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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: Erika Schlick
Location: Los Angeles, CA
AI disease: celiac, Hashimoto’s, alopecia, psoriasis, lyme disease, mold, CIRS
How long have you been eating AIP?
I started AIP in 2013,
Have you successfully reintroduced any foods?
When I first started AIP in 2013 I was so sick I was only able to eat 8 AIP foods! After using the diet to heal myself and also find my root cause for my multiple AI diseases which was lyme disease, I am now able to eat most foods again!
Currently, I eat a mostly Paleo diet but there are a few things that I am still sensitive to like chilis/peppers/eggplant and several seed-based spices like cumin which I still avoid and I learned I was sensitive to on AIP.
Being able to reintroduce eggs, nuts, potatoes and tomatoes again has been really amazing for me as those were foods I really missed. I was very strict AIP for about 4 years until I was able to reintroduce a lot of foods and am so much more resilient now and my gut and body can handle so many more foods without causing inflammation or flares. I have not been able to reintroduce other nightshades or grains without experiencing inflammation so I keep those out of my diet.
How has the AIP changed your life?
When I started having debilitating health issues in 2012, one of my first diagnoses was celiac disease. This dove me deep into how diet can affect how we feel and affect our health. I started with a traditional gluten-free diet and felt awful. Everyone talked about a euphoria you were supposed to feel when you went gluten-free and really I was just eating a SAD diet, but a gluten-free version and I still felt symptomatic.
My doctor recommended I go on a strict paleo diet and I decided to take it one step further and do AIP and it changed my life. AIP taught me to really learn how my body reacted to foods and to dive deep for how food sensitivities might manifest for me. I discovered some foods that caused cognitive issues, bloating, joint pain, skin flares and so much more and it taught me to listen to and communicate with my body in a way I had no idea was possible.
I, unfortunately, developed four AI diseases in a short amount of time and had over 100 symptoms that would come and go. It took two years to find out that my root cause for this was lyme disease, as it is common for lyme to trigger AI diseases. I truly believe that one of the reasons I was able to get into lyme remission within 3 years once I was diagnosed was because of AIP and changing my diet so early on.
In those first 2 years before I was diagnosed with lyme I spent all my time working on diet and gut related diagnosis and being so familiar with foods and diet and what worked for my body really set up me to be in a good place for when I started my lyme treatments. I was diagnosed with food allergies, candida, SIBO, leaky gut and so much more and being on the AIP diet really helped me heal from these issues along with other treatments my doctor was having me do in conjunction.
I learned so much about food in general and what foods worked for my body and what foods cause inflammation for me personally. To this day, the knowledge I learned about how to read signals from my body is critical to staying healthy. AIP taught me an entirely new feedback system within me that I did not know existed or how to use it and that has helped me in places beyond my diet.
Size of your AIP kitchen: I have a large kitchen I share with my fiance.
Favorite thing about your kitchen:
We just moved into our new house six months ago and the kitchen is what sold me on this house! It has tons of space, lots of natural light and is perfect for shooting healthy cooking recipe videos in it. I love that I have large windows to see outside while I cook and a large island that makes food prep easy and it is great for when we have guests over and they can gather while I cook.
I wrote my first cookbook, Wandering Palate a few years ago and I did a media tour doing cooking segments on TV in various cities, and then Covid hit. I have been recording cooking segments for over 20 cities across the US sharing healthy and mostly AIP recipes on TV! I have been on over 300 TV segments now and my kitchen also becomes a TV set which is I absolutely love sharing with the world my story of healing with diet and how to eat delicious and simple healing recipes.
Least favorite thing about your kitchen:
My Bertazonni Range and current fridge haha! I am working on upgrading these very soon and looking forward to getting a Wolf Range. Unfortunately, since we moved into our home, our oven has not worked and I actually use my oven quite a bit to roast veggies or cook larger cuts of meat so we got a temporary counter oven to be able to stay on track with eating healthy while we save up to upgrade our range, hopefully soon. Otherwise this kitchen is the kitchen I have been dreaming of and manifesting for a very long time.
Are there any cheap gadgets or little tools that you have found make AIP easier?
I love using a handheld citrus squeezer to be able to fully juice my lemons and limes for dressings and cooking and I really love this handy Oxo Avocado Slicer! It makes it so easy to slice and pit your avocados which I seem to use at least once a day!
What is the biggest thing that changed in your kitchen setup when you adopted the AIP?
Since celiac disease was my first diagnosis I had to make some major updates in my kitchen and get new cookware, cooking utensils and cutting boards. Basically, anything that was porous or wood was going to potentially harbor gluten so it had to be replaced since I am so sensitive to gluten and I wanted to ensure my kitchen was a safe space for me.
Once I got through that, some of the other changes I made for AIP specifically was getting some glass mason jars to store soups and batch-cooked recipes.
Thankfully I did not have to have a shared kitchen with non-AIP family members but if that is your situation I highly recommend having a dedicated area/cabinet to store your safe cooking gear as well as ingredients that you need to keep safe just for you.
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 my top 3 recommendations are:
- Instant Pot — It makes it so easy to make delicious food and soups and this is especially helpful if you are struggling with your health and energy. It makes life so easy to put your ingredients in the Instant Pot and let it do all the work for you and only have to clean one pot when you are done and it is great for batch cooking. I also love to make meats in it that I shred and can use in various recipes.
- After an Instant Pot, I would recommend either a Vitamix or,
- a food processor. Both are great for food prep and making sauces, dressings and soups that can really bring your food to life.
I love to make an herby AIP chimichurri for my steaks and my food processor helps me put it together in just a few minutes! It can really elevate your AIP meals if you are feeling like you need some more flavors and sauces and want to prep them very easily. I also love to make my AIP Avocado Crema Lime Sauce for lettuce tacos or AIP bowls with cauliflower rice, veggies and shredded meat.
Are there any tricks you have learned to make AIP work in your space?
When I first went AIP, I did a big purge of my entire kitchen and all my ingredients and spices. I got rid of anything that was not AIP or gluten free to make sure that I did not accidentally use something that could set back my health or tempt me to eat off my diet. I think making sure you don’t have anything that can make you sick in your kitchen is key and very important. You want to feel like you have a safe and healing place in your home to nourish you and you can control what foods you keep in your home.
How do you deal with food for family members that are not AIP?
Fortunately, when I was diagnosed with celiac disease my now fiance decided to go gluten-free with me to be supportive. In doing so, he learned that he himself is very sensitive to gluten as well and decided to do AIP with me and he also felt amazing on the diet.
I think I was very blessed and lucky to have the support system in place and it made it easier when we both ate the same way and much easier to cook one meal that we could both enjoy. To be honest, eating AIP is not boring and can be quite delicious. I think when you are using high-quality ingredients (organic produce, grass-fed meats, wild fish) the food itself tastes so great and you can make so many delicious dressings and sauces with fresh herbs and citrus that you really won’t feel deprived or like it is a special diet. It is real food that is nourishing and delicious. I always encourage you to see if your family or household can join in for at least 30 days to see how they feel because they may also discover some sensitivities that can help them feel better!
Are there any tools or appliances that you’ve stopped using now that your diet has changed?
I would say my toaster for sure. Once I went AIP and cut out grains I don’t really have a need for a toaster. I occasionally use it if I find a Paleo bread to use but in general, that does not get much use anymore and I just don’t crave bread or any items that need to be toasted. These days I am all about sugar-free, pasture-raised bacon and grass-fed steak!
What are your favorite meals to batch cook?
I love to make shredded meats in my Instant Pot. You can make a large batch and then use the shredded meat on salads or bowls with cauliflower rice or even make tacos in lettuce wraps with avocado on them. I use shredded beef and chicken a lot and it’s such a great and easy versatile protein and I make it in my Instant Pot so its easy and versatile.
I also love to make big batches of bone broth-based soups that you can enjoy for a lighter dinner and they also freeze well in glass jars as long as you leave a little space on the top :).
What are your favorite AIP and Paleo cookbooks?
I am going to brag a bit here and say I actually love the recipes in my own cookbook Wandering Palate. 95% of the recipes are either already AIP or have a modification in the recipe to make them AIP and the book started as a way for me to make a 28-day meal plan of my favorite travel-inspired recipes.
Mickey’s The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook was also an amazing resource to me in the beginning of my AIP journey. The recipes were all so simple and delicious that it made diving into the AIP lifestyle less overwhelming and gave you a good foundation to start making your own AIP recipes.
Do you have any tips for those starting an elimination diet and setting up their AIP kitchens for the first time?
I would recommend to definitely do a purge of your kitchen and donating or getting rid of anything that might tempt you to de-rail on your diet or compromise your health if you use it by accident. It is very important to try to be as strict as you can, especially in the beginning so you can give your body some time to heal and reset and get some feedback on what foods work for you and don’t. You want to set yourself up for success and you are doing this to heal so making it as easy as possible is key.
I also recommend that if you are going from SAD to AIP it is going to be a rough transition for about a week and sugar detox is brutal! I remember having the worst headache I ever experienced when I was detoxing sugar so I recommend having some safe AIP carbs on hand to ease the transition like sweet potatoes or taro root as that can really help ease some of the detox transitions. Carb flu is real but once you get past the detox phase you will feel so good and not even crave sugar or grains!
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!