Those with autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, celiac disease, and rheumatoid arthritis are finding freedom from their symptoms via an autoimmune Paleo diet protocol (AIP). As outlined in Chapter 21 of It Starts WIth Food, an AIP is even more restrictive than a traditional Whole30®, and can be intimidating for even experienced Paleo followers. What’s for breakfast if you can’t have eggs? How can you enjoy Mexican food without nightshades?
We recently added a new AIP shopping list to our resources, but today, we’re thrilled to introduce you to a new resource that will prove even more helpful. Meet Mickey Trescott, author of the new Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook. Mickey has crafted 110 recipes without grains, legumes, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, nightshades, or nightshade spices. She’s finagled amazing workarounds for mayonaise, turned up the heat without nightshades, and includes some special occasion treats that don’t rely on nuts or nut flours. The recipes are inspired, delicious, and best of all, 101* of these recipes are appropriate for your AIP Whole30 program.
*Save most of the “dessert” section for life after your Whole3o – but feel free to enjoy the cinnamon-ginger baked pears!
To introduce you to the Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, we sat down with personal chef and author Mickey Trescott, to answer your most common questions about adopting an autoimmune paleo protocol.
Why did you wanted to create an autoimmune protocol cookbook?
I discovered Paleo after being diagnosed with both Celiac and Hashimoto’s disease, and not finding any success in conventional treatment. I developed neurological and connective tissue symptoms, and my health declined to the point where I could no longer work. I continued to see specialists, all who suggested that I needed to wait and see how my symptoms progressed before making a diagnosis.
In an act of desperation, I decided to switch from my vegan diet to a Paleo diet. However, it was quickly apparent that even “healthy” Paleo foods (like eggs and nightshades) were contributing to my symptoms. This lead me to adopting a Paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP). After a few months of eating this way, the scary symptoms disappeared and I found myself with enough energy to return to work part-time as a personal chef. Another few months, and I was feeling really energetic and fantastic – in fact, I couldn’t remember ever feeling so good. I returned to work full-time, enrolled in a nutritional therapy program, and started to blog about my experience. I continued to stay on the protocol long-term, both because I did not have good luck with reintroductions, and because I felt better with every passing month.
There are currently very few resources devoted to recipes for the strictest phase of the AIP. It was such a life-changing and empowering experience for me, and I wanted to put all of my tips, tricks, and recipes together in a book for others to use. In addition to being a recipe and guide for the protocol, I wanted it to be visually inspiring and highlight all of the incredible food a person can still enjoy while eating this way. My hope is that with this tool at their disposal, nobody has an excuse to not to try it.
What are the biggest challenges of undertaking an AI protocol?
The biggest challenge is definitely the organization and planning. It isn’t really something you can find out about one day, and the implement the next. You have to think through things like breakfast, snacks, emergency meals, events like weddings, and socializing with friends and family. In the beginning, it is hard to go 100% all-in with the protocol, especially if you haven’t done all of the research and planned effectively. It is really important to be diligent, do your research, and make sure that you are able to start the protocol when you know you can be 100% compliant.
Another challenge is reintroduction. It is very important after the initial elimination period that you do not go hog-wild and eat all of the avoided foods at the same time. Foods must be reintroduced systematically, one at a time, so that you can effectively see how that food is contributing (if at all) to your symptoms. If you introduce too many foods in a short period of time, it is impossible to tell which food is causing a reaction. While the initial elimination diet may only last a month, it might take another full month or more to go through reintroductions, slowly and systematically. You must plan for this in order to be successful.
What foods or meals do you miss the most, and how have you worked around the ingredients you can no longer have?
I really miss heat – I used to put paprika and cayenne on everything! For me, nightshades create autoimmune flares, even with mild exposure. In place of nightshades, I have learned to go without tomatoes and peppers in my salad and instead use cucumbers, apples, and olives. I increase the garlic and ginger in a lot of recipes that would usually have nightshades to give them more bite. I even use raw garlic in some sauces and dressings, which adds a lot of heat. I also make things like BBQ sauce and curry with a more savory profile than their typical spicy ones. I use coconut products (mainly coconut butter and homemade coconut milk) to create thick, creamy dressings, sauces, and soups. Adding a strong flavor (like anchovies and capers for a Caesar, or raw garlic and lemon for a ranch dressing) really makes it hard to tell that it is coconut.
While I used to focus a lot on spice and different flavor combinations, I find myself looking to try different varieties and cuts of meat to keep things interesting. Since I don’t eat out anymore, I use the money that I used to spend on dining out to buy more exotic meats from my local farmers – lately I have tried rabbit, goat, and bison. Even if it isn’t exotic, I enjoy getting a nice hunk of protein and cooking it to perfection.
Not eating eggs is hard for people to wrap their heads around. What do you eat for breakfast?
I make sausage patties out of any ground meat, like beef, lamb, turkey, pork or chicken with lots of fresh herbs and sea salt. I cook them all in a big batch, and freeze them individually between pieces of wax paper. I usually have at least two different kinds in the freezer, so that I am not eating the same thing every day. In the morning, I pick my protein and defrost on low heat in a skillet. While that is warming up, I assemble some vegetables to eat with it – usually leftover from the night before, with some fermented veggies, a mug of bone broth, and sometimes a piece of fruit. Another go-to breakfast is leftover soup or stew, topped with some ferments and avocado. I will also mash up a can of salmon or sardines with some carrot, olives, cucumber and parsley for a little breakfast salad.
Breakfast is so important, and it is the meal that I find people are most tempted to skip or use convenience foods. I noticed a huge improvement in my health when I prioritized eating a large, nutrient-dense breakfast with plenty of protein and fat every morning. The only thing that makes an Autoimmune Protocol breakfast different from any other meal, is that it needs to be prepared more quickly than others, making planning extremely important.
An AI protocol can be overwhelming. How do you suggest people get started?
The Autoimmune Protocol is incredibly overwhelming at first! My first suggestion is to make sure you get organized. Print out the lists of foods to eat and avoid (found in my cookbook), research how and why the protocol works, and really do your work to thoughtfully plan out your month (or more) on the protocol. Begin the protocol when you can have your fridge and cupboards empty, so you can start off with a clean slate. Make sure to shop often, so that you are always cooking your produce and meats fresh. If you have a farmer’s market near you, get inspired by the bounty that is in season and available in your area.
Another tip is to always have food available should you get hungry. Batch cooking will help decrease the time you spend cooking, as well as make sure that you always have something nourishing to eat on hand. This is when having homemade sausage patties, soups, stews, and broth stocked up in the freezer is really handy. Keep a can of sardines or salmon and coconut butter at work just in case you might have to be there late unexpectedly. Don’t give yourself any opportunity to stray should something come up.
Have you reintroduced any AIP foods into your diet? What has that experience been like?
I was able to reintroduce nuts, seeds and egg yolks back into my diet, all pretty quickly after my original elimination phase. I did not have success reintroducing egg whites, dairy, or nightshades at that point. After about a year of eating strictly Autoimmune Protocol plus nuts, seeds, and egg yolks, I have recently been able to reintroduce whole eggs, provided they come from chickens not fed soy and only if I don’t eat them very often – my limit is once or twice a week. I accidentally get “nightshaded” now and then, mostly when I attempt to eat out. That always causes a pretty bad autoimmune reaction, so I will be avoiding them for the long term, along with dairy, which I have always had a severe reaction to.
I have been discouraged in the past about how long it has taken my body to move through the reintroduction phase, but I am learning to be gentle with myself and grateful for my current state of health and not sick like I was before. Sometimes, all you need is a little perspective!
Download a Special Preview
Mickey has created a special 20-page preview of the Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook just for Whole9 readers.
Check out her table of contents, shopping lists, and a taste of her AIP recipes, and follow the links at the end of the document to purchase your copy* of the Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook for just $19.
*The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook is an e-book, available for immediate download in electronic form. It is currently not available in hardcover format.
Do you have questions about adopting an autoimmune Whole30 program? We’ll answer them in comments.