Christmas is almost upon us...I think it's less than 5…
Hello lovely readers!
I have a special treat for you today. I am reviewing The AIP Italian Cookbook by the lovely and talented Ambra Torelli of Littlebitesofbeauty. Oh and she was kind enough to let me interview her about her new book and share it with you guys!
First off I want to tell you that this cook book is a game changer for us AIPers! Things you thought you could no longer eat are back on the menu. Pasta? Yes Pizza? Yes Quiche? Yes Cannoli’s? Yes Tiramisu? Yes and Gelato? Yes and yes.
The first thing I always do when I get a new cook book is scan through the ingredients to see what recipes I can make with what I already have on hand. I was happy to find that many of the recipes use ingredients that you probably already have in your AIP pantry.
The first recipe I tried was the Sweet Ravioli (pictured at the top). I have never tried sweet ravioli but this reminded me most of a blueberry pop tart without the sugar hangover. As you guys know, I am super sensitive to sugar so I halved the amount of sugar and they still tasted plenty sweet to me. These were also delicious with a little dollop of your favourite jam or jelly on top!
Up next was the Shrimp and Spinach Quiche. I used a spring form pan lined with parchment paper to make it easy to remove. I made the crust the night before and just covered it and left it on the counter. The next day I made the filling right before I was leaving to my dinner and then I heated it in the oven for 25 minutes when I arrived at my dinner party.
The third recipe I tried came at a perfect time when I had to do a short road trip. The Italian Beef patties were great even cold and they filled me up for a busy day of travelling and running errands. They have a great flavour and held together well.
The fourth recipe I tried led me on the hunt for one ingredient that I didn’t have: Saffron. I had heard of this spice but never tried it. What I learned is that saffron is one of the most sought after spices in the world therefore making it very expensive! I bit the bullet and bought it anyway and I am glad I did. Such a unique warm flavour that really makes you feel like you are eating a worldly dish. This recipe is the Risotto Milanese. I was never a fan of Risotto in my pre AIP days as I always found it dry, but this is not dry at all, and has a really light texture. I have a feeling this is going to be on my lunch menu quite often!
The fifth dish I tried was Seafood N’ Mushroom Pasta. I love Pasta…and sweet potato noodles have been the missing link for me. Of all the noodles I have tried, these are most like the real thing to me. I ate this as a left over the next day and it tasted just as good, the noodles still hold their texture. This is a quick and easy weeknight meal for you guys that are on the go. It packs a real flavour punch and you will feel like you are eating a fancy meal that took hours to prepare.
I won’t be stopping there as this book has over 50 great AIP recipes. Up next I’m thinking I will try the Spaghetti Carbonara, Prosciutto breadsticks, and the Cinnamon Gelato.
If you haven’t already figured it out, I am a huge fan of this cook book. Who knew Italian AIPers were eating so well? Thanks to Ambra, now we too can eat as well as the Italians! If you are looking to change up your AIP recipe rotation then you need this book in your life. On another note, Ambra is pretty much the kindest, sweetest person I have ever talked to. So go and check her out at littlebitesofbeauty. She has wonderful AIP tips especially for travel.
Now that I have blabbered on for awhile, let’s get into the exciting part, the interview!
Interview with Ambra Torelli
Q1: What was your inspiration for writing an Italian AIP Cookbook?
Well, being born and raised in Italy, Italian food is all I know! All of my best memories are connected to food in some form, and when I had to start changing my diet, I really didn’t want to to give up my family’s recipes and traditions. I am a passionate foodie, and I am committed not to let my dietary restrictions affect my creativity in the kitchen and love for good food.
At the same time, I wanted to share all of the replacements and new recipes I was discovering with fellow foodies that were going through the same restrictions. I am convinced that having access to great food and knowing that you can still enjoy amazing Cannoli and Tiramisu can make people feel less overwhelmed about embarking on a challenging (but rewarding) journey like the Autoimmune Protocol.
Q2: What is your favourite recipe from the book and why?
I am absolutely in love with my Gnocchi! It’s always been one of my favorite dishes, but to make it without regular potatoes, eggs and gluten has been quite challenging, as the dough simply won’t stick together.
In the last couple years, together with my mom and dad, we tried various options: yucca based gnocchi were too gooey, yam gnocchi were too sweet and watery, kabocha squash and cassava had a good texture but the flavor was too far from the original…
You can imagine how happy I was when, after all of these attempts, I nailed the perfect combination of ingredients to make AIP Gnocchi taste like actual Gnocchi!!
Q3: Besides AIP compliant recipes, what other bits of information or tips can be found in the book?
The EBook features 50 recipes divided into 5 chapters: Breakfast, First Courses, Second Courses, Sides and Desserts. On top of that, there is a chapter called AIP Ingredient Guide, which focuses on the most useful AIP ingredients that can help you recreate your favorite Italian classics in an allergy free way.
In these pages I share info that goes from the three AIP compliant pasta replacements, to how to make AIP Parmesan cheese, from how to get the most out of your leftover bone marrow to a guide to AIP flours. I also talk about where potential allergens hide, how to avoid them and how to replace all of your favorite stables: from coffee, to chocolate to cheese.
Q4: What is your number one tip to people starting their autoimmune protocol journey?
Spend time in the kitchen!
I know that many people are used to eating out most of the time, have very little time to cook or they simply aren’t in love with handling pots and pans.
But, in order to be successful on the AIP, I think one really needs to provide for them the tastiest dishes that make them feel satisfied. And unfortunately, there is no other way to achieve that than to prepare those dishes yourself.
I don’t think I would have lasted more than a month on the AIP if I only had salads and plates of protein and veggies. I need to feel excited about what I eat, to look forward to go home and enjoy that dish that has been buzzing in my mind the whole day. And knowing that I can do that makes me feel “normal”.
I know I am special case, but I find it more relaxing to bake something delicious then to watch tv. It’s a matter of habit, once cooking becomes part of your routine, you won’t want to have it any other way, because nothing tastes batter than a home cooked meal. And, it’s more satisfying!
Q5: If you could only eat one Italian dish for the rest of your life, what would it be? And is there an AIP recipe for it in the book?
This is a great question Meagen! Let’s see… I could definitely live off gelato, even though that wouldn’t be very healthy. I even attended the Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna because I am so fond of it, and I do have a recipe for “Gelato al Caffé” (coffee) and “Gelato alla Liquirizia” (licorice) in my EBook.
Sweets aside, I could definitely have pasta every single day. What I love about it is that you can be so creative with it, and every day you can come up with a completely new dish. Not only are the sauces you can make endless, you can also experiment with different ways of cooking it, from stir fried to baked pasta, all the way up to “Spaghetti Nests” like I have in my Ebook.
You can buy Ambra’s cook book here
You can also try one of the cookbook’s best recipes for Lasagna here
Let us know in the comments below what recipes you want to try or have tried!
XO Meagen Ashley
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