Your Thyroid and Your Immune System: {plus, FIVE tricks to get you through cold and flu season}

This time of year is a challenging on the thyroid. Oh, yes it is.

Nothing like flip-flopping temperatures to put a big, strain on your thyroid and put a damper on your immune system.

sniffle free
sniffle free

Tidbits About Your Thyroid [that you might not know]

Your thyroid is that sweet, butterfly shaped gland just below your Adam’s apple.

It’s got four lobes that mirror each other and it’s extremely sensitive to internal and external stressors.

To keep it simple, you can think of your thyroid as a control tower of sorts,

constantly adjusting and reacting to different input.

Internally, your thyroid is sensitive to stress that comes from within us.

It reacts to things like amount of sleep, thought patterns, nutritional status, and infections.

Externally, your thyroid will be affected by factors outside of us.

Environmental toxins, relationship stress, even parental stress can be a contributing factor.

Fall’s fluctuating temps challenge your thyroid and can be a just one more reason why up-and-down weather brings on nasty bugs.

Your Thyroid and Your Immune System

There’s a lot of talk about your thyroid being important for immunity, but do you know why?

1. It’s all about calcium.

Now I’m guessing that this might be a new consideration for a lot of folks.

When there’s talk about boosting the immune system, most people give a big shout out to remedies like Echinacea or zinc. And while there’s nothing wrong with those immune builders, they’re not the “King Pin.”

Calcium (and how it’s transported in the body) is the real deal.

Calcium- the most abundant mineral in your bod- tags germs so that your immune system knows what to attack.

In fact, tissue calcium saturation is the sole determining factor whether an acutely ill person will get better. Poor calcium levels equals poor prognosis. Here’s the study so you can take a look.

Your thyroid and parathyroid are big players in calcium metabolism and regulation. If they’re not functioning up to par, then you’ll have a harder time metabolizing calcium, and your immune system will have a harder time tagging germs.

Improve your calcium metabolism, and you’ll ace cold and flu season.

2. Your blood circulates through your thyroid every 7 minutes.

In Folk Medicine, DC. Jarvis writes about the connection between your thyroid, iodine and immunity.

He notes that all the blood in your body circulates through your thyroid every 7 minutes.

Your thyroid is soaking up iodine so that it can make hormones, and it also uses iodine as a handy antiseptic “wash”.

The iodine in your thyroid literally sterilizes your blood.

Boost your iodine status and you’ll be more likely to fend off any old bug.

What Can You Do About It?

Taking a little bit of time and effort during the fall to support your thyroid is so worth it.

I like to say, “less sneezing is more pleasing.” Here’s what YOU can do:

1. Get more rest: Nothing helps your thyroid more than rest.

I wrote about the thyroid-adrenal connection in my most popular post yet.

Click here and check out the ONE habit can help your hormones for good (and put it into action).

2. Eat your sea veggies: Iodine is 100% essential for your thyroid to be able to make

hormones (T3, T4, and calcitonin). Boost your “antiseptic” status by loading up on sea veggies.

Sprinkle a “sea veggie shake” like gomasio over eggs, soup or salad. Or, go for the gusto with this simple seaweed salad.

3. Dress for the season {not for the weather}: It can be tricky dressing for fall.

Mornings are chilly, afternoons are hot and all too often you can get caught in a brief sprinkle of rain.

Layer up and make sure that you’re dressing for the season and not for the weather. A light scarf around

your neck will help take a chill off your thyroid and keep your body temps more stable.

4. Consider taking calcium. It’s not called the “King Pin” for nothing, and not all forms of calcium are made the same.

Bottom line: Calcium lactate (made from beets) takes only 1 biochemical step to be usable for your body.

~ Kristin

Carbonates take a dozen steps. Ditch the carbonate, reach for calcium lactate, and you’ll be good to go.

5. Drink garlic tea: When worse comes to worse and you feel like you’re coming

down with something, garlic tea is your go-to remedy. It works like a charm- Every. Single. Time.

Just add a couple of cloves of chopped garlic to your favorite tea and sip on it throughout the day.

Sharing is Caring

Let’s face it, no one likes being sick. So, make sure to take a second and click on the social share buttons to the bottom left.

Your support is so important to me and I bet your friends will thank you for helping them go bug-free this season.

Aaand...I'd love to hear some of your favorite cold and flu remedies in the comments section. What do you go tucked up your sleeve?

Now, let’s get out there and be in the magic of this season (without all the sniffles and sneezes).

Wishing you a Kleenex-free Fall~


Too Busy for Breakfast? [my latest hormone balancing quick start: Gluten Free Quiche Muffins]

So long late summer nights and lazy mornings, it’s B2S (or “Back to School”) in our house.

My very veggie quiche muffins just waiting to be gobbled up!
My very veggie quiche muffins just waiting to be gobbled up!

The good: my house is cleaner than it’s been in a loooong time.

The bad: my house is quieter than it’s been in a long time.

The upside: with both of my kiddos in school, I now have a lot more time to create new recipes

and dream up even more ways to help you get ahead in your hormonal health.

They say, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

I was definitely in need.

(Picture waking up the kiddos and rolling them into the car by 7:45am- not always a pretty site.)

In case you’re new to my little corner of the internet- I’m a big believer that you can improve your hormones

and get ahead in your health with one magical ingredient: food.

Now, we’ve all been told to eat our fruits and veggies,

but the magic doesn’t always happen there. No way.

To really get ahead in your hormonal health, you have got to balance

your blood sugar from the get go (aka breakfast).

Here’s how it works:

Every time blood sugar levels spike, your pancreas swings into gear.

It produces a hormone called insulin to get the sugar out of the blood and

into the cells where it can do some work.

Eat too much sugar and your pancreas will make too much insulin.

Too much insulin in the blood will lower your blood sugar….fast.

Suddenly, that manic sugar-high feeling turns into a big. ‘ol. CRASH.

Once you crash, your adrenals have to get in the game and produce cortisol to get your blood sugar levels up again.

Do this day in and day out, and you are beating up your pancreas and killing your adrenals.

Keep in mind that once your adrenals are toast, your entire endocrine system starts to go downhill.

Over time, whipped adrenals drag down the pituitary gland and make their mark on thyroid function.

One of the first steps in taking care of your thyroid is learning how to regulate your blood sugar levels

(by cutting out sugar, my friends, ‘cause that’s where it all starts.)

That’s why I had to share my latest Gluten Free Veggie Quiche Muffin cause-I’m- running-out-the-door b’fast.

I needed a quick start to my day that would curb the sugar and up the protein all while wiping the sleepers out of my eyes.

I can’t wait to give you the recipe, but before I do, I’ve got a quickie homework assignment just for you.

Step 1. Scroll to the end of the recipe and hit the social share button of your choice.

Spread the love with your friends on facebook, pinterest, or google-plus. I really, really, really appreciate it.

It gets the word out and you might help a friends’ morning go a little smoother.

Step 2. Leave a note in the comments section and let me know what you think about this very-veggie-quiche-muffin-on-the-go.

Are you going to make ‘em? Who are you going to have them with? Sounds a silly, but this is the stuff I love to know.

With every little tweak that we make, we’re one step closer to better health. Gotta love it!'s your recipe!

~ Kristin

How to Turn Wild Cherries into a Hormonal Win{recipe: Special, Cherry Oatcake}

Down the street is our neighborhood’s giving tree.

Cherry oatcake is a hormonal win any day.
Cherry oatcake is a hormonal win any day.

In the fall, her leaves turn golden. In the winter,

she’s our gathering place. By spring, she smells of flowers.

And every single summer, she bears loads of sweet and tart cherries.

This year was no exception. We lucked out with a “bumper crop”.

Her branches were literally loaded with beautiful, red cherries.

If you’ve been a fan of my work, then you know that maintaining even blood sugar levels

throughout the day is vital to hormonal freedom. Often I encourage clients to cut down

on sweets and even limit their fruits to one piece a day.

Yes, we’ve been told to “eat your fruits and vegetables”, but I’d like to switch that moniker on it’s heels. I think it should read a bit more like this:

“Eat your veggies and savor your fruits.”

Fruits do contain vitamins, minerals and fiber that slow the absorption of sugar,

but in the end, fructose is fructose. Too much fructose in any one setting can throw

your pancreas into a tailspin and kick your adrenals into overdrive.

High levels of cortisol caused by stress (from blood sugar swings or life circumstances)

decreases thyroid function and TSH production.

So, what’s a mom to do when her kids are whooping and hollering

about cherries in the heat of the summer sun?

I say, “Pick’ em and have yourself some fun.”

I made this Special Cherry Oatcake a hormonal winner by switching things up

with these four steps to minimize a blood sugar conundrum.

1. Soak grains in yogurt.

Soaking grains helps to breakdown any anti-nutrients and hard-to-digest parts of the grain. 

Soaking may seem time consuming at first glance, but it’s really more about thinking ahead.

And soaking  grains has another hormonal benefit. Often, low thyroid equals poor digestion.

When grains are easier to digest, there’s a lot less drag on your thyroid.

2. 50-50 steel cut oats and rolled oats.

Steel cut oats are less processed than rolled oats, and both are less processed than quick oats.

With more of it’s natural juju intact, steel cut oats won’t sway blood sugar like the others.

You can up your hormonal mastery here and play with the percentage of steel cut vs. rolled oats in this recipe.

I ended up going 50/50 but I bet 75/25 (favoring steel cut oats) would work well too.

3. It’s got protein.

4 eggs and ½ cup of nuts are added to up the protein and slow down the glycemic response

of the fruit and the tiny bit of honey.

Balanced hormones start with balanced blood sugar levels. It’s not that we can’t enjoy sweetness in our life,

but those sweet flavors are best when tempered with proper ratios of fat and protein.

4. It's made in a pan.

Maybe the best part of this special Cherry Oatcake is that it’s made in a pan.

If you’re in a hormonal slump, then you know that you don’t have a whole lot of energy

to waste nor time to spare. There’s nothing like having something on hand that you can serve to

your kids or enjoy for yourself that hits the spot without throwing you into a blood sugar tizzy.

So without further adieu, here she is, my special Cherry Oatcake recipe.

Check it out and tell me what you think of my sweet-and-sour snack in the comment section.

As always, I love hearing from you.

~ Kristin

Why your thyroid wants you to eat more seaweed [and a salad recipe you'll love]

Arame Seaweed Salad: loaded with iodine and a great lunch addition
Arame Seaweed Salad: loaded with iodine and a great lunch addition

If you knew that there was a food that was loaded with valuable nutrition 

for your thyroid, would you run out and grab some?

Sea vegetables (with exotic names like kombu, nori, and arame)

are a hot ticket to hormonal success.

Ounce for ounce, seaweeds are chock full of nutrition, including calcium, iron and B-vitamins that can help rev up metabolism. But the best part about seaweed is that they’re mineral dense, with 10 to 20 times the minerals of land plants.

Although they may not sound as warm and fuzzy as vitamins, minerals perform critical functions, acting as spark plugs for your body.

In fact, all nutrients—vitamins, proteins, enzymes, amino acids, carbs, fats—need minerals to help them do their jobs inside the body.

Minerals are necessary to build healthy bones, produce hormones, and transfer nutrients across cell membranes. Enzymes just won’t work without the presence of key minerals.

Minerals are not something that your body can make, so you have to get them in your food grown in proper soils. Essentially, minerals come from the earth.

Healthy soil is about 45% mineral rich.

Unfortunately, our modern farming practices have taken a toll. Based on a study done in 1992, U.S. soils contain 86% less minerals than they did 100 years ago.

Even if you’re eating a well balanced diet, your body could probably use a mineral boost.

Seaweeds are the answer. They’re loaded with iodine (aka, the thyroid mineral), calcium, magnesium and iron.

In Chinese Medicine and other natural healing modalities, there’s a very cool theory called the Doctrine of Signatures, which states that an herb or a plant serves the body in much the same way that the plant acts in its natural environment.

Here’s what I mean: Seaweeds are transformers. They are the magical plants of the ocean.

In Healing with Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford writes, “wherever seaweeds grow, they do not simply absorb and concentrate toxins. Rather they detoxify and transform a certain amount of toxic metals, converting them to harmless salts, which the body excretes through the intestines.”

This is exactly what seaweeds do in our bodies.

Seaweed consumption is known to soften hardened areas and masses (think fibroids, nodules or cystic tissues), and detoxify the body. Most likely due to their high mineral content, eating seaweed tends to get things moving in your body and kick biochemical reactions into gear.

Your thyroid needs iodine to be able to make thyroid hormone. So if your hair is getting a little thin, or you’d like to slim down just a bit, it’s a great idea to add foods like my favorite Arame Seaweed Salad (recipe below).

Arame has a subtle, semi-sweet flavor and firm texture. Most people find it to be quite tasty and easy to work with. This salad is a snap to make and it gets even better the next day. If you’re not a fan of the seaweed flavor, you can always tone it down a bit by serving it over a light bed of greens, such as Romaine leaves.

Now, I love hearing from you, seaweed fan or not. Tell me in the comments below, do you mix sea veggies into your cooking? If so, what’s your favorite veggie of the sea and how do you prefer to prepare it? And, if you haven’t dipped into seaweeds yet, what sort of recipe would you like to try?

~ Kristin

Thai Curry Lentils

Two unexpected events happened for me this week.

First, my husband graced me with a “spa” weekend.

Now I said, “unexpected”. So no, I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t book a two-hour massage or get a facial, but I did get loads of downtime. He happily whisked the kids away and I found myself home- alone, for hours!

Second, because of unexpected event #1, I had the chance to dream up my family’s latest favorite lentil recipe.

A few weeks ago we had an amazing dinner over at a friend’s house. She happens to be Thai, so my kiddos had the chance to try the “real” thing. Guess what? They loved it.

So, I got to thinking. I could take these same flavors and use it on some of our old favorites and see what happens.

This past weekend was my chance. I had all the ingredients on hand and no one was calling for momma. I’m calling this fun little dish a winner since my little girl went for thirds and her younger brother finished two whole bowls.

We served our Thai Curried Lentils over a bowl full of garlic greens, but I bet it would be delicious over sweet potato dimes or even a steamy bowl of rice. The only trick in making this dish absolutely perfect, is to think ahead and soak the lentils. No need to soak overnight, even 6 hours for lentils is just right.

~ Kristin

Banana Cream Pie with Chocolate Ganache

If you’re ever a little bored during the winter, you must stop by our house. We churn out the celebrations like nobody’s business. In February we celebrates the kids’ birthdays and our anniversary. And in March, we round out the celebrations with Jim’s and my birthdays.

It’s a lot of candles and all things “sweet”. And of course, I’ve mastered just about every alternative dessert from “chocolate” dipped strawberries to vanilla cupcakes.. When Jim requested a banana cream pie to celebrate his big day, I nearly croaked.

I’ve never made a banana cream pie (nor even tried one) in my life!

I searched all my favorite sites [Against All Grains and The Nourished Kitchen], and I finally landed on Elena’s Pantry. Elena is kind of like a gluten-free Martha Stewart. She’s got easy, go-to recipes that are fun to switch around. My only advice when working with her recipes is to halve the sugar and replace grapeseed oil with melted butter. All in all, she’s got my vote and I usually use her formulas as a base.

~ Kristin

Can it really be this easy?

I totally get it. You’re tired and busy and there’s oh-so-much-to-do. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and it’s even easier to drop some of our self-care tricks when life is full swing.

It’s been a really busy time for me and my sweet family. We had a little girl turn into a big girl of 8 and our “dude” is now sporting 4 years. There was Valentine’s in the middle there, and of course we’ve had a few winter sniffles and tired days on our side too. Life gets busy. It’s real and it happens. But it doesn’t have to get in our way, does it?

I’m all for cooking up a storm. I kind of like it. But I’m also a major fan of having just a few “go-to’” meals that are super easy to whip out for when the going get’s tough.

When my life gets all crazy, I lean on my sidekick in the kitchen, my crockpot. I admit I own three of these gems in different sizes. One for grains (when I eat ’em), one for soups (when I make ‘em), and one for just about everything.

The last one is my red one and she is my favorite. She’s a pretty simple gal. She’s got a high, low, and warm switch that’s all. She’s nothing fancy, but she’s a good size, and she cooks a killer chicken.

Seriously, it’s a no fail dinner every single time. My kids love it, my husband begs for more, can it really be this easy? Yes!


Here’s how the recipe goes. You’ll need 4 ingredients total; one whole chicken, salt and pepper, and poultry seasoning (or your favorite blend). Yep, that’s it. It’s almost embarrassing to admit how easy this can be.

Next, I rinse off the chicken and place the backbone down inside the crock. Then, I rub the seasonings on. And last, I turn my red girl on high. And I let her do her thing for 6-8 hours. No micromanaging, no fussing, I just let her cook away on the counter. I turn her off when I see the meat pulling away from the bone just a bit, and that’s just about it. Easy right?

Now how do I make this a meal? If I’m in a serious time crunch, I serve my roast chicken with a side salad. If I happened to look ahead just a little bit, I’ll throw a few potatoes in the oven and serve them baked with butter. Super simple, super easy, and seriously yummy.

Want to up it one more notch? After dinner, I’ll strip all the chicken from the bones. Fill my crock back up with water and turn her on high again. Sometimes I add onions and carrots and celery- and sometimes I don’t have the time. I’ll have her cook again, while I’m sleeping and in the morning I’ll wake up to a crock full of chicken stock that I can use in soups or add to greens. All I have to do is strain and store. Seriously, that’s easy!

Now it's your turn. I want to know, what's your favorite crockpot recipe? Leave a comment and tell me how you manage feeding your family well with all the hustle and bustle of life.

~ Kristin

What's for dinner?

I am downright giddy.

Remember my friend, Chef Annie Volk? She’s back and she’s ready to celebrate with me. I told her that I’m pretty darn psyched about all that's percolating in my practice and I asked her to come up with a special recipe. Something that will nourish your soul and make your toes tingle even though the holidays are “over”.

It happens doesn’t it? We put so much energy into the holidays being perfect and then, the ball sort-of drops when it’s all over. So this little number is a bit of inspiration and fresh air for you, your family and your friends. It's a simple recipe to anchor your meal. It's got a little bit of sweet and a lot of savory (...just how I like it).

In the comment section, let's tell Annie what you're really hungry for. Are you craving a special dessert or do you need a simple fish recipe? She's right here to help, just let her know what you need.


Now, Here's Chef Annie:

This is a fun recipe. The flavor combination of celery, onions, sage, thyme and sweet cranberries kind of remind me of traditional thanksgiving stuffing. I often make this recipe in my holiday cooking classes for those of us who don't/can't/won't eat bread.

I like to pair this dish (like most of my meals) with a lemon, salt and oil massaged kale salad or with a citrus mashed sweet potato.

~ Kristin

Salmon and Spinach Goat Cheese Omelet

Every now and then I get a morning when I can take my time and linger over breakfast. It doesn’t happen a lot in our busy household of four, but when it does I make sure that I make a good one.

I’m a big believer of high quality breakfasts. I see this all the time in my private practice. Often, someone will come in to my office with hormones that are out of whack. They’re energy is dragging, they’re feeling a little lack luster and usually they want to lose a few pounds. As I dig, often the story reveals that they’re barely eating breakfast. Maybe they’re eating a little toast with fruit, or a bit of oatmeal. But rarely are they eating anything of much substance early in the morning.

Once we do the big switcheroo and get them eating more in the morning, the changes start happening. The weight starts to come off, their energy improves, and very often we find that they’re moods get a little lift. It sometimes seems like such a little change couldn’t make such a big difference, but it does. And very often the change happens quickly.

This is my all-time favorite breakfasts. I usually make this when I have a little extra time in the morning. This recipe is for one serving, but sometimes I make a really big one with 6 eggs and we split it four ways. I usually have a few roasted potatoes left-over in the fridge that I like to heat up for the side.

All of this, plus a hot cup of my favorite tea (I’m really digging Tulsi Tea’s lemon ginger) and I am ready to take on the day. Go ahead and share this one with a friend. We all need a little inspiration on the food front from time to time, and maybe this little omelet right here might make someone's day.

~ Kristin

Parsnips and Carrots and Kale (yum, yum)

Fall is one of my favorite times of year.

OK. I’ll fess up. I’m pretty into all the seasons except I don’t like being too cold. Winter gets a little long for me, but fall could go on forever and I would be quite happy.

I love the crisp air, the smells and all the colors. With the historic flooding that happened in Boulder this year, fall has snuck up on me.  We went for a family hike this past Sunday and I couldn’t believe the trees. Have you seen them? They’re all different hues of yellow, gold and crimson red.

Fall also tends to kick off a bit of a cooking frenzy in my house. I start to pull out my crockpots and I get more and more inspired to cook up a storm. This week, I’ve been pulling out some of family’s favorite recipes and I’ve been starting to experiment with a few new ones.

My kids were so excited when this one hit the table. And it didn’t last long. Nora took one look at the parsnips and started gobbling them up. Henry was right behind giggling some kind of parsnip-ity song.

I think in honor of the change of seasons, we’re going to have to hit another pumpkin patch this next weekend. Yes, we’ve already visited one, but I just don’t want fall to end.

~ Kristin

What's the weather got to do with it?

Ever wonder why you catch a cold when the weather starts to turn? Believe it or not, your thyroid can be a big factor.

Your thyroid is known to be one of the glands involved in regulating body temperature. It’s one of the reasons why low body temperature is often correlated to a lower functioning thyroid gland.

When the external temperature goes up and down- one day hot and one day cold- it puts a great deal of extra stress on your thyroid gland. Think about it for a minute. Your thyroid has to work harder in these conditions to keep your body temperature at its ideal set point. It's kinda like “stop and go traffic” for your thyroid.

D.C. Jarvis writes in Folk Medicine- that all the blood in the human body circulates through the thyroid gland every 7 minutes. And that it is the iodine that is concentrated within the thyroid tissue that acts as an antiseptic bath for the blood. When your thyroid is stressed due to internal or external factors, this germ cleansing action just doesn’t happen efficiently.

Here are a few of my top tips to help your thyroid when the weather feels a bit chill.

garlic tea
garlic tea

1. Layer up. It’s far better to overdress than underdress. Take a load off your thyroid when the temps go down just by adding some extra layers. You’ll be able to better regulate your body temperature and that will help take a load off your thyroid. Wearing a light scarf can really be helpful for a struggling thyroid.

2. Drink garlic tea. This is my all-time favorite cold buster. Just add a couple of cloves of chopped garlic to your tea. I usually make my tea in a quart jar so that I have plenty to sip on all day.

3. Rest. It may not be easy to get every night of the week, but rest really is your best medicine. Your body is designed to rebuild and repair with each and every hour of sleep that you get. The hours before midnight tend to be bonus hours. If you’re feeling a little scratchy throat, then throw out your “to-do” list and hit the hay. You’ll be so glad that you did.

Now it's your turn. I wonder, how do you keep your thyroid toasty when the chill comes on? Let me know in the comment section.

~ Kristin