Saturday, July 28, 2012


Routinely, the Schreiber and Sons booth at the farmers' market is stuffed with greens of all sorts, including herbs like basil, cilantro, and mint.  Arugula is also frequently seen, but it seems to have a hiatus at certain times of year, and something the Schreiber folks call "cress" takes its place.

Cress is very peppery and hot, but will mellow nicely when teamed with basil.  It makes people wonder what the mystery flavor is!

If you're pasta-free, julienned zucchini or shredded cauliflower make good "noodles," sauteed and tossed with this spicy sauce, as do sliced onions.  It's great on mixed vegetables as well.  Tuck a dab of cressto alongside meats, or dollop it onto soups. 

Freeze it in dabs on a Silpat-lined cookie sheet, and you can toss it into winter dishes for a lovely reminder of summer. 


1 bag cress or arugula (about 4 ounces), washed and spun dry
1 bunch basil leaves (about 4 ounces), washed and spun dry

1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic

1/2 cup almonds, blanched or not, or walnuts or pecans

Place basil and cress in food processor and pulse to a chopped state.

Add olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic, and process until garlic is incorporated.

Add nuts, blend until nuts are finely chopped.  Scrape and needed and blend again.

If storing, place plastic wrap directly on surface of cressto to keep it from browning.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hashimoto's - Resolved.

About 20 years ago, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease.  Hashimoto's is an autoimmune condition in which the body makes antibodies that attack the thyroid gland in response to its production of thyroid hormone, which the antibodies mistake for invaders.  An antibody is a blood protein created by specific white blood cells.  It is the job of antibodies to fight disease in the body by attaching themselves to invading substances and marking them for destruction.  Why would my body think my own thyroid gland was an invader?

Chris Kresser explains it thoroughly here.  Excerpt:

"In the first article in this series, I showed that hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease in 90% of cases. In this article we’re going to discuss the connection between autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD) and gluten intolerance.

Several studies show a strong link between AITD (both Hashimoto’s and Graves’) and gluten intolerance. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] The link is so well-established that researchers suggest all people with AITD be screened for gluten intolerance, and vice versa.

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.

Even worse, the immune response to gluten can last up to 6 months each time you eat it. This explains why it is critical to eliminate gluten completely from your diet if you have AITD. There’s no “80/20″ rule when it comes to gluten. Being “mostly” gluten-free isn’t going to cut it. If you’re gluten intolerant, you have to be 100% gluten-free to prevent immune destruction of your thyroid."

During the year and a half that I've been eating a modified paleo diet, which is wheat- and grain-free, I've had several blood tests to monitor my thyroid levels.  My thyroid gland seemed to be coming back to life; my medication was reduced by 2/3 in the diet's first year.  Blood tests showed that my thyroid antibodies have been steadily decreasing. 

On July 11, 2012, my doctor wrote "No thyroid antibodies. Hashimoto's - resolved" on my blood test.  I asked him if that meant I no longer had an autoimmune disease.  He replied, "You no longer have an autoimmune disease."  When I asked what he considered the reason for the antibodies' disappearance, he said, "Probably the wheat."

I have never had ANY other symptoms of gluten intolerance; if I had, it probably would have been picked up much earlier in my life.  In the last year I have learned enough about wheat to realize that it is something I never want to eat again.

Perhaps this post will help you understand why people you know are serious about avoiding wheat.  Perhaps this post will help someone with thyroid issues, or other autoimmune diseases; wheat is a culprit in many of them, as well.

Remembering that we are all to some extent metabolically unique, we can begin to understand that food can be a major player in many health issues.  Cure Hashimoto's with food choices?  Apparently so.

I won't lie and say it's easy, but there's something supremely motivating about reclaiming health territory once lost.  My deepest thanks to my stepson for his patient, non-preachy sharing of information, books and links about diet and the gluten-thyroid connection.  Be well.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


As might be expected from this dish's name, it is not made with local produce. It is made with plantains!

Always looking for something simple and safely starchy to add to my limited repertoire of complex carbohydrates, I was intrigued by Chris Kresser's recipe for plantain fritters.  Variations of this Puerto Rican dish abound, and a dizzying array of mofongo recipes will greet the curious Googler.

But simplicity was my goal, so I simplified even Chris' recipe.

Plantains have a decidedly tangy taste that is delightful.  They are less sweet than bananas, and definitely need to be cooked thoroughly before eating!

Adapted from The Healthy Skeptic

A little black on the plantain skins is fine.  Green is fine, too.  Green ones don't peel as easily as those with more of a yellow-colored peel.

5 plantains, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup coconut oil
During cooking, plantains will change from very pale to a distinct golden color.

Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. 

Add plantains.  Things should be sizzling!  In a few minutes, turn the plantains a bit to bring the bottom ones up to the top.  You should see some golden-colored slices.

Continue frying the plantains until they are all golden, tender, and cooked through.  The whole process will take about 15 to 20 minutes, and you will do a good deal of scraping and turning to facilitate even cooking.  If necessary, add a little water to keep things from sticking.  The plantains will absorb quite a bit of moisture, so don't be shy about using the water.

Mash the cooked plantains with a big fork or potato masher.  If you have a tool like my family's heirloom retro meat tenderizer (shown left), use that to chop the plantains into a nice even mash.

Form the mashed plantains into patties and place on a Silpat sheet to freeze.  Toss the frozen patties in a freezer bag, and whip a few out when needed to fill out your dinner plate. 

To cook the patties, heat coconut oil in a skillet on medium heat and fry the patties on both sides to a delectable, crispy golden brown.  They're delicious plain, but explore variations if you want to take the time!

 Makes 12 mofongo

Mofongo being prepared to be frozen for easy future use.