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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: Kari Owens
Location: Seattle, WA
AI Disease: I was diagnosed at age 15 with ankylosing spondylitis, and later with hypothyroidism.
How long have you been eating AIP? 2.5 years
How has the AIP changed your life?
This is such a loaded question. I feel it’s more how didn’t it change my life? It gave me back my health during a time when I had been on so many different medications and still wasn’t feeling well. When I think about life before AIP I think about how I was managing most days with a lot of pain and trying to mask or hide it. It not only showed me a new perspective on my own health, but it gave me a life that I never dreamed of to help others do the same. From AIP, I became trained as a Nutritional Coach and now work with women looking to use food to heal both physically and emotionally. I get to help people reclaim their lives, establish a better relationship with their bodies and live beyond disease. There are so many ways that AIP changed my perspective on nutrition, movement and self-care. It’s been through this health journey that I’ve learned (and continue to learn) so much, and I am honored to share that when I work with clients.
Have you successfully reintroduced any foods?
Chocolate (sugar-free) in small amounts, nut milks, eggs, almond flour, seed spices, wine on special occasions, coffee on occasion.
Size of your kitchen: 100-140 square feet
Favorite thing about your kitchen:
I have tons of natural lighting from a south-facing window, a great amount of storage space and my rustic collapsible kitchen table has such a story behind it! I believe every great kitchen table has a story to go along with it!
Least favorite thing about your kitchen:
The outdated appliances — though I don’t complain since I now have a dishwasher and didn’t for about 6 months when I was strict AIP.
Are there any cheap gadgets or little tools that you have found make AIP easier?
My little blender wand. Okay, I don’t think that’s actually what it’s called, but it’s so nice not to have to blend teas and coconut oil in a blender just to get a latte. Mason jars, too. Storage is a life saver for me since I cook so much food at one time and having measurable storage containers is so helpful, especially for things like broths and sauces.
What is the biggest thing that changed in your kitchen setup when you adopted the AIP?
Pretty much zero pantry items. Even to this day I don’t really have a standard pantry. I have some spices that I love using and a cupboard full of supplements (Vital Proteins is dominating my pantry!) but my actual pantry selection is very small. The only times I buy baking ingredients are if I am making something for someone, or for the holidays. Outside of that, I may have some jerky or plantain chips in my pantry and those are reserved for my hiking trips.
If someone was just starting to invest in some useful but more expensive kitchen tools, which one would you tell them to buy first?
The Instant Pot 100%. I can’t think of a more widely used or universal tool that will help you cook a lot of food with very little cleanup. I remember the days of making bone broth for over 24 hours on the stove. There’s no need for that now when a tool like this exists and it does so many things really well. After that I’d say a blender. I use a Ninja and love that it has different settings and sizes for single blenders or larger batches depending on your needs. But I will be honest and say I’m jonesing for a Vitamix, but then again, who isn’t!?
Are there any tricks you have learned to make AIP work in your space?
I’ve worked in a smaller kitchen than this and without a dishwasher at the same time. I feel that I actually have quite a bit of space for storage, so that’s not really a concern. I am so used to my routine now and have cooked in so many kitchens it feels natural to make my style of eating adaptable just about anywhere. So often we can over-complicate things when they don’t need to be. My food style is simple, clean and tasteful. I try not to make it more elaborate than it needs to be.
How do you deal with food for family members that are not AIP?
This is a great question. Fortunately for me when I started AIP I was around a lot of family who were all very supportive of what I was undertaking. It was however when they started to see the difference in how I felt that they really began to take more notice and pay attention. A lot of my family also eats very healthy and clean already so that was helpful. The one thing I have always been adamant about with non-AIP foods is not letting myself fear being around other foods, and making myself adaptable in situations. I help a lot of clients with this too as it’s hard not to let fear rule you and get into a headspace that only gives you tons of anxiety when eating out our traveling. I travel, and for me, knowing that I trust myself and can make most things work flexibly is priceless to me feeling well.
Are there any tools or appliances that you’ve stopped using now that your diet has changed?
I had to really think about this. My ice cream scoop rarely gets used. I don’t own a microwave or toaster so those are definitely ones I don’t use.
What are your favorite meals to batch cook?
Confession, I don’t do a ton of regular meals. Mostly I make a ton of meal components and then have them together throughout the week according to my meal plan. I am obsessed with Mickey’s magical Green Curry, and also this sauce from my site. Both of them are exactly what you’ll find in my fridge in the way of sauces. This chicken and gravy I make regularly each month. This soup is also incredibly quick and delicious and I make it at least once a month in the winter. Also, meatballs. When I first started AIP, I believed meatballs were a whole other food group, and truthfully they are what sustains me most days.
Do you have any tips for those starting an elimination diet and setting up their kitchens for the first time?
It’s best to get rid of everything on the “no” list – BUT it is still possible to do AIP if you live in a house where that is not the case. In fact, that’s the setting I started in. Having a plan, batch cooking and using tools (like the Instant Pot and blenders)\ to help you is super important. I always say simple is the way to go. I used AIP to take me back to the very basics of food and nourishment rather than try to do more, or create elaborate dishes. In the long run, sustainably yes there is a place for that but when you’re just starting that can feel overwhelming. Organization became hugely important for me, that’s why I have so many mason jars! To me, there is a real liberation in going back to basics and a whole newfound creativity in having limited options. In fact, it opened up a whole new world of options for me, so don’t be stressed. Use this as a time to get to know yourself in a different way, let your kitchen be a part of that fun!
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!