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My Essential Foods and Ingredients for Whole30 & Healthy Eating

My Essential Foods and Ingredients for Whole30 & Healthy Eating
My Essential Foods and Ingredients for Whole30 & Healthy Eating

In June 2016, I attempted the Whole30 challenge. Read about my experience here and find 30 days of meal ideas here.

I quickly learned that, while Whole30 and eating paleo can be expensive, time-consuming, and complicated, it doesn’t have to be, especially when I figured out what ingredients and food to always keep on hand.

Here are ingredients and foods that were essential during Whole30 and are now key to me eating healthfully, especially when life gets busy or marathon-training hunger strikes.

Going grocery shopping? Download a PDF list of my Whole30 food essentials here,


Healthy Fats: Sunflower seed, cashew, or almond butter or tahini

Helpful Hints:

During Whole30, I made my own sunflower seed butter but did not find it saved me that much money. It definitely didn’t save me any time! Generally, I purchase sunflower seed butter and cashew butter at Whole Foods (the 365 Brand) and tahini at No Frills.

What to use it for:

Healthy Fats: Coconut oil and coconut butter

Helpful Hints:

My friend Karen introduced me to the wonder that is coconut butter. I was staying at her apartment and dog-sitting, and came across a jar of coconut butter in the cupboard. I don’t think there was much left in that jar when she returned! Coconut butter or coconut “manna” includes the meat and dried flesh of the coconut, while coconut oil does not. The butter is thick and solid, while the oil is usually liquid.

Either are incredibly satiating and are said to have a number of health benefits: aid in weight loss, improve digestion, improve your skin, and so much more. I have even used coconut oil as eye makeup remover!

What to use coconut oil for: 

What to use coconut butter for: 

  • Delicious served with chopped fresh fruit as dessert: it has a natural sweetness to it and is great for crushing those sugar cravings
  • Mix into grain-free breakfast porridge: it works best with warmer dishes, as it will melt. If you mix coconut butter smoothies, chia pudding, overnight oats, etc. it may harden into a clump.
  • Eat a spoonful on its own
  • More ideas: 25 Ways to Use Coconut Butter


Healthy Fats and Protein: Whole Eggs and Egg Whites

Eggs have become a staple of my diet, especially for someone who wants to eat paleo but does not want to eat a lot of meat.

What to use eggs and egg whites for: 

Healthy Fats: Avocado 

What to use it for: 


Grain Replacements: Cauliflower and Zucchini 

Helpful Hints:

Eating paleo or Whole30 does not mean you do not eat any carbs. I eat plenty of sweet potatoes, squash, fruits and vegetables, and dates, especially while marathon training. However, it can be daunting when you are no longer eating grains. Cauliflower chopped in the food processor and shredded zucchini or zucchini noodles are great substitutes for pasta noodles, oatmeal, and more.

What to use it for: 

Soy Replacement: Coconut Aminos

Helpful Hints

On Whole30, you are not allowed to eat soy or fermented soy products. Instead of soy sauce or tamari, you can use Coconut Aminos. It is made from coconut sap, is low in calories, soy-free and gluten-free, and similar in taste to soy sauce or tamari (dark, rich, salty, and slightly sweet).

What to use it for: 


Non-Dairy Milks: Coconut, Cashew, Almond, Hemp 

Helpful Hints

Make your own nut milk or purchase at Whole Foods or your local health food store. Choose the unsweetened and unflavoured versions and try to avoid versions with unnecessary additives, like carrageenan.

Running Fuel Replacements: Dates, Nakd Bars

Helpful Hints

This is still a work in process, as I began to build my mileage for marathon number 2 in October (follow my training here). So far, I have eaten 1 Nakd Bar throughout my 10-13 mile long runs. We will see what works as I get up there in mileage! During my first marathon, I really noticed a positive difference taking gels, particularly those with caffeine.

Other Essentials

  • Sweet potato
  • Squash
  • Chicken breasts
  • Chicken thighs
  • Raw nuts and seeds
  • Canned tuna
  • Lean ground beef or turkey
  • Greens
  • Variety of vegetables
  • Sauerkraut
  • Hot sauce
  • Variety of fruits: bananas, frozen berries, apples, peaches
  • Nut butter packets
  • Chia and hemp seeds
  • Ground flax
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Sparkling water (La Croix, Perrier)

Download a PDF list of my Whole30 food essentials here.


Next, I’ll share my essential Whole30 and healthy eating kitchen appliances and supplies.

What foods do you always have in your grocery cart?


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