Feeling a little run-down lately? Did the holidays do a number on you, too? I feel your pain. Even for committed Paleo eaters, it’s easy to get derailed when December comes along. The entire month, after all, seems to be devoted to stuffing our collective pie holes with sugar, booze, and even more sugar.
I’ll admit it: I indulged in a few too many treats this holiday season, despite knowing full well that desserts—no matter how grain-free or “Paleo”—are less-than-healthful. And yeah, I chose to eat ’em anyway because I wanted to—and because I was on vacation. I knew that the trade-off for all that deliciousness wouldn’t be pretty: achy joints and a foggy head (not to mention a bit of extra padding). But hey: the heart wants what the heart wants. And sometimes, the heart yearns for green tea soft serve ice cream.
But with 2014 shrinking in the rear view mirror, I’m going to start off the New Year right. And that means kicking myself in the butt (I’m pretty acrobatic!) with a reminder of how food affects my health and well-being.
I’ve done the complete Whole30 protocol several times before (and do a decent job of eating mindfully year-round), so I’m thinking that a week or so of sticking by the rules ought to get me back on track. But as in years past, I’m committed to helping you through an entire month’s worth of awesome Paleo recipes—that also happen to be entirely Whole30-compliant. In fact, every single day in January, I’ll show you how to make one (or more!) Whole30 dishes.
I KID YOU NOT.
For those of you who are new to the Paleo rodeo (and wondering what in the Sam Hill I’m jabbering about): Created by my pals Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, the Whole30 is a tried-and-true 30-day dietary reset that eliminates all the foods that could potentially mess you up big time. (Yes, that is the scientific term.) “Paleo” has come to mean a lot of different things, but consistent with my definition of the term, the Whole30 is all about making sure you’re eating real food that’s more healthful than harmful.
Specifically—for a whole month, you commit to cutting out the bad-for-you stuff, and eat whole, nutrient-dense foods instead. Depending on what you’ve been chowing on up ’til now, it may take you a couple of weeks to adjust, but believe me: you will. And by Day 30, you’ll feel like a new person—and you’ll have a much better understanding of how different foods affect your wellness. You’ll be able to systematically reintroduce foods back into your diet to see how they make you feel, which’ll help you develop your own nutritional template post-January. Remember: you’re a special snowflake (just like everyone else!) so it’s important to learn what foods make you feel like a superhero.
Plus, it’s a Whole30—not a Whole365 or a WholeForever. It’s just 30 days. So what have you got to lose?
Frankly, if you’re doing the Whole30 in January, the biggest challenge you’ll face this month will be boring food. If you eat nothing but boiled chicken breasts, sliced avocado, and steamed broccoli this month, by Week 2, you’ll be waging a full-on assault on a donut shop. That would be illegal, so instead, follow along with me this January, and I’ll keep your palates tickled with dozens of flavor-forward, super satisfying, nutrient-packed dishes.
Starting on January 1, I’ll be posting a Whole30-friendly Paleo recipe EVERY DAY. Some will be culled from my extensive archive of Paleo recipes, while others will be dishes that are entirely new to my blog. (I’ve done this before, so if you’re feeling antsy, go check out my previous collections of Whole30 recipes.) Hang out with me this coming month, and you’ll also be treated to butt-kicking giveaways, new kitchen tips, and other goodies to help you not just survive the Whole30, but thrive on it.
But before the fun begins, let’s do some prep:
1. Get the scoop.
If you’re new to Paleo—or a rookie in the kitchen—there are tons of great resources that will fuel your commitment to this way of eating.
Go straight to the source by grabbing a copy of the Hartwigs’ It Starts With Food, or by reviewing this post, which is chock-full of links to everything from the Whole30 program’s guidelines to the Whole30 Daily—a subscription-based newsletter with fantastic material from the Hartwigs and Melissa Joulwan (author of the incomparable Well Fed and Well Fed 2!). You can also sign up for my free email newsletter and I’ll send you a weekly roundup of my latest posts and recipes.
2. Get inspired.
Start dreaming up some delicious eats! For inspiration and to whet your appetite, read up on my previous Whole30 experiences here.
Next, go pick up a copy of Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans, my New York Times-bestselling cookbook. It’s chock-full of Whole30 goodness—in fact, just about all of the recipes in the book are Whole30-compliant. (Want to get specific? Here’s a downloadable and printable list of the 100+ Whole30 recipes in my book!)
Besides, it’s recently been named one of the best cookbooks of 2014 by everyone from Eat the Books and Serious Eats to Powell’s Books and America’s Test Kitchen. Yeah, I’m totally biased, but even mainstream (and avowed non-Paleo) culinary mavens like Christopher Kimball and Michael Ruhlman included our book among their favorites of the year—so you know it’s a keeper even after your Whole30 is over.
If you’ve got an iPad or iPad Mini, download my completely revamped and updated, Webby Award-winning cookbook app, which contains over 130 (and counting!) step-by-step Whole30-approved recipes, a 30-day meal plan that takes you through breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and an entire section devoted to Whole30 dishes. (Get the app here!)
If you already own the app for your iPad or iPad Mini, don’t forget to update it for free! (Note: The app is a HUGE file so please be patient while it downloads—it may take a few minutes, which will seem like eons to impatient people like me. Go take a walk or do some burpees and it’ll be there when you get back.)
3. Get support.
Enlist your family, friends, and co-workers to join you on a month of healthy and adventuresome cooking and eating. You can coach and support each other through the many ups and occasional downs, and best of all, you can share food (along with the cooking and cleaning duties)!
You can also sign up for the Whole30 Forum, where you’ll find free support from others who are on the same journey—especially if no one in your immediate circle is willing to accompany you on your January Whole30. (WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM? Kidding. Just so you know, you’re not alone: most of my bestest friends in the world aren’t Paleo, and I still love them.)
4. Get cooking!
Start by tossing the crap from your kitchen and go grocery shopping. Looking for advice on what to buy? Download these free PDFs from Whole9, and read my recommendations about how to stock your fridge, freezer, and pantry.
Season the cast iron skillet that’s been collecting dust in your drawer. And if you’ve got some holiday gift cards burning a hole in your pocket, this might be the perfect time to treat yourself to a new kitchen toy or two. (Check out my 2014 Holiday Guide for my latest gadget picks.)
Oh, and a word to the wise: make some ghee. It’s a fantastic Whole30-compliant cooking fat, and I use it in a lot of my recipes. If you’re planning to follow along, you’ll definitely want to have your ghee game on. (If you don’t want to make ghee, you can buy it here.)
As I’ve said before, keep your kitchen adventures fun and your taste buds excited, and you’ll cruise through the Whole30. Make this journey a delicious one, and it’ll become a lifestyle.
Ready to go? If you have questions, post ’em in the comments and I’ll do my best to get you the answer. Otherwise, grab my hand, and let’s do this thing before I change my mind!
Looking for more recipes? Head on over to my Recipe Index! You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my Webby Award-Winning iPad® app, and in my New York Times bestselling cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel 2013).