Meet Aimee; founder, recipe creator and all around clean eating Guru.
Tell us a little about your journey to Autoimmune Sisters & Clean Cuisine:
In January 2010, at the age of 28, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis just a few months after my daughter was born. It answered a lot of questions about symptoms I had been experiencing since high school. For years, I battled through my diagnosis and symptoms alone because I had not met anyone else with my same autoimmune disease. In October 2018, after much encouragement from my mom, I started the @AutoimmuneSisters Instagram account. The sole purpose was to share part of my story in hopes to find other women that were just like me. In less than 2 years, this little account grew to more than 15,000+ (96.2% are women). We now have a website that provides autoimmune disease information, blog articles by women with autoimmune disease, and the best part: stories by other women with an autoimmune disease diagnosis.
Clean Cuisine is a clean eating recipe and nutrition website. The original founder of Clean Cuisine, Ivy Larson was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1998 and was unusually encouraged by her Neurologist to eat an anti-inflammatory diet to reduce her symptoms. Her husband, Dr. Andy Larson began to study the link between anti-inflammatory foods and autoimmune disease and within a few years of Ivy’s symptoms dramatically improving, Clean Cuisine was born. For years, Ivy provided unique, anti-inflammatory recipes along with nutritional research to support her claims. But, when their only son Blake prepared to go off to college, she was ready to pass the Clean Cuisine website off.
For many years, I have worked for and created a friendship with Ivy Larson given our commonality with autoimmune diseases and the use of an anti-inflammatory diet to curb symptoms. In November 2019, she reached out to me and my Autoimmune Sisters partner, Madison Suttles to take over her wildly popular recipe and nutrition blog. We quickly agreed and have been enjoying the ride since.
Clean Cuisine provides anti-inflammatory recipes that are free from the most common inflammatories: dairy, sugar and gluten. For example, we use plant-based milks to substitute heavy cream, sour cream and other dairy-based ingredients. We replace white sugar with natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar and date sugar. We also replace standard white and wheat flours with whole grain gluten free flour. Many of our recipes are egg free or offer egg replacement options. By default, many of our anti-inflammatory recipes fit major dietary options: whole30, specific carbohydrate diet, paleo, autoimmune paleo protocol, vegan and vegetarian. While we don’t agree that anyone should focus solely on a standard diet, we do encourage anyone that is dealing with an autoimmune disease or inflammation issues, to consider removing the standard inflammatories first and then the secondary ones, as needed.
With our invested interested in helping women with autoimmune disease, we created a 21 Day Anti-inflammatory Plan. Our plan is designed to introduce anyone battling autoimmune or inflammatory issues to a healthier way of eating within 21 days. Full of recipes, eBook downloads, meal planners and swaps, this plan is a great introduction for anyone ready to commit to eating anti-inflammatory.
What is your biggest gripe with the current food system?
My biggest gripe about the current US food system is the focus on providing quick, unhealthy and cheap options that are trashing the health of our nation. In addition, the lack of education that these cheap options play in the role of health. Over the past few years there has been a higher demand for healthy meats, healthy fish and non-GMO fruits and vegetables. Thankfully, there are companies that are meeting that demand and they continue to rise.
In the meantime, I wish there was a statement that people were forced to read and accept when buying unhealthy foods so they are fully aware of the health implications of consuming. I do love a good supply-and-demand marketplace, but fear that the lack of education will continue to cause the most common health crisis in our nation. From heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and arthritis, many of these issues could be naturally resolved by eating a clean, anti-inflammatory, plant-focused diet.
What are the major NOs you look for when choosing food?
For many years now, our family has chosen to eat gluten free to reduce inflammation in our bodies. So, naturally any food containing wheat, barley or rye is an automatic no. We also skip anything that has added sugar, refined sugar, MSG or ingredients we can’t read.
Essentially we stick to filling up the cart with 80% fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. Then, I’ll select a few cans of beans, canned tomatoes, organic grass-fed and grass-finished meat and wild caught fish.
What's your favorite Goodmylk product and how do you use it?
Our favorite Goodmylk is the Super Oat Mylk. Our kids love it in cereal, smoothies and alongside homemade gooey chocolate chip cookies. However, the most regularly used is the Goodmylk Almond Mylk. I use it for thickening soups, making breads, waffles and pancake batter.
If there was one message you could get out to people what would it be?
Know what you’re putting in your mouth! In general, we are a society that wants quick and cheap food without considering the consequences of mass production, hormones, antibiotics and genetically modified foods. By demanding that suppliers produce foods quicker, our nation’s health as a whole is declining.
Instead, we should be asking questions to understand how are food was produced. Eat seasonally grown fruits and vegetables. Know our farmers, know our butchers, know how they care for their animals. Ask questions about growing practices, buy local whenever possible and start your own garden, sans pesticides.
What's the guilty pleasure you eat when no one is watching?
Hu Chocolate Gems. It’s true! I don’t bake with them and I certainly don’t share them. I buy them with the sole purpose to enjoy a handful whenever I need a little bit of chocolate sweetened by coconut sugar. And if this is a guilty pleasure, then I suppose I’m doing pretty good!