20 Minute Meal Strippy Steak

 

rsz_1strippy_steak_plated

Cooking everything from scratch can be quite time consuming. If you plan ahead its much more manageable. But what if your plan falls through and you need something quick?  Well this is one option I’ve found that takes only 20-25 minutes from freezer to plate.  Cube steak and round steak usually need to be slow cooked or they get tough.  We’re going to slice them into ribbons so they can be fried really quickly to get around that.  Another staple in my freezer is pre-chopped onions, they come in handy to add flavor to almost any dish. If you haven’t done that ahead of time add it to step one.

2 lbs frozen cubed steak, or round steak could probably work too
2 lbs spinach, or other greens
1/2-1 cup frozen chopped onion or 3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed
5 tbs coconut oil, split into 2 and 3
salt and pepper or your favorite steak seasoning

Step 1: Take the steak out of the freezer and put it in warm water for ten minutes. While its thawing wash, and prep your greens. If you don’t have pre-chopped onion on hand, prep it or the garlic now too.

strippy steak raw

Step 2: Put 3 tbs of oil in a large skillet on high heat. Start slicing your meat into ribbons about 1/3 inch wide. Its ok if its still a little frozen in the middle, its easier to slice that way.  Halfway through this your pan will be hot. Turn it down to medium high and toss in your onion or garlic. Finish cutting the steak and season it to taste.

strippy steak cooking

Step 3: Add your steak to the hot pan, watch out for spitting oil. Turn the heat up just a touch because the cold meat will cool down the pan and you want this to cook FAST.  Flip/stir frequently. Add the remaining 2 tbs of oil to another pan on medium high heat. As soon as it’s warm toss in your spinach and reduce heat to medium to get it wilted down. Stir this frequently as well. As soon as your steak is no longer pink turn off the heat.

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Step 4: Your greens should be done after about 5 minutes of cooking time. Put some greens on a plate and top them with some steak strips. This makes about 4 adult portions. Enjoy your quick and easy dinner.

 

3 Major Problems With Thyroid Testing

problems thyroid testing

Its estimated that a total of 20 million Americans have a thyroid disorder, but 60% of those people are not diagnosed.

Every cell in the human body needs thyroid hormone to function properly. It effects every system of the body and helps control metabolism.  Proper testing is sorely needed.

Unfortunately there are three major problems with modern testing conventions. The normal ranges are inaccurate, testing is incomplete, and antibody tests are rarely administered.

Normal TSH Range

TSH is an abbreviation for thyroid stimulating hormone. It is released by the pituitary gland in response to the levels of thyroid hormones in the body. Increased TSH tells the thyroid gland to increase hormone production.

Most TSH ranges are way too broad. The original range was made in 1973 by testing a group of 200 people and making a bell curve. Those in the tall portion of the bell curve are considered “normal”. The problem is in this group of people they did not exclude those diagnosed hypothyroid or those who may have it and be undiagnosed. This makes the resulting range inaccurate.

The range they came up with was around 0.5-5.0 mU/L (milliunits per liter). In 2002 the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists updated it to 0.3-3.0 mU/L. Some places have adopted the new standard, but others have not. Different places use different ranges causing much confusion.

Some studies found a range of 0.5-2.5 was normal in healthy adults.  The TSH normal range needs to reflect the true normal and needs to be standardized.

 

 

Incomplete Hormone Testing

If you walk in to your doctor’s office and ask them to test your thyroid, they will most likely just test your TSH. TSH goes up in response to low thyroid hormone levels to tell your gland to make more thyroid. So high levels means that your thyroid is low.  This does make sense, however that is only part of what is going on.

The thyroid gland makes a hormone called T4. This is the inactive form of the thyroid hormone. The liver then converts T4 to T3 which can be used in the cells. If you have trouble with the conversion you could be hypothyroid with high normal TSH levels. In these cases you have enough thyroid, but your body can’t use it.

Another level of complexity is total versus free T3 tests. Total T3 is exactly what it sounds like, the total amount of thyroid hormones in the body. In order to be transported through the body it has to be attached to a carrier protein. Free T3 is the amount not attached to one of these proteins. The hormone then has to separate from the protein to cross the cell membrane and be used.

Think of the carrier protein as a car. You get in your car and drive to work. You need to get out of your car to walk through the door. You can’t fit your car through the door. If the hormone fails to separate it can’t go to work. Normal total T3 levels but low Free T3 causes hypothyroidism because the hormone is not available inside the cell.

In order to get the big picture all of the above tests need to be done. TSH is only one component of a very complex system.

 

Antibody Testing

Two thyroid diseases are caused by autoimmune disease. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is hypothyroidism caused by the immune system attacking the thyroid gland. It is the most prevalent cause of hypothyroidism in the industrialized countries. Similarly Graves disease is the leading cause of hyperthyroidism. It causes an antibody to be made that mimics TSH.

Hashimoto’s is diagnosed by testing for thyroid peroxidase (TPO) and antithyroglobulin antibodies (TG).  Testing for Graves disease checks for thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI).

Unfortunately, despite their prevalence, the tests for these diseases are rarely done.

 

Many people are going to their doctor complaining of thyroid disease symptoms and being told they are fine. I was one of them, until I was finally diagnosed with Hashimoto’s myself. If you suspect your thyroid may be the root of your problems, talk to your doctor about these tests. If they don’t listen, find someone who will.

I am not a medical professional and cannot give medical advice. Find a naturopath or holistic doctor who will help you look at your big picture.

 

Further reading

http://press.endocrine.org/doi/abs/10.1210/jc.2005-0455

http://thyroid.about.com/cs/testsforthyroid/a/newrange.htm

http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/tsh-why-its-useless/

http://www.thyroid.org/media-main/about-hypothyroidism/ 

Dairy Free Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup

My mother’s birthday was coming up and she had recently started a mostly gluten and dairy free diet.  Because I had experience cooking for this lifestyle I was in charge of the menu for her surprise party. She was craving a dish we used to make by slowly cooking a cheaper cut of steak in cream of mushroom soup. Obviously Campbell’s version was no longer an option, so I decided to try to replicate it myself.  After looking at a variety of recipes online I came up with a plan.  I used mimicreme, a nut based cream substitute, and potato starch as my thickener. And what do you know, it worked first try!

Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup

8 tbs coconut oil or ghee
8 tbs potato starch
1 tbs salt
1 tsp pepper
4 cups mimicreme
4 cups finely chopped mushrooms (I used a combo of baby bella and button)

1. Melt coconut oil/ghee in large skillet on medium high heat.  Saute mushrooms until they darken and shrink a bit.

2. Turn heat down to medium-low.  Add starch gradually, stirring until fully mixed with coconut oil/ghee.

3. Add mimicreme gradually, stirring constantly until smoothly combined with starch mixture.

One can of condensed cream of mushroom soup is about 1 1/4 cups. I got about 5 cups worth from this recipe. It froze well for future use.

Chocolate Coconut Oil Bombs

As a breastfeeding mother who has always been a light weight I need to make sure I’m taking in enough to maintain. I decided to turn to coconut oil to help me out a bit. The internet is full of article after article of the benefits of eating coconut oil (fighting dementia, balancing blood sugar, satiating the appetite, etc).  You can also find long lists of its many uses.  These are great, but another great thing about it is its taste! I found out about coconut oil fat bombs, and tried a couple recipes that were close to what I wanted. After a couple of batches I got it taste how I wanted it to.  This of course, is the joy of cooking. A little tweak here or there can make things perfect for our individual tastes, and I love playing with tweaks. So, without further ado, here is my Chocolate coconut oil bomb.

1 cup coconut oil
4 tbs cocoa powder (dairy free)
1 tbs honey
1/8 tsp stevia powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smoothly combined. Line a pan with parchment paper. Drop spoonfuls of the coconut oil mixture on to the parchment paper. Balance the pan as un-precariously as possible in the fridge for half an hour or until the coconut oil sets. Mine was perched on a container of chilling bone broth and a bowl of marinated zucchini salad while trying to  not let any of its weight crush my farm fresh greens. At this point you can take out the pan, peel the chocolates off the parchment paper and place them in a more space efficient container.  Tell your husband you have a stool sample in the fridge so he doesn’t steal them. (Just kidding, but they do look like little poos) I grab for one of these if I just need a quick little boost between meals, or if I feel the need to indulge in their silky chocolateness. Enjoy

P.S. Maybe I shouldn’t write posts late at night when little man decides trying to learn to crawl is more important than sleep.

coconut oil bombs Update: If the oily feel throws you off a bit (it doesn’t bother me but it might some folk) just add 1/2 cup shredded coconut to change up the texture. Thanks Barb for this idea!

Garlic Herb Roast Chicken

roast chicken

We buy a lot of whole chickens. I can get a lot of servings out of it. For the first 2 servings we have roast chicken with a vegetable side and salad. Then I shred the rest of the meat and make other recipes out of it, getting an average of 6 more servings. (Italian Chicken Quinoa is an example) The bones I use to make broth. Roasting a chicken is pretty easy and doesn’t take a lot of hands-on time. Just season your bird, put it in a pan, and put it in the oven for a while. One of our favorite ways to season our chicken is using garlic and dried herbs. Here’s our recipe.

Garlic Herb Paste

3 tbs ghee, coconut oil, or butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp each dried parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
3-4 cloves garlic
2 tbs olive oil

Add all ingredients to food processor. Pulse until combined.

Pre-heat your oven to 375. Rub the paste under the skin of the chicken. Just rubbing it on top doesn’t get the flavor into the meat as well, but you’d still get a flavorful skin that way if you are in a rush. Roast your bird 20 minutes per pound plus 15 minutes.  Check its temperature by inserting a meat thermometer into the thigh. It should be 175-180 degrees Fahrenheit. Enjoy your beautiful bird!

 

 

Gluten Free Dairy Free Pancakes

pancakesPancakes are a traditional food for Fat Tuesday. People used up the eggs, flour, and sugars that they wouldn’t be eating during the Lenten Season. I love pancakes for any meal. They can be so versatile. I’ve used leftover pancakes to make sandwiches for lunch, or you could do breakfast for dinner.  This gluten free dairy free pancake recipe is pretty basic, but below the recipe I’ll have some suggested additions you could use to fancy them up a bit.

This recipe is actually my husband’s but he said I could post it. He can follow a recipe with the best of them, but this is the first he’s adapted himself. It was fun watching him learn by trial and error on it.  He will occasionally spoil me and make me breakfast, as he is a morning person and I am not.  I love those mornings!  He likes a classic pancake with some real maple syrup. Here’s his recipe.

1 1/3 cups all purpose gluten free flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup of dairy free milk (we use coconut)
2 tbs coconut oil, melted, plus more to grease the pan
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Combine the dry ingredients in medium mixing bowl.  Whisk together the wet ingredients in separate bowl, until fully combined and some air incorporated (this will make the pancakes fluffier). Stir the wet ingredients into the dry. After this is when you would gently stir in any additions from below. Grease a large pan, on medium heat.  When the pan is hot use about ⅓ cup of batter per pancake.  Flip when dry around the edges and bubbles are throughout the edges, about 5-7 minutes. Cook another 4-5 minutes on second side. Serve with real maple syrup.

Variations:

Blueberry: 1 cup of blueberries, fresh or frozen
Apple Cinnamon: 1 cup diced apple and 1 1/2 Tbs of cinnamon
Cherry Pie: 1 cup cherries and 1 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
chocolate chip: 1 cup of dairy free chocolate chips
Orange Cranberry: 2 Tbs orange zest, 1 cup of dried cranberries that have been soaked in water for 15 minutes

The possibilities are endless!

Lemon Garlic Salmon Cakes

A while back I tried Kelly Bejelly’s  salmon cake recipe and really enjoyed it.   It has become one of our staples.  I’ve tried playing with it and have come up with my own version using a favorite flavor combination.  Lemon and garlic are like peanut butter and jelly in my book, they were made for each other.  Since my family follows the Catholic tradition of no meat except fish on Fridays, this is going to come in handy a lot. Using my handy Kitchen Aide stand mixer makes this quick to whip up, but you could easily do it by hand as well.

salmon-cakes

2 cans of Salmon
3 cloves of garlic
2 ribs of celery, finely diced
1 Tbs dried parsley
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp dried lemon granules
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 Tbs coconut flour
3 Tbs lemon juice
4 eggs
3-4 tbs coconut oil for frying

In a large bowl combine salmon, celery, garlic, and spices.

Add in the coconut flour and mix until fully incorporated.

Stir in the eggs and lemon juice.

At this point your mixture should be about the moisture level of ground beef. If it’s too wet add some coconut flour, if too dry add a little water. Be careful because it doesn’t take much.

Melt your coconut oil on medium high heat in a large frying pan.

Form your salmon mixture into patties about 2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick.

Fry until browned, about 3 minutes a side.

Makes about 16 small patties, which is approximately 4 servings. We enjoy this with lacto-fermented pickles and a large salad.

Sweet And Spicy Pumpkin Soup

sns soup

 It has been bitter cold this winter and I wanted a creamy soup. This recipe contains spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves that make you feel warm and comfy, as well as cayenne and ginger which are said to help with circulation. Put those spices in a rich, soothing base of sweet pumpkin and savory broth and you have the perfect winter soup. I’ve also made it using butternut squash. You can use it as a main course served with crackers for a lighter meal, or as a side dish. It would go great with a roasted chicken.

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Soup

3 cups broth
4 cups pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 Tbs ghee
1 1/2 Tbs cinnamon
1/8 to 1/2 tsp cayenne, to taste
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp  ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice

Blend all ingredients in a blender, food processor, or using a immersion blender until smooth. Heat on medium in large pot until simmering, stirring occasionally.

Inflammation Causes And Solutions

inflammation causes and solutions

For what inflammation is and its effects on the body, see this previous post.

Causes

Inflammation can be caused by many things, luckily most of them are within our control. It’s important to be aware of the many causes in order to avoid them and the diseases they would trigger.

Dietary sources of inflammation are everywhere in our society. Sugar, processed foods, trans-fats, alcohol, genetically modified foods, refined grains, and MSG are all causes. An intolerance to certain foods will also cause inflammation.

Poor sleep habits lead to inflammation.  Not getting enough shut-eye, or having poor quality sleep can be triggers. Those who get less than 6 hours a night were found to have elevated markers for inflammation.

Damage to the intestines caused by poor diet, food allergies, or antibiotics allows partially digested particles of food into the blood stream.  The immune system attacks these particles because they are not where they belong.  This is often referred to as “leaky gut” and causes inflammation as well as other problems.

Chronic bacterial, viral or yeast infections, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, stress, hormonal imbalances,  environmental toxins, allergens, and some medications are other causes.

Solutions

Avoiding the foods that cause inflammation and adding anti-inflammatory food to our diet can be a big boost to our health. Ginger, turmeric, green tea, tart cherries, omega-3 from nuts and fish, fiber and vitamin E in dark leafy greens, beets, garlic, onions, and some all fight inflammation.

Using probiotics either in supplements or fermented foods can help heal damage to the intestines, blocking a cause of inflammation.  Bone broths can also help with this.

Lifestyle changes such as adding regular exercise, getting plenty of sleep, and making time to de-stress are important in fighting inflammation. Adding a vitamin D supplement has also been shown to help.

Inflammation is a big factor in how we feel. By avoiding triggers and using some of the simple solutions in this article you can take charge of your health.

Sources

Grzanka, Alicja, Edyta Machura, Mazur Bogdan, Maciej Misiilek, Jerzy Jochem, Jacek Kasperski, and Alicja Kasperska-Zajac. “Relationship between vitamin D status and the inflammatory state in patients with chronic spontaneous urticaria.” 112.2 (2014): n. page. Web. 7 Feb. 2014. <http://www.journal-inflammation.com/content/11/1/2>.

 Marquis, David. “How Inflammation Affects Every Aspect of Your Health.” Mercola. N.p., 07 Mar 2013. Web. 12 Feb 2014. <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/07/inflammation-triggers-disease-symptoms.asp&xgt;>.

 Hyman, Mark. “Is Your Body Burning Up With Hidden Inflammation?.” Huffington Post. Huffington Post, 27 Aug 2009. Web. 12 Feb 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/is-your-body-burning-up-w_b_269717.html>.

Mitchell, Traci D. “9 Foods That Cause Inflammation.” Get Fit Chicago. N.p., 09 Sep 2013. Web. 20 Feb 2014. <http://www.chicagonow.com/get-fit-chicago/2013/09/9-foods-that-cause-inflammation/>

 Klein, Sarah. “Inflammatory Foods: 9 Of The Worst Picks For Inflammation.” Huffington Post. N.p., 21 Mar 2013. Web. 20 Feb 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/21/inflammatory-foods-worst-inflammation_n_2838643.html>.

 Macmillan, Amanda. “14 Foods That Fight Inflammation.”Health . N.p.. Web. 20 Feb 2014. <http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20705881,00.html>.

Paddock, Catherine. “Poor Sleep Tied To Inflammation, A Risk Factor For Heart Disease, Stroke.” Medical News Today. 10 Feb 2014.

Nordqvist, Christian. “What Is Inflammation? What Causes Inflammation?.” Medical News Today. N.p., 12 Dec 2012. Web. 7 Feb 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248423.php>.

Inflammation What it is And What it Does to You

inflammation

Inflammation is a response of the immune and cardiovascular system to some form of trauma.  The trauma could be physical, such as stubbing your toe, or chemical, such as an allergen. Inflammation is actually an important part of the healing process, but it becomes a problem when the body’s response is inappropriate in strength, length of time, or location.

Chronic Inflammation is inflammation that has gone on for months or years.  It leads to tissue damage and eventually necrosis, or tissue death. This often happens without  the person having any clue that inflammation is to blame.

There is a simple blood test that can reveal your levels of inflammation. The C-reactive protein test measures the level of the protein that rises as inflammation occurs.  Addressing this problem could be a lifesaver. In a study of elderly patients who were otherwise healthy, those with high levels of the C-reactive protein were 260 times more likely to die within 4 years. People rarely think to have this test until they are rather ill and damage has already been done.

Many diseases have inflammation as a root cause, and almost all modern diseases can count it as a factor. Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, atherosclerosis, migraines, gum diseases, thyroid problems, dementia, depression, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, the list goes on and on. Even autism and obesity have been linked to inflammation.

What often happens is that people end up on multiple medications (often with nasty side effects).  The underlying cause of inflammation is rarely addressed, but their symptoms are put under some semblance of control. Despite the person feeling normal, the damage to their body rages on.

Up Next: Inflammation: Causes and Solutions.

Sources:

Nordqvist, Christian. “What Is Inflammation? What Causes Inflammation?.” Medical News Tosay. N.p., 12 Dec 2012. Web. 7 Feb 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248423.php>.

Marquis, David. “How Inflammation Affects Every Aspect of Your Health.” Mercola. N.p., 07 Mar 2013. Web. 12 Feb 2014. <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/07/inflammation-triggers-disease-symptoms.asp&xgt;>.

Hyman, Mark. “Is Your Body Burning Up With Hidden Inflammation?.” Huffington Post. Huffington Post, 27 Aug 2009. Web. 12 Feb 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/is-your-body-burning-up-w_b_269717.html>.

“Doctor speaks on health effects of chronic inflammation.”News Medical. N.p., 17 Feb 2011. Web. 12 Feb 2014. <http://www.news-medical.net/news/20110217/Doctor-speaks-on-health-effects-of-chronic-inflammation.asp&xgt;>.