Whole30, a monthlong elimination diet geared toward identifying how certain foods affect your body, was not something that appealed to me when I first read about it. No sugar. No booze. No grains. No beans. No gluten. No dairy. No fun, it seemed.
But when cookbook author and blogger Adrianna Adarme said she was trying Whole30, that's when I paid attention. Adarme is someone I've followed for a long time, and I know she loves to eat. If she could do it, maybe I could, too. She's a creative recipe developer and frequently shares layer cakes and pies on her blog, A Cozy Kitchen. After a holiday season of countless pies, she needed a break. A reset. So did I.
Two weeks in, I felt great. But Adarme's nickname for the elimination diet, Hell30, rings true at times. Whole30 calls for several dietary restrictions, including foods I regularly eat as part of a healthy diet: legumes and grains.
I found a pretty good daily rhythm with Whole30, but the hardest thing about it was hanging out with friends and family while sticking to the rules. So much of my social life revolves around food and drinks.
As I got deeper into Whole30, I wondered, could I still share a meal with friends while seeing this thing through? The answer is yes. Just have your friends over to your place.
My husband and I now have a weekly wing night. Baked chicken wings are seasoned with Old Bay spice mix one week and a simple lime, salt and pepper seasoning the next. This can easily translate to having friends over for dinner, especially if we cook the wings and other vegetables on the grill. Gin and tonics for friends if they'd like. Club soda or LaCroix with lime for me and my husband.
Adarme inspired me again recently by sharing a few compliant recipes she developed. Her chicken picatta coated in almond meal quickly became a staple. In my favorite version, I added marinated artichokes and cauliflower rice to the pan sauce to create a whole meal. It's an easy weeknight dish or a fantastic casual dinner to share with friends. Adarme's harissa meatballs served over spaghetti squash fit the same bill.
For a dinner party, her Peruvian-ish Pot Roast With Silky-Smooth Cauliflower Puree will impress those on Whole30 and those who don't know what it is. The meat is fork-tender and the mashed cauliflower makes for a surprisingly rich companion. A spicy parsley sauce keeps everything bright and irresistible. Bacon-wrapped dates would make a great starter.
There's still no sugar and no booze for a couple more weeks, but fun? It's possible.
Ileana Morales Valentine can be reached at email@example.com.