Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth nutrition, fitness and adventure courses, and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+..
Food blogger Alex Snodgrass first tried Whole30 in 2015 to drop baby weight from her two pregnancies. And the results extended well beyond her whittled waistline. “I found it helped me in so many ways, more than just feeling lean,” says the recipe developer and food stylist, 32. “Eating cleaner foods without a doubt makes me function better on a cognitive level. I definitely think sugar triggers my anxiety the most, so cutting back on alcohol and sugar-infused foods are what is best for me.
“I found that Whole30 set off a chain reaction: I realized how important it was for me as a mother to tend to my own personal needs. Paying attention to the foods I ate spurred me to take the time to work out and do so much more for me. It was very liberating and eye-opening.”
Her insights pepper The Defined Dish: Whole30 Endorsed, Healthy and Wholesome Weeknight Recipes, her new cookbook of mostly Whole30- and Paleo-compliant recipes. This essential guide for those who’ve completed Whole30 reintroduces wholesome ingredients such as legumes, tortillas, and yogurt in savory dishes. And she serves up plenty of healthy and fun, too!
BN: Which dairy- and gluten-free pantry staples do you use most?
AS: For gluten-and grain-free substitutes, I love arrowroot starch as a thickener, cassava flour as a flour substitute, and tapioca as a breading. I also love brown rice pasta. For dairy-free, there’s nothing better than Nutpods Original Creamer. You can use it in place of coconut milk to avoid that overpowering coconut flavor.
BN: How did you manage to make a Whole30-compliant Hot and Sour Soup?
AS: Making a Whole30 Hot and Sour Soup is like teaching pigs to fly. It’s hard to make a soup compliant when its classic ingredients include soy sauce, cornstarch, sriracha, and tofu. I focused on using compliant ingredients (such as rice vinegar, Red Boat fish sauce, and coconut aminos) to create similar tangy and sweet flavors that make you feel like you are enjoying Hot and Sour Soup without the MSG. I am really happy with the final product!
BN: How have your Texas roots and Italian heritage influenced these recipes?
AS: You’ll see my Texas roots shine in my “Southern Charms” chapter, which features southern, soulful classics (think Whole30 Chicken Fried Steak with Cauliflower Gravy and Easy Skillet Cauliflower Rice Jambalaya), as well as my “Tacos Y Mas” chapter that’s filled with the Tex-Mex-inspired dishes I grew up eating. My mom is also half-Italian, and I grew up enjoying her family staples. I’ve taken the Italian influence from my mom and grandmother and re-created cleaner versions of my favorites.
BN: What ingredients go into your Cleaned Up Foods for Kids?
AS: I like to share cleaned-up versions of the foods I grew up loving to eat—think pizza bagel bites, Hamburger Helper, and grain-free chicken nuggets. Most of these are gluten-free and dairy-free, or easily modified to be.
BN: How does your mantra “Nourish. Not Punish.” help keep you on track?
AS: I think the term “balance” is just a word, not something we can accomplish. To be in perfect harmony 100 percent of the time is an old wives’ tale. My mantra of “Nourish. Not Punish” reminds me to never dive into the yo-yo diet culture and to embrace living a little. We all have busy times in our lives where we might eat and drink more than we would really like to. We all travel and experience the joy of vacation, and we all just live a little in general. Punishing ourselves for that is the worst path that we can take ourselves on. I like to be more forgiving and understanding of those decisions and choose to come home and heal myself with nourishing, filling foods rather than punishing myself for the “unruly” behavior.
Win a copy of The Defined Dish! We have 5 copies of up for grabs. Email your name and address to email@example.com. Put “Dish” in the subject line.