Let me first preface this article with a simple truth: I am not a dieter. I’ve given intermittent fasting a try for the sake of experimentation, but besides that, I’ve simply always lived by the guidelines of eating as many fresh, whole foods as possible but allowing myself indulgences whenever I please. That is why it was extremely shocking to my friends, family and myself (to be completely honest) when I decided to go rogue and participate in Whole30. While Whole30 isn’t a diet per se (it concludes after 30 days and isn’t meant to be a continuous form of eating), it is one of the more restrictive eating plans out there. For 30 days, you commit to not eating dairy, grains, sugar, legumes and other additives that are often found in processed foods. Let’s just say: It ain’t easy.
But at 26 years old, my skin still hasn’t seemed to win a battle against acne it’s been forging since my early teens. I liked the idea of Whole30 removing any foods that could be negatively impacting my body, then slowly reintroducing them at the end of the month to figure out what food group was the culprit (if all went well). So in mid-January, I decided to commit — and I lived to tell the tale. I can happily report that my skin is completely clear and has never looked better! Plus, I grabbed nearly all my ingredients from Trader Joe’s, making Whole30 fairly inexpensive and totally doable for someone with a small budget.
So, what exactly did I eat during those 30 days? Keep reading for a round-up of my favorite recipes that are quick, easy and require very little ingredients.
2 hard-boiled eggs with a side of French’s Yellow Mustard
I actually don’t typically eat breakfast but started incorporating it into my diet because I found myself very hungry the first few days of Whole30 and wanted to avoid snacking. French’s Yellow Mustard is Whole30 approved, but many other mustards aren’t, so check labels!
Black cold brew coffee from Starbucks
I usually add a bit of almond milk to my coffee, but Starbucks’ almond milk (as well as many others!) has hidden sugars and additives in it, so I drank my coffee black all month long.
Scrambled eggs, sauteed spinach, diced potatoes and bacon
My boyfriend and I love to grab breakfast on the weekends so this was an easy Whole30 replacement I could make for us at home that also saved us a ton of money. P.S. I tried to replace bacon with turkey bacon to be “healthier” and found that all of the turkey bacon at the store had sugar listed as an ingredient! Good to know.
Buffalo chicken salad
Even prior to Whole30, my go-to lunch is this shredded buffalo chicken from SkinnyTaste that I often add to salads. Just check the ingredients on the chicken broth — yup, I found one from Trader Joe’s that had cane sugar in it.
Turkey burger with a side of roasted veggies and half an avocado
The frozen turkey burgers from Trader Joe’s only contain two ingredients — turkey and salt — making this lunch Whole30 approved and so quick and easy to make. I’d meal prep a ton of roasted veggies with a bit of olive oil at the beginning of the week and toss in half an avocado for some healthy fat.
Stuffed bell peppers
I used to love when my mom would make stuffed peppers for dinner as a kid, so I thought it would be so easy to make them Whole30 approved — and it was! Season ground turkey with some spices for flavor while boiling peppers in a pot for 5 minutes. Stuff the peppers with the ground turkey (I also added cauliflower rice for some extra veggies!) and bake in the oven for an hour. I added some Red’s hot sauce for flavor but you can add Whole30-approved tomato sauce if you prefer. This recipe takes a bit of time so I would cook a bunch at once and keep some in the freezer for a quick meal later.
Garlic lemon carrot zoodles or cauliflower rice with shrimp and asparagus
I found this recipe from A Clean Plate but tweaked it a bit when I discovered the recipe also tastes amazing with cauliflower rice or the carrot zoodles from Trader Joe’s. It only takes 10 minutes to make and is so filling and delicious.
Apple with cinnamon and almond butter
Peanut butter isn’t allowed on Whole30 (peanuts are technically legumes!) but almond butter is an easy replacement.
I love the dried mango from Trader Joe’s — just make sure to get the one with no sugar added.
Almonds, walnuts, cashews, you name it. A handful of nuts was a great, filling snack in between meals.
If you’re hungry and in a bind, some Larabars are Whole30 compliant and can be purchased at tons of grocery and convenience stores. Just make sure to check the ingredients as some utilize peanuts, vanilla extract and other non-Whole30 ingredients.