Summer has come to an end and fall is officially here. For our family, summer is all about having fun and indulging. Family vacations, entertaining the neighbors, barbeques, the Minnesota State Fair and lots of birthday parties are all things that we enjoy during the summer. The parties don’t end in the fall, but choosing some healthier options is a must for me.
With this change of seasons and transition back to a more regular schedule, I’m also ready to make some healthy changes to my nutrition so that I can get my sugar cravings under control, have more energy and simply nourish my body with clean, whole foods. I’ve found the Whole30 program to be a valuable tool that I keep in my back pocket for when I’m feeling the need to reset my eating habits and relationship with food. I commit to 30 days of consuming unprocessed foods and eliminate sugar, dairy, grains and legumes (and yes, alcohol too.)
I have also found the collection of Whole30 books to be great resources, and I’m looking forward to the newest one coming out October 23rd that’s all slow cooker and Instant Pot recipes!
You can read more about the reasoning for eliminating certain foods for the 30 days as well as the official rules here!
Let’s talk cooking! Since you are basically limited to meat, fruits, veggies, spices and cooking oils, I find that I can avoid boredom by seasoning my food in a variety of ways as well as rotating which cooking oils I’m using. Festival Foods has a great selection of Whole30 approved spices and oils.
Now is the fun part. I’d like to share some of the recipes I’ve enjoyed making on my Whole30 journey.
Sweet Potato Bun Burgers
Sweet potato “buns” are my jam when I just want a burger on Whole30. I’ve eaten my burgers in lettuce wraps, which are a great option as well, but I find that I’m hungry 2 hours after dinner. Sweet potato “buns” are more filling and, in my opinion, so delicious that you won’t even miss eating a real bun!
Here is what I used to create these delicious sliders:
-Ground meat of choice. I like ground beef, but these would be great with ground turkey or chicken.
-Sugar free bacon
-Toppings of choice—lettuce, pickles, onion, tomato, avocado
-Primal Kitchen Chipotle Lime Mayo (trust me on this one!)
To make the buns…
Slice the sweet potatoes into approximately ½ inch thick discs, brush with oil and salt/pepper and bake in a 425 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes or until tender but not mushy. While the potato slices bake, form and grill your slider-sized meat patties. Once the sweet potato buns come out of oven, allow to cool for a bit and then assemble! I highly recommend any of the Primal Kitchen mayonnaise for these burgers, especially the Chipotle Lime. You can find the slider recipe here.
Chicken Apple Sausage & Veggie Sheet Pan Dinner
I love a good sheet pan dinner. Not only are they super-fast to prep, but the veggies are interchangeable. This is my go-to when I have limited time to prep or when I have a variety of veggies in the fridge that need to be used up before they go to waste.
I like to use Adele’s Chicken Apple Sausage because not only is it Whole30 approved, it compliments any veggie combo!
All I used for this dinner was a package of the sausages and a variety of veggies tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper & garlic powder. I baked in a 400 degree oven for approximately 25-30 minutes. You can find the recipe here.
Zucchini Veggie Pasta
While regular pasta noodles are not Whole30 approved, veggie noodles are, and boy am I happy about that! I have a special tool I use to make my own, but I love the variety available in the produce department when I am short on time and need the convenience on buying some pre-made veggie noodles.
My favorite is the zucchini noodles. When it’s pasta night at our house these are my go-to. I also love that my favorite pasta sauce happens to be Whole30 approved. Just clean, simple ingredients comprised of olive oil, tomatoes, herbs and spices with no unnecessary sugar added. My favorite is the Deluxe Spaghetti sauce but there are 3 Whole30 approved choices.
To cook the zucchini noodles: Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and sauté the zucchini noodles in a single layer for about 3 minutes, stirring often so that they don’t burn. They cook fast! Remove from skillet, add a little more oil if needed and do another round.
Top with Italian seasoned ground beef and sauce!
Chicken Salad with Homemade Mayonnaise
Lots of dried dill is a must for me when making mayo for chicken salad. Yum! I love chicken salad and there are so many creative ways to enjoy it. I eat it in lettuce wraps, and on apple or cucumber slices.
My chicken salad always starts with homemade mayo, you can find my favorite homemade mayo recipe here. This is a delicious thick mayo to use for your chicken salad!
I like the taste of rotisserie chicken for my chicken salad, but I sometimes prep a batch of shredded chicken in my Crockpot or Instant Pot that I can use for various recipes all week. When I do buy a hot rotisserie, I always buy the Bare Rotisserie Chicken from the deli at Festival Foods because it doesn’t have seasoning. Be careful, a lot of seasoned rotisserie chickens have sugar in the spice blend.
I like to add chopped celery and either grapes or dried cranberries. I often choose to top with pecans or walnuts as well for a nutty crunch! You can find the chicken salad recipe here.
Salads are a quick and easy option for a Whole30 meal. Countless veggies to choose from, and your meat of choice can make for a colorful plate of health! The first couple times I did Whole30 I made my own dressings with olive oil, apple cider vinegar and spices because Whole30 approved dressings are hard to come by. I love that I now have the option to buy Primal Kitchen salad dressings in the grocery aisle at Festival Foods. My favorites are the balsamic and the ranch. They are all Whole30 approved except the honey mustard.
Sweet Potato Chili
Whether I’m on a round of Whole30 or not, this recipe is one of my favorites all fall and winter long. I have shared it with so many friends and family who make it regularly as well because it’s SO GOOD.
1 ½ pounds ground beef or ground turkey
1 green bell pepper
1 medium onion chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
2 sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
2 cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes (regular diced tomatoes is fine too)
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
½ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper or to taste
Brown the meat in a non stick skillet. Combine the meat and all other ingredients into a slow cooker. You can choose to saute the peppers, onions and minced garlic first, but I just throw them in the pot and it turns out great. Time is valuable!
Cook on low for 6 hours. If you have an Instant Pot, I have successfully made this chili in approximately 20 minutes on high pressure. I like to top with some crushed plantains for crunch! You can find the recipe here.
There are so many great options for Whole30 snacks. Here are some of my favorites. The bars are great for travel and on-the-go. My favorite is crisp, seasonal apples with nut butter. Peanut butter is out for Whole30, but Festival Foods has 2 great Whole30 approved almond and cashew butters and I like to rotate between the two!
If you plan to do a round of Whole30, be sure to print out this helpful Whole30 shopping list and bring it with you when you grocery shop!
I hope you are inspired to a clean eating challenge and enjoy one of these nourishing recipes! It’s only 30 days, you can do it. I’m off to enjoy myself a Whole30 mocktail made with sparkling water, lime and fresh mint!
Cheers to health!