This week has been a little strange for me as I have recently given up Gluten. Six months after my first child was born I found out I was hypothyroid. It was such a relief to have an answer to why I had been feeling so awful for the last half of a year. I thought I was going crazy, couldn’t focus, was tired to my bones, not to mention I was a total B*#&@ from time to time, and I couldn’t lose my pregnancy weight no matter how much I exercised while Max was napping. That last one was very depressing for me. And a clump of my hair was turning white. Yup, white. (I was 32). I chalked everything up to “new mom” and was probably too tired to talk to the doctor about it. After getting test results back from a community health fair blood test, I learned that my TSH was off the charts. The first thing I did was google TSH. I learned that it meant Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, and then I googled everything about Thyroid. And the I smiled. YAY!! There is a reason I am going INSANE!! Normal TSH is between about 1-4 and mine was 56.
I called my doctor right away and she didn’t think the test could be right and had me take another blood test. My TSH came back at a 92. She wasn’t sure how I was functioning. Me neither! I was told I was hypothyroid ( which is a condition) and then later told, after asking my doctor more questions, that it was Hashimoto’s Thyroidosis, which is a disease. I was given a little pill to take every day and I couldn’t have been more happy to take it. But, after some time when I returned to my normal self, the idea of having to take a little pill everyday for the rest of my life didn’t sit well with me. I mean, what if I was traveling for months and couldn’t get my prescription filled, or what if I was snowed in for a month and couldn’t get to the pharmacy?!?…what would happen to my thyroid? I also learned that the longer I take synthroid or armour thyroid, the more lazy my thyroid becomes. Wasn’t there anything else I could do about it?
It turns out there is. Gluten is the enemy. My immune system attacks my thyroid every time I eat Gluten. For any of you who don’t know, Gluten is the protein found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, and malts and it is what makes dough elastic. I don’t know if I have a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease ( I have an appointment with a naturopath next week to get tested), but I do have this auto-immune disease called Hashimotos Thyroiditis, which is fairly common.
Chris Kresser ( http://chriskresser.com/the-gluten-thyroid-connection) explains the Gluten and Auto-Immune Thyroid Disease (AITD) connection well. He writes, “What explains the connection? It’s a case of mistaken identity. The molecular structure of gliadin, the protein portion of gluten, closely resembles that of the thyroid gland. When gliadin breaches the protective barrier of the gut, and enters the bloodstream, the immune system tags it for destruction. These antibodies to gliadin also cause the body to attack thyroid tissue. This means if you have AITD and you eat foods containing gluten, your immune system will attack your thyroid.”
Upon learning that my immune system was attacking my thyroid every time I ate a slice of pizza, a cookie or dipped my sushi into soy sauce (yes, there is gluten in regular soy sauce but thank goodness, there is Tamari which is a GF Soy Sauce), I decided to give up gluten and see how I feel. Our bodies need time to heal though. Just as our bodies don’t get disease in one day, we don’t heal in one day either. The good news for me is that I hear many people at least start feeling better right away. Giving up white flour (and white sugar) is something I should have done a long time ago as they are probably the worst things for our bodies. They both turn into sugar when digested and have very little to no nutritional value. Studies show that sugar, which causes inflammation, leads to high Cholesterol more so than eating eggs or meat.
I already had Tamari in my fridge and have been making my kids gluten free pancakes for years and bake with almond, brown rice and quinoa flour. This isn’t a sudden about face for me but gluten sneaks up in unlikely places so it will be a challenge.
For the time being, you can expect mostly Gluten Free Recipes. They will still be very tasty though….promise! I have an awesome GF homemade soft pretzel recipe to share with you (it’s a big hit with kids and a great football watching snack), as well as a GF orange gingerbread biscotti. And if you don’t have any issues with gluten, it is very easy to turn a gluten free recipe into a gluten recipe. If you do have problems with gluten, hopefully this will be helpful and I will share with you what I learn along the way. One thing I know is that it’s not healthy to go from a processes pretzel to a GF processed pretzel. Many processed GF snacks on the market are made with white rice or other highly processed flours without the enriched nutrients that enriched wheat snacks contain. It’s really a lose-lose.
And now for the recipe! It is winter after all and the best time for a warm bowl of soup. I have been making lots of lentil soups this winter and this one is a favorite. I used Coconut Oil as the fat. If you aren’t cooking with Coconut Oil, I recommend you go to the store right now and get some. It has a naturally occuring saturated fat which is very different from saturated fats created by hydrogenation processes. It contains Lauric Acid with is shown to reduce the bad cholesterol and Coconut Oil boots immunity. It is also stable enough to withstand the high heat. There are many health benefits and here is an article if you are interested. ..http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/coconut-oil-benefits_b_821453.html
- 6 cups of homemade vegetable broth
- 2 cups of green lentils, washed well
- 1/2 head of cauliflower (about 2 1/2 cups) broken into small pieces
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2-3 Tbs Coconut Oil
- 1/2 tsp Paprika
- 2 tsp Curry
- dash of Cayenne
- 2 tsp celtic sea salt
Rinse the lentils in a sieve strainer until the water runs clear. Add the Vegetable Broth, Garlic Cloves and Lentils to a large pot and cover. Cook on Medium heat. In a medium pan, saute the chopped onion in 1 Tbs Coconut Oil for about 4-5 minutes. Add the Carrots and cook another couple minutes. Then add the onions and carrots to the pot. Using the same saute pan, add another Tbs to the pan and saute the chopped Cauliflower. Add the Paprika and Curry and stir until well mixed. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the Cauliflower to the soup and a dash of Cayenne Pepper (more or less to taste) and 2 Tsp of Salt. Cook for about 20-30 minutes, adding more broth or water if needed until it's at the desired consistency.