Are you doing a Whole30 this January? Me too!! Let’s be buddies. Join me all month for easy and approachable Whole30 recipes the entire family can enjoy. Let’s do this!
It’s that time of year again dear readers…that’s right, January Whole30 is right around the corner! I’ll be serving up easy, nutritious, Whole30 compliant recipes all month long, and this year I’ll be focusing on family friendly dinner recipes, and easy weekend meal prep. Are you ready for the challenge? Yes? Yay!
Well…it’s a Whole30 Challenge….done in…wait for it…January. You’re welcome.
If you’re a member of the human population, you’re probably one of the many who jump on the healthy(er) lifestyle bandwagon come January 1st. After a solid holiday season of eating, drinking, and merry-making, it isn’t hard to see why. I’m with you, and I salute you!
Many of us strive to hit those resolutions hard and fast starting January 1 (or 2, or 7 – take your time if needed!) and often a dietary shift is part of the plan. Every year I hit the reset button with a January Whole30. Thirty days of whole food meals made without sugar, dairy, grains, legumes, and alcohol. While I’m not generally a fan of super restrictive fad diets, or a specific diet in general, I find the shorter “reset” approach of the Whole30 beneficial, educational, and even kind of fun.
In a nutshell, the Whole30 is a short term (30 day) challenge that eliminates sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, additives, and junk foods/treats (even ones that might technically be “compliant”). After the 30 days, you slowly (every few days) reintroduce the eliminated foods and see if they make you feel better, worse, or the same.
The Whole30 approach centers around real, whole foods (no pre-made shakes or protein powders, thanks), doesn’t require counting calories or limiting portion sizes (can I get a hallelujah?), and even encourages you to avoid the scale the entire challenge (here. for. it!).
I’ve done half a dozen Whole30 challenges since discovering it a few years ago, and each time I walk away feeling lighter, brighter, rejuvenated, and much more in tune with the foods that make me feel rad (hello veggies) and the foods that make me feel sad (buh-bye pasta). If you’re not familiar with the Whole30, this link is a terrific place to start. My friend Cheryl at 40Aprons also has an incredibly comprehensive resource for the Whole30 with everything you need to succeed.
The Nays: What to Avoid
Here’s the full elimination list for the Whole30
- Sugar. No white sugar, refined sugar, unrefined sugar, natural sugars like honey and maple syrup, or sugar free sweeteners like Stevia. Byeeeeee sugar!
- Alcohol. No happy hours this month!
- Grains. No grains of any kind, even gluten free grains, including pasta, rice, oats, quinoa, breads, wheat, etc. Technically grain free noodles like sweet potato glass noodles are compliant, but it’s a really grey area and I suggest avoiding.
- Dairy. No milk, cream, cheese, or yogurt, even raw or fermented dairy.
- Legumes. No beans or legumes of any kind, including peanuts and peas. Snap peas are okay since they’re more pod than pea.
- Soy. No soy milk, tofu, miso, soy sauce, or edamame.
- Additives. Check yo’ labels! No carrageenan, corn starch, MSG, soy lecithin, or sulfites. Here’s a handy cheat sheet.
- Junk Food. Even “compliant” junk food is a hot bucket of nope.
The Yays! What to Enjoy!
Look, I know that sounds like a lot of stuff to avoid for 30 days. But I promise it’s doable, and even delicious. Here’s what you can eat:
- Vegetables! All of the vegetables, even potatoes. Even white potatoes. YAZ.
- Fruits! …within limits. Eat fruits as a normal, balanced part of your diet, keeping in mind that you’re trying not to eat a crapton of sugar.
- Meat! Poultry! Seafood! All of the unprocessed meat and seafood your foodie heart desires. This includes chicken, steak, pork, salmon, and even bacon (as long as it’s sugar-free and Whole30 compliant).
- Eggs! So many eggs. I hope you like eggs.
- Nuts and Seeds! Nuts and seeds, except peanuts (they’re a legume). Keep in mind that nuts should be a fat source, not a protein source.
- Fat! Delicious fats and oils, like avocado, olive, and coconut oil. Plus ghee, which is basically clarified butter and insanely delicious.
- Natural Drinks! Coffee, tea, unsweetened seltzer, and small amounts of no-sugar-added juice (and we’re talking small here folks, like an ounce or two splashed into seltzer). Speaking of coffee, it’s been a problem in the past but is no longer an issue (for us at least). We recently discovered Nutpods and all is right and caffeinated in our January Whole30 world.
- Condiments, Herbs, and Spices! Whole30 food is so not bland. There are literally dozens of spices, seasonings, vinegars, herbs, and other condiments you can enjoy
- Meal Plan. Everyone says this, and everyone is right. You need a plan for a Whole30. I meal plan on Friday evenings, shop on Saturdays, and do a little meal prep on Sunday morning or afternoon. I write up my list of meals for the week and tape it to the fridge. Sure, sometimes plans change last minute, but knowing there is a solid plan of compliant meals at the ready is a huge confidence booster and will set you up for success. This is not the time to wing it!
- Meal Prep. A Whole30 can mean a whole lot of cooking. Get some of that done on the weekend with a handful of hearty meals that can push you through at least one meal a day. For us it’s usually lunch, but you might need bulk dinners or breakfast. You know what your lifestyle needs! Soups and stews keep well all week and freeze beautifully, so they’re natural choices. But meal prep boxes and bowls for grab and go lunch also make life a lot easier.
- Use a Service. Services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh are hip to the January Whole30 game, and many offer compliant meal options. Check ‘em out! If you’re local to the DC area, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Dallas, TX, check out Territory. We worked with Territory for years and they offer a huge variety of pre-cooked Whole30 compliant meals that taste awesome.
- Get a Buddy. Whether it’s your spouse, neighbor, long-distance bestie, or an online support group, the Whole30 is always easier with a support system.
- Eat Enough Protein. Include a substantial protein source at every meal to keep you full and focused.
- Have Compliant Emergency Snacks. Technically snacking on a Whole30 is a no-no, but depending on your lifestyle, it might be unavoidable. I’ve got kids, and often find myself in situations where a meal is delayed. Better to have a small compliant snack than cheat.
- The Carb Flu Is Real. Expect It. Look guys, the first week sucks. There is no sugar-coating that fact, especially if you’ve been indulging in all of the sweets, treats, and cocktails throughout the holiday season. You WILL suffer from carb and sugar withdrawal. You’ll be tired, cranky, and zapped of energy. But it’s temporary, and you’ll be amazed how good you feel in week 2, and you’ll feel like a downright superhero in weeks 3 and 4. Prepare yourself for some resistance from your body in that first week, and you’ll be more likely to push through without cheating.
Easy, delicious, approachable meals are a must on my Whole30 journey. More often than not Cameron joins me, but he does also abstain from time to time. More importantly, my children never participate in the Whole30, so my recipes need to be both compliant and family friendly, especially dinner.
I strive to create Whole30 recipes that everyone can enjoy, from family and friends who pop in for a meal to my non-compliant children. Meals that don’t scream “diet food”, like Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup, Juicy Thick Cut Pork Chops with Apple Jicama Slaw, Sugar Snap Peas with Bacon and Mint, and One Pan Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Thighs. This means that even if you’re not into the Whole30, you’ll probably still find a recipe or two or ten that you’ll love.
This January, be sure check your inbox for more family friendly dinners and make-ahead recipes all month long. You can look forward to recipes like Shawarma Meal Prep Bowls and Whole30 Pork Ragu, plus my go-to kid-friendly dinners like Whole30 Beef Stew (three ways!) and Vietnamese Chicken Meatball Soup. It’s gonna be a delicious ride my friends!
In the meantime, get yourself psyched with these Whole30 compliant reader favorites from OSK.