Low Iodine Diet Dinners

After completely falling off the blogging bandwagon, I decided to jump back on after a comment from a reader. She found me through a Pinterest search on low iodine diets and requested more information. Well, Jeni, you have inspired me to share, so thank you! I know this information has zero relevance for the vast majority of people, but I’ve been getting lots of pins from my LID posts. This excites me because I’m glad to be helping spread tips and tricks to surviving the LID. On the other hand, each time I get a notification that someone pinned my LID posts, it means that someone is getting radioactive iodine, as a likely result of a thyroid cancer diagnosis. Ugh. But, read on to learn how to survive dinner time on the LID!

LId Dinner Recipes

I LOVE to cook and try new recipes, however, while on the LID, I tend to keep things simple. There are lots of other dinner recipes for the LID online, but I stuck to my three tried and true meals. We literally ate the same dinner every third night for three weeks. I’m not sure who was more sick of them me or Jacob! Hah! He was a good sport and didn’t complain. Mainly because they are actually really great meals… at least I think so!

Meal #1: Steak, Green Beans, and Roasted Sweet Potatoes
I know some people (especially men) feel VERY strongly about their grills and grilling skills, however, we never cook our steaks on the grill. Four years ago, I learned how to cook the perfect steak in an iron skillet/oven and I’ll never go back! Below are the recipes for Meal #1.

IMG_6158

Steak– I usually buy filet mignon from our local butcher shop, Kroger, Costco or Whole Foods. You can buy another cut of steak, but when you are on the LID I think you should treat yo’ self whenever you can! Hah! Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. For all you grill lovers, don’t freak out about putting your steak in the oven. Get your iron (or other) skillet hot and pour in 1-2 tbs of olive oil. Coat your steak on all sides with non-iodized salt and pepper. Place your steak in the skillet and let it brown for approximately 4 minutes on each side. Transfer your steak to a shallow baking dish and cook in the oven for 10 minutes for medium (or longer if you prefer). Always use a meat thermometer to get your steak to the temperature of your liking.

Green Beans – I don’t really have measurements for my green beans. Brown garlic in a large sauce pan with some olive oil and then add the beans and a small amount of water. Stir to coat the beans and then cover to simmer. Check periodically until they are tender enough to cut with a fork. Salt to taste with non-iodized salt.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes– My family LOVES these! We eat them nearly weekly and my kiddos can’t get enough. The recipe below is easy to adapt to the LID by using non-iodized salt.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon

Meal #2: Baked Chicken with Roasted Broccoli and Red Potatoes

IMG_5979I accidentally photographed this meal without the red potatoes. I had these sweet potatoes left over from the night before, but we usually ate this meal with the roasted red potatoes.

Baked Chicken – Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Coat a chicken breast with olive oil, non-iodized salt and pepper. Place in shallow baking dish and bake for approximately 45 minutes. Again, use your meat thermometer to make sure the center of the meat reaches 165 degrees.

Roasted Broccoli  – Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. Wash your broccoli and cut in to florets, or just buy them already prepared. Place florets in a large mixing bowl and toss in 2-3 tbs of olive oil, 1-2 tbs of minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Roast broccoli for 10-12 minutes.

Roasted Red Potatoes – Repeat steps for the roasted broccoli, except the potatoes will need to be peeled and cut into quarters and bake for approximately 45 minutes.

Meal #3: LID Safe Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas

I adapted this from one of our family’s favorite dinners found here.

LID Safe Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas: Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice 2-3 chicken breasts into thin strips and place them in a greased 13×9 oven safe dish. Slice one red pepper, one green pepper and one large onion into thin strips and add them to the dish with chicken. In a small bowl mix: 2 tbs vegetable oil, 2 tbs paprika, 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Pour spice mix over chicken and vegetables and mix with a large spoon to coat. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve with No Salt Tortilla chips and slices of avocado.

I unfortunately didn’t take a picture of this dish probably due to the fact that it was inhaled as soon as it came out of the oven!

I am not a doctor or a chef, so please use these recipes for your low iodine diet prep with caution. Each doctor has their own set of guidelines for the diet, so check to make sure each ingredient is safe.

Good luck and let me know if you are on the LID so I can pray for you! It’s not easy, but you CAN DO IT!

 

Low Iodine Diet Snacks and Treats

Last week, I discussed the importance of the low iodine diet for thyroid cancer patients. Although it’s of extreme importance for the treatment (I like to call it murder of cancer cells) and scans, it is not a bit fun. Due to the strict dietary rules on the LID, it’s often difficult to cook a large meal. I often prefer to snack throughout the day and after three rounds of the LID, I have a few go-to snacks and treats that I love.

I always keep a bag of almonds and raisins in the middle console of my car in case my kiddos get grumpy or I get hangry. For the LID, this snack is perfect to just replace the almonds with unsalted ones. I usually buy my unsalted ones at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, but they should be available at most grocery stores. I always purchase several Lara bars and a couple of bags of unsalted Kettle chips to snack on throughout the diet as well. Of course, fresh fruits and veggie slices are always a good snack choice too. For dessert, I buy Hagaan Dazs lemon sorbet.

Popcorn is a must for me on the LID. We quit eating microwave popcorn after I was diagnosed and you should too! If you aren’t convinced read this. Not only is it bad for your health, stove top cooked popcorn tastes SO much better. My kids love to help cook it and it literally takes less than 5 minutes. The only switch I make for the LID is using non-iodine salt instead of sea salt.

LID Safe Stove Top Popcorn
1/2 Cup Popcorn (preferably white popping corn)
3-4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Non-iodine Salt to taste

Directions: On medium-high, heat olive oil in a medium size pot (make sure it has a lid). When you add the oil, drop 3 kernels into the oil and cover with lid. When those three kernels pop, add the 1/2 cup of kernels. Shake the pan to coat the kernels with oil and let the magic begin. After popping slows to about 3 seconds between pops, pour popcorn into a large bowl and salt to taste.

And now for my FAVORITE low iodine treat of all time. Drum roll, please…

LID safe no bake cookies!
LID Safe No Bake Cookies

Seriously, y’all they are SO good and I’m pretty proud to say I created this recipe myself. I had to hide them to keep Jacob and my babies from stealing my cookies each night. I have to admit that I made these twice a week while on the LID because they are so delicious. And if I’m being 100% honest, I usually didn’t even make them into cookies… I just poured the cookie mix from the pan into a bowl and ate them with a spoon. When you’re on the LID you just need a guilty pleasure food and these certainly fit the bill.

LID Safe No Bake Cookies
1/3 Cup Coconut Oil
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
1/4 Cup Cocoa
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla1 3/4 Cup Quick Oats

Directions
In a medium saucepan, melt the oil and peanut butter. Stir continuously. Once melted and combined, add cocoa and sugar and mix until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Stir. Add oats and stir until combined. Drop by the spoonful onto wax paper. Or pour into a bowl and eat with a spoon. Enjoy!

IMG_6227Here’s how I enjoyed the “cookies”!

You Can Call Me Ned

Jacob and I walked into my oncologist’s office this morning and I was a ball of nerves. This appointment meant cancer or no cancer. Another round of radiation and isolation for ten days or freedom from molecular scans and the LID for three years. There was a LOT riding on this appointment.

My doctor walked in and nonchalantly said, “Well, you’re good girl.” Umm… “What?!? Like, I’m good, good? Like cancer free good?”

After ear-to-ear smiles, high fives, and giddy chatter (along with all the necessary medical junk), I left the office with a new name… Ned. No Evidence of Disease! Praise the Lord.

IMG_6347Sorry for the blurry picture, but Jacob snapped this as I was literally *running* out of the office yelling “wooooooooooo!”

And just like that, I had a peace that is hard to come by as a cancer fighter. The peace of knowing that for the moment I was victorious over this wretched disease. The worry muscle in my brain can rest in knowing that there is no evidence of cancer in my body. I will rest well tonight, but I know there are many that are still fighting and that breaks my heart. I pray that each of them get their NED designation soon.

14 Things You MUST buy for a Low Iodine Diet

Before I dive into what I think are “must haves” for a low iodine diet (LID), let’s first discuss why thyroid cancer patients must be on this diet as part of their treatments and check-up scans. This is my “no medical background” explanation, so if you are a nurse or have M.D. after your name, feel free to stop reading here. Hah!

Thyroid cells are the only type of cells in our body that absorb iodine. Actually, salivary cells also absorb it, but they spit (pun intended) the iodine out quickly, because they can’t process it. So, in order to kill all thyroid cells, healthy and cancerous, patients starve their bodies of iodine for three weeks and then take a radioactive iodine pill called I-131. The starving thyroid cells suck up the radioactive iodine and they die… hopefully! Every time a patient has a check-up scan, they must also go through this process. The dosage, called a tracer dose, is very minimal since it’s not intended to kill any cells. If there are any thyroid cancer cells, they will soak up the radioactive iodine and “glow” on the scan. There are lots of other parts to this process: thyrogen injections, blood draws, withholding medications, etc., but that is the bare bones basics of how the process works.

Now that all of the science is out of the way, let’s talk about the low iodine diet. It’s terrible. I hate it, but there’s no other option but to do it. And let’s face it, its infinitely better and easier that chemo, so I try not to complain too much.  (Jacob may say otherwise!)

Doctors disagree on what is and is not allowed on the low iodine diet, but here are the guidelines my thyroid oncologist gave me:

Foods to Avoid

1. Iodized salt and sea salt
2. All diary products (milk, cheese, cream, butter, yogurt, ice cream, etc.)
3. Egg yolks
4. Sea food
5. Foods that contain the additives: carragen, agar-agar, aglin, alginates
6. Cured, corned & salt-seasoned foods (ham, bacon, sausage, etc.)
7. Bread products that contain iodate dough conditioners
8. Food and Medications that contain red food dyes
9. Chocolate (whomp, whomp)
10. Molasses
11. Soy products

When on the LID, a patient is advised to never eat anything from a restaurant because it could become contaminated. So, every bite of food for three weeks must be prepared by hand. This isn’t a huge change for me because I love to cook and we only eat out once, maybe twice a week. However, it became a huge challenge when we traveled to San Fransisco for the Super Bowl. I had to bring my food with me for the entire weekend… yikes! The only thing I could eat from a restaurant was fresh fruit. It was tough, but with a little bit of careful shopping and planning, I survived.

low iodine diet pictureMost salt has iodine in it, so any item that contains salt on a store shelf is a big no-no. Be on the lookout for “no salt” or “salt free” items and then you can add your own iodine free salt to them afterwards.

Here are 14 things you MUST buy while on the LID:

  1. Salt free tortilla chips. I use these for a snack with this salsa recipe and as a side for LID friendly fajitas.
  2. Puffed wheat cereal. I eat this as a snack without milk, but you can also make your own almond milk to go with it.
  3. Unsalted Kettle chips. These are my favorite! They are so yummy, I don’t even add salt to them.
  4. Egg whites. This is a no brainer! They provide protein and you can use them to cook with in place of whole eggs.
  5. Popcorn. I ate this nearly every day. We quit using microwave popcorn after I was diagnosed in 2013 and have never looked back. I cook it on the stove top with olive oil and iodine free salt and it doesn’t even resemble microwave popcorn… so yummy!
  6. Fresh fruits and veggies. Fruit is your friend because it’s all LID safe. I also munch on carrot and celery sticks for snacks.
  7. Haagen Daz Lemon Sorbet. Seriously, go buy this. It’s amazing even if you aren’t on the LID.
  8. Lara bars. A great portable snack, but be sure to read the ingredients. Some contain chocolate and/or salt. My favorites are apple pie and cashew cookie.
  9. Steak. I only cooked myself one big hot meal a day, so I treated myself to steak frequently.
  10. Chicken. See above… chicken was a dinner staple. I’ll share my dinner recipes in a later post.
  11. Salt-free peanut butter. I used this in recipes, as a dip for veggie sticks or apples, and sometimes just ate it on a spoon.
  12. Unsalted nuts. Mix any type of unsalted nuts with raisins and you have a quick LID safe snack mix.
  13. Coconut oil. I used this in place of butter in recipes as well as an oil for cooking egg whites.
  14. Simply Lemonade. This was a treat for me each day and a great LID safe drink.

Over the next two days, I will be posting my favorite LID meals, snacks and dessert recipes, so stayed tuned!

My scan is tomorrow morning and I could NOT be more excited to be off the LID! I will be spending the day drinking Starbucks lattes and eating pizza. I plan on pigging out for three days and then I will resume my normal eating habits. We have a vacay planned in three weeks, so I’m going to try not to indulge too much.