Whole30 dishes fit for the whole family

The Defined Dish by Alex Snodgrass.
The Defined Dish by Alex Snodgrass.

The "Whole30 endorsed" sticker on the cover isn't what motivated me to delve into Dallas blogger Alex Snodgrass's "The Defined Dish: Healthy and Wholesome Weeknight Recipes" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30).

I happened to flip to the recipe for Cajun Sheet-Pan Shrimp “Boil” and its gorgeous accompanying photo displaying all the ingredients for this classic Lowcountry feast roasted together on one pan. I also happened to have everything I needed to make the dish. I couldn’t have cared less about the symbols that marked it gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, paleo-friendly and Whole30-compatible. It just looked and sounded delicious, and fully lived up to its expectations.

If you're not familiar, the Whole30 program involves eliminating all sugar, grains, dairy, alcohol, soy, legumes and processed foods from your diet for 30 days to identify substances that may be adversely affecting your well-being. What's left is animal protein, vegetables, healthy fats and some fruit. Snodgrass took the challenge as a new mom suffering from post-partum anxiety. Amazed by her returned vitality, she vowed to incorporate its clean-eating principles into a healthy lifestyle that made room for indulgence.

Snodgrass developed bold-flavored recipes (Greek Salad with Lamb Meatballs, Nashville Un-Fried Hot Chicken with Easy Collard Greens, Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai) for Whole30-compliant family dinners that are appealing enough to be enjoyed by all. She relies on only a handful of staples you may not already have on hand for Whole30-friendly modifications: ghee instead of stick butter; arrowroot starch or almond flour in place of wheat flour; coconut aminos as a soy sauce substitute. You are free to cheat as you please.

I did not feel remotely deprived eating Brussels Sprout Salad with Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette: a mixture of shaved Brussels sprouts, baby arugula, apple slices, and dried cranberries fortified with shredded rotisserie chicken, walnuts and (optional) goat cheese. It was packed with flavor and nutrition, and the leftovers were sturdy enough to hold up for another meal the next day.

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.

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