Big update. A lot has happened in the last few days and now that I’m getting a better handle on cooking, I wanted to post some tips here on how to not overwhelm yourself on AIP.
But first, medical news.
I saw my old GI this week and he was very attentive and did a bunch of tests – blood, upper endoscopy and next week I do an abdomen sonogram. He approved of the diet and told me to keep going but also has me on Xifaxan for bacterial overgrowth which has given me back HUGE bloating but seems to be helping other things. He increased my Mag Citrate to help constipation and THAT totally worked. Constipation yesterday was not even on the radar. Let’s hope this holds!
Unfortunately, the endoscopy showed that I have a bunch of larger polyps in my duodenum. He seemed concerned which has me a little freaked. They’re being biopsied. To distract myself, I am focusing on the fact that my previously eroded esophagus looks ‘perfect’ now. That’s amazing! I was worried he’d want to throw me back on GERD meds but I feel like he is seeing what I am feeling – that my issues lie further down my digestive tract and the heartburn feelings I have at times are symptoms of something else, not too much acid.
Anyway, until I hear back from him, I’m taking my medication and eating my AIP good food.
I’ve successfully added a bunch of foods this week. Not sure if it is the Xifaxan or just stomach improvement overall (or both) but I am now eating raw blueberries, raw avocado and cooked chard, kale, parsnip, zucchini and BACON! I got some kick ass ‘house’ bacon at the Meat Hook which – OMG, is AMAZING (also amazingly pricey so this will be treated as the luxury item it is – ouch). We made guacamole last night using only avocado and bacon crumbles and it was, no kidding, to die for. I recommend.
I’ve successfully upped my greens so I can eat them at every or almost every meal. I think for my motility having greens at every meal will ultimately be key (in point of fact, pre-GERD diagnosis I had excellent motility due to eating a huge amount of veggies) and I’m gradually building those greens in. I’m really grateful my stomach is playing along with this. Whew.
Still, other than avocado and blueberries, I only eat cooked food. Cooking everything is a pain in the ASS especially for root veggies that require peeling, etc. If you are in this same boat, here are some ‘tips’ I’ve sorted out so far. Hope this helps someone!
- Each week I make an organic chicken in the crock pot during the day when I’m at work. I use the liquid to make broth that night. That chicken gets me through 3-4 meals and can be reused in soup which stretches it even farther. See my simple soup recipe below.
- I use my Foreman Grill for almost every other meat and fish. Faster than baking things and does a great job.
- I always cook enough for minimum four meals so I have leftovers going at all times. Eating essentially 3 dinners a day just goes through food like crazy. You need to be making a ton of food. On Sundays I make about 8 hamburgers and freeze them for quick meals. I also do any big prep-work projects on Sunday – roasted veggies I do from scratch etc. – so time consuming, you definitely want to do it when you have some time.
- I am using cooking time to listen to albums I love and never listen to and I keep it continually fresh. That has actually made me look forward to cooking. Also podcasts blasted through the stereo. Anything lighthearted will do.
- To cut down on cooking time (esp. after work), I’ve located a bunch of organic, frozen veggies at my local health food store. This has been key for my soups and also for my broken hand. Organic Swiss chard, Spinach, Kale, Sliced Carrots, Rutabaga, Parsnip can all be found – astonishing. They do not taste as good but in a pinch, they are a brain saver. (Pro tip: shredded bacon bits on top of frozen veg pretty much makes anything taste phenomenal. I recommend!)
- Baked sweet potato is 9 minutes in microwave. Fast, filling, done.
- Making a lot of zucchini/summer squash is fastest mid-week veg to prep from scratch as it doesn’t need to be peeled – in micro or sauteed in olive oil and pink salt on stove top. Smaller pieces cook faster, obviously.
- I had a bad day and need junk food: Takes 20 minutes but kale chips are helpful (if you use the linked recipe, use pink salt and not seasoned – seasoned may not be AIP). Also, if you have more time, cutting sweet potatoes into fry shape and roasting with olive oil and pink salt can be mentally satisfying. 400 degrees for 20 minutes, flip over and cook at least another 20/until soft with a fork.
- Pink Himalayan Salt. If you can tolerate almost no spices yet can tolerate salt, totally worth the extra bucks to get this salt. It lasts a long time and tastes different from regular kosher or even sea salt. Use your former dining out money to buy some of this stuff. You’ll be happy you did.
- Also, use your former dining out money to buy some really nice meats and bacon. Really makes the difference.
Last today, my I-am-sick-of-cooking chicken/stock method:
- Slow cooker, ideally with built in timer function and ‘warming’ function.
- Fine mesh larger (7″-8″) sieve. I use a $10 version of this. Key points are size (too small will be tough, you want it to sit on your bowl) and ‘fine’ mesh.
- Whole Chicken (ideally pasture raised/organic)
- Olive Oil
- Pink Salt
- Flat Leaf Parsley
- Fresh Thyme
- For turning broth into soup:
- Veggies – frozen or fresh
- Get a nice whole organic, free range, etc. chicken. If you have the option of ‘gizzard pack’ or ‘without’, get it WITH. In NYC, you can spend up to $30 on one of these bad boys. Trader Joe’s has organic chicken that’s usually between $13-$20 or, if you are feeling strapped, you can use regular supermarket chicken parts (make sure they have skin and are bone-in) that are not organic. The flavor may not be as strong so adjust the herbs to boost it a bit there.
- If you do not already own a slow cooker/crockpot, get yourself one and make sure it has a timer on it AND a ‘stay warm’ function so if it turns off while you are at work, the contents will not start to go bad. Mine was about $40 (excellent gift idea!) Newer version of mine here.
- Pull out any gizzard pack from inside of chicken. Empty the pack into bottom of crock pot even if it is something you will never eat. It gives a lot of flavor – you can throw it out later. Put chicken on top, breast side up. Pour olive oil over top to get it a bit wet and then put some pink salt on top of chicken. Just dust it over – about 1/4tsp+ total.
- Put in a large handful of flat leaf parsley and fresh thyme (just jam both around chicken and on top ish, don’t bother taking off stems, put it all in).
- Add enough water to crock pot to cover chicken half up.
- Cook on low for at least 6-8 hours, more okay but it can get messier 🙂
- When your cook time is done, remove chicken from crockpot with slotted spoon. It will likely be falling off the bone at this point. That’s cool – leave skin, bones and even a little reject chicken (including heart, etc. if you’re not eating that) in pot for making the broth. Put removed chicken aside to eat later (or now, go for it!)
- Looking at liquid left in pot, add 1/2 an amount more water to that. Turn crockpot back on to low and cook the bones/skin/detritus parts for another 4 hours.
- Turn off crockpot and strain liquid through a sieve into a bowl. (I ladle everything into the sieve which is over the bowl rather than trying to pour a full heavy crockpot – yikes.) This removes all the detritus and you end up with the tasty broth in your bowl. The broth will actually have a lot of fat in it at this point which you will want to get rid of. The easiest way to do this is to put that broth in containers and stick it in the fridge overnight. The fat will rise as it cools and form a hard white shell on the top of the broth. The next day you can just peel off the white fat shell and chuck it or use it for cooking. If you wake up and there is no shell, leave it to chill for more time. Once you peel off the fat, your broth is ready to eat as-is or use in recipes. It will be very much like jello but don’t be grossed out – that goes away with anywhere over 20 seconds in microwave.
And now – MY easy soup.
Put the defatted broth into a pot. Add some of the cooked chicken (the dark parts taste better in soup). Add some chopped up carrots. I’ve been using Trader Joe’s frozen pre-peeled/chopped carrots – easy and taste great. Put them in frozen – they’ll melt as it cooks, no problem. Add in a fair amount of washed fresh spinach. Personally, I rinse my spinach, cut off dead ends and just dump it in whole. IOW, I don’t cut my spinach down – I mimic Asian soup with the big chunks of greens and chicken but you could make it into smaller pieces if you prefer. I’m too lazy to do so. Simmer everything for an hour or more, stirring a few times to break up frozen veg as they melt and when carrots seem soft enough, it’s ready to eat. You want to cook it on a low enough setting so the broth doesn’t cook down. Again, just my version. Sub whatever veg you want. But my version is very TASTY.
For me, I’ve never had to add any salt or herbs to the soup since the broth is already infused from cooking the chicken but obviously adjust it to your taste.
Hope this helped at least one person out there feel less overwhelmed. It looks like a lot of steps but with the crockpot and frozen veggies, you’re only actively in the kitchen for short bursts of time. Very helpful during the week. Nice!