Friday, 31 July 2015

Tips on Sticking With AIP (Or Healthy Eating in General)

The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is actually really tough. 

You've got the constant pull of fast food and conventional processed foods pretty much everywhere. The smell of doughnuts at the fair, the oozing blanket of cheese on a freshly-baked pizza... and you're not supposed to have any of it. I've put together, from my own experience, some tips on how you can stick to the AIP - it's supposed to be until your symptoms subside, so that might take a while - in the modern world. Feeling like you're about to dive into that pile of warm choc chip cookies? Read this first... 

Meal Plans Are Your Friend
You know when you used to push your trolley around the supermarket, wondering what you were going to eat for the week's meals and making it up as you go along? Yeah, those days are gone. You'll need a steady supply of veggies (fresh or frozen) and some quality meats and fish. You'll need to actually sit down and work out what you'll be eating for each meal and then create a shopping list. Once you get into the hang of it, it's quite stress-free, knowing what you're eating each day and not having to think about it once it's on your plan. 

Batch Cook and Prep Ahead
I am always seeing fellow AIP bloggers on Instagram sharing photos of their prepped veggies for the week. And I don't do this as much as I should, because I can easily fit peeling, trimming and shredding 500g of Brussels Sprouts somewhere into my daily schedule. Kat, who writes at The Primordial Table often slices and shreds her veggies and then puts them in bowls, covered, in the fridge so she can just grab a handful and cook them when she's hungry. Brilliant.

Don't Run Out of Veggies (or Bacon)
Never run out of AIP compliant food, because then you'll be tempted to eat something non AIP which might give you a flare-up and you'll have to start it all again. Just keep some veggies in the fridge - on the last day before I have to go shopping again, I often have an emergency breakfast of some chopped up veggies stir-fried with some chopped up bacon. Or a salad with a tin of sardines. 

Love Your Leftovers
I eat leftovers so often I sometimes wonder when it was that I actually cooked the original meal it all came from. Save everything. A handful of cooked chicken, a piece of fish that no one could eat - a couple of pieces of broccoli... Chuck it into a salad or stir-fry it in a pan. There's also soup. Eating leftovers is often instant (for me, usually straight from the fridge or fried for a few minutes to reheat), saves money and will keep you away from processed foods that are designed by manufacturers to be convenient but might not be the best thing for your health. 

Sugar (Yep, Even Maple Syrup) is Not Your Friend
One of the mistakes some people make when they start AIP is that they think: 'Oh, on AIP honey and maple syrup are allowed - I can just eat that instead of sugar.' But sugar is still sugar, and still has the same response, ultimately, in the body. You can eat AIP desserts in moderation, just don't overdo it. A scoop of AIP-compliant coconut ice cream is more healthy than a conventional custard-filled, sprinkle-adorned iced doughnut. Just go easy. I wrote a post about AIP desserts and what role they have in a healing diet last year - go have a look.

Read The Labels
Read them. Read labels to make sure something is AIP compliant and doesn't include any eliminated ingredients. And then also read labels when you're in the supermarket debating with yourself whether to chuck that caramel chocolate bar in your basket. Looking at the list of ingredients (most I can't even pronounce and don't even know what they are) puts me off eating that food. It'll make you think twice before cracking open the cookies in the middle of a sugar craving in those early days. 

Have AIP Compliant Snacks Handy
Carrot sticks, AIP flatbreads, cans of tuna or sardines - there are loads of AIP compliant snacks you can eat when you're feeling a bit peckish. If, like me, you live in a house where the rest of the family eats conventional foods, having some crunchy veg to chew on, or some rich, creamy coconut yoghurt to eat with a banana will stop you reaching for something you don't really want to eat. My ebook on AIP Paleo Snacks and Quick Lunches is available on the Kindle, if you're looking for more AIP snack ideas. 

Remember Why You're Doing It
Right. No one gets up one day and just says 'I'm going to stop eating dairy, nuts, seeds, nightshades and gluten.' We do it because we're following a programme designed to calm down our immune system naturally so we can eventually see what makes our individual body attack itself and then we stop eating or doing that thing (or those things). Does ice cream always give you an upset tummy? Does coffee always give you headaches? Does sugar affect your skin? Once you get used to what your triggers are, you'll be less inclined to eat them. I know that when I eat well, my digestion is fine, my IBS is non existent and my skin is clear and not itchy and I can wear black tops again. If I indulge in even one bowl of ice cream, I can kiss all that goodbye. And I've cheated and indulged that many times over the last year that I know it really will happen every time. So now I am more determined than ever to really look after myself. 

Need everyday AIP meal inspiration? Come follow me on Instagram @joromerofood and see what I'm eating. 

Do you have any tips for overcoming challenges when you're on a healthy eating or elimination diet? What works for you? 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Uncle Ben's Grains and Lamb

I don't really eat too many grains any more - maybe a few oats from time to time, and some white rice. But Uncle Ben's said that they wanted to send me something new that was coming out, and they did. 

They sent me some packets of rice mixed in with other grains like quinoa. 

Now, I eat paleo pretty much all of the time, because I'm trying to keep my over-excitable immune system happy. But my family don't - they do eat healthily, don't get me wrong - but they can eat grains and the odd conventional treat, too. I also know that there are some of you that like your grains, and this seemed like quite a handy thing for you to know about. I mean, it microwaves in a couple of minutes. 

That's pretty handy.

The packs come in different varieties - this one was '5 whole grains' and comes with wholegrain rice, red quinoa, millet, pearl barley and wild rice. It's pretty mildly-flavoured and I thought that it would be best off made into something else rather than just microwaved and tipped out of the pack onto the plate. So I stir-fried it with some lamb. 

I basically fried lamb mince in a dry pan until browned and then added a chopped red onion, a chopped garlic cloves and some finely chopped kale that I had at the bottom of the fridge. I tipped in the '5 whole grains' and stir-fried it all together and finished with a little swirl of avocado oil. They all gobbled it up and I wondered to myself if I could ever have otherwise been able to get my kids to eat these wholegrains. Probably not. 

The packs themselves, as the label proudly states, are free from artificial colours, flavourings and preservatives - but a quick read of the ingredients and they do contain soy sauce, red pepper, sunflower oil and spices to flavour it. Just in case any of you are watching those.

All in all, I think it's a handy way, if you eat grains, to have them in the kitchen ready for a quick stir-fry like this one. I used to love Gwyneth Paltrow's quinoa recipe with kale, spring onions and a fried egg on top and I can see it totally working with this, too.

Find more information on 'rice and grains' at the Uncle Ben's website

Monday, 27 July 2015

Slow Cooker Beef Bone Broth

Bone broth. 

It's totally trendy now, with caf├ęs in the US serving it - I'm wondering when it'll catch on over here, to be honest. 

But until then, I'm going to have to make my own, which isn't really any big deal, because I make it in a slow cooker. 

Here's how I do it. 

First, I get a pack of beef bones from grass-fed bullocks - I get them with my meat order from Well Hung Meat Co - but ask your butcher. Butchers often used to chuck in bones for free but since the paleo thing, they're in quite high demand, so you'll have to pay for them most likely. But they're not that expensive. And you'll have enough broth for a good few days. 

I roughly chop one onion and a carrot and chuck it into the base of the slow cooker and then I just add a couple of unpeeled cloves of garlic and a handful of fresh thyme sprigs. A good pinch of salt and then I drop in the bones. 

Next, I boil the kettle and pour about 500ml hot water over the bones and veggies and then replace the lid. It then gets left on the low setting. I usually do this before I go to bed and then wake up to the smell of freshly cooked broth. 

The next step is to strain it. 

I get a jug and balance a sieve over the top of it, and then ladle in the broth so that the sieve catches any bits of onion skin or garlic. See the fat there, starting to separate as the broth cools down? I usually skim most of that off because I find it easier to drink. Save it in a little pot and you can use it to cook with if you like (beef dripping makes INSANE oven chips. Just saying). 

I then cool the broth down quickly (usually by plunging the jug into a sink half-filled with cold water - don't let the water trickle in over the top of the jug, though) and then cover and keep in the fridge. It will probably turn into jelly - this is good - and then spoon out a mugful and heat it up until it's piping hot, when you want it, usually in the microwave (very un-caveman-like but handy). 



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