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This is a list of some of my favorite hacks in the kitchen. You’ll notice that most of these tips involve a little more work upfront, to make things more convenient and quick on the back end. After embarking on the Autoimmune Protocol and committing to a real-foods lifestyle post reintroductions and recovery, I’ve learned a LOT of things about how to make eating this way more doable! On to the list…
1. Always have a sauce on hand.
Sauces help you make a quick meal or reimagine leftovers. If you’ve got some plain protein and leftover vegetables, a nice sauce makes your meal more flavorful and fun! Try these: Golden Turmeric Sauce, Green Curry, Nomato Sauce or Apricot-Thyme BBQ Sauce!
2. Don’t like chopping? Use your food processor!
For recipes like my “Magic” Chili, you can easily use the grater blade on a food processor to cut your vegetables instead of chopping them by hand. While you are at it, grate some fresh vegetables for salad too – carrots, beets, cucumbers, and zucchini are all great options!
3. Use the Instant Pot to pressure cook winter squash before peeling!
Who else hates peeling hard winter squash? Pop that baby, whole, on the steaming rack and pressure cook for 10 minutes, quick releasing the pressure. Your squash will be perfectly cooked, and separate easily and perfectly from the peel. (If you don’t have an Instant Pot, consider getting one — they make cooking SO much easier!)
4. Freeze sauces and herbs cooked at the peak of the season.
Produce not only tastes best, but has the highest nutrient content at the peak of the season. I like to batch-cook sauces with very seasonal ingredients and freeze them for the rest of the year, to lock in that flavor and nutrition. If you are freezing fresh herbs, mince and pack in ice cube trays packed with bone broth or olive oil. Once they’ve frozen, transfer to another container for long-term storage.
5. “Batch” juice and freeze lemons and limes.
Just like the herbs above, you can batch juice and freeze citrus — if you do it in the wintertime, when citrus is in season, you not only get the best tasting fruit but you also save yourself the hassle and mess of squeezing them fresh every time you need some. You can even use this trick for raw, grated or juiced ginger! Like the herbs, simply freeze in an ice cube tray and transfer to another container for long-term storage.
6. Freeze complete meals in pint size mason jars.
Have a busy season coming up and want to get “ahead” on your cooking? Batch-cook some freezable favorites (like my Carrot and Sweet Potato “Chili”, Healing Green Soup, and Moroccan Inspired Breakfast Skillet) and freeze in pint-size mason jars (make sure to get the wide-mouth ones without shoulders!) with BPA-free lids. Pro tip: Once you portion your meals into jars, let them “rest” in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours to let the flavors combine. This also helps them cool slowly, and reduces the chance of breakage in the freezer.
7. Reduce your broth and freeze in ice cube trays.
After making your bone broth, you can continue to cook it uncovered until most of the liquid evaporates, leaving you with the ultra-concentrated leftovers (all the good stuff!). Freeze this in an ice cube tray or muffin tin and transfer another container for long-term storage. This tip is especially helpful for those who lack freezer space!
8. Pre-make vegetable “noodles” or “rice” for the week.
You have probably seen the exorbitantly priced already-spiralized or processed vegetables at your local Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Spend some time on your batch-cooking day prepping these staples to save you time and money! Use a food processor to “rice” vegetables like cauliflower and hard winter squash, or a countertop or handheld spiralizer to make zucchini or sweet potato noodles.
9. Keep ingredients for a couple “pantry meals” on hand for when you are in a pinch.
Life happens, and even those of us who are obsessive planners (raises hand!) end up needing to make a meal without any fresh ingredients. Having some pantry items on hand at all time can make this a heck of a lot easier. I always stock canned tuna, canned salmon, sardines, and cans of coconut milk in my pantry, along with storable vegetables like onions, garlic, ginger, sweet potato, and hard winter squash. With my reserve of frozen bone broth, herbs, lemon juice, and maybe a sauce or two, I can make a meal out of almost nothing!
There you have it — some of my favorite kitchen hacks to make AIP more affordable, achievable, and nourishing for you and your family.
If you found this article interesting you may like Stocking the AIP Pantry, my comprehensive guide to clearing out and setting up your pantry for the elimination diet.
What is your favorite AIP kitchen hack? I’d love to know if I missed something!