Everyone has to eat, and in my way of thinking, it might as well taste good. I spend a fair bit of time looking for good recipes. But for whatever reason, I'm never quite satisfied with how things turn out. So, I take a recipe that looks interesting, and I tweak it. Add a dash of this or a pinch of that. Make it just right. Or maybe I just root around in the cupboard and throw something together. I cook by sight, smell, taste, and intuition. When I cook, I rarely write things down. This is only a problem if I get asked to share a recipe. It's hard to replicate someone else's dish when they tell you to "add some garlic powder and some onion powder." I mean really, what does that mean?!?!
I've been asked by friends and family numerous times to share my recipes. I never thought there was anything special about my cooking. I was just making food for my family. My dear friends Sara and Erin have repeatedly suggested that I start a blog to share my recipes and such. I haven't done it yet, mostly because I didn't really think I had anything important to say. Well, I realized yesterday that I do have things to say, and they might be important to some people.
So, I am starting a blog (gulp). I've never been a writer, but the words seem to be coming easier now. Perhaps because I have gained some confidence over the past year. Perhaps because putting thoughts down in writing is therapeutic. I don't know for sure.
We all cook, don't we? Maybe nothing gourmet, maybe just simple food. Maybe impressive 8 course meals. Maybe chicken nuggets and mac & cheese. Maybe you find a happy medium. I have to take it a step further. I have a chronic illness. I have had hypothyroidism for 5 years.
What's the big deal? Lots and lots of people have chronic illnesses. While that is true, I have come to understand that each persons struggle is real, and it is a big deal. It's a big deal to them, and to their family and loved ones. It affects nearly every aspect of an ill persons life, every day. And while another persons struggle may very well be more difficult than mine, that does not, and should not diminish my own. It is valid and it is real. Just because I am not alone, does not mean I am not struggling.
With all that being said, I do believe that there are things that I can do in my every day life to make myself feel better. Food is fuel. Food can also be either medicine or poison. That is where cooking can become tricky. What foods will nourish my body, what foods will have a detrimental effect? Some times it is trial and error. For me, gluten is enemy #1. Next on the list is refined sugars. After that, pretty much all processed foods.
This can make cooking delicious food a challenge. However, it also makes cooking an adventure! I have come across so many new and interesting ways of doing things that I never would have discovered had I not omitted certain things from my diet for health reasons.
This leads me to the first recipe I would like to share with you. Coconut balsamic salad dressing. It is scrumptious. I have not yet come across a person who doesn't like it. You can put it on anything. Seriously.
This dressing is an example of something I would never have tried if not for my health problems. First and foremost because I had to learn to like salad. Second because I was a ranch dressing junkie. There are a lot of ingredients in a bottle of ranch dressing that I can't pronounce let alone identify. Probably not too good for your body.
So what lead me to create this concoction? Well, lets start with the coconut oil. Organic, cold pressed coconut oil is sooooooo good for you! I am betting that I am not the first person you have heard that from. The health benefits are innumerable. I started trying to incorporate more into my diet because of my thyroid. I started with the simplest swaps, using it in place of butter. That was easy, but I felt that I could do more with it. It dawned on me one day that I could use it in place of olive oil in a salad dressing. I fell in love when I combined it with a pear balsamic vinegar. My fate was sealed. I put coconut oil in almost all of my salad dressings now. Because coconut oil is solid at room temperature, it lends a thickness to dressings with out having to add thickeners or other junk. It also means that you may have to warm it up a bit to make it a "pour-able" consistency. I don't find that to be to big of an inconvenience. I also find that coconut oil gives the dressing a very smooth and subtle flavor and texture.
The second ingredient that makes this dressing special is the pear balsamic vinegar. There is a little olive oil and vinegar shop not too far from where I live. They have some amazing products. They have a whole wall filled with barrels of oil and vinegar of different flavors! It is a little piece of heaven. These are specialty products, and therefore, a tad pricey. Luckily my husband knows my fondness of these wonderful products and for Christmas he gave me a great big bottle of pear balsamic vinegar. Initially I looked and it and wondered what I would do with it. I mean, pear vinegar? But, oh, was I mistaken. It is ah-mazing! The pear flavor can be a bit in your face, so in this recipe it is used in conjunction with a plain balsamic vinegar. Vinegar of any kind is a great way to add lots of flavor without adding any additional fats or carbs. I use vinegar all the time!
The third star is honey. Before I started becoming health conscious, if I wanted sweet I added sugar. Makes sense right? Then I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Initially that didn't make too much of a difference to me. Then I learned that if you have hypothyroidism, you are likely to be pre-diabetic. Meaning that you should definitely moderate your carbohydrate intake unless you want to become a full-blown diabetic. And so I discovered stevia. This was a godsend for me. I could sweeten things with out adding extra carbs. So that became my new go-to sweetener. But lately I have been trying to make food that is not only tasty but also nourishing. To my knowledge stevia has no super food qualities. That is where honey comes in. Honey has so many beneficial properties, (again, I'm sure this is not the first time you are hearing this). Be aware that to gain the most health benefits you want to choose raw because heating honey destroys the beneficial enzymes that it contains.
All the other ingredients are things that I am betting you have in your cupboards right now. Mix it up, and dress any salad with it. Grab some greens, add some meat, maybe some cheese, tomatoes, peppers, nuts, anything that sounds good. Go ahead, try it! I bet you will enjoy it! Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading a little bit about me and my journey. I will be sharing more recipes, thoughts about health and hypothyroidism. I hope you will come back again soon!
|All mixed up and ready to use!|
|The pear balsamic vinegar used in this recipe. |
If you can't find this or something similar,
just use your favorite balsamic vinegar.
Coconut Balsamic Dressing
EAT & ENJOY!