I started Whole30 three weeks ago, and I'm already feeling the difference. I feel more energized, I'm sleeping better, and my skin has been looking great. The last three weeks haven't been easy, however, especially when it comes to social events. The dietary restrictions involved in the program (no dairy, no sugar, no legumes, no grains, no alcohol) force you to think ahead when it comes to dining out and eating with friends. It's a little easier at restaurants, where you can check out the menu ahead of time to make sure you have options or could politely ask for some minimal substitutions if allowed.
It's a little trickier when it comes to dinner parties. You can make sure the hosts are aware of your diet, come having eaten just in case, or you could just take control and host your own dinner party. I recently decided on the latter option. I really wanted to prove to myself that I could host a delicious and satisfying Whole30-compliant dinner party. Here's how the whole thing went.
Here's What I Served
I had a few friends over, served wine (but didn't indulge in it myself), and put together a menu with the following recipes, with a few alterations.
1. Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing from Fresh Exchange
I started with this salad recipe, added some arugula, and subtracted the honey to make it Whole30-compliant. Tahini has become one of my staple ingredients during Whole30. It adds a delicious creaminess and nuttiness to everything it touches.
2. Vegan Pesto Spaghetti Squash from Minimalist Baker
In my experience, one spaghetti squash as a side dish can feed at least four people. All you have to do for a healthy, fiber-rich, low-calorie pasta substitute is scoop out the seeds, stick it in the oven to roast at the beginning of your meal prep, scoop out the "spaghetti," and then mix with pesto.
Read more: How To Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Oven
This recipe has you make the pesto from scratch, but I suggest prepping your pesto ahead of time and keeping it in a jar in the fridge for a quick-and-easy hit of flavor in this and other dishes.
3. Roasted Curried Cauliflower from Summer Tomato
All you need for this recipe is cauliflower, curry, salt, olive oil, and an oven. Because it's so simple and cauliflower holds up well against a variety of spices, feel free to experiment. Try throwing some paprika, black pepper, or cumin in there too. I added broccoli to this recipe as well for a little color.
4. Easy Oven-Roasted Potatoes from Taste of Lizzy T's
The great thing about potatoes is that you can just throw them in the oven at the beginning of meal prep and forget about them as they turn crispy and golden-brown while you concentrate on your main course. Plus, they're filling and inexpensive.
5. Tahini Turkey Burger from Whole30 Recipes
I can't say it enough: Tahini is your best friend. In lieu of breadcrumbs, tahini helps this turkey burger stick together and adds another dimension of flavor. I got creative with this recipe and threw in some chopped onions, sweet peppers, and mushrooms with the ground turkey as well. Keep in mind that these ingredients add moisture and make the burger more likely to fall apart, so you can also add in an egg like I did to help keep it together.
This recipe has you serve the burger on a slice of tomato, but if you're making it with the other recipes I've listed, you can also make them smaller, into meatballs, and serve them on top off the spaghetti squash.
Here's How the Party Went
I can't say that my guests, none of whom were on Whole30 themselves, were surprised that their meal was Whole30, only because I kept reminding them that they were about to experience a delicious Whole30 meal. What I can say, though, is that they were stuffed. I was nervous that I wouldn't cook enough, or that I'd have a mutiny on my hands and everyone would demand bread and beans. But I got a lot of compliments on the food, and we were too full to even consider dessert. We even had leftovers!
Better yet, I surprised myself by being okay with not drinking. Wine and friendship, when mixed together, cast a glow around the whole room. Even if I'm not drinking, it still feels nice to pour a glass for someone else and focus on enjoying other parts of the dining experience. I'm not sure if this dinner party got anyone to convert to Whole30 (yet), but when it comes to a Whole30-compliant dinner party, remember this: It can — and should — be done.