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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: Shanna Nemrow
Location: Park City, Utah, USA
AI Disease: Hashimoto’s
How long have you been eating AIP?
I started the autoimmune protocol in January of 2018, within days of my autoimmune disease diagnosis. I ended up being in the elimination phase of the AIP for 10 months. I still follow the AIP template today, and am still in the process of reintroducing foods.
Have you successfully reintroduced any foods?
I have a small handful of reintroductions, and am systematically working through more. The reason I do not have more reintroductions is because I honestly feel happy and fulfilled eating the way I do so I forget to make time in my busy life to reintroduce foods.
How has the AIP changed your life?
Prior to starting the AIP, my daily life felt overrun by my autoimmune symptoms. I could no longer be the woman, wife, and mother I used to be. I mourned the old me. Some days it felt like it took everything in me to simply get out of bed and take a shower. I cut back on so many activities, and basic daily tasks took all of my energy.
Then, I started the AIP and my autoimmune symptoms began to decrease, both in frequency and severity. As my AIP journey progressed, I found myself able to add activities and travel back into my life. While my health is not perfect, I feel like the AIP gave me my life back. I am the woman, wife, and mother I dreamed of being… that I wondered if I could ever be again.
Size of your AIP kitchen: 13 feet x 14 feet
Favorite thing about your kitchen: My favorite thing about my kitchen is my oversized fridge! It is perfect for stocking with veggies, fruits, meats, and glass storage containers filled with AIP ready to eat meals.
Least favorite thing about your kitchen:
My least favorite thing about my kitchen is that it is not self-cleaning! Living an AIP life, I am in the kitchen often, and my only complaint is that it does not clean itself. I am not the tidiest food prepper, so I am consistently spilling food as I chop and cook.
Are there any cheap gadgets or little tools that you have found make AIP easier?
I’ve found having a few Thermoses make my AIP life so much easier! I am a busy mom, and I love to travel. Prior to starting AIP, I stopped and picked up food while out and about at least twice a week, if not more often. Giving up my takeout habit was difficult. At some point, I learned to heat up my AIP food and put it in a Thermos prior to running errands, carting the kids around, or traveling. It really is a game changer!
Likewise, my glass food storage containers make my AIP life easier too. I use them for storing ready to eat fruits, veggies, and already prepared meals. When I go somewhere, I grab them out of the fridge, throw them in a cooler, and viola! I’m good to go!
What is the biggest thing that changed in your kitchen setup when you adopted the AIP?
The biggest thing that changed in my kitchen setup when I adopted the AIP is having a variety of REAL, whole, nutrient-dense foods in our kitchen. Prior to AIP, I gravitated toward packaged and processed foods for our family. I really did not know how to prepare or cook clean meals from 100% real, unprocessed ingredients. Learning how to literally think “outside the box” took time and effort.
Nothing about the AIP felt like it came naturally to me. I simply had to get in my kitchen (armed with my google search bar) and learn how to prepare real food. Sometimes things got ugly, but I tried to laugh through my failures and celebrate every little victory.
I feel like I am living and breathing proof that anyone can change! Example? Prior to starting AIP, I never cooked a whole chicken. In fact, I would only buy a rotisserie chicken already cooked from a store if my husband was home to cut it because I literally could not stomach cutting up a whole chicken or even looking at it after my husband cut it up. Fast forward to today, not only do I cook whole chickens, I have no issues cutting them, and I make bone broth out of the bones. WHO am I anymore?!
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 recommend investing in an Instant Pot. I drug my feet for months before I purchased an Instant Pot, and my only regret is not buying one sooner. My Instant Pot is a bone broth game changer! It cut the cooking time down dramatically! I also love making pulled pork, pot roast, and Swedish meatballs in it (all AIP of course)!
Are there any tricks you have learned to make AIP work in your space?
The biggest trick I’ve learned to make AIP work in my kitchen is to find ways to enjoy being there… even when it’s the last place I want to be. On the days when I feel burnt out and I do not want to look at another vegetable let alone chop up a dozen of them, I find a way to turn around my mindset and my attitude.
Some things that help me stay positive while in the kitchen include: turning on my favorite podcast, cranking up my favorite music, dancing silly with my daughter, belting out the lyrics to “Champion” by Carrie Underwood, grabbing my man for a slow dance, listing things I am grateful for, or getting my whole family involved in the prepping/cooking. Getting lost in my favorite podcast, or listening to my favorite playlist helps me shake any negativity. Focusing on gratitude or laughing with my kids help me reconnect with my why and avoid complete burn out.
How do you deal with food for family members that are not AIP?
When I first started the AIP, I continued making my husband and kids meals they were used to for a short period of time while I ate AIP. I quickly realized I could not sustain cooking two separate dinners over the long run. Instead, I started making one dinner that included a protein, veggies, fats, and fruit for dessert (all AIP). Occasionally, I might add in a side that is not AIP for my husband and kids like rice, red potatoes, or gluten free bread. I’d say most of the time, our dinners are 100% AIP though. We do keep our home gluten-free to avoid cross-contamination.
I will say that starting the AIP was a complete lifestyle change for my family and me. However, the AIP brought our family closer together, especially in the kitchen. My husband and kids often join me in the kitchen to help. My kids watched as I learned to cook fish, tried sauerkraut for the first time, began my love affair with mushrooms, and so on. Our 11-year-old son is an adventurous eater and is willing to try almost anything. Our 13-year-old daughter loves to help me venture out and cook AIP desserts or treats. Even when they are off doing other things, my kids tend to gravitate to the kitchen when I am cooking and want to “sample” whatever I am preparing or making.
Are there any tools or appliances that you’ve stopped using now that your diet has changed?
I stopped using a microwave shortly before going AIP. Instead of reheating food in a microwave, I reheat food either on the stove or in the oven. It felt like a huge adjustment at the time, but now we do not even have a microwave in our kitchen! I do not miss it.
Also, I do not use my stand mixer very often. Prior to AIP, I used it almost weekly to make homemade cookies. I rarely make homemade cookies anymore. Our family eats fruit or smoothies for dessert most days. I also find that I use my food processor instead of my mixer for making cauliflower mash, sweet potato mash, paleo baking, and more.
What are your favorite meals to batch cook?
My favorite meal to batch cook is breakfast hash. I make a big batch of breakfast hash once a week. I eat one serving, put four servings in the fridge, and freeze the remaining two servings in my freezer. It takes me about an hour to prep the seven servings of hash. I love to reheat the hash in a skillet with a little bit of coconut oil!
I also love to prep a big batch of AIP taco meat once a week. My family and I love to eat it with homemade cassava tortillas or they enjoy it over organic tortilla chips (a reintroduction). I also love to add leftover meat to sautéed onion, mushroom, and spinach for a quick meal.
What are your favorite AIP and Paleo cookbooks?
When I started the AIP, I did not use cookbooks. I kept things very simple and focused on learning how to cook proteins and veggies in a variety of ways. I made a list of types of proteins, cuts of proteins, my favorite veggies, ways to cook, my favorite AIP seasonings, and my favorite fruit. Then, I mixed and matched foods from my “favorites” list for various meals.
As months passed and I grew more comfortable with clean cooking and AIP-approved foods, I started branching out and finding recipes I loved. I bought a few AIP cookbooks. My favorites are The Nutrient Dense Kitchen by Mickey Trescott and The Healing Kitchen by Alaena Haber and Sarah Ballantyne.
Do you have any tips for those starting an elimination diet and setting up their kitchens for the first time?
When starting an elimination diet, it can be natural to focus on all the foods you can no longer eat, all the restaurants you can no longer go to, and all the time it takes to prepare AIP food. When starting the AIP and setting up your kitchen for AIP success, I recommend focusing on all the foods you CAN eat, the opportunities AIP is giving you to learn to cook cleanly and feed yourself and your family well, and trying to enjoy your AIP journey.
While the AIP may feel foreign to you and overwhelming today, if you stick with it, it WILL become easier. I promise! Also, try not to compare yourself to anyone else. This is your unique journey, and you are one of a kind! Find what works for you, and set up your kitchen in a way that sets you up for success. Communicate with your loved ones throughout the process. It may not feel like it now, but you’ve got this!
If you’d like to learn more about Shanna’s AIP journey, you can find a number of blog posts about her experience on her website, Wellness Unraveled. You can also find her on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.
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!