My brother, Jim, volunteered to cook for my low-iodine diet.
First, let me tell you that Jim does Julie & Julia proud in the “It’s all about butter” department. He lavishes his recipes with butter, sea salt, eggs, cheese, marinades, shrimp, Italian sausage and a lot of other now-forbidden things. He loves bread, sauces of all kinds and salad dressings.
The challenge: prepare his typical gourmet menus without the stuff that makes it gourmet. The first full week of my “diet from hell,” that threw my lifestyle out the window, he turned it into a contest of mixing tasty concoctions out of new and bland “allowed” foods.
Bring on the Fleischmann’s Unsalted, Non-dairy Margarine and non-iodized salt. Forget the bread, eggs, sea salt, dressings, sauces and most of the food I eat and the recipes he uses every day.
His back-deck herb and vegetable garden yielded seasonings that delighted our taste buds; his grill became the center of attention.
Four nights we’ve driven the 30+ miles to his house for dinner. Each time he sent other food and leftovers home with us. Our meals have included ribs, pesto, chicken salad, tacos and chicken kabobs over couscous.
Have I missed the bread, shrimp and other stuff? You bet. Did Jim beat the challenge? Absolutely, he surpassed it, adding in liberal portions of smiles and humor. Instead of drudgery and focusing on the things I couldn’t eat, we laughed and focused on the sumptuous dinners he created with all the things I could.
My challenge with his meals has been to limit myself to the 5 ounces of meat and 4 servings of starches per day. The Thyroid Cancer Survivor’s website (www.thyca.org) offers a low-iodine cookbook and advises people prepare menu items ahead of time and freeze them. Since I don’t cook and we frequently eat out, I didn’t even check it out.
All this talk of food is making me hungry. For lunch today, I think I’ll choose between couscous with chicken and pasta with pesto. Which should it be? We’ll see…
I’ll leave you with this thought. If you’re ever faced with a “special-needs” diet, I wish you a gem like Jim.