Paleo Minestrone Soup (AIP & Whole 30)

Italian food has always been one of my favorite cuisines. Growing up on Long Island and being of Italian descent, it’s a natural favorite for me! The rich hearty flavors, the comforting smells, and the cheese and carbs… oh baby! When I was a kid and we went out to eat as a family, I always went for the pizza, my dad went for something like chicken parmigiana, and my mom always got the minestrone soup. I was always baffled by this decision. Why get soup when you could get pizza? Slowly but surely as my taste buds matured and my diet changed, I saw the beauty in warm, nourishing and nutrient dense soups like minestrone… and I had to recreate a paleo minestrone that’s also Whole 30 and autoimmune protocol compliant!

So, what is minestrone soup? It’s a hearty Italian soup that’s made with tons of veggies like tomato, onion, celery, carrots, and typically also has beans, pasta, and cheese. Meat is optional, but I was always used to it being a vegetarian soup. The challenge for making this soup paleo, AIP, and whole 30 mostly lies in the beans, pasta, and cheese… can you still get the flavors without them? Yes! Let me show you how…

Paleo Minestrone Soup (AIP & Whole 30)

Ingredients

Bone Broth or Veggie Broth

You can do either a bone broth, or a veggie broth as your base.

Tomatoes (or beets for AIP!)

Minestrone traditionally has diced tomato, giving the broth a red color. If you read my blog often, you know that I follow an autoimmune protocol template and am intolerant to all nightshades, including tomatoes. So, I use beets for a red color in this soup, but you can use either!

Zucchini, Parsnips, Spinach, Carrots, Celery, and Onion

These are the basic vegetables used in this soup. You can mix it up or leave one or two out if you’re intolerant, but these give the best flavor.

Basil, Oregano and Parsley

Basil, oregano and parsley are the main herbs used to give it that minestrone flavor!

Optional: Grain Free Bread or Cracker like Yucan Crunch

I’m used to serving pretty much all Italian food with bread! One of my favorite bread hacks is Yucan Crunch. It’s made entirely from yuca… no other ingredients! You can also serve with another grain free bread alternative or recipe. This is totally optional, but I loved the addition!

Paleo Minestrone Soup (AIP & Whole 30)

Paleo Minestrone Soup (AIP & Whole 30)

Serving Size: 3-4

Ingredients

  • 5-6 cups broth (chicken bone broth or veggie broth)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (sub 1/3 cup diced beet for AIP)
  • 2 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup parsnip, chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 3 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped into halfmoons
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil (or 1 tbsp fresh)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • OPTIONAL-
  • Grain free cracker or bread like Yucan Crunch
  • 1-2 cups pre-cooked shredded chicken

Instructions

  1. Place a large stock pot on the stove on medium heat and add olive oil
  2. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 4-5 minutes or until the onions become translucent
  3. Add in the parsnips, celery and carrot and sauté until lightly softened for 3-4 minutes
  4. Pour in the broth and the remainder of the vegetables (reserving the basil and some parsley for topping) and herbs and stir
  5. Place the lid over the pot and simmer on medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally
  6. Once the veggies are cooked through, add in the spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted
  7. Allow the soup to cool and top with extra parsley before serving
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Paleo Minestrone Soup (AIP & Whole 30)

That’s all there is to it! This soup is an amazing, and nourishing way to get in more vegetables while enjoying a nostalgic Italian classic. I hope you enjoy!

If you like this soup, be sure to also check out my Italian Zuppa Toscana!

Paleo Minestrone Soup (AIP & Whole 30)

Paleo Cocktail Meatballs with Grape Jelly (AIP option)

The holiday season is here, and so are holiday parties! Nothing quite says holiday parties to me like tasty little cocktail meatballs. A yummy and satiating little appetizer that’s easy to make, and one that everyone loves. It’s exactly what I was trying to tap into when I created the sweet potato chicken popper last super bowl season, and when I started craving them myself this year, I knew that I had to recreate a Paleo AIP Cocktail Meatball with grape jelly, and BBQ sauce!

This time of year, and any party setting in general can be filled with food anxiety for those of us with food intolerances and restrictions. I’ve often sat hungry at many parties and have had to awkwardly explained why I’m not eating any of the food. That is, until I started recreating party favorites with healthy ingredients and bringing them along to share. Ever since then, I never go hungry, and I get way more compliments of the food I bring!

One of the best things about this appetizer is that it’s easy to prep and can be made with just a few ingredients that you likely already have on hand, and that’s exactly what I was trying to recreate with this version. The list of ingredients is super minimal, and easy to source!

Paleo Cocktail Meatballs with Grape Jelly (AIP)

The Ingredients You’ll Need for the Paleo AIP Cocktail Meatballs

Ground beef

If you can get a high quality grass-fed ground beef, even better. I would go with a higher fat ground beef as opposed to leaner to keep in the flavor!

Compliant BBQ Sauce

This will vary depending on what your tolerances are. You can go for a paleo BBQ sauce, a homemade one, or my favorite option, an AIP bbq sauce like the KC Natural Cherry BBQ Sauce. It’s nightshade free, delicious, and incredibly convenient!

Grape Jelly

Jelly makes these meatballs super yummy! Be careful when you’re buying grape jelly to make sure that there aren’t any weird ingredients like citric acid, or too much sugar. This is the brand I used, but you can also make your own if you want to control the sugar more.

Onion & garlic powder

Along with salt and pepper (omit pepper for AIP) these flavor the meatballs. You can take them out if you’d rather go without, but it really adds some more depth of flavor to the dish.

Green onion

Green onion is the finishing touch to add in some freshness and more flavor to the dish.

 

Paleo Cocktail Meatballs with Grape Jelly (AIP)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup compliant BBQ Sauce (I used this for AIP
  • 1 cup grape jelly (I used this or you can use this for a sugar free AIP version)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper (omit for AIP)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Season the ground beef with onion and garlic powder, salt and pepper. Roll the beef into small meatballs (you should have 30-35) and place on the parchment paper.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through. You want the meatballs to be finished, but not overcooked or burnt.
  4. Cool overnight, or cool for 20-30 minutes and place in a crockpot. Add BBQ sauce and grape jelly to the crockpot and stir well.
  5. Set the crockpot to low heat for 1-2 hours.
  6. Remove the meatballs and spoon the sauce over them.
  7. Top with green onion and serve with tooth picks as an appetizer, or eat with a main dish.
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Paleo Cocktail Meatballs with Grape Jelly (AIP)

Real talk… I am so happy these tasty little cocktail meatballs are back in my life.

I’ve been loving them so much that I’ve just been eating them with dinner, but I can’t wait to serve them at Christmas and bring them along to holiday parties!

Happy partying and enjoy these yummy cocktail meatballs!

Paleo Cocktail Meatballs with Grape Jelly (AIP)

Cranberry Sweet Potato Turkey Poppers (Paleo, AIP, Whole 30)

When I first shard the sweet potato chicken popper during the Super Bowl last year, I had no idea how much everyone would love them! My mother in law immediately brought them as a Super Bowl appetizer and told me how popular they were, and their popularity soon followed on Instagram and Pinterest. Since then, I’ve also made a bacon ranch chicken popper, a breakfast chicken popper, and an Asian chicken popper. These are all easy, nutrient dense, and perfect for whole meals and appetizers! Now, to join the ranks, I am so excited to share the Cranberry Sweet Potato Turkey Popper!

The Cranberry Sweet Potato Turkey Popper is the ultimate holiday appetizer! Perfect for getting all of the holidays in one bite at a holiday party, or for quieting hungry guests while Thanksgiving dinner is finishing. They’re made with simple, easy to find ingredients and won’t add tons of labor to your holiday food prep. Plus, they taste amazing dipped in cranberry sauce.

Cranberry Sweet Potato Turkey Poppers (Paleo, AIP, Whole 30)

 

The Ingredients You’ll Need For The Cranberry Turkey Poppers

Ground turkey

Turkey obviously goes best with the holiday theme, but you can also use chicken. However, I find ground turkey to be easier to find!

Sweet potato

You’ll likely already have sweet potato on hand for the holidays, and all you’ll have to do is rice or shred it. I often use a cheese grater to shred it, but you can just as easily use a food processor.

Fresh cranberries

I was skeptical about using fresh cranberries in these and thought I would have more luck with dried… so wrong! The fresh cranberries are amazing and add so much holiday flare!

Rosemary, parsley & sage

You can easily mix up the herbs, but I find these to work best with the flavors.

Coconut flour and coconut oil

Coconut flour isn’t a necessity… they bind without it, but it helps make it more crispy! You can sub other flours are needed… there’s really only 2 tbsp for the whole recipe, so you won’t notice the flavor that much either way.

Cranberry Sweet Potato Turkey Poppers (Paleo, AIP, Whole 30)

Cranberry Sweet Potato Turkey Poppers (Paleo, AIP, Whole 30)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 cup sweet potato, shredded or riced (using a grater or food processor)
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp rosemary
  • 2 tsp sage
  • 2 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Add the fresh cranberries to a food processor and set it to shred or chop for 10-15 seconds. Remove the cranberries and use a paper towel to clean up any excess juice
  3. Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and thoroughly combine
  4. Begin rolling the mixture into small, slightly flattened poppers about one inch in diameter (you'll have about 20-22 poppers) and place them on the cooking sheet
  5. Place in the oven for 25-28 minutes, flipping half way through
  6. Crisp further in a pan or place under the broiler if desired for 1-2 minutes to crisp further
  7. Remove from the oven when thoroughly cooked through
  8. Serve with cranberry sauce or by themselves
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How To Serve The Cranberry Sweet Potato Turkey Poppers…

Like the other poppers, these are super versatile! Here are some ideas for how to serve them…

  • Serve as a holiday dinner appetizer with cranberry sauce for dipping
  • Bring to an office or holiday party when you don’t want to cook a whole turkey
  • Make throughout the holidays for fun, seasonal lunches and dinners

 

I hope you love these as much as my husband and I do! Happy holidays, and happy eating 😉

Cranberry Sweet Potato Turkey Poppers.. The Best Holiday Appetizer! (Paleo, AIP, Whole 30)

Paleo Zuppa Toscana In The Instant Pot (Whole 30 & AIP)

Growing up in an Italian family in New York, I was always a bit of an Italian food snob. My maiden name is very Italian, and my dad, who’s name happens to be Vinny, always joked the spaghetti sauce runs through his veins. My love for legitimate Italian food only grew more when I studied abroad in Florence, Italy, the capital of the Tuscan region. These experiences always made me roll my eyes at claims that chains like Olive Garden were real Italian food. Though I can never get behind the quality of their food, one thing I can get behind is a good, nourishing Zuppa Toscana! So why not make my own Zuppa Toscana that’s paleo, whole30 compliant, and easily modified to be AIP?

So, what is Zuppa Toscana? It essentially translates to “The Soup of Tuscany”. When I traveled to Tuscany when I was 21, I was expecting everything to be swimming in only Marinara sauce. Much to my surprise, Tuscany features a lot more rich, savory flavors like cream sauces, white beans, and rustic breads. A traditional Zuppa Toscana embodies this perfectly! It’s made with Italian sausage, white beans, tomato, onion, potato, kale, Italian bacon, and olive oil. The American version adds cream, and usually omits the tomato.

So really Zuppa Toscana it’s just a nourishing soup, and the perfect comfort food dish that can be enjoyed on all types of healing diets… if you prepare it right and use good ingredients!

Paleo Zuppa Toscana In The Instant Pot (Whole 30 & AIP)

The Ingredients

Italian Sausage

Italian sausage gives this soup tons of flavor! Traditionally this soup is made with a spicy Italian pork sausage with the casing removed.

If you’re like me and can’t have nightshade spices, or are following an autoimmune protocol, you can easily make your own sausage at home. Check out this recipe!

Bacon

Gotta have the bacon, right? Bacon is used as a garnish in this soup.

White sweet potato

Though this soup traditionally has white potato and white beans, I’m using white sweet potato to keep it nightshade free and AIP compliant. The sweetness of the potato really adds something to the soup, but you can also use regular white potatoes if you tolerate them. If you’re not into sweet potato, you can also sub parsnips or rutabaga

Onion

Onion adds lots of flavor to the soup. You can use either white or yellow onion.

Kale

See? I told you this soup was healthy 😉 You’ll use a whole head of kale in this soup.

Chicken bone broth

Another powerhouse ingredient to make this a nourishing soup. I recommend this recipe for chicken bone broth, and I also have another recipe in my e-book, The 30 Day Gut Healing Diet Plan.

Coconut milk

Traditional Zuppa Toscana really isn’t as creamy as the American version, but let’s be real… creamy is good! Using coconut milk helps keep this soup dairy free, and with so many other flavors, you don’t really taste the coconut.

 

Not using the Instant Pot?

I love using the instant pot for fast, easy meals!

However, if you don’t have an instant pot, recipe is easily adaptable to a stove top! See the notes of the recipe for instructions.

Paleo Zuppa Toscana In The Instant Pot (Whole 30 & AIP)

Paleo Zuppa Toscana In The Instant Pot (Whole 30 & AIP)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage (use this for AIP )
  • 6-7 slice of bacon, chopped
  • 4 large white sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (see above for substitutions)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bunch of kale, destemmed
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 5 cups chicken bone broth
  • 2 cloves or garlic, minced
  • 3 tsp fresh Italian parsley (plus extra for garnish)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper (omit for AIP)

Instructions

  1. Set the instant pot to sauté and add the bacon. Cook until crispy and set aside, leaving the fat in the pot.
  2. Keeping the instant pot on sauté, add the onion to the bacon fat and cook sauté for 5-6 minutes or until translucent.
  3. Add the minced garlic for 3-4 minutes of until fragrant.
  4. Add in the ground sausage and sauté until cooked through. Remove some fat if desired.
  5. Turn the instant pot off sauté and pour in the chicken bone broth, coconut milk, salt, pepper and diced sweet potato. Stir to combine.
  6. Lock the lid onto the instant pot and set to 13 minutes on high.
  7. After the soup is done, allow the pressure to release naturally.
  8. Remove the lid and add in the kale and parsley and allow to wilt in the hot soup.
  9. Serve topped with bacon and extra parsley.

Notes

If not using an instant pot, follow all of the instructions exactly the same, using a large dutch oven or pot to sauté the initial ingredients. Then, double the cook time of the soup on the stove, or wait until potatoes are softened.

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That’s all there is to it! This soup is the perfect comfort food for a cool evening, and stores well in the fridge for a few days. My husband took it to work as lunch for a couple of days in a row and absolutely loved it!

I hope you enjoy!

Paleo Zuppa Toscana In The Instant Pot (Whole 30 & AIP)

Asian Chicken Poppers (Paleo, Whole 30, AIP)

 

Back in the day when I had a terrible meat aversion (I wasn’t a vegetarian, I was a french fry-itarian) the only way I would eat meat is if it was in chicken nugget or hibachi chicken form. Seriously, I can count the number of times in my life that I had beef before I was 23 on one hand. It was chicken or nothing, and the preparation was not open to discussion. Needless to say, I frequented Benihana and Wendy’s quite a bit in my day. When I eventually discovered that my meat aversion was a result of poor digestion, and I finally targeted my gut health, it opened a whole new world of healthy fats, and properly raised meats that I could now tolerate. But I still crave some good asian chicken or a nugget every now and then. Who wouldn’t, right? So here’s my solution… Asian Chicken Poppers!

The two variations on this recipe, Sweet Potato Chicken and Bacon Ranch Chicken (also similar to Zucchini Chicken Poppers) influenced my decision to give these a go, along with the fact that I could never find a version of these in the real world that wasn’t full of junky ingredients to save my life. 

Here’s look into some of the ingredients that could usually be found in a similar dish that you’d get from a frozen box or a restaurant but are not in these poppers

Soy sauce (wheat and soy), MSG, soy and corn fed mechanically separated chicken, natural and artificial flavors, corn starch, the list goes on…

So you can see why I had to make these, right? TBH, they’re my favorite chicken nugget yet!

 Asian Chicken Poppers (Paleo, Whole 30, AIP)

 

Why I Love The Asian Chicken Poppers

They’re full of veggies

Because adding in secret veggies is one of my favorite things to do! Plus, it helps make these an even more well rounded dish.

They’re flavor packed

Coconut aminos, garlic, ginger, red and green onion, and a yummy sauce? Yes, please! These are not just another boring healthy food. 

No MSG, soy, wheat, or weirdness 

These nuggets are made with 100% real food, high quality ingredients that helps make them compliant with a paleo, AIP, and whole 30 diet. No fillers, allergens or werido ingredients in here!

Asian Chicken Poppers (Paleo, Whole 30, AIP)

Let’s Talk Ingredients (and what you can and cannot sub)…

Ground Chicken

I have little issues finding pre-ground chicken in my area, however, you can also use a food processor to grind chicken on your own, or even just a knife! 

Don’t want to use chicken? Turkey or pork works just the same!

The one thing I will say is to be mindful of the quality of the poultry you’re using. Conventional chicken is full of soy, corn, and it highly inflammatory. Make sure you’re buying from a local, pasture raised source when possible. 

Shredded Carrots

You can buy shredded carrots from the store, or you can easily shred them at home with a food processor. Though I haven’t tested it, you can also try to sub sweet potato, though the flavor will be sweeter. 

Red & Green Onion

The red and green onion really help gives these poppers tons of flavor! I wouldn’t be quick to sub them out, and would lean on another recipe if you’re low-FODMAP. 

Coconut Aminos 

Coconut aminos is essentially a soy free soy sauce substitute. It adds tons of flavor to these poppers and is the base to the dipping sauce. It’s sold at most stores these days, and you can also get it on Thrive Market. 

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour helps bind these, make them crispy, and absorbs some of the moisture that the veggies release. 

Asian Chicken Poppers (Paleo, Whole 30, AIP)

Asian Chicken Poppers (Paleo, Whole 30, AIP)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground chicken (uncooked)
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1/4 medium red onion, chopped finely
  • 2 springs green onion, chopped (plus more for garnish)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper (omit for AIP)
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos
  • FOR THE SAUCE - Optional
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 3 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1 tsp honey (omit for Whole 30)
  • Juice of 1/4 lime
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F and lightly grease a lined baking sheet with coconut oil
  2. Using a large mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken (or turkey), carrots, red onion, and green onion and mix well
  3. Next, add in the coconut oil, coconut flour, ginger, garlic, sea salt, black pepper (if using) and coconut aminos. Mix well to thoroughly combine.
  4. Roll the mixture into small, slightly flattened poppers about one inch in diameter (you'll have about 20-25 poppers) and place them on the cooking sheet
  5. Place in the oven for 25-28 minutes, flipping half way through
  6. Crisp further in a pan or place under the broiler if desired for 1-2 minutes to crisp further
  7. Remove from the oven when thoroughly cooked through. Serve with sauce if desired and top with extra green onion.
  8. FOR THE SAUCE - Optional
  9. Add the avocado oil, coconut aminos, honey, lime juice, and ginger powder to a small bowl and whisk
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Asian Chicken Poppers (Paleo, Whole 30, AIP)

Easy AIP Lunch Ideas On The Go

Starting the autoimmune protocol can daunting in a lot of different respects. “What do I do when I eat out?”, “What do I have for breakfast?”, “What do I have for lunch?”, “What do I bring to work/school?”. Though I’m always learning and evolving, I feel like I’ve become more of a lunchbox aficionado and have what I bring for lunch to work down with lots of easy, stress-free, AIP lunch Ideas!

One of the keys to my success while healing my Hashimoto’s and following an AIP diet has been cutting down on stress. One of the easiest ways to do that has just been planning ahead. Though it may sound stressful to have to think ahead, it’s far more stressful in the long run to waste time and money on food that makes me stick. Yes, it takes time to get into the habit, and though it may seems easier to just hit up a drive thru, it’s just not worth it… the money, the gas, or the stomach ache. Packing my lunch ahead of time and preparing my meals for the week ahead of time has been a game changer on my AIP journey.

But, before we get to my favs, it’s important to have some staples on hand to actually accommodate an AIP (autoimmune protocol) lunch on the go. Here’s what I recommend:

Here are some my favorite AIP lunch ideas!

The Low Maintenance Option

Easy AIP Lunch Ideas

You’ll find me eating this meal weekly… typically on a Friday when I’m down to just whatever I have in my pantry! Plantain chips, half an avocado, and wild planet tuna with red onions.

The Tasty Salad

 

A bed of italian kale topped with sliced apples, proscuitto, and drizzled with a bit of olive oil and lemon juice. 

The No-Cook Hero

Perfect for travel, those times when you have no access to a fridge or can’t carry an insulated lunch box, or you’re just over cooking for the week (I get it). A bison epic bar, avocado, baby carrots, and plantain chips are what’s in order. 

The Left-overs 

Honestly, this what you’ll find me eating most days. I firmly believe that we don’t have to make lunch complicated or prepare something separate to stress us out further. For this option, I threw together some grass-fed meat balls, sweet potato roasted in bacon fat, and oven roasted cabbage.

Though it may indeed take the effort of forethought to prepare these lunches, it’s so worth it in the long run to be less stressed out over food! For more ideas on how to make AIP less stressful and prepping food ahead easier, check out the free AIP Meal Prep guide that I put together to help do just that! 

Easy AIP Lunch Ideas on the go

Note: also pictured here are my Anti-inflammatory Coconut Turmeric Bites.

For even more AIP lunch ideas as well as dinner, breakfasts, and snacks that are all targeted towards healing the gut, be sure to check out my e-book, the 30 Day Gut Healing Diet Plan & Guide that also includes…

  • 30 days of paleo and AIP meal plans targeted towards healing the gut
  • Shopping lists and prep guides to help you prep meals fast
  • Over 20 AIP/ Paleo recipes with GAPS and low FODMAP modifications
  • Tons of information about healing your gut beyond just food alone 

Get your copy, here!

What do you usually bring to work/school for lunch?

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