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Observations While on the AIP

(Image by TSL)

I’m currently on the Autoimmune Protocol, a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system. You can read more about the protocol and why I’m doing this here.

Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity. (Hippocrates)

People who know me well will tell you that I’m a moderately impatient woman (I prefer to think of myself as ‘passionate’). When I set a course of action, I want it to happen. NOW. So, with that in mind, given I am now five days into the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), it will be of little surprise to you when I say changes are not happening fast enough… Never-the-less, I thought a wee update on my observations – so far – might help me to pace myself.

Once you get your head around what the AIP involves, there are really two key things to understand, even if you forget everything else:

Planning is everything: You really can’t decide at the eleventh hour what you’ll be having for any given meal. It just doesn’t work. I am finding I plan (loosely) about a week out. I’m doing this on a Friday so that I can pick up as much as possible at the farmers market on Saturday morning. When you get home late from work and you’re tired and the kids are yelling at you and the dog needs a walk  – the last thing you feel like doing is planning what to eat for dinner.

As part of the AIP planning phase, it’s also critical that you give your pantry (and fridge) an overhaul. Get rid of all the non-AIP food. My brother-in-law happily received all the chocolates I had made. I got rid of mustards and other ‘illicit’ foods that were just waiting to call out to me at a moment of weakness.

Learn to love your kitchen: Seriously. You will definitely be spending more time in it. It is impossible to truly undertake the AIP without preparing food from scratch. There are no packets of pasta. In fact, there are no tins of tomatoes, either. (A staple for me before AIP).

To be honest, I find myself enjoying this aspect of the protocol. I get a kick out of creating good food from quality ingredients. I like experimenting with different cuts of meat and I find myself looking at unusual vegetables at the farmers market, wondering how I can incorporate them into a meal.

(Image by TSL)

(Graphic by TSL; Kitchen Image from here)

OK. We’ve moved past the two key things to remember. What else have I discovered?

Mindfulness

Sounds a tad weird, but I am definitely becoming more mindful about what I’m eating. When you limit your food to primarily fresh vegetables, quality animal protein, a little fruit and healthy fats, you really start to notice flavours. Partly, this is because there are no heavily spiced sauces to accompany your meals. And, yes – this has taken a little getting used to. Because seed based spices are out, I’m using a LOT of garlic, my fresh herb intake has increased and I’m finding all sorts of uses for mace.

Full disclosure: a good friend of mine in New Zealand sent me an email in response to my last post introducing the AIP. She said, “I will confess that I am in shock – no more COFFEE. You were the original coffee queen back in the day (before coffee was even the thing!).”  I was dreading giving up coffee. Absolutely DREADING it. You know what? – It’s been easy. But, what I
R E A L L Y miss are eggs. That is taking some getting used to.

Mood

As crazy as it sounds, I think my mood is lighter. I’m feeling more positive generally. I had read that this would happen and I was a smidge sceptical. But, it’s true. AND, we’re only on day 5. I could be dangerous by day 20!

Batch Cooking Saves the Day

If you know a recipe works, when you next make it, double it. Use the leftovers for the next day or freeze them for the day you can’t face cooking another meal.

Roasts go a long way. Depending on the cut of meat, leftover meat can be made into shepherds pie, be added to a salad, or chopped up for breakfast hash (with leftover sweet potato). Then save the bones for bone broth.

And, I’ve discovered you can get a pretty good gravy by roasting onions with your meat. After cooking, while your meat is resting, pour a cup or two of bone broth into the roasting dish that still has the onions and all the good crusty bits in the bottom. Bring it to a slow boil and scrape up all the goodies from the bottom of the pan. Whip out your stick blender and whiz it all up. Pretty damn tasty!

Easy Ways to Incorporate Liver 

Increasing consumption of organ meat is a key pillar in the AIP. And, liver is arguably the best for us of all of them. The liver is a storage organ for many important nutrients (vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron). When we eat the liver, especially from pasture raised, hormone-free, happy animals; these nutrients give us some of the tools we need to get rid of toxins. And, we don’t eat enough of it any more.

I now have the Paleo Mom’s chicken liver pate recipe on rotation. I love it. But then, I like liver. I have no recollection of where I read this tip but, a great way to incorporate more liver into your diet is to dice it finely and freeze in ice cube trays. Every time you make a braise or ragu, throw a couple of blocks in. Unless you are my sister, you won’t even know its there.

Soups

You can make very good soups FAST by cooking your vegetable of choice (broccoli, cauliflower, parsnip, carrot) in chicken bone broth, then adding an avocado (mace optional) for a few minutes. Throw everything into a blender or food processor and blitz. Check for seasoning.

Great way to incorporate your bone broth AND more vegetables into your diet. We had a broccoli number last night as an entree (starter). It was surprisingly tasty. And, the avocado adds a creaminess. YUM!

So, at day 5, I’m humming along quite nicely on the AIP. Really, I think it was a bigger mental shift to give up gluten (grains). But it is early days, yet.

I’ll keep you posted!

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