Hi everyone! In preparation for the A to Z Challenge that starts tomorrow, I want to talk about some of the stuff that will help prepare for a Whole30. When I started, I found it difficult to know how much to buy of what foods, because I wasn’t sure about portion sizes yet. And it took a few weeks before I found some really amazing recipes that are still my favourites after the fact.
For a full rundown of the Whole30, click here.
The basic rule of thumb is to only eat whole foods. Veggies, fruits, meat, nuts and seeds. If something has an ingredient list, make sure that there are no preservatives or chemicals, and no sugar. Once you start paying attention to ingredients in the things at the grocery store, you’ll be amazed how much of it isn’t even real food.
So, tip number one, before you start, make your own clarified butter. Ghee is essentially butter without the dairy fat, and it is super expensive to buy. Organic butter is way cheaper, and all you have to do to clarify it is simmer it on very low heat and skim off the white goo on top. Goo being a technical term, of course. Once the foam is gone, the golden butter left behind can be stored in an airtight container on the counter and used for everything that you would use butter for. And it’s delicious. It’s like super buttery butter. Mmmm.
Number two, which is an extension of number one. For those of you who have followed me for awhile, you likely remember my Bulletproof Coffee challenge I did. I’m so glad I did, because BP Coffee saved my life on the Whole30. One of my biggest hurdles at the beginning was that I was starving all morning. I’d have my proper portion of protein and veggie and fat for breakfast, but by ten o clock I was dying. I’m a snacker, you see. And I’m not one to stuff myself at six in the morning either.
Then a lightbulb went off above my head. Bing! Bulletproof Coffee! Using my clarified butter and some flavorful and fragrant coconut oil, I blended up my coffee every morning with my breakfast and it kept me energetic and not hungry until lunchtime. Also, it’s fucking delicious. Seriously. One of my A to Z Challenge posts will be on the myriad of different things I put in my coffees to make up for the fact that I couldn’t have dairy.
Number three. Try every milk. Unsweetened with no additives, and if you can shell out a bit of extra dough, organic is best. Chances are you’ll find something that delights your tastebuds, and maybe even forget about milk altogether. That’s what happened when I discovered the wonder that is coconut milk. Canned, pure, delicious coconut milk. I’m eating bananas and strawberries doused in it right now. I’ve been done my Whole30 for three weeks and I am still devouring the stuff. YUM.
I did find that the best coffee additive over my Whole30 was unsweetened almond milk. I had a hard time drinking black coffee, and I’d butter it first thing in the morning but my subsequent coffees were just lame being naked. I’m a double cream kinda girl (that’s what she said) and it was hard to get used to just coffee flavour without that creamy undertone. When I subbed in unsweetened almond milk, it was worlds better! And I haven’t switched back to cream since. Also the hint of almond flavour goes so well with coffee.
Tip four, hunt around for the best fresh meat, fruit, vegetables and spices you can find in your vicinity. I found myself shopping every week, sometimes with extra trips because you’d be amazed how fast you go through stuff when eating three massive meals a day. Also you want it to stay fresh until you eat it, so it’s better to shop more often. Which means that you’ll want somewhere close to go.
As a subset of tip four, if you’re a baconator like me, make sure you go on a bacon hunt before you start your Whole30. Bacon is totally in, but most grocery store bacon has the dreaded sugar in it. It’s stupid, really, how much crap is on the bacon ingredient list. If there’s a farm somewhere near you, find out if you can get fresh bacon, and then freeze it in portions for use during your thirty days. If it isn’t easily accessible, then go to the most expensive grocery store in your area, find the organic bacon, and read all the labels, picking the one with the least additives. I will admit I had to cheat a couple of times with my bacon, but I did manage to get one that was organic and used natural sugars as opposed to chemicals. That was the best I could do. The thought of going thirty days without bacon terrifies me. I couldn’t have done it.
Number five, the bulk food store is your friend. Around here we have the good ol Bulk Barn, which is a heavenly place for dry goods at cheap prices. It’s particularly handy during a Whole30, because nuts and seeds are an integral part of the process. Maybe it should be tip five: nuts and seeds are an integral part of the process. Anyway.
Sometimes, I didn’t want to cook meat for my salad, or to go next to my vegetables, or if I wanted fried fruit sometimes I didn’t want salty meat with it. Enter raw cashews. Protein and healthy fat ahoy! They bake and fry well, they’re good in a salad, and with a little patience, they make amazing nut butter. I have jars of raw nuts (that’s what she said) in the cupboard because they add a healthful kick to a lot of things. Almonds in particular are handy for thickening up homemade salad dressing.
Seeds snazz up anything you want to sprinkle them over. I’m a sucker for sunflower seeds, and I just threw them in everything. It gives a little extra salt and crunch. But any seeds can turn your boring meal into something new and exciting. Seriously, you’re about to live thirty days where all you think about is how to make appealing and exciting food. Seeds will help.
Last but not least, tip six. Share your experience! Count your days, talk to people about what you’re eating and how delicious it is. If you’re doing it for weight loss, weigh and measure in and out before and after. Talk to your friends and family about the difficulty giving up whatever non-compliant food you miss. If you’re gaining support and camraderie during this thing, it will be so much easier to complete because you’ll have people cheering you on. And if any of those people try to get you to cheat, punch them in the face.
Just kidding, make them a delicious Whole30 compliant dinner and they’ll change their tune.
Instead of thinking about what you can’t eat, think about it as what you will get to eat. Staying positive and keeping your confidence up is a lovely side effect to doing something like this. With your friends and family and coworkers on your side, and you starting to feel really good, it won’t be a chore to finish.
And I urge you to finish the 30 days! I did and it has changed my eating habits forever. I learned so much, and ended my psychological need to snack constantly. I learned that I don’t ever have to buy sauces or dressings because they’re easier and cheaper and healthier to make. And more delicious!
I also learned that sugar is a wicked inflammatory, because on day 31 my husband and I split a bag of Mini Eggs and I was bloated as shit for two days.
So, in closing, saddle up for a life changing ride. Your Whole30 awaits!
Looking for recipes? The Whole30 book It Starts With Food is really great for base recipes that can be embellished and customized. Also homemade Olive Oil Mayo, which was a lifesaver. It also gives you an awesome science lesson on your body and what happens when you eat certain things. It is definitely worth the 10 bucks for the ebook.
The Clothes Make The Girl is an awesome reasource for all things healthy. She does a few Whole30’s every year, and has some great articles on what she buys per week. She also has some mouthwatering recipes and tips on how to create your own delicious Whole30 compliant meals.
Nom Nom Paleo is a huge collection of recipes run by the awesome Michelle Tam. She classifies them as Paleo, though, so be careful not to use any recipes that have honey or maple syrup for your Whole30.
And last but not least, stay tuned to this blog for the month of April, where I’ll share recipes for all of the awesome stuff I made for my Whole30! It forced me to get really creative with food, and so much of it I’ve carried over into my life now. Enjoy and see you at the A to Z Challenge!