If you're new to the AIP Paleo diet and have started looking at AIP recipes, you've probably noticed some food items here and there that you're not familiar with.
There are a lot of great AIP pantry staples out there that can make your AIP experience a lot tastier and a lot more fun. Below, I'll talk about commonly used AIP pantry items (as well as some more obscure ones) and how you can use them in your own cooking, baking, and snacking.
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Flours and Other Baking Items
Tigernut Flour- Tigernut flour is one of my absolute favorite AIP flours to use in baking because it is incredibly versatile and contributes a really soft but stable texture to baked goods. It behaves similarly to almond flour. Anthony's is generally the brand I use but Gemini is very popular too.
Tapioca Starch/Arrowroot Starch- Tapioca starch and arrowroot starch both work great as thickeners in soups and stews and are also used in small amounts in baked goods as well to help bind things together.
Green Banana Flour- Green bananas are fairly low in sugar and high in resistant starch, so they can be useful for controlling blood sugar. It also has prebiotic effects so it promotes a healthy microbiome and good digestion. This is a very easy to use flour and sets up really nicely even in the absence of a gelatin egg or other egg-substitute. I use it in my Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake.
Plantain Flour- Plantains and bananas come from the same family but are different fruits. This being said, plantain flour is very similar to green banana flour in how it behaves and the two can be substituted for one another.
Cassava Flour- Cassava is a root vegetable that originated from Africa. It behaves similarly to white flour but is a little bit dense on its own in my opinion. It is fabulous mixed with other flours. Otto's and Bob's Red Mill are both great brands and their cassava flour is very fine and silky smooth.
Coconut Flour- This is another flour that is great in combination with other flours. It adds a very soft, silky texture to baked goods but doesn't always hold together well by itself. I like to use it in small amounts with tigernut flour or cassava flour. In addition to baked goods, it works great in "no-bake" recipes like my Key Lime Energy Balls.
Sweet Potato Flour- This is made from dried sweet potatoes and is another great healthy baking option giving baked goods a good texture and binding properties with the nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes.
Baking Soda- Baking soda is fine on AIP but NOT baking powder. Baking soda is made from sodium bicarbonate and it acts as a natural leavening agent by reacting with an acid and producing CO2 air bubbles into baked goods which allows them to rise. This is a pretty simple product that you can find in grocery stores and online. Bob's Red Mill is 100% gluten free.
Cream of Tartar- Cream of Tartar AKA potassium bitartrate is one of those mysterious ingredients you may have seen in stores or at a family member's house and wondered what the heck it's used for.
It is a white soft acidic powder that's produced as a byproduct of making grapes into wine. You can find it in the spice aisle of any grocery store.
When combined with baking soda, it becomes a leavening agent. It can also be used in small amounts to help boiled vegetables retain their color, and gives a distinctive tangy flavor to baked goods like snickerdoodle cookies.
TIP: If you ever need a baking powder substitute, you can make your own by combining ¼ tsp of baking soda and ½ tsp of cream of tartar- this can be substituted for 1 tsp of baking powder.
Vanilla- Vanilla is a wonderfully sweet addition to so many treats and it comes in several forms. It's important to note a few things that make some vanilla products AIP compliant and others not.
For example, many vanilla extracts contain alcohol- this is OK on AIP if you will be baking/cooking the foods you add it to because the alcohol will cook off. Simply Organic is a good brand.
For cold foods, you'll need to go with an alcohol-free vanilla extract or a vanilla powder. Vanilla powder is pricey but a little goes a long way.
You can also use vanilla beans- just scrape the seeds out and use them in your recipe. The seeds from one pod= about 1 tsp of vanilla extract.
According to Sarah Ballantyne (The Paleo Mom), though they contain the name "bean," they're not a legume and though they have seeds, the seeds are considered too small to be broken down when you eat them that they fall into the category of berries. Paleo Mom talks more about that here.
Gelatin- Gelatin is often highly regarded in the paleo world because of its potentially gut healing abilities. Gelatin can be used to make a "gelatin egg" which can be used in place of an egg in any recipes. It can also of course be used to make jello and gummies. Additionally, it's useful for puddings, yogurts, ice cream, marshmallows, etc.
Collagen Powder- Collagen, which is similar to gelatin, is also a highly coveted item in the AIP/Paleo world for the same reason gelatin is valued- gut healing.
Collagen is often used as a way of adding protein to one's diet. It is not protein in itself but it is made of amino acids, which make up proteins. Collagen is usually flavorless (though it does come in various flavors) and can be added to coffee, water, juice, breakfast cereal, baked goods, etc. for an added protein boost. Vital Proteins is a great brand with a ton of different options for flavors and uses.
Dates and other dried fruits- Dates, in particular, are a very commonly used tool in AIP/Paleo baking for adding natural sweetness to sweet treats and sauces. They are delicious eaten on their own as a snack as well. Dates star in one of my favorite recipes, 4 Ingredient Caramel Sauce, which is AIP and vegan.
Other dried fruits like raisins, cranberries, apricots, mangoes, prunes, apples, cherries, etc. are great for salads, baking, and snacks as well but as always, keep an eye on the labels.
Many dried fruits have added preservatives such as sulfites, sulfur dioxide, sorbic acid, and benzoic acid. They also often contain added sugars and non-AIP compliant oils.
When buying dried fruits, organic is usually a better bet because it won't contain sulfur dioxide. Still keep an eye out for other tricky ingredients though- even with organic.
Date Sugar- Date sugar is another great AIP sweetener option. It's made with finely ground dehydrated dates and provides vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. It works well as a brown sugar substitute in baking recipes.
Coconut Sugar- Coconut sugar comes from the dehydrated sap of a coconut palm tree and is also called coconut palm sugar. It's another tool that is used in cooking and baking. It can also be used as a light brown sugar substitute but brown sugar is a little bit sweeter. According to Spiceography, you should substitute 3 tsp of coconut sugar for every 2 tsp of light brown sugar to get a comparable sweetness level.
Date Syrup- This is not a super common one but it's kind of a fun option. You can buy it or you can make your own date syrup by boiling chopped dates, pureeing them, then extracting the extra liquid from boiling it. The extra liquid acts as the syrup and the thick date paste can be reserved for other uses.
Honey- Honey is a great natural sweetener and has a lot of great benefits. It's antimicrobial, contains a lot of vitamins/minerals/enzymes, and works as a prebiotic to promote gut health. Paleo Mom has a really cool post going in-depth on all the health benefits here.
Maple Syrup- Maple syrup is another great AIP friendly sweetener commonly used in AIP baking and cooking. It's high in antioxidants and contains important micronutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese. It's also a good vegan alternative to honey.
Applesauce- Go with unsweetened and organic. Applesauce is great in AIP baking (and baking in general) for so many reasons. It's a really good substitute for eggs in a lot of recipes because it helps things to bind together and set up well. It's also a good replacement for oil if you want to lighten the calories of a recipe. Sometimes, I'll also replace some of the maple syrup or honey with some applesauce in recipes...again just to lighten it up.
Apple Cider Vinegar- Apple cider vinegar is great in a lot of different dishes. I like to add it to skillets with meat and veggies to add a tangy flavor. This Easy Ground Beef Vegetable Skillet is a perfect example of this.
It also works well in combination with baking soda in baked goods to create a leavening effect. Additionally, it's often used for dressings and marinades.
Balsamic Vinegar- Similar to apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar can be used in a lot of dishes to impart a rich and unique flavor. It's most often used in dressings, marinades, and sauces but can also be used to caramelize red onions or reduced and drizzled over roasted veggies.
When buying balsamic vinegar, do not buy Vinegar of Modena, which is a very common product. It is actually an imitation product and often contains caramel coloring and other additives like guar gum. Look for a high-quality brand that is pure aged balsamic vinegar.
Wine Vinegar- White wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, and plum vinegar are all AIP-compliant and can add even more variety to your salads and other foods. Red wine vinegar is best for richer foods like beef, pork, and veggies while white wine vinegar works best for chicken and fish dishes.
Coconut Oil- Coconut oil can be used in many ways for cooking and baking. Unrefined oil is the healthier choice when compared to refined oil which is clear, relatively flavorless, and liquid at room temp. Some people prefer refined, however, it is stripped of most of its nutrients after undergoing a bunch of different chemical processes so it's not a very beneficial choice.
Look for unrefined virgin coconut oil that is organic and expeller-pressed, with no trans fats and non-hydrogenated. This type of coconut oil is solid at room temp. Also, look for glass packaging rather than plastic. Ultimate Paleo Guide has a very in-depth article covering all the nuances of buying a good coconut oil here.
Coconut Butter- You may be wondering "How is coconut butter different than coconut oil?" The two are actually quite different.
Coconut oil is the oil that's been extracted from the coconut meat while coconut butter is actually made from all of the coconut flesh which has been ground up into a paste.
Coconut butter is great for use as a condiment (drizzled on fruit, spread on AIP pancakes, used as a coffee creamer, or to make egg-free mayo). It's also great for baking. I like to use it to make a carob coating for fruit or other candy type recipes like my Dark Cherry Cookie Dough Fudge Cups.
Coconut Milk/Cream- Coconut milk and coconut cream are both useful for so many things- soups, sauces, smoothies, desserts. Basically, substitute it for anything you would normally use milk or cream in.
Read the labels though as many coconut milk and cream products have guar gum in them. Thai Kitchen 2 Simple Ingredient Coconut Milk is my favorite product for coconut milk and Let's Do Organic brand is my preferred product for coconut cream.
Olive Oil- Olive oil is another very versatile oil that you can use in dressings, marinades, and for cooking meat and vegetables. It is stable up to about 420 degrees F.
Look for extra virgin (this means is high quality and unrefined), make sure it's pure olive oil (this is BIG as many olive oils are mixed with other non-compliant oils like canola or colza oil), preferably in a dark glass bottle (clear bottles all the oil to deteriorate faster and lose flavor).
Stay away from "light" olive oil which indicates it's been refined and stripped of flavor and nutrients.
Avocado Oil- Avocado oil is great for cooking and use in salads. Look for one that is 100% pure, extra virgin, unrefined, cold-pressed, and preferably organic. Glass bottle is preferred over plastic.
Leaf Lard- Leaf lard is the highest grade of lard and has a subtle pork flavor. It is most often used in baking things like pie crusts because it is able to impart a light flaky texture.
Leaf lard is surprisingly about 50% monounsaturated fat (the same fat found in olive oil) and is actually lower in saturated fats than other animal fats. Fatworks is a good brand if you're thinking of trying it out.
Palm Shortening- Palm shortening is made from palm oil that comes from a palm tree- this is not to be confused with a coconut palm. Palm shortening is palm oil with some unsaturated oils removed which makes it more stable, thicker, and great for baking. This, along with leaf lard, is a good fat option for baking if you can't have coconut products.
Beef Tallow- This is a form of beef or mutton fat that is solid at room temperature. It is rich in vitamins A, D, E, K, and B1 and also has anti-inflammatory properties due to its conjugated linoleic acid content. Beef tallow is often used for high-temperature cooking like frying, but is also great for baking, and basically cooking any savory dish. It generally does not need to be refrigerated as long it is kept in an airtight container.
Duck Fat and Goose Fat- These are also great fats for AIP cooking and baking. Duck fat is said to be high in beneficial unsaturated fats and has a chemical composition that is more similar to olive oil than butter.
Condiments and Other Flavor Enhancers
Coconut Aminos- Coconut aminos is by far my favorite condiment. I use it for everything! I drizzle it over skillets, salads, make sauces, use it in soups, etc. My Simple Honey Galic Dipping Sauce is one example of many recipes I use it in.
Coconut aminos is typically something used as a soy sauce substitute but it's sweeter than soy sauce, closer to a teriyaki sauce. It adds a ton of flavor to everything.
Herbs and Spices- Make sure your spices are not nightshades or seeds, as these are not AIP compliant.
Capers- Capers are actually little flower buds. They generally come pickled and soaked in brine and have a nice tangy lemony flavor. They're used as a condiment on savory dishes, especially seafood, salads, and sauces. Look for capers packed in sea salt.
Fish Sauce- Fish sauce adds a ton of flavor to meats, veggies, and sauces. Read the labels though- many fish sauces contain additives like sugar, caramel, monosodium glutamate (m.s.g.), saccharin, and other natural or artificial flavorings and coloring. I like Red Boat which only contains anchovy and sea salt.
Nutritional Yeast- Nutritional yeast has a cheesy taste and can add a lot of flavor to soups, salads, and sauces. It's often used in vegan recipes to add extra protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is particularly high in B vitamins like thiamine, folate, B6 and niacin. Bragg is a good brand and can be found in the spice aisle at the grocery store. I use it in this Nightshade Free All-Purpose Seasoning Salt.
AIP Marinara- You may have also heard it called "No-Mato" sauce. There are tons of great recipes for making your own but there are some great products out there if you prefer to buy it. This is great on AIP-friendly pasta and pizzas or even just with meat and/or veggies.
Saurkraut- Saurkraut and other fermented foods are great for supporting a healthy gut microbiome. Bubbies is AIP compliant.
Pastas, Wraps, Soups, Snacks Etc.
Sweet Potato Glass Noodles/Cassava Pasta- Sweet Potato Glass and Cassava- Noodles/pasta are foods that are great to have on hand for sake of normalcy and convenience. They are delicious and you can use them in so many ways!
I get these on Amazon but I've heard people say they find them at Whole Foods and other grocery stores too (I haven't found them at my local stores yet). Check out my Chicken Bacon Pasta Salad Recipe and Korean Glass Noodle Recipe with Ground Beef and Glass Noodle Roundup for ideas on how to use them.
One More Pasta Option: Sweet Potato Macaroni Pasta Elbows.
AIP Pizza Crust Mix- Ok, I realize this is getting fancy and unnecessary but it's cool to know it exists for special occasions when you don't want to make your own.
This pizza crust mix, by AIPeazy is made with a few simple AIP friendly ingredients. 1 package makes 2 11" pizzas and all you have to do is add oil and water, form the dough, then bake.
Bone Broth-- If you have time to make your own broth, that's ideal of course but if not, it can be nice to have something in your pantry that's ready to use for soups and stews. Osso Good Bones has two AIP compliant broths. I couldn't find the AIP ones on Amazon so they may need to be ordered directly from Osso.
Wild Zora Soups and Snack Bars- Wild Zora has some great products that are shelf-stable and completely AIP compliant. The soups are awesome for a quick meal when you don't have time to cook and the snack bars are wonderful as a quick on-the-go snack. They also have a new line of grain-free hot cereals, which is super exciting. Visit Wild Zora using this link to save 15% or the code foodcourage15.
Coconut Water- This is great for smoothies and has a good dose of healthy electrolytes. Try to choose one that contains only coconut water if possible. Many products have added cane sugar, juice concentrates, "natural flavors" and other additives.
Tigernuts- Tigernuts are not nuts, rather they're tubers and can be used to make tigernut butter or granola or eaten straight as a snack. Anthony's and Gemini are both good brands. Sliced tigernuts are perfect for recipes like my Apple Mango Tigernut Granola.
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I hope you enjoyed this post. Leave a comment below and let me know some of your favorite AIP items and any that should be added to this list. I'd love to hear from you!
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