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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.
Name: Jo Romero
AI Disease: Psoriasis
How long have you been eating AIP? Initially I went AIP for 1 month before adding reintroductions — I’ve been on modified AIP (with the reintroductions) for almost two years.
How has the AIP changed your life? When I started AIP, I was very self-conscious, with depression and severe psoriasis all over my body and scalp. Now, the psoriasis has very nearly gone completely — just one tiny patch left — and I feel better than ever. I have much more confidence and have a calmer mind, too.
Size of your kitchen: Small! It was difficult for me to get a photo of the whole room, even! It’s about 9 feet long by about 8 feet wide.
Favorite thing about your kitchen: The kitchen was like this when we moved into the house, but I love that the layout is quite handy, and the fact it’s small works quite well, too — you cook and then turn around and there’s the sink to drain your vegetables. I once had a kitchen more than double the size of this one and it actually wasn’t so easy to cook in it because everything was a lot more spaced out.
Least favorite thing about your kitchen: There’s a lot of wasted space in the kitchen — I find myself physically crawling into the cupboards to get to the foods at the back, or dragging chairs in so I can stand on them to get spices out of the cupboards on the top. We’re hoping to add more drawers and pull-out shelves when we plan the new kitchen, hopefully next year. I don’t have much space for utensils, so I bought little metal cannisters for the worktop so I can easily grab ladles, spoons, knives and whisks when I need them.
Are there any cheap gadgets or little tools that you have found make AIP easier? I have a small Lakeland hand-held julienne peeler, which I used to make veggie noodles before I got my spiralizer. It was good for cooking for one or two, but the spiralizer works better when you’re preparing foods in batch or when you’re cooking for more people.
What is the biggest thing that changed in your kitchen setup when you adopted the AIP? The first thing I did was get rid of the toaster, which gave me a bit more worktop space. We also bought a large larder freezer so that I could store anything that wouldn’t fit in the fridge. We have quite a small fridge (and no space for a big one) and when I first went AIP we found we were buying fewer tins and jars and a lot more fresh food. The freezer’s in the garage, which is right next to the kitchen.
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 say definitely invest in a slow cooker. I use a Morphy Richards 3.5-litre slow cooker and it saves me so much time. I cook whole chickens in it, make pulled pork and stews. It’s also great for bone broths as you can leave it going overnight. The other thing I use every day is my Kenwood Triblade Hand Mixer — it has whisk, mashing and chopping attachments too, so chopping onions and garlic takes seconds. And it’s quite small, so can be easily stored away from the worktop.
Are there any tricks you have learned to make AIP work in your space? I worked a lot on avoiding food waste. I save everything, nothing gets thrown out, even if it’s a couple of broccoli stalks leftover from dinner. That’s why my fridge shelves are usually dotted with little pots and bowls. I usually raid the fridge each morning for leftovers at breakfast.
How do you deal with food for family members that are not AIP? My husband eats paleo and my children eat 80% paleo but have the odd non-paleo treat every now and then. So I do have chocolate, cereals, nuts and cookies in the house, which I need to avoid. We all eat AIP for our evening meal so I cook only once, and we all eat together, which makes mealtimes easier for me. I just make sure to store the non-AIP foods away from sight so they’re less tempting for me — some are stored on shelves in the garage and anything else is shut away behind cupboard doors in the kitchen. I also store the non-AIP foods on a different shelf in the fridge.
Are there any tools or appliances that you’ve stopped using now that your diet has changed? The toaster. It was shame because it was a big, red retro-style one, but we just never used it. Getting rid of it meant that I had more worktop space — and somewhere to put the slow cooker, which is cooking something most days.
What are your favorite meals to batch cook? I always double up on stews, so I have leftovers for the fridge or freezer. And rather than buy small joints of meat, I’ll buy a larger joint and cook it so there’s enough for lunches for the rest of the week, too, which cuts down the time I spend in the kitchen.
What are your favorite AIP and Paleo cookbooks? I love Russ Crandall’s Paleo Takeout book, and many of the recipes in it can be modified for AIP. I also love Sarah Ballantyne’s The Paleo Approach Cookbook and I’ve cooked most of the recipes in Angie Alt’s Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook.
Do you have any tips for those starting an elimination diet and setting up their kitchens for the first time? The best advice I could give is to keep it simple. Don’t go out and buy every gadget everyone else is talking about; consider which tools will help you with your style of cooking. And grow your own herbs. I have a big rosemary plant in the garden which I love — it looks pretty, smells amazing and saves me some money, too.
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, drop us a line using the contact form!