If you checked out my most recent recipe or follow me on Instagram, you may have picked up on some recent little grumblings about Whole30. It’s often referred to as the Whole30 challenge, but it’s essentially a 30 day elimination diet that sounds a lot like paleo on steroids… or I guess, paleo on definitely no steroids whatsoever. The Boyfriend and I completed a round of Whole30 in November of 2015 and despite the struggle of sticking to the rules through Thanksgiving and managing the lack of local/seasonal produce in the winter, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience. We learned so much about our bodies – well, my body mostly – like that I am super sensitive to soy, and for the sake of my skin as well as any living creature in my general vicinity, I should probably not consume dairy, even on slow carb’s allotted cheat days.
We’re coming up on two years since our first Whole30 and I have been itching for another one. If we could make it through a round in November, then summer – with farmers’ markets and damn near everything in bloom – should be a piece of cake (except actually not cake at all because it’s definitely not Whole30 approved).
I should be clear here that Whole30 is not intended as a weight-loss plan, it’s not the raison d’être, but when you skip cheat days for a month it can sometimes be a very lovely side effect. The goal of Whole30 is twofold: (1) to temporarily eliminate all foods that often cause excessive inflammation in the body – there are many people who likely don’t know about certain food sensitivities, and it’s only when they stop eating them and start feeling amazing that they realize something was causing problems (for me that was soy – which you really shouldn’t be eating on a paleo or slow carb diet anyway). (2) To force us to reconsider and reevaluate our relationship with food. For me, one of the main goals is to disrupt the societal norm that special occasions and holidays all revolve around food, specifically sugar. Think about it. Birthdays, barbecues, Easter, Purim, Valentine’s Day… sugar, sugar, sugar. Why is sugar how we show our love?
For this reason, the Whole30 plan also prohibits what they call SWYPO or Sex With Your Pants On. This includes foods like pizza made with a cauliflower crust, Whole30 pancakes, and any other foods otherwise considered to be a treat or “junk” that has been recreated with compliant ingredients. The idea here is that those foods is what got us into this mess in the first place so while the individual ingredients may be compliant, those dishes are not in the spirit of Whole30 and should be avoided.
OK so what are the actual rules of Whole30? You can find them here, but it’s very similar to slow carb and paleo with a few important distinctions:
#1 like paleo, no legumes or beans are allowed – no peanuts, lentils, beans, peas, etc.
#2 like slow carb, no “natural” sugar additives so no stevia, agave, or honey (which paleo does allow).
#3 like paleo, fruits are fair game. Some are a better choice than others, but they’re all allowed.
#4 like paleo, sweet potatoes are allowed, but corn is still a no go on all fronts (and for all three eating plans).
The rest is pretty standard – no grains, no rice, no carbs of any kind that are or can be white, no corn, no soy, no dairy, and here’s the one that trips everybody up…no alcohol. For 30 days, your booze is just gonna have to wait.
To better prepare for our Whole30 challenge, for which we’ve also recruited several friends and even some family members, I’ve made a Pinterest board of Whole30 recipes – most are already fully compliant, but a few may require 1-2 ingredient swaps so read carefully. I’ve also added a new Whole30 category to this blog and updated all of my recipes’ categories to reflect the ones that are Whole30 approved (I’ve actually got quite a few).
I also wanted to share a ridiculously simple and straightforward “recipe” that has made a huge impact on my goals to drink more water. The Boyfriend and I call them “rich people ice cubes” which started as a one-off silly comment after we got some fresh mint from our local farmer’s market, but has since evolved into a way of life in our household.
With warm or slightly cool water, gently wash the fresh mint and clean the outside of your citrus fruits.
Cut your citrus fruit into wedges or small segments, being sure to remove any seeds. The pieces can be as big or small as you like, as long as they fit into the ice cube trays.
In each ice cube mold, add two mint leaves and one fruit segment. I also like to squeeze the lemon/lime a little bit so some of the tasty juice gets added as well. You don’t have to do this, but lemon juice will add much more flavor than just the lemon segment on its own, so it’s somewhat dependent on how strong of a flavor you like.
Using a measuring cup, fill up all the ice cube molds with water. (I am recommending the measuring cup because it is by far the easiest and least messy approach for silicone trays that already have stuff in them).
Freeze until solid and enjoy!
Pro Tip: I like to make several trays at once then transfer the ice cubes to a ziploc bag so I can make another batch.