By Sarah Steffens, L.A.-based personal chef and official Whole30 Recipe Creative. This is part two in a series about preparing and planning for your Whole30. (Find part one here.)
It’s time to celebrate all of the delicious recipes you will be making during your #JanuaryWhole30! You may be excited about spending time preparing your own meals in the kitchen, or you might find the idea of cooking intimidating. OR it could be the reason you have held off on starting a Whole30.
The good news about Whole30 is that you can make your meals as simple or as elaborate as you like. If you want to scramble some eggs in a spoonful of ghee, dump a giant handful of spinach into the pan, top it all off with some hot sauce and call it dinner, then do it (and it sounds amazing, by the way). We’re big fans of keeping it simple; The Whole30 contains over 100 recipes that are purposefully simple and easy to follow, yet still delicious.
But if you’re a foodie like me, and you want to spend the afternoon simmering red sauce with caramelized onions, mushrooms, browned garlic, and homemade smoked paprika pork sausage topped with freshly minced herbs and served over a bed of spiralized zucchini and yellow squash “noodles” gently sauteed in pork lard, totally go for it – and, please, invite me over! The Whole30 Cookbook has recipes that let you get a little fancy (but are still very approachable).
Finding Inspiration for My Whole30 Meals
Cooking is highly personal. Just as the Whole30 reveals parts of yourself that you didn’t know before (physical reactions to and emotional dependencies on food), cooking also reveals sides of you that you can enjoy getting in touch with.
When I cook for myself and my clients, in addition to the recipes I create myself, I look for inspiration in all kinds of places:
- Cookbooks (I list my favorite titles at the end of this post)
- Blogs (THE best thing to happen for recipes)
- Instagram Feeds (@Whole30Recipes and many other fantastic accounts)
- My friend’s and family’s kitchens (I’m grateful to dine with some excellent home cooks and find inspiration in what they make)
- Restaurants (If a recipe from a restaurant is not Whole30, I try to recreate at home so it is)
The determining factor when I cook for myself is time. How long do I have to get a meal on the table? What I whip together in five minutes is different than what I make when I have an hour. When you are deciding on recipes to make for the week, considering how much time you have to make your meals and make realistic choices.
I’ll go into more detail about some of my favorite quick-meal methods in an upcoming issue of the Wholesome newsletter; click here to subscribe to this free Whole30 resource. In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite original Whole30 recipes.
If I Have One Hour: Broiled Lemon Herb Chicken and Rainbow Carrots
1 Tbs. ghee or coconut oil
4 organic bone-in with skin chicken thighs (I made 4 but you can make as many or little as you need)
1 whole lemon, sliced
8 rainbow carrots, sliced long ways in half (regular carrots are fine, too!)
1 Tbs. sea salt
Black pepper to taste (omit for AIP)
1 Tbs. fresh rosemary
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 cup of fresh parsley
PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or use a cast iron skillet, without parchment). Arrange your chicken thighs on the sheet. Rub with ghee and wash your hands. Arrange your carrots around your chicken. Sprinkle sea salt and pepper over everything. Place 1-2 sliced lemons on each chicken thigh. Bake for 55 minutes (chicken should reach 165 degrees F and carrots should be soft).
WITH your chicken and carrots still in the oven, turn on your oven’s broiler. Set a timer for 5 minutes. When your timer goes off, peak in at your chicken and carrots. If the chicken skin is golden and the lemon slices have started to caramelize, it is done. If it hasn’t, keep it under the broiler for another 1-3 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle fresh rosemary and parsley over everything. Stick fresh thyme twigs in between chicken pieces.
YOU can get fancy and serve this on a platter lined with butter lettuce, or just keep it on the tray it baked on. It is delicious either way. That’s it! A complete meal cooked and ready all at the same time.
If I Have Thirty Minutes: Beef Curry In A Hurry
1 Tbs. ghee or coconut oil
1 1lb. organic grass-fed beef stew meat
1 Tbs. sea salt
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and evenly chopped
3 carrots, peeled and evenly chopped
1 zucchini, ends removed and evenly chopped
2 cups fresh broccoli, chopped in large pieces
1 14.5 oz can coconut milk (I like Organic Natural Value brand and buy it from Amazon. Its only ingredients are coconut and water).
1 Tbs. curry powder
HEAT 1 Tbs. ghee in large stock pot. Brown stew meat on medium high heat for a few minutes and then remove beef from the pot. Set aside in a bowl.
SAUTEE onion in the same pot the beef was in until it softens. Add your beef back to the pot. Add sweet potato, carrot and sea salt and saute a few minutes. Pour in the whole can of coconut milk and 1 Tbs. curry powder and stir until combined. Simmer on low heat with a lid for 10 minutes.
STIR again, then add the broccoli and zucchini and simmer with a lid another 10 minutes. That’s it! Your curry is ready when all the veggies are soft and your kitchen smells amazing. Serve in small bowls with fresh cilantro and enjoy!
Note: This dish is even faster if you use chicken or shrimp instead of beef. The veggies in this dish will cook down, providing enough water so that you do not need to add extra liquid beyond a can of coconut milk. If your curry is too thick for your liking, you may add some water or broth to make it more thin.
If I Have Five Minutes: Smoked Whitefish Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette over Frisee
4 oz. smoked whitefish
1 bunch of frisee lettuce
1/2 fresh orange, thinly sliced
1/2 cup peeled and chopped rainbow carrots
1/4 cup olive or avocado oil
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Black pepper to taste (omit for AIP which stands for Autoimmune Protocol)
ROUGHLY chop your frisee and arrange on a large plate. Arrange orange slices and carrots on frisee.
PLACE 4 oz. smoked whitefish (remove skin/bones) on your salad. Sprinkle fresh cilantro over everything.
WHISK your olive (or avocado) oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh lemon juice and sea salt in a jar. When you are ready to serve your salad, pour vinaigrette over it, toss with your fork and enjoy with a glass of sparkling water.
Add sliced avocado if you’re feeling festive. That’s it! Fresh, fast and of course, Whole30 compliant.
My Favorite Cookbooks
Finally, as mentioned, I get a ton of ideas and inspiration from cookbooks. Below is a list of some of my favorite recipes in a stack of cookbooks I keep close when planning menus. Please note, aside from The Whole30 Cookbook, these books contain dishes that are not Whole30 compliant. However, the vast majority of recipes in these books are either compliant or easily adapted to be in line with the Whole30 rules.
The Whole30 Cookbook By Melissa Hartwig
Suggested recipe: One-Pan North African-Spiced Chicken with Roasted Carrots, Page 153
Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans By Michelle Tam & Henry Fong
Suggested recipe: Big-O Bacon Burgers, Page 227
The Paleo Slow Cooker: Healthy, Gluten-Free Meals the Easy Way: By Arsy Vartanian
Suggested recipe: Shredded Roasted Duck for Breakfast or Lunch, Page 174
The Primal Blueprint Healthy Sauces, Dressings & Toppings: By Mark Sisson with Jennifer Meier
Suggested recipe: Sausage Gravy, Page 44
One Pot Paleo: Simple to Make, Delicious to Eat and Gluten-Free to Boot: By Jenny Castaneda
Suggested recipe: Salmon Scramble, Page 46
Gather, The Art of Paleo Entertaining: By Hayley Mason & Bill Staley
Suggested recipe: Teriyaki Country Ribs, Page 90
The Paleo Approach Cookbook: A Detailed Guide to Heal Your Body and Nourish Your Soul: By Sarah Ballantyne, PhD
Suggested recipe: Shrimp & Avocado Skewers, Page 154
Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat: By Melissa Joulwan
Suggested recipe: Sunshine Sauce, Page 45
The Candida Cure Cookbook: Delicious Recipes to Reset Your Health and Restore Your Vitality: By Ann Boroch, CNC
Suggested recipe: Creamy Zucchini-Noodle Salad, Page 173
Paleo Lunches and Breakfasts On the Go: By Diana Rodgers, NTP
Suggested recipe: Pastrami and Pickles in Radicchio Wraps, Page 55
Plant-Based Paleo: Protein Rich Vegan Recipes for Well-Being and Vitality: By Jenna Zoe
Suggested recipe: Evergreen Salad, Page 66
Header photo by Laura Meiner
Sarah Steffens has a B.A. in Business Administration, Public Relations from The Master’s College in Southern California. After years of experimenting with nutrition and recipes in her own kitchen, she now works as a Personal Chef in Los Angeles, cooking meals that support her client’s intention to physically and mentally thrive. She has catered several independent film sets, making it her goal to optimize the energy and well-being of each creative crew. She is the in-house recipe creative for the Whole30, and the creator of the Savor and Fancy blog. When Sarah is not cooking Whole30 and Autoimmune Protocol meals, she is likely exploring mid-century sites in L.A., taking photographs, listening to an audio book or hiking at Griffith Park.