This post contains affiliate links. Click here to see what that means!
That being said, we only promote authors, products, and services that we wholeheartedly stand by!
AIP Kitchen tour is a monthly feature where we profile someone who eats AIP and has agreed to share their kitchen setup with the community, in hopes that they can further inspire us to get our kitchens organized and set up for success! We’ve heard reports of people who are able to make AIP work in college dorms and small city apartments to large households with family members who eat otherwise, 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.
Location: I am currently living in Brazil, but I also lived in Mexico for 9 months of my AIP journey!
AI Disease (if you feel like sharing): Crohn’s Disease
How long have you been eating AIP?: Since April 2013
Have you successfully reintroduced any foods? I occasionally eat eggs and ghee and also seem to do just fine with black pepper and other seed-based spices. Being able to reintroduce cumin was AWESOME!
How has AIP changed your life? AIP has helped my calm my Crohn’s disease symptoms and allowed me the freedom to travel more than 45 seconds from a bathroom! Beyond just the physical benefits AIP has introduced me to some amazing people who have helped me overcome the anger, sadness, and loneliness that tend to come hand in hand with autoimmune disease. It has also given me an awareness of the importance of food quality, not just for my own health (mental and physical) but also for the planet. I love that what is good for us is usually good for the environment too.
Size of your kitchen: About 6 feet by 5 feet. If you take more than two steps back from the stove you will hit my bed. My entire kitchen is smaller than a queen sized bed.
Favorite thing about your kitchen: The black shiny tile…
Least favorite thing about your kitchen: The fact that the sink is NOT in my kitchen. To use the sink I have to walk about 20 feet outside. At least the dirty dishes aren’t in plain view!
Here is my kitchen…the whole thing! This was right after it was installed, and the cleanest it has ever been.
Are there any cheap gadgets or little tools that you have found make AIP easier?
When I started the AIP I had no fancy kitchen devices and only one dull knife. My only “special” tool was a pressure cooker. My pressure cooker has no settings and cost me about 15 dollars… but does just about everything that the much more complicated an expensive Instant Pot does. I still use it to quickly cook veggies (sweet potatoes, squash, carrots… you name it in ten minutes or less!) and also to make bone broth. I have a gas stove so simmering broth when I am not at home isn’t very safe. In the pressure cooker my broth is ready in 3 hours or less. The one extra tool that I finally got as a present from my mom was a spiralizer which is so fun! I did make “zoodles” with vegetable peelers and a knife before I had it, but a spiralizer is WAY easier and much more fun!
My first “fancy” AIP meal took two tries and the first resulted in tears. I accidentally blended the plastic blender top with the ingredients of Against All Grain’s No’mato Sauce and had to start over again. I also made the zoodles by hand with my dull knife. The second time was the charm though… even my NOT paleo husband loved the sauce!
My low-tech almost-Instant-Pot.
What is the biggest thing that changed in your kitchen setup when you adopted AIP?
Not a whole lot. I do have to clean the kitchen a lot more…and I use everything that I have! I have probably changed a lot more than my kitchen has. I have learned how to cook (more than just pasta) season my food and chop vegetables. Pre-AIP people would get nervous when they saw me with a knife, but now I can chop onions with the best of them.
What my kitchen looks like now! A huge mess. Also I hung a mini-oven on the wall.
What is your most used kitchen tool?
Probably my one dull knife. Which is a really good reason to invest in some good knives. My favorite is my spiralizer though, which I use almost daily to make my meals more exciting.
Are there any tricks you have learned to make AIP work in your space?
My space (or lack thereof) hasn’t had as much of an effect on my AIP experience as my brain. Early on I was always starving so I had to make sure that I always had something on hand that I could eat right away without prep. I also couldn’t handle uncooked vegetables early on because my digestive system was pretty close to totalled. I would pressure-cook large batches of veggies and store them in my fridge to eat cold with olive oil if I needed to eat “urgently.” I would also store meat in serving size portions in the freezer so that I could defrost just what I needed for a meal and avoid wasting food.
How do you deal with food for family members that is not AIP?
My husband is far from AIP. My main strategies are:
- To pretend that his Oreos (and other off-limits foods) are POISON…which for me at least, they are.
- To store all of his off limits foods in a large plastic box that I never open
If you want to read a little more about how I deal with non-AIP foods in my house I have posted about it on my blog.
Are there any tools or appliances you don’t use now that you’ve changed your diet?
Tools and appliances no…but ingredients yes! Honestly I wasn’t much of a cook before I changed my diet. My kitchen was probably the least-used part of my house. Now I enjoy trying new recipes and playing with my food in general. There are now a whole lot of tools and appliances that I wish I had! Topping the list are a food processor, a high-powered blender and a set of really nice knives.
Do you batch cook? How do you store your leftovers?
I am really disorganized. I have a hard time planning meals ahead and the only things I tend to cook in larger batches are bone broth and stew. I store bone broth and stew in glass jars in the refrigerator or freezer. But to be completely honest most prepared food lasts less than 2 days at my house. If I don’t finish it at dinner I eat it for breakfast. 🙂
My currently empty AIP fridge. I usually stock up on Sunday mornings at the huge farmer’s market. While organic food is not very available where I live, the produce is fresh and local.
Buying fresh yucca at the farmer’s market.
Lucky for me fresh local seafood is easy to find!
What are your favorite AIP and Paleo cookbooks?
I am terrible at following recipes. I tend to use them as inspiration or suggestion instead of actually following them. This probably explains why baking is not my strong point (baked goods tend to require exact measurements). Here are a couple of my favorite books for inspiration:
The Paleo Approach Cookbook: This is not just a cookbook but also a guide to the autoimmune protocol. It even includes an alphabetical yes/no list for the elimination phase of the AIP. If you can only afford one cookbook I would start with this one as it will not only help you eat, it will also help you understand your new diet.
Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook: This cookbook isn’t just a cookbook, it shares tidbits of information about the real life struggles (anger, sadness and frustration) that we undergo in our journey of discovering and healing from autoimmune disease. I can honestly say that this is the first cookbook I have ever read that made me feel understood and less alone.
The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook: My first AIP cookbook, this cookbook has simple delicious recipes that won’t overwhelm a new cook! Many AIP recipes call for odd ingredients that are hard to find abroad but I was overjoyed to find that this cookbook had a ton of recipes that I could make with my international pantry.
85 Amazing AIP Breakfasts: My breakfasts are usually quite simple and nothing like what you would expect to eat in the morning. This book is a must-have for someone who wants a comforting almost “normal” breakfast while they make the switch!
Here I am with a couple of my favorite cookbooks!
What are the biggest benefits/challenges of following AIP in a developing country?
While following the AIP in a developing country you are forced to eat real food. Fruits, veggies, meat and seafood. This is a huge benefit for your health, however sometimes it can feel like a life-long Whole 30. I was rarely able to get my hands on specialty ingredients like coconut, tapioca and arrowroot flour or even good quality gelatin and carob. There are a ton of super interesting AIP recipes that I have had to pass on because I simply can’t purchase the ingredients. In Brazil, the land of coconuts, I had to learn how to make my own coconut milk because the canned variety isn’t available.
At first I felt upset and left out but I realized later that while difficult, the “disadvantage” of not being able to buy these foods was actually an advantage for my health. A dear friend sent me a care package with a bunch of specialty flours and I promptly went crazy making “AIP treats” and ended up with a tummy ache. Moderation is definitely important when using processed ingredients and natural sugars even if they are on the AIP yes-list. Now I know to save my specialty flours and treats for occasions like Christmas and my birthday, when I want to have something special (and also have company to help me eat everything). You can read more about my take on “paleo treats” here.
One place that I have had to compromise is food quality. Organic fruits and veggies are pretty much unheard of where I live and free-range chickens are few and far between. I make up for this by eating a lot of seafood and trying to eat as locally as possible.
One huge advantage is the availability of offal and organ meat. I can buy cow tongue, stomach and hooves at any grocery store. The chicken market has chicken feet, liver, heart, feet and even carcasses for sale by the pound. I have slowly begun to try more and more of these unusual items using traditional Brazilian recipes.
Do you have any tips for those just starting out on AIP and setting up a small kitchen?
The most important part is to decide that you are going to just do it. No excuses. No “I’ll just have a little bit,” NO 80/20! For you to know whether or not AIP really works for you, you have to give it a 100% chance.
As far as the small kitchen…a small kitchen shouldn’t make much of a difference in your AIP experience as long as you have a working stove and refrigerator! Make sure that you always have a snack on hand in the beginning because if you are really hungry you are far more likely to want to eat something that might not be the best for you.
Trust yourself…you deserve to feel better. You CAN do this!
If you would like to follow Mikaela’s journey, she can be found at her blog Slightly Lost Girl as well as on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram!
Would you like to be featured on the blog for 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, drop us a line using the contact form!
Loved this interview! Thank you, Mikaela, for sharing your set-up. I sometimes feel at a disadvantage because I have a very very small kitchen, a lot like yours, here in the states. I get super envious of the beautiful kitchens belonging to many other AIPers. Thanks for helping me get my bad attitude in check. I’ve got my working stove and fridge, and they’ve gotten me through my first month with no problem.
Congrats on making it through your first month and I hope that you continue to do well! Haha I also get jealous of those beautiful kitchens, you aren’t the only one. For now we can just dream and be glad our stoves are working 🙂
Thanks for sharing! We are gearing up for a very extended road trip and the pressure cooker/instant pot solution may be what saves us in hotels 🙂
Awesome! I hope it speeds up your cooking and makes your trip AWESOME!!!!
Mikaela, you’re a badass & I for one am impressed. This is so much like my African experience of setting up a kitchen & learning a whole new way to look at cooking & eating. Thanks so much for being a part of the Kitchen Tour!
You are also a badass Angie 🙂 I can’t wait for the day that we can sit down together and chat about our crazy international health experiences over a delicious meal!!!! Thanks to you both for inviting me to join your tour 🙂
I loved seeing your kitchen, Mikaela! Such a cool glimpse into your life. 🙂
Hahah I was hesitant to include that messy kitchen picture because of all of the weird stuff… motorcycle helmet, kites, supplements but I figured what the heck, that is reality 🙂 glad you enjoyed!
[…] My kitchen is miniature…. smaller than a queen sized bed. Recently Mickey, of Autoimmune-Paleo interviewed me about making the AIP work in a small space as well about as some of the unique parts of following the AIP in a developing country. If you would like to read more about my kitchen… and see some fabulous pictures please check out my interview here! […]