When you talk to the average person about cooking, their face doesn’t exactly light up. It’s work. It takes time, effort, and creativity that draws out energy that could be applied to something more… enjoyable.
But for those of us with an autoimmune disease (or multiple), controlling what and how we eat can have wildly positive results! So why wouldn’t everybody with an autoimmune disease do it? Other than a lack of information…
The energy required to cook all this food is a luxury that people with autoimmune disease aren’t privy to. If you don’t believe me, consider the effort it takes to plan, prep, cook, and clean-up several times a day.
Having racked up over 20 years of combined autoimmune cooking experience, we have found products to help us become speedsters in the kitchen. Without them, we would be spending WAY too much time on cooking and missing out on other healing avenues.
So, in order to help alleviate some of the negative side-effects of cooking, I am sharing 10 tools that are critical for your autoimmune healing kitchen.
Autoimmune Healing Kitchen 101
If this article is your first exposure to any claim that an autoimmune disease can be improved or reversed through diet, WELCOME!
I will say, the point of this article is not to deep-dive the importance of a healing diet (like the Auotimmune Paleo Diet), but simply to make the transition and execution of these types of diets, much easier. And depending on the tool… more fun!
I’ll quickly highlight the benefits/reasons for a healing diet though:
- Reduces inflammation – autoimmune disease is a fancy term for chronic, systemic, or widespread inflammation
- Can replenish/heal certain parts of the body (like your gut) by supplying powerful nutrients/compounds that the body uses to repair itself
- Nourishes the body in a way the SAD (Standard American Diet) diet tragically fails – eating foods that were grown, raised, harvested, and cultivated the way God intended, provides a reduced toxic load, nutrient density, and energy that is unrivaled by “conventional,” highly-processed foods.
- Makes you feel good, and just makes sense (and finally the research is starting to prove it, not just the numerous accounts of anecdotal cases)
But all of these benefits come at a price. Specifically…
- Higher cost of “clean” foods – a legitimate budget can help with this obstacle
- The ultimate time suck – cooking/preparing ALL of your food, including snacks and condiments, takes sooooooooooo much time
- I’m no master chef – I can work a knife, but not as fast as a food processor! Convenience is necessary to make this work and it does exist – I will cover this extensively in this post.
- Can fun ever exist again? Well, I don’t want to spoil all of the goodies here, but… have you ever heard of an immersion blender?! More to come!
But I am here to help. Below are the 10 tools you need to make the magic happen in the kitchen and save your precious time, money, and energy, and have some fun in the preparation process (of healing)!
1. Vegetable Peeler
Just like a fireworks show, you don’t start off with the grand finale!
Gotta build up to it…
So yeah, this tool might seem just a bit boring to start off with. But let me tell you… the vegetable peeler is an essential tool in our kitchen. Our kids don’t like the skins of cucumbers or apples (plus they could choke on them because they prefer to inhale their food whole), so why waste time trimming with a knife?
Just swipe-swipe-swipe and presto! A skinless cucumber or apple (or potato, or… any veggie with a skin). The specific peeler I link to has a serrated edge so it stays sharp (forever so far), is stainless steel for repeated dishwashing, and is a very simple design so no malfunctions!
We use this peeler every. single. day. Multiple times a day.
- Saves time for peeling (lots of sweet potatoes on the AIP diet)
- Easy to use design – stays sharp, doesn’t break down
- Easy to clean – just throw it in the dishwasher
2. Garlic Crusher
I know. Really?! Another boring tool. Just bear with me!
You probably have a peeler, but not everyone has a garlic crusher.
The thing is, they are just so convenient when the alternative is to use your chef’s knife to go haywire for 90 seconds on your garlic cloves as if they insulted your mother (a.k.a. mince them). Plus, depending on your knife skills, that 90 seconds could become much longer… quickly!
Can’t forget to mention that there is no reasonable way you can mince your garlic as finely as you can crush it. Call it personal taste, but I think the flavor impact is better with finer/crushed garlic, and if you are sensitive to the taste you won’t need as much.
The one we have is stainless steel and easy to clean – just scrape out the pulp and toss the peeler in the dishwasher (gently so you don’t break anything).
- Saves time – crushing vs mincing/chopping
- Easy to use – load and squeeze
- Easy to clean – remove the pulp and dishwasher safe
3. Glass Containers
While easy to do, please don’t overlook the value of glass containers. Not only are they free of potentially harmful plastic bi-products, they bring some serious time saving benefits.
They last/hold their shape WAY longer than plastic alternatives, especially if you are washing them in a dishwasher. But the real impact is…
You can bake food in them. So, when you’re packing up your leftovers, you can just throw it all in a glass dish for convenient storage. And then the next day, simple take it out of the fridge and put it right into the oven. BOOM. Your meal is ready in no time.
So, convenience and longevity reasons for stocking up on glass containers. The ones I link to are not the same ones we use, but are actually a better deal than the ones we have (we bought ours a while ago – much more expensive at the time).
- Multiple reheat method capable – microwave, oven
- Dishwasher safe – lasts longer/holds up better than plastic
- Free of potentially harmful chemicals that could leech into your foods (avoiding toxins with an autoimmune disease is very helpful – detoxing with an autoimmune disease is a struggle)
4. Good set of knives and an electric knife sharpener
I won’t tell you what knives to buy – but higher quality blades will usually hold an edge longer which means you won’t have to sharpen them as frequently. Big time and frustration saver.
But also a very personal decision – like buying a car, which is why I don’t feel inclined to suggest any.
However, regardless of the brand/quality of knife you choose, I recommend a knife sharpener. We don’t have to use it a ton, but man is it easy to use and super effective! Nothing fancy about it, holds up over time, no complaints, and is relatively inexpensive for the job that it does.
- Sharpens knives quickly
- Forms a good, sharp edge on knives of all sizes
- Low cost and saves time over manual sharpening
5. Fermentation Lids
Every good autoimmune-friendly kitchen comes pre-loaded with the beautiful, sour smell of fermented foods (it actually stinks a little). Fermented foods heal the gut after all, and that is one thing an autoimmune disease usually requires plenty of help with.
If you do create your own fermented foods, one life-altering tool is The Easy Fermenter lids. They allow the fermentation gases to release through the small silicone valve at the top, without letting in oxygen (bad thing). They are a little pricey, but SUPER convenient.
They seal mason jars perfectly and you literally never have to touch the jar until the day you are ready to indulge. That pretty much sells itself.
And if you want a taste, but it happens to be a little too early, you can reseal and pull the oxygen out again with the pump that comes in the box! The alternative, of course, is manually “burping” the jar by untwisting and twisting the lid during the week.
I’ll take the set it and forget it approach to fermentation. I have other things to spend my time on! Not to mention that before we found these gems, we had plenty of fermented foods go bad. Picture lots of mold and some serious stank.
- Convenient – never have to burp the jar
- Easy – this takes all of the confusing guesswork out of making your own fermented foods, plus it even comes with a little recipe booklet
- Potentially saves you money – Doesn’t allow oxygen into the jar, and oxygen during the fermentation process can destroy the batch, resulting in wasted money
6. Immersion Blender
In the beginning of this post I promised things that were fun. Well, we are there.
Enter the… immersion blender!
In case you are unfamiliar with this tool, it is a handheld blender. So… obviously you need to be careful wielding such immense power.
But autoimmune healing diets frequently lean on starchy vegetables for the fiber in your diet. There are only so many ways to prepare a starchy vegetable, and the immersion blender gives us another unique and tasty way to eat our starchy friends. Plus, it’s pretty fun to use.
You can mix things up right in the pot, pan (if deep enough), or into a blender cup (the one we use comes with one)! Yes, there is an alternative. You could just toss the food into your blender, but that’s bulky and clunky to setup, and a pain to CLEAN!
The immersion blender gets in, does its job, and disassembles quickly for easy clean-up by rinsing with hot water. The one we use is one of the least expensive on Amazon, but has held up well, does a great job, and is at least 50% less expensive than other brands.
- Low cost option
- Convenient – blend in the same pot/pan/dish that you are preparing the food in
- Easy clean-up – quickly disconnect the blend stick from the motor and rinse in hot water and its done
- Fun to use! Very important when you consider all the cooking you might be doing in the future, if you don’t find joy in your autoimmune kitchen, then you might not experience the same level of healing
7. Cast Iron Skillet
We have entered the realm of… the game-changers.
Leading up to this point, most of the tools are nice-to-haves (some, very nice). But from this point onward, all things listed are critical.
The cast iron skillet is the powerhouse of the kitchen. You can fry, deep fry (because they usually have high walls), bake, and use the pan with any heat source and form of cooking (even boiling after well-seasoned). This is versatility in the highest.
Now, you might want to tell me that you can do the same thing with any other material pan. But, do you really want to put an aluminized pan in the oven, or even your stainless steel? Usually this will cause warping to occur, and pans are expensive!
But not a cast iron. They are both CHEAP and don’t warp under the same conditions.
Not to mention the material is one of the safest on the market, with no heavy metals to leach/flake off into your food like aluminum or nickel.
We have multiple sizes, but the one I recommend is the jack-of-all-trades. It does it all, plus has the silicone handle grip so you don’t need a towel to touch the handle during cooking.
- VERY affordable (almost cheap?) – lowest cost option for the quality
- Free of issue-posing metals
- Highly versatile – serves all cooking methods, even baking!
- Potential time saver if you need to pan fry/sear and then bake – no transition to other cookware, plus only one dish to clean.
8. Nutri-Bullet vs. Ninja Blender Cup
A staple of any autoimmune diet usually includes some sort of veggie-based smoothie. The nutrient density from a high-quality smoothie packed with greens and choice fruit supplies your body with the goods it needs for optimal healing.
Plus, you can really make them taste good while you’re basically drinking a salad. So awesome.
If you are ready for a high-quality smoothie… then you need a high-quality blender! I highly recommend a minimum of 900 watts to power through any of the tough stuff like frozen strawberries and carrots.
Fortunately for you, there are two options that are pretty much bullet proof – pun (just wait for it). The first is the Nutri-Bullet (there it is). My only complaint about the Nutri-Bullet is that the locking mechanism uses small tabs on the side of the blender cups. The tabs have a tendency to break off, requiring new blender cups.
After going through two of these (because it is an amazing product and worth buying again) we were gifted a Nutri-Ninja blender cup mixer. The designs are very similar, but what we really like is that the locking feature is much more robust than the Nutri-Bullet.
So, I recommend either. The Nutri-Bullet is a little more refined and quieter. But, you can’t beat the price of the Ninja, or the overall design (particularly the locking feature).
- Awesome blender for way less than $100
- Time saver – make quick, power-packed smoothies or other goodies (I make a mean AIP pesto using this), plus quick clean-up
- Easy to wash – Rinse with hot water for most uses, or dishwasher safe
- Yes! These are also fun to use, and kids seem to be drawn to them as well… a welcome distraction at times
9. Blender/Food Processor Combo
The blender/food processor combo is a dynamo in the kitchen and makes your life easy. Straight-up. And this is so important when you plan to cook the bulk of your meals!
These are tougher to clean than the single cup blenders, but are so versatile that you can streamline cook times by half an hour or more depending on the level of cutting or chopping since it comes with the food processor.
It’s also important to note that this combo comes with a single cup blender. It’s small though, which is why I still recommend a single cup blender in the previous section.
- Relatively low cost considering all of the elements in the kit
- Saves tons of cutting time with the food processor
- Versatile – blend, chop, and puree function all in one unit
10. Instant Pot
If you don’t have an Instant Pot, and you want to heal from an autoimmune disease, you are doing it wrong. OK, maybe that’s a little harsh, but really, the Instant Pot is THE ULTIMATE KITCHEN TOOL.
Ever hear of a gut healing protocol? I hope so. If you have, you’ve probably heard of a magical elixir known as bone broth. Normally, bone broth takes anywhere from 24-48 hours on the stove or in a slow cooker.
Instant Pot time: 2 hours. AND IT TURNS OUT BETTER! More gelatinous. More goodness.
Should I rest my case? No. If you’re one of the lucky ones that can eat beans or chickpeas, you can cook them without soaking them in 10 minutes! That is literally a 9 HOUR saving.
You can make stew, soup, whole chickens, ribs, rice (if tolerated), and if paired with a nifty little tool like, oh, I don’t know, an immersion blender… you can create endless, easy, delicious, and FAST meals. We’re talking minutes. Plus, you can just pop the pot right into the dishwasher when you’re done.
- Infinite – I won’t even take the time to list them. This is a requirement in my book. I could never go back to life without one. Take my cell phone. Leave the Instant Pot (dramatic enough for you?).
Your New Autoimmune Healing Kitchen
Managing autoimmune disease using real food isn’t easy. We, too, had to say goodbye to a bunch of our favorite restaurants, Pizza Rolls, Toaster Strudels, and Frappuccino’s. We also found ourselves in a bit of time crunch when we watched the convenience of fast food disappear from our lives completely.
But, somehow, we’ve learned to make this work because there is no packaged food replacement for healing, nourishing foods. All of the tools I listed are the exact tools we use in our own kitchen on a daily basis.
I also want to point out that we don’t spend a ton of money on the tools we need. There are probably better products out there if you are able to spend more. However, we intentionally try to find low-cost options that we know will last through heavy abuse cycles – multiple uses and dishwasher cycles. And believe me, if they can survive our kitchen, then they LAST.
Regardless of what you decide to buy, my recommendations or not, always keep your goal of healing in the forefront of your mind. I’m not encouraging you to spend money just because of your disease, but want to think about how simple household tools can impact your healing process.
In this case, healing can start with 10 powerful products that will transform your kitchen and ultimately your body!
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Hey there! I’m Frank, co-founder of Healthy Habits Reset. My wife, Anna, and I have battled our respective autoimmune diseases for over a decade. We have fumbled through and eventually learned that REAL mental and physical healing requires you to be your own advocate, to think for yourself, and to determine what information works for YOU.
We created this blog to teach everyone how to use the resources and tools available to make the best personal decision surrounding any health, faith, and lifestyle choice.