A Literary Feast -- disclosure policy

My Whole 30 journey has begun! I know that you haven’t heard me talk much about it yet. I don’t plan to write about the hows and whys until I’m a bit further into the program. Or maybe all the way through it. For now, take a peek at what I’m eating in this week’s meal plan.

Note #1: Don’t know what in the world Whole 30 is? This is my nutshell summary (and, gosh, there are a lot of nutshells in my house right now). Whole 30 is essentially an elimination diet, cutting out all of the scientifically proven foods that can cause systemic inflammation. It is a full body reboot, eating only whole, simple, healthy foods, changing poor food habits, and reintroducing foods gradually to observe which food groups cause problems in your body. 

Note #2: Even if you aren’t doing Whole 30, don’t write off these recipes! They are yummy and healthy, and can be altered to include any other ingredients you choose. Whole 30 recipes will be gluten-free, grain-free, legume-free, dairy-free, and alcohol-free. That sounds pretty intense, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how full and balanced and delicious your meals still are. 

Note #3: Although I have made all of these meals, I didn’t take photos of my meals this week because I was SO HUNGRY by the time dinner was ready. That’s a pretty common side effect of Week One. I’ve heard the hunger abates as your body learns how to metabolize fat better. 

Saturday: (Starting on Saturday this week because that’s the day I started Whole 30. Feel free to change up the days however you choose.)
Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa by Creme de la Crumb

Whole 30 dinners | my week one Whole 30 meals | healthy recipes and tips | salmon, mango salsa, spaghetti squash, steak, and more!

I have to be honest here. This meal did not make me happy. Don’t blame the poor salmon, though. This was my first dinner of Whole 30, and I was in a bad way. I started the program on a Saturday. Not smart because I work 12-hour shifts on Friday and Saturday nights. After sleeping during the day, I had less than two hours to prep and eat supper, get ready for work, and figure out how I was going to feed myself that night during my shift. I’ve never been good at cooking fish, and tonight was no different. It stuck to the grill pan and I was missing two ingredients for the mango salsa. My coworkers can tell you that I was in a foul mood that night. Luckily, they are all doing Whole 30, too, so we were in the same boat!

Okay, so I chose a bad night to make this dish, and I need to brush up on my fish-cooking skills, but if you like salmon, you totally should make this. Mango salsa is the perfect compliment to it and super simple to make!

Sunday: Turkey Burgers with Guacamole

No link here. After a few hours of sleep Sunday morning, I was finally able to finish my grocery shopping for the week and have some fresh food in the house. VERY important for a Whole 30 challenge! Sunday evening was a quick meal, then, but my favorite so far! I bought a frozen package of Applegate Naturals Turkey Burgers. You could easily make these on your own, though, because the only ingredients are ground turkey and rosemary. I just pan-fried them and topped them with some pre-packaged guacamole with a little kick to it. Whole 30 note: You’ll find all sorts of advice about how to make your own guacamole, salsa, mayo, ketchup, salad dressing, and so on and so on. If you want to do all of that, good for you. It is a little time-consuming to read labels and find these items that fall under the Whole 30 guidelines (no added sugar, soybean oil, carageenans, sulfites…), but for many things, it can be done. I opted to simplify as much as possible, at least for the first week and bought store-made guac and Whole 30-compliant salad dressing. I’ll keep you posted if I go all DIY. 🙂 Serve this with a side of whatever: sweet potatoes, salad, fruit, etc.

Monday: Sheet Pan Steak and Veggies by Damn Delicious (That’s the name of the website, promise! I don’t usually cuss in my posts.)

Whole 30 dinners | my week one Whole 30 meals | healthy recipes and tips | salmon, mango salsa, spaghetti squash, steak, and more!

Isn’t that a gorgeous picture? Mine wasn’t that pretty. This meal tasted really good… but I had a few issues with it. First, the recipe goes on and on about it being a one pan meal. But it’s not. It instructs you to boil the potatoes first, so it is technically a two-pan meal. Anyway. Secondly, I evidently don’t own a sheet pan. I have a large baking sheet, and thought that would work, but it wasn’t big enough for all of the ingredients by far. So, I had to put the veggies on one pan and the steak on another and try to shuffle them under the broiler. Not ideal. The pan in this photo is much bigger than mine. Thirdly, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly and it cost me. I opted to marinate the meat in my Whole-30 compliant ranchy salad dressing. It made the flavor pop, but the meat was not dry enough to broil. Instead, it sort of stewed in its liquid and came out really tough. Oops. So, to recap– use a huge sheet pan or broil them in shifts, and use a dry rub on the meat or only salt and pepper.

My other problem with today is that it was Day 3 of Whole 30. According to their timeline, on Day 3 (due to carb and sugar withdrawals) you will want to kill all of the things. They weren’t kidding. I woke up that morning truly wanting to KILL ALL OF THE THINGS. My husband and boys steered clear of me all day. 😀 (It got better, promise.)

Tuesday: Chicken Souvlaki Skewers from Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts

Whole 30 dinners | my week one Whole 30 meals | healthy recipes and tips | salmon, mango salsa, spaghetti squash, steak, and more!

I’ve posted this recipe before, I know! It’s so good, though, and easily customized for Whole 30. (Just skip the tzatziki sauce.) These chicken skewers are a new favorite in our house. It’s a quick and easy dinner with a simple marinade. The chicken is so juicy and tender and flavorful that I don’t need to dip it in anything. I actually topped a large leafy salad with the chicken– very satisfying meal! I used about two pounds of chicken tenderloin to have plenty for dinner and leftovers for lunch the next day.

Wednesday: Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce

No link here, either, because I don’t use a recipe. It’s one of our favorite meals, and already Whole 30 friendly. Score! I should post my own recipe, right? For now, here are the basics.
1. Cook your spaghetti squash. There are a million and one ways to cook a spaghetti squash. You may have a method you like better– use it. I use this method because of the mixture of ease plus flavor: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place squash on baking sheet and poke several holes in it with a knife or fork. Roast for one hour or until you can easily insert a knife. Let it cool to touch, then cut in half, scoop out the seeds, and shred the squash with a fork. So easy!
2. Saute an onion and a couple of minced garlic cloves in a skillet; brown a pound of ground beef in the same pan. Add whatever spices you want. Tonight, I used chili powder, cumin, a dash of cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and salt and pepper. It tasted great! I often sub curry powder for the chili powder, because it gives it a really unique flavor. Alas, I was out of curry tonight. Add a jar of your favorite tomato sauce and let simmer on low until the flavors blend. (Whole 30 note: check your labels! My usual organic pasta sauce has added sugar and soybean oil– imagine that! I was able to find sauce without banned ingredients, though.)
3. Mix sauce and squash together and enjoy a yummy, gluten-free pasta night!

Thursday: Coconut Lime Chicken from A Saucy Kitchen

Whole 30 dinners | my week one Whole 30 meals | healthy recipes and tips | salmon, mango salsa, spaghetti squash, steak, and more!

Here’s a newsflash: Whole 30 uses A LOT of coconut milk. You can put it in your coffee, you can make “yogurt” out of it with chia seeds, you can use it for almost anything you would use milk in. Thank goodness I like coconut! We’ll be making this dish tonight. It’s a skillet meal, but I think you could just as easily cook it in a crockpot or in your Instant Pot.

Friday: Mexican Breakfast Casserole from The Whole Cook

Whole 30 dinners | my week one Whole 30 meals | healthy recipes and tips | salmon, mango salsa, spaghetti squash, steak, and more!

It may say breakfast, but I love this dish for its versatility. It will be an easy dinner to throw together, and even easier to pack for “lunch” on my night shift tonight. You know what would taste good on this? Hot sauce. Did you know that Frank’s Red Hot Sauce is Whole 30 compliant? MY MIND WAS BLOWN. Of course, I can’t have the popcorn that I usually use it on, but Frank’s tastes good on everything. You can also buy it by the gallon on Amazon. Because, who can’t use a gallon of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce? (Geez, that sounded like an ad. They don’t pay me, promise! But if they wanted to…)

And, just like that, the first week of Whole 30 is in the books! I’m feeling good, friends. Even if you aren’t ready to embrace the whole program, I hope you feel more energetic just by incorporating some of these fresh meals into your week.

Make sure you keep the whole menu at your fingertips by pinning it!

Whole 30 dinners | my week one Whole 30 meals | healthy recipes and tips | salmon, mango salsa, spaghetti squash, steak, and more!

See you next week for Week Two of healthy meals using whole foods!

(P.S. I’m always on the lookout for good meals. Do you have a Whole 30 recipe that I HAVE to try? Comment below!)