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Whole 30

These days, there’s no shortage of expert opinions about what dietary approach — paleo, vegan, gluten-free, etc. — you should follow to achieve optimal health. You can learn a lot from experts, of course, but in the end the only expert on you is you.

I’m a firm believer that you can discover for yourself which foods create optimal vitality — and which may be making you sick. So in 2009, I codeveloped the Whole30 nutrition program as a tool to help people learn for themselves what food groups may be having a negative impact on their health and quality of life, often without even realizing it.

The Whole30 is a do-it-yourself nutrition plan — and a one-person clinical study of sorts. For one month, you’ll eliminate common problem foods like sugar, alcohol, dairy, grains, and legumes, and then systematically reintroduce them to learn whether (and how) they affect your health.

Think of the Whole30 as the reset button for your health, your habits, and your relationship with food. The program targets diet-related problems like cravings and unhealthy eating patterns, as well as sluggish metabolism and hormonal imbalances. It tackles disrupted digestion, including symptoms associated with leaky gut syndrome (for more on this, see “How to Heal a Leaky Gut“). And it addresses symptoms of inflammation, including aches, pains, and medical issues that you may not realize are associated with food.

Want to try a Whole30? Do this first.

Your success with the plan will depend a lot on how you prepare. Here are some suggestions from

Step 1: Commit.

Committing to a Whole30 doesn’t mean starting right away. You’ll need several days to prepare, but you can choose a start date. Then tell someone. Tell everyone! Write it on the whiteboard at work, or post it on your Facebook page or Instagram feed.

Step 2: Build your team.

The right team will keep you motivated and accountable. Enlist support from family and friends. (They don’t have to do the program with you to encourage you.) Or find a buddy to do it with you.

Step 3: Get your house ready. 

Get the stuff you won’t be eating out of the pantry — toss it, give it to a neighbor, or donate it. If there are others at home who aren’t doing the Whole30, dedicate one drawer in your fridge and one cabinet for all off-plan foods.

Plot out a week’s worth of meals. You can refer to the seven-day meal plan in The Whole30 cookbook, or any number of compliant plans online.

Stock up on high-quality animal protein, load up on vegetables and fruit (seasonal is best), and shop for healthy fats like extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, olives, nuts, and seeds.

Think you may be up for a Whole30? Check out the recipes below from The Whole30 cookbook. Obviously, this is not a deprivation diet. You’ll feel satisfied, look forward to each meal, and learn once and for all what foods are right for you.

Whole30 Recipes

Spinach Frittata

This recipe goes heavy on the spinach, a nutrient-dense green rich in carotenoids and vitamin K, as well as magnesium, iron, and copper. A frittata travels and reheats well, making it handy for packed breakfasts, lunches, or on-the-go snacks. You can even make this recipe in muffin tins for extra portability. For a Mexican-inspired version, add seasoned, cooked ground beef, thinly sliced jalapeños, and cilantro.


Makes two servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 to 15 minutes


  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tbs. ghee or clarified butter
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 cup diced, seeded tomato
  • 4 or 5 tomato slices for topping the frittata
  • 5 cups fresh baby spinach (approximately 9 oz.), roughly chopped
  • Grated zest and juice of 1/4 lemon


  1. Set oven to broil.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a large, oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add the ghee to the pan and swirl to coat the bottom. When the fat is hot, add onion and diced tomato and cook, stirring, for two to three minutes, until onion is soft. Add the spinach and let it wilt for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the eggs to the skillet and fold them into the vegetables with a rubber spatula. Cook without stirring for about three to four minutes to let the eggs set on the bottom and sides of the pan. When the eggs are firm but still appear wet, lay a few tomato slices on top. Drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle the lemon zest over the frittata.
  5. Transfer the skillet to the oven and broil 4 to 6 inches from the heat for three to five minutes, until the top is golden brown. Cut into slices and serve hot.
  6. If you prefer, you can finish your frittata by baking it rather than broiling: Simply preheat the oven to 500 degrees F, then cook it for three to five minutes.

Chicken Cacciatore

Don’t be tempted to use boneless, skinless chicken with this classic recipe. The chicken skin holds the fat, and fat equals flavor. Plus, the skin helps the sauce cling to the chicken.

Whole 30

Makes two servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes


  • 4 tbs. ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 lb. chicken legs (bone-in, skin-on)
  • 3/4 lb. chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs. capers, drained
  • 1  14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken broth or water
  • 1 tbs. fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped


  1. In a large skillet with high sides, heat 2 tablespoons of ghee over medium-high heat, coating the bottom of the pan. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper and place in the pan. Sear the chicken until golden brown, about three minutes on each side. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  2. With the same pan still on medium-high heat, add the remaining 2 table-spoons of ghee, the onions, and the peppers, and sauté for two to three minutes, until the onions become translucent. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook, stirring for two minutes. Add the garlic and stir until aromatic, about one minute. Add the capers and diced tomatoes.
  3. Return the chicken to the pan and pour in the chicken broth or water until it covers the chicken pieces. Reduce heat to medium and bring everything to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and continue to simmer until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 30 minutes.
  4. Garnish with the chopped basil and serve hot.

Cauliflower Rice

Gone are the days of overcooked cauliflower that smells like sulfur. “Ricing” cauliflower in a food processor by pulsing it until it’s ground to a rice-like consistency gives it a light, delicate structure and a mild taste that pairs well with just about anything. Make this a complete meal by adding a serving of your favorite protein and sautéing any leftover veggies from your fridge.

Whole 30

Makes two servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes


  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3 tbs. ghee or clarified butter
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tbs. minced fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper


  1. “Rice” the cauliflower in batches: Place approximately half of the florets into the food processor, being careful not to pack too tightly, and pulse 15 to 20 times until the cauliflower has a rice-like texture. Remove riced cauliflower from the processor and repeat to rice the remaining florets.
  2. In a large skillet, melt the ghee over medium heat and coat the bottom of the pan. When the ghee is hot, add the onion and carrot and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, two to three minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until aromatic, about one minute.
  3. Add the riced cauliflower to the skillet and mix thoroughly with the rest of the vegetables. Add the chicken broth, cover the pan with a lid, and steam until finished, like cooked rice, about 10 to 12 minutes. (The cauliflower should be tender, but not mushy or wet.)
  4. Remove from the heat and mix in the chopped cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

Roasted Beet, Orange, and Avocado Salad

These three flavors together are a dynamite combination — and super nutritious, too. Beets contain pigments called betalains, which provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detox benefits. Avocados deliver a host of vitamins and minerals, as well as heart-healthy fats, and oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber.

Whole 30

Makes two servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 to 60 minutes


  • 2 medium beets
  • 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 orange, halved: one half zested and juiced, one half peeled and cut into segments
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 avocado, split lengthwise, pitted, peeled, and diced


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Rinse beets and stab all sides with a fork. Place in a medium bowl and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, tossing to thoroughly coat. Wrap each oiled beet in aluminum foil, pinching the top closed to create a seal. Place beets in the center of a baking sheet and roast for about 35 minutes. When you can pierce a beet with a thin knife all the way to the center without resistance (be careful opening the foil), it’s done. Remove from the oven and allow to rest until cool enough to handle.
  3. With a knife, remove the skin from the beets. (Wear gloves and an apron.) Dice the beets into 1-inch pieces and place in a serving bowl.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil with the vinegar, orange juice, salt, and pepper, and whisk until combined.
  5. Add the orange segments and avocado to the beets. Drizzle with the dressing, sprinkle on the orange zest, toss to coat, and serve.

Grilled Asparagus With Lemon Zest

Tender and fresh, asparagus is a sure sign that spring has arrived. These delicious stalks provide vitamins C and K, as well as copper and manganese minerals. Plus, the asparagus keep your large intestine happy with inulin, a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria in your gut.

Whole 30

Makes two servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes


  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 tbs. ghee, clarified butter, or coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon


  1. Preheat a grill to medium-high, about 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Place the asparagus on the baking sheet; drizzle with the melted ghee and sprinkle with salt. With tongs, transfer asparagus to the grill, laying the spears horizontally across the grate. Grill until tender, about four to six minutes.
  3. Transfer asparagus to a serving plate. Just before serving, drizzle the lemon juice over the top and sprinkle with the lemon zest.

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Food Photography by: Alexandra Grablewski

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