Staples to make your AIP journey a snap!

Clients are often baffled when I talk about my “Tiger Nut Breakfast Cookies” or “Coco Amino Sardine Panfry.” What the heck is she talking about?

Below I have compiled a list of the items I have come to rely on. Some I use more frequently than others, but overall, I love it when I find a recipe or come up with an idea and voila! I have everything I need to begin to play.

If you want any ideas on storage, see my article on creating a beautiful AIP pantry.

You might wonder which items you should keep in your kitchen pantry to make your life easier!  I have compiled a list of my AIP pantry staples. These are all ingredients compliant with the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. I use them on a daily basis to prepare food for my family and myself (and I used them to create all the recipes in my cookbooks Simple French Paleo and The Autoimmune Protocol Made Simple).  Along with lots of fresh vegetables, fruit, meat, and seafood, these items represent the core of my diet.  There aren’t that many of them, which means that you can quickly build yourself a well-stocked AIP pantry.  I can find most of these items at my local health food store.  If I can’t find something there, I will buy it online on Amazon.

As a general rule, always read your labels carefully
and avoid any additives, preservatives, chemicals, and added sugar.

  • Apple cider vinegar: I often use apple cider vinegar for it’s fresh and zesty flavor in my salad dressings, combined with olive oil; as well as in marinades.  

  • Arrowroot starch/flour: I use arrowroot as a substitute for cornstarch and traditional baking flours, as a thickening agent in sauces, and to lighten the heavy texture of other flours in baked goods. 

  • Avocado oil: I use avocado oil whenever I can’t use olive oil.  For instance, when baking in the oven at high temperatures over 350° F, or when the more pungent taste of olive oil would be too strong for the preparation (for example when making AIP mayonnaise).  

  • Baking powder: I use baking powder as a leavening agent to increasing the volume and lightening the texture of baked goods.  Unfortunately, most commercial baking powders contain aluminum and/or cornstarch.  The best way to avoid this is to make your own baking powder by mixing 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.   Keep your homemade baking powder in an airtight container and away from moisture.

  • Balsamic vinegar: Balsamic vinegar is a condiment made from white grape juice.  It has a rich and complex sweet flavor that can be used to enhance the seasoning of salad dressings, marinades, sauces, and even meat and seafood.  

  • Capers: Capers are actually unripened flower buds from a perennial plant native to the Mediterranean.  Usually brined in salt or vinegar, they give a lemony burst of flavor to foods. I use capers preserved in sea salt, especially when making French tapenade.  Salt-packed capers should be soaked in water and then rinsed a few times to remove excess salt before used in cooking.

  • Carob powder (roasted): Carob is commonly used as a chocolate substitute and doesn’t contain any caffeine.  Be careful to check labels as commercial carob chips and powders often contain barley and/or dairy ingredients.  I have yet to find an AIP compliant brand of carob chips.  

  • Cassava flour: I use cassava flour frequently when baking.  It is a grain-free and nut-free replacement for wheat flour and brings a wonderful consistency to baked goods.  Cassava flour is made from the entire cassava (or yuca, or manioc) root, without the peel.  Not to be confused with tapioca, which is the bleached and extracted starch of yucca root.  The same original ingredient, but totally different processes. 

  • Coconut aminos: Coconut aminos are a seasoning sauce very similar to soy sauce, except made from coconut.  

  • Coconut butter (raw): Made from puréed coconut flesh, coconut butter is an excellent replacement for traditional nut butter.  For the ultimate sweet indulgence, try stuffing a date with coconut butter and savor!  I also use it occasionally in desserts.  

  • Coconut flakes (unsweetened): Coconut flakes are made from dehydrated coconut flesh.  Always purchase them unsweetened as commercial versions may contain a lot of added sugar.  I love to eat them as is as a crunchy snack.  I also use shredded coconut in some of my desserts and snacks as a basic ingredient or sprinkled as a garnish.  

  • Coconut flour: This versatile flour is obtained from finely the ground dried meat of a coconut.  Its rich texture and natural sweetness are great for baking.  Use it sparingly though because coconut flour tends to absorb a lot of liquid due to its fiber content.  

  • Coconut milk: If you are buying coconut milk, make sure it doesn’t contain any additives like guar gum or xantham gum, which can alter the gut microbiome and should be avoided while on the autoimmune protocol.  I use coconut milk often in the kitchen when cooking (especially to create creamy sauces or in soups), baking (as a dairy replacement), and in smoothies.  To learn more about AIP-compliant coconut milk, click here.

  • Coconut oil: Coconut oil is a very healthful oil to use in the kitchen. It has a creamy consistency.  It is suitable for high temperatures cooking and baking.  I also use it in my personal care for oil pulling.  There are several good brands out there, so when making your selection, look for unrefined, cold-pressed virgin coconut oils.  Note that coconut oil will stay solid at normal room temperature.  

  • Coconut wraps: These are an excellent replacement for tortillas and great to have on hand for an emergency “sandwich”.  

  • Dates: Dates can be used as a natural sweetener in baking, or as a snack when you want a little something sweet.  My favorites are Medjool dates.  Limit your consumption though as they pack a lot of sugar!  I purchase mine in bulk at my local health food store. I also love using granulated date sugar when baking. Granulated date sugar lends a gentle sweetness to baked goods and packs in a fiber and mineral power punch not found in most other sweeteners. 

  • Dried herbs and spices: Herbs and spices are great to add flavor and depth to any dish!  My favorites are cilantro, herbes de Provence, lavender, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme.  I like to keep a stock of these herbs in my kitchen.  Wherever possible, I prefer to use fresh herbs and I grow some of them in my vegetable garden.  As a general rule, when substituting fresh herbs in a recipe that calls for dry, use three times as many fresh.  For example, you can swap 1 teaspoon of dried sage with 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh sage. 

  • Extra-virgin olive oil: By far my favorite oil to use in the kitchen, extra-virgin olive oil is suitable for cooking and baking up to 350° F.  Always choose extra-virgin, first cold pressed olive oil, sold in a dark glass bottle.  Store your olive oil in a cold place, away from direct sunlight.  I like to rotate the brands of olive oil I use because their taste can vary greatly.  

  • Fish sauce: Made from fresh black anchovies and salt, fish sauce will give your Asian dishes, or any seafood-based recipe a distinctive umami flavor!  

  • Gelatin (unflavored): Gelatin is a protein powder with many health benefits (joint care, gut, hair, nails).  I often use gelatin when preparing treats and desserts.  It can be used as an egg replacer in cookies and cakes, and is the secret ingredient for making gummies and fruit terrines!  I would recommend to only use the porcine gelatin when baking though, as the bovine gelatin has a stronger taste.  

  • Honey: Honey is a natural sweetener suitable for the autoimmune protocol.  Use it sparingly.  It is better to choose raw, local, and organic honey whenever possible.  I use it as a sweetener when baking.

  • Maple syrup: Maple syrup is a natural sweetener and its unique flavor makes it ideal for baking. Grade B maple syrup is preferable as it has a richer, deeper flavor than grade A, as well as higher nutrient content.  

  • Olives: I like to keep olives on hand to eat as a savory snack or to use as an ingredient in many dishes. I personally prefer Kalamata olives for their rich and fruity flavor, especially when preparing French tapenade.  They come packed in olive oil and vinegar.  Be sure to check the label for sneaky non-AIP ingredients! 

  • Palm shortening: I use palm shortening in lieu of butter in baked goods.  It is solid at room temperature and is odorless, and flavorless.  If you can’t source palm shortening, try this: replace with 6 parts coconut cream with 1 part coconut oil and refrigerate.

  • Sea salt: Because I use sea salt so often to bring out the natural aromas of food, I make sure to buy only the finest.  My favorites are Celtic sea saltHimalayan pink sea salt, and last but not least French Fleur de Sel.  Sea salt is naturally packed with beneficial trace minerals.  Whichever sort you choose, make sure it is unbleached, unrefined, and devoid of anti-caking agents and additives.

  • Tigernuts: Tigernuts are not actually nuts, but small root vegetables with a slightly nutty flavor.  They are delicious as a snack, despite the fact that they are really hard to chew on!  

  • Tigernut flour: Tigernut flour is a fine powder made of ground tigernuts.  Because it has a light taste and a consistency close to white flour, I like to use it in baked goods.  

  • Vanilla: I use vanilla frequently when baking to impart a sweet vanilla aroma to cookies and cakes.  You can use vanilla extract when baking (the alcohol will be cooked off).  I like the Simply Organic brand.  For cold preparations, a good option is vanilla powder.  It is more pricey though than vanilla extract, but you only use a small amount at a time.  Make sure there is no added sugar or fillers in the ingredients.  In recipes, you may substitute 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla powder to 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.