Simplified Dinners, even the gluten-and-dairy-free edition, is far from Whole30 compliant, yet I am still using many of the meals from it in my whole30 plan. Simplified Dinners is written to be flexible, and this month I will be proving how flexible it can be. Sure, I’ll be skipping pizzas and bean pots, but I can make a stir fry without rice, leave the beans out of the soup, and eat fajita topping with more peppers and onions and no tortilla or sour cream. You don’t need a whole new, special “Whole30 approved” recipe for any of that. It’s just normal dinner cooking without the starch, or beans, or dairy, or soy sauce, or … well, I’m getting sad now, but the point is that it’s possible.
Simplified Dinners gives you the idea and the backbone, but lets you create a dish based on what you have on hand and what your personal tastes or dietary restrictions are.
I know it is unconventional to have “recipes” without giving specific amounts – and often not even ratios – for ingredients. It startles people and it baffles many, and I’ve issued refunds for people who just can’t wrap their minds around cooking “freehand.” But doing it that way makes it clear that you can make it how you want it. Rather than being the servant of the recipe, compelled to follow it as the master, you are the master who can use the recipe – or not – as you like.
Here’s an example of a recipe from Simplified Dinners and how I’ll be adjusting it for Whole30:
Simplified Dinners, Whole30-style
You’d think all the pasta dinners would be forbidden, right? But what if we just saute up zucchini, peppers, and onions and serve the pasta sauce on top of that? Would that work? There are six pasta variations in Simplified Dinners:
- Sausage Penne: Well, this would work just fine if you can find Whole30 sausage (no sugar used). Good luck. Let me know if you find any at a normal grocery store.
- Quick & Easy Spaghetti: Totally works; just leave off the Parmesan cheese on top.
- Clam Penne: Check to make sure the canned clams don’t have soy in the broth. Use olive oil instead of butter. Instead of a roux, just reduce the broth and add a splash of chicken broth instead of cream (it will take longer and be richer and not quite so thick).
- Stroganoff: You could serve this over broccoli instead of zucchini and it’d be delicious! Of course don’t add butter or Worcestershire sauce or wine soy sauce or sour cream. Instead, use 2 cups or more of beef broth and reduce it by half. I might try a squirt of balsamic vinegar or tomato paste.
- Chicken Alfredo: Sure, it won’t be creamy, but you can replace the roux & dairy with chicken broth and just let it reduce by at least half and it will still make a yummy dish! I bet it will be yummier than trying to make cashew cream.
- Asian Penne: Well, it won’t have soy, so maybe it’s not-so-Asian, but you can still make it with broth and leave off the forbidden ingredients.
See, you don’t need totally new and special recipes. You can simply adapt. Cooking is art and it’s ok to try your hand at it without a paint-by-numbers kit that a super-specific recipe provides.
So, even the normal edition of Simplified Dinners, the one that assumes dairy and grains, can be adjusted, amended, and still useful for Whole30 cooking. Most of the roast recipes (and that entire page is free in the Simplified Dinners sample) and the marinades are compliant with Whole30; a couple do call for sugar or soy sauce, but guess what? Just leave it out. It’ll be ok. It’ll be less sweet, but it’s not going to ruin anything. Maybe you’ll even discover you like it that way!
I start posting pictures of everything I am eating on Whole30 on Wednesday! You can sign up to get those pictures delivered by email for free every morning, too: