January is time when many Americans vow to eat better. December’s latkes, holiday cookies, and eggnog lattes create painful pants and a general sadness that inspires many people [me] to make a change. This January, my wife and I decided to try Whole30. Whole30 is so in right now — it’s a paleo-ish eating concept where you basically just eat real food. There’s a book that explains the concept and has a ton of really delicious recipes. I tend to like books that explain things.
Anyway, how do I explain this eating concept? Well, Melissa and Dallas Hartwig (the folks who wrote this Whole30 book) instruct participants not to focus on what you *can’t* eat on the diet, but rather, what you can eat, and how you feel. So, here’s what you can eat on Whole30: basically any vegetable, fruit or meat item you would like. Here’s what you can’t eat: grains, dairy, alcohol, processed food, or legumes (I learned peanuts are a legume, and it made me sad…) You do this for 30 days and see how you feel. It’s supposed to make you feel better and make you happier. Weight loss is also frequently a side effect, although it’s not supposed to be the main purpose. Although this sounds like the same snake oil diet sales pitch you get with all foods fads, I feel like the Whole30 really came through on all of its promises.
As I’m sitting here tonight drinking a glass of pinot, watching the acclaimed cinematic masterpiece, Vanderpump Rules, and trying to get my dog to stop throwing her toys off the couch, I thought it would be fun to share five Whole30 recipes that my wife and I really liked. Even if you don’t want to go 30 days without grains and dairy, I hope you give these a try.
- Salmon Salad
I made salmon salads on every Monday of the Whole30. It’s a really easy salad, really delicious, and healthy. It’s a great way to start the work week.
- 1/4 lb. filet of salmon per person
- Baby spinach
- 1 Red bell pepper
- English cucumber
- 1 Avocado
- Olive oil and balsamic vinegar (or dressing of your choice)
- Chop up the baby spinach, tomatoes, bell pepper, avocado, and cucumber
- Salt and pepper the salmon fillets
- Heat a nonstick or cast iron pan on the stove. Add 1/2 Tb. ghee (clarified butter) to the pan on medium-high heat and melt
- Add the salmon skin side up
- Cook for 3 minutes
- Flip the salmon and cook for three more minutes, skin side down
- Flip the salmon on its side and cook for one minute
- Flip the salmon on its other side, and give it one more minute
- Remove the salmon from the pan and set aside
- Toss all of the salad ingredients in a bowl with olive oil/vinegar or dressing and plate
- Top with Salmon
2. Whole30 Chicken Tikka Masala over Cauliflower “Rice”
This tastes really close to the real thing!
- 1 lb. Chicken thighs
- 1 Can of diced tomatoes
- 1 Can of full fat coconut milk
- Salt, pepper, and curry spices
- Lime slice for garnish
- Ghee for frying the chicken
- 1 Head Cauliflower
- 1 Cup frozen peas
- Cut up the chicken in about 1/4 inch cubes, salt and pepper it, and fry in it 1 Tb. of Ghee in a pan over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken until it is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the curry spices to taste (I cheat and use the “curry spices”, but you can use actual curry spices if you want — I use about 1/8 cup of curry spice, but you can use more or less depending on what you want)
- Add the can coconut milk and tomatoes, stir, bring to a boil, and then simmer for about 10 minutes
- While the chicken is cooking, rice the cauliflower in a food processor
- Put the cauliflower in a pan and add about 1/8 cup water. Bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes. The cauliflower should be cooked. If not, cook it longer. Add the peas, reduce the heat to simmer. Stir.
- Serve the chicken spooned over the “rice” with a slice of lime.
3. Slow Cooker Whole30 Carnitas
- 2-3 Lbs. pork shoulder butt
- 1/2 head of purple cabbage
- 2 Avocados
- 3 Limes (2 for juicing; 1 for garnishing)
- 3 Oranges
- Salt, pepper and oregano
- Before you go to work, put pork, the juice of three oranges and two limes in a slow cooker. Cover with salt, pepper and oregano. Cook on low for 8-12 hours.
- When you get home, heat up 1 Tb. of ghee in a pan on high. Add the shredded pork and it will get really crispy.
- While the pork is getting crispy, cut up the cabbage, tomatoes and cilantro, and mash the avocados with some hot sauce, salt and pepper.
- Plate the Carnitas over the cabbage and tomato salad and cover with the guacamole. Add salt if needed. Top with cilantro and hot sauce.
4. Lamb Ragu with Butternut Squash
- 1 Lb. of ground lamb
- 1/2 Lb. cubed butternut squash
- 1 Can of Rao’s marinara sauce
- Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes
- Zoodles, or some other “noodle” type food item to eat the sauce with
- Olive oil
- Heat a pan on the stove. Add olive oil. Add red pepper flakes to the olive oil. Add the ground lamb. Break it up and cover it with salt and pepper until cooked over medium heat. Once it’s cooked, about 3-5 minutes, add the sauce. Add the butternut squash cubes. Bring to a slow boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes to 1 hour (the sauce will thicken with time.)
- Serve over any type of noodles. We used zoodles, which are spiralized zucchini. I think they are weird, and I don’t really like them, but you might! You can also use quinoa pasta or cauliflower rice, or just eat it on its own!
5. Whole30 Slushee
I really like wine — so going for 30 days without wine inspired me to find interesting Whole30 compliant beverages. This Whole30 slushee is my absolute favorite. It’s really such a treat.
- 1 Can Coconut La Croix
- 10 Strawberries
- Blackberries for garnish
- [optional] Mint for garnish
- In a blender, blend the strawberries, La Croix, and Ice until they turn into a slushee
- Pour into cups, and top with garnish
- It’s so good! Have another!
I hope you enjoy these recipes. Follow my on Instagram @Hungry_and_Tired for more photos of food!