63+ Whole30 Dinner Recipes (& the difference between whole30 and paleo)

Over 63 Whole30 Dinner Recipes with options for salads, chicken, pork, fish, and more! These paleo-friendly meals are low-carb, nutrient-dense, high in protein, and are healthful.

Recipe roundup updated: 2/11/2017
63+ Whole30 Dinner Recipes | TheRoastedRoot.net #newyear #healthy #glutenfree #paleo

Happy New Year!

First things first…

Are you cleansing?

It goes without saying that many of us make health and fitness-related goals at the beginning of the year, and start the year with a cleanse. When it comes to food-related goals, falling off the wagon is easy. When you tell people you’re about to do a Whole30 or Paleo stint, you’re typically met with, “what can you eat?” Weeeeell, as it turns out, you can (and should) eat a lot. I’muh ’bout to answer some FAQs regarding Whole 30 (versus Paleo) and also provide you with a barrage of dinner recipes that you can pick and choose from to keep you on track.

What is Whole30? It’s an actual program, people. Simply put, Whole30 is a 30-day challenge where you clean up what you eat, eliminating sugar, grains, dairy, alcohol, and legumes. The purpose of this 30-day cleanse is to reset and cleanse your digestive system, as well as fill your body with essential nutrients. This should result in you feeling like a trillion bucks with higher energy and all-around light-on-your-feet-edness.

Why do we do this? A number of reasons. In my opinion, the most important reasons are…

1.) Being mindful about what you eat. Thinking about what is on your fork (or in your hands) is a valuable part of being human. It’s easy being on constant autopilot and choosing convenience over health, but being aware of how your food is sourced and what each ingredient means for your body is – for lack of a better term – badass.

2.) Discovering your own food intolerances (if you have any). Many people are sensitive to at least one food group and doing an elimination diet and slowly adding foods back in is the best way of figuring that out on your own.

3.) Letting food be thy medicine. Our gut-mind connection is strong. Happy gut = happy body = happy brain = happy life. The physical and emotional issues we go through on a daily basis are complicated, stressful, and overwhelming. Keeping your food intake natural and simple gives your body power it needs to help sort through mind-body-soul connectiveness issues and allows it to heal from environmental (external) and consumed (internal) pollutants.

Additionally, when you eat clean, your immune system is healthy, and your ability to fight short term illness and long-term disease is strengthened. I said this in my cookbook, Let Them Eat Kale, but I’ll say it again: eating superfoods is the cheapest health insurance policy you can buy. The best preventative measure you can take in order to ward off sickness from everything from the common cold to cancer, is to ensure your immune system is in primo functioning order.

4.) Sustainability. Processed foods are a dirty business, and often times the whole process – from sourcing the food from 3rd parties, to transporting it, to processing it, to distributing it – is inefficient from an environmental standpoint. The beauty of consuming real food is you’re cutting out many of the environmental inefficiencies, thereby helping reduce your own personal carbon footprint. When available, I recommend sourcing your food from local farms, and purchasing humanely-raised grass-fed meats.

5.) Breaking the Habit. For some, this is the number one reason to do a detox or cleanse. Food addictions are real, and can be just as dangerous as other addictions if we let them spiral out of control. Studies have shown refined sugar creates such a strong effect in your brain that it should be labeled a drug (some scientists have gone so far as to call sugar a poison). Over time, the more sugar we consume, the more defenseless we are toward it, the higher the risk of becoming insulin resistant. Dairy and fat create a similar effect, to the extent that our cravings for certain foods become warped by our own addictions.

Diets rich in processed foods, sugars, and saturated fat cause your brain’s wires to be crossed such that you think your cravings for unhealthful foods are real, when really those cravings are likely a symptom of your body fiending for more sugar, more unhealthy fat, more processed dairy. When you do a system re-set, you are able to re-train your brain and body to crave healthful, clean foods. When done correctly, over time, you will only crave the sugar your body needs (ideally you will provide it with un-processed sugars), and your cravings for clean meals will overshadow your cravings for indulgent, debaucherous meals.

None of this is to say that all people need to cleanse. The all-things in moderation mantra works famously for those who don’t allow their food addictions to get out of control. Keeping a well-balanced diet eliminates the need to throw out everything in your pantry and start fresh.

What is the difference between Whole30 and Paleo?  From a birds-eye view, the two approaches to food are nearly indistinguishable, but there are some key minor differences. In addition to grains, legumes, dairy, sugar, and alcohol, the Paleo lifestyle restricts potatoes (high glycemic), peanuts (techinically a legume), cashews (causes inflammation and allergies in many people), and refined oils (even olive oil). On the flipside, Whole30 takes the no refined sugar thing to the next level by discouraging the use of any added sugar, including making your favorite grain-free brownies with honey or maple syrup. So basically, don’t just take Whole30-approved foods and make your sweet, indulgent, blissful treats on the healthier.

Additionally, the major obvious difference between Whole30 and Paleo is length of time. Paleo is a long-term lifestyle, where you essentially leave inflammation-causing foods (again: sugar, grains, dairy, alcohol, legumes, peanuts, refined oils) out of your life entirely. Effectively, the goal with Whole30 is to short-circuit your body to help you rid yourself of cravings for unhealthful processed foods and help heal your digestive system, whereas the goal with Paleo is continued gut health, high energy, and an efficient digestive system in the long-term. From my own point of view, Whole30 is something you do when you just want to clean house for a bit, whereas Paleo is something you do when you want a squeaky clean lifestyle and/or are potentially avoiding allergenic foods (particularly gluten and sugar) that cause your body to do funky things. For many people who have inflammatory gut disorders, paleo or some form thereof, is a natural remedy to help easy digestive pain/discomfort.

A quick side note about rice and the Paleo diet: Within the last year or two, some die-hard Paleo gurus have come to embrace rice (interestingly enough, white rice specifically) as being an okay food to consume. Whether or not rice is Paleo-approved is a tricky one. For a while, some Paleo folks said no rice was okay, while some said just wild rice was fine. Now there is a split between folks who say rice of any kind is dandy, and those who says certain types (or no types) are okay.  All of this debate stems back to how your digestive system reacts to certain foods. Since I’m not a nutritionist, I won’t pretend to understand how a human body processes rice, but I will say mine processes it just fine.

My take on Whole30/Paleo: If there’s one thing I hate in this world, it’s rules. I also don’t love labels, so you can probably imagine I’m not a huge fan of fad diets, BUT I do see the value in clean eating. I eat what one could consider to be a modified paleo diet on the daily. Or, put simply: real food. I do this for a number of reasons – the most important being digestive health, followed closely by increased blood circulation (I have super poor blood circulation, remedied only by regular exercise and – for lack of a better phrase – high circulatory foods). For my own health and happiness, I find eating a very clean diet helps keep my digestive system happy and my blood flowing better than when I don’t.

So to get down to it, here is your set of Whole30 guidelines –

Yes Foods: lean meats, seafood, eggs, vegetables, limited fruit, healthy fats, clarified butter or ghee

No Foods: grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol, sugar {{For Paleo, add processed oils, peanuts, and cashews to this list}}

When I tell people I did paleo for over a year, the number one question is “what did you eat?” I find this super comical, because when I did my huge paleo stint, I ate more variety and enjoyed food more than any other time in my life. So the answer to the “What do you eat?” question is “Real.” You eat real.

Many folks who start a fad diet have a difficult time sticking to it. Not eating cheese sucks. Duh…Which is precisely why I have rounded up recipes from around the internet that can help you stay interested in your Whole30/Paleo adventure. You guys, I even have Whole30 and Paleo-approved vegan and vegetarian recipes here. For the freaking win.

I will continue adding links to this page as I come across badass recipes to help keep you healthy, so feel free to visit and re-visit again for more inspiration.

For more information about Whole30 and/or the Paleo Lifestyle, check out these resources below (affiliate links):

As always, eat well, eat often, and Happy New Year!

Salads

Shredded Brussel Sprout and Kale Salad + Whole 30 Recipes

Poultry:

Middle Eastern Roast Chicken with Vegetables from A Beautiful Plate + over 63 Whole30 Dinner Recipes | TheRoastedRoot.net #paleo

Beef:

Slow-Cooked Bolognese Sauce with Sweet Potato Spaghetti + Whole 30 Recipes

Pork:

Whole30 Breakfast Nachos from A Calculated Whisk + Over 63 Whole30 Dinner Recipes | TheRoastedRoot.net

Fish & Seafood:

Mahi Mahi en Papillote + Whole 30 Recipes

Soup/Stew/Chili:

Carrot Soup with Tangled Collard Greens and Dukkah + Whole 30 Recipes

Vegetarian/Vegan:

Crunchy Quinoa Power Bowl with Almond Dressing + Whole30 Recipes

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Comments

  1. Becky Winkler (A Calculated Whisk)

    YES! I so needed this today. I’m doing a Whole30 this month and have been trolling around the web for recipe inspiration all afternoon–now I have plenty! Also, thank you so much for including my Bolognese & swoodles 😉 Happy New Year!

  2. Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health

    I’m so glad you clarified the difference between Paleo and the Whole 30 because I always thought they were the same. However, I was confused about the nut butter and quinoa sitch since I know some people eat those. Now I know! 🙂

    Thanks so much for including me, love! Cheers to clean guts!

  3. Izzy @ she likes food

    Happy New Year, Julia!! I hope you had a great Christmas! I wasn’t too bad this year so I don’t think I have too much cleansing that needs to be done but I am always looking for more healthy meal options so this is great! Thank you so much for including one of mine in here! I hope your 2016 is off to a great start! 🙂

  4. Erin @ The Speckled Palate

    What a fantastic list of Whole 30 meals! I’ve never done that, but all this food looks FANTASTIC, and I’d totally be down to eating most, if not all of these things, during the month of January as a nice little reset for my body!

    Thanks for including my Steak and Sweet Pepper Salad in the list, too!

  5. Faith (An Edible Mosaic)

    This is fabulous! There’s so much great information and inspiration here. My hubby just shocked me the other day by telling me he wants to eat low-carb. He basically means primal (because he still eats cheese and legumes), but I’m planning to fit in as many paleo/Whole30 meals as I can. There are so many things here I think he’d love! And thanks so much for including me!

    1. Julia Post author

      Kudos to your man! Primal is definitely more doable, at least for me – beans + cheese = life! 😉 Many blessings to you in the New Year and thank you for all that you do! Edible Mosaic is such an inspiration! xoxo

  6. Kaylee Yarrington

    Hello! So, I am currently on my 3rd Whole30 (#JanuaryWhole30), but I noticed a lot of these recipes include quinoa in the title?!

    I am not sure where quinoa and other pseudo-grains fit in to the Paleo lifestyle, but in regards to Whole30, quinoa isn’t allowed.

    Here is the link to a helpful post by those at Whole 30 with the debts.

    Just wanted y’all to know!

    http://whole30.com/2013/06/the-official-can-i-have-guide-to-the-whole30/

    Happy eating!
    Kaylee

  7. MLXHovis

    For those reading this and interested in doing Whole30, please note that peanuts are not a part of the program. I’m almost done with my first and I am loving it. Cravings are gone and I feel fantastic. I think I will likely adopt a more paleo-like diet once it’s over. It’s very very difficult and time consuming to completely eliminate any form of sugar from your diet. It is everywhere! This program has been extremely eye opening and a life changer.

  8. Olivia

    I’m very confused by this list. Many of the ingredients listed in the recipes are not on the Whole30. It’s a great list for clean eating, but not Whole30.

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