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For those of you who are just starting your transition to the Autoimmune Protocol, I thought I’d do a guide to which ingredients you should look into stocking in your AIP pantry.
Step #1: Get rid of all of the “bad stuff”
The first thing you should do is box up all of the foods you are unlikely to be eating again any time soon—things like breads, pastas, flour, sugar, refined seed oils, and anything processed that include food chemicals and long ingredient lists. Donate to the food pantry and get it out of the house as soon as possible.
Step #2: Store all of the “maybe stuff”
There are likely foods lurking in your pantry that will be off-limits during the elimination diet, but you may be able to reintroduce with success later. Instead of pre-emptively tossing these ingredients, I suggest packing them up in a box and placing them in a closet or somewhere inconvenient to minimize temptation. This would be things like gluten-free products containing nuts and seeds (like spices, nut butters, or just the raw nuts and seeds themselves), nightshades, coffee, and chocolate. No need to give away or toss if you might be able to have them again in the near future!
I highly recommend actually getting these items out of sight instead of letting them sit in your cabinets while you undertake your elimination diet. Put them in a box, tape it up, and bury it in a closet somewhere. There is nothing worse than the unnecessary temptation of that chocolate bar sitting in your cupboard begging to be eaten!
Step #3: Stock your pantry with AIP-compliant ingredients
With all that room you just made, invest in some ingredients you will be using for cooking Autoimmune Protocol-friendly meals. While you don’t need to go out and purchase everything on this list, at a minimum you will want some cooking fats, some vinegar, some herbs and spices, and some baking ingredients should you decide to incorporate baking into your routine (I’m not a big baker, so I tend to purchase these items as I need them instead of having them in my pantry at all time).
The truth is, setting up your pantry for AIP is pretty simple and you don’t have to track down a bunch of exotic ingredients to make eating this way work. I suggest focusing more on finding a variety of high-quality cooking fats and spices to work with, rather than getting hung up on alternative flours, sweeteners, and snacks (which can be quite expensive!).
I’ve prioritized this list with the ingredients per category I think are most common in AIP recipes, with some mentions of additional ingredients you may want to consider. Each ingredient is linked to a particular product I’ve used in the past, you should be able to easily find these brands online or at your local grocery store.
- Coconut Flour—This is a common replacement in AIP baking that can be dry and difficult to work with. Most recipes use a blend of this flour as well as a starch like arrowroot and tapioca, which give it a better consistency. Caution to those who have a coconut sensitivity or don’t do well with inulin fiber.
- Arrowroot Starch/Flour—This starch works well for thickening sauces, gravies, as well as baking. Most people are familiar with small jars of it in the spice section, but it is available for a much better price in bagged as I have linked to.
- Tapioca Starch/Flour—This starch is similar to arrowroot and often interchangeable (make sure to check with the recipe author before experimenting though!). Like arrowroot, it can be used to thicken as well as for baking.
- Cassava Flour—This flour is a newcomer on the scene, and seems to create great texture when used as you would regular flour. While I don’t have a lot of experience using cassava personally, it has definitely taken the AIP community by storm!
- Less common flours occasionally called for in AIP recipes: plantain flour, tigernut flour, and sweet potato flour.
- Honey—I like to have a raw, unpasteurized brand of honey on hand to sweeten tea and make occasional treats. Be cautious different types of honey can have different textures, greatly affecting the outcomes of your baked goods.
- Maple Syrup—The delicious flavor maple brings is undeniable, and I like having some Grade B on hand for treat making.
- Coconut Sugar—This is a nice option when a granulated sugar is called for, instead of a liquid one in a recipe.
- Less common sweeteners occasionally called for in AIP recipes: coconut syrup, maple sugar, dried fruit (like dates, raisins, etc.).
- Coconut Flakes—Large-flake coconut is nice to eat as a snack (its delicious toasted!) and the small-flake coconut can be used to make homemade coconut milk as well as baked goods.
- Coconut Milk—If you don’t have a high-powered blender to make at home, thickener-free coconut milk packed in BPA-free cans (I have a clean brand if you follow the link) is a nice option to have for using in sauces, smoothies, and curries.
- Coconut Water—While I find this too sweet to drink regularly, I have it on hand as a rehydration beverage should someone in my family come down with the stomach flu. I also use it occasionally in smoothies.
- Coconut Wraps—These are a fun option for a quick meal, just wrap and go!
- Rendered Solid Cooking Fat—This is one ingredient you can’t go without. Read my guide to cooking fats for discourse about why you should have a solid cooking fat on hand to make your meals. Lard, tallow, and duck fat all work well here—if you can’t make your own I recommend this brand.
- Coconut Oil—A great, neutral-flavored fat that is nice to use for cooking.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil—Try to find a high-quality, cold-pressed, organic oil that is stored in an opaque bottle.
- Avocado Oil—This is a nice alternative to olive oil and the same quality and bottle requirements apply because it similarly easily oxidized.
- Other fats occasionally called for in AIP recipes: palm shortening, red palm oil (please chose sustainably harvested).
- Canned Fish—Tuna, salmon, sardines, or oysters, packed in extra-virgin olive oil or water and not in BPA-lined cans. Make sure that they do not contain off-limit spices or soybean oil!
- Beef Jerkey—Homemade or a brand that does not contain nightshades or gluten.
- Epic Bars—These are great “pemmican” bars that have a much softer texture than jerkey and make a great snack. The AIP flavors available are Bacon Bison Cranberry, Uncured Bacon (coming soon), and the Liver Bar.
- Gelatin—This is a nice ingredient to use as a gut-healing supplement (a lot of folks will stir it into tea) or to texturize AIP desserts (such as panna cotta, jello, etc.).
Assorted Food in Jars and Flavorings:
- Olives—These are an awesome snack, and I recommend those only cured with salt if you can find them.
- Fish Sauce—Use this to ad umami to dishes (caution to those with histamine intolerance though!).
- Coconut Aminos—This is a coconut-based soy-sauce replacement. I find it a little less salty than desired, but that is easily remedied! I like to use it in stir-frys and with AIP sushi.
- Apple-Cider Vinegar—I recommend having at least one vinegar on hand to add to your meals, and this is an all-around standout.
- Other flavorings occasionally called for in AIP recipes—balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, cooking wine.
- Dried Herbs—thyme, rosemary, dill, oregano, marjoram, and sage should get you started. I don’t like dried herbs nearly as much as fresh, but they work great in a pinch.
- Ground Spices—turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, and onion are a great start here. You can use these to make your own AIP curry blend instead of using the usual nightshade and seed spice version.
- Salt—I like to have a few different types of salt on hand. First, a good all-around sea salt is a must in any kitchen—this one is my favorite. Next, I like to have truffle sea salt and smoked sea salt to add some flavor to my meals.
- Seaweed—There are many types of seaweeds you can use to make AIP sushi (like nori), or just a blend of flakes to sprinkle on top of dishes. This is a great way to add flavor and nutrients to your meals.
- Carob Powder—You can use this to make chocolate-like treats.
- Sweet Potato Chips—The brand linked cooks these in coconut oil, which is fantastic!
- Plantain Chips—You can find these in both sweet and savory varieties (using either ripe or green plantains and no added sugar for the effect!).
- Seaweed Snacks—While certainly not filling, these are a great snack.
Well, hopefully you have found this guide to clearing out and stocking your pantry helpful. Like I said earlier, the best thing you can do in preparation for the elimination diet is set yourself up for success. Don’t skip the planning and preparation part of the process, it is the most important step!
Do you stock anything I don’t have on my list up above? Let me know in the comments!