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AIP baking is a tricking thing, and even more of an exact science than regular baking, so you’ll have heard me say many times in the the AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group that I do NOT recommend substitutions in AIP baking! You can read more on the topic in my article Substitutions in AIP Cooking & Baking) so you understand why this is so important.

That said, many AIP recipes call for gelatin or agar agar powder or gelatin eggs, or if you’ve found a paleo recipe it may call for a flax or chia egg!  All of this can be quite confusing, especially since some of them require that you make a gelatin egg separately and others just have you adding gelatin to the mix.

So, what’s the breaking news on AIP egg replacements (see what I did there)? And, can’t I just use the egg replacements available at the grocery store? Here are the answers you’ve been looking for!

The Purpose of Eggs in Baking

Eggs are used for several reasons in baking; binding (holding things together like meatloaf and meatballs – this is the job of the whites), leavening (rising and creating a light fluffy texture – this is the job of the yolk), for moisture and also for flavor and appearance (often aids in browning).

Can we cook and bake with out them? Absolutely! 

Will the replacements yield perfect results? No – unfortunately there is nothing that will ever perfectly replace an egg! BUT we can get pretty darn deliciously close! 

Things to consider:

Binding – You’ll find that most meatloaf and meatball recipes work perfectly well without eggs, or maybe you just need to add a little mashed veg in as an alternate binder. 

Leavening – You’ll find many AIP baking recipes call for cream of tartar – this is a leavening agent and should never be omitted from a recipe just because you don’t have it – the results will literally be a flop.

Moisture & Appearance – Most AIP recipes make up for eggs in other ways, and recipe creators go to great lengths to ensure the the dishes they’re presenting look and taste as close to traditional recipes as possible – so don’t mess with a good thing – follow the AIP recipes folks!  If you haven’t checked out the post I suggested, here it is again – Substitutions in AIP Cooking & Baking.

Commercial Egg Replacements

Let’s start here since this would be considered the path of least resistance and most enticing for some.

The reason why we don’t use these is the ingredients -most contain grain potato starch, corn starch, guar gum and the like. So, sorry folks, this option just doesn’t work.

Apple Sauce, Mashed Bananas, Pumpkin & Avocado

Next we’ll move on to old, traditional favorite substitutions that our mothers and grandmothers would have used. In general I don’t see a lot of AIP baked opting for these substitutes now-a-days – most AIP recipe creators have moved on to something a little more shall we say, egg-like! However, before we go there …

Mashed fruits like bananas and avocado, apple sauce and pumpkin/squash puree can often be a good substitute for an egg in recipe. It’s really very subjective though and you must decide on a recipe by recipe basis what is most suitable.  Overall however, these options work best in cakes, muffins and brownies.

Whichever of these options you choose to use, you can replace each egg with 1/4 cup (65 grams) of purée.

Baked goods made with puréed fruits may not brown as deeply, but they will be very dense and moist.

Be aware that banana will obviously give you more of a banana flavor, so if you want something neutral – try some of the others instead

Agar-Agar & Gelatin

Before we dive in, I will tell you that while neither of these replacements should affect the flavor of your finished product, they may create a slightly stiffer texture. Unfortunately, nothing can replicate the egg exactly.

Gelatin

Gelatin eggs are probably the most commonly suggested egg substitute that you’ll see in recipes. If you’ve made one before, you’ll know why – it’s very close to the texture and viscosity of egg whites. Neither of these replacements should affect the flavor of your finished product, but they may create a slightly stiffer texture.

When it comes to gelatin, quality matters – be sure to use gelatin made from grass-fed / pasture-raised animals (pigs and/or cows – you can find quality gelatin brands here).

METHOD #1:

While there are several ways to make a gelatin egg, this is my favorite and it’s never failed me yet!

1 Tbsp Gelatin
1/4 Cup Water
Add water to a small pot and sprinkle the gelatin over top.
Allow to sit for 2-3 minutes until the mixture hardens somewhat.
Place the post on a burner set to low heat for 1-2 minutes until the gelatin starts to melt. Be careful not to burn it! I usually stand by and start immediately whisking it.
Remove the pot from the heat and vigorously whisk until the mixture becomes frothy.

METHOD #2:

To replace one egg, dissolve 1 tablespoon (about 9 grams) of unflavored gelatin in 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of cold water. Then, mix in 2 tablespoons (30 grams) of boiling water until frothy.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE on gelatin: Just because you see a recipe calls for gelatin, it does not mean you will necessarily mean that you will go through the process of making a gelatin egg separately before adding it to the recipe. Follow the instructions as set out in the recipe you’re using for best results. IF the recipe indicates you are using gelatin and water to make a gelatin egg, follow those directions carefully as there are different ways to make a gelatin egg and the specific method recommended may yield better results in that particular recipe.

Agar Agar

If you’re avoiding animal products (though on the AIP you really shouldn’t be – read my article about that – Can the AIP Be Done As a Vegetarian?), you can opt for agar-agar powder or flakes. Agar agar is a vegan alternative to gelatin and is made from a type of seaweed or algae – you can find it here.

I’ve seen different suggestions for how to make an agar agar egg, so you’re going to be best to follow the instructions carefully in any recipe that you find if it calls for agar agar. Again, similar to gelatin, each recipe creator may have very specific reasons for using more or less water in the mix.

That said, here is the information I’ve found for you about making an agar agar egg!

METHOD #1:

Dissolve 1 teaspoon (approximately 4 grams) of agar-agar powder in 1 tablespoon of water to replace one egg.
To dissolve, first sprinkle the powder over the liquid, allow to rest for 5 minutes and then warm to 90 C over medium heat on the stove top.
Using a whisk, whip the agar mixture well to help dissolve, then refrigerate for 15 minutes and whip again. Add the agar to the baking mixture as the last ingredient and mix to just combine, do not overwork the mixture.

METHOD #2:

Use 1 tablespoon (9 grams) of agar-agar powder mixed with 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of water to replace one egg.
NOTE: If you have agar-agar flakes, be sure to grind them into a fine powder first as this will make a difference.

Vinegar & Baking Soda

I haven’t seen this one used all that much in AIP baking, but have heard of some using it successfully.

When mixed together, vinegar and baking soda start a chemical reaction that produces carbon dioxide and water, which makes baked goods light and airy, making this an especially good option for cakes and cupcakes.

Mixing 1 teaspoon (7 grams) of baking soda with 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of apple cider vinegar can replace one egg in most recipes.

Arrowroot Powder

I’ll admit to never having heard of this used as a specific egg replacement, but it very likely is that our AIP recipes employe these ingredients without us even realizing it!  I can’t say this would be my go-to of choices by any means if I were simply trying to substitute an egg in any recipe. 

A mixture of 2 tablespoons (about 18 grams) of arrowroot powder and 3 tablespoons (45 grams) of water can be used to replace one egg.

Carbonated Water

Carbonated water will obviously add moisture to a recipe, but it also acts as a leavening agent since the carbonation traps air bubbles, which help make the finished product light and fluffy.

You can replace each egg with one-fourth cup (60 grams) of carbonated water and the substitution is said to works well for cakes, cupcakes and quick breads. Again – I suggest sticking to AIP expert tested/created recipes rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.

Flax & Chia Eggs

While these are a wonderful Paleo option in baking going forward, if you’re on the AIP and still in the elimination stage, this option simply isn’t suitable for you.

BUT, if you’ve reintroduced these, here’s how to make them:

To replace one egg, whisk together 1 tablespoon (7 grams) of ground chia or flaxseeds with 3 tablespoons (45 grams) of water until fully absorbed and thickened.

Doing so may cause baked goods to become heavy and dense. Also, it may result in a nuttier flavor, so it works best in products like pancakes, waffles, muffins, breads and cookies.

Resource: Healthline – Effective Substitutes for Eggs

 

 

 

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When you’re on the AIP you’re likely doing a lot more cooking than usual. You’re probably batch cooking, and meal prepping for the freezer, but what’s the best way to store all of this delicious food? Does it matter what we use? Need the 4-1-1 on food storage basics? You’ve come to the right place!

Since we’re trying to live a toxin-free life on the AIP to give our bodies the fighting chance they need to heal, it’s a good idea to consider what you’re using for food storage. There are a lot of opinions out there about plastics, BPA-Free options, silicone and more (read more about why we should avoid plastics here). For me, I kick it old school as much as possible – zero waste, sustainable living, lovable, reusable glass! 

Since I get asked a LOT about food storage, and especially about how to safely use glass jars in the freezer, that is the main focus of this article – I hope it helps!

Planning Tips:

The first pointer that I’m going to offer is a bit of a warning – batch cooking can be exhausting – especially in the beginning when you’re really not feeling well, so try to pick a day when you’re feeling up to it. Better yet have a friend or family member jump in to help you tag-team it. And it doesn’t have to be all about you – you can work together to create a bunch of delicious options so that they go home with food to stock their fridge and freezer too. Many hands make light work.

My second pointer – don’t go overboard if you don’t have the space to store it all! I’ve done this before when I was feeling super ambitious, I cooked way more than I needed for a week or two and found my fridge stuffed to the brim and I didn’t really want to store much of what I’d made in the freezer because it wasn’t all that freezer friendly. So, evaluate the space you have and choose recipes to prep according to where and how you plan to store it.

The third pointer is to have your containers ready! There’s nothing worse than batch cooking and then scrambling to find suitable food storage to put it all in. Plan ahead for this. If you’ve never batch cooked before you might need to consider investing in some quality meal containers. Glass if obviously the gold standard, safest method for storing food, and there are some awesome options on the market these days that make prepping a breeze (check out some of my faves in my shopping resources – click here). If you can’t afford to buy new containers, save up any glass jars you have from store-bought items or check a local thrift store, I know our family donates a lot of glass mason jars when we simply get overwhelmed by the amount we have on hand. If you’re lucky enough to score some of those, your investment will be minimal in that you’ll just need to buy some new lids.

Zero Waste Storage Containers Freezer Storage AIP

Practical Tips – Glass Jars #1:

Super … You’re all set! 

Now, you may have heard horror stories of using glass jars in the freezer, am I right? I had heard stories too, but was always fortunate enough not to have any issues … leave enough space at the top of the jar for expansion and you’re good to go! Well …. not always! Even if you manage to freeze them without breaking, they can still break during thawing.

Eventually, my luck ran out. When I started freezing bone broth I ran into troubles and there were tears shed over bone broth lost. I attribute some of my issues to using inappropriate jars and the fact that my upright freezer has coils in the shelves … so I’ve gotten a little smarter about all this.

For me, I’m usually just freezing liquids in jars – sauces, soup, broth, stew and maybe shepherd’s pie. Freezing liquids can be tricky, so here are a few practical tips:

  1. The Jar – the wider the jar the better. Try to avoid tall skinny jars, and if possible use wide-mouth jars without “shoulders” (that just means that the jar is straight from bottom to top and it does not get smaller as it approaches the opening).
  2. Filling The Jar – only fill it 3/4 of the way full or less to ensure you allow plenty of room for expansion as the contents freeze and expand.
  3. Position – always freeze jars standing up.
  4. Freezer Considerations – if you have an upright freezer with freezer coils in the shelves, consider placing your jars in a shallow plastic container until they have frozen successfully. I started doing this just in case they broke so there would be something to catch the liquid, but in actual fact I think the barrier between the glass and the coils made a difference.
  5. Temperature – ALWAYS ensure your liquid is completely cooled before attempting to freeze. Some say allowing them to come to room temperature is sufficient, but I usually err on the side of caution and refrigerate them first until completely cold.
  6. Thawing – NEVER try to thaw quickly! SLOW and STEADY wins this race! Ideally you should remove your frozen jar to the refrigerator for a few hours – NEVER place jars straight from the freezer into hot water – breakage is almost guaranteed!  Plan ahead and thaw slowing in the fridge and then the counter top – that’s your best bet.

Practical Tips – Glass Jars #2:

AIP Food storage, glass jar, pesto

My favorite wide mouth jars with frozen pesto cubes!

Another way to use glass jars for freezer storage is to first pre-freeze your liquids in ice cube trays or silicone trays that hold more. Once your liquids are frozen you pop them out of the trays and into glass jars and you should have no problem putting your jars straight in the freezer.

This method is great for freezing things like pesto, sauces and bone broth since it allows you to easily portion out what you need instead of having to thaw a whole jar of food. Think about the number of times you need a cup of broth or a few tablespoons of sauce! Dispensing a few cubes from a jar also allows you to thaw them more quickly in a safe container or by popping them right into the dish you’re cooking.

Glass Storage Containers:

There are plenty of larger, shallow options for storing all kinds of food available these days. There are even containers that have sections so you can portion out a complete meal but keep items separate. Containers like this are great for meal prepping and are typically thicker and more sturdy than a glass jar. While you should still proceed with caution when freezing and thawing these containers, you’ll likely have fewer concerns since you’ll probably not be storing liquids but rather solid food and there will be lots of air gaps for expansion. Follow the directions that come with your containers and you should be just fine!

How Long Is My Food Safe & How Should I Store It?

Since you know I’m not one for re-writing well presented material, I’m simply going to direct you to this article by Autoimmune Wellness AIP Food Storage Basics – these tips will help you figure out how long food should stay fresh and safe and where you should store it. Because, let’s face it, on the AIP we don’t want to waste any precious ingredients – I know a lot of us are on a budget! 

For more about managing the AIP on a Budget, read my post here.

 
From time to time the topic of essential oils comes up in the AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group, and I’m always quick to shut the conversation down because it typically turns into a debate or a sales pitch from someone trying to grow their network. That said, I don’t want to leave you hanging on the topic and will provide my take on the topic here. (NOTE: I do not sell essential oils and I am in no way affiliated with any essential oils companies.)
 
Let me begin by saying that I have absolutely no doubt about the power of essential oils! I LOVE them and wholeheartedly agree that they can have a huge impact on our health. My husband I have personally seen the benefits in our lives using them for inhalation, aromatherapy and topical application.
 
It’s really only when it comes to the topic of ingesting essential oils that I really get a little worked up.
 
In my opinion there are too many folks out there selling essential oils and recommending them as “safe for internal use” and claiming that you simply need to make sure they’re 100% pure or food grade quality. I beg you please, consider factual research by completely independent, third-party outsiders rather than the opinions of someone trying to sell you essential oils – that is the only way you will get an honest answer about whether this practice is truly safe or not.
 

When I first began using essential oils, I avoided the big multi-level marketing companies – first, because of the price of their oils and secondly because I wanted a real education about essential oil and not just a superficial understanding of what to use in a diffuser, cleaning or personal products. In my research, I came across Aromahead Institute and quickly realized that these folks are the real deal, and I don’t hesitate to refer people to them for sound advice.

Internal Use/Ingestion

The following is a compilation of snippets from my research on the topic of essential oils for internal use/ingestion (click each link to read the full source article).  Let me lead with this spoiler alert from Dr. Sarah Ballantyne:

“If its from an edible thing that you want the benefits from,
just eat the thing!”

“Internal use requires knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and the chemistry of essential oils. Oils should be used via the skin and inhalation until you understand the potential interaction of drugs and essential oils, know the safe oils to use (the safety issues are different for skin and internal use), and know the right dose and route of application appropriate for internal use.  Internal use also requires an understanding of pharmacokinetics–effects of the body on the oil, how the body metabolizes the oil and eliminates it, and what organs might be effected.  It sounds complicated because it is—and that’s why we don’t widely recommend internal use.”
  • Safely ingesting certain essential oils is wrought with caveats and debate, and it’s not recommended without guidance from a trained herbalist. “The whole purpose of distilling the aromatic components [from plants] was because we wanted to capture their smell,” says Amy Galper, aromatherapist and co-founder of the New York Institute of Aromatic Studies. “We understood the power of aroma [to affect] our mind, our spiritual life, and our physical health.” Ingesting, therefore, is outside of boundaries of essential oils’ intended use—enough reason to proceed with caution.  … Essential oils may be natural, but that doesn’t mean they’re inherently safe. “The molecules and chemical constituents that make up essential oils are irritating to mucous membrane tissue,” Galper says. Swallowing essential oils can burn the mucosa in your mouth, esophagus, gut lining, and beyond in the digestive tract.
  • Dr. Lin says, “I usually caution people against taking it orally is because it’s a really strong medicine…You can take too much, too quickly without realizing it. And that can become toxic. Nausea, stomach pain and neurological discomfort like nerve pain and numbness can also occur, especially if you take too much. Like any kind of medicine, it can affect different people in different ways, too.”
  • Moral of the story: It’s possible to ingest essential oils safely, but it’s complex and should always be done under the guidance of a trained herbalist.  A professional will know which oils are safe and work with you to administer correct, non-toxic doses.

– Source:  Well and Good – An Aromatherapist & MD Weigh in on Essential Oils

  • Phytochemicals can be anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti-angiogenic (prevent the formation of blood vessels, great for fighting tumors), apoptosis (helps cells dies), anti-allergy, anti-mutagenic, anti-microbial, insect repellents, etc.
  • BUT they are cytotoxic: they rupture membranes and cause cells to die. So they ARE NOT SPECIFIC to bad microbes! They’ll kill your friends in your gut! NOT GOOD!
  • Terpenes are damaging to the liver. That’s also NOT GOOD!
  • They may also cause a leaky gut.
  • Drinking essentially oils is not a great idea.
  • There are some essential oil compounds that are more specific, and effective to kill influenza and E. coli, Staphylococcus, etc. BUT some kill the good’uns.
  • Ingesting is complicated! There are many interesting studies, but lots of pros and cons. We don’t know everything that these properties do!
  • If you want these effects, just eat the whole food! 
  • Only use oral consumption with the supervision of a doctor who knows what they are doing.
  • The science is not very strong for most purported benefits (of ingestion). Most papers indicate that we need more research. But, really, if its from an edible thing that you want the benefits from, just eat the thing.

– Source:  The Paleo Mom Podcast – What’s the Deal with Essential Oils

You should bear in mind that essential oils effect every person very differently (whether they are use in aromatherapy, topically or orally) – they are very individualized and can be dangerous – and as with everything we inhale, ingest or apply to our skin there is NO one-size-fits all approach. That said, you should PERSONALLY consult an herbalist or your medical professional before you decide if ingesting essential oils is right for you. Simply finding information online that indicates it’s safe to use this oil or that oil is not wise for the reasons outlined in the references above.

Aromatherapy & Topical Use

Okay, so if it’s not advisable to use essential oils internally is there any point discussing the topic any further for our purposes on the AIP? Yes, absolutely! There are so many  aromatic and topical uses of essential oils to help support your AIP journey – relief of stress, pain, headaches, digestive discomfort, improvement of mood, skin conditions and more – that I could never hope to share them all with you. 

My use of essential oils began out of desperation with my husband’s migraine headaches. He was taking migraine medication EVERY day for a long stretch of time and was finding no relief. Add to that his debilitating chronic pain and fibromyalgia – not a good scenario. It was at that point that I started my research into essential oils, attended a few webinars and took some online courses with Aromahead Institute. I started slowly at first, simply using an ultrasonic diffuser with peppermint essential oil for him or having him use a homemade inhaler, and then branched out into some specifics for his condition which really helped.

Your next questions is probably – what did you use to help him with is fibromyalgia? What else helps with migraine headaches?  Since I’m not an herbalist or aromatherapy specialist I’m simply going to suggest this amazing reference book that can help you – it’s my go-to encyclopedia for all things essential oils! Grab a copy of “The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy” by Valerie Ann Worwood – click here.

Digestive Upset

Since many on the AIP suffer with digestive upset, this may be an area you want to consider incorporating essential oils like ginger, tarragon, peppermint, clove and oregano – but, if not by ingestion, how? 

Essential oils contain plant-based chemical constituents responsible for the powerful healing benefits. Those compounds trigger a response in your nervous system, sending signals to your brain. These signals can include calming and soothing the intestinal tract, or stimulating digestion by encouraging parasympathetic activity. Each oil is different, but just a few drops of any essential oil makes a BIG impact.

There are two ways to use essential oils to support a healthy digestive system:

1. Aromatically. When used in your diffuser, or just inhaled out of the bottle, the vapors carry active chemical molecules into your body through the nose. They stimulate the olfactory nerve, located in the nasal cavity. This nerve contains fibers that send signals directly to your central nervous system – the system by which digestion is governed. 

2. Topically. Your skin absorbs everything that you put on it. When applied as a rub, lotion or in massage the active compounds found in essential oils enter your bloodstream to support the digestive system. Remember to always dilute essential oils (click here for information about that) in coconut or sweet almond oil. I find it very convenient using roller bottles for the purpose of topical application and love having a number of blends prepared and ready to go.

Digestive Relief Massage &  DIY Blend

Click here for a Digestive Belly Rub Blend from my trusted resource, Aromahead Internation. Note, however that you may want to omit the cardamom in the elimination stage of the AIP, just to err on the side of caution.

When using the massage oil blend, start at the belly button, apply the diluted oil and then gently massage into the skin using an upward circular motion (apply gentle pressure with the pads of your fingertips, circling to the right). This can also be done on the back, over the liver and stomach. 

Quality Oils

As you are likely aware, there are many options out there for essential oils, and prices vary dramatically! I personally will not use the extremely high priced oils offered by the two multi-level marketing companies that quickly come to mind, and I won’t affiliate or sell these products because I firmly believe that people can find exceptional quality oils that are much more reasonably priced. NOW, I’m not saying go out and buy cheap oil – FAR from it – if it’s cheap, it’s likely not good quality or upon further investigation you may find that it’s “fragrance oil” – so beware! I personally choose to purchase my individual oils from Ki Aroma – their products are exceptional and their prices are reasonable but also reflect their quality. I don’t opt for their blends, as I choose to make my own and find creating my own blends more economical.

Summary

Essential oils are very personalized. What works for one might not for another, and I have found throughout the course of my own health challenges I have become tolerant or intolerant to various oils along the way.

Ingesting essential oils is NOT recommended.

There are lots of amazing health benefits that come from inhalation and topical application – explore and enjoy these options on the AIP!

The bottom line – educate yourself and use with caution and awareness.

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What about Matcha and green tea on the AIP? And what’s the difference? This one catches out more than a few who are new to the autoimmune protocol, so let’s take a closer look.

First of all, if you haven’t read my post, “What About Tea on the AIP?”– you might want to check it out for some of the basics on tea – click here.

One of the most common misconceptions on the AIP is that it’s a caffeine-free protocol, and that this is the reason we remove coffee during the elimination phase (to learn more about why coffee is eliminated, read my post here – “Kicking the Coffee Habit). Because of green tea’s high caffeine content, it gets thrown into the confusion and folks assume it’s not compliant.

All that said, let’s clarify things before we go any further – the AIP is NOT a caffeine-free protocol according to “What’s IN and What’s OUT on AIP? Answers to Tricky Foods” from Autoimmune Wellness (click here to read the whole article):

Caffeinated Tea (Green or Black)

AIP is a coffee-free, but not a caffeine-free protocol. Green and black teas can be consumed, but due to the caffeine it’s generally advised to drink them earlier in the day and in moderation. It is also important to read labels carefully, as many teas have soy lecithin or other additives (or toxins) that are avoided on AIP. If adrenal fatigue is part of your health picture, you’ll want to work to eliminate caffeine entirely.

VERDICT: Caffeinated teas are elimination-phase legal.

Matcha vs. Green Tea

Okay, so we’ve determined green tea is AIP eliminations stage compliant, awesome! (DISCLAIMER – not everything that’s AIP is right for everyone – if you’re not sure if it’s right for you and your medical condition, be sure to consult a professional – I’m not a doctor and am not making any recommendations either way with this information).

Now, what’s the difference between Matcha and green tea, or are they the same thing? In my research, I found that the amount of caffeine claimed to be in Matcha varies widely from one source to the next, and in reality it probably does because there are different grades and qualities. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to present you with hard facts, but I’ll tell you what I know according to this article from Healthline (read the full article here).

Matcha and regular green tea both come from the same plant – camellia sinensis – which is native to China.

Matcha, however is grown differently than regular green tea – the tea bushes are shielded from sunlight for about 20-30 days prior to harvest, which triggers an increase in chlorophyll levels, turning the leaves a darker shade of green and increasing the production of amino acids (L-theanine in particular which is linked to increased alertness, improved mood, memory and concentration, mental relaxation and stress reduction. Processing also differs from regular green tea – after harvesting the youngest tea leaves, the stems and veins are removed from the tea leaves and only the leaves are stone-ground into the fine, bright green powder known as Matcha (this is very labor intensive and explains the higher cost).

Because the whole leaf powder is ingested (not just steeped), Matcha is even higher than green tea in some substances – such as caffeine and antioxidants – that means a single cup (237ml) of Matcha may be the equivalent to about three cups (711ml) of regular green tea. One study found that Matcha contains up to 137 times more antioxidants than a low-grade variety of green tea and up to 3 times more antioxidants than other high-quality green tea.

Matcha, which can have a grassy and bitter taste, is often served with a sweetener or milk (in our case on the AIP, a dairy-free milk with honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar or maple sugar). Matcha powder is also popular in smoothies and baking.

More Kick Than Coffee!

If you’re trying to kick the coffee habit but you find you’re crashing without your caffeine fix, you might want to consider a cup of Matcha instead.

The average cup of coffee contains approximately 95 mg of caffeine (this can vary from 0 to 95 mg depending on the brew – read more about coffee on Healthline), while one cup (237 ml) of standard Matcha, made from 4 teaspoons of powder, generally packs about 280 mg of caffeine. This is significantly higher than a cup (237 ml) of regular green tea, which provides 35 mg of caffeine. (It’s noteworthy that, most people don’t drink a full cup (237 ml) of Matcha at once because of its high caffeine content. It’s more common to drink a small cup – just 2–4 ounces (59–118 ml). Additionally, caffeine content also varies based on how much Matcha powder you add.

Not only does Matcha contain more caffeine than coffee (in some cases), it comes without the crash. Thanks to the amino acid content – L-theanine modifies the effects of caffeine in your body, increasing alertness without causing the drowsiness that often follows coffee consumption. Thus, matcha tea may provide a milder and longer-lasting buzz than coffee.

Quality Counts

As mentioned above in the quote from Autoimmune Wellness, you’ll need to watch ingredient lists, and you’ll want to search for the best clean brands of tea on the market.

It’s difficult for me to include a list for you as companies can change their products at any given time, but I trust the brands that our affiliate shop carries – check out the offerings at Shop AIP by clicking here. When I first ventured into Matcha I used Jade Leaf Organic Matcha powder and found the taste quite good – it is however a culinary grade, not ceremonial grade.

Sun Goddess Matcha Green Tea, Pique Tea, Coupon Code, AIP Recipe CollectionI personally recommend Pique Tea – Sun Goddess Matcha – it’s delicious and claims to be the world’s purest Matcha, crafted to the highest standards of the finest ceremonial grade (quadruple toxin screened for heavy metals, pesticides, toxic mold and radioactive isotopes, higher l-theanine content, made in collaboration with a teamaster, free of preservatives, sugar and artificial sweeteners). Designed for mindfulness and described as a mug full of zen (also recommended by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne – the founder of the Autoimmune Protocol).

Pique Tea is a very well respected brand that prides themselves on the highest quality teas – you can read my post about Pique Tea here and how it fits into your AIP healing journey, or shop directly with our affiliate link by clicking here and SAVE 5% off EVERY Order with Coupon Code: AIP5.

As always, the onus is on you to do a little research so you avoid GMO and pesticide laden products – some use cornstarch in their bags and some contain soy and “natural” or artificial flavors – these are ingredients to stay clear of! Watch for certified organic products and check for sneaky non AIP ingredients (I’ve even seen rice flour in some blends) and spices.

Does it Make the Grade?

Before you buy Matcha, you need to know that there are different grades. The two main Matcha grades are ceremonial and culinary, but culinary is further divided into five grades: premium, cafe, ingredient, kitchen and classic. Each grade is determined based on color, texture and quality and each has different uses. Confused yet?

Ceremonial grade has one purpose – to drink. It’s the highest-quality tea grade produced from the youngest tea leaves. It’s vibrant green in color, has a powder-fine texture, should never feel grity, is naturally sweet in flavor (or so they say) and is pure in taste. It often smells (and in my opinion tastes) like freshly cut grass. Ceremonial grade produces a thicker green tea and is to be consumed plain, without the addition of sweeteners or other ingredients.

Culinary grade, or food grade isn’t a lower quality tea, it’s simply made differently and is used in baking, cooking, milk-based drink and smoothies. This grade of Matcha is not intended to be consumed plain as a tea, as it’s stronger and slightly bitter in taste – it’s intended to be combined with other ingredients.

The Five Sub-Grades of Matcha and Their Uses:

  • Premium: Premium grade is considered an everyday use Matcha that pairs well with blended drinks.
  • Cafe: Cafe grade has a very robust flavor, making it the perfect grade for baking and cooking.
  • Ingredient: Ingredient grade is mixed with older tea leaves—that have stronger flavors—and also help give it more of a thicker consistency, which is why it’s ideal for using in recipes that contain dairy products.
  • Kitchen: Kitchen grade is produced with the least amount of delicate leaves, isn’t as fine as other Matcha powder types, is a darker green and is very bitter, all of which make this grade great for large-scale brewing or trying with new recipes.
  • Classic: Classic grade is perhaps the most commonly available of the grades, and it has a strong flavor, allowing it to be used with numerous food and beverage recipes.

Take Me To The Recipes!

Ready to mix up some Matcha? Be sure to check our Facebook Group for lots of options.  Try searching “Latte” or simply “Matcha” – you’ll be amazed how many creative AIP recipes are using Matcha!

When life gives you lemons … make lemon juice!

Today, I want to discuss the healing power of lemons and your liver.

Over the years, I’ve seen so thousands of people join the AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group looking for help with recipes to support their healing journey. They describe serious cases of hives, unexplained rashes and reactions, eczema, digestive disorders, acne, acid reflux, cirrhosis, psoriasis, edema, hepatitis, lupus, chronic fatigue and other liver related symptoms and diseases … it’s frankly quite shocking … and most people don’t realize that they are all related to liver function! Did you know there are more than 100 types of different kinds of liver diseases. and fatty liver disease is by far the most common?

I’m posting this information here in the hope that it will help others benefit from the healing power of lemons and understand how important it is to support your liver through the use of a diet and the addition of lemons as “medicine” – if it’s right for you. (DISCLAIMER:  I am not a doctor, lemon juice may not be fore everyone, I am simply sharing my research and results, and you should consult your physician to see if this is right for you.)

My experience using lemons as “medicine” began as I struggled to find answers to my own health issues – first an inexplicably enlarged liver and edema, then an extreme case of hives that left me unable to sleep, and when I could sleep I had to sleep with ice-packs applied to my legs so I wouldn’t claw them open in the middle of the night. I’d been down the road of hormone testing, ultra-sounds and trips to the dermatologist without any answer or improvement – I was ready to try just about anything … and when I tell you what I did, you’ll probably agree, I really was ready to try anything!

While my doctors had pretty much ignored my liver in trying to deal with my symptoms I decided to circle back and focus on it on my own, and I’ve shocked more than a few (including medical professionals) with the approach I took.

Why Focus On The Liver?

  • The liver is the second largest organ – next only to our skin. If your symptoms include skin reactions, it could very well be an indication that your body is overloaded trying to remove toxins from the body, and it is therefore highly likely that your liver is either over loaded or at minimum in need of some extra support.
  • How are your albumin levels? Albumin is the main protein that is made by the liver. While there are many factors that can affect the level of albumin circulating in the blood, chronic liver disease causes a decrease in the amount of albumin produced, and therefore the level of albumin in the blood is reduced. NOTE: you do not have to be a heavy drinker to have liver disease – being under chronic stress can have a HUGE impact on liver health.
  • Our livers are over worked and overlooked! Don’t believe me – read on!

Consider this information from the Canadian Liver Foundation:

“The liver is a resilient organ that’s easy to ignore – until something goes wrong. Because of its wide-ranging responsibilities, your healthy liver can come under attack by viruses, toxic substances, contaminants and diseases. However, even when under siege, the liver is very slow to complain. People who have problems with their liver are frequently unaware because they may have few, if any, symptoms. Your liver is such a determined organ that it will continue working even when two-thirds of it has been damaged.”

“Weighing in at a little over one kilogram, your liver is a complex chemical factory that works 24 hours a day. It processes virtually everything you eat, drink, breathe in or rub on your skin; in fact, the liver performs over 500 functions that are vital to life.

Every day, your liver helps your body by providing it with energy, fighting off infections and toxins, helping clot the blood, regulating hormones and much, much more.

To give you an idea of your liver’s critical roles, here is a partial list of its functions:

  • Cleanses your blood: Metabolizing alcohol and other drugs and chemicals, neutralizing and destroying poisonous substances.
  • Regulates your supply of body fuel: Producing, storing and supplying quick energy (glucose) to keep your mind alert and your body active. It produces, stores and exports fat.
  • Manufactures many of your essential body proteins involved in: Transporting substances in your blood, clotting of your blood, and providing resistance to infections.
  • Regulates the balance of hormones: Including sex hormones, thyroid hormones, cortisone and other adrenal hormones.
  • Regulates your body’s cholesterol: Producing cholesterol, excreting it and converting it to other essential substances.
  • Regulates your supply of essential vitamins and minerals: Including iron and copper.
  • Produces bile: Eliminating toxic substances from your body and aiding with your digestion.”

Back to the Lemons!

Oddly enough, I learned my lemon, liver support protocol while watching a documentary called e-motion. If you haven’t watched this documentary yet, I highly recommend it – it discussed how our emotions and how stress, sadness, anger and even memories can be held responsible for many if not all of the diseases we suffer today … because they effect our organs, and very importantly OUR LIVER! You can watch the full-length program on YouTube – check it out here.

One of the speakers, Don Tolman – Whole Foods Nutritional & Author (“Cowboy Don” as he’s called – I knew I liked him right away with a handle like that!), talked about the benefits of lemon juice and how drinking ONE CUP (approximately THREE lemons) of fresh squeezed lemon juice every morning before food, for a period of 90 days (none of this tiny squeeze of lemon in water folks) will usually fully restore your liver in that short a period of time! (Watch a clip of him discussing this on YouTube here.)

Everything Cowboy Don was saying about lemons, an-ions, bile and digestion resonated with me and I wanted to know more, so I looked him up on the internet and found this article: “How to Restore Liver Health & Improve Function” – it’s a really good quick look at what the liver does and how it’s impacted by toxins, viruses (NOTE:  it does discuss some non-AIP products as cleanses, but we can look past that and use what will work for us here in conjunction to the AIP).

Here are a few snippets from the article:

A healthy liver is crucial to your overall health and vitality.

Unfortunately, due to modern day life, it’s common for your liver to become stressed, overworked and damaged leading to malfunctioning and eventual dis-ease.

There are a number of things you can do to reverse any damage and heal liver disease naturally without toxic pharmaceuticals or medical intervention.

WHAT IS THE LIVER?

The liver is the largest internal organ of the body. It’s located on the upper right side of the stomach and is vital for the functioning of your metabolism and immune system.

WHAT DOES THE LIVER DO?

The liver performs several important tasks including; storing blood and constantly filtering it to remove harmful toxins; it rids the body of dead blood cells; secretes hormones and enzymes; supports digestion, converting what we eat into life-sustaining nutrition; and even regenerates its own damaged tissue.

WHAT CAUSES LIVER DISEASE?

Liver disease is usually caused by internal infection as a result of exposure to viruses, medical drugs or toxic substances like chemical cosmetics which seep into the body, impacting the auto-immune process.

Since I originally researched Cowboy Don and his theory about the healing power of lemons and your liver, he’s written a new article that you may also want to read – Signs of Fatty Liver Disease and How to Recover Naturally. But, for now … continue along with me on this lemon juice journey.

Liver Rejuvenating Lemon Juice Protocol

One of the most potent and effective foods on earth for healing, regenerating and cleansing the liver is Lemons.

In fact, if you’ll drink one cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice each day when you rise, within 90 days your liver will usually restore itself.

Lemons are the only food on earth that contain “an-ions” (every other wholefood contains “cat-ions”).  Your liver produces “an-ions” known as bile which helps to release toxins and metabolic waste.  That’s why lemons have significance when it comes to restoring your liver to its highest functional capacity.

So, why does it work? The most basic explanation I can come up with is that it gives your liver a break. Since your liver has to produce an-ions to get rid of toxins from your body, manage digestion and more (as mentioned earlier in this post – your liver is pretty busy), it never gets a day off. Consuming lemon juice, which is the only wholefood that contains an-ions, you’re giving your liver the love and support it needs, allowing it to use some of the an-ions (either that it produces or that you’re providing in the lemon juice) to rejuvenate itself.

Okay – I can hear you now – seriously, ONE CUP of lemon juice every morning, 30 minutes before food for 90 DAYS!  No way, can’t be done! And, does it even work?

Well, yes, you CAN do it, I DID and YES, it worked for me! While I’m not a doctor, I’ve share what I learn with others who struggle with recurring flares of eczema, hives, rashes, psoriasis, etc., and it’s helped them too! Oddly enough, I recently chatted with my Functional Medicine Practitioner, who’s helping to put a protocol together to help with my prolonged toxic exposure to mold, and she mentioned that my crazy lemon drink theory that I’d told her about was no so crazy at all – in the course she’d been taking to become a practitioner specializing in mold exposure she learned that another practitioner uses a similar lemon juice drink to successfully to treat flares like this – go figure!

A Recipe to “Zest Up Your Life!”

Let me make this an easier “pill” to swallow. I couldn’t bring myself to take the full cup of lemon juice in additional water, I just wanted it out of the way ASAP – down the hatch!  I tried just chugging that much lemon juice, and while it’s doable, I found and modified a recipe called Zest Up your Life, that makes it a little more bearable and easier to clean up.

Ingredients

  • 3 Lemons (organic if possible)
  • 1 TBSP Honey (raw if possible)
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • Pinch of Himalayan Salt
  • Pinch of Black Pepper (if you’ve reintroduced)
  • 1 TBSP of Chia Seeds (if you’ve reintroduced)

Preparation

  1. Juice your lemons – I found it much easier for clean up using a citrus juicer instead of a vegetable juicer
  2. Stir in honey, turmeric, salt and pepper
  3. Sprinkle chia seeds on top
  4. Drink immediately
  5. Once you become a seasoned lemon juice veteran you may enjoy it served over ice for a refreshing summer beverage

Lemon Juice & Water

Not ready, or maybe not needing, to go “whole-lemon” into liver rejuvenation? That’s okay, but don’t underestimate the healing power of lemons! Drinking lemon-infused water daily is a great way to show your liver some love! There are LOTS of articles on the internet that discuss the incredible health and healing benefits of lemons and lemon water … so don’t hesitate to liven up your plain water with a squeeze or infusion of lemon.

Is it best to add lemon to cold, warm, or hot water?

A debate came up a while ago when I posted an old family-favorite cold remedy for Hot Lemon and Honey in the AIP Recipe Collection Group – “Doesn’t the vitamin C get destroyed in hot water?” So, in usual fashion, I went digging for information. Here’s what I learned: “Warm water helps extract Vitamin C and polyphenols from both the lemon and its peel. While vitamin C isn’t heat stable – meaning it can degrade once it reaches a certain temperature – even a boiling temperature isn’t hot enough to negate the fruit’s benefits.” You can read more about this topic here –  “The Right Way to Drink Lemon Water (For Maximum Benefits), According to a Nutritionist

Each time I post a recipe in the AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group for a recipe that includes okra I get hit with a wave of comments that it’s not compliant or someone’s been told not to include okra in their AIP diet. With that, here is my compilation of research on the topic and my advice.

  1. As you will hear me say again and again, the Autoimmune Protocol is a template – it is meant to be personalized to you and your health circumstances. Just because a food is considered elimination stage compliant does not mean that everyone on planet earth will necessarily be able to consume it. Take for instance my allergy to pineapple – it’s elimination stage friendly, but I can’t eat it. Or the fact that fermented foods are for the most part elimination stage compliant and touted to be fantastic for many health conditions – perhaps, but not for me and my condition. So, as with everything you’ll be dealing with on the AIP, know your body, know your health condition, work with the AIP as a template and jumping off point for your journey. If you feel unwell with a food, note it and discontinue use. If your practitioner/nutritional specialist/medical professional advises you not to use something in your diet – do not use it – AIP friendly or not.
  2. What is okra? Everyone seems to think it’s a nightshade – it is not. Botanically speaking, okra is known as Abelmoschus esculentus or Hibiscus esculentus. It’s a member of mallow family, related to hollyhocks, rose of Sharon and hibiscus [SOURCE: HGTV.com].
  3. What do the experts say? First of all, lets address nightshades – if you’re not sure what a nightshade is, you can read a little about them on Dr. Ballantyne’s website here, where she explains the reason why nightshades are problematic for many people due to the glycoalkaloid content, and THIS is where much confusion has stemmed regarding okra. According to Dr. Ballantyne, some websites have erroneously reported that some NON-nightshade fruits and vegetables contain glycoalkaloid solanine, but we can rest assured that in her nerdy, science guru fashion, she has researched this fully and tells us we can rest assured that  okra is safe to consume from a glycoalkaloid solanine standpoint. As a follow up you can read her article about blueberries (Should I avoid blueberries on the AIP?), as these delicious berries have been accused by some of containing solanine as well. Thankfully Dr. Ballantyne has done her research and listed her sources there and again states she can not find any scientific evidence to avoid bluberries or okra: “there is NO scientific evidence that solanine (or any other glycoalkaloid) is present in any fruit or vegetable that is not a member of the nightshade family“.

The Conclusion? . . . Let them eat okra!

I’m no scientist, but Dr. Ballantyne is – that’s her background … literally! If she’s done the research and says okra is AIP elimination stage compliant (which she has), she has not changed this stance in the updated version of the protocol (which she has not), I have no reaction to it (which I’ll find out), and my medical professional does not advise against consuming it (quite the contrary, she’s encouraging it in my case), I’d say that’s a pretty bright green-light on the subject.

Hope this helps dispel any myths about okra.

Looking for food lists to help on your AIP journey? Visit our  Food Lists Page – click here.

 

If you’re new to the AIP you’ve likely started seeing recipes with some pretty unusual sounding ingredients – getting confused yet? Don’t worry, I’ve got you! I get a lot of questions about the following list of unfamiliar AIP compliant foods, so I’m going to provide you with some resources to help you on your way.

As a bit of a heads-up, these foods may not always be readily available at your local grocery store – you may need to check places like Whole Foods, Health Food Stores, Asian markets or seek them out in an online shop. In some cases, sadly, you just may not be able to find them in your area … ever … so you may need to consider alternate recipes if you run up against them.

Sweet Potatoes

While sweet potatoes in themselves are not an unfamiliar food, there are varieties that you may not be familiar with … like the elusive “white sweet potato,” for one. Check out this article that includes images depicting several (not all) varieties – Types of Sweet Potatoes and Why You Should Be Eating Them. You may find in your area that you can find Caribbean or Jamaican varieties – these are similar in appearance to the Japanese variety. I personally find that the white fleshed varieties provide a texture that is more similar to a regular potato and they tend to be less sweet than a regular sweet potato/yam.  If you have your eye on the purple sweet potatoes, those are kind of fun, and you can find a few recipes posted in the AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group as well.

Plantains

These banana lookalikes are crazy amazing and pretty much have AIP Super-Powers! This is probably one of the unfamiliar foods I’m most grateful to have found on the AIP. Depending on their ripeness they can be used in all kinds of baked goods and dishes – from potato salad and potato chip substitutes to waffles, pancakes, cake, rice, nacho replacements and so much more! You’ll find LOTS of recipes that call for them in the AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group, but first, take a moment to get acquainted with their health benefits here – Plantains: 7 Reasons to Add to Your Diet (NOTE: The recipes linked at the bottom of the article are not necessarily AIP compliant). Intrigued? Learn more about how to peel and prepare plantains here – Plantains 101. Ready to get cooking? Check out this recipe round up that includes recipes from around the web and how to use plantains at various stages of ripeness, and even recipes that use plantain flour – Plenty of Plantains – Over 150 AIP Plantain Recipes.

Cassava / Yuca

You’ll find Cassava flour is called for in a LOT of AIP baking recipes – it’s probably THE go-to flour for recipe creators because it reacts the most like a traditional flour. Cassava can sometimes be confused with Tapioca Flour/Starch, but you should know that the two are very different things and can not be used interchangeably in all cases, so I encourage you to read my post – Arrowroot vs. Tapioca vs. CassavaCassava / Yuca root/tuber is so much more than just a great flour! It can be used as a potato substitute, you can make pizza crust out of it and even french fries! You can buy it as a root/tuber in the produce section or pre-prepared (peeled) in the freezer section. As a word of warning, these guys are a challenge to peel and prep, but it can be done. Learn more about them in this article – Cassava (Yuca) 101 – (NOTE: The recipe included on this page is NOT AIP compliant, so circle back to the AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group if you’re looking for ways to use your new-found friend!)

Eddoes / Taro

Wait, what? Ed who? This is another tuber/root that you’ll find in fewer AIP recipes, but it appears to be used similarly to cassava/yuca – mashed, as fries or root chips, in stir-fry, soup or stew, as a breakfast potato in a hash, etc. – so, basically another great potato alternative!  It has some amazing health benefits that you can read about here – Asian Superfood: The Impressive Health Benefits of Taro Root.  You will find a few recipes for it in the AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group – try searching Eddoe and Taro.

Tigernuts

Hold the phone … nuts!? Well, they’re actually not nuts … Tigernuts are a tuber, and you’ll find them used in all kinds of AIP recipes. While they can be eaten as a snack (as a whole Tigernut), I hear they’re are quite hard, so you’ll maybe want to try them in flake or flour form, used in baked goods, granola and even transformed into a replacement for peanut butter or nut milk! Tigernuts are reminiscent of almonds and can be used in place of almonds/almond flour/almond milk. Depending on where you live, you may find these to be quite pricey, but you may consider them/it a worthwhile investment as they do create some delicious goodies. As with everything there are up-sides and down-sides to using something less familiar, so you’ll need to take it slow with Tigernuts to determine if they’re right for you (those with digestive issues or sensitivities to high-fiber foods might experience discomfort using them).  Want to learn more about them, check out this article from Healthline, and then head over to the AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group where you’ll find lots of inspiration on how to use them in conjunction to your AIP healing journey. Looking for where to buy them? You can find Tigernut products in our affiliate shop – click here.

Jicama

Pronounced, hee-cama, this root vegetable is a little different than the tubers mentioned above – it can be eaten raw! It’s high in prebiotic fiber, low in starch, sugar and carbs compared to other root veggies – it’s similar in taste and feel to very crisp apple. Learn more about its health benefits here – Jicama: Full of Prebiotic Fiber, It Helps Weight Loss, and then more about how to prep and use it here – Jicama Is Probably the Most Exciting Vegetable You’re Not Eating.  You will find a number of recipes that incorporate Jicama over in the AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group where it’s used in breakfast hash, salads, salsa replacements, as a dessert, fries, hash browns and more!

Tamarind

But wait, it’s a pod with seeds in it – isn’t it a legume! How can this be compliant? Well, yes, it is a pod-like fruit and considered part of the legume family … but when we talk about tamarind in the AIP world, we’re just talking about the pulp of the outer pod that’s made into tamarind paste – that IS compliant. Want to learn some of the benefits of consuming Tamarind – take a look at this article from Healthline. Ok, but what on earth is it used for? Tamarind paste is high in tartaric acid which adds a tart, sweet or sour taste to dishes which makes it a great addition to a no-mato sauce, no-mato ketchup or BBQ sauce, marinades, curries or other Indian, Thai, Asian and Mexican dishes. This little gem offers a more exotic and complex taste profile than just using lemon or vinegars. Want to try it out? You can find tamarind paste/puree in our affiliate shop- click here.

Gelatin Eggs

Okay, so this isn’t exactly a food you can go out and buy (don’t laugh, I’ve been asked where to buy gelatin eggs), but it’s an ingredient you’ll see listed in AIP recipes and I want you to be aware of what it is, how to make them and how they’re used. You can learn more in my dedicated post – Egg Replacements. 

Cream of Tartar

Here’s one you may not have come across a lot on the SAD (Standard American Diet), but you’ll see crop up a lot more in AIP baking. I get asked a LOT if there’s a substitute for it (because it’s not something folks tend to keep on hand) – unfortunately, it’s unique and there is no substitute … so, if you don’t have some on hand, you may want to pick some up (You can find it in our affiliate shop – click here). What’s it used for? when used in combination with baking soda/sodium bicarbonate it becomes a leavening agent – the stuff that makes baked goods puff up in the oven. Basically, this combination creates an AIP compliant baking powder. So, why can’t we just use regular baking powder, you ask? Traditional brands contain cornstarch (a no-no on the AIP) and sometimes aluminum in the baking soda (I try to use aluminum free baking soda – You can find aluminum free baking soda in our affiliate shop – click here).

Kitchen Help

I get a lot of questions from AIP-Newbies looking for advice on how to get started on the AIP, what kitchen tools they might need, what pantry items would be considered essential, etc.  If you find yourself asking these questions you may enjoy these features

AIP Kitchen Tour from Autoimmune Wellness
AIP Kitchen Tour is a long-running monthly feature where they profile a member of the AIP community and their kitchen setup in hopes that it will further inspire us to get our kitchens organized and set up for success!

They’ve interviewed folks who are making the AIP lifestyle a reality in everything from college dorms and small city apartments, to large households with non-AIP family members, and everything in between.

You can find their full archive list of AIP Kitchen Tours here.

My Kitchen Tour
If you’re interested in a reading my personal kitchen tour as featured on Autoimmune Wellness, you can check it out here:
Gail’s AIP Kitchen:  How She Manages Hashimoto’s and Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis! Not only does it offer you a glimpse into my real world, I also offer you a lot of suggestions for various kitchen tools and equipment you should consider having on hand.

Stocking Your AIP Pantry

This is a huge topic, and you’ll find lots of lists out there that suggest buying all kinds of weird ingredients. I’ll admit, this was a little easier for me since I’d already been gluten free for a number of years, but I’ll return to my #1 piece of AIP advice … keep it simple!  if you do, there is NO need to go out and break the bank to buy all kinds of unfamiliar ingredients. Avoid overwhelm – basic is best – don’t get caught up in idea of trying to recreate your old favorites just because there are recipes available to make it happen. Basic meat and sweet-potatoes cooking is what we’re talking about here.

The best place to start, of course, is to familiarize yourself with the food lists – if you haven’t done so already, be sure to check them out here.

Your next step is sorting!

Out with the “Bad”:  The first thing I did way back when I went gluten free was to create a separate section in our pantry for my treats and my husband’s. I was fortunate enough that he’d be eating largely the same meals as I did, so I wouldn’t need to keep two sets of food stuffs for cooking. I got rid of my cake mixes, flour, pasta, canned soups and sauces, sugar, syrups, cooking oils and the like. Then, when I started the AIP I re-organized again – I moved the maybe foods and reintroductions (unless my husband was using them) to a separate cupboard that I wouldn’t be frequenting (it helps to resist temptation) – things like chocolate, coffee, nuts, seeds, hot sauces, spices and so on.

In with the “Good”:  Having sorted and cleared your cupboards, they might be looking a little bear, so you’ll need to bring in some replacements. Since this can be quite overwhelming, I’ve tried to take the stress out of it and I’ve created some quick category shopping for you over on my Food Sourcing page – be sure to check it out. Even if you don’t buy there (though you can get 10% off your first order – check out my coupon page), it’s a great place to check brands!

Where to start:

  • Basics like cooking fats are essential – quality olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil are a good place to start.
  • Then, since we eliminate refined sugars, you’ll want to ensure you have a basic elimination stage compliant sweetener or two on hand – honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar are commonly called for in AIP recipes, but you can read more about these and other non-nutritive sweeteners in my dedicated post.
  • Being dairy-free and eliminating nuts will leave you to only a few options for “milks” (most of which you would need to make yourself) and it’ll feel like everything calls for coconut when you first start out – coconut milk, coconut aminos (replaces soy sauce – definitely a good item to have on hand) coconut flour, coconut butter/manna, coconut oil and the list goes on! Additive free coconut milk is becoming the elusive unicorn, you can make your own, but our affiliate shop is currently has one brand on offer and I’ve listed several more options in my Coconut 101 article – click here
  • Grass-fed gelatin will be one you run into when you start baking, but it likely isn’t essential in the beginning. Grass-fed collagen, a close relative to gelatin is used in some recipes and can be used in smoothies as a source of protein but again wouldn’t be something you have to buy right away. You can read more about these ingredients in my dedicated post – here.
  • You’ll find you may need alternate flour options for baking and thickening – commonly used items you’ll run into are arrowroot or tapioca starch/flour, cassava flour and tigernut flour. It’s noteworthy that some folks don’t do well on some of these ingredients (cassava and tigernut are tubers and can cause digestive disturbance, so go slow if you’re tempted into recipes for baked goods using these ingredients – read more about Unfamiliar AIP Foods in my post here).
  • Seasoning, herbs, spices and vinegar are items you probably already have in your kitchen (make sure you have things like garlic and onion powder, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, thyme, oregano and rosemary), and note you’ll be ditching regular white vinegar (made from grain) and will use apple cider or balsamic vinegar instead.
  • Coffee & chocolate get removed during the elimination stage, and some teas, so you’ll want to seek out some alternatives like dandelion and chicory as your morning elixir and roasted carob to help with those sweet cravings. (You can read more about tea, coffee and chocolate in my dedicated posts – What About Tea on the AIP, Chocolate – Friend or Foe? and Kicking the Coffee Habit)
  • Of course there are an abundance of AIP compliant treats and snacks available, but resist the urge to go overboard. You’ll find lots of pre-made condiments and sauces and even noodles are now available to make your life easier (BBQ, Ketchup, Imitation Mustard and Nomato sauce), but remember your goal is to consume a nutrient dense diet, not to replace old favorites with different convenience foods. Browse around our affiliate shop categories on our food sourcing page, or my AIP Amazon Shopping post and you’ll quickly get the gist of items you’ll want to stock up on.

What about elderberries on the AIP? This is one HOT topic! Any time I’ve ever posted an elderberry recipe in the midst of AIP followers I get lambasted with a barrage of comments that elderberries are NOT compliant, they’re dangerous, and have I lost my mind!?

Well, first of all, in my own defense, no, I’ve not lost my mind – if you check the AIP food lists from Dr. Sarah Ballantyne for the AIP (including the most up-to-date version of the protoco – The Autoimmune Protocol), elderberries are on the approved list, under berries!

Add to that the fact that our family has grown and used them for years to support the immune system – elderberry syrup can be a great thing when you’re run down or feel a cold or flu coming on.

So, what’s all the hub-bub about? Yes or No for AIP?

Elderberries are considered a medicinal herb, and are rich in vitamin A, C and B6 as well as iron and potassium. Plus they’re a potent source of phytonutrients and antioxidants and more! It’s even been validated in scientific studies for colds and flu prevention treatment! BUT … there’s a caveat that Dr. Ballantyne adds to her information online about elderberries:

“Note for my Autoimmune Disease peeps, there is some evidence from malaria studies that elderberry may stimulate Th1 cells, so caution is advised!” – Source: Elderberry – Dr. Sarah Ballantyne’s The Paleo Mom

Clear as mud then, right?

Let me try to clear this up. In plain English, elderberries, like adaptogenic herbs, can potentially stimulate our immune system in those struggling with autoimmune disease. For the Average Joe elderberry will help boost or support their immune system, but for us, it could over-stimulate an immune system that is already a little off balance … so we must use caution.

Best practice for those on the AIP? Approach elderberries as you would a reintroduction (even though they’re on the elimination stage friendly list). Each person’s body will react differently, so take the same approach as you would adding any food back into your diet. Watch for reactions and symptoms .. with any luck you’ll be someone that can safely use elderberry and take advantage of their many health benefits. (DISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor, so if it would be best to work with your medical professional on this if you’re at all uncertain).

Health Benefits & Science

Feeling up to some additional reading?

GreenMed Info – Top Four Antiviral Benefits of Elderberry
Global Healing – “Elderberry & the Immune System: A Powerful Combination”
Dr. Sarah Ballantyne – Natural Approaches to Cold and Flu

If you want to read more about the scientific side of things? Dive into the world of Th1 cells and Cytokine Storms, check this article from  Perfect Supplements – Elderberry & Cytokine Storms.”

Recipes

Since I don’t want to cause any confusion to newbies on the AIP, I refrain from posting elderberry recipes over in the AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group, but I don’t want to leave y’all hangin’!

IF you find your body doesn’t react poorly to elderberries (see above), here are a few recipes you may want to try on your AIP journey.

Elderberry Syrup (uses fresh elderberries – use honey NOT sugar for AIP)
Elderberry Syrup (uses dried elderberries) – NOTE: Elderberry syrup does take a LOT of honey – you may want to reduce this for the AIP
Elderberry Syrup (uses dried elderberries – omit star anise for AIP elimination stage)
Elderberry Shrub (uses dried elderberries – use honey or maple syrup NOT organic sugar for AIP)
Elderberry Tea (uses dried elderberries – omit cardamom and use honey NOT stevia for AIP)
Elderberry Jam (use the date syrup mentioned for AIP, NOT a low-carb sweetener)
Elderberry Pomegranate Gummies
Elderberry Popsicles