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AIP Kitchen Tour is a monthly feature in which we 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! We’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. Through these interviews, we hope to share how they make it happen across a variety of budgets and living situations, and give the community a wealth of inspiration. Read more Kitchen Tours here!
Name: Sophie Van Tiggelen
Location: Colorado, USA
AI Disease: Hashimoto’s
How long have you been eating AIP? Since August 2012
How has the AIP changed your life?
Simply put, before AIP I couldn’t function anymore as a “normal” person. My symptoms were debilitating and conventional medicine doctors had no clue what was wrong with me. When I started AIP, my life changed: my symptoms slowly disappeared and I started living again!
Have you successfully reintroduced any foods?
Yes! Nuts and seeds, chocolate and coffee (in small quantities), some spices, bell peppers, and eggs.
Size of your kitchen: 14 x 17 feet
Favorite thing about your kitchen: openness, bright light, and a center island!
Least favorite thing about your kitchen:
I need more storage room and a real pantry.
Are there any cheap gadgets or little tools that you have found make AIP easier?
- A good cutting board and an excellent chef’s knife!
- Glass baking dishes to batch cook
- Handheld mixer (for soups)
- A vegetable peeler!
What is the biggest thing that changed in your kitchen setup when you adopted the AIP?
Everything that contained gluten was out and I invested in a really good cutting/chopping knife. I know, they can be quite expensive, but they are worth every penny. In fact, I use my chef’s knife every day. Otherwise, I didn’t have to make big changes in my kitchen in order to start AIP.
If someone was just starting to invest in some useful but more expensive kitchen tools, which one would you tell them to buy first?
I would recommend to purchase a slow cooker or an Instant Pot. These have helped me a lot, especially when I am extra busy and don’t have the time to cook. You can also use both to make bone broth!
Are there any tricks you have learned to make AIP work in your space?
When I go grocery shopping, I start cutting and chopping my vegetables as soon as I get back home. I pack everything in resealable plastic bags and store them at the bottom of my refrigerator. Pre-cut vegetables will stay fresh for several days. This technique requires some time at the beginning (usually no more than one hour for me) but will save you much time later.
This way, I don’t have to start every meal with a peeling and cutting session. I just grab handfuls of vegetables and throw them in a pan or in the oven to roast. Pair this with some protein and you’ve got yourself a healthy, wholesome meal!
How do you deal with food for family members that are not AIP?
About 70% of all the food in my kitchen is AIP compliant. This includes vegetables, fruit, meat, and seafood. I also keep around 20-25 AIP pantry items that I use regularly when cooking or baking. The other 30% comprises food the rest of my family eats like GF bread, GF cereal, nuts and seeds, as well as GF pre-packaged snacks.
I keep these on a separate shelf in the pantry. Note that absolutely nothing containing gluten is allowed in the house. I think the risk of contamination is too high and I don’t want to deal with all the clean-up that would inevitably be necessary.
Are there any tools or appliances that you’ve stopped using now that your diet has changed?
My bread maker, toaster, and coffee maker.
What are your favorite meals to batch cook?
I love to batch cook big loads of vegetables in the oven, as well as huge meatloaves, rotisserie chicken, bone broth, and soups. Unfortunately, since there are five of us at home, we go through my batch cooked dishes pretty quickly!
What are your favorite AIP and Paleo cookbooks?
The selection of AIP cookbooks available is growing steadily. What I like though is the fact that each one of them has its own “brand” or style, which makes them unique. To name a few: The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook by Mickey Trescott, The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook by Angie Alt, Nourish by Rachael Bryant, The Healing Kitchen by Sarah Ballantyne and Alaena Haber, He Won’t Know It’s Paleo by Bre’anna Emmit, and of course my own cookbook Simple French Paleo!
Do you have any tips for those starting an elimination diet and setting up their kitchens for the first time?
The best advice I have been given when starting AIP was “be prepared”! This is truly the recipe for success on the Autoimmune Protocol. You don’t want to be caught hungry with nothing “safe” to eat in the house! That’s when you might be tempted to make a bad choice or even fall off the AIP wagon. How can you prepare yourself? Here are a few good places to start:
- Make your kitchen an AIP kitchen.
- Get rid of all gluten-containing products and junk food.
- Stock up your refrigerator with plenty of AIP approved, health promoting foods.
- Prepare your snacks in advance (chopped vegetables, fruit, canned sardines, Epic bars, Wild Zora bars, coconut flakes, etc.…)
Meal planning is also a valuable tool that will save you time in the long run. Before going on a trip to the grocery store, sit down and think about all the meals you will prepare for the next few days. Write down all the ingredients you will need to purchase in order to prepare these meals.
Also, do not hesitate to ask for help from family and friends. For example, you could ask someone to do all the food shopping for you.
Now, why would you want to save time in the kitchen you might wonder? That’s because healing from an autoimmune disease is not just about the food you eat and don’t eat. Remember that your lifestyle is equally important and other factors will play a role in your recovery. Reduce your stress levels, cultivate your sleep, exercise regularly (but moderately), spend time in nature, and connect with other people in the community.
Sophie has tons of wonderfully helpful resources for AIP first-timers on her blog, A Squirrel in the Kitchen, as well as on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Her cookbook, Simple French Paleo, features effortlessly AIP recipes inspired by her French heritage.
Would you like to be featured in an AIP Kitchen Tour? We feature members of the community who are willing to share the real spaces where they cook, as well as their stories of transitioning to this lifestyle. If you are interested, fill out our interest form!