On the paleo-vegan continuum, I’ve always aired closer to the side of broccoli than beef jerky.
For one thing, I’m an admitted carboholic. Even when I gave up gluten 6 years ago, I never had the guts to try going completely grain-free. That is, until this year.
The great elimination diet experiment of 2017 yielded some interesting findings, some of which are still being uncovered as I continue to add foods back to my life. First, I can survive without carbs. I may even feel better without them. But I still don’t love subsisting on so much meat.
There were a few surprise ingredients that contributed to my “gassy antelope” status more than others. Nightshades are a tough category of veg for many autoimmune peeps. But I assumed the eggplant balloon animals being tied in my stomach were just a consequence of, well, eating eggplant. Only, it wasn’t just the eggplant. It was also tomatoes.
Considering my most popular recipe on this site is essentially a nightshade casserole, I’m feeling a little depressed about this new revelation. Not to mention the idea of no longer being able to eat chili, tikka masala, or Bolognese sauce. But it’s a good awareness to have, even if I choose to ignore it from time to time in favor of an entire tray of this.
Perhaps the biggest impact of the experiment was that it made me a lot more creative in the kitchen. I’ve gotten a little lazy over the years leaning on the crutch of the 5 billion new gluten-free products that have come to market. I rocked my spiralizer a lot this month, and got fully on the cauli train. It also inspired me to make good on integrating more thyroid super foods into my meals.
These gluten-free coconut shrimp were a very happy discovery. Not only are they grain-free and paleo, but they sub the usual almond meal for ground Brazil nuts.
If you’re a member of the Hashi Posse, eating three raw Brazil nuts a day is one of the best dietary supplements you can take.
Why are these nuts so good for your thyroid?
Because of the selenium.
This essential mineral plays a critical role in the conversion of the primary thyroid hormone (T4) to the more bio-available version (T3), and protects against the toxicity of too much iodine in your diet.
If you played a lot of Oregon Trail as a kid, you might remember that iodine was a popular option for treating bear wounds (I always went straight for the amputation). It’s a powerful antimicrobial and also works similarly in your body as a virus and fungus fighter.
There’s some debate, however, about iodine’s role in thyroid health. It’s an undeniably essential ingredient for the production of healthy thyroid hormones. But too much of it can also be toxic.
In our modern world, finding this balance can be tricky. Not only is iodine hidden in not-so natural places (table salt). But so too are chemicals that inhibit iodine’s ability to do its job in your body (chlorine in water, goitrogens in soy).
The best way to ensure that you’re getting the right about of iodine is to eliminate the unnecessary doses by switching your salt shaker to pink or sea salt, buying a water filter for your tap, and then, eating iodine naturally through diet. If you are also noshing on Brazil nuts, the selenium will protect against any iodine overdose, and make sure your thyroid hormones keep chugging along.
So what are the best natural sources of iodine?
Yup – shellfish!
These gluten-free coconut shrimp pack a double whammy of selenium and iodine. But more importantly, they taste delicious. The finely shredded coconut and ground Brazil nuts create a light, fragrant coating that gets crispy and popcorn-like in the oven. They’re perfect as a healthy grain-free appetizer, especially when dipped in homemade sriracha aioli.
But they also make for a great elimination diet-friendly weeknight meal atop cauli mash with pumpkin seed pesto, as pictured here.
Where do you fall on the vegan-paleo continuum? Let me know in the comments!
Gluten-Free Coconut Shrimp with Brazil Nut Crust (Whole30 + Paleo)
- 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
- 1/2 cup Brazil nuts
- 1/2 cup dried finely shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 pound extra-large shrimp (16/20 count, peeled and deveined, tails on)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush it with the coconut oil.
In a small food processor, pulse the Brazil nuts until finely ground. Transfer to a shallow bowl, and whisk in the coconut, garlic powder, and salt.
Beat the eggs in another medium mixing bowl.
Pat the shrimp dry and one at a time, dip them in the egg mixture until fully coated, followed by the coconut mixture, patting them lightly so the crumbs adhere. Place the breaded shrimp on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. For even more color, pop under the broiler for 1 minute.