Are You Ready For The Whole30 Challenge?

If you’re anything like me, when you finish the Whole30 Challenge, you immediately say to yourself, “I could totally do better next time!”  

Prepare better, make better choices, and get better at taking to heart the lessons we learned.

Experiment on Yourself!

A Science Experiment

It’s surprising what you can learn as a human Guinea pig! When you eliminate foods that potentially cause the most problems, for say, 30 days, and reintroduce those elements to your diet, one by one, methodically, and scientifically, your eyes will be opened!

The closer you stick to the Whole30 guidelines, the more truthfully and logically you will be able to evaluate your results.

Will you allow yourself to “cheat”? Then, why bother?

Read All About The Whole30 Challenge

If you have been dealing with gut issues, inflammation, or any of the myriad problems people can have from over-consumption of processed foods, then you might want to try the Whole30 Challenge. They have tons of free information on their website!

I devoured their books on the Whole30 Challenge (and BEYOND!), and I recommend you begin at the beginning:

  • It Starts with Food
  • The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom
  • Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food.
  • The Whole30 Cookbook: 150 Delicious and Totally Compliant Recipes to Help You Succeed with the Whole30 and Beyond
  • The Whole30 Fast & Easy Cookbook: 150 Simply Delicious Everyday Recipes for Your Whole30
  • The Whole30 Slow Cooker: 150 Totally Compliant Prep-and-Go Recipes for Your Whole30 with Instant Pot Recipes

A Cursory Look At The Challenge Rules:

  • Eat WHOLE FOODS for 30 days
  • YES to meat, seafood, and eggs, vegetables and fruit, nuts and seeds, natural fats… even coffee and tea 
  • NO to added sugar (real or fake), grains, legumes, dairy, and alcohol 
  • NO to MSG, sulfites, and something called carrageenan 
  • Re-introduce food categories one by one and note their effect(s) – if any
Yes to Seafood - Like SHRIMP!

What Did WE Learn On The Whole30 Challenge?

For one thing, it’s harder to stop at 30 days than you might think. More like the whole QUARTER!

Potluck meals are… different. The season of Lent brought with it Soup Suppers on Wednesday nights, before the midweek service. We forgot that most folks are NOT following Whole30 protocol.

What if the soups had beans, corn, lentils, noodles, rice, cream-of soups, or even cream itself?

Good thing there was a supermarket right up the street!

So, during our Whole30 challenge, we took a salad with meat in it, and apples for dessert. Soup & Salad Suppers.

My husband, Lance, learned how much tomatoes and peanut butter hurt.

Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and tree nuts are great!

We discovered grain-free flours (almond and coconut), almond butter, grass-fed beef collagen, kombucha, arrowroot powder (meh), dried figs and dates, coconut aminos (soy sauce substitute!), and the magic of seltzer (well, I like it!).

It’s Everywhere!

Soy. The blatant first or second ingredient in SO many things: Mayonnaise, salad dressings, horseradish sauce, and tartar sauce, just to name a few.

“Vegetable” oil? Soy.

For those needing to be soy-free, like Lance, who’s dealing with thyroid issues, this leaves many condiments right there in the store.

When the Whole30 team insisted everyone check their labels for hidden sugars and soy, we realized how not-so soy-free we were! Just because we didn’t eat edamame, didn’t mean we were in the clear.

BUT we learned we don’t need any of those now, because soy-free mayo is SO good, and super-easy to make… and then re-make into different sauces, dips, and dressings.

No Dairy, Legumes, Or Grains

Post-nasal drip gags me when I drink milk or eat ice cream, so going dairy-free was NOT a big leap. Except for cheese. I miss cheese. Yes, even though…

Things we miss a little: Rice, pasta, and beans. They are cheap and filling, but they are gassy little nightmares. Biscuits, bread, pancakes, and waffles, though they’re not without their own torturing elements. I am hoping for a sourdough workaround, just to see if that would help, because, waffles!

Pasta Swappin’

In place of spaghetti, we used French-cut green beans for “Bean-etti” and meatballs. We didn’t even try the spaghetti squash, or the “zoodles” or “swoodles,” yet. (Spiral-cut zucchini or sweet potatoes) Unless Lance tolerates tomatoes again, that won’t be happening, anyway. Feel free to experiment on your spaghetti substitutions!

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Carb Flu? No, Thank You.

If you’re anything like me, you’re a bit of a Control Freak. I didn’t want the headaches, or any symptoms people get from coming off the carbohydrate wagon train. So, several months earlier, I traded UP, from diet pop to seltzer or lemon water. Ice cold beer was traded UP for ice cold seltzer, too. (All of the bite, none of the issues.)

There are so many unsweetened, refreshing, flavor-tinged seltzers out there, now! Sparkling water has come into its own. You won’t have a problem finding your trade UP.

White bread. Not a huge fan. I prefer rustic, chewy, nutty, substantial bread, so bun-less burgers were another trade UP (from plain hamburger buns). Think, “Burger Salad,” Now you’re talking!

Do the Whole30 Challenge, YES, but suffer through it, NO. Ditching sugar and bread – ahead of time – reduced the SHOCK to my system.

Whole30 handled. By a Control Freak.

HOT wings!

Simple Ways To Make Your Whole30  Challenge Anticipated

Add delicious protein to your salads: Buffalo chicken, carnitas, curry turkey, crab, eggs (boiled, fried, poached), fajita steak or chicken, grilled salmon, ham, NEW teriyaki chicken (with soy-free coconut aminos, of course), roasted chicken, shrimp, sugar-free bacon, taco beef, tuna, or turkey breast.

NOTE: Avoid rotisserie chickens – sugar and MSG… and avoid imitation crab – wheat and soy. It IS everywhere!    

Add variety to your salads with almonds, apples, avocados, beets, berries, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, mandarin oranges, mushrooms, pecans, pears, peppers, pineapple, pumpkin seeds, radishes, raisins, sweet onions, tomatoes, walnuts, zucchini. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Speaking of which, iceberg isn’t the only lettuce out there. Switch it up! Make it crave-worthy!

SOY-FREE Mayonnaise!

Those Salads Will Need This Yummy Miracle:

Nuke a clean lemon and squeeze it for its juice. Now take your immersion blender out and whip up a batch of delicious soy-free mayonnaise!

  • Crack a whole egg into a quart-size mason jar.
  • Add your lemon’s juice.
  • Add 1 cup of light tasting olive oil (NOT EVOO).
  • Add a little salt, and mustard powder (or yellow mustard) – ½ teaspoon each.
  • WALK AWAY. Let it sit for a few minutes.
  • Immerse your stick blender all the way to the bottom of the jar and start blending, leaving the business end of your blender on the bottom for 20 full seconds, until you see the magic of emulsification happen.
  • Slowly lift and lower the stick blender inside the jar, incorporating all the oil into your fresh mayo.
  • You may or may not hear trumpets and angels!
NOTE: Toss those squeezed lemon halves into a pitcher of water and refrigerate it for drinking later.
NOTE: Do NOT use a “Turbo” setting. A high “regular” setting is best. Your stick blender is too valuable of a power tool now to go burning it out on “turbo.”
ALSO: If your mayonnaise is, for some reason, not emulsifying, NO WORRIES… Either 1) BUZZ in another egg with the stick blender, or 2) pop it into the fridge, if you’re not in a hurry.

Now What?

Turn that lick-able, creamy goodness into your new favorite soy-free sauces, salad dressings, and dips!

 Whisk in a generous splash of apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard, and you have a wonderful Dijon salad dressing!

Transform your plain (but wonderful) mayo… Grate in some onion and dill pickles, and now you have positively unmatched tartar sauce! (“Thank you” to my big sister, Beth!)

Add to the plain mayo some dried parsley, dill, chives, red wine vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and a little full-fat coconut milk, and you now have ranch!

 Buzz in some red bell peppers, chipotle powder, and a little cumin, and you have “Southwestern” ranch!

Use more of the coconut milk fat than the milk, and you have veggie dip! Eat your salad with your hands! (Scoop the fat off the top of a chilled can of coconut milk.)

Almond Joy

Hello, Almond Flour!

  • Coating for fried (or baked) chicken
  • or almond-crusted fish!

Introduce your Almond Butter to your

  • Apple slices
  • Thai sauces (instead of peanut butter)
  • Pan-fried-meat juices (for a delicious sauce)

Ladies, Sharpen Your Knives!

The good folks at Whole30 are NOT joking when they say preparation is key.

Taking time to prep ahead for the flavorful ingredients of your meals takes the pressure off when you’re standing in the kitchen, wondering what to make. This could be your drive-through eliminator!

  • Just peel, chop and freeze several bags of flavorful vegetables
  • Onions
  • Carrots (or divide the big bags of peeled baby carrots)
  • Celery
  • Bell Pepper & Onion Slices (+ Jalapeños?)

Most of our hesitation comes from not having these prepared ahead, and we kid ourselves that it takes too long. Just pick a day and do it ahead.

Get Ready

Gather (or make) your preferred savor shots for the coming month.

  • Soy-free Mayo-turned-Ranch-Dressing…

…turned-Southwest-Ranch

…or sweet-onion vinaigrette

…or Dijon-Mayonnaise

…turned Stuffed Eggs

  • Coconut Aminos – soy-free substitute for soy sauce!
  • Hot-Pepper Sauces
  • Vinegars – just not malt vinegar
  • Garlic – whole cloves, sliced, minced, powdered, and roasted
  • Onions – red, white, yellow, green, and sweet
  • Salsas – mild to wild, without added sugar
  • Mustards – yellow to wine-free Dijon to grainy
  • Liquid Smoke – a tiny bit goes a L-O-N-G way!
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Lemons & Limes
  • Roasted Peppers or Pickled Peppers
  • Horseradish Sauce – grate peeled Horseradish into your Soy-Free Mayo. Add Vinegar, Salt, Pepper
  • Horseradish Powder
  • Salts and Peppers – try some unusual ones, and use your grinder(s)

Get Creative

Make your own sugar-free spice blends for your upcoming mouthwatering feasts! Any Spice-Blends that you love – as exotic as you wish! Use them for…

  • Rubs & Marinades
  • Dressings & Dips
  • Fajitas & Tacos – lettuce- or cabbage-wrapped
  • Pulled Pork, Chicken, & Beef
  • Seasoned Roasted Vegetables
  • Spiced Toasted Nuts
  • Mulled Apples, Berries, Peaches, & Pears
  • Sausages & Burgers

Run some fresh herbs through the blender with just enough water to make it “pourable.” Freeze these savory little mixtures in ice cube trays, and bag & label the herb-cubes in the freezer! Then, when you want a fresh handful of Basil & Oregano in your Tomato Sauce, you won’t have to run to the store or sift through bags of greens in the fridge. Choose your favorites!

Possible Protein Preparations — Start your imaginations!

Getting some of your proteins prepped ahead will not only be very handy, but it can also really rev up your mind and have you positively salivating for the delicious meals you will enjoy in the following weeks. The Whole30 can absolutely be something to look forward to!

Grind your own Meat and Meat Blends
  • You get to choose the meat(s), and the fineness or chunkiness.
  • Meatballs – wow – just pick your flavors, then bake, and freeze!
  • Burger Patties – turkey and beef freeze well.
  • Italian Sausage – the very reason Fennel Seeds exist!
  • Breakfast Sausages
  • Meatloaves – while you’re at it, grind in some onions, carrots, garlic cloves
  • Taco Meat – brown it and freeze meal-size portions
  • Jerky – YES, ground-meat jerky! Use only the LEANEST meats in your dehydrator. You’re welcome.
Poach Boneless Chicken Breasts
  • Slice and refrigerate some hearty portions for the week ahead
  • Cube some for Chicken Salad – using the Soy-Free Mayo you made. You made it already, right?
  • Top your Garden Salads with Chicken
  • Season for Fajitas
  • Chunk it for Chicken Soup or Stew
  • Shred it – Cabbage-Enchiladas, Lettuce Wraps
Prepare TWO Roasts
  • One for dinner tonight + Lunch or Breakfast tomorrow
  • The other one for FUTURE meals

It’s as easy to make two Roasts as it is one.

MAKE TWO Roasts, while you're at it
Poach Or Grill Salmon Fillets
  • Freeze Fillets for future meals – just add a slice or two of Lemon + your vacuum sealer!
  • Flake some salmon for topping a Garden Salad or for making Salmon Patties
Pulled Pork
  • Bone-in Pork Shoulder Roast
  • Instant Pot or Crockpot
  • Your favorite seasonings
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Shred it
  • BOOM!

Really Want To Kick Preparation UP A Notch?

 You could spend hours at the cutting board every week preparing your haul from the produce aisle or Farmers’ Market. And, while that can be therapeutic and wonderful and even necessary, what if a LOT of the work was already DONE FOR YOU?

  • Washing & Peeling – done
  • Slicing & Dicing – done
  • Refrigeration – unnecessary
  • No “velvety” vegetables lurking in the fridge
  • Cooked Chicken – chopped or sliced, seasoned or not
  • Company-worthy Beef Slices (think hearty stew chunks!)
  • Shredded Beef or Pulled Pork
  • Vegetables – from Asparagus to Mushrooms to Zucchini
  • Fruits – from Apples to Mangoes to Sweet Cherries

Sometimes You Just Need A Secret Weapon…

How about some beautiful freeze-dried vegetables, ready to add to a frittata or an omelet?

Scoop some broccoli or cauliflower into a soup, or a crust-less quiche.

Diced potatoes, onions, and kale + coconut milk (or cauliflower cream), and Italian sausage, and you’re on your way to that delicious soup at the restaurant!

Now, not everything from Thrive Life is Whole30 compliant. (Like anywhere else you buy groceries.) BUT, so much of it is!

Thrive Life food can be your source of high-quality ingredients – even when you’re NOT doing the Whole30 Challenge. Groceries shipped to your door – and you won’t have to wonder if they’ll spoil before you grab them off the front porch.

I have used Thrive Foods since 2011. Just-add-water ingredients that have saved my behind more than once!

If you’re interested in getting prepped veggies and fruits, or pre-cooked meats delivered to your door, so there’s one less thing “on your plate,” then I have the answer:

Click on the above link, and you will find my SKYBLUEANNIE Thrive Life Store! You can go straight to SHOPINGREDIENTS Vegetables, Fruits, Meats, or Seasonings.

In everyday life, you’d shop for whatever you wanted. (And, I sincerely hope you do!) However, in Whole30 mode, you just avoid anything with legumes, grains, dairy, soy, or added sugar.

Onward!

Get ON with your first (or NEXT) Whole30 Challenge! You can totally do it!

There are far fewer aisles, and departments you’ll need to cruise through at the grocery store, that’s for sure! Whole swaths of the store go unnoticed. It’s not that big a deal to walk on by. Kind of a big relief, actually!

If you’re spending more money on foods that make you healthier, and less money on foods that make you less healthy, I’d say that’s a GIANT step in the right direction! 

Let’s DO this!

Anna

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