Dr. Michael Ruscio, DC is a clinician, Naturopathic Practitioner, clinical researcher, author, and adjunct professor at the University of Bridgeport. His work has been published in peer-reviewed medical journals and he speaks at conferences around the globe.
Confused about the Autoimmune Paleo Diet? Not sure what foods to eat or not to eat? Think it’s impossible to do because it’s so strict? Mickey Trescott fromAutoimmune-Paleo.com joins us to answer those questions and more on this episode of Dr. Ruscio Radio.
If you need help with finding the right diet for you, click here.
Topics: Mickey Trescott’s story…..2:16 The Autoimmune Protocol defined…..9:21 Food reintroductions…..13:47 Symptoms of reactive foods…..16:11 Nightshades…..19:42 Rotating successfully reintroduced foods…..23:00 Timing of reintroducing foods…..25:01 The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook…..27:57 Batch cooking…..31:27 AIP on-the-go…..36:09 Mickey’s final thoughts on AIP…..38:49
Welcome to Dr. Ruscio Radio, discussing the cutting edge in health, nutrition, and functional medicine. To make sure you’re up to date on this and other important topics, visit DrRuscio.com and sign up to receive weekly updates. That’s D-R-R-U-S-C-I-O.com.
The following discussion is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. Please do not apply any of this information without first speaking with your doctor.
Now, let’s head to the show!
Susan McCauley: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Dr. Ruscio Radio, and if you didn’t notice, I’m not Dr. Ruscio! He’s actually in London doing his classes that you heard the promos for the last couple of weeks, and he did not want you guys to miss a week of shows, so you have me, Susan McCauley, certified nutrition consultant and founder of EvolveNutrition.com and cofounder of EvolvedRecovery.com.
Every time that Dr. Ruscio is talking about nutritional interventions, he mentions the autoimmune protocol or autoimmune paleo protocol, and so I thought it would be a good time to go into detail about what the autoimmune paleo protocol is, and who better to have on to talk about this than one of my besties in the real food world—and the world!—Mickey Trescott, nutritional therapy practitioner, who runs the popular website Autoimmune-Paleo.com. She is the author of the bestselling book The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook and the creator of the video-based cooking program AIP Batch Cook. Welcome, Mickey! I am so glad you’re here!
Mickey Trescott: Thank you so much, Susan. I’m really excited to be here, and I’m just so thrilled to be sharing with your audience and Dr. Ruscio’s audience. I’m sad he’s not here, but this is fun!
SM: I’m sure we’ll have you back on when he is and have the three of us because it’s fun to do the podcast with him.
Mickey Trescott’s Story
SM: Why don’t you start out just telling a little bit about your story because we all have our stories. Dr. R has his story. I have my story. How did you come to found Autoimmune-Paleo.com and write a cookbook and all of this other great stuff?
MT: My story started about five and a half years ago when I was diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases, Hashimoto’s disease, which affects the thyroid, and celiac disease, which affects the small intestine. I was diagnosed with both of these diseases after about a year of suffering various symptoms, and when I got my diagnosis, I was told that there was no treatment except for going on a gluten-free diet, even though I had an autoimmune thyroid disease, which took five doctors to diagnose, because I knew that my symptoms were thyroid related, but of course, the way that conventional medical doctors are trained to interpret testing, they continued to dismiss me, saying, “Oh, your labs aren’t bad enough,” and so it went on and on until I found a doctor who actually gave me a diagnosis. I got the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s, so that’s when I learned that I had an autoimmune disease, but then I was told that there was no treatment, my labs were in range, even though I had an autoimmune disease.
At that point, my health started to seriously decline. I had a lot of neurological symptoms, like neuropathy, I had horrible brain fog, I lost feeling in one side of my face, I was slurring my speech, and I had pleurisy, which is inflammation of the lining of the lungs, and it was so severe that I was in pain every single breath I took. At this period of time, I had lost my job, I had been in the hospital three times one Fall, and I was just at a bottom point, where I was ready to do anything to take back my health into my own hands and stop waiting for these doctors to just finally figure something out and magically make me better. It wasn’t going to happen, you know?
SM: Why don’t you tell people, what was your diet like back then?
MT: Susan knows me very well! I was vegan, and I had been vegan for 10 years. I was really into the lifestyle, and until really feeling those first symptoms about a year before my diagnosis, I really believed that I was healthy, that the diet that I was eating was good for me, but I started to have some warning signs of nutritional deficiency, which now I know much better, but back then, my hair falling out, I just thought as you got older you didn’t have as much hair on your head. It was very easy for me to deny the symptoms.
SM: Let me interrupt that, Mickey, at the time you were how old? You weren’t even getting older!
MT: Yes, 25! Yeah, so it’s not really like I was getting that old, but I thought, oh, maybe you just don’t sleep as well or a little insomnia is normal. My anxiety started ramping up. My fatigue really, really started getting bad. I’ll back up a little bit. I was a very active person before I was diagnosed with autoimmune disease. I didn’t own a car. I rode my bike everywhere, and one of the first things, looking back, where I started to notice a severe symptom was we moved somewhere where there was a really big hill between my house and my work, and I had to ride my bike up and down this hill every single day. We moved here, and I rode up the hill and it was really hard, and I anticipated getting stronger and the hill being easier, but what happened was I actually got weaker, and I asked my husband to look at my bike because I said, “Hey, something’s wrong with my bike. I can’t ride up the hill anymore. It’s getting harder.” So he took the bike apart, he repacked the bearings, he checked everything, and still it was hard for me. It was to the point where I was walking my bike up this hill every day, and I couldn’t believe it, and now I know—that was about six months before I was diagnosed—that it was the muscle wasting due to celiac and Hashimoto’s disease. But I was so young and ignorant to the way that my body felt, I just was like, “Oh, well, whatever. I’ll push through this, walk up this hill. Whatever.”
When I was in the depths of my illness, I really reexamined everything that I had been doing, mainly my diet, and that’s how I found the autoimmune protocol. I was so sick that I was willing to eat meat again, which I swore I’d never do. It wasn’t as easy as just saying it, and it wasn’t quick. It was probably a good year before I was back on my feet, working… I don’t even think full time after a year of AIP, but now I’m five years out, and I feel better than I did before I got sick.
SM: Before we get into the hows and whys, why don’t you tell really quickly the story about when you had your first couple of bites of liver.
MT: Yeah, that’s a great story! I caught on pretty quickly that animal products were making me feel better. As a vegan, we’re told meat rots in your stomach, you can’t digest it, so I was scared. I was really scared, and I started by eating a little bit of eggs, which I didn’t really tolerate that great, and then I ate a little bit of fish. The fish really made me feel good, and I had a practitioner who believed in real food and who said, “You know, you really gotta go for the red meat, girl.”
So I started with lamb, and I ate a little bit of ground lamb, and actually my body temperature—I would take my temperature often because back in those days, my normal basal body temperature was about 95 degrees, and no doctor could tell me why that was the case even though my thyroid labs were normal, but we’ll talk about that later! But after I ate this lamb, the red meat, my temperature went up to 97 degrees, and I was like, “Oh, so that’s why they want me to eat liver!” So I started eating liver, and it tasted horrible. Even the smell cooking it, it was one of those moments where I felt like I was betraying everything I believed in, but it was the right thing to do. I really felt warm. My cheeks felt flushed. I remember I was under the covers. I went up in bed, anticipating being sick, and I actually felt this flood of warmth and just good.
SM: Nutrients just coursing through your body!
MT: Yeah! It’s weird because I’ve eaten a lot of food in my years, and I’ve eaten a lot of things that are supposed to be good for you, and I’ve never really had that reaction so profoundly. I think I really needed to experience that to believe that that was the way out. Food was the way out.
The Autoimmune Protocol Defined
SM: So you started googling, and you found the autoimmune protocol. So what is—defined—the autoimmune protocol?
MT: The autoimmune protocol started out as literally a sentence or two in Robb Wolf’s book, where he talks about the paleo diet—no dairy, grains, or legumes—and then some modifications for people with autoimmune disease. He expanded that to say no eggs, no nuts, no seeds, no nightshade vegetables. Back when I found it, it was really just an idea, and now the autoimmune protocol has been really flushed out and expanded by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, who wrote a great book called The Paleo Approach.
The autoimmune protocol is seen both as an elimination diet, so you’re taking out these grains, beans, legumes, eggs, nuts, seeds, and nightshades, including spices that include those things, like cayenne pepper or curry will have cumin or seed spices or nightshade spices, so everything, 100 percent, for a period of time, and then you add in nutrient-dense foods that actually heal your body. So there are two parts to it—the addition and the subtraction. Both of them are equally as important. So the foods that we add in are gut-healing foods—bone broth, organ meats, lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, oily freshwater fish, that kind of stuff. Then over time, as you feel better, you can start reintroducing foods that you eliminated, one at a time, to see how they work with your body.
SM: So it’s not forever. If somebody does the autoimmune protocol, it’s not for the rest of their life this restrictive, because if you think about it, to me, and I’ve done it. With my IBD, I’ve gone through the autoimmune protocol, and I’m almost through all the reintroductions now, but it’s not easy, is it?
MT: Uh-uh, and it’s really good to know up front that it’s a tool. I like to think of it as more of a template or a tool than a diet because everyone’s landing place is completely different. I’ve met people that don’t get within a 10-foot radius of a nightshade. They don’t even think about nightshades because they’re so sensitive to them that they will get sick. And then I’ve met people that eat nightshades fine, and actually I’ve worked my way through a lot of nightshades, where I couldn’t tolerate them for the first three and a half years of my journey.
Things change, and so no diet can ever fit one person perfectly for the rest of their life. We’re always going to be in flux, we’re always going to be changing, and that’s what’s awesome about AIP. But it is really important in the beginning to be committed 200 percent. People need to hear that message at the same time. This isn’t forever, but for now, you really have to do the work to making it 100 percent, avoiding that cross-contamination—especially with gluten. You cannot get any gluten cross-contamination. Otherwise it’s going to make it really hard for you to heal your body and then actually tell when you go to reintroduce foods that are not gluten. Like our paleo foods that are awesome, like eggs, you really want to know if you tolerate eggs, because they make it a lot easier to eat.
SM: I know. I remember the first time. I had to tackle it a couple of times because I was in denial. I was in big denial about autoimmune and my IBD, and also because I was paleo, I think it took longer to get my diagnosis as well because I was eating so many unreactive foods. The first time that I tried it, what’s funny is I didn’t allow myself time. I allowed myself 30 days and then it was Thanksgiving, and of course, I decided to eat whatever I wanted on Thanksgiving, and so it blew the whole 30 days out of the water.
MT: Then you can reintroduce foods. That’s a really good point. When your 30 days or 60 days or 90 days are up, which I actually don’t tell people to pick a time before they start because you never really know until you get your feet wet. Sometimes, like for me, it took nine months. I didn’t know at the beginning it was going to take nine months, but if I had given up in 30 days, I wouldn’t be here now. So I try to tell people not really pick the amount of time and try to go for at least two or three good months until they start feeling better.
MT: But also when you go to reintroduce foods, there’s a whole program. There’s a whole protocol, and Sarah Ballantyne has that outlined in her book. I reference it in my book, The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, for anyone that’s interested in that. Actually we have a lot of free information on that on our website, but you don’t just go hog wild on pizza or beer. You know what I mean?
When you’re reintroducing food, there are stages. There are four stages. Stage-one reintroductions are foods that are most likely going to be fine. These are legumes with edible pods like green beans or sugar snap peas, egg yolks, seed spices, oils from nuts, so like macadamia nut oil, things that we would consider paleo—maybe some people wouldn’t—but pretty common and nutrient dense and healthy and actually things that make it easier to eat.
It is actually healthy to reintroduce foods because if you don’t, then you end up a crazy person that eats only a few things, and it gets psychologically more in the eating disorder territory, which we definitely don’t want people to be there.
SM: Right. It makes it really hard to eat out, it makes it hard to go to other people’s houses for dinner and holidays, and the orthorexia definition comes into play. If you’re 10 years into it and you’re still eating no black pepper, then maybe it’s time we need to talk about that maybe there’s something else going on.
When I was doing it in the very beginning, this was back in 2011, there was no four stages of reintroduction. So much stuff!
MT: Yeah, the same thing with when I did it, too, Susan. You’re exactly right. The amount of resources and the quality of those resources is just off the wall. You can find someone now with disease-specific groups. There are people with Crohn’s that all are sharing their strategies with Crohn’s. There are people with Hashimoto’s or MS. It’s really incredible how the community has grown and how much information we now have because we’re such a bigger population, but back when we did this, it was like, “Well, I guess trial and error. I guess if I eat everything and I feel terrible, then I have to start over, and I don’t have any books to look up how long it takes to get back on track, so I have to figure it out for myself.” That’s what we did back then.
Symptoms of Reactive Foods
SM: What are some of the symptoms that people should look for? I know that’s a lot. If I go 30, 60, 90 days, six months without, say, seed spices or nightshades, what are the typical symptoms? Are they normal autoimmune symptoms? Or are there other types of symptoms people can look for to decide for themselves if they’re reacting negatively to that food?
MT: The easiest symptom is a return or worsening of your autoimmune symptoms. For instance, if you have psoriasis and you have a rash, and then when you go AIP, your rash goes away, and then when you eat a food, the rash comes back, it’s really easy to tell. “Well, I ate that and it caused my rash to come back.” So you know that that food causes that symptom. But all of these foods don’t cause the same symptoms, and working with people and just hearing all these anecdotes in the community, you really learn that symptoms can be almost anything negative. They can be anything from mental and emotional, like a decreased ability to handle stress, anxiety. Insomnia is, surprisingly, a big one. Any change in skin—rashes, redness, itchiness. Any kind of stomach pain, discomfort, bowel changes, reflux, anything like that. Tiredness, fatigue, joint pain.
What’s interesting is people can have different symptoms to different foods. For example, when I eat gluten… I mean, I have celiac, and the medical definition of celiac disease, doctors think that we get lots of gut pain and diarrhea when we get glutened, but that doesn’t happen to me. I just stop being able to form sentences and feel half of my face! So you can’t really go by what everyone thinks or what everyone says. A food could affect you. Eggs, for me, affect me digestively. I just have stool changes. I get constipated when I have a lot of eggs. Nightshades affect my joints, especially in my hands and my feet. They get inflamed and swollen. I’ve heard that nightshades affect a lot of people that way—so nightshades and joint pain, for anyone with rheumatoid arthritis—but I’ve also heard of skin reactions, so it really depends kind of where you’re at with your disease and how it’s going to manifest in your body. Dairy, for me, I get a lot of phlegm, I can’t breathe properly, I start coughing. None of those are really symptoms that anyone would say are very closely associated with my autoimmune diseases, but they’re very clear, and I know through going through this process that that’s how they affect me.
SM: For me, the telltale sign is always getting my wedding ring on in the morning. I can always tell.
MT: Yeah, the inflammation in your hands.
SM: I call them sausage fingers.
SM: It’s always usually after traveling because I don’t restrict nightshades when I travel because it’s just… I don’t actively restrict them. I try not to have them, but when you eat out…
MT: You never know.
SM: You never know what you’re going to get.
MT: Paprika’s in everything.
SM: Paprika’s in everything, and then also all the vegetables oils that you’re getting when you’re eating out. That’s my telltale sign.
SM: When we’re talking about nightshades, what’s the spectrum? I know that some seem to be more reactive than others.
MT: This is my opinion on this. Other people might have a different opinion, but based on my personal experience and working with other people, I think that raw tomatoes and raw bell peppers tend to be the worst on the spectrum of nightshades. If I were to eat a raw tomato, I might not be able to walk tomorrow.
MT: Whereas on the other end of the spectrum, I think, potatoes are very tolerant to a lot of people that are intolerant to other nightshades, if that makes sense. Whatever it is that affects us, potatoes don’t have a lot of it. They were my first nightshade that I could tolerate.
Moving on from potatoes, the spices, so paprika, cayenne. My guess is just because you’re using such a small quantity and it’s dried. Like, if you eat a tomato, that’s a substantial amount, but if you’re just putting some cayenne pepper in something, it’s not that much. I’ve been tolerating a little bit of those spices.
And then the kind of middle stuff is like cooked peppers or maybe guacamole with some jalapeno, but not tomatoes. That’s kind of in the middle. And then the cooked tomatoes, and then I would say raw tomatoes and raw peppers.
SM: Uncooked raw tomatoes are on my reintroduction list next summer. It’ll be two years without them. Next tomato season. Because who wants to eat a tomato in the winter anyway? They taste horrible.
MT: Yeah, and just also know that whatever it is that, at least, I’m sensitive to tomatoes, is all over those plants. I figured this out after my summer of nightshade denial, where I grew all my cherry tomatoes—
SM: Oh, I love cherry tomatoes!
MT: They were so good, and I was on AIP, but I wasn’t nightshade free because how could I deny myself those amazing tomatoes? And I ripped out all my tomato plants with my bare hands, and all that stuff got all over my hands, you know, the sticky stuff from the plants?
MT: I must have laid in bed for a week. It was so bad. It was horrible. So I know that the plant itself is very full… you can smell it, it’s sticky, and all of that. So be careful for any of you tomato gardeners.
SM: You can tell because I love the smell of my hands after I’ve been gardening tomatoes. It’s just that earthy, tomatoey, gardeny—
MT: We’re attracted to the poison! Cultures used to poison each other with belladonna, which is a nightshade plant.
MT: My great-uncle actually died as a kid from eating a nightshade berry, a belladonna berry.
SM: Oh, wow.
MT: When he was a little kid. Yeah. There is poison in them.
SM: That’s why they’re nightshades.
Rotating Successfully Reintroduced Foods
SM: Once we’ve reintroduced, what are your thoughts on the amount that you eat of these foods? If you go back to eating eggs every day or you go back to eating nightshades, do you feel that there’s a difference between maybe using more of a rotational approach once you’ve successfully reintroduced a food, to kind of rotate it in or out? Or do you think it’s just like, “Oh, you’re good to go. Just go for it”?
MT: Yeah, I definitely think that minimizing exposure to foods that you know you have a low tolerance to, even if there’s a little tolerance there, is your best bet. For me, eggs are a little bit dicey, but I can get away with them. I do a lot more eggs when I’m traveling or when I’m pressed for time. Maybe if I have a really busy week, I’ll make some hard-boiled eggs, or we’ll eat eggs in the morning. But on the weeks where I have lots of time, I’m not eating them because I don’t want to tip that balance. I don’t want to go overboard and kind of make myself sick. That’s something that’s very personal, and it’s actually difficult because a lot of these reintroduced foods can be high-reward foods.
MT: Like, you can use eggs to make paleo muffins!
SM: Mayonnaise, mayo!
MT: Yeah! You can use them to make mayo! A lot of these things we really want and it’s easy to kid ourselves, like, “Oh, I’ll just have that a little bit,” but then when you start backsliding a little bit and go, “Oh, I just haven’t been feeling my best,” that’s when you know that those little things could’ve slipped in and you need to clean it up.
Once you have experienced going through the elimination diet, feeling great, reintroducing foods, figuring out how you feel with different things, you can kind of go back and forth. It’s not so extreme. I think we long-timers kind of ebb and flow between our traveling, holidays—not having a party with gluten and dairy, but just maybe having some paleo treats or whatever—and then going back and doing more of a strict protocol because we know that we need to clean things up. That’s totally fine.
Timing of Reintroducing Foods
SM: How long do you wait between all the reintroductions? Say you start out, you said one of the first set of things… was eggs in the first set?
MT: Yeah, eggs, seed spices. Sarah has it outlined, and I also have it outlined in my book. You want to introduce things over three days, and you want to give it three full days before you start reintroducing something else.
Now, in the beginning, you can go a little faster, and then as you get into things that are a little bit bigger, like dairy, I would take my time. If you’re going to reintroduce ghee or butter, give it a week. Try it a little bit. If you don’t notice anything in the first couple of days, give it a whole week because that’s a really big reintroduction. You really want to make sure if you’re going to be cooking things in butter and using that or if you’re going to be having maybe some hard cheeses or raw cheese or something, you really want to make sure that that works for you. If you muddy the water by reintroducing too many other things in the same area and the same timeframe, it’s going to make it more confusing. For the beginning things, I think three days is fine, but for some of the bigger reintroductions, like you’re saying you’re going to reintroduce tomatoes next summer, that’s going to be a big period of time where you’re going to spend, “OK, is this working for me?”
SM: And I’m going to have, like, one tomato and then the next day maybe… you know, I have a plan.
SM: I bargain with myself all the time and I’m sure we all do. It’s like, what can we have? But in August of this year it will be two full years since I’ve given up raw tomatoes, and all my other symptoms, rotating in all of the other nightshades, I’ve been fine with, and so maybe I’m kidding myself—
MT: Susan, I can do almost all the other ones, too, but not raw tomatoes.
SM: I know. It’s California in the summer to me. I think back to when I was a kid and my mom used to pack in my lunch tomato sandwiches. It was basically white bread, mayonnaise, and tomatoes. That’s how much I loved tomatoes when I was a kid, and it’s just been my whole life. It’s funny that that’s why I want to reintroduce them! Of course, we’re going to put all the links to Sarah Ballantyne, both of her books.(1)(2) Or is it three books now?
MT: Yeah, she has three now. She just came out with The Healing Kitchen, which is an awesome book for anyone that needs tons of meal ideas and meal plans for five ingredients or less, 30 minutes or less, that kind of thing. It’s really cool.
The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook
SM: And then let’s talk about your cookbook for a little bit.
SM: Because it is beautiful.
MT: Aww, thank you.
SM: It is absolutely… OK, so it’s beautiful, but it’s also tasty!
MT: Yay! Well, I do have a background working as a personal chef, so hopefully I took that approach in my book. Really I just wanted to make the recipes that people would make all the time. I know that there are definitely times to have recipes that are a little bit fancier for guests or whatever, but when you decide to embark on something like the autoimmune protocol, you need to be cooking your food every day, and if it isn’t easy to do, if you can’t but the food at any grocery store—even, like, Walmart—and the food doesn’t taste good, you’re not going to do it! So my book, hopefully, is the answer to those problems.
SM: What are your two favorite recipes from your book?
MT: My favorite recipes… I would have to say the salmon chowder definitely is as far as flavor. It’s not the easiest recipe to make, though, so I don’t make it all the time, but here in the Pacific Northwest we have abundant salmon and I actually can frequently get my hands on the whole fish, so I end up with the carcass and the bones, the head and everything, to make a nice stock with.
MT: That’s a really good recipe. But something that I make all the time that’s a staple and is kind of a game changer in the flavor department is No-Mato Sauce. It’s a tomato sauce replacement, but it uses beets and carrots, a little bit of lemon juice, bone broth, and it mimics the flavor of tomato sauce, so you could make baked spaghetti squash or spiralize some zucchini noodles or sweet potato noodles or something and then use the No-Mato Sauce. It looks like tomato sauce, but it’s not!
SM: I think with food, visual is almost as important as the olfactory and the taste. It does have that tang that you expect from tomato sauce, visually it looks similar to a tomato sauce, and I think it helps your brain get past that idea that it’s not and you’re not eating tomatoes.
MT: Yeah, that was the idea with that. If you’re looking to infuse flavor and variety into leftovers, I think sauces are a great way to go. There’s also a pesto that is really great in my cookbook. I like to make them and store them in really big mason jars, and then whatever I’m stir-frying, it’s like, all right, in goes the No-Mato Sauce, in goes the pesto, in goes the turmeric sauce or whatever I have that week. Then it’s really flavorful, it’s really delicious, and all you had to do is chop some stuff up and sauté it.
SM: Mm-hmm. You guys should see Mickey when she comes to my house. She doesn’t use measuring spoons, no measuring cups. She just looks around and she throws something together that tastes absolutely delicious!
MT: Oh, my gosh…
SM: It’s such a treat to have her come down and visit me.
So we already talked about not having time, having to cook a lot at home. I can see if there’s a single mom listening or a working mom with kids, at this point they’re like… I’m not going to use any bad words so we get a bad rating on iTunes, but they’re turning off the podcast and saying, “I don’t know what Dr. R is saying. I can’t do this autoimmune paleo thing!”
SM: You have a new product called AIP Batch Cook, so what is that?
MT: Yeah, AIP Batch Cook is a program that I developed to teach everyone how to batch cook. Batch cooking is something I’ve been talking about for a long time. I actually have written some stuff on the blog about it. I’ve written about it in my book. My meal plan in my cookbook actually uses batch cooking.
The idea is that you cook a bunch of things in large quantities, and then you cook ahead for the week. That could either be cooking a protein—like roasting a whole chicken, maybe a leg of lamb, maybe doing a pork roast—on the weekend when you also are making broth at the same time, maybe making a salad or some vegetables, and then you’re maximizing that, whatever, three-hour cooking session to make all of this food that you’re going to use later on in the week. You might use some of the chicken from that whole roast chicken to make a chicken salad on Tuesday, but you made it on Sunday. Or maybe you’ll freeze some of those meals so that when you’re super busy next week, you can just grab them out of the freezer and take it to work. Or maybe you’re just going to eat them as leftovers for the rest of the week. You don’t have to cook breakfast. You just wake up and there’s your breakfast ready to go.
The idea of that, a lot of people can’t get past it. It’s like, “Well, how much do I cook? How do I time things?” It’s complicated. When I used to work as a personal chef, this is what I would do. I would work with busy families in their homes that wanted a high volume of food because, let’s face it, a family of five eats a lot, and they wanted it in a four- or five-hour session that I had to work once a week. I would go there once a week, and I would make this plan where I would have all these things in the oven at the same time, I would have every burner on the stove going, and it wasn’t dangerous, but it just took some planning and some preparation.
In this program that I created, AIP Batch Cook, I show everyone on video. I’ve come up with a meal plan, and there’s a shopping list, a recipe list, and then you chop everything and then follow along. I teach you, “Turn the oven on to 400, and here are the two things you can cook at the same time. Then on the stovetop, here are the two things you can cook at the same time,” assuming everyone has one skillet, one big pot, two baking sheets. You don’t have to have anything crazy to do this batch cooking routine, but you can cook all your food for the entire week just in a couple of sessions.
SM: And do you go over all the utensils and everything you need?
MT: Yeah. There’s a tool list, and you don’t need anything like a Vitamix or a food processor or anything. It’s very accessible. If you have a soup pot, a skillet, a couple of baking sheets, some knives, a cutting board… I have all the lists, but it’s nothing ridiculous because some of us into buying every appliance for their kitchen, but other people aren’t.
SM: A lot of people don’t have room!
MT: Yeah! Susan and I always talk about this. She has some cool appliances that I don’t have, so maybe, Susan, you can tell everyone what that is.
SM: Oh, I have an ice cream maker.
SM: Mickey was just down for New Year’s Eve, and we made AIP ice cream.
MT: Yeah, we made some AIP ice cream.
SM: With some coconut milk and some vanilla bean and a little maple syrup, because Mickey had said she doesn’t have room because she lives in a tiny house—which is mostly kitchen!
SM: She said she didn’t have an ice cream maker, so when she came down, I said, “Hey, you want to make some ice cream?” Her eyes lit up, and we made it two days in a row!
SM: And it was delicious.
MT: Oh, yeah. You gotta love friends with all the cool tools, but I spend my money on knives and that kind of stuff because I have small space and I have to make it happen, and you guys can too. It’s not that hard. You just have to do some planning, some preparation.
Also flexibility is something I teach in the program. It’s not just following the program and you’ll make your food for one week. I teach you how to modify your recipes. If we’re making a beef skillet, I tell you all the different vegetables you could use that take the same amount of time to cook or the different proteins you could use so you can actually use what is most cost effective in your area. We all have different access to different quality of food and different proteins and different vegetables in the season. There are a lot of meal planning programs out there, but doing it yourself is always going to be the best.
SM: For people that are on the go, what do you do? We can’t have nuts, we can’t have seeds, so that takes away most every bar that there is. No hard-boiled eggs. All the portable foods that I think of when I’m on the go and need to take something quick don’t really fall into the autoimmune protocol, so do you have any tips for people?
MT: Yeah. There are a couple of things that are commercially available. EPIC Bar has a few flavors, and I would say that those are amazing to have on hand for emergency snacks. I like to keep them in the car or if I’m traveling or whatever. Those are great because they’re portable. You can take them with you, and they’re like a meat pemmican bar. They have some dried fruit and some meat and those are AIP.
You can do seaweed snacks, although those aren’t very filling. There are sweet potato chips, the Jackson’s, in coconut oil.
My favorite is actually to have a real food snack. Sometimes this doesn’t work on the go, but if you’re at work and you have a fridge, you can bring a small portion of a meal that you’d eat any other time. I actually think this is the best for balancing energy levels and blood sugar levels because it’s more likely to have adequate protein and fat. My favorite is actually liver pate. This week I’ve been eating lamb liver pate. I have a recipe in my book and on my website for pate for people that don’t love pate. It’s a really good one.
SM: I’ll have to try it because I don’t love pate!
MT: You should try it! It uses lots of bacon and onion and garlic and herbs, and it really covers the taste of the liver. I recommend that, and that is actually my favorite snack because it has so many vitamins in it that it gives me an energy boost too.
I like to eat that on the Mission Heirloom Yucan Crunch Crackers. You guys can check them out online. They’re totally AIP-legal crackers that are made in Berkeley, in the Bay Area. They’re made out of yucca, and they’re super crunchy and delicious and awesome. I like to always have a couple of bags of those on hand.
SM: We’ll put links to all these things in the show notes. Even if you live far away, order those crackers because they do save a long time.
MT: They do.
SM: Once you toast them, even if they’re a little old, the crunch and everything, the flavor is still there. I have a bag that lasts me.
MT: They actually don’t go stale.
SM: Yeah, they don’t go stale.
MT: We just toast them in a little pan on the stovetop and they taste great.
SM: They’re delicious.
Mickey’s Final Thoughts on AIP
SM: OK, so we’re just about out of time. Is there anything else AIP related that you want to tell everybody that’s listening today?
MT: Yeah, I would just say for anyone that’s embarking on the autoimmune protocol or an elimination diet, the two things I would leave you with are just don’t forget about nutrient density. Don’t just think about the things you can’t have. Think about the things you can have, and think about how those things are going to heal your body. Don’t forget about the bone broth. Don’t forget about the organ meats. If you don’t want to have pate, try to sneak a little bit of ground liver into your soups and stews and stuff. You can grind it when it’s frozen and put it in your freezer and then just take a couple of tablespoons anytime you’re making patties and throw it in. Anytime you’re making a ground meat chili, like an AIP chili, throw it in. Eat lots of vegetables. Don’t think about the treats and the replacement foods. Think about the really good nutrient-dense real food.
And then the second thing is just to be gentle on yourself and realize that this is a hard process. Love yourself through it. Don’t force yourself. Don’t white-knuckle it. Really set yourself up for success, and know that your body is always changing and that every day is a new day, and just do the best you can.
SM: I think this is where all the things that everybody hears me talk about, they’re probably so tired of it, but this is where the walking comes in, the sleep comes in, the stress management comes in, and the meditation. All those lifestyle factors can make the autoimmune protocol seem a little bit easier.
MT: Yeah. Don’t try to do it when the rest of your life is a mess and you can’t focus on healing in a lot of areas. You really want to do it in a holistic way, not just force the food part and let all this other stuff be out of control.
SM: And don’t let the stress of being perfect… I know we really want to try and make sure to not get any of this cross-contamination in and really adhere to it 100 percent, but if something happens, don’t beat yourself up about it because the stress of it all could do more harm than the actual food that you ate by accident!
MT: Totally! Really connect with the community too. My blog partner, Angie Alt, has a really great six-week transition program for anyone that is finding it hard to just start the autoimmune protocol. She does a phased transition, where every week for six weeks you’re in a community of 20 people that are all doing the same thing, and you’re removing a food group every single week. It’s a lot more manageable, and there are a lot of exercises that you do to try to set yourself up, and all the work that you do beforehand—planning, preparing, and setting yourself up for success—is going to enable you to actually be successful and do what you set out to do.
SM: When does her next group start?
MT: Oh, that’s a great question. She runs them every other month, and the next one is the first week in March.
SM: Ooo, that will be perfect. I think this will air the first week in February.
SM: Around there, so that will work really well. We’ll put the link to all that stuff in the show notes for all of you guys.
SM: Any last tidbits?
MT: Nope, that’s it. Thank you for being here and letting me share about AIP. Check out the site. We have lots of awesome resources onAutoimmune-Paleo.com. There’s a free food list, a two-week meal plan and shopping list, and lots of videos to get you started for our email subscribers, so check that out.
SM: And your Facebook page.
MT: Oh, yeah!
SM: And your Periscope!
MT: Oh, yeah. I do Periscope Q&A’s every Monday at 3:30 PST on autoimmune paleo.
SM: You don’t tweet much, do you?
MT: Um… we tweet.
MT: But, you know, I don’t hang out on Twitter.
SM: Yeah. And Instagram!
MT: Yeah, @mickeytrescott.
SM: And the master Autoimmune Paleo Instagram account as well, if you want to get ideas for beautiful food from people doing autoimmune paleo all over the world.
MT: Yeah, that account, every week there’s a new takeover. There’s a new person every single week showing what they’re eating and what they’re doing to manage their stress and their sleep and everything, so it’s really inspiring.
SM: OK, well, I’m not exactly sure what order Dr. R is going to put all the episodes up, but I believe he will be back next week with another great topic. Guys, thanks for listening, and have a great day!
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