Like everyone else, January for me has been a month of getting back on track after a VERY gluttonous holiday season! I started the Whole 30 program on January 8, and have been about 90% faithful to it for almost three weeks now. I like the Whole 30 because it’s not really a diet. It’s just about eating real foods. Proteins, vegetables, and fruits. If you’re like me, eating clean is not necessarily the challenging part; it’s the planning and executing! When you’re cutting out dairy, grains, soy, alcohol, and sugar, you can still make delicious meals, but you have to be a bit more intentional about it. You can’t hide an overcooked piece of chicken under a pile of cheese and call it a day! (I wouldn’t know anything about that, just heard that’s what some people might do…😳) I really like spice and complexity, so I always look at it a bit as a cooking challenge as well. I’ve put together a dinner meal plan below with some of my favorites. Each of these meals uses a loose “recipe” that can be customized according to what you like and what you have. I would gladly eat any of these dinners on any given night, not just during a Whole 30!
The kids are off to school, and we’re having the first cool(ish) front of the season…I feel like there’s no better time to get motivated than now! Summer is hard for most moms. The kids are home ALL DAY LONG for three months, and that means less time to get to the gym, more snack foods filling the pantry, and, if you live in Texas, less physical activity because it’s just too hot to do anything. I always feel drained and lethargic at the end of the summer, and I’ve decided to nip it in the bud this time, starting today!
I am not a dieter. I really don’t believe in them. There is no magic cabbage soup that will change your life, and clearly eating Subway sandwiches exclusively was a poor trend. I am, however, a fan of the Whole 30 program. It is not meant to be a diet but rather a lifestyle, a way of eating whole, healthy, non-processed foods. You may not have heard of Whole 30, but I’m sure you’ve heard of Paleo. (How do you know when someone is practicing a Paleo diet? They will tell you! 😉 ) Whole 30 is based on the same premise as Paleo but takes it a few steps further.
In a nutshell, Whole 30 prohibits all grains (including quinoa, corn, and rice), dairy, legumes (including peanuts, soy, and chickpeas, which sadly eliminates hummus), added sugars, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, carrageenan, MSG, and sulfites. So, what’s left to eat, right??? The answer is REAL FOOD! Chicken, beef, fish, shellfish, and pork, if you dig swine, plus any and all veggies (yes, even potatoes) and fruits are fine. This is really how we should have been eating all along, no?
I have completed two Whole 30s in the past 14 months. I was the most committed with the first round, and for one whole month, I ate only real, fresh, non-processed foods. During the second half of the Whole 30, I felt amazing! My energy was significantly up, I did not feel bloated even a tiny bit, my skin was clear, and I slept like a baby. I lost a few pounds to boot, but losing weight wasn’t really my primary goal. I just wanted to feel better, and I did!
It’s easy to fall off the wagon though, and I wasn’t sure I even wanted to keep up the regime. Like everyone else, I wanted to enjoy the occasional slice of birthday cake and glass(es) of red wine. In an ideal world, I would practice this clean eating program 80% of the time and enjoy a few indulgences during the remaining meals. For now, though, I want to kickstart my health, so I’m going full throttle! I promise not be annoying and post pictures of my meals every single day, and I won’t shove Whole 30 down your throat. I’m not really even promoting it. But if there’s anyone who needs just a little nudge in the right direction, I hope this motivates you to get on the ball. There is no time like now to start feeling better!
As a bonus, here is a recipe for one of my favorite Whole 30 approved snacks:
Baked Plantain Chips
4 Plantains, thinly sliced
1/4 c. coconut oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1. Spoon coconut oil into a large mixing bowl. Add next four ingredients, and stir to combine.
2. Toss sliced plantains with oil and spice mixture.
3. Arrange the plantains on two parchment-line baking sheets in an even layer.
4. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip the plantains and bake for 4 more minutes or until golden brown.
5. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the sea salt.