Archive for the ‘Vegetarianism’ Category

Is There a Healthy Vegetarian/Thyroid Diet?

IMG_1917 (2)June, the month of long daylight hours and ever warmer temperatures. June in Minnesota is the month when gardens really get going and you might even be able to pick your first harvest of young greens. June for us is a harbinger of warmer, muggier days, so it behooves one to sit back and just enjoy.

June is also often the month when we spend some time in the great state of Idaho and this June was no exception. We have a small dollhouse size cabin that perches on the mountainside at 6000 feet and from there we can see frolicking elk and watchful deer. We can hear the plaintive yips of coyotes and the long slow howl of wolves.

When we open the windows at night the scurrying of a mother quail and her brood entertain us and sometimes I get a small shiver down my spine at the sound of flitting bats scooping bugs out of the air enjoying their nocturnal dining. I know, I know bats are very useful critters but when the toilet is outside and the urge to use it calls in the middle of the night I don’t want them in my hair nor anywhere near me.

Always and for reasons I cannot explain both my hubby and I feel a  sense of joy when once again we overhear the mating call of the bullfrog. I have never seen him (or her) but much to our delight when we overhear their mating harumphs rumble up towards us  from deep in the wooded areas that surround our springs we look at each other and smile. Some things never change and for those things we are grateful.

What can I eat?

I was recently contacted by a reader (thanks for the question Lilly) and asked to please list vegetarian foods that thyroid types can eat and thrive on. In my opinion, a healthy thyroid diet really isn’t vegan nor vegetarian friendly but that isn’t to say there aren’t foods that you can eat and do well eating. Mostly, you need to limit certain foods and perhaps increase your consumption of other healthier foods (By healthy I don’t mean foods that health experts praise endlessly or recommend for their cancer preventing properties. I mean foods you can eat that will make you feel better.)

The first food I can think of that would be healthy and a vegetarian could eat is the fabulous and amazing egg. It is an almost complete protein in and of itself and contains almost everything you need to thrive. You should try to buy eggs from pastured and organically fed chickens but mostly try to buy the freshest eggs possible from a local source. Many farmers are feeding with soy free feeds and these are ideal for our purpose but I find these eggs are often prohibitively expensive for the average household. If you can’t afford the elite soy free eggs just go for fresh and local eggs from chickens who get to romp around in an open field.

Cheese, especially raw milk cheese is a nutritious food that most vegetarians can eat. If you buy raw milk cheese that comes from grass-fed cows you are getting Vitamin D from sunshine and chlorophyll from the grass and all kinds of healthy and health inducing nutrients and even some protein. When I say cheese I am not referring to vegan cheese or any other kind of Frankencheese products that are sold as “cheese” I mean a block of real cheese from milk be it cow, goat, sheep, yak, water buffalo or camel.

Dairy products in general are okay on a vegetarian/thyroid diet (obviously not a vegan diet) and one can make kefir and yogurt from fresh milk or pasteurized. Not only will you get your probiotics you are able to consume protein and again the goodness of pastured animals. Dairy allergies may make this impossible but I understand that fermenting milk often makes it digestible even for those who think they were lactose intolerant.

Healthy fats. Coconut oil is a fabulous source of calories for a thyroid type and even a vegan would deem it an okay food. Butter from grass-fed cows (Kerrygold is from grass-fed cows) is an excellent and health source of calories. Olive oil (if it is pure olive oil and not mixed with canola, rape or other seed oils) and extra virgin red palm oil add good nutritious calories that will not punish your thyroid.

Vegetables, hmm, what vegetables can we eat? Mixed baby greens (romaine for instance) are a healthy vegetable  for anyone and celery adds crunch and satisfaction. Garlic and onion can be very nice additions to anyone’s diet. Green beans are good for us as are some root vegetables like carrots and parsnips and even organic potatoes. Colorful peppers add a rainbow to your plate and lots of nutrition. Fennel, raw or cooked is one of my favorites and we eat a lot of spinach, mostly cooked but raw as well and always organic (I love combining spinach with sautéed onions and adding sheep’s milk feta cheese).

Nuts, namely almonds, pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts are a good food for a vegetarian thyroid type. Seeds like pumpkin are high in magnesium and selenium. Sunflower seeds make a tasty seed butter and a healthy alternative to peanut butter which being a legume really isn’t the best choice (doesn’t mean I don’t love it).

Fruit, avocados are a good fruit and for many of us they are about as close to the fruit section as we should get. Berries are okay especially the more sour brightly colored berries, like raspberries, sour cherries, blueberries, etc.

Okay now lets talk about the limited or prohibited foods

Okay so you have some foods that are good and vegetarian but let us review some foods that are particularly harmful for thyroid types. For example and this is the most mentioned “bad” one, soy. Soy is often used to replace meat and soy is soy, soy bad for you if you have an under functioning thyroid. Unfermented soy in particular is just not a good food to eat when you have thyroid disease (really not at all thanks to GMO issues with soy).

My vegetarian friends use soy meat substitutes and they are bad in so many ways I cannot even tell you. Soy meat substitutes are often seasoned with hydrolyzed soy protein (MSG) not to mention, and I repeat, they are soy and soy interferes with proper thyroid functioning. (As an aside, some people I know are developing allergies to soy in any form and when they start looking for places that soy might exist it is ubiquitous. It is in shampoos, food items like mayonnaise, bread, etc. and even in their skin care products) So no soy, period.

Goitrogens are a food that should be limited. Can we eat them? Yes, and I do. I wrote a blog article some time ago about goitrogens and I was pretty condemning of them. I have since gotten my thyroid meds more regulated and all the “problems” that I thought might be related to goitrogenic properties of certain foods have disappeared. That said goitrogenic foods are not a great food for us to eat and the list of goitrogenic foods in a vegetarian or vegan diet are numerous. Three servings a week is often what is recommended (but I exceed that amount). I do try to steam those veggies that are known to be a problem and strictly limit the number of raw goitrogenic veggies I eat.

Another big issue with vegetables and fruit  is their sugar content and if, as some thyroid types do, you have blood sugar issues you have to be very selective about your vegetables and fruit. Root vegetables are high in sugar and they may or may not increase your fasting blood glucose (FBG), so check your FBG and see what effect vegetables are having on your levels.

Nuts and seeds can be a great food but some are high in phytic acid and others are full of oxalates. Nuts should always be soaked and dehydrated  to remove phytic acid. Vegetables high in oxalates may be good for blood glucose issues but bad for pain, so you need to listen to your body and pay attention to its reaction to the food you eat. For instance,  red peppers are good if you have blood glucose issues but if oxalates are an issue peppers, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes and some summer squash are all nightshade vegetables and they can increase pain for those who have an issue with it.

Can you subsist on a few root vegetables, nut butters, cheese and good fat?

I think you can but I personally wouldn’t choose to and honestly I love meat and seafood too much. However, if your body tells you that a food isn’t agreeing with you, listen and follow its directions. Ignoring your body is the worst choice you can make. I was vegetarian for years and got fat and listless on the diet. I love beans and other vegetarian foods but my body was telling me something important which I ignored and I think it contributed to my problems now. If I seem down on vegetarian diets and vegan diets it is as everything is on Krisinsight, my personal experience and no one else’s. Listen to your inner voice and if it says a vegetarian diet suits you it probably does.

Suzy Cohen, a pharmacist who is on Facebook, posted a diet for people with autoimmune disease this week and I will post a link to it just so those who have questions about their diet and thyroid disease , especially autoimmune thyroiditis, can look it over and see if you could make the changes:

http://www.dearpharmacist.com/2013/05/21/the-best-diet-for-people-with-autoimmune-disease/

Krisinsight recipe

I am including a recipe this month that I created because I love savory items like cornbread or even better jalapeno/cheese cornbread but I want higher protein and less carbs and no gluten. This “bread” is made with almond flour, so not at all appropriate if you have oxalate issues. If you have issues with pain skip this section and visit again next month.

Gluten Free Grain Free Savory Zucchini Bread

IMG_20732 cups blanched almond flour

½  teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon Celtic Sea Salt

¼ cup arrowroot powder

¼ cup coconut oil, melted

2 eggs

1 medium zucchini or two small zucchini, grated

¼ sun-dried tomato pieces, rehydrated

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon basil

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

½ cup shredded Italian cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Combine egg and oil and add to dry ingredients. Grate the zucchini in a small bowl and to it add the spices and tomato bits. Add to dry ingredients and stir in grated cheese well. Dump into prepared pan and smooth the top slightly.

Bake for 40 minutes and remove from pan to cool. Cut up into small squares and enjoy.

Santé,

Kris

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Somethin’ different

Every so often it is time for something lighthearted and tasty, so I decided that today’s bit of lightness is a new favorite Vegetarian Friday night meal of ours called Layered Quesadillas. I love it because one layer is winter squash, one layer is black beans and salsa, and one raw milk “Wisconsin Jack Cheese”. I use rice flour tortillas as I do not eat gluten if I can avoid it. The original was courtesy of Bon Appetit but as always I have made it my own.

Layered Quesadillas

Ingredients

4 Rice Flour tortillas

1 1/2 cups of cubed winter squash, steamed lightly, Butternut or any dense sweet variety.

1 medium onion, chopped

1 Eden Brand Black Beans (Eden does not  use cans lined with BPA plastic)

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 clove of minced garlic

1/2 cup salsa, Paul Newman’s brand, medium or hot

4 ounces of Jack cheese, grated for melting. I use Organic Valley’s Raw “Wisconsin Jack”

1 handful of cilantro for sprinkling on top.

2 tablespoons of grapeseed (Napa Valley Naturals) oil plus oil for brushing on tortillas

Equipment

1 baking sheet

….

Method

Lightly brush the tortillas on one side with oil and place in preheated oven at 350 degrees, you can use a baking sheet or just put them on the racks in the oven. Toast them for 10 minutes until slightly crispy but not browned. Remove and cool or I have been doing one at a time and layering as I go because it works better if the quesadilla is not too crispy. If you are doing them all at one time or individually, place one finished tortilla on a baking sheet.

In a small pan put 1 tablespoon oil. Saute the chopped onion for about 5 minutes and then add the cubed squash and finish cooking the onions and squash to taste about 10 minutes. Place this mixture on top of one tortilla and spread it out to cover the tortilla.

Wipe out your pan and put another tablespoon of grapeseed oil in the bottom. Add to this one can of Eden brand Black Beans, chili powder, garlic and 1/4 cup of your favorite salsa (I like Paul Newman brand medium or hot but there is a local salsa called Clyde’s that is pretty tasty but not organic). Heat gently, and then mash lightly and add 1/4 cup salsa, mixing thoroughly. Place another tortilla on top of the squash layer and spread the bean mixture over that tortilla.

Sprinkle another tortilla with grated cheese and lightly bake in oven to melt. When just melted place on top of bean layer and top with fourth tortilla. You quite literally now have a tower of tortillas filled with tasty ingredients. I let mine sit for a few minutes before baking as at our house the crispier the tortillas the messier and gets a thumbs down from the spousal unit.

When you are almost ready to eat put your layered quesadilla in the oven and bake until heated through about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let it sit for a few minutes to make for easier slicing. When ready to plate, cut with a pizza cutter in to four pieces and serve with extra salsa, sour cream and cilantro.

….

I love to eat food in layers, so first I peeled off the bean layer topped with the cheese.  I added some salsa and ate this layer of simple but delish comfort food. This leaves a second layer of lovely sweet winter squash to be enjoyed separately, almost like dessert. If you are a person who eats pizza in layers you will understand that there is a method to my madness. However, the spousal unit is much more conventional and he insisted on knife and fork (not big on the finger food, not big on eating in layers) and when that required an entire package of napkins he set the knife and fork down. With some reluctance he then picked up the entire piece of quesadilla and ate it biting through all the layers and enjoying it right down to every last black bean.

A “morning after” comment: This quesadilla can be reheated, it isn’t quite as good but I saved it in parchment paper and then reheated on the baking sheet on top of parchment paper. The tortillas crisped slightly and it got the thumbs up from the somewhat picky spousal unit, so I thought I should add that you might even get two meals out of one layered quesadilla recipe. It depends on the appetites of the diners.

….

Buon Appetito.

See you next week,

Kris