Karin’s AIP Kitchen: How She Manages Chronic Urticaria in Minneapolis

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Kitchen Tour

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: Karin Ulik

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

AI Disease: chronic urticaria

How long have you been eating AIP? On and off for 8 years

Have you successfully reintroduced any foods? 
I have previously be able to reintroduce most foods in moderation. However, once I started feeling fabulous, I let my guard down. It’s hard to remember that with autoimmune, you’re not cured, just in remission. During the past 9 months, I have once again had huge reactions to nightshades. I am also very sensitive to sugar.

How has the AIP changed your life?
AIP gave me hope. After originally adopting this method of eating, I saw improvements in my condition that I hadn’t seen prior. Living with autoimmune can be mentally exhausting and since so much of our social life is tied into sharing meals with our friends and family, it is really tough to socialize and feel “normal”.

Size of your AIP kitchen: 18 feet by 30 feet

Favorite thing about your kitchen: 
It’s a toss up between the cabinets and the double island!

Least favorite thing about your kitchen:
The refrigerator. If I’d had chosen it myself, I’d never have picked a side-by-side. They just aren’t functional.

Are there any cheap gadgets or little tools that you have found make AIP easier?
I’m the queen of kitchen gadgets. My husband always tells me to stop bringing new ones home. I’ve definitely bought some duds! But right now, I’m loving a gadget called a “Mix ‘N Chop” from Pampered Chef. It’s a mixing tool that has pinwheel blades so it’s great for breaking up ground meats during cooking. I also use it to smash avocados. Another little tool I love is a small plate with spikes to grate ginger and garlic. And I couldn’t survive without a good lemon juicer!

What is the biggest thing that changed in your kitchen setup when you adopted the AIP?
It’s not so much that I had to change my kitchen setup; it became a matter of having enough of the foods I can eat in the house at any given time to help me stay on track. AIP is so restrictive that it’s easy to stray to less healthy but fast option! So getting used to more frequent trips to the grocery store took was an adjustment.

If someone was just starting to invest in some useful but more expensive AIP kitchen tools, which one would you tell them to buy first?
I am a big fan grilling because it’s so easy. We have two grills, a Weber gas grill and also a Traeger pellet grill for slower cooking and smoking. But inside my kitchen, I couldn’t live without my Le Creuset cookware. It’s a dream to cook in it — nothing sticks! I’m also a fan of Vitamix. I make smoothies, soup, ice cream and once in a while, nut butters.

Are there any tricks you have learned to make AIP work in your space?
I am lucky to have a large kitchen and big walk-in pantry so I really don’t have any issues. Since my family has no interest in participating in AIP I have trained myself to ignore all of the foods that remain in my kitchen that I no longer eat.

How do you deal with food for family members that are not AIP?
My family is really resistant to my way of eating. No matter how much I discourage it, my husband and daughter keep the pantry filled with processed snacks. It’s a battle I’ve mostly given up on. Since I cook dinner, I make the protein and vegetables that I want and then add in some pasta or other carb-y item for them.

Are there any tools or appliances that you’ve stopped using now that your diet has changed?
I have little use for a toaster although we still have one because my 14-year-old loves raisin toast in the morning!

What are your favorite meals to batch cook?
Ugh. I’m awful at meal planning and batch cooking. I have good intentions but I just can’t seem to get the hang of it. The honest truth is that every day is fly by the seat of my pants.

What are your favorite AIP and Paleo cookbooks?
Well, of course cookbooks and recipes from Mickey Trescott and Sarah Ballantyne are the foundations I started with. Once I got the hang of cooking for autoimmune, I just started modifying my recipes to fit. I don’t use a lot of actual cookbooks. I have created a cookbook inside Evernote; when I see recipes I like, I modify them to fit AIP and create a note with the recipe so I know just how I perfected it.

Do you have any tips for those starting an elimination diet and setting up their kitchens for the first time?
Be patient with yourself. It’s a process that isn’t always easy. Being successful really requires that you change your mindset around food. You can eliminate all the “junk food” from your house, but if you don’t change how you think about eating, it will still be a challenge.

If you’d like to learn more about Karin’s journey, check out her website, or connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.

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!

About Grace Heerman

Grace Heerman is a writer, content coach and yoga teacher from Seattle, and the Blog/Social Media Director for Autoimmune Wellness. Grace designs websites and creates content that capture how great her clients are so they can effectively and authentically share their expertise with the world. She also shares recipes and explores how to live her most vibrant life on her blog.

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