Thursday, October 4, 2012

Low-iodine Eating: Day 1 (Adjusting Your Cooking)

This is the second in a 21-day series showing how I kept a low-iodine diet in preparation for radioactive iodine treatment.

The Menu


  • Coffee, black, no sugar
  • Apple Brown Betty (see recipe)
  • Morning meds: 2000 units Vit D, Arimidex (aromatase inhibitor), Cytomel (thyroid hormone replacement)
  • Water


  • Chicken and Mixed Greens Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing (see recipe)
  • Cranberry-lime seltzer
  • Kiwi
  • Noon meds: 500 mg calcium supplement

Snack (2:00)

  • Unsalted pecan halves (from the baking section, not the snack section) and dried cranberries
  • Herb tea
  • Small apple
  • Afternoon meds: Cytomel


  • Pan-fried tilapia (breaded in cornmeal, no egg)
  • White rice 
  • Lima beans
  • Water, coffee 
Note: Fish and shellfish are my favorite protein sources, so "no seafood" was sad for me. Fortunately, freshwater fish does not have the iodine content of seafood, so I ate my tilapia with gusto.

 Snack (evening)

  • Apple

The Recipes

Apple Brown Betty

(Adapted from Food & Wine Annual Cookbook, 2012)

Apple Betty you CAN eat on the left... pecan pie you CAN'T eat on the right!


Note: Items marked (*) are changes to accommodate a low-iodine diet. See notes at end of recipe for explanation.

  • 1 1/2 c quick oats* 
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • Pinch of non-iodized salt*
  • 4 lbs apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (I had Gala, Empire, Cortland and McIntosh)
  • 1/2 c apple cider
  • Juice from one lemon (about 2 T)
  • 2 T orange juice (mine had calcium added)
  • 3 T vegetable oil*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9" x 13" baking pan with cooking spray. Spread 1/3 of the oats over the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/2 of the apple slices over the oats.

In a small bowl, combine sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, lemon zest and salt. Spread 1/2 of the sugar mixture over the apples in the pan.

In another bowl, combine cider with lemon and orange juices; drizzle over the apples. Add another layer of oats, the remaining apple slices, and the remaining sugar mixture. Cover all with remaining oats. Drizzle oil over all.

Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hr. Cover with foil the last 15 min to prevent the top from getting too browned. Let cool for 30 min.


The oats: The original recipe called for homemade bread crumbs that you make from bread slices. If you make your own bread, you could still use bread crumbs - the recipe calls for 6 slices of bread, toasted at 350 degrees, then processed to crumbs in the food processor.

The salt: You are not on a low-salt diet, but a low-iodine diet. I put away my iodized salt carton, and replaced it with a non-iodized salt carton. Salt as you usually would. With processed foods, unfortunately, you can have no confidence that the salt was non-iodized, so if there's salt on the label, don't eat it.

The oil: The original recipe called for 3 T of butter, shaved over the top of the whole dish. Iodine from the cow's diet accumulates and concentrates in milk, naturally, so any dairy product contains lots of iodine. I didn't miss it in this recipe.

I made this recipe previous to my special diet, as originally written, and the oats adds a cakier, more breakfast-y texture to the dish -- not as pie-like, but I liked it for breakfast or dessert.

Chicken and Mixed Greens Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette Dressing

(Adapted from the Low-Iodine Cookbook, ThyCA -- click for a free, downloadable .pdf version)

The Salad:
  • 1 1/2 c sliced strawberries (set aside enough to make 1/8 c., mashed)
  • 4 c mixed greens
  • 1/4 c chopped pecans
  • 1 boneless chicken breast, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces

The Dressing:
  • 1/8 c mashed strawberries 
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 T sugar
  • Non-iodized salt & pepper to taste

Mash enough berries to measure 1/8 cup. Reserve remaining berries. Whisk together oil, vinegar and sugar to blend. Stir in mashed berries. Season with salt and pepper. (Note: I put everything in a jar with a lid, and shook it to mix). Use as dressing for the remaining salad ingredients.

Either plate individually and pour sauce on top or mix it all in a bowl and serve. Salad dressing does not keep well. Must be used right away. (Note: This is delicious. I normally don't like sweet dressings, but this is fabulous. Adding the chicken made it a satisfying meal. I think you could add grape halves, as well.)

About the Meds

I added the meds to the meal menus, because of a mistake I made (actually, two mistakes).

Mistake Number 1: There is a reason you take the second Cytomel at 2:00. It's because if you take it later, you will be up all night. Trust me. I wondered why I didn't sleep past midnight for three days -- I was forgetting to take the Cytomel until dinner (2:00 is not a normal pill-taking time for me).

Mistake Number 2: I didn't realize (didn't remember, wasn't told, not sure...) that you should not take the calcium supplement within four hours of taking the cytomel. I'm not sure why. I'm wondering if this is why I was so tired at the end of the day, when I was taking the cytomel and the calcium together at breakfast.

Arimidex has nothing to do with the low-iodine diet or thyroid, except that the breast cancer and thyroid cancer (for me) are related issues. You'll need to make your own meds list. Incidentally, I cut back on other vitamins and supplements, so I don't confuse myself further. Plus multi-vitamins often contain iodide as a nutrient.

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