Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Green Bean Chicken
Perhaps it is not surprising that today after taking thyroid replacement hormone for the very first time I felt inspired and energetic enough to cook, photograph and write about a tasty gluten free meal for the first time in what feels like months.
Longtime readers of my blog know that I began to follow a strict gluten free diet two years ago when I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease. Although there were many adjustments to make in a short time, living gluten free (and mostly dairy and sugar free) quickly became a beautiful part of my life and brought much health and joy to my family.
It only took about five to six months after going gluten free two years ago for my thyroid condition to resolve itself completely. I was also following a careful regimen of vitamin support and exercise in addition to the dietary changes, all under the supervision of a very caring and knowledgeable doctor. So I can’t guarantee that diet alone resolved my thyroid problem at the time, but I do know that I was able to get my TPO antibodies to drop from nearly 900 to 15 (normal range is <35). My TSH returned to the ideal zone, and I felt absolutely fantastic. I had well over a year of feeling absolutely amazing without medication, for which I remain so grateful. I don't think I'd felt that good since I was in high school!
Then, as I believe happens for nearly everyone at some point in their life, there came a full year of intense challenge and physical stress thanks to a high risk pregnancy and my father's death from Alzheimer's disease. After a few months of feeling pretty desperately awful postpartum I began to suspect that my symptoms went beyond typical childbirth recovery and that my thyroid problem had returned. Multiple blood tests have now confirmed that my Hashimoto’s has reactivated in full force – TPO antibodies have climbed into the thousands, I have a highly elevated TSH putting me just a breath away from full blown hypothyroidism.
As part of the new healing regimen involving bioidentical thyroid hormones, my doctor tested me again for food intolerances and has let me know that I now need to avoid corn and soy in addition to gluten and dairy. Also nightshade vegetables – especially tomatoes, and even bananas! Looks like I’ll be eating raw foods and baking a lot of bread from scratch as soy lecithin seems to be in just about everything we buy, including many of my favorite gluten free products.
You might think that I'd be discouraged by all this news... but actually, I feel fantastic! I'm so excited to begin again on the path to healing and so glad to know that there is a tangible cause behind all of the symptoms I've experienced for the past four months.
I’m sure it is literally too early to feel a beneficial effect from the vitamins and thyroid hormone that I ingested this morning, but somehow I had a lot more energy all day than I have experienced in a long while. For this reason, I decided to present for your dining pleasure one of our absolute favorite family recipes... Green Bean Chicken. A simple, hearty dish that will feed a family of four to six with ease! May it bring warmth to your stomach (and your heart) on this chilly December evening. As my health and energy continue to increase, I hope to be sharing more of our family favorites with you throughout the holiday season.
Green Bean Chicken
What You’ll Need...
Thinly sliced chicken breasts (approx 1 lb chicken)*
Long grain brown rice – 1.5 cups (although white rice is delicious too)
Chicken bouillon, 3 cups
3 shallots, thinly sliced
Garlic, 6-8 cloves
Several large handfuls fresh green beans (preferably organic)
Crimini mushrooms, 20 quartered or chopped into thick slices
Optional: replace 1 cup of bouillon for the rice with tomato sauce
*We also enjoy making this recipe with one lb of chicken thighs, although it is of course fattier and so less healthy
How It Works...
Heat a large glug of olive oil in a four quart saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add thinly sliced shallots and sauté until they begin to caramelize. Next add chicken pieces (I cut up each thinly sliced breast into three equal portions) and sear both sides with the shallots, until the flesh is white on the outside but still pink in the middle. Add brown rice, bouillon and all whole (peeled) garlic cloves and bring to a boil. (If you are using tomato sauce with bouillon, add it now.) Once the liquid is boiling, add green beans (ends removed, remaining beans broken into 1 – 2 inch pieces) and all the quartered mushrooms. Dust with fresh ground pepper and salt to taste. Stir well with a wooden spoon a few times to completely integrate chicken, rice and vegetables as they boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 45 – 55 minutes or until rice is fluffy and soft and vegetables and meat are moist and cooked through. Chicken should be so soft it falls apart at the touch of a fork when finished.
Serves 4 – 6.