How to eat paleo at Trader Joe’s (mostly)

This post is about how to eat the Autoimmune Protocol diet – which greatly resembles what people call the “paleo diet” – while shopping primarily at the popular U.S. grocery store, Trader Joe’s. That’s pretty specific – why in the world am I writing this?

About two and a half years ago, I stopped eating wheat and discovered that many of my chronic health problems started going away. It wasn’t a cure-all, though. A year and a half later, I had actually gained weight (I was already overweight) and I started having a new symptom: stomach pain so bad I couldn’t sleep at night. After the doctors ran all the tests and couldn’t find any cause or treatment, I decided as a last ditch attempt to try the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet, documented in full in this monster book (don’t worry, you don’t need to read it to try the diet).

AIP is a diet designed by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne to eliminate all the foods that are likely to cause inflammatory autoimmune reactions in most people (surprise! Wheat is #1 on this list), and then to gradually reintroduce some of the safer foods until you know what your personal set of “safe” foods is. It also provides a list of more nutritious foods that you are encouraged to eat more of. Following the diet often improves the symptoms of health problems that stem from inflammation, allergies, or autoimmune reactions. However, most people have never heard of AIP, and it resembles the various diets people call “paleo”, so I usually just refer to it as “eating paleo” or “autoimmune paleo.” A year and a half after starting this diet, my stomach no longer hurts, I walk 5-10 miles every day without pain, and I’m in the recommended weight range for my height for the first time since I was a teenager.

The point of this blog post isn’t to convince people to eat the AIP or paleo diet. It’s expensive, takes a huge amount of time, and is unsustainable at a global level. But if you are a person who is already trying to eat AIP or paleo, or if you have an autoimmune-related problem and are considering the AIP diet, and you live near a Trader Joe’s, I wanted to share my tips for buying AIP compatible food at Trader Joe’s, along with sources for things you can’t get at TJ’s. For context, I live alone in a tiny studio in San Francisco, walk to the grocery store several times a week, and am relatively healthy and abled. I make enough money that shopping at Trader Joe’s isn’t a problem but Whole Foods is something I can only afford on occasion.

A word of encouragement

Eating AIP is HARD. At first, you can’t eat grains, dairy, eggs, legumes, nightshades, seeds or seed oils, nuts, sugar, or a long list of food additives. You have to make and eat all kinds of weird labor-intensive food. You can’t eat at most restaurants. You get really tired of chewing. There is So. Much. Chewing. But then I got better at cooking, I bought more cooking equipment, I started adding more foods back into my diet, my palate adapted to not eating sugar, and everything got easier and more fun. Probably my jaw muscles got stronger too.

I’ve been eating the AIP diet for a year and a half now, and I love food more than I ever did before. Now opening my fridge gives me pleasure. I eat whatever I want when I’m hungry (within the diet), and I stop eating when I’m full. Food almost never goes bad in my kitchen. I’m excited about eating every meal and I eagerly try new foods and recipes. Eating food I didn’t personally cook makes me feel like it’s my birthday. I absolutely still do think fondly of eating an entire bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups or a giant hot croissant fresh from the oven, but knowing that I’ll immediately feel sick if I do eat those things keeps me on the diet and feeling well.

The compromises

I couldn’t actually afford to the time and money to eat fully AIP in two particular ways: I can’t always afford to buy organic produce, and I can rarely afford to buy pastured meat or eggs. Buying higher quality meat and eggs (e.g., organic, free-range, or partly grass-fed), even if it isn’t fully pastured, seems like it has been enough of an improvement over fully conventional meat and eggs to be worth it. Also, once you have tasted an organic free-range brined chicken or a grass-fed burger, it’s really hard to go back to the 100% conventional U.S. stuff – it tastes pretty bad in comparison. Delivery of pastured meat isn’t feasible for me because I travel so often. Also, I’m not eating as much organ meat as the AIP diet would prefer.

The cookbook

Eating AIP without a cookbook is hopeless. Besides the challenge of making food without most of the ingredients you normally put in food, there are lots of foods you really need to eat that have complicated prep techniques. The main cookbook I used was The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook by Mickey Trescott. Mickey also does one-on-one diet coaching via Skype – highly recommended if you’re stuck on fixing particular problems or debugging particular foods. For example, I was having mixed results reintroducing rice, and she told me it was normal to have no reaction to whole white rice, but have problems with brown rice or rice flour. I don’t know why that is, I’m just glad she helped me find what works for me!

Meats and bone broth

Eating AIP involves a huge amount of meat, which is a pain to cook and store. Trader Joe’s has a surprising number of pre-cooked meat products that are AIP-compatible, even during the first most restrictive phase of the AIP diet. If you choose the right meats, you can make your own bone broth without going out to buy bones themselves.

Pre-cooked meats and seafood

The big winner here is the pre-cooked carnitas, over in the deli case next to the fresh meats. Don’t worry about how fatty it is – eating AIP you end up having a hard time getting enough fat in your diet and you’ll be grateful for a fatty cut of meat like these carnitas. The next big one is pre-cooked bacon, though my local TJ’s stopped carrying it and I now make a special trip to CostCo to buy it. Pre-cooked bacon is crucial for sticking to the diet for the first few weeks – if you’re low on calories and time, pull out the pre-cooked bacon and dates and keep eating till you are full.

The Chicken Apple Sausage is technically AIP-compatible, although you notice that the maple syrup added to it makes it unpleasantly sweet after a few weeks on the diet. I much prefer the Garlic Herb chicken sausage. The smoked salmon is usually AIP-compatible. The prosciutto is also good; I buy the Stockmeyer because it is cheaper and lasts longer, although it isn’t the traditional soft style of prosciutto. Tuna fish, sardines, and similar stuff is available in the canned section.

If you successfully add nightshades back to your diet, you can try a lot more of the pre-cooked chicken sausages: Sweet Italian and one with bell peppers. They just introduced a pre-cooked Beef Sirloin that is quite good if you’ve reintroduced black pepper. Also in post-black pepper land are the cured sausages that don’t need to be refrigerated – I like the Volpi brand best. Watch out, a lot of the cured sausages have sugar and milk powder in them, and many people end up with headaches from them (as I do if I eat too much of them). However, they make great emergency or travel food since they don’t need refrigeration until you open them.

Counter-intuitively, the “Just Chicken” line of pre-cooked meat is usually not at all AIP-compatible – it has tons of additives. Also, it tastes gross compared to your home-roasted organic free-range brined whole chicken that I’ll tell you about in the next section. Some Whole Foods have an organic roasted chicken with no additives if you’re looking for pre-cooked chicken; the ones I’ve seen are comparable in price to the high-end uncooked chickens Trader Joe’s sells. But you are risking entering a Whole Foods – I can’t get out of there for less than $40 for only half a bag of groceries.

Uncooked meats and seafood

The most expensive and important meat I buy at Trader Joe’s is the Organic Free-Range Brined Whole Chicken. I put half a lemon and a dried sprig of thyme inside, truss it, and roast it on a rack set in a pie dish covered in tin foil for about 90 minutes in a 400F oven, flipping it twice. I use a meat thermometer to figure out when it’s done (160F next to the breast bone). Once I made this chicken, I could not stand eating lesser chicken, especially not those frozen chicken breasts in a bag. This chicken is horrifyingly expensive (about $16 in SF) but I justify it because it’s a good source of bones for making bone broth (and did I mention that it tastes amazing?).

I also buy conventional bone-in pork chops – they taste way better than boneless pork chops and also create bones for broth. I fry pork chops in a pan to get that crisp brownness, even though it makes my apartment reek like bacon for hours. Another good option is the grass-fed ground beef, which comes both fresh and frozen in pre-made patties. I also like the frozen Mixed Seafood – add some bacon, bone broth, and asparagus, and it’s an affordable and super easy meal to make.

I detest cooking and eating most fish, but if you like it, TJ’s has tons of frozen seafood that is AIP-compatible. I used to buy ground turkey and make sausage patties out of it, but it was relatively tasteless no matter what I did and I stopped. If you’ve reintroduced nightshades, try the Sweet Italian Pork Sausage. That’s another great source of hard-to-find dietary fat. I cook them all at once and put them in a plastic container in the fridge.

Do go buy cooking twine – I never owned any until I started eating AIP. And I really like buying fresh thyme and drying the part I don’t use right away to put inside the chicken. I use the cooking twine to hang it till it dries and keep it in a glass jar after that. It’s great crumbled on pork chops, too.

Organ meats

TJ’s doesn’t carry a lot of organ meats, which are a source of a lot of important nutrients. The whole chicken I buy has no giblets. I tried buying and frying chicken livers from Whole Foods, and maybe I needed to give it a few more tries, but – yuck. Then I realized I could buy the chicken liver truffle pâté from the deli case (note: contains small amounts of milk and egg and is topped with caregeenan) at TJ’s and eat it on slices of Granny Smith apples (or cold steamed broccoli, believe it or not, or yucca crackers). I eat about one of these containers per two weeks. This is good enough for me for organ meats, though I’d love an easy source of chicken hearts because I hear they taste amazing.

Bone broth

Bone broth is a crucial part of AIP that you really can’t skip, and it also an enormous pain to make or buy. Bone broth isn’t “just stock”; it’s the product of cooking bones long enough to get most of the nutritious stuff out of the bone matrix. How long is long enough? NINE FUCKING HOURS. This is why I caved very early on and bought a scary pressure cooker, which only takes three fucking hours (plus pressurizing time) to make bone broth at high pressure. Here is my complete bone broth system:

  1. Buy whole chickens and bone-in pork chops.
  2. Save the bones after cooking in a gallon plastic bag in the freezer (remember to take the lemon out of the chicken carcass but leave the thyme).
  3. Save the drippings from the chicken in plastic containers, also in the freezer.
  4. When I have a full plastic bag of bones, roast them in the oven for 20 minutes at 400F on a foil-lined pan (this browns the bones and makes the broth taste good, otherwise it’s gross).
  5. Put the bones and the frozen drippings in the pressure cooker, add a bay leaf and about a tablespoon of salt, and fill with enough water to cover the bones.
  6. Cook on high pressure for 3 hours (mine only goes to 90 minutes, so I have to reset it once, and sometimes I let it sit overnight on “simmer” and do the rest in the morning).
  7. Pour contents into a strainer sitting in a large stock pot.
  8. Remove the strainer and ladle the broth into glass jars sitting in the sink (leave at least an inch of room at the top of each jar).
  9. Put all but one jar in the freezer (they won’t explode if you leave at least an inch of room).
  10. Every morning, put 1/3 cup of bone broth in a mug and add boiling water and drink it (you can skip a week or so every now and then with no trouble).

Bone broth is amazing. After I started eating bone broth everyday, I had a mildly gross experience as the new stronger layer of skin started growing in (stop reading and go to the next section if skin stuff makes you barf). I’ve always had patchy skin on my knees, but a few weeks after starting the bone broth, I noticed that a layer of skin on my knees started peeling off and underneath was – non-patchy skin. I haven’t had patchy skin anywhere on my body since. Imagine what’s happening on your insides!

Updated 26 August 2016: Whole Foods now sells pork and beef bones for fairly cheap – you can find them in the freezer near the butcher department. $10 worth of bones fills up my pressure cooker. Chicken wings are also a good source of cheap bones, which is good because I really don’t like pure beef or pork bone broth. For a couple of months, I was buying chicken carcasses from the local halal butcher but they stopped carrying them. I also noticed that Costco sells $5 whole roasted chickens which seem like a pretty good deal even if you’re throwing the bones away.

Eggs

Eggs aren’t in the introductory AIP diet, and I personally couldn’t reliably eat them until I entirely gave up on trying to reintroduce alcohol (sigh). But if you can eat them, eggs make a huge difference. I recommend the organic free-range TJ’s brand eggs. The shells are thick and the insides are thick and viscous in the way that indicates high quality. I especially like poaching eggs: Boil 2 quarts of water, take the pan off the heat, add a splash of vinegar, swirl the water, drop the egg in from the cup you cracked it into (or two at once), and put the lid on it and wait for 6 minutes before lifting it out with the slotted spoon you used to swirl the water. It’s also worth getting to be extremely good at making scrambled eggs.

Cooking oils

Cooking oils are a pain on AIP. You’re not supposed to use oils derived from seeds, like canola or safflower or sunflower. And you’re not supposed to heat olive oil because something something mumble carcinogens or something (cold olive oil is fine). Initially I just used coconut oil for everything – TJ’s carries it in a jar. It tastes a little funny with some things and it’s annoying that it’s hard below 75F, but it works. Then I finally rendered my own lard (bacon fat) and WOW. Bacon fat is amazing. Once you’ve had scrambled eggs cooked with rendered bacon fat, or steamed spinach with a little bacon fat, or chicken sausage fried in bacon fat – you’ll never go back.

I like to render my own fat using Bacon Bits and Pieces from TJ’s – chop them into 1/4 inch-size pieces and put them in a stock pot on low heat with a 1/4 cup of water for about an hour, pouring out the fat through a strainer into a funnel into a jar as it renders. You also get a bunch of incredibly delicious home-made bacon bits which I usually eat within 24 hours. One of my friends likes cooking bacon in the oven a couple of pounds at a time, and pouring the fat off that. But you can also buy lard in grocery stores that carry a lot of traditional Mexican foods, or order it online from Amazon (you should buy pasture-raised but conventional is okay). Leaf lard is the most prized lard – it has the least flavor and is used by dedicated bakers who say it makes the best pie crust.

Vegetables & fruits

Many vegetables and fruits are AIP-compatible, but I’ll list the ones that I didn’t eat as much of until I went AIP. If this list sounds boring and gross, remember this important fact: when you stop eating processed sugar, your palate gets more sensitive to sugar. A piece of steamed broccoli or a roasted brussel sprout will taste deliciously sweet and flavorful. A raisin will seem overwhelming.

The most important fruit while you are transitioning to the AIP diet is Medjool dates: they will satisfy your sugar cravings, fill you up on calories, and they go great with bacon, prosciutto, and coconut. Maybe I was over-cautious, but about a month into the diet, I started losing weight more quickly than the recommended 1 pound a week. The only way I could slow it down was to sit and eat dates and bacon and coconut every night for half an hour. (Remember what I said about all that chewing?) Dates also keep well and I spent about 6 months with a bag of dates in my purse at all times. Now dates seem too sweet to me and I only eat them occasionally.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Medjool dates contain mostly invert sugar, which has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar, but some other dates have higher percentages of sucrose, such as thoory and deglet noor dates. Sucrose turned out to be one of the things that doesn’t make me feel great in large quantities, so I cut down on the fruits with high levels of sucrose. I stick with Medjool dates, even though they tend to be more expensive and squishier than the rest of the dates. Also they are the only date my TJ’s carries.

Other good fruits for keeping up the calories: bananas, fresh figs, peaches, nectarines, plums, grapes, and mangos (though most of these are high in sucrose, so pay attention to how you feel when you eat lots of them and try to always eat protein and fat with them). Fresh mangos in the U.S. mainland are usually super gross; try the frozen pre-cut mangos in the TJ’s freezer (now in organic, too). TJ’s also sells frozen figs sometimes – delicious! Unfortunately, figs give me headaches, fresh or frozen.

Other frozen favorites: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, nectarines. Early on, smoothies made with frozen bananas and other fruit using an immersion blender were crucial to consuming enough calories to avoid dangerous weight loss (you’ll get REALLY tired of chewing). I would buy fresh bananas and freeze them in plastic containers when they got ripe. As your need for calories lessens, apples, pears, and persimmons get more attractive. Applesauce is important: apples have a low glycemic index and it is a treat to eat something that you don’t have to chew. I like the Gravenstein applesauce at TJ’s but the regular is fine too.

Avocados are crucial: one of the few sources of fat in an AIP diet. I generally have at least 5 avocados in varying states of ripeness in the house. If you buy them 4 in a bag, you can put two in the fridge for a few days so they don’t all ripen at once. Once they ripen, put them in the fridge until you are ready to eat them. I like to halve them, slice them in the skin (be careful with the knife), scoop them out with a spoon on to a plate, and drizzle white balsamic vinegar on them and sprinkle some salt. Super amazingly good! They also make a good breakfast: my canonical breakfast is bacon, half an avocado, two pre-cooked beets, and a cup of hot bone broth.

Pre-cooked frozen asparagus was a major staple for me for a while. You always have a ready-to-eat vegetable in the fridge, and you can defrost them and wrap them in prosciutto. They also go great in a mixed seafood stew or as an addition to scrambled eggs. Pre-cooked beets are also good – slice them and drizzle with vinegar or lemon juice. Speaking of lemons, I eat far more lemons now than I used to, go ahead and buy the bag of lemons and keep them in the fridge.

Brussel sprouts are amazing – if you cook them correctly. The difference between a delicious brussel sprout and a disgusting mess is about one minute of cooking. To get yourself off to a good start, make brussel sprout chips and sprinkle them with lemon juice. If you’re a good paleo person, you’ll substitute bacon fat (lard) for the olive oil, but start with the olive oil version first just to see how good they can really be. I also like steaming brussel sprouts, but the key is to remove the outer leaves and trim off the ends before cooking – the outer leaves have the most of the bitter gross part of brussel sprout flavor. Also slice larger brussel sprouts in half so they cook all the way through without turning the smaller sprouts to mush.

Microwave-in-bag vegetables sound like they will be terrible, but microwaving actually works well for many vegetables. Haricot verts are my favorite microwave-in-bag veggie at TJ’s, but they also sometimes have broccoli florets and pre-seasoned asparagus. You can microwave brussel sprouts in the bag, but if you don’t take them out and trim off the ends and outer leaves, they will taste disgusting. You can put them back in the bag and microwave them after, but if you’re going to all that effort, it’s not hard to boil a little water in your steamer while you’re preparing them.

I don’t think you can do paleo without massive amounts of sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are not a member of the nightshade family, so you can eat them right from the start, and they are a good source of sweetness and carbs while you’re getting used to a lower carb diet. Don’t buy canned sweet potatoes; they are gross and usually sweetened. You can roast sweet potatoes whole and keep them in the fridge for a quick snack. I’m particularly enamored of the new purple Murakami sweet potatoes. Regular orange sweet potatoes tend towards stringy wetness; Murakami are dry and mealy – a little too dry IMO but a wonderful change from the norm. Did you know that if you peel and dice purple sweet potatoes, toss them in melted bacon fat, add a little thyme and salt, and roast them for 30 minutes at 400F, they taste remarkably like cupcakes? It’s one of the few paleo foods I have a hard time stopping eating. (I tried cinnamon but it tasted nothing like a cupcake; it’s some weird effect of the thyme.)

One thing you will seriously miss on this diet is anything – anything at all – that is crunchy. (Treasure those homemade bacon bits.) The only AIP cracker I can find is yucca crackers, which you can’t buy at TJ’s. I get mine at Mission Heirloom over in Berkeley, which has a gorgeous outdoor patio. You can get Mission Heirloom food delivered, but I can only imagine it’s hideously expensive. I’m currently searching for a source of AIP-compatible taro chips, but it’s hard to find anything fried that doesn’t use a seed-based oil.

Coconut products

Coconut products are an important part of the AIP diet, especially in providing that hard-to-get fat. A lot of salad dressings, sauces, smoothies, and desserts use specialty coconut products. You’ll find it a lot easier to stay on AIP if you get all the obscure coconut products and have them in your pantry.

Trader Joe’s only carries three AIP-safe coconut products: Coconut oil, coconut flour, and coconut sugar. The rest of their coconut products contain either sugar or thickening agents. Once you’ve figured out which thickening agents (xanthan gum, guar gum, etc.) are safe for you, you can start eating more of TJ’s coconut products, but don’t start until you’ve done the full AIP protocol and are ready to test for allergies to thickeners. (Turns out one of my most debilitating reactions was to a thickening agent in TJ’s coconut ice cream, which I’d been eating weekly when I was having really bad stomach pain. Oops.)

For the rest of the coconut staples – shredded coconut, dried coconut, coconut concentrate, coconut aminos – I order online. Amazon has everything, but I found that dried coconut was significantly cheaper when I purchased it directly from the original retailer. You’ll need to make your own coconut milk AFAICT – I never did find a source that didn’t include thickening agents. But all you’ll need is shredded coconut and cheese cloth to make your own.

Fermented foods

The very best fermented food at TJ’s is the fresh raw sauerkraut they sell in the deli case. This stuff is amazing. I made homemade sauerkraut and while it was vastly better than every other sauerkraut I’ve ever bought in a store, it didn’t measure up to the TJ’s at all.

I tried very hard to drink kombucha and water kefir (not available at TJ’s, I bought starter online from Amazon and used coconut sugar), but it turned out I’m so sensitive to alcohol that even the low amount in these foods was too much for me, so I don’t have a ton of advice here.

My system for making water kefir (which was super yummy) was this: buy two 0.75 liter bottles with integrated stoppers, two 0.75 wide mouth jars, cheesecloth, and water kefir starter, all from Amazon. Using coconut sugar from TJ’s, follow the instructions to start the fermentation in the two wide mouth jars and put them on top of the fridge. Every day, take the jar that has been sitting longer and pour it into a strainer sitting in a funnel in a bottle. While doing this, boil a little water in your electric tea kettle and stir it into two tablespoons of coconut sugar in a tall cup. When dissolved, add enough cold water to the cup to keep the hot water from killing the starter, and pour it and the kefir grains that ended up in the strainer back into the jar. Fill up the rest of the way with cold water and recover with cheesecloth and put it back on top of the fridge. If you like, go to Rainbow Grocery and get pure fruit juice concentrate and put a tablespoon in the bottle before you strain the kefir in it. Take the bottle you just filled, close the stopper, and leave it on the counter for one day to carbonate before putting it in the fridge. This way I always had a bottle of delicious sort-of soda every day.

You can make your own kombucha too but I never tried. It’s pretty damned expensive in the store and relatively easy to make once you get your system down, so I recommend making your own if you like kombucha.

Since I can’t eat dairy or even trace amounts of alcohol, I ended up trying a bunch of more or less expensive probiotics. I eventually discovered that VSL#3 works well for me, which is unfortunate because it is wildly expensive and needs to be refrigerated. I suggest trying everything else first, including eating naturally fermented foods.

Miscellaneous other useful foods and tips

Date sugar is a great low glycemic index sugar that I’ve only bought at Rainbow Grocery. I suspect you can get it at Whole Foods too, and it is also available on Amazon. I make a mean peppermint hot chocolate using date sugar, cocoa powder, coconut concentrate, and peppermint oil. Alcohol-free vanilla is useful too; I don’t recall where I found mine but it wasn’t TJ’s. Try Rainbow Grocery or Amazon. Generally any strange flour – lots of AIP recipes call for tapioca starch or arrowroot flour or something equally obscure – can be found at Rainbow, Whole Foods, or Amazon.

I bought a lot of resealable plastic containers and baggies, and always keep at least two or three kinds each of cooked vegetables, cooked meat, and fruit ready to eat and in plastic containers in my fridge. For the first few months, I would be suddenly hungry at unpredictable intervals, and the best way to not fall off the AIP diet for me was to always have ready-to-eat food in my fridge. When I head out for a few hours, I throw a couple of the containers and some apples in my purse and I have lunch. When I travel, I take an entire bag full of plastic containers and baggies with me (customs is a pain).

Many people recommend batch-cooking on the weekends to make enough food for the rest of the week. For me, what worked best was cooking for 15 minutes here and there throughout my week. For example, while I’m making breakfast, I’ll also take 10 minutes to steam some broccoli. Or I’ll get home, turn on the oven, and roast some sweet potatoes while I’m reading Twitter. Or I’ll make 6 servings of carrot salad while I’m making lunch, and put the other 5 (okay, 4) servings back in the fridge. I eat mostly plain whole foods that have been lightly cooked, so this works well for me. I found that putting an hour and a half into a stew with a lot of different ingredients that requires lots of prep work didn’t pay off for me in the pleasure of eating. Eating cold steamed green beans out of a plastic container makes me surprisingly happy! But if that isn’t enough for you, by all means, batch cook on the weekends.

When testing food additives, it’s worth buying them separately in the store and trying them alone, especially the thickeners which rarely are used alone. I found guar gum and xanthan gum in pure powdered form at Rainbow Grocery. Start looking at various non-dairy milk-like products to find ones with only one or two thickeners for easier testing.

I eat lots and lots of fat at every meal, and I could not have stuck with this diet if I hadn’t. This diet is pretty scarce in carbohydrates, and bodies can only convert so much protein into usable energy per day. I had to replace the rest of those missing carbohydrate calories with something else, and the only source left after protein is: FAT. Don’t worry, fat doesn’t actually make you fat, high glycemic index carbs make you fat – the low-fat diet relentlessly promoted by the U.S. government had no empirical basis and was probably highly influenced by the U.S. farm lobby. Take a look at these guys if you are worried about your health on a high-fat diet.

AIP only deals with a subset of food sensitivities. Sarah Ballantyne’s monster book reviews most other food sensitivities. For people with FODMAP sensitivities, you’ll need to modify the AIP diet heavily (only half an avocado per day? no brussel sprouts???). Another class of food sensitivities manifests as headaches when you eat particular foods (for me, some cured meats, figs, blackberries, most wine).

Equipment

I had to buy a fair bit of new kitchen equipment before I could cook AIP food. Here’s what I had to stock up in addition to a fairly minimal set of kitchen tools for someone who lives in a city and doesn’t cook that often:

  • For roasting: Cooking twine
  • For rendering lard: Fine strainer, funnel, jam jars
  • For bone broth: Large strainer, many glass jars (pickle, spaghetti sauce, applesauce, etc.), pressure cooker (optional)
  • For smoothies: Immersion blender
  • For fermenting: Bottles with stoppers, cheesecloth, large open-mouth jars
  • For many things: Large but relatively short stock pot (so you can also stir-fry in it easily), lots more plastic containers

Good luck!

That’s most of what I learned from one and a half years of cooking mostly AIP while living in a studio in San Francisco! Feel free to add your tips and tricks in the comments below. Best wishes for your new cooking adventures!