbohydrate intake. An active person will need extra carbohydrates for energy through more starchy vegetables like white potatoes. Someone less active should try and eat these less often.
- No SWYPO (aka, sex with your pants on). This means you can’t make whole30 friendly pancakes, cookies, cakes, ice cream, etc. No dessert means no dessert. And yes, you will find “whole30 friendly” dessert recipes. Don’t be tempted. At least not for your first 30 days.
- 3 meals a day. Thats it.
- This means you have to eat breakfast. I know for many people, this is a foreign concept. When Lance started, he was one of you. He basically forced breakfast down every morning for the first week. But it worked. Now, he wakes up hungry every day and eats a full breakfast to get his metabolism moving.
- A meal means: a palm-sized portion of protein, some fat and fill the rest of your plate with vegetables. you can also add in some fresh fruit, in a small portion, to mealtime.
- Fruit should not be used as a stand alone or to replace dessert
- Fats allowed are avocados, coconut/olive oil, olives, ghee, nuts, coconut milk
- You can have snacks if you are truly hungry, but these snacks must include a protein and a fat. The fat is especially important, as it is helping to keep you full. Note these moments, and eat more for your next meal. The goal is to eat just 3, satisfying meals each day.
- I have included a shopping guide by Whole30 linked here: http://whole30.com/downloads/whole30-shopping-list.pdf
- Eating fresh, or freshly frozen vegetables is your best bet for avoiding sugars and soy.
- Prepare for your Whole30 start date by cleaning out your cabinets and refrigerator. Just get rid of it. That way, there is no temptation.
- Make a shopping list and stick to it.
- Have food prepared ahead of time so you aren’t tempted to eat out or grab something on the way home.
- Have someone to hold you accountable. Tell people!
- Don’t binge on the food you have in your cupboards or your favorite restaurant. Change starts today!
- If you hate chopping vegetables, splurge for the precut ones at the grocery store. Whatever you need to do to stay on track.
- There is a can/can’t have list of foods on the Whole30 Webpage
- We buy groceries once a week. That way we can buy fresh and it doesn’t go bad
- If you are on a budget, see my grocery budget blog post, but shop around. We have a Costco membership. We are only two people, but we eat so much protein and vegetables, it is completely worth the membership fee. And we buy all of our gas there.
Staples We Buy
- Tons of Vegetables. Frozen and Fresh.
- specifically frozen peppers and normandy/california mix
- Nuts of all varieties. We almost always have trail mix prepared for snacking.
- Chicken Broth. Whole30 Friendly. Again, check labels.
- Canned chopped tomatoes.
- Coconut Milk and Coconut Cream
- Almond Butter
- Protein from all sources (we rotate what we buy/eat every week)
- Olive Oil/ Coconut Oil
- Tons of seasonings
- Coconut Aminos
- Dates (excellent substitute when you are looking for a sweeter flavor)
- Red Boat Fish Sauce
- Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
- Canned Tuna and/or Salmon
- Almond Flour
- Coconut Flakes/ Shredded Coconut
- Trail Mix (a snack serving is considered what you can hold in a clenched fist)
- Any variety of nuts (except peanuts), toss in some raisins and shredded coconut. Delicious.
- These can be purchased, but check labels. Some of them have added sugar
- If you own a food processor, you can make them at home. Thats what we do.
- Carrots/Apples and Almond Butter
The Meal Plan
Now comes the hard part.
Take a look at my menus and be prepared to eat some leftovers. I made these suggestions considering ease of cooking, a busy lifestyle and a single person. Unfortunately, making homemade meals for one person sometimes mean you have to eat leftovers. Plus, having leftovers around makes food prep easier. You don’t have to do it every single night.
Take a look at the recipes and formulate a grocery list for the week. Remember that you can get creative with veggies and spices, so your ingredients do not have to exactly match the recipes. They are just a suggestion. As long as the ingredients you choose comply with the rules 🙂
Recipes are included at the end of this post, separated by the week they are designated for. Some are simply links to recipes I use regularly.
Obviously, you can move recipes around. There is no particular protocol to the order in which you eat things. Get creative and even eat dinner for breakfast. No one says you actually have to eat eggs for breakfast every day. I do. But I love eggs.
I often suggest sides such as “sauteed vegetables”. This is vague, I know, but I don’t know what everyone likes. For all of you corn and pea lovers, now is the time to explore. Try something new! Just make sure your vegetable portion is about 1-2 Cups, or covers the area of your dinner plate not consumed by protein.
I also make suggestions to freeze a couple of servings of a meal or two each week, so that last week when you really want to give in, you have something prepared.
Have Fun. You CAN do this.
I am always here as support as well, should you need it. I can also make some suggestions of where to purchase items, depending on the area of the country you reside.
Freeze: 2 servings Chicken Tortilla Soup
Half of Turkey Loaf
Freeze: 2 servings Shepherd’s Pie
Freeze: 2 servings Gumbo
I will start by saying that there are many many variations and recipes online for egg casserole. You can absolutely look one up, but I will just tell you how we roll here in the PNW. My favorite thing about breakfast casseroles are that they are simple to make and serve breakfast for days.
12 eggs (thats 3 each day for 4 days). We eat 3 eggs each day based on our palm size and the rules laid out in the Whole30 book.
A Variety of Vegetables and Spices
-Cover a 9×13 in baking dish with coconut or olive oil
-Chop up vegetables and place them in oiled baking dish
-Options: potatoes, yams, peppers, kale, spinach, asparagus, broccoli
-Sprinkle some spices
-Examples: red pepper flakes, garlic, onion, salt/pepper, cumin
-Add in Some Meat
-Sometimes I use leftovers, or you could add sausage, bacon, chicken (cooked ahead of time OR Aidell’s Chicken Apple Sausage is Whole30 Friendly)
-Whisk eggs and pour over vegetable mixture
-Cook at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes. You know the bake is finished when the eggs aren’t liquid in the middle anymore 🙂
Voila! Breakfast for the week.
Eggs with Hash:
Another bake ahead/ prep ahead dish.
-Again, using any combination of vegetables/spices you desire. Just prepare them the night before and make enough for a couple days worth of breakfast.
-I will often chop up a potato or sweet potato and bake it in the oven.
-I then chop items like mushrooms, zucchini and peppers so they are prepped for a quick-cooking morning.
-You can also buy frozen, chopped bell peppers and just keep them in the freezer until ready to cook.
-Simple steps like these on a day off saves a lot of time in the mornings.
-Simply sautee your vegetables of choice, and scramble or fry 3 eggs.
So easy. Prep enough for 2 meals at once (6 eggs) to be prepared on those busy mornings.
This method is tried and true. I promise.
-Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Enough water that when you add the eggs, they are covered.
-Once the water is boiling, gently use a spoon (or whatever you have) to place the eggs in the water.
-Set and timer and let them boil for 13 minutes. Yes. 13 minutes.
-Remove from heat, drain the water and run cold water over them. Once the cool water has cooled the eggs, put them in the fridge, in the water in a bowl for an hour or so.
-They will be super easy to peel.
-Cooking a whole chicken is by far the most cost-effective method. It just requires a little handy work from you. As in, you have to bone it.
-It also, in my opinion, provides the most flavor, and you can save the juices for chicken stock…but thats a whole other battle. Focus on Whole30 for now.
-I love this recipe. I am also all about modifications.
-For example, I added a chopped white potato to ours
-We use pre-cooked chicken from our “whole chicken” crockpot recipe– about 3 cups shredded
-Make it your own! Experiment with spices!
–Shred/bone whole chicken
-Use about 2 cups for chicken salad and save the rest for soup
-Mix in mayo (Whole30 Compliant of course) and celery salt.
-You can also add grapes, raisins, apples, nuts, etc.
-Serve on a bed of lettuce.
-This is our favorite mayo recipe. So easy. But it does require an immersion blender
-add the oil slower than you think is slow enough. Seriously.
-Let your eggs warm to room temperature before starting the mayo making process
–Chop up the parsnips or potatoes, or both!
–Place in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil.
-Reduce to a simmer and continue to cook until you can stab with a fork and the vegetable easily slides off the fork.
-Drain off water.
-Add about 1/2 cup coconut milk, salt, pepper and garlic if you like
-Blend all together. Enjoy!
–Exactly what they sound like.
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees
-Cut Potatoes so they resemble fries.
-Toss in olive oil
-sprinkle with salt and pepper
-place on a parchment-line baking sheet and put in the oven
–1 pound ground beef
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Add 1/4 t. salt and pepper and other spices of your choosing (one we like is thyme/rosemary)
-Mix well. You’re gonna have to use your hands here
-Form into patties. 3 or 4.
TIP: make sure the edges aren’t cracked. Smooth edges make for juicy/moist hamburger patties
-Put on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper
-Bake for about 20 min, or until internal temp reaches 165 (for medium well)
Taco Meat Crockpot:
-Serve on a leaf of lettuce as the taco shell
-Add favorite toppings like avocado, tomatoes, onions
-You can also make cauliflower rice for this dinner and have it as a side or put it on the taco too!
-1 pound ground turkey
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Place in a bowl and add: fennel seeds (about 1 T), salt/pepper, pinch of red chili flakes, 1 t. cumin, 1 t. coriander
-Mix well and place in a greased loaf pan
-Bake for about 40 minutes or until internal temp is 165
Aidell’s Chicken Sausage/Veggies:
–I literally am in love with this meal. It is so easy. And delicious
-In a skillet, sautee sliced onions and garlic in olive oil
-Add in veggies of your choice. We like to add some frozen, sliced bell peppers and sometimes potatoes and/or zucchini
-Slice Chicken Sausage (1-2 sausages is considered a serving for Whole30 purposes) and add to skillet
-Add salt and pepper
-That’s it! So simple. We serve it with sauerkraut
-This is so easy and delicious.
-We often serve it with cauliflower rice. How do you make that?
–1 head OR 2 lb bag pre-chopped cauliflower
-Salt, pepper, coconut or olive oil
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-You can “rice” cauliflower by:
a) running it through a food processor
b) shredding it by hand with a cheese grater- this is our current method
-Toss your “rice” in 1 T or so of olive or coconut oil
-spread cauliflower evenly on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper for easier cleanup)
-sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in oven for about 20 min. You should check cauliflower at about 10 minutes and toss it around.
-We often use all chicken breasts, instead of the half breast/half thighs as this recipe suggests
-Using all thighs is also a cheaper option, but they don’t have that clean/fresh flavor that you get in a chicken breast. Totally consumer’s choice though.
-This is great to have prepped in the fridge. You can add it to a salad, or warm it and eat it with a side of fresh, sauteed veggies. Yummers.
–1 C chopped onion
-2 Carrots, peeled and chopped
-2 cloves garlic, slided/minced/chopped/whatever you want
-1 pound ground beef
-1 C. chopped mushrooms
-any other veggies/ leftover veggies you have and think would be good
-mashed potatoes/sweet potatoes/parsnips– choose one or a combination of any
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-In a skillet stovetop, brown ground beef
-While its cooking, add salt/pepper/rosemary/thyme
-Once beef is cooked through, mix in all other vegetables and sautee until they become slightly soft
-Move entire mixture to a 9×13 inch baking dish
-Cover mixture in mashed root vegetable of your choosing
-Bake in oven for about 20 minutes
–This one is going to be a little more work, but you earned it 🙂
-1 Spaghetti Squash- This should get you about 4 servings
-How to prep a spaghetti squash:
–Slice the squash in half long-ways (top of the stem to the bottom)
-Scoop out the innards/seeds
-Place face down on a cookie sheet and put about 1/8 inch of water in the pan
-Place in oven heated to 400 degrees for about 45 minutes
-Squash is done when you can stick a fork in it with ease
-Once it is finished cooking, use a fork to scrap up the “noodles”
-There you have it. Spaghetti.
-For this one, you can sub out any meat choices you would like. The sausage is delicious, but you could also add shrimp, or sub breasts for thighs, etc.
-2 cans tuna in water, drained
-any other additives you like
-Mix all together and enjoy!