Today’s post is all about Whole30® prep—’cause I know some of you are kicking off the New Year with a clean eating bang!
If you’re feeling run-down after the holidays, join the club. Even for committed Paleo eaters, December can feel like a series of food traps. Let’s face it: Every holiday party we attended was an orgy of sugar, and our collective face holes are sore from all the cookie-chomping and eggnog-guzzling. The trade-off for all that deliciousness and holiday cheer? Achy joints, bloating, and a foggy head (not to mention a bit of extra padding). Blargh.
Ready to turn the page on 2017 and hit the ground running in 2018? Then let’s start by being more mindful about the food we stick in our bellies!
For those of you who are embarking on a Whole30, I’ll help guide you along. Starting January 1st, I’ll be posting a Whole30-friendly Paleo recipe EVERY. SINGLE. 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 I’ll fill your noggins with all sorts of tips and tricks for surviving a Whole30, and keep motivated as you figure out how different foods affect your health and well-being. In January, you won’t ever be left wondering what to cook or eat next. Sound good?
Cool. But before we jump into a January Whole30, let’s do a little prep.
WHAT’S A WHOLE30?
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’s the scientific term.) Specifically—for a whole month, you commit to cutting out the bad-for-you stuff: the foods that are most commonly problematic, like sugar, dairy, grains, legumes, alcohol, and junk foods (even those made with “healthy” ingredients). Instead, you eat whole, nutrient-dense foods. For more information about the Whole30, go check out the program rules over here.
I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t the Whole30 the same as eating Paleo? Well, yes and no. I pretty much eat according to the Whole30 rules most of the time, which is why the vast majority of the recipes on my Paleo Recipe Index are entirely Whole30-friendly. But in the broader world, the term “Paleo” has taken on meanings that don’t always align with my core approach of eating foods that are more healthful than harmful. For example, many Paleo eaters overindulge in “Paleo” treats, despite the fact that most sweets and psychological “crutch” foods—no matter how grain-free or “natural”—aren’t exactly healthy choices. When you’re on a Whole30, certain foods that may be seen as “Paleo-friendly” are out, so don’t even think about making “Paleo” pancakes or “Paleo” cupcakes this month!
Not easy, I know. And yes, depending on what you’ve been eating 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 brand 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 each of them makes you feel, which’ll help you develop your own nutritional blueprint 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.
Pretty awesome, right?
THIS SEEMS HARD. IS IT?
For some, yes: Sticking 100% to the Whole30’s program rules for 30 consecutive days will be a challenge. Frankly, for many folks, sticking to ANYTHING for an entire month is super-tough. But listen to Melissa Hartwig, the headmistress of Whole30:
Your only job during the Whole30 is to focus on making good food choices. You don’t need to weigh or measure, you don’t need to count calories, you don’t need to purchase everything organic, grass-fed, pastured, or local. Just figure out how to stick to the Whole30 rules in any setting, around every special circumstance, under any amount of stress… for 30 straight days. Your only job? Eat. Good. Food.
You can do this. Besides, it’s a Whole30, not a Whole365 or a WholeForeverAndEverAndEver. It’s just 30 days, and I’ll be helping you along each step of the way. What have you got to lose?
To be honest, the biggest challenge you’ll face during a Whole30 is boring food. If you try to tackle a Whole30 by eating nothing but boiled chicken breasts and steamed broccoli, by Week 2, you’ll be waging a full-on assault on a donut shop. That would be illegal (and violate the Whole30’s program rules), 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.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE WHOLE30!
Start by devouring everything on the Whole30 website. Want even more details? Get your hands on a copy of The Whole30—Dallas and Melissa Hartwig’s bestselling tome that lays out the science behind this awesome dietary reset.
If you’re a completist and avid reader, you should also pick up the other books by the Whole30 folks, too: The Whole30 Cookbook and The Whole30 Fast & Easy Cookbook (which includes recipes by a number of contributors—including me!). These recipe books are crammed with tasty, clean eats. In addition, Melissa just released Whole30 Day by Day, a daily handbook to keep you engaged, motivated, and accountable during your month of mindful eating. And finally, Food Freedom Forever will help you develop a personal dietary template that’ll last you well beyond your Whole30.
It’s your lucky day: I’m a walking, talking Whole30 recipe generator.
For recipe inspiration and to whet your appetite, visit my free Recipe Index, which includes tons of step-by-step Whole30-friendly recipes. (Pro tip: For a complete list of my Whole30 recipes, scroll to the bottom of my Recipe Index page, and click on the Whole30 button. Or just bookmark this page!)
You can subscribe to my free weekly email newsletter to stay up-to-date on new Whole30 and Paleo friendly recipes. And definitely follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest for all sorts of Whole30 goodness in January (and beyond), too!
Next, go pick up my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans and Ready or Not! 150+ Nomtastic Make-Ahead, Make-Over and Make-Now Recipes by Nom Nom Paleo. The vast majority of the recipes in their pages are entirely Whole30-friendly and 100% delicious.
Oh, and if you like to check off the days of your Whole30 on a wall calendar, don’t forget to pick up my Ready or Not! 2018 companion calendar—it even comes with a sheet of inspirational stickers to keep you cooking! (And right now, it’s super-cheap!) So grab my calendar and combine it with Jerry Seinfeld’s calendar-based life hack to build and maintain productivity and good habits, like sticking with your Whole30!
If you’ve got an iPhone or iPad, download my completely revamped and updated, Webby Award-winning cookbook app, which contains over 160 (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!
(Note: If you already own the app but recently updated your device or iOS, the app may look a little weird or glitchy—but there’s an easy solution: Completely delete the app off your device, and re-download it for free from the App Store. If you continue to have any problems, shoot me an email so I can help you troubleshoot, ’cause I want to make sure you can get cooking!)
I’m by no means the only source for Whole30 recipe inspiration. Follow Whole30Recipes on Instagram, and check out all the wonderful Paleo recipe developers (including Melissa Joulwan, Michelle Smith, Jenn Bumb, and Teri Turner) who contribute to that feed. (Keep your eyes peeled: I’ll be taking over the Whole30Recipes IG feed for a week in January, too!)
In my experience, it’s infinitely better to do a Whole30 with others than to go it alone. Conscript your family, friends, and co-workers to join you on a monthlong challenge of healthy and adventuresome cooking and eating—and you can all help each other through it. You can coach and support your pals through the many ups and occasional downs, and best of all, you’ll never get bored with your food if everyone shares their Whole30 eats. Camaraderie, variety, and tasty noms are the order of the day!
And if no one in your immediate circle is willing to accompany you on your January Whole30, REEVALUATE YOUR FRIENDSHIPS. (Kidding!) Then, visit the Whole30 Forum, where you’ll find free support from others who are on the same journey.
STOCK YOUR KITCHEN FOR SUCCESS!
Let’s start by tossing the crap from your kitchen and going grocery shopping. Looking for advice on what to buy? Go check out my recommendations on the Whole Foods Market website about how to stock your fridge, freezer, and pantry like a boss!
Next: Stock up on kitchen tools! My books discuss the supplies I try to keep in my kitchen to make super-nomtastic grub, but if you’re just interested in the basics, here are the bare essentials you should have on hand (note: these are Amazon affiliate links!):
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- Large cast-iron skillet
- Silicone spatula
- Rimmed baking sheet
- Stainless steel wire rack
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
You’ll also find that I frequently use the following tools, too—they’re not essential, but they sure make cooking a lot easier and more pleasurable:
- Food processor
- High speed blender and/or hand (immersion) blender
- Instant Pot (my favorite models and deals are always listed here)
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 2017 Holiday Gift Guide for my latest gadget picks—including my favorite Instant Pot models!)
COOK UP A STORM!
Most importantly: Cook! Trust me: It’s really, really hard to try to do a Whole30 without getting acquainted with your kitchen. The point of doing a Whole30 is to learn about how different foods affect you—and how can you possibly do that if you don’t know exactly what’s going into your mouth? As I said in Ready or Not!:
Knowing how to prep meals from scratch doesn’t just make you a more rounded individual or hearty survivalist—it makes you more mindful of the ingredients you’re putting in your body. By cooking at home, I know exactly what goes into my food. I never have to guess whether my dishes were cooked with ingredients that don’t sit well with me.
Not sure how to get started in the kitchen? Definitely check out my cooking hacks on the Whole Foods Market blog. Then, grab my cookbooks, check out some Whole30 recipes for inspiration, and get cookin’!
Also, before I forget: Do you aspire to be a meal prepping maven? I have four weeks of meal plans and shopping lists in our new cookbook, Ready or Not! If you want ultimate flexibility and customizability, subscribe to Real Plans—the most amazing meal planning program around! Seriously. It’s the bee’s knees. There are even add-on recipe modules by yours truly, Nom Nom Paleo, and the Whole30, too! Check it out here!
MAKE ENOUGH FOR LEFTOVERS!
“Leftovers” is not a dirty word—especially if you know how to transform your extras into exciting new meals. My latest cookbook, Ready or Not!, includes a big section on leftover makeovers, so definitely grab a copy and bookmark the “Kinda Ready” chapter. Prefer to simply reheat the awesome dishes you couldn’t finish last night? That works, too, and is a fantastic way to stay sane on your Whole30 without feeling like you’re spending the entire month in the kitchen. So remember: don’t be afraid to make extra!
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY…
I know: It’s not easy to cook up delicious, 100% Paleo and Whole30-friendly meals from scratch EVERY SINGLE DAY AND NIGHT. But here’s the thing: You don’t have to!
Throughout the month of January 2018, you’ll find a rotating menu of ready-to-eat Nom Nom Paleo dishes in the hot bar in all Whole Foods Market stores in the United States! These meals—all curated from my latest cookbook, Ready or Not!
Okay, enough chit-chat. It’s time to gear up for an awesome January! 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 nomtastic one, and it’ll become a life-altering change that you can sustain for the long haul.
Ready to go? I’m all about hand-holding, encouragement, and most importantly, PEER PRESSURE—so find a buddy to take the plunge with you, and let’s do this thing!
P.S. Got questions for me or tips for your fellow Whole30 participants? Please post ’em in the comments!
Coming up next: More Whole30 Prep—Flavor Boosters!
A note to my Nomsters: This is one of a series of daily blog posts I’m writing in the month of January 2018 to help those doing a Whole30 to kick off the New Year. Not sure what the Whole30 is, or want info on how to get started? Read my Whole30 prep post—and then come back to Nom Nom Paleo every single day for recipes to inspire, delight, and sustain you on your Whole30!
Throughout January 2018, I’m partnering with Whole Foods Market nationwide! In all Whole Foods Market stores, you’ll find my personally curated Nom Nom Paleo Picks on the shelves, a rotating menu of ready-to-eat Nom Nom Paleo dishes in the hot bar, and even my famous Magic Mushroom Powder available for sale!
Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013) and Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017)!100