the day i met melissa hartwig, author of the bestselling whole30 guide to total health and food freedom, i was impressed (not an easy feat). i totally fangirled out when she was signing copies of her book + may have slipped her a copy of our goal getter fitspiration journal. hey, even the whole30 guru needs a little fitspiration + she exemplifies goal-getter status. i was actually on day 10 of my first whole30 when i met her, and truth be told, that encounter excited me to learn more about this phenomenon she created. and now the rest is history-in-the-making as my whole30-turned-whole60, now soon-to-be-whole90 continues...with my fab fitbookers in tow. considering joining me as we start #septemberwhole30? read my whole30 dilemma for the deets. already in? keep reading.
i’m gonna be straight with you. whole30 takes some effort. resetting (probably very deep-seated) longtime eating habits doesn’t just happen overnight + some of the "rules" might seem pretty daunting, especially when you don’t have much time to spare (like me!). some things (like forgoing cream in my coffee) are totally doable; others (i’m lookin’ at you, homemade mayo), not so much. so i’m here, not to hand over the whole30 cliff’s notes, but to share what’s worked thus far for this busy little bee on this whole30...60...90 journey of mine.
first of all, read her book. as much as I love you, i won’t do it justice if i just hand over the whole30 how + why on a silver platter. this is why she wrote the book, people, so for the love of gluten, read it. i will, however, share some quick tips + a few of my fave go-to whole30 recipes before we begin (yes, i said WE!) that have been a pivotal part of my whole30 mojo.
[my go-to whole30 tips]
1 [don’t go it alone] enlist a friend or family member (beg, plead, blackmail if you must!) to do it with you. you’ll have built-in accountability + be a positive influence on your whole30 buddy in the process. i convinced my dad + a couple pals to give it a shot during my first go-round - and now i'm totally bribing y'all to join me by doing a giveaway + literally $300. (but more on that later.) see how much i love you?
2 [plan ahead] planning ahead is the key to success when it comes to any diet overhaul or lifestyle change. i meal prep (more on this later in the month), plan out + log my meals in my fitbook lite (an essential part of my whole30 process), and i familiarize myself with the menus before i dine out. when you plan ahead, you are much less likely to succumb to last-minute takeout temptation.
3 [track progress] whole30 is all about the non-scale victories, so make sure you’re keeping track of your moods, cravings, anything but the number on the scale (no weigh-ins allowed anyway).
4 [commit] first + foremost, you have to really commit to the program, and you have to recommit yourself every single day. be intentional in your choices. wanna commit to #septemberwhole30 with me??? it starts like, tomorrow, but it's totally doable.
[my go-to whole 30 recipes]
these are so simple i'm almost embarrassed to call them recipes, but again, those of you reading this are probably like me in that you wanna do whole30, but ain’t nobody got time to make homemade mayo, yo (at least not often)! i wish i had the time to create all of the amazing whole30 masterpieces in the book, but the reality is, i just don’t.
like i said, you must plan ahead. i always food prep on sundays. it makes throwing meals together on those busy weeknights a breeze. my personal food prep routine:
- grill chicken, steak + turkey burgers
- roast veggies
- bake sweet potatoes + spaghetti squash
- hard-boil eggs
- cook bacon + bolognese meat sauce
having these things prepped + at-the-ready will make the food assembly for the recipes below SO much faster.
one unique element of whole30 is that rather than looking at food as “breakfast, lunch + dinner”, it’s “meal 1, meal 2, meal 3”. why does it matter? because so often we typecast something as a breakfast food (which is also amazing for din-din, hello "brinner"), but what about having dinner foods for breakfast? it gets you thinking creatively about meal time. that’s not to say i didn’t have my sources for inspiration when i was too short on time to make a recipe from the whole30 cookbook. greatist has this stellar list of breakfast + lunch/dinner recipes that are pretty darn awesome, including whole30 recipes for one for those of us that dine solo.
so without further ado, here are my go-to meal-time recipes - perfect day or night, when you’re in a time crunch. (*author’s note: all recipes made for one. cooking for 2? you're smart – double it.)
sweet + salty hash
my own concoction, combining mini sweet peppers + sweet potato slices as a beautiful bed of complex carbs for my huevos. option to add paleo bacon broken into bits, but when i do that i cut my avo amount in half.
1. add a dollop of coconut oil to a skillet and on medium heat add 6-8 mini sweet peppers (sliced), ½ a sweet potato (diced) + sauté until brown.
2. while hash is sizzling, in a separate small skillet, cook 2 eggs over-easy (how i like mine) or scramble or whatever.
3. add a big handful of spinach to the hash + stir until wilted, then season with sea salt + pepper.
4. serve the eggs over the hash + add avocado (¼ - ½...don’t fear the fat!)
eggs + squash
having pre-baked spaghetti squash on-hand has been a pivotal part of my paleo(ish) whole30 process. learning to squeeze in veggies in the morning (to keep me full) led to this super simple option.
1. cook 2-3 eggs over-easy in a small skillet with coconut oil.
2. while those are doing their thang, heat a huge plate of spaghetti squash (that you already prepped for the week) in the microwave.
3. add eggs to the nest o’ squash, top with avocado + season with sea salt + pepper. add fresh tomatoes + basil if you have some on-hand!
4. serve with a side of bacon (or not).
grain-free breakfast porridge thingy
courtesy of greatist’s whole30 breakfast recipes, i found this cinnamon apple grain-free breakfast porridge yumminess from “the nourishing home”. now, to be honest, i only made this a few times because as much as i LOVED how much it reminded me of my beloved oatmeal (which i admit i miss a bit), i just didn’t feel as good the rest of the day having such a high-fat, higher-sugar (albeit, natural sugars from fruit) breakfast compared to my higher-protein eggy fare. but IF you’re craving grains, by all means make this. it’s beyond amazing.
anytime egg salad + red pepper fries
you boiled eggs already for the week, so this is seriously the EASIEST egg salad ever. (eva, eva!). and i call them red pepper fries because i can + i will. humor me, i haven’t had a drop of alcohol in 60 days!
1. peel 2-3 hardboiled eggs + mish-mash with a fork/knife.
2. add 1 tbsp paleo mayo (i like primal kitchen) – or give the homemade mayo in the cookbook a try!
3. if you love mustard like me, add to your heart’s content – like mine is seriously like a #shitton (as melissa says!). note: some mustards have sugar so read your label, but good ol’ yellow mustard from french’s is safe.
4. add relish if you want to go old-school egg salad or try adding a cheese-free basil pesto to get fancy.
5. mix well + serve in a hollowed out red pepper with sliced red pepper fries!
paleo chicken bowl
visiting my sweet friend in cali, she offered to make me a whole30 recipe for dinner so i sent her the link to the greatist recipes (because they’re all pretty fast/easy) + she made this. just top a bowl of greens with grilled chicken, roasted sweet potatoes or butternut squash, avocado + then drizzle this tahini-based sauce on top. this recipe from “little bits of” was a little bit o’ heaven in my mouth.
really big salad
the key here is either high quality olive oil (like, the good stuff) with balsamic vinegar + sea salt. my favorite whole30-approved dressing that i've tried thus far was tessamae’s zesty ranch. total food scale hack: 1 tbsp of dressing or oil (or any liquid really) = 15 ml on your food scale. so my only-dirty-one-bowl tip is to mix all ingredients in 1 bowl, use the tare function on your food scale to weigh healthy fats + proteins, then add 15 ml dressing. toss + eat! this isn’t a recipe as much as it is mixing tons of greens, whatever veggies you have on-hand, a good amount of protein + then a healthy-fat dressing. but i'll share my fave: arugula, spinach, baby beets, chicken + heirloom tomatoes with cold-pressed olive oil, sea salt + then topped with raw sprouted pumpkin seeds.
thai chicken salad
another greatist recommendation for the win, this recipe is legit. note: i cheated a little and just bought pre-shredded bags of tri-color carrots or broccoli slaw. then, all you really have to do is make the “thai non-peanut peanut sauce”, add chicken, and it’s done. so simple, yet so brilliant from the kitchen of wholefork.com. note: this is a great recipe for entertaining because it makes a lot, keeps well + is a crowd pleaser.
spaghetti squash bolognese
disclaimer: i'm a creature of habit so i have made this literally every single week. it’s my go-to in a time crunch and one batch lasts me for at least 4 meals. bonus: you can mix + match with other meals, so you can top the spaghetti squash with eggs + avo, or combine this meat sauce with roasted veggies or spiralized zucchini noodles (zoodles) for instant variety. remember: prep spaghetti squash on sunday so you have it on-hand.
1. cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds with a spoon + either bake cut-side down in water @ 350 for 45 minutes, or microwave for 10-15 minutes until soft. when it’s cooked, shred the squash into spaghetti-like noodles (hence the name) with a fork.
2. in a large skillet on medium heat, add a big dollop of ghee or coconut oil + add 1 onion (chopped) + 1 tbsp minced garlic. sauté until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
3. add at least 1 lb ground beef, turkey or chicken (i like the beef.) – the more meat the better so the sauce is a bigger protein punch. cook until meat is no longer pink.
4. add 1 (15-oz) can tomatoes with basil (no salt added) + 1 jar tomato basil or marinara pasta sauce (any kind works, but just make sure there are no added sugars…which is very common in pasta sauce!)
5. allow sauce to simmer for 10 minutes to thicken, then serve over spaghetti squash!
asian turkey hash
no soy on whole30, so obviously no soy sauce. so keyword here: coconut aminos. tastes the same, only better for you. this recipe, you can really use any protein you have on hand. this is a perfect example of a meal you assemble + just toss in the skillet! literally ready to eat in less than 5 minutes – it’s not as much cooking as a fancy reheating process of all the foods you’ve prepped.
1. heat a dollop of coconut oil on medium-high in a skillet, add ground turkey (or chicken/beef/pork), sweet potato, spinach.
2. add maybe 1 tbsp coconut aminos, a sprinkle of ground ginger + sauté everything for maybe 2-3 minutes.
3. top with sesame seeds if you’re feeling fancy.
have protein and just need a healthy veggie-packed side to fill your plate? here are my favorite healthy sides to complete a meal.
when i'm hungry, i don’t wanna wait 45 minutes for my veggies to roast so i almost always plan a run/walk so i can pop my veggies in the oven and walk in to dinner, ready to go.
- pre-heat oven to 350 + toss veggies in a bowl with olive oil, salt + pepper
- bake on a cookie sheet for 35-40 minutes (go walk/run/move!).
- when you return home, toss veggies + up the heat to a broil. pop back in the oven for 4-5 minutes to brown ‘em so they’re niiiiice + crispy!
my fave veggies to roast: brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato fries + butternut squash. my dip of choice: tessamae’s whole30-approved ketchup – no sugar like (almost) all other ketchups out there.
all i can say is how have i ever lived without this?? i've watched the cauliflower craze unfold over the past few years and it wasn’t until whole30 that i was inspired to try it. darn it, it’s phenomenal. my recipe is so simple that it’s almost laughable. if you wanna boil a whole cauliflower head, it’s cheaper and probably not hard, but i'm lazy, so i buy the microwavable bags of cauliflower rice.
- heat according to the directions on the package.
- add steamed cauliflower to blender or vitamix with ½ cup cashew milk + a few big dollops of ghee + 1 tsp each sea salt + pepper. blend ‘til smooth.
- prepare to be amazed.
whole30 is adamant about (and effective at) “taming your sugar dragon”. some people (ahem, like my dad – sorry dad) get cranky from sugar withdrawals – and oddly i didn’t. however, i did try to get my fix creatively (especially during my first whole30) with technically whole30-compliant foods. frozen mixed berries, grapes, cherries…i would literally ravage in mass volume. nuts? nut butter? forgettaboutit. i may have found myself elbow-deep in the cashew butter a time or too. now, nothing is wrong with fruit or fat, but the idea is to change habits. for me, this meant integrating fruit as a SIDE to my main meal and NOT digging into fruit at 10pm. (i’ll share my little trick for avoiding those nut butter binges next week.) more often than not the mindless munching + nighttime noshing is actually just boredom, my friends. emotional eating + unnecessary consumption. hello, why do you think fitbook lite has #stopby9 as one of its healthy tweaks? it's the toughest one for me, but whole30 has helped immensely in reprogramming when, what + how much i eat. here are 2 go-to craving cures that have worked for me.
watermelon basil salad
all vegged-out + need a snack that’s a bit more on the sweet side? watermelon is my recent fave fruit of choice because 1) it’s a high-water-content fruit so it’s hydrating + rather filling, 2) it’s pretty, and 3) other higher-sugar fruits that i kept in the house ended up getting devoured in bulk. again, i aim to eat this as part of my meal – not dessert. this watermelon salad is insanely easy: just just sprinkle a little sea salt + pepper + fresh basil on top + you’re good to go. another whole30 way to integrate fruit is plantains, but i have yet to give these a go. consider this a goal for my #septemberwhole30.
okra + pickles + olives (oh my!)
per my previous point, for me, moving away from sugar meant finding other crunchy cures for mid-day hunger. whole30 doesn’t say you can’t snack – you’re an adult, eat when you want. but if you’re not hungry enough to eat a hardboiled egg, you’re not actually hungry. however, i found that i needed a crunchy fix so i wasn’t reaching for nuts all the time. i mean, they’re healthy and all, but moderation is key. enter spicy okra (they remind me of my great grandmother who used to make her own), pickles (hello, fermented foods are like all the rage), and olives (healthy fats + salt fix?? i’m in!). double-check labels – there are added sugars in a LOT of pickled items, so choose wisely.
*author’s note: almost all of the foods i mentioned above are available at whole foods, sprouts or most health food markets. however, i did a lot of my shopping online @ thrive market, because they had a ton of paleo + whole30-approved options. use this link to save 15% on your first order: http://thrv.me/fitbook. (you're welcome.)
so my goal: incentivize (code word for bribe) my fab fitbookers to join in on this #septemberwhole30 with me! since i happen to have an extra copy of the cookbook (did i mention melissa hartwig signed mine?) - we’ll be giving away my extra copy, along with a brand new fitbook lite to help you food log like a boss throughout your whole30 (with an extra two weeks for your post-whole30 reintroduction phase). consider this your whole30 toolkit!
wanna be the lucky winner?? just comment below with your WHY behind doing whole30 + WHO you’ll be recruiting to join you in this journey to hold you accountable. we'll be selecting the winner of the cookbook this week so you can have it for your #septemberwhole30. so comment, like NOW...and make sure you include your instagram handle so we can support/stalk you!
make no mistake about it - we’ll be watching you. TAG @fitbook + @whole30 in all your whole30 fun + always use #fitbookwhole30 for a chance to be one of THREE (3) lucky fitbookers to win a $100 gift card to shop ‘til you drop at getfitbook.com! all you have to do to win? post EVERY SINGLE DAY during your #septemberwhole30 (food pics, prep pics, fitbook pics garner bonus points, obvi)...tag us + use the #fitbookwhole30. winners announced at the end of september!
now let's give it our whole(30) effort, fitbookers!
your fearless fitlosopher,