The Healing Kitchen: A Q&A with Alaena Haber, a Recipe for Pizza + a Giveaway - Healing Family Eats (2024)

This post contains affiliate links. Click to learn about what this means.

If you click through from my links to Amazon or some other vendors, and buy the products I use, Amazon and others may pay me a small percentage as commission, without affecting the price you pay. I only recommend products that, to my knowledge, fit within the AIP Protocol, and are of good quality - that’s why I use them! You will find most active bloggers do this, and like them I look to this practice to fund the blog and allow me to carry on actively posting. Thanks for your support.

If you think the merest whisper of Dr Sarah Ballantyne (The Paleo Mom) and Alaena Haber of Grazed and Enthused joining forces on a cookbook is enough to prick up your ears, then the sight of their collaborative cookbook in the hands is enough to make your eyes pop.

The Healing Kitchen,the latest AIP cookbook to grace the shelves of all good bookshops in North America (so far), is everything it has promised to be: "a fusion of nutritional expertise and culinary creativity to help so many who suffer autoimmune diseases and other health problems." Sarah and Alaena have givenover 175 recipes (90% of which are new), each one quick and easy to put together, budget-friendly and, what's more, utilising ingredients that you likely already have in your healing kitchen. You will be inspired to whip up healthy and flavourful dishes from a variety of corners of the globe, such as Chicken Hash Brown Patties or Oven-Baked Pancakes for breakfast, Hamburger Stew or Mojo-Mango Stuffed Sweet Potatoes for lunch and Lamb with Olive-Butternut Rice or Oven-Fried Chicken with Country Herb Gravy for dinner. You will also find delicious AIP versions of Worcestershire Sauce, Biscuits & Gravy, Beef or Pork Carnitas, BBQ Pulled Pork, Honey-Garlic Chicken Drumsticks and much more. Then let's not forget thirst quenchers such as Red Sangria and Moscow Mule and last but by no means least a treat or two in the form of perhaps No-Bake Lemon Macaroons or Apple Crumble. Hungry yet?

For anyone new to the AIP and possibly a little overwhelmed at the thought, take it from me you will be calmed and reassured by The Healing Kitchen and it's friendly approach. If you're already familiar with the Protocol you will welcome these delicious recipes into your repertoire. I'm impressed at how easy the book is to navigate with several indexesto suityour preference of the day, such as quick cook, no cook, cook with fewer than five ingredients etc,and I love that the recipes are labelled with handy icons detailing inwhichcategories they belong. Included are12 different meal plans with light-hearted titles such as 'one-pot meal plan for those who dislike doing dishes', '20 minutes or less meal plan for those who aren't fans of the kitchen', and 'leftovers reinvented for those who like to mix it up'. Each plan is accompanied by a shopping list and tips on how to make the most of batch cooking sessions (with links to video tutorials) if that's what you fancy.

As well as a library of nutrient dense recipes, there are many handy hints and much valuable advice on how to turn your kitchen into a healing kitchen. There are plenty of fun illustrations, my favourite being the immune system superheroes whichoutlines vital nutrients and in which foods they lie. You will findtips on what to make in advance, how to storeandreheat, and suggestions of what to serve with your chosen recipe, cross linking to others throughout the book.

To summarise, the experience of reading and using this book is akin to having Sarah take you by one hand and Alaena by the other - know that you are in verysafe hands with The Healing Kitchen.

And if you know my reviews well enough by now, nosy old me enjoys nothing more thanfinding out a little more about what people get up to both during their AIP social media days and also when they hang up their AIP hats and let loose with the real life. Meet Alaena.

Welcome Alaena, what brought you to the Autoimmune Protocol and when?
I discovered the AIP in January 2014 after exploring several different diets that only mitigated some of my symptoms. My gut health continued to decline on the Paleo diet, Specific Carbohydrate Diet, and the Vegan diet. One night after searching online for answers, I stumbled upon Sarah’s blog The Paleo Mom. I had heard of the AIP two years prior to that night but information on its validity was scarce back then. It wasn’t until I understood the physiology behind removing eggs, dairy, nightshades, nuts/seeds, alcohol and NSAIDs that I took the plunge and did it. Many of my gastrointestinal symptoms disappeared within a week of starting the diet, and I especially noticed myself thriving without eggs, a food I previously relied heavily on but had a nagging feeling was causing a lot of my distress.

Can you explain the symptoms of your AI disease and whether you still get any of them now?
Prior to starting AIP, my symptoms originated from a combination of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, adrenal fatigue, severe leaky gut, lymphocytic gastritis, and histamine intolerance. I was underweight (92 pounds at 4’11’’ which is about 15 to 20 pounds less than where I’m healthiest) and suffered with chronic constipation, anxiety, gut pain, bloating, rashes, facial swelling, sinusitis, tons of food intolerances, cold intolerance, insomnia, and infertility. I have healed my gut enough through dietary and lifestyle changes that I no longer have symptoms of histamine intolerance with the exception of an intolerance to fermented vegetables and fruits. I no longer have issues with infertility or amenorrhea, which took a year on AIP to be resolved. I have discovered my triggers for Hashimoto’s flares (stress, porcine thyroid hormone, mold) and adrenal fatigue, and I avoid them at all costs. I currently do not have symptoms of Hashimoto’s or cortisol dysregulation, but the body is always changing and I know that these issues can and likely will rear their ugly heads in the future despite a healthy diet.This has taught me how important it is to control stress in one's life. I can feel my thyroid swell when I've had a particularly stressful event, and it is an excellent signal to find a way to escape that danger zone.

What foods have you been able to introduce, which ones have been unsuccessful and how did you know?
I have been able to reintroduce chocolate, coffee, seeds, white potatoes (a nightshade), white rice, and high histamine foods I previously did not tolerate such as seafood, vinegar, bacon, and olives. My food intolerance symptoms used to be very obvious and show up quite quickly, so it was easy for me during the reintroduction process to know whether or not a food was still triggering my immune system. I do not tolerate eggs, dairy (except in very small amounts and only occasionally), nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, paprika, eggplants), black pepper, or more than a minimal quantity of coconut products (i.e. I do not tolerate coconut butter but coconut oil is fine).I also choose not to eat nuts as I don't find they add to my health in any way.

The Healing Kitchen: A Q&A with Alaena Haber, a Recipe for Pizza + a Giveaway - Healing Family Eats (3)

What do you say to people when they question your way of eating?
I don’t frequently encounter people who question my way of eating, so I very infrequently have to explain why I eat the way I do. With that said, I will gladly educate people who seem interested in Paleo or autoimmune-focused diets on the benefits and reasoning behind eliminating healthful foods like eggs, dark chocolate, and tomatoes for a period of time to heal the gut and alleviate inflammation.

The majority of my family and friends support and respect my AIP choices, but I don’t make it a part of their lives. One of my sisters still does not understand why I can’t have a “little bit” of gluten or dairy if it’s spread out over several servings in a recipe. It can be very difficult for others to understand that people with autoimmune disease are having a cellular immune reaction to a food and quantity is irrelevant. In these cases, I try my best to explain what those foods do to my body and what negative consequences can escalate as a result. I also am adamant about not pushing Paleo on others. I can work in the same office next to someone for 3 months before they find out I authored a book on Paleo eating. I try not to take on a Paleo missionary role because I have rarely seen that act as a successful way to change someone’s habits or lifestyle choices. Instead, I let my health and vibrancy speak for my diet and people will take notice and be inspired on their own.

I know that you had a lot going on in your life over the last few months, and not just with writing a book. How did you manage to fit it all in and how long did the book writing take?
I started developing recipes for the book the second week of April while working full time at a pediatric hospital in Florida. I would do the majority of my recipe development on Saturdays and Sundays. I completed about 90 recipes for the book by the end of June, but still had another 90 to develop between July and August while living in Chicago and finishing my full-time master’s program and research project. My kitchen in Chicago was smaller than my current closet, had an original 1960’s GE oven, and enough counter space to fit one small cutting board. Any home cook is probably cringing while reading this! It was by no means easy! Thankfully we had a large east-facing window (with a view of Lake Michigan) so the endless hours I spent in my 600 sq ft 12th floor apartment at least had a great view! We traveled for three weeks in September (Omaha, Colorado, Hawaii) and then moved to Austin, Texas. While we were in Hawaii, I got a call that the publisher was moving our release date up by more than 2 months to mid-December. That meant that as soon as I got to Austin, I had to finish all my cookbook edits, retake a dozen photos, finish testing recipes, and push back my job hunt! It was definitely a crazy time in my life, but now I get to enjoy “normalcy” for the first time in 12 months, and it feels so good! My husband was very patient and understanding through the whole process, but I don't know if he'd ever want me to write another cookbook. To thank him, I took him to Kauai for a week back in September and today I booked a surprise vacation to a canyon resort in southern California for the week after Easter. He deserves it for doing all those dishes and not judging me for how many times a week I had to have Instacart deliver groceries so I could develop recipes while grocery shopping at the same time! Instacart can also be credited with saving my life during that time period.

Health-wise, I started developing recipes for the book in the middle of a Hashimoto's flare brought on by high amounts of stress from school, work, and moving 4 times in one year. That wasn't easy and I know I would have recovered faster from my flare if I wasn't doing a cookbook. It just was not an opportunity I could pass up, and I'm still very grateful for doing it. It made me a stronger person because I did truly suffer for many months but came out on the other side even better.

You posted on Instagram that you had wanted to write a cookbook since the age of 15. What kind of cookbook would you have written back then?
I’ve always been inspired by the recipes in Food & Wine magazine. They generally take accessible ingredients and combine them in incredibly flavorful and ethnic-centric ways. Their food is both classic yet fun and almost every recipe focuses on meat and vegetables. Well, except their desserts. They have wonderful desserts full of gluten and white sugar that I would eat if I could! My favorite AIP cookie recipe is one of my own from the blog and inspired by a classic F&W recipe: Ginger Sandwich Cookies with Lemon Cream Filling. Back then I would have written a cookbook that focuses more heavily on vegetarian dishes, seafood dishes, Caribbean, Italian and Asian meals. Those were the first cuisines I mastered, and you can bet your last batch of bone broth that I would have had an amazing recipe for crusty, sweet, and basil-heavy bruschetta in there! In fact, the Garlic-Rubbed Tostones recipe came about from my old garlic-rubbing bruschetta days!

Which recipe are you most proud of in The Healing Kitchen and why?
I am proud of all the recipes in the cookbook because I really believe you can serve them to all of your family members (barring those notably picky eaters) and be confident they will enjoy them. These recipes have been tested on both Paleo eaters and VERY non-Paleo eating, steak & potatoes Midwestern men. I am particularly fond of the simplicity but deliciousness of the Peach & Kale Summer Salad, Hawaiian Pulled Pork, Mojo Pulled Chicken, Creamy Bacon Scalloped Sweet Potatoes, and Teriyaki Chicken & Fried Rice. These recipes are unique to The Healing Kitchen and not reiterations of recipes you’ll find in many Paleo cookbooks out there. I didn’t want any “filler” recipes to make it in the book, but I had to include my technique for the perfect roasted chicken with crispy skin and the juiciest meat. The Pesto Chicken Pizza in particular will blow you away with how easy it is to throw together but how convincingly authentic it tastes. I’m no baker and this cookbook isn’t about sweets, but I have to admit the Friendship Cake with Whipped Cinnamon Honey Frosting has a fabulous dense cake texture and while baking smells like the banana bread from our childhoods. No one would know that cake is free of eggs, grains, or dairy. It needs to make it on everyone’s table this year for at least one special occasion! It is best served an hour after baking while just slightly warm to the touch with the freshly whipped and spiced frosting.

How did you spend your Christmas/New Year and what food was on the table?
Every year for Christmas Eve, I prepare an “around-the-world” appetizer feast for my family. It consists of mostly finger foods and always, always, always giant Bacon-Wrapped Scallops. This year I made the ones from The Healing Kitchen with the lemon-chive drizzle and they were devoured in 10 minutes. I also made the Pesto Chicken Pizza, Prosciutto & Fig Bistro Pizza, and the Orange-Olive Tapenade. My sister made my family's favorite standard classics (Pigs in a Blanket, a fruit and cheese/cracker board, cookies, and puppy chow). For Christmas lunch, we prepare a large Lebanese feast. The food my family eats is not Paleo but for the past 3 years I’ve also been preparing Paleo versions to add to the table of some classic recipes such as hummus (on my blog), Grain-Free Tabouleh (in the book), Classic Roast Chicken (in the book), and Lebanese Beef & Rice Stuffing (in the book and on the blog). I also made two of our family favorite AIP recipes from the blog: Avocado Carob Fudge Bars (insanely good) and Peppermint Fudge.Honestly, my family really enjoys my food and it aligns pretty closely to how they typically eat. My mom has been Paleo for 4 years with me (with the addition of dairy for her) and my twin sister cooks mostly Paleo recipes for her and her husband! My older sister and my dad focus their meals on veggies and avoid fast food but don't identify with the Paleo diet (they do love when I cook for them though!)

What did Santa bring you this year?
We do Secret Santa to cut down on spending, and this year Santa (aka my brother-in-law) brought me a Belgian waffle maker, a high-quality 8-inch chef’s knife, and a $100 gift card for Southwest Airline since I travel so much. I exclusively fly with Southwest so it’s nice to have a little extra help! My gift recipient was my mum, and I got her the new FitBit that can measure heart rate, calories burned, tracks sleep, and charges wirelessly as well as the new book from Dr. Kellyann Petrucci called Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet. We both are bone broth geeks and call each other every time we make a new batch!She's been making my Triple Seafood Chowder once a week since I posted the recipe!

Do you make any New Year resolutions and if so, what will they be for 2016?
I am not one to make specific New Year’s resolutions. I do reflect on my past year and set general goals for the following year. In 2016, I will be starting a new job at a pediatric clinic here in Austin, going on book tour with Sarah in January, traveling to see friends & family and hosting several visitors, and moving back to Florida to be closer to my family who I miss immensely even though we just moved to Austin.We will also be adding a plus-one to our family (*hint hint*) at the end of spring.

What would your last supper be, AIP-style?
That's easy!

Food: 8 ounces of medium-rare grass fed tenderloin grilled over open flame with a nice crust, a baked and caramelized sweet potato, grilled broccoli, a side of roasted butternut squash, bottomless glasses of white wine (okay that’s not AIP but if I’m about to kick it, I’d rather be really giggly when I do), and for dessert a flourless carob cake with carob ganache, coconut whipped cream, roasted strawberries, and large flakes of sea salt. Clearly I’ve thought about this.

Location: A cold evening holed up in a romantic, hole-in-the-wall steakhouse in the middle of my favorite city (Chicago), fireside with my husband, jazz music playing in the background, and a charming couple seated next to us to strike up conversation with. Oh and a waiter that looks like Channing Tatum.

Connect with Alaena on herblog,facebook,instagram,pinterest

Sample Recipe from The Healing Kitchen - Pesto Chicken Pizza{AIP, Paleo}

Pesto Chicken Pizza©Alaena Haber + Sarah Ballantyne

Pesto Chicken Pizza
makes one 10-inch pizza to serve 2-3
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

1 recipe Thin Pizza Crust, prebaked (see recipe below)
1 recipe Pronto Pesto (see recipe below)
1+1/4 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/4 cup black olives
1/4 cup canned artichoke hearts
1/4 tsp truffle salt or fine sea salt

Preheat oven to 425F

Place the prebaked pizza crust on a cookie sheet or pizza pan. Spread the pesto evenly on the crust, reserving a few tablespoons for garnish, if desired. Top with the chicken, olives, artichoke hearts and salt. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the crust is crispy and the edges of the toppings are lightly browned. Let rest for a few minutes, then slice the pizza using a rocker knife or sharp pizza cutter. Garnish with a drizzle of the reserved pesto, if desired.

Thin Pizza Crust
makes one 10-inch crust
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 13 minutes

2/3 cup arrowroot starch
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine sea salt or truffle salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a cookie sheet or pizza pan with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Slowly pour in the olive oil, continuously stirring the mixture as you pour. Mix in the warm water thoroughly The dough will be slightly crumbly, but once you roll it out in step 3, it will bind together well.

Place the dough on the prepared cookie sheet or pizza pan. Lay another sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough and use your hands or a rolling pin to smooth the dough into a crust about 1/4 inch thick. You may roll it into the desired shape, such as a circle, oval or rectangle.

Bake for 12-13 minutes, until light golden brown and crisp. Use immediately, or let cool and store wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, or in the freezer for up to three months.

Pronto Pesto
Makes about 2/3 cup
Prep time: 8 minutes

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
3/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/3 cup mashed avocado
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and blend until the herbs are finely chopped. While the food processor is running, slowly pour in the olive oil to make a smooth pesto sauce. Peso is best served after the flavours are allowed to marry for at least 1 hour.


GIVEAWAY:Alaena and Sarahhave kindly offered one of you lucky readers the chance to have your own copy of the “The Healing Kitchen” cookbook. The book is weighty so this giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only (international readers, don't you worry I have something coming for you very soon).

For a chance to win all you need do is
1. Subscribe to my newsletter (top right of the page and don't forget to confirm) and let me know you've done so.
2. Make a comment on this post.
Awinner will be chosen at randomand contacted by email. In the meantime, if you would like to buy a copy, clickhere. Giveaway ends midnight PST, Saturday January 9th. Good luck everyone![GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED - a winner has been selected by Random Generator and emailed. Thanks for entering 🙂 ]


Disclaimer: Sarah and Alaena gifted me two copies of the Healing KitchenCookbook, one of which I am giving away here and paying the shipping out of my own pocket. It was my choice to review the book and all thoughts are entirely my own.

The Healing Kitchen: A Q&A with Alaena Haber, a Recipe for Pizza + a Giveaway - Healing Family Eats (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Tuan Roob DDS

Last Updated:

Views: 6294

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (62 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Tuan Roob DDS

Birthday: 1999-11-20

Address: Suite 592 642 Pfannerstill Island, South Keila, LA 74970-3076

Phone: +9617721773649

Job: Marketing Producer

Hobby: Skydiving, Flag Football, Knitting, Running, Lego building, Hunting, Juggling

Introduction: My name is Tuan Roob DDS, I am a friendly, good, energetic, faithful, fantastic, gentle, enchanting person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.