The Autoimmune Protocol and Recovery from Surgery

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, I am a devoted advocate of “eating the rainbow.”  The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) does not allow all of the plant based foods that are included in my customary diet. As I eased into the AIP I concentrated on the beautiful array of plant foods that are allowed or encouraged.

For details on the AIP go to the website of Sarah Ballantyne, PhD



When I was snowed in by two winter storms, I worked with what was in my larder. There were collard greens that I cooked and froze before my surgery. There was broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and spinach.

The leafy green and cruciferous vegetables were complemented by the orange. I had carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash. Since I am still recovering from spine surgery and will always have issues with my back, I opted for “easy prep” dishes. Everyday after breakfast my orange option went into the oven. I made enough at one time to have them for both my midday and evening meals.

The first time that I drove my car was six weeks after surgery. My first stop was at the auto shop for the state mandated inspection and the second stop was the grocery store. While I waited for my inspection to be completed, my brain was screaming for red vegetables: beets, beets, beets!

I bought two bunches of beets. I oven roasted them with the skin on and then wiped the skin off with a paper towel just before eating them. The first day I ate them while they were still hot. The next day I ate them cold. They were so tangy and sweet that no seasoning was required beyond a little salt and pepper.

I bought melons, and grapes, and blood oranges. I also bought a red cabbage which I prepared with onions and apples. My preparation was similar to this recipe with honey crisp apples in greater quantity.

Sautéed Red Cabbage with Onions & Apples

I also bought parsnips. Today I prepared honey glazed carrots and parsnips. I mixed olive oil and honey and rolled the carrots and parsnips (cut to similar sizes) in the mixture and then cooked uncovered in 350 degree oven until the smallest pieces were tender. This dish was almost as good as my sweet potatoes and apples dish that has the same color profile. For lunch I added spinach as my green. For supper it will be broccoli.

This protocol insists that I need nutrients that only come from flesh. I am accustomed to “eating meat as a condiment.” I am working my way up to the number of meat, poultry, and seafood servings required by this protocol. The only organ meat that I have added to my diet is calf liver and onions. This is a dish from my childhood. My body seems to demand liver after every major surgery. It is available to me. It is easy to prepare. And I do like the taste.

Yesterday, I also prepared slow cooked oxtails. Oxtails are another beef product with which I have a life long familiarity. I confess that I have already eaten the smaller pieces as finger food. I put grass-fed beef bone broth into a large slow cooker along with one sliced white onion, one sliced red onion, two teaspoons of minced garlic, and two bay leaves.


I started this mixture to heating on high while I seasoned the oxtails with salt and pepper and seared them on all sides in coconut oil. I added the hot meat to the heating mixture. The small pieces were ready after five hours on high. The huge pieces were given an additional 2.5 hours on low. Oh yeah, the liquid is delicious.

I am still weak and in pain. Shopping for nutrient dense whole foods and preparing them for myself takes a great deal of effort. That is a statement of fact and not a complaint. I know that physical exertion is required for physical rehabilitation. At this point in my recuperation, I think that using my limited energy and mobility to provide myself with nutritious meals is worth the effort.

I also require intellectual stimulation and adventure in the form of novel experiences. Experimenting with AIP provides both. I am resetting my palate and starting a new topic of conversation between my gut and my brain. My entire immune system will be the judge.


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