Cooking with Friends – January Whole30 Edition

As I’ve mentioned before, my favorite way to meal prep is with friends! As often as I can, I try to combine my weekend cooking sessions with a playdate – so I get to cook (and share good food) with my friends and my daughter gets to play with hers.

To do this, I usually ask a friend or two to join the fun. Once we make a date, we email back and forth about the menu and come up with some recipes to try. We make a plan, and then divide up the shopping list so we know who will bring what.

We choose a house to meet at, and make sure we arrive with lots and lots of storage containers to take home all of our delicious eats.

While we cook, our kids play. While we have to stop every once in a while to break up a disagreement between 5-year-olds, it’s more than worth it in the end. We get to spend time together (hard with busy #momlife) and leaved with food prepped to get us through the first part of the week.

I recently had a cooking play date with my friends Andrea and Alyssa – and their daughters. Read on to see what we made:

PALEO PAD SEE EW

I recently saw the episode of The Paleo Way on Netflix that featured Danielle Walker from Against All Grain. One of the recipes she made was her Paleo Pad See Ew – and I knew I had to have it. This recipe did not disappoint! Alyssa was the master of peeling the carrots (I stay away from my peeler since cutting my finger on it last year and needing stitches) and boy, did she make beautiful carrot noodles! This dish was delicious, didn’t require complicated ingredients, and we doubled the recipe to make sure we had plenty to go around.

CHICKEN POT PIE

I had seen Lauren’s Chicken Pot Pie all over Instagram – and my friends agreed this was one to try! We used this recipe and it came out great. We did add some arrowroot to thicken it up to make it more like a true pot pie. It was definitely tasty and we approximately tripled the recipe to make sure we had plenty. A week later, I tried this recipe again with the goal of using canned vegetables. I could only find canned green beans so I used those and it came out great. Next time I find canned carrots and potatoes I am going to grab those to make this dish come together in a snap.

THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING + WEDGE SALAD

Each week in my January Whole30 Coaching Group, we are trying out a different recipe from the fabulous Michelle Smith of The Whole Smiths. This week, I tasked my group with making Michelle’s Thousand Island Dressing + Wedge Salad so I used this cooking play date to make mine. I did get pre-made hard boiled eggs to save time (no shame!) and used some of my delicious Naked Bacon which made the salad incredible. (Save 10 percent off your order with code EVERYDAYWHOLE at checkout!) The homemade Thousand Island dressing was fabulous and got better over time. The salad was a winner and I plan to make it again!

INSTANT POT PULLED BBQ CHICKEN

To make the most of our time in the kitchen, we let the Instant Pot do some work while we chopped, stirred, and cooked! I used this recipe from our blog to make pulled BBQ chicken. It’s so easy – I just added chicken tenders, chopped red onion and small potatoes, The New Primal Classic BBQ Sauce and garlic powder to the Instant Pot. I pressed some buttons and voila – pulled chicken to eat throughout the week! Be sure to use code “Whole30Facebook” for 25 percent off your order from The New Primal.

SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS

What’s a Whole30 meal prep session without meatballs? We made beef meatballs, loosely based on this recipe from Noshtastic. We added tons and tons of spices – lots of garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, parsley, oregano and more. Instead of making our own sauce, we doctored up a jar of pre-made Monte Bene sauce, one of the Whole30 Approved sauces from Cucina Antica. The sauce was delicious on its own but we had some leftover onion so we sautéed that in olive oil in a pot with some garlic and then added the sauce. When the meatballs were cooked, we added them to the sauce to simmer. If you want to try Cucina Antica, save 25 percent off your purchase through February 20 with the code “EverydayWhole” at checkout!

ROASTED SQUASH

While the oven was on, we decided to throw in some roasted squash to help round out our meal prep. We did half of the squash with olive oil and salt and pepper, and the other half with olive oil and Tiny Little’ Chef’s Inflammation Buster seasoning blend. It’s a combo of cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, cloves and cayenne — and it’s SO good. Pro tip: It also is a super addition to your coffee. Use code “WHOLE30” for 20 percent off your order when you shop any of Tiny Little Chef’s seasoning blends.

DUMP RANCH

Andrea whipped up some Dump Ranch for us to take home and use throughout the week. This is such a versatile added fat that makes every meal better. We use the Whole Sisters recipe because it’s delicious and easy to modify based on the herbs and spices you have on hand.

MAYONNAISE

Andrea also made some of her famous homemade mayo for us to share. She followed the recipe we recently featured on our blog. This mayo can be used as is or turned into another fun sauce to liven up your meals throughout the week. Mayo is a quick, easy, and budget-friendly added fat for your Whole30. And if you don’t have an immersion blender, get one! It’s a champion of the kitchen and will help you with so many recipes on your Whole30. I have this immersion blender and I highly recommend it!

Have you ever cooked with friends? What’s on your meal prep menu this coming weekend?

A Look Back: Our Top 10 Posts of 2018!

Eight months ago, we jumped into the blogging world and created Everyday Whole. Since then, our little corner of the Internet has been filled with lots of useful hints, tips, tricks, recipes, and support to guide you through your Whole30!

Thank YOU for being here, and for joining us on this journey. To mark the end of our first year with Everyday Whole, we’re taking a look back at our Top 10 Favorite Posts of 2018!!

Cheers to the past year – and let’s raise a glass (of kombucha!) to a healthy, happy, and transformative 2019!

10. Premade vs. Homemade: Prepping for a Round

A couple of years ago when I started my first Whole30 round, there weren’t many products on the market that were compliant. Now, there are lots and lots of choices. Homemade is usually the cheaper of the two but premade products are convenient and save time. Whatever your budget and inclinations are, there’s something below for you.

9. Whole30 Meal Planning: Success is in the Prep

After completing multiple rounds of Whole 30 and mini resets I learned that preparation is the key to my success. Before creating my own meal plan template, my preparation consisted of writing a random grocery list on the back of an envelope. That resulted in multiple trips to the grocery store because I’d always forget something. That process and cycle made meals and shopping frustrating and overwhelming. I would become easily overwhelmed with trying to figure out what I was going to eat for the upcoming week and when I was going to cook it.

8. Load ‘Em Up: Whole30 “Nachos and Fries”

Hey everybody! My friend and fellow Whole30 Certified Coach Judith asked me to stop by and share a little with you today about one of my favorite Whole30 comfort foods… nachos. Wait, what? Nachos can’t be Whole30 compliant, can they? Well yes, as a matter of fact they can, and I am here today to tell you how to make the magic happen in the kitchen. With the nachos that is – at least for this guest post anyway! If you know me, you know that nachos and me are like peas and carrots. Nachos have been there for me when no one else has. They are undoubtedly the epitome of comfort food for me and aside from that they are just freaking delicious.

7. Whole30 Day 30…now what?

Congrats! You’ve finished your Whole30! You’ve checked off a whole bunch of Non-Scale Victories, you feel amazing, and hey, maybe you’ve even lost a few pounds along the way. Your skin is glowing, your thinking is clear, and you’re sleeping like a baby.

Day 30 comes with a ton of emotions: You’re happy, joyful, proud, and feeling so accomplished, as you should! But is also brings fear and a sense of uneasiness – what’s going to happen now? Will I fall face first into a meal of nachos and ice cream? How do I keep up this good feeling forever? Will I fail?

6. Meal Prepping: Our Members Weigh In

We all know that meal prep and planning is key to a successful Whole30. It’s really hard to wing it when you need to have protein, vegetables, and fat handy for EVERY SINGLE meal. But, the beauty of Whole30 is that there is no one right way to do it!

We checked in with four members of our Facebook group to learn how they stay focused, organized, and on track during Whole30! Check out how THEY do it!

5. A Tour Through Your Whole30 Plate

So, as a novice Whole30er, you might find yourself asking, “What is with all this talk about a meal template?” Basically, the meal template is our goal and guide as to how much of what types of foods we should be eating. It reminds us that veggies should be the primary food on our plate (and that means you too potatoes and sweet potatoes). It also reminds us that we need other real food on our plates. It’s critical that all meals include veggies, protein and a healthy plated fat. Fruit is optional but if consumed, should be eaten as part of your meal and not as a “dessert” Also, keep fruit to no more than 2 servings a day. Remember, ½ of a banana is one serving.

4. Five Things I Should Know About Whole30 But Forgot!

In recent weeks, as I’ve been prepping for my Whole30 coaching exam, I’ve picked up all three books again for another read. I confess that I was dreading it a bit – reading these days often feels like a chore with all of life’s other busy-ness swirling around me. But, it’s actually been eye-opening and kind of fun to go back and read the words that inspire my daily life.

Re-reading the books also reminded me of a few things that I had forgotten along the way of my Whole30 journey. And if I forgot them, chances are others have as well!

3. Five Week Whole30 Meal Plan

Meal planning can be overwhelming when you start your first round. Today, we’re turning over the reins to our wonderful member Christa Page so she can share her meal plans for five weeks. FIVE weeks! Admittedly, I can’t get myself to put together one week of meals so my hat’s off to Christa for being organized on par with the likes of Mary Poppins. Her notes, recipes links, and meal schedule may be found below. Here’s a link to the Excel sheet with the meal plan schedule and a link to our Pinterest board that has all the meals below pinned. Enjoy and a big thanks to Christa for making this available to everyone.

2. The Ultimate Whole30 Guide for Newbies

Totally new to Whole30? Welcome! You may have found our Facebook group or our blog as you search for info on the program, and decide if Whole30 is right for you. To make your research easier, we’ve put together some super helpful links with everything you need to know about Whole30 – what it is, how to do it, what to eat, and more!

1. Starting a Whole30 Round

We’re so glad that you found us in our corner of the Internet. Whether you’re new or a seasoned Whole30’er, we have tonnes of resources available for you to get through a round successfully.

On The Road…With Whole30

I recently hopped on a plane by myself for a girls’ weekend away. It was my first time spending more than a night away from my daughters. I was so excited to catch up with friends. I knew there would be linger-y dinners and food that was definitely NOT Whole 30 compliant, but I still wanted to maintain some semblance of my normally healthy diet.

Since it was a special trip, I had made dinner reservations at some hot restaurants in Chicago months in advance. I also planned for healthy quick lunches in the city.

For breakfasts, my plan was to rely on food that I brought with me and to augment with food from local coffee shops. I also bought myself a new small water bottle that I kept filled with water and in my purse. Staying hydrated throughout the day is key for me to keeping cravings at bay.

My flight out was at lunchtime so I took food with me to the airport. I had a hardboiled egg in a Ziploc baggie, ½ a Fawen brand soup, sliced cucumber, and an apple with a Barney Butter.

This is definitely less than what I would normally eat at lunchtime, but to be honest I’m not a great flier so I wanted to keep it light. I drank the soup while waiting in the security line so I could get rid of the liquid and finished the rest of my lunch while waiting for my flight to board. During the flight I opted for a seltzer to drink from the beverage chart and a serving of Barnana bananas. For whatever reason those seemed to settle my stomach.

In the mornings on my trip, I left the house with a turkey strip, Vital Proteins collagen, a Barney Butter, and a compliant bar. The bar was for emergencies. I tend to get HANGRY if meals are delayed, but luckily that never happened.

My flight home was delayed by more than two hours and I didn’t leave Chicago until 10:30 pm. While waiting, the restaurants in the terminal shut down and I was happy that I had a compliant Rx bar with me. I ate it before boarding and then tried to sleep a little since my new arrival time plus time change meant that it was nearly 2am before I landed.

Not ideal, but this falls under the category of a true emergency for me. My flight kept getting delayed and there was no back up or healthier options for a meal.

All in all, I had a great trip and I was happy to stay close to my routine. I had a fabulous time away and felt great about my eating. This is true Food Freedom.

How do you handle being out of your routine? What’s your favorite Whole 30 travel food?