Cooking paleo AIP Italian food could be quite challenging given all the restrictions on gluten, grains, dairy or (especially for those on the Autoimmune Protocol), nightshades!
And for somebody like yours truly, being born and raised in Italy in a family of extremely talented cooks, removing tomatoes and mozzarella from my diet was incredibly hard!
I mean, I grew up picking tomatoes in the fields with my grandpa, for God’s sake! Not to mention that, like all other Italians, I have an extremely vast culture on breakfast cookies… (because, yes, cookies and milk is what Italian kids have for breakfast here)!
But, besides my personal struggles, learning how to cook paleo AIP Italian food that tastes great is important for everybody. As a matter of fact, I still haven’t met somebody who told me they don’t love pizza or pasta, or any of the other staples of the Italian culinary tradition.
And at the bottom of these post I will share with you 5 amazing tricks that will help you cook AIP Italian food in an authentic way! But now, let me give you a little background about my situation.
Like I mentioned in my About page, I have done 2 cycles of AIP, one for 4 months and the second one for 6 months. And the reason for this is that the first time I failed.
Yup, I had a complete meltdown one day, at the end of my fourth month of Elimination Phase. I was walking through the aisles of a grocery stores, buying the same boring ingredients for my pathetic salads and mixed vegetable and steak dishes… and I legitimately started to cry!! Right there, with the shopping cart in my hands and the other customers walking around me.
I remember calling my parents on Skype to tell them I was officially gonna quit the AIP. I had completely lost my appetite for the food I was eating, and, even worse, I felt like vomiting just by thinking about eating it.
I hung up the call and bought a pack of gluten free lasagna, some dairy free cheese, and a bag of rice. And when I got home, I made myself a feast of non-AIP Italian food 😉
Yes, it really sucked to give up all of the efforts I had made up until that point. Especially because I knew I had to start it all over. But my diet on my first cycle of AIP was just not sustainable, and I couldn’t keep going that way.
I was constantly unsatisfied with the food I was eating. I was merely swallowing down each bite of food like it was a pill… And I was always craving the food I liked and couldn’t have, hence feeling upset and depressed. 😞
It took me a few months to find the strength and determination to try the elimination phase again. I remember that my parents flew all over to the US (where my hubby’s from) to come help me, support me and cook delicious homemade AIP Italian food for me.
I remember that my dad cooked me his infamous chicken with pears and “Polpettone” (my beloved Italian meatloaf) the day he got off the plane. And my mom helped me make “crema pasticcera” (a delightful custard that’s used a filling for sweet treats).
They made me realize that some of the recipes for the dishes I grew up loving could be easily transformed into tasty AIP Italian food avoiding all the potential inflammatory ingredients that are not allowed during the initial stage of the protocol.
…That was it! Maybe I just needed some TLC from my mom and pops (who doesn’t?), but after that experience, I finally felt excited about the food I was eating again!! 🎉
During the weeks we spent together, we cooked a bunch of AIP Italian food and adapted our family’s recipes to be remade with AIP compliant ingredients. And after they left, I was super inspired to keep up the good habit of making my life tasty even while on a restricted diet.
To make my life easy, I collected all the AIP Italian food recipes I created in a folder that I could quickly look up whenever I had a craving. This collection grew so much that I eventually decided share it with other people who might have gone through my same struggles, and that I turned it into my “AIP Italian Cookbook”, which is now already at its second edition!
The cookbook features:
📌 80 family friendly AIP Italian Recipes (so you don’t have to cook twice)
📌 7 Chapters to satisfy every craving: Breakfast, Antipasti, Primi, Secondi & Dessert
📌 2 Sections on “How to Solve the 5 Most Common AIP Problems” and “The Essence of Italian Cuisine”.
📌 A detailed AIP Ingredient GUIDE about the best Italian autoimmune staples
📌 A LIMITED TIME BONUS: “The 10 Step Guide to Saving Time on the AIP” with practical examples of what I eat in a day on the AIP.
5 Tips to Cook AIP Italian Food in an Authentic Way:
1. Find a Good Noodle Replacement!
Italian food is pretty much a synonym of pasta, so it’s mandatory that you find a good replacement to substitute in your AIP Italian food recipes.
Here’s my 3 favorite noodle alternatives for my beloved pasta dishes!
- Sweet Potato Noodles: these Korean noodles are made with sweet potato starch. They are translucent and chewy and have little flavor on their own, but pick up the seasoning very well when stir fried. I usually buy these noodles online, alternatively you can find them in most Asian supermarkets.
- Zucchini Noodles: These noodles are made from raw zucchini or yellow squash cut through a spiralizer or a julienne peeler. They are very low in carbs and allow you to easily trade starches for another serving of vegetables!
- Spaghetti Squash: a winter squash that naturally breaks apart into small noodle–like shreds. Simply cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, place it cut side down on a baking pan lined with parchment paper and bake it for about 30 minutes, depending on your oven. Be careful though: if you over cook it, it will be too mushy and won’t perform its noodle effect.
2. Master the Art of Making NO-mato Sauce
Tomatoes are a quintessential food group in Italian Cuisine and a good no-mato sauce really helps recreating the taste and look of the original Italian recipe you are trying to make.
Check out the recipe for my nightshade-free AIP Marinara Sauce. I even developed a little trick to give it the same hint of acidity that comes from real tomatoes!!
3. Pay Respect to the Originals
Nowadays people call anything with a circular shape a “pizza”. A slice of watermelon cut width-wide? That’s a “watermelon pizza”! The problem is that, when you make this kind of recipes, you end up being even more disappointed than before, because you were craving real pizza and ended up eating watermelon!
The AIP pizza crust I developed for my AIP Italian Cookbook was tweaked and tested at least 10 times before I considered it ready to be shared. And that’s why those who tried it say it’s the best AIP Pizza they have ever had. And that’s because it tastes like the real thing. Not like a watermelon.
4. Cheese Needs to Be Cheesy!
It’s undeniable that cheese plays a really big role in Italian cuisine. From Parmigiano to Mozzarella and melted cheese drizzling from the top of every savory baked dish, cheese is a must! Play around with different AIP cheese recreations that you can always use when you feel like recreating that type of texture.
In my case, I developed a staple recipe for melted cheese (that I used for all of my baked dishes, just like my Paleo AIP Lasagna), as well as a go-to recipe for AIP Parmesan Cheese that I sprinkle pretty much over any dish (find the recipe in my AIP Italian Cookbook).
Having a valid and satisfying cheese replacement is crucial to make you feel like you can still indulge in the mouthwatering Italian food you grew up loving. Even if it’s AIP!
5. Keep it Simple!!
If you ask an Italian what’s the essence of Italian food, they’ll answer with one word: “simplicity”. A sweet slice of cantaloupe wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma or some baked “zucca” (kabocha squash) drizzled with a few drops of aged balsamico are commonly served as gourmet appetizers in classy Italian restaurants.
And this is just to prove that you don’t need to over-complicate things when you are trying to cook AIP Italian food. Just chose the best quality ingredients you can, a killer extra virgin olive oil and a bunch or fresh herbs, and you’ll have a 5-star meal!
... Now It's On YOU!
I hope you found my 5 tips to make AIP Italian Food taste authentic useful and that you want to give my cookbook a try!
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Lots of love!