This Arugula Lemon Pesto with Beet Chips is grain-free, dairy-free, vegan, and explosively delicious.
I mean, look at those colors. Who says eating for your thyroid health can’t be festive?
I thought it might be nice to share a recipe you could bring to a party this holiday season that will not only impress but also pump up the nutrition at the hors d’oeuvre table. Plus, it’s always nice to know you have something compliant to eat when showing up at a party.
As a full-blown and lifelong Christmas elf, I LOVE the holidays, especially the food. There are few more powerful nostalgia-inducing phenomena than the traditional foods we grew up eating at holiday time. For me it was my great grandmother’s German lebkuchen and springerle cookies, and on Christmas morning, strata made with plenty of white bread, milk, cheese, eggs, mushrooms and ham. So many of us have those beloved items which make the holidays feel so joyful and complete.
But then, somewhere along the way we were diagnosed with hypothyroidism and probably Hashimoto’s. Maybe you started to research the tie between diet and autoimmune conditions, and cut out gluten, maybe dairy, maybe grains, sugar, and alcohol. Hopefully, you started to feel better, and become more and more committed to eating in a way that kept you (and your thyroid) vibrant and healthy. Maybe you even subscribed to my blog (**hint*hint**). You were cruising along, regaining your health and your life. And then BAM! Christmas! Or Hanukkah! Or whatever holiday you celebrate this time o’ year!
What about the cookies? What about the casseroles? What about the savory pastries and spiced cakes? What about the noodle kugel and rugelach? What about the tamales? What about the Buche de Noel or Aunt Edna’s egg nog? It’s like an obstacle course we are doomed to fail.
I am doing my best to re-define my holiday m.o. these days, and make it more Hashimoto’s-friendly, but I am also forgiving myself in advance. There WILL be indulgences. Sometimes I will choose those treats mindfully. Other times, not so much. I say forgive, and move on. Keep doing your best, even if some days your best includes gingerbread cookies and ham and cheese strata. The nice thing about holiday time is that a new year is always just around the bend.
I’ve learned some ways to recover faster post-indulgence from my fellow autoimmune warrior, Valeri Trombley. She’s been so helpful on this journey. I love her blog post on how to cheat AND recover. It’s appropriately titled, “Nobody’s Perfect.” : )
Another amendment I’m trying to make is adding in new holiday treats, like this one. Though I’d happily eat this snack any day of the year, the colors scream Christmas. Even Santa was spying my bowl. That guy sees everything! He sees you when you’re sleeping, and he knows when you’re making Arugula Lemon Pesto with Beet Chips.
Arugula, beets, fresh garlic and lemon zest, toasted pine nuts and olive oil. These flavors are a winning combination. I encourage you to take liberties with your format here. I love the sweet, earthy, crunch of homemade beet chips, but this pesto would be just as happy atop a plate of spiralized beet …boodles? Or zucchini zoodles for that matter. Or drizzled over simple roasted beets. OR! Go deconstructionist and morph the ingredients into a beet and arugula salad.
3 Ways to Beet Chips
- I tried a couple of methods for making beet chips at home. These oven-baked ones from A Spicy Perspective were a good option if you want to avoid frying, but holy sheet pans batman. Even a half-batch filled five sheet pans and yielded just a few cups of chips. Good thing my new oven is a convection one, so I could bake 3 sheets at a time. My 5-year-old son loved these. I waited until he ate a whole bunch of them and then asked if he knew what they were (tee hee). Of course, when I told him they were beets he said, “Eeeeeewwww!” The little stinker. But it was a good opportunity to point out how much he actually liked them!
- The second, admittedly less-healthy but faster and easier version of beet chips from Giada de Laurentis required that I dig my deep fryer out from the dungeon I hide it in. However, the results were undeniably super-yum. They kept very well, and just two large beets yielded the batch of chips you see in these photos. I didn’t use her recommended seasonings, but just sprinkled lightly with salt. They were sweeter, tastier, and more beautiful than any beet chip I’ve ever pulled out of a bag, and stayed crisp in an airtight container for two days (after which they were all gone). I know the fryer isn’t exactly a healthy choice, but if noshing on these helps keep your hand out of the Christmas cookies…that’s something, right?
- Finally, the quickest, easiest, and perhaps most cost-effective option is to buy a bag of beet chips. I got a kick out of the ones I found at PCC last time I was in Seattle:
Terra also makes a “Sweets & Beets” combo bag that is widely available and would do in a pinch.
- Garlic— especially raw garlic– has many powerful healing properties and can aid or alleviate some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism such as inflammation, cardiovascular issues, decreased immunity, and increased infection. It can also support the liver in its detoxification efforts.
- Extra virgin olive oil boasts a myriad of health benefits including heart and skin health, diabetes and cancer prevention, as well as hormonal balance. It may also relieve inflammation, brain fog, depression, and weight-gain associated with hypothyroidism.
- Arugula or Rocket is a green in the Cruciferae family and is therefore goitrogenic, meaning it may inhibit the absorption of iodine, which fuels the thyroid. Most current recommendations for hypothyroid patients are to consume goitrogenic foods in moderation. Arugula is also a highly-nutritious, low-calorie, high-fiber food which contains key thyroid supporting nutrients like Zinc and vitamin A.
- Beets are a good source of dietary fiber which can help relieve constipation associated with hypothyroidism.
And without further adieu:
Wishing you a healthful holiday season and a happy new year!