*** UPDATE: Look at the top of my homepage, where my various page icons are located. Whole30 now has its own tab so that you can click on it for every Whole30 post that ever did exist!
Whole 30 rules:
NO sugar, NO dairy, NO grains, NO legumes, NO processed foods, NO MSG, NO nitrates/nitrites, NO carageenan. Remember these rules. Always always always. And just because it says “all natural” doesn’t mean its all natural. READ YOUR LABELS. Every single got-dang time. Don’t be scared about messing up. Just try to be conscious of everything you put in your mouth and read your labels. We are doing 40 days of this since it’s following the Lenten timetable, so think of the first 10 days as your “figuring it all out” phase if need be.
So, here we go. Those of you who have made the commitment to follow through with Whole 40 this lent are probably starting to have panic attacks as the novelty wears off and you start examining what you have to work with in your pantry. Take a deep breath (and count to four)…sorry, Hattie’s self soothing technique works its way into my head every time I start to say that. The first and most worrisome question that I get when people start asking questions about clean eating/whole 30 eating is, “It’s so expensive, huh?”. The answer is not a simple one. Yes, some individual products seem more pricey than what you may be used to spending on things, but overall, I do not feel like my grocery bill has grown substantially. Yes, it’s grown some, but once you have your foundation of staples built, your weekly haul shouldn’t be much more than normal. In the beginning, yes, be prepared to drop a few extra pennies if you really don’t have the array of everyday oils and such lying around your house, but once you have those acquired, they should last you a pretty little second.
Lets start by pointing out that you don’t have to buy all of this at one time. Wal-Mart has done a great job of acquiring organic produce, a wider variety of produce, and some healthy staples. There are a few things that you can only find at Whole Foods or Super Target, as well as other health food stores, but you can wing it until you’re able to make your way towards a city that has those great shopping venues. Now, if you are not from around my area, you may be super lucky and have access to a Costco, Sprouts, Trader Joes, etc. You may need to look around online at what Whole30 compliant ingredients shoppers who frequent those stores find there.
Let me also point out that not every Whole30 is created equal. What works for you may not work for someone else. I may use a ton of coconut milk and you may use it once. I will need more fats and starchy veggies since I’m breastfeeding a newbie and need all of the milk making goodness that I can have access to. See, different life situations means different needs. Also, you may be thinking your going on a meat and veggie with occasional fruit binge for the next 40 days. Well, you are. Sort of. You can’t drown your green beans in creamed soups and french fried onion rings, so…yes, you will be eating your vegetables and your meats in a more natural form, but guess what, if you don’t like a certain veggie-it’s okay. There’s like 17 more options for you to try in any given produce section on any given day. Start with what you like and know, after a week or so, when your palate has adjusted to eating more raw, un-tampered with food, switch it up and step outside of your comfort zone. Try a vegetable or fruit that you usually sneer at, you may find that you’ve developed a better relationship with its flavors. For example: I used to hate brussell sprouts. After a week of my Whole30 trial run I tried them out with a drizzle of fruit infused balsamic, and I ate them for 3 consecutive meals because I loved them! You just gotta try. And if you hate it, throw it in a hash so you don’t cry over wasting it.
So, without further ado…lets bite this bullet.
UPDATE: THE JURY IS STILL DEBATING ON WHERE TO FIND BALSAMIC WITH ONLY NATURALLY OCCURRING SULFITES IN STORES LOCALLY. I WILL UPDATE YOU ASAP.
Before you go any further, you need to be aware of the fact that oils have various temperatures that they can be used up to before they begin to actually break down-which isn’t good for your food or you. This chart is the bomb. I’m not going to lie, it took me a moment to figure out how to read it, but once I did I was like holy moly, I need this in my kitchen NOW. Print it out and tape it to the inside of one of your cabinet doors for referencing.
Oils and Vinegar may seem dismal, but trust me, you will be using these to their fullest extend during your 40 days. You will use one of them in most every dish you make, PLUS, you won’t be getting a whole lot of fat from other areas of your diet, since you’ll be cutting out processed crap, so you need these oils to add some healthy fats into your diet. Learn to associate the word “fat” with luscious locks of hair, and dewy glowing skin. Fat has a bad rap in the nutrition world, but you NEED good fats in your diet. Good being the operative word here.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil-you will be using this for a variety of things ranging from sauteeing vegetables to greasing a casserole dish. The extra virgin aspect means that its flavor is very strong and is best used in the cooking process. If you can afford it-splurge on a more expensive brand because good quality oils can totally make a dish-plus there’s a whole debate about how cheap grocery store EVOO isn’t 100% EVOO and yadda yadda yadda, and that’s totally for another post. You will hear me, as well as lots of food bloggers that you may begin acquiring recipes from will often refer to this as EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) as noticed above. Just in case you were like ?????
- LIGHT tasting olive oil. This one is what you will need for your salad dressings and things where you don’t want that overwhelming taste that EVOO lends. I have such a hard time finding this at Whole Foods, but Wal-Mart has like 7 options of this oil. Also, Super Target carries a large bottle of this for around $7, which is pretty fair pricing. You will use this to make your compliant mayo too, so it will go kind of fast at first as you’re building up your staples.
- Any vinegar you want to use is compliant except for malt. Maybe try buying one each trip to the store. Examples of what I use are: red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar (used quite frequently, balsamic vinegar, white balsamic, rice vinegar, I especially love the infused balsamics and olive oils that you find at specialty companies. They cost a little penny, but man, the quality is so there. My current favorite is a red apple balsamic from here.
- Other oils: avocado (I sear meats with this), sesame (in moderation-it adds a strong flavor though), sunflower/safflower (in major moderation).
- Coconut Oil-I use this very often. I coat sweet potatoes in it for a crispy finish, when I’m sauteing, baking, etc. I use it to cook eggs, I just use it a lot. You most likely will too.
- Spray oils- Just be careful. These can have some unnatural crappy stuff in it. Your best bet is to buy a Misto and add your own oil to it so that you know its totally okay to use. That’s actually a great idea…you should all go buy a Misto now. I like the red one.
- Ghee: Clarified butter basically. You can make your own (see here). You can also buy at Whole Foods, Amazon, or my favorite, Trader Joe’s (super affordable). You’ll use this for sauteeing quiet often. I’d say this is a necessity. You will need to get in your good fats to keep your calorie count at a sufficient number.
- Nut butters. Almond, cashew, you know. All those “peanut butter wanna-be’s”. I actually have come to love almond butter. Especially from the most affordable place for them-Trader Joe’s. You HAVE to read your labels with these. There aren’t many without added sugar, but when you find em, they’re worth every penny. Eat them on apples, etc.
- Coconut butter/mana
Flours and Meals
- Almond flour/meal- you will use this to thicken things, or dredge chicken and fish in before baking. You won’t be making any treats because those are SWYPO (sex with your pants on) did you read about that like I suggested?
- Some people use coconut flour-I never really used it much. Almond flour always did what I needed it to do. You aren’t cooking with flours, only using them to aid in your meal making, so I wouldn’t worry about having a wide variety on hand anyway…
- Imagine Brand from Whole Foods makes a compliant chicken broth. READ your labels always with broths. Wal-Mart won’t have any that work for you. They often contain yeast and sugar of some sort. Your best bet is to make your own. I hear its super delicious and has fabulous immune boosting properties in it when its home brewed. I have some chicken carcasses in my freezer accumulating and I plan to make my own when I get enough. You can read all about making your own here. There’s a compliant organic chicken stock at Costco, and I can see it on their website (and almost taste it…) but alas, no Costco membership here…
- Tuna- I use Whole Foods 365 brand, or Trader Joe’s. Make sure it says JUST tuna and water and maybe sea salt. You won’t find a compliant one at Wal-Mart. Don’t bother looking. Use these in moderation however. Mercury still isn’t your friend, you know.
- Salmon and chicken are options too but I’ve never used either so honestly, you would have to give me YOUR opinion on this one…not the other way around.
- Eggs my friend. Lots of them. Insane amount of them. I want to see piles of egg cartons when you’re finished. Try buying from a local little farmer who lets em’ free range. Next best option is store bought free range.
- Organic/ free range chicken is best. You can buy Harvestland brand at Wal-Mart. Other stores will have their own versions of free range, hormone free chickens, so just read packaging.
- Beef if possible should be grassfed. Super Target and Whole Foods have these options, but be willing to pay about $7-$11 /pound. Which isn’t really a whole lot more than what you pay for non-grassfed options if we’re being honest. I buy some meat from the farmer’s market in Lake Charles from a local farmer who has 100% grassfed animal products (pork, beef, and lamb).
- Applegate makes a roast beef that’s compliant, check labels and Super Target or Whole Foods should have this.
- Applegate also makes a delightful pepperoni, BUT it has less than 2% dextrose in it….womp womp. The only sugar every allowed in Whole30 is in salt (did you know sugar is in salt? It’s part of the preservation process and is a TINY amount, so its allowed. Plus- life without salt is gross and dangerous. No one wants goiters. Some Whole30’ers say they will eat the pepperoni in moderation because the among of sugar is so small so its your discretion. If you choose to do so, do it in moderation, but I’m personally going to do this the right way if I’m going to do it at all, so I’ll just wait until my stint is up to add it in my diet, because it is a really healthy option when you aren’t Whole 30’ing.
- Applegate Beef Dogs- This is a compliant hot dog, Applegate has a few versions of their hot dogs, so make sure it’s the right one when you buy it. It’s grassfed, organic, uncured, and delicious. You can add to breakfast to make it more filling, and it’s great to pull out of the freezer in a pinch. Use in moderation though, like really maybe only a couple times during Whole30 since its still a “processed meat”. I find at Target or Whole Foods.
- Bacon- really hard to find compliant. Everyone wants to add stinkin’ sugar. And it has to be uncured. Ask a local meat shop to make you some.
- Deli meats- also hard to find compliant. Your best bet is going to be the behind the counter ones that the workers have to cut for you.
- I feel like this should be self explanatory- buy organic when possible, sometimes that’s too expensive or unavailable, I totally get it. You can also buy frozen, which is a great thing to have a stash of for last minute dishes. Organic is a great option when you are eating the whole veggie and not just the skin- like spinach. Not everything needs to be organic though. This chart is perfect for outlining what you should shoot for. Print it and keep in your purse. Or on your phone. That would work too…
- I like the pre-cut sweet potato fries that you can buy in little baggies in the produce section at Wal-Mart next to the “steam in bag” veggies. You just season em’ and pop em’ in the oven for a quick meal addition. I also like the butternut squash like this too. Sometimes convenience is worth a few pennies.
- Fruit should be eaten in moderation. This is the hardest part for me. Frozen pineapple chunks are my JAM.
- Garlic, Lemons, and Limes add great flavor to dishes. Always have these on hand. Always.
- To be perfectly honest, I never really use these, but some people do squash and things like this, but you just have to make sure the only thing in the can is that veggie and some water.
- Tomatoes: I love these things diced, pasted, and sauced. I use them for intense flavor in my dishes, and I either use ones that I’ve canned on my own (best option!) or I use Muir Glen brand. You can find them at Wal-Mart, and every other store I’ve mentioned that’s healthy. They keep it real in their ingredients and are totally compliant. Keep these bad boys in stock always.
- You can buy a compliant pickle called Rick’s Picks from Whole Foods, also one called Bubbies, or McClure’s. You can find McClure’s at World Market for about $4 cheaper too, it’s very “vinegary” though, beware. Pickles, relish, capers, and things like this are wonderful yummies in your dishes, but they try to sneak sugar in like a boss, so watch out.
- Olives-super duper good fat. Add to salads, in sauces of meat dishes, as a snack- Lindsey’s Naturals is a compliant brand and they well it at Wal-Mart. Good idea to have these in stock too. I hear Trader Joe’s has an olive tapenade that is the bomb.
- Fish- it’s really salty. and fishy. beware
- Hot sauce- Louisiana brand is compliant. You will just have to READ labels here.
- Curry Paste- Nice flavoring for chicken and things like this. I use the Thai Kitchen brand, and Wal-Mart totally has it in their Asian section down the pasta aisle.
- Coconut aminos- this is your soy sauce alternative. It actually tastes strangely like soy sauce. It’s a good marinade, stir fry additive, and Ben loves it mixed with his scrambled eggs and onions. The only brand I’ve ever found is called “Coconut Secret”. The only place I’ve ever found it is Amazon, Whole Foods, and some specialty vitamin/food stores. You may have to ask where its at if you don’t see it with the soy sauces, sometimes its in another location-weird. Amazon’s pricing isn’t terrible to be honest. This stuff won’t be cheap. But it should last you throughout the Whole30.
- Applesauce- you can use the UNSWEETENED version of this to sweeten up sauces, and things of this nature. I like it even just as a snack. Now that I’ve gotten used to the unsweetened version, I couldn’t imagine it with sugar… I bought mine at Target in the little mini cups for an on the go snack, but you can buy it in a big jar too. Wal-Mart, Target, and Whole Foods has this. Trader Joe’s has a chunky applesauce that’s oh. my. goodness.
- Cocoa- only the 100% cacao will work. You can find this at Wal-Mart, or anywhere really. In whole 30 its used like a spice, not for chocolate cake, obviously.
- Sea Salt- buy this vs. table salt. It’s evaporated from sea water, so some great trace minerals are left behind, instead of table salt, which goes through processing which equates to some funky chemicals. Buy iodized. Always buy iodized.
- CHECK YOUR LABELS on all of your spices before using. Lemon pepper and chili powder are the worst for sneaking in sugar. Like what the hell, why does it have to have sugar….anyway. Trader Joe’s has a lemon pepper grinder that’s sugar free, I’m sure there’s others out there too, you should find it for me 😉
- Mustard is your friend. French’s is compliant-usually-check your label.
- Dijon mustard is harder to find compliant. It often has wine. You can get Annie’s at Whole Foods and its compliant, there are probably other brands too-check your labels. This is a great marinate, or sauce for your turkey or beef patties to dip them into.
- Mayo-make your own, and then from there make ranch, dressings, etc.
- Dressings- Whole Foods carries a brand called Tessemae’s in the produce section. Check labels to make sure the one you get doesn’t have a non-compliant ingredient in it.
- Costco has some guacamole pre-portioned cups that I totally need for on the go veggie dipping….I’m going to do some digging and see if I can’t find these somewhere else. That would be so convenient!
- Coconut milk and cream: The cream rises to the top of the milk can and this is usually what you use anyway (I throw out the water, because coconut water makes me want to barf) but you can buy just the cream too. I just purchased this on Amazon. I need my good fats for breastfeeding, so I know I’ll be using this like crazy. You can add this to your black coffee (yeah, you can have black coffee just make sure it isn’t like pre sweetened hazelnut-I said black-don’t get crazy..) Pour it over berries, and add to sauces for a creamy finish, etc. It’s uses are literally endless. You won’t regret this purchase. Native Forest is my “go-to” brand because their cans are BPA free, and they’re literally like one of the only companies who has this for coconut milk/cream. It’s hard to find them in stores though so I usually rely on Amazon to get it to me in bulk for an appropriate price. You can also find Thai Kitchen brand at Wal-Mart in the Asian food section near the pasta. ALWAYS BUY THE FULL FAT UNSWEETENED VERSION. Never lite.
- I love almond milk and coconut milk in cartons too-but these aren’t good ideas. They just have a little too much crap added to them, and usually contain Carageenan, the big NO NO with Whole30
- Snacking is kind of discouraged on Whole30 since your meals should be substantial enough to keep you satiated, but lets be real. We need snacks sometimes. Things that we can add to our meals on the side, or even to our bags on the go. Here are some examples
- Nuts/seeds-this is obvious. Just no peanuts or soy beans, and read your labels. Absolutely no sugar.
- Dried fruit- extreme moderation here, you don’t want to feed your sweet tooth monster. Add to salads for savory additions, or eat with nuts in emergency scenarios. Raisins, figs, dates….
- Coconut shreds- UNSWEETENED. You can find these in the baking section of most stores-also good to top fish with and other random ways in dishes that you wouldn’t imagine. Flakes are good too, and Trader Joes has these dried shreds that are super yummy.
- Jerky- hard to find compliant but you can try-or make your own-or find someone to make it for you.
- Smoked fish can be tasty-and compliant if you find the right one. Whole Foods has a whole refrigerated section of smoked fish by their fresh fish.
- Lara Bars. Oh, the lovely Lara. My favorite is coconut cream pie. I could live on these things. You definitely only use these in rare emergent cases. Like when you’re trapped in the car and the only other option is “A large fry with a milkshake please”. Keep them in your car, bag, or stoller for only emergent cases. Never in your pantry because then watching The Bachelor becomes emergent and you’ll want to snack.
- Water. Lots of it. I will be adding some essential oils to my waters for some flava falv during my stint, plus they have great advantages themselves, so win-win. If you want to order some for your drinking pleasure, just let me know and I can make a wholesale order for you so that you don’t have to pay full price. Totally not trying to sell oils here (I don’t make a dime for wholesale ordering for you) I just love my essential oils and like sharing them.
- Some teas, like the Tazo brand. Their passion tea is my favorite. You can get it on ice at Starbucks unsweetened when you’re out and about.
- Some Kombucha- just read labels
- My fav, La Croix sparkling waters are compliant normally, just read ingredients. Such a treat!
Smoothies, gum, and the like
- Sorry ya’ll….I guess if you HAVE to have smoothie you can do it, but it’s definitely frowned upon. You are drinking your calories and your body doesn’t send the same signals to your brain when you drink as when you eat, plus its usually loaded with sugary fruit, AND you are supposed to be learning to enjoy EATING your food.
- Gum- well, it’s just hard to find one compliant, plus it sends signals to your brain acting like you’re eating something and you really aren’t so its interfering with your hunger cycle here…
Okay ya’ll, I think this is a nice
little massive overview for ya. I will be working on putting together a list of what to buy where so you can print it and go, and a few dishes to start with for you as well. You should start doing some research to find an idea for dishes for a few days to get you through the week. Planning meals ahead of time can be really helpful for you, especially if you work or have busy lives (wait…that’s all of us) that way you can allow leftovers from one dish to serve as ingredients in the next and you can also stock your fridge and pantry with necessary supplies.
Please don’t be frightened! You’re going to learn so much over the next month so just be ready to absorb some knowledge. I learn everyday, and I’ll learn many new things as well, I guarantee it. Lets use each other for support, and let others know when we find a new product, or tried a fantastic dish. Use the hashtag, #amberwhole40 when you post something you want us all to see on your social media, so we can support you, learn from you, or even hold you accountable. It’s only 30 days, whining won’t make it go faster, and it’s not going to be that hard. This will be a great exercise in self control for all of us, and we could ALL use a lot more of that.
Try to follow some other Whole30 recipe gurus for some meal examples, while I’m still building the amberatbest database. Some examples are @jennaskitchen, Clean Eats and Clean Treats. Some of their recipes may not be 100% Whole30, but you can just leave those ingredients out. Use them for inspiration and ideas, try to tailor the meals to meet what your palate and lifestyle desires. Pinterest can be your bestie too, even you men-no one has to know!
I’m sure I’ve forgotten something important, just ask me a question if there’s something on here you don’t see and stay tuned for more information! Follow me on instagram at @amberatbest for my trilogy of meals and products and struggles and triumphs.
Eat well my friends.