Tag Archives: low iodine

Shells and Veggie Soup

Have you heard the phrase “Indian Summer” as much as I have lately? I was curious what it actually means. According to Wikipedia, Indian summer is a period of unseasonably warm weather in autumn. Sunny, clear skies and above normal temperatures after a killing frost are the characteristics. You and I both learned something new today.

Our “Indian summer” ends today. It is cloudy and windy, bringing snow overnight. Thankfully, a friend of mine just had a soup recipe swap just in time. I dug the dust off this recipe and couldn’t believe I haven’t made it in ages. Almost as good as my minestrone, but this soups is ready so much faster. And it doesn’t make a ton, if you aren’t into leftovers.

Shells and Veggie Soup (Serves 6-8)

Shells and Veggie Soup

½ tablespoon canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 clove garlic, minced
5 cups low sodium beef broth
2 cans no salt added diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
8 ounces pasta (preferably whole wheat)
1 zucchini, sliced or chopped
2 cups spinach, chopped (or 1 cup frozen spinach thawed and drained well)

1. Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery. Saute for 3-5 minutes, until onion begins to soften. Add garlic, cooking 1 minute more.

2. Add broth, tomatoes, and seasoning. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer covered for 5-7 minutes.

3. Add pasta and zucchini. Simmer for shortest time on pasta package (about 9 minutes usually). Add spinach 2 minutes before pasta is done. Serve warm.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 192
Protein: 9 g
Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 36 g
Fiber: 7 g
Sodium: 49 mg

Recipe Notes: I clearly did not use shells in this photo. I’ve been trying “fun” pasta shapes to get my daughter to eat pasta again, since she recently boycotted my favorite food. Any pasta shape will do, although I would recommend smaller shapes. Feel free to add any other veggies you like as well. As a note, the longer this sits, the pasta will keep absorbing the liquid. Hence there isn’t a lot of broth in my photo. I also really like the boost of flavor beef broth adds here. But chicken or vegetable broth works as well.

Source: Adapted from a cooking class I took in college

Low Iodine: Use salt free broth.

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Zucchini and Garlic Pasta

Do you remember the first real meal you tried to cook all alone? I mean something homemade, a full dinner. I do. It was the summer after my freshman year of college. My parents had left me home alone for several days and were returning on Sunday afternoon. I decided I would make a nice, Sunday dinner. As I was preparing it, my aunt called that she and her husband happened to be in town and would be coming by, too. Thankfully, I had bought a lot of food.

At the time, I loved Rachael Ray, so I found some recipes from one of her cookbooks – chicken breasts with goodness rolled up inside and pasta with zucchini. My mom ended up helping a bit when she came home, mostly because I didn’t pound the chicken thin enough, so it took about 5 years to cook. But the food was good, and everyone was impressed at what I had accomplished on my own.

Since that day, I’ve obviously tackled a lot of recipes. I’ve honestly never tried that chicken again, but the pasta has stuck with me all these years. I love how simple it is but still has great flavors. It was also one of the first times I enjoyed zucchini. It is great for a quick summer dinner, and also works well as a side dish along some grilled chicken or fish. Enjoy!

Zucchini and Garlic Pasta (Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side)

Zucchini and Garlic Pasta

12-16 ounces whole wheat spaghetti (see notes)
2 zucchini
½ tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup parmesan cheese

1. Boil a large pot of water. Cook pasta according to package directions, without adding salt or oil.

2. While pasta cooks, grate zucchini on the large holes of a box grater onto a pile of paper towels. Squeeze out excess water with paper towels.

3. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Once hot, add garlic and grated zucchini. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until zucchini begins to soften and is heated completely through.

4. Drain pasta (reserving some cooking liquid) and add to skillet with zucchini. Toss together. If pasta is dry, add pasta cooking water ¼ cup at a time until it reaches desired consistency. Toss with parmesan cheese and serve.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving as a main dish):

Calories: 401
Protein: 18 g
Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 6 mg
Carbohydrates: 77 g
Fiber: 10 g
Sodium: 134 mg

Recipe Notes: I always find whole wheat pasta in 13.25 ounce packages. Use whatever size package you can find. Any type of long, thin pasta works. I’ve done spaghetti, linguine, and fettucine. This isn’t a “saucy” pasta dish. But since we don’t have a lot of cooking oil, there isn’t much to coat the pasta, especially if you are ambitious at wringing out your zucchini. Just add a little water if some of the noodles look too dry.

Source: Adapted from Rachael Ray

Low Iodine Adjustment: Omit parmesan.

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Roasted Red Pepper Chowder

Summer or at least summer weather has finally arrived at my house.  Warmer days means I want lighter meals that take less time to prepare.  Soup doesn’t seem very summery to most people, but my family has actually found quite a few soups that are good in the summer.  I do shy away from some options, like I don’t make much minestrone or chili during the summer.  But light, quick-cooking soups are a great summer dinner.  Zucchini soup is a definite go to, for sure.

The word “chowder” in the title of this recipe seems odd to me.  To me chowder is creamy, thick, and laden with potatoes.  None of those describe this soup.  It is a “full” soup though, so you aren’t just swimming in broth like a chicken noodles soup.  I loved how quickly all the flavors in this came together to create something satisfying.  And the corn and peppers make it taste like summer.  Enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper Chowder (Serves 2-3)

Roasted Red Pepper Chowder

2 red peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon chipotle chile powder (more per your heat preference)
2 cups low sodium broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 (15 ounce) can reduced sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 avocado
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup nonfat sour cream

1. Coat red peppers with cooking spray. Place on a grill over medium to medium high heat. Cook, rotating, until each side is lightly charred. Remove from heat and place in a paper bag. Let stand for at least 10 minutes. Remove as much of peel as possible. Discard stem and seeds.

2. Heat olive oil in a medium to large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Saute onion until beginning to become tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and chile powder. Cook 1 minute more.

3. Add roasted pepper and chicken broth. In a blender or with an immersion blender, blend until smooth (or mostly smooth, in my case). Return to pan and to heat.

4. Add beans, corn, and lime juice. Simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat. Serve with sliced avocado, cilantro, and a dollop of sour cream.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 517
Protein: 19 g
Fat: 24 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 3 mg
Carbohydrates: 65
Fiber: 21 g
Sodium: 803 mg

Recipe Notes: I highly recommend “roasting” several peppers at a time. I did four, since I needed that many for recipes that week. It doesn’t take any longer to do more, and then you have them. You can go all the way to peel them and then store them. Or I just put the bags into the fridge to cool and did all the peeling and cleaning as I needed them. I was silly and put my soup in a food processor, which did not work very well at chopping all of this up. It still tasted good and the consistency did not bother me. The soup pictured also probably has more beans than 1 can of beans. I cook beans in large batches in a crockpot and then freeze them for later in plastic bags. I probably get about 1 ½ cups, whereas I think a can of beans is around 1 cup of beans. Honestly, I don’t know that it is any cheaper this way. I just like doing it for some reason. I know the fat looks REALLY high in this dish. It is because of the avocado. Monounsaturated fats are good for you – read here.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

Low iodine adjustment: Use an iodine or salt free broth. Use homemade beans or unsalted beans. Omit the sour cream on top. You may want to add ½ teaspoon non iodized salt in step 4 for seasoning.

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Whole Wheat Bread

My mom was horrible at making homemade bread. She was an excellent cook in many ways, but she really struggled making any bread product beyond cinnamon rolls. Because of that, I always assumed bread making was hard. Fast forward to college, I had two roommates who made homemade bread every week. They would make a batch of five or six loaves at a time, and it turned out perfectly every time.

Now, my bread doesn’t turn out perfectly every time. But, I have learned a few tricks from them and practice.

1) Don’t be afraid of getting your water too hot. I actually check the temperature on my water before I use it. My goal is 110-120 degrees F. That is hotter than you think. I generally have to microwave mine.

2) Don’t over flour your dough. You can always add more flour later, but you can’t take it out.

3) Let the dough rise long enough. Especially if your kitchen isn’t very warm, it can take longer than the hour that most recipes suggest.

4) I have found better success with instant yeast over active dry yeast.

5) If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Each time you make bread you will learn something that will make the next batch better.

Homemade Whole Wheat Bread (Makes 1 loaf)


2 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/4 cups warm water
3/4 tablespoon instant yeast
3-4 cup white whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
cooking spray.

1. Combine the honey, water, yeast, and 1 cup flour in a bowl. Let this mixture “sponge” for 15 minutes.

2. Add the oil, salt, and gluten. While mixing, add in remaining flour one cup at a time until dough begins to clear the sides of the bowl. Dough should be smooth and elastic, but still a bit sticky. Knead by hand 7-10 minutes or by mixer for 6-10 minutes, until dough is smooth, elastic, and bubbles appear below the surface of the dough.

3. Lightly grease sides of bowl with cooking spray and roll dough in the “oil”. Lightly cover and let rise in warm place until double in size, about 1-2 hours.

4. Form into loaf and place in lightly greased loaf pan. Let rise again until almost doubled in size, about 30-60 minutes.

5. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Dump bread out of pan and let it cool completely before slicing.

Nutritional Information (Amount per slice, about 12 slices per loaf):

Calories: 182
Protein: 6 g
Fat: 4 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 33 g
Fiber: 4.5 g
Sodium: 197 mg

Recipe notes: I substituted sugar for some of the honey with good results. I use white wheat flour, but my friend who gave me the recipe uses the regular whole wheat flour with good results. The mixture will actually begin to look like a sponge in step one, due to the bubbles from the yeast.

Source: adapted from a friend’s recipe

Low-iodine adjustment: Use non-iodized salt. I don’t know the iodine content of vital wheat gluten, but none of the recipes in the low iodine cookbook use vital wheat gluten. To be safe, I substituted 2 egg whites and had good results. I used to use a bread machine on the low iodine diet, but this bread is worlds better than anything from a bread machine.

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Black Beans and Rice

My little girl isn’t the biggest fan of meat, but she will eat beans.  While she enjoys them plain, the rest of us prefer a little more flavor.  This dish hit a good balance – spicy enough for adults but not too spicy for kids.  Beans are also cheap, which is nice for my food budget.

I’m including the recipe for making your own beans from dried beans. If you prefer to use canned beans, just use the lower sodium beans and rinse them well. If you haven’t cooked your own dried beans, you should try. It is very easy and tasty.

Black Beans and Rice (serves 4)


1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 bell peppers, diced
1/2 jalapeno, diced small
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon chili powder, more to taste
2 cups black beans (cooked or about 2 cans)
1 cup frozen corn
water, as needed
4 cups cooked brown rice

1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Saute onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add seasonings. Cook for 1 minute more, stirring to keep spices from burning.

2. Add beans and corn. Cover pan and cook until heated through. If there isn’t enough liquid from the beans, add some water to pan, about 1/2 cup at a time.

3. Serve over cooked rice.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 453
Protein: 15.5 g
Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 83 g
Fiber: 12 g
Sodium: 227 mg

Black Beans in a Crockpot (makes about 6 cups of beans)

1 pound dried black beans
2 cups broth
4 cups water
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt

1. Sort beans and remove any debris. Rinse beans.

2. Place all ingredients except salt in crockpot. Cook for about 6-8 hours on low, or until beans are cooked to your preference. When beans are almost cooked, add the salt for 1 more hour of cooking.

Recipe Notes: This recipe is very flexible. You can adjust the amounts of vegetables to your preference. If you wanted it to haver more sauce, you could also add some salsa or tomatoes. I use a chipotle pepper powder which is pretty spicy, so I don’t add much. If you are using canned beans, you will need to add some water for sauce. Using beans in the crockpot, you will have some of the cooking liquid. You can presoak the beans before you cook them in the crockpot, but it doesn’t seem to reduce the cooking time much. I made this on the low iodine diet, so I didn’t add any cheese. I’m sure a little shredded cheese would be yummy, though. The nutritional information was calculated using no-sodium broth, since that is what I was using for the low iodine.

Source: adapted from several recipes online

Low iodine adjustment: Use a chili powder with no added salt. Use a broth with no added salt or made with non-iodized salt. Use non-iodized salt.


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