I finished my Whole30 earlier this month but still have lots to say about what made it doable and even enjoyable for me. I’ve heard from lots of folks who are interested in possibly giving this a go, and who have asked for more information. If you are only here for the knitting, my apologies! I promise I am not turning this into a food blog (though from the beginning, I’ve always shared my foodie adventures here). There will be knitting content coming soon! Maybe even a finished project!
I blogged about my Whole30 experience here (note about the title of that post – I know that “real food” means lots of things to lots of people. What I mean when I say “real food” is “unprocessed” – food as close to its natural state as possible.) Whole30 is a concept started by the people at Whole9 – it’s a short-term nutritional reset “designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.” The basics are: no sugar (or any other added sweetener – natural or artificial), no dairy, no grains, no legumes. You basically cut out the stuff that can lead to inflammation, imbalances, and cravings. So what do you eat? Plants and animals! That means egetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, and meat.
The entire program is outlined and explained in the Hartwig’s book It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways. I bought this book last spring, and loved it – it is so sane and balanced and straightforward. But it took me several months to actually take the leap and try the Whole30 – I honestly didn’t think I could really do it (especially letting go of sugar). I’m still surprised at how manageable I found this to be. I still refer to the book regularly and would highly recommend buying it if you are even considering exploring or experimenting with this way of eating. But the Hartwigs are cool – you don’t have to buy their book to get the basic information and support to give this a go. You can check out all the steps, and even get forum support, on their Whole30 site.
Their approach laid the foundation for my nutritional reset, but there were actually a few other resources I found absolutely invaluable. Actually, I would say there are three women who became my mentors, in a way: Melissa, Michelle, and Steph. It’s funny, a lot of the first writings that introduced and popularized paleo were written by men. But these three women (in addition to the Hartwigs) are the ones that made it work for me.
Melissa Joulwan – Her book, Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat offers a really great, efficient approach to meal preparation. I am not going to lie – if you do Whole30, you will spend a lot of time in the kitchen. If you aren’t eating processed, prepackaged food, there is just no way around that! But Melissa shows you how to make it work with what she calls “weekly cookups,” so that you have the building blocks of great meals in your fridge during the week. I haven’t mastered her approach, but even what parts of it I’ve been able to do have helped so much in terms of being prepared for good eating, even during busy weeks. My work schedule always involves night meetings and weekend responsibilities; even so, I found preparing my meals to be totally doable, thanks in large part to Melissa.
It’s her approach to cooking that’s especially helpful in this book, but the recipes are fantastic, too. Some of my favorite recipes from this book include Chocolate Chili (YUM – I like to add shredded, sautéed sweet potato to the top), Waldorf Tuna Salad, Olive Oil Mayo (I had a paleo mayo fail before finding her recipe and its easy, step-by-step instruction for getting the emulsion right), Caramelized Coconut Chips, and Sunshine Sauce (not a Whole30 recipe unless you can find sunflower butter without added sugar).
Also check out Melissa’s blog, The Clothes Make the Girl, for great recipes and tips. Last month, she offered some weekly meal plans for Whole30, based on her Weekly Cookup concept.
Late in my Whole30, I decided to purchase Melissa’s newest book, Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat, and I took advantage of Amazon’s new (to me) feature – I bought the book in paperback and Amazon offered me the option of spending an additional $2.99 to get the Kindle version as well. Score! I love having actual books to hold in my hand, especially when I’m first getting the feel of a book and its recipes, and especially if it has great photos (as this book does). But I prefer using my iPad when I’m actually in the kitchen. I have a tiny little kitchen, and a cookbook that has to be propped open can take up precious space, whereas my iPad fits perfectly on a little shelf up out of the way. One thing I love about this book is the delicious array of sauce recipes. Love me some sauces and dips!
Michelle Tam. Oh, NomNomPaleo, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I found Michelle’s site last spring and have been obsessed with her recipes ever since. She’s hilarious and her approach to cooking is just so fun. I love the whole aesthetic of her site, too. I purchased her app last spring and it is AMAZING. I can hardly express how much I love this app for cooking. Better than a cookbook, in a way, because of how easy it is to find exactly what you need, exactly when you need it. The app operates seamlessly – no extra steps involved in finding what you’re looking for or flipping back to what you were just looking at. It includes pictures of every conceivable cooking step. It has a whole section for all the recipes that are Whole30-approved (a lot of them). It’s got a Paleo 101 section that I still refer to often, and it even includes suggestions for 30 days of meals.
Even though I have the app, I asked for and received Michelle’s new book for Christmas. Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans is fantastic. It’s so much fun to look at and read – even my kids enjoy looking through it. The cartoon figures of Michelle’s kids (saying funny things) are very appealing to them. One of my sons also just loves saying, “Nom Nom Paleo!” at random times. The book has many recipes that are not in the app or on Michelle’s website. I’ve made a lot from this book but also feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. (Now that I’m off Whole30, I specifically can’t wait to make Mexican Pot de Creme!) Michelle is also really active on Instagram, and it’s fun to interact with her there (and I have a total fangirl reaction whenever she “likes” one of my food pics!).
Michelle has too many great recipes for me to name, but probably the one that has become my biggest go-to recipe (I make it at least 3-4x a week) is for frittatas made with whatever meat and veggies are in the fridge. Here’s the one I made yestereday morning:
Stephanie Gaudreau – I stumbled onto her site, Stupid Easy Paleo, last fall, when I was looking for a great pot roast recipe. Her recipe for Crock-Pot Mocha-Rubbed Pot Roast certainly fit the bill and immediately became my go-to pot roast. LOVE it so much. From there, I discovered many other wonderful recipes on her site, as well as lots of great information and encouragement. Steph is also really responsive to any comments left on her blog, which is super. She just released a book earlier this year, The Paleo Athlete: A Beginner’s Guide to Real Food for Performance. I haven’t finished reading it yet, but I am loving it so far – very practical and helpful, with great recipes. Her recipe for Sweet Potato-Applesauce Mash has finally converted the one holdout in my house (one of my sons) to loving sweet potatoes. YEAH.
I have lots more to say, as usual, but I’ll stop for now, except to add a couple more notes. I know some people who are vegetarian are interested in exploring this. The Hartwigs do address this in their book – it is doable, contrary to popular belief. Also, if you are someone who would like to explore paleo but want to include cheese (which I believe is considered “primal”), I would recommend checking out Mark’s Daily Apple.
I need to add that none of these people know me. No one asked me to write this post and spread the linky love around. I’m just wanting to give a little shout-out to the folks who helped me the most, and to share these resources with others who might benefit from what these people have to offer.
So, what about you? If you have tried Whole30 or have been eating Paleo, what and who are some of your favorite resources?