By Guest Blogger Abbie Polos
25 days. That is how far I am into this year’s Whole30 healthy food reboot. This is the second time I have attempted it, and the first time I will finish, and I WILL finish this time because I decided to make this a whole family Whole30.
If you are not familiar with Whole30, I am not going to get too in depth here because we all know how to google, but basically for 30 days you eat only compliant foods to help reduce inflammation and break the nasty addiction we all have to high sugar foods. After 30 days you slowly reintroduce foods to see which your body likes, and which make you burp up your Chipotle burrito bowl for days.
As you can imagine this is a HUGE shift for many people and the process can be difficult, but with a good support system, preparation and some tricks in the kitchen it can become a game changer for many. For me, this came in the form of a healthier relationship with food. It was a tough break up, full of tears and anger, but eventually Starbucks venti hazelnut iced latte and I have parted friends.
The biggest change for me though, has been what I feed my family. The past two years have been rough. We have been operating on a very tight budget, and most evenings the adults are running on fumes. Even though I try to make home cooked meals often, sometimes that means macaroni and cheese, frozen pizza, or God help us, Lunchables.
Fast, unhealthy convenient foods became survival for us, so when I started to contemplate Whole30 for myself I panicked. What about the week before pay day? What about those days when I don’t have time to fix breakfast? I knew it wouldn’t be realistic or sustainable to fix separate meals for everyone so I had to find a way to make it work for the whole family.
So today I thought I would share 5 tips for a successful Whole30 for the whole family.
1. Meal prepping
Yup, this is gonna take time but it is the number one reason for my success this go round. There are a dozen apps out there designed to help you prep and shop. I am old school and like to use pen and paper. I break it down by breakfast, lunch and dinner, write down all our favorite meals for the week and what I need for each. That becomes my shopping list and it is easy to stick to because I can’t really eat much else.
I then find time. This is important, I find an afternoon to prep all my work meals, make any breakfast items ahead like egg bites (recipe below) and boiled eggs, and start one recipe that I can use for many quick meals throughout the week like chili (recipe below). I work three 12 hour days so for those days I make sure I have all my food prepped ahead of time and dinner ideas that are easy for my husband to fix with 2 crazy kids at foot. It took a bit of time to get the system down so don’t get bogged down by the details. Figure out a schedule that works for you and use it. I promise having quick, fast healthy go to meals ready in the fridge, or freezer, frees up more time than you think!
2. Stocking up on quick essentials
Adulting is hard and sometimes it is a spaghetti kind of night, which no amount of Whole30 magic can cure. I suggest stocking up on the things your family loves that are also compliant. For us that is spaghetti sauce, hotdogs, and hamburgers. Focus on things you can easily adapt with cauliflower rice, zoodles, lettuce wraps and other compliant tricks. Aldi and Costco are great places to get whole30 essentials at a lower cost!
My kids love chili and you can use it a million different ways. Add macaroni or zoodles one might, serve on a baked potato or sweet potato fries another. Portion it out into individual bags and freeze for a quick microwave option. I even like eating it with eggs for breakfast.
I have a tried and true recipe that I have been making for years. I have converted it to the Instant Pot which makes it easier and it wasn’t a huge jump to make it Whole30, which is lucky for my hubby who hates beans! This recipe is so simple, my 5 year old loves making it with me so he renamed it…
Spencer’s Special Secret Chili
2 lbs ground meat of your choice. We use organic beef and/or turkey.
1 medium onion, chopped
1 – 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 – 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup broth of your choice
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt, pepper and chili powder to taste
- Brown meat. If using the instant pot use the sauté function, if on the stove top brown in the pot.
- Add onions and cook until soft.
- Dump tomatoes, salt, pepper, spices and broth into the pot. INSTANT POT- set to pressure cook for 20 min and quick release when time is up. STOVE TOP – bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.
Guys this is it. Serve it topped with chopped onions, rotell, or olives to fancy it up a bit.
4. Egg Bites
Some days I have an early breakfast and a late breakfast depending on how early the one year old wakes me up, so having yummy breakfast items on hand is a must. This quick meal starts with a basic egg base and can be switched up to suit your taste!
¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
2 cups veggie of your choice. I use broccoli and spinach. They can be fresh or frozen, no need to thaw.
Meat of your choice. I use compliant sausage or bacon.
Ghee or avocado oil
Salt, pepper and spice to taste
- Preheat oven to 325°
- If meat needs to be cooked do that now.
- Blend eggs, milk and veggies in a food processor or blender until mixed well, about 30 seconds.
- Grease muffin tin with ghee or avocado oil. I would also suggest using cupcake paper if your tins have a history of sticking to food. I use a mini muffin tin which they slide right out of but the larger tins tend to stick.
- Place cooked meat in the bottom of the cups and cover with egg mixture.
- Cook for 15-30 minutes depending on oven and muffin cup size, less for smaller, more for bigger. Egg bites will be firm on top when done.
- Remove from oven and let cool.
You can portion these guys into plastic bags, freeze them and microwave when you want a quick breakfast.
5. Homemade RX/LarBar
If you have not had an RX bar or a LarBar they are yummy, made with a few simple ingredients and cost an arm and a leg. When you are in a hurry and need to feed the kiddos or have breakfast on the run these things can be great to throw in the purse or diaper bag, but the cost makes that unsustainable for my family so I looked into a homemade version we call energy bites. P.S. My kids and husband ate most of my last batch.
1 lb pitted dates. If you buy dates with pits you need 2 lbs
.5 cup flax meal
.5 cup almond meal
.5 cup dried fruit, we used blueberries
.5 cup sunflower seeds, salted or not
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
- Dump dates, flax meal, almond meal, cinnamon and salt into food processor and blend until mixture becomes crumbles.
- Add fruit and sunflower seeds and blend until mixture forms a sticky ball. If it is too sticky add more almond and flax meal until it reaches the desired texture. The mixture should stick together but also be dry enough to roll into ball and hold its form.
- Rub hands with coconut oil to keep mixture from sticking to hands and pinch off about 1 tsp at a time and roll into balls. Place on cookie sheet and sprinkle with flax meal to coat them.
- Store rolled balls in an airtight container, on a high shelf away from kids who will eat them all.
You can mix up the fruit and even the sunflower seeds. If you want “carrot cake”, add raisins, dried pineapple and unsweetened coconut flakes instead. These make ahead treats are the perfect replacement for any fruit or granola bar you throw in your kids lunch box too!
With these few tips I hope to keep my healthy Whole30 food choices going long past January. For us eliminating sugars and additives has become a lifestyle change. I have failed a few times, some recipes suck, and some things aren’t worth the time it takes to make at home. Success looks different for every family but I hope these five tips inspire you to get out there and see what works for your family! If you made healthy changes to your meal time, share your experience! I would love to hear about your healthy journey…Whole30, paleo, vegan, food allergy? Whatever has been successful for you! Good luck and keep Momming!