Cashews are a fascinating food.
Botanically, they are a master of disguise.
They split in half like a legume, but they are not a legume.
They look sort of like a nut and grow on a tree, but they are not a tree nut.
And the red juicy pear looking thing that grows on the same tree as them looks like a fruit, but it’s not actually a fruit.
From a culinary standpoint, they are also fascinating.
Sure, you can grind them into a flour like other nuts. You can also use them whole in various dishes. But what’s most interesting is the fact you can grind them and mix them with water to form a cream cheese like substance that you can then put on top of pizzas or use as cake icing! It’s one of the foods loved by both vegans and Paleo-eaters!
I hope you’re also getting fascinated about this fake-nut…
Nuts have been a favorite of low carb dieters for a long time and now they’re popular among ketogenic dieters. Nuts are a quick and easy snack that you can purchase even at a gas station, they provide that nice crunchy texture that many people find missing from a low carb diet, and nut flours can be used to make a variety of baked goods that can be used as bread-substitutes.
It’s not easy to start the AIP (autoimmune paleo) protocol. Various foods like bread, cereal, nuts, seeds, tomatoes, eggs are all of a sudden off the list of foods you can eat, and you’re left wondering what on earth you can still eat!
So, we’ve created this handy guide to help you navigate the AIP diet and heal your body as quickly as possible.
You can also download this list as a printable PDF to stick on your fridge or to take with you when you go shopping.
Items in parentheticals are typically harder to find and not often used in most recipes. If you live somewhere where those items are easier to find and you want to give them a try, then by all means purchase them. Where applicable, items are linked so that you can purchase them on Amazon.com or elsewhere online.
Sea salt + flavored salt (e.g., garlic salt, lemon salt)
If you’re looking for the AIP Food List, then click the button below to download it:
Canned fish and seafood (packed in brine or olive oil)
Herbal tea (rooibos, mint, honeybush, chamomile)
Other teas (black, white, green)
(Sweet potato puree)
(Chicory root “coffee”)
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It’s the Achilles’ heel in my diet. While I’ve never been a big fan of milk or white chocolate, dark chocolate has been my trusted companion since I can remember.
Luckily, dark chocolate is OK on a Paleo diet in moderation, but what about on the Paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP)?
Short Answer: Probably Not
I’m sorry to disappoint you, but chocolate is generally not considered autoimmune-friendly.
You’re probably thinking there’s some loophole because I used the words “probably not” and “generally,” but I don’t want to get your hopes up. It’s really best if you don’t eat chocolate on the AIP diet, and here’s why:
Sarah Ballantyne says the following about chocolate in The Paleo Approach:
“Chocolate is extremely high in phytic acid and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats and contains caffeine, all of which are reasons to avoid it on the Paleo Approach.”
In fact, Sarah herself experienced dramatic improvements in her lichen planus when she cut out chocolate from her diet.
So, what’s the loophole then?
There’s no specific link between chocolate and autoimmune conditions or leaky gut. And most less strict versions of the Paleo autoimmune protocol (like the one in Robb Wolf’s book, The Paleo Solution) don’t mention anything about chocolate.
So, should you eat chocolate on the Paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP)?
As with anything in life, the choice is yours. My thoughts would be to eliminate it initially and then to introduce it and see whether it affects your autoimmune condition or not.
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If you’re like me, then you might want to delve beneath the surface and understand why something is the case. So, when someone tells me that chocolate isn’t autoimmune-friendly, then I want to know why!
So, what’s unhealthy about chocolate?
1. Chocolate contains added sugar and non-Paleo ingredients
First, there’s the obvious, most chocolate is made into processed desserts that contain a bunch of unhealthy ingredients like sugar, milk solids, etc.
But what about pure dark chocolate? Ok, read on!
2. Chocolate is high in phytic acid.
Phytic acid is a substance naturally present in chocolate as well as various other plant-derived foods like nuts, seeds, beans, and grains. Phytic acid can prevent us from absorbing many of the nutrients in the meal we’re eating. For that reason, it’s often called an anti-nutrient. So, eating chocolate as a dessert can mean that you don’t absorb as many of the minerals from the rest of the food you ate that meal.
This is problematic in those with autoimmune conditions as they likely already have impaired digestive issues and often already have mineral deficiencies. So they wouldn’t want to then not absorb the few minerals they do take in with their meal by eating chocolate as a dessert.
3. Chocolate contains caffeine
According to the USDA, 1 oz of dark chocolate contains around 23 mg of caffeine. Compare this with 1 cup of coffee, which has around 100 mg of caffeine. However, 1 oz of dark chocolate does also contain 227 mg of theobromine.
So, what’s wrong with caffeine?
Caffeine has been linked to rises in cortisol levels and increased inflammation. While there’s no definitive science suggesting caffeine is good or bad for our general health, Sarah Ballantyne suggests limiting caffeine intake for those on AIP “mainly to support normalization of cortisol levels and rhythms.”
What’s wrong with theobromine?
Honestly, I don’t know because there’s been very little research done on it. Currently, it seems people think theobromine is a better version of caffeine.
4. Chocolate is high in Omega-6 fats.
1 oz of dark chocolate contains 402 mg of omega-6 fatty acids and 32.8 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. This skewed omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is probably not that great for you unless you’re eating plenty of high omega-3 foods to balance it out.
Chocolate is easy to overeat
I probably don’t need to show you any science for this one – I’m sure you’ve experienced it yourself!
Chocolate just makes me feel bad
Ok, it doesn’t make me personally feel bad, but I have heard anecdotal stories about people feeling worse if they eat even dark chocolate. Jeremy is one of these people as is Sarah Ballantyne.
Chocolate contains lectins
Eileen suggests in this article that chocolate contains lectins, which can cause increased intestinal permeability as well as other issues. However, I have not found any scientific literature suggesting that the processed cacao we eat in chocolate contains lectins (the cacao plant and bean itself may contain lectins).
Most chocolate contains soy lecithin
If you look carefully at the ingredients list of most chocolate bars, you’ll find soy lecithin listed at the end. Soy lecithin is an emulsifier that is used to produce a smoother chocolate texture. While soy lecithin is not particularly healthy, it’s also not that unhealthy and you can find a fair number of chocolate brands or 100% chocolates that do not have soy lecithin as an ingredient if you want to avoid it.
So, as you can see, dark chocolate isn’t all that bad, and it definitely has a fair amount of beneficial properties (like antioxidants and minerals). However, since some people do feel better when they eliminate chocolate from their diet, it’s worth giving it a shot!
What can you eat instead of chocolate then when you’re on the Paleo autoimmune protocol and craving for a bar of delicious chocolate?
Carob is a great substitute for chocolate.
Carob doesn’t contain caffeine and has a fair amount of vitamins and minerals. However, when you buy carob, make sure to buy pure carob powder (check the ingredients list to make sure carob is the only ingredient). Carob chips will contain non- Paleo and non-AIP ingredients unfortunately.
This carob powder (which you can get on Amazon.com) is 100% pure carob.
Then use the carob powder to make your own AIP “Chocolate” treats like some of the recipes listed below.
Make sure to pick a good chocolate when you reintroduce chocolate into your diet.
Most chocolate is filled with non-Paleo (and obviously non-AIP) ingredients. For example, milk chocolate contains a ton of sugar and dairy products. So, you should avoid those regardless. Same goes for white chocolate – there’s usually a milk product as well as lots of sugar in them.
So, if you’re reintroducing chocolate into your diet, then pick a dark chocolate (over 85% if possible).
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Paleo baking (and gluten-free baking) can be confusing already, and the fact that most of the Paleo cookbooks and blogs are written by Americans means that you have to spend a ton of time doing Paleo baking conversions for all your ingredients.
I still remember first learning that a cup was a standard measurement in America (it confused me to no end as a child growing up in the UK).
So, to help everyone who wants to try their hand at Paleo baking (or gluten-free baking), here’s a handy and comprehensive list of US to Metric conversions for Paleo, grain-free, and gluten-free baking.
I’ve also included a few ingredients that are typically not found in Paleo baking, but I thought it’d be useful to have the conversions for them anyway.
If I’ve missed any ingredient that you think should be on this baking conversions list that would help you convert US recipes, then please send me a message and let me know.
This small bottle of dark red liquid causes a lot of debate in the health and culinary worlds.
So what is liquid smoke? Is it a cheat for those of us too lazy to actually smoke our meats or is it a healthier way to make foods delicious? And of course, the most important question on your mind, is liquid smoke Paleo?
Read more to find out!
Cape gooseberries look like an orange cherry tomato and taste like a sweet version of a cherry tomato. They also have a paper-like cape on the outside that should be removed before eating.
They’re known by various names throughout the world (e.g., Physalis, Physalis peruviana, Inca berry, Aztec berry, golden berry, giant ground cherry, African ground cherry, Peruvian groundcherry, Peruvian cherry, or amour en cage). Cape gooseberries are now grown in many countries with Columbia being the major producer.
In particular, you might find that the dried fruit is often called goldenberry (and sometimes Pichuberry to associate them with Peru). You can even buy dried goldenberries to eat as a snack on Amazon.com.
While gooseberry is in the name of this fruit, cape gooseberries are not gooseberries. Instead they are a nightshade and are closely related to the tomatillo. Because the cape gooseberry is a nightshade (click here to see a list of nightshades), they are not permitted on the AIP (Paleo autoimmune protocol) diet. Note, however, that since the typical gooseberry is NOT a nightshade, they are permitted on the AIP diet.
With so many different names floating around, it can be tough when you’re out shopping to ensure you buy the right products.
So, what’s the deal with coconut sugar? Is coconut palm sugar the same thing as coconut sugar? And is palm sugar different to coconut palm sugar? What about coconut nectar and coconut crystals?
Yes, I agree…it’s really annoyingly confusing. So read on to discover exactly what is what as well as which sugar is Paleo.
I found this strange fruit while traveling through Thailand a few weeks ago. It’s so odd looking that I was worried it was fake and plastic at first!
As the sign I saw pointed out, gac fruit juice is often known as a fruit from heaven and it is a pretty rare fruit.
So, what is gac fruit? And is gac fruit healthy to eat?
Eggs are a huge part of modern diets, but the ways we raise chickens has changed a lot over the past 100 years.
To be fair, egg consumption has probably been a big part of our diets as long as humans have been…well…human. Imagine carrying home a whopping 19-inch egg from the prehistoric dinosaur segnosaurus, who laid the biggest eggs we’ve ever seen! (Just kidding, of course – humans never existed anywhere near the same time as any yummy dinosaur eggs.)
Nowadays, egg consumption around the world is unfortunately dinosaur-free, so we’re left with what makes up the bulk of the world’s modern egg diet—quail eggs in Asia, ostrich eggs in Africa, and of course, chicken eggs pretty much everywhere else.
I don’t remember ever eating a sweet potato as a kid. And that makes me a little bit sad.
Since I’ve gone Paleo – and particularly if I’m doing any sort of intense exercise or training (Muay Thai, CrossFit, etc.), I’ve fallen in love with sweet potatoes.
I used to get adventurous and make all sorts of different sweet potato dishes, but recently, boiling or baking and then eating seems much simpler and just as yummy.
Luo Han Guo (aka Monk Fruit) has been all the rage lately as a low calorie “natural” sweetener.
But…is Luo Han Guo Paleo?
Luo Han Guo, also sometimes known as monk fruit, is the fruit of Siraitiagrosvenorii, a plant native to China and some other parts of Asia. Its odd name comes from the phonetic Chinese name for the fruit, which in turncomes from the Buddhist Luo Han monks, who were some of the first to cultivate the fruit hundreds of years ago.
What’s so special about this fruit is the fact that its extract is highly sweet and yet low in calories.
I recently got asked this question by a reader:
Do Reishi Mushrooms (also known as Ling Zhi Mushrooms) have Medicinal Benefits?
Chinese practitioners have used these mushrooms for centuries (at least), and the supposed health benefits include treating prostrate cancer, boosting the immune system, and treating insomnia.
For many people, the morning isn’t fueled by the excitement of a great day—it’s fueled by coffee.
And when the 3pm blues comes around, guess who’s up for coffee round 2 (or round 5 or 6)? With coffee houses popping up everywhere and coffee pots just getting easier (and cheaper) to use, it’s no wonder that this energizing drink has quickly risen to claim a spot as one of the most-consumed beverages in the world.
But should you run off and pour yourself another mug, or is it time to shut the kitchen coffeemaker down for good?
Perhaps not surprisingly, a good bit of research has been done into how coffee affects the human body.
If there’s one characteristic that most modern diets share, it’s the push for whole grains.
Major organizations like Mayo Clinic and the American Diabetes Association insist that opting for whole grains is a more nutritious, heart-healthy option for managing weight and insulin resistance.
However, we know that most diets have gotten a few things wrong…
When a cereal grain (wheat, corn, barley, rye, etc.) is growing in the field, it already counts as a “whole grain”—that is, it has all of its parts intact. The parts of a grain—the bran (skin), germ (seed embryo), and endosperm (the germ’s food source)—are all kept together when they are harvested and turned into food.
This is different from refined grains, where only the endosperm is kept. If you think about refined grains, then, you’ll notice that we’re not actually eating the actual grain (the germ) at all!