HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Help! I need recipe ideas that are soy, dairy, salt and meat free.

Last week my friend had a thyroidectomy due to cancer. She is on a restrictive diet and cannot have soy, dairy or salt, she is also vegetarian. I want to bring her and her family a few great meals this week, but I can't seem to get beyond roasted vegetables. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Really? I had a chemical thyroidectomy 30 years ago and had no dietary restrictions. I think your friend needs better nutritional advice than she is getting; these prohibitions haven nothing to do with thyroid function or cancer. Very strange.

    7 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      Yes, she is on a low iodine diet to prepare for radio-iodine therapy. The theory is that if she depletes her body of iodine, when the RI is administered, any remaining thyroid cells will absorb the RI, thus destroying them. This is very common for her particular type of cancer.
      Thanks for your input.

      1. re: Larallt

        so.... salt is not out-- she can have sea salt or kosher salt, or salty condiments that contain same. the only thing she can't have is normal iodized "table salt," correct?

        Edited To Add-- hopefully i don't come off with a "tone" i do not intend ^ ... i don't mean to sound school marm-y or annoying, i am asking this because i'm trying to help! for me at least, being forced to eat unseasoned food while trying to keep my strength up for radiation treatments would negatively affect my morale, to say the least... chowhounds are very generous with recipes, and you would get a heck of a lot more suggestions if basic seasoning were not verboten. also, 1) a great many chowhound-types do not use "iodized table salt" (nasty stuff imo) when cooking from scratch 2) sometimes i think people assume doctors know about food/nutrition, but they kinda... don't-- more often than not, in my experience. perhaps your friend's doctor thinks all salt must have added iodine-- which is a rookie blunder, obviously.

        okay i probably came off *more* school marm-y and *more* annoying in my ETA, but i am hoping you will get some helpful suggestions. erm, welcome to chowhound :)

        1. re: soupkitten

          No, not completely out, however, sea salt is. Apparently anything from the sea has high iodine levels. So, she can have salt with no iodine.

            1. re: gourmanda

              Iodine is present in sea water, and it is present in sea salt. It's concentration in sea salt varies depending on where the sea salt comes from. Because rock salt - the stuff mined to make table salt - has no iodine, iodine is added to it.

              The concentration of iodine in sea salt varies, but it is very low, no matter what sea salt you are talking about. So the final answer is that YES, sea salt contains iodine, but that concentration is very very low, and certainly orders of magnitude lower than table salt. Whether that very very low concentration of iodine is medically relevant when treating thyroid cancer with radio iodine therapy, I don't know. But I would certainly follow the physician's advice.

              1. re: foreverhungry

                I think the safest thing is to use canning or pickling salt. From the Morton Salt website:

                What are the differences between Morton® Iodized Salt and Morton® Canning and Pickling Salt?
                Morton® Canning and Pickling Salt is a pure granulated salt which does not contain potassium iodide, dextrose or an anti-caking agent. In other words, it does not contain any additives. This salt product can be used in cooking, baking, canning, pickling and for the table. Please note that since there is no anti-caking agent added to Morton® Canning and Pickling Salt, it may form lumps in humid weather or if exposed to moisture. This product is available in four-pound boxes and can be found in your local grocery store. Morton® Iodized Salt contains potassium iodide, dextrose to stabilize the iodide and calcium silicate which is an anti-caking agent. This product is fine for baking, cooking and normal table use. However, since the anti-caking agent in this product is not water-soluble, we do not recommend this salt for some canning recipes as the calcium silicate may settle at the bottom of the jar and the water may cloud. This is really not a problem but it could be an aesthetic issue for some users.

      2. re: pikawicca

        I am very surprise by this too. My doctor did not restrict my diet at all except right after my surgery and I just had surgery less than 2 weeks ago.

      3. An empty bowl, perhaps? I agree with pikawicca...they need a second opinion! Good nutrition is very important when your body is struggling. I do understand that it is not your place to advise them, unfortunately...

        forget I said anything.

        1. I did the same thing for a friend. Here's a link to the Thyroid Cancer site which has a whole cookbook. The chocolate-zucchini bread is very good.


          We got non-iodized salt and she found a bakery that made bread using non-iodized salt. She also used coconut milk in her coffee. Corn and black bean soup (beans from dried), tomato sauce from scratch, no-salt peanut butter (you can spoon some out and add your own salt as you need it).

          You have to assume if a label on something says salt that it is IODIZED, so we didn't buy any canned items. And you have to read labels for everything, even pasta, so make sure there's no salt or soy.

          1. You can do variations of this salad...

            Made mine with roasted red peppers, cucumbers, kalamata olives, parsley, olives, & lemon juice. I've also added arugula. Don't know if you have a Trader Joes near you but I love their harvest grains blend.

            Indian food opens up a lot of opportunities...spinach dhal, chickpea curry, etc. served with rice.

            1. There's tons of stuff: what your friend needs to do is to learn about incomplete proteins and adopt a non-soy based vegan diet.

              Bread and peanut butter: complete protein. Rice and pulses: complete protein. Hummus with tahini: complete protein. Quinoa: complete protein. Source out recipes from Indian, Central American, African and Middle-Eastern cuisines. There's tons and tons of recipes out there that'll easily accommodate your friend's new dietary needs: you just need to fund them.

              2 Replies
              1. re: biggreenmatt

                The idea that you need to combine foods to create complete protein has been debunked for many years. It is important to eat a variety, but the body stores amino acids so they can be used at a later date--makes being a vegetarian a lot easier. More info at http://www.savvyvegetarian.com/articl...

                1. re: escondido123

                  You're right- I was skipping a step and going by my personal rule-of-thumb which is to have complimentary incompletes within 24 hours of each other.

              2. When my husband was on an extremely salt-restricted regimen for advanced heart disease about the only foods he found really palatable were things he would not ordinarily have salted anyway. Fresh fruits and fruit salads or fruit in gelatin were his favorites. Fruit sorbets, (plain or in a glass of ginger ale or Sprite), frozen fruit sorbet-type bars, and even popsicles may be welcome---check the label but these are usually sodium-free.

                1. Lentils--in soup, in curry sauce. Beans in anything (black beans and rice, tacos sans cheese, for example). Vegetable stir fry. Kale and potato soup. Smoked paprika or chipotle powder work nicely with legumes and greens. Spaghetti. Does she eat eggs?

                  1. I'd say check out info on raw food. SInce it's typically vegan, but uncooked food, it leaves out all the soy stuff which is usually in vegan recipes. Obviously you can still cook for her, but since you said you wanted to branch out from there I figured this might give you some other ideas to add to what you are already doing.

                    1. The American Cancer Society used to publish a free booklet of food/recipes for people facing chemotherapy or radiation. Give them a call and see if it's still available. Also agree with another poster that any vegan website should have lots of ideas.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: pine time

                        Pine Time: my post above links to an on-line cookbook specifically for patients on this diet. It's a great resource with hundreds of recipes. I hope OP sees it. We found it most helpful when cooking for a friend in the same situation.

                      2. Hi,

                        I have been dealing with Thyroid Cancer for over 15 years, and have had 3 radiation treatments, all three of which required me to be on the no iodine diet. I agree with Nemo in that the THYCA website has a huge selection of recipes to choose from that are perfect for this type of diet. In addition, I found that there are a select group of bakeries that produce salt-free bread for carb cravings without having to make something from scratch. Here's one I like: Alvarado St. Bakery Bread - No Salt - Sprouted Multigrain. You can find it at some health food stores, online, and occasionally at Trader Joe's. A quick no-salt Fluffernutter sandwich with this bread helped make up for the lack of dessert in my life.

                        I think it's a wonderful thing to have supportive friends when you're going through something like this. I know I felt really tired and lethargic, and knowing that you have good people in your corner makes all the difference! Kudos to you!

                        1. I think a gift of homemade bread using pickling salt would be a great gift for your friend. Include some roasted red pepper dip made with almonds, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. You could make wonderful sandwiches with these two things and in combination with your roasted veggies.

                          I also love Thomas Keller's confit byaldi. It's a really beautiful dish and full of flavor. Here's a link to a recipe: http://www.inuyaki.com/archives/101

                          1. what about vegetarian tacos with beans? stir-fry your own fajita veggies with or without beans; serve with avocado and salsa (and maybe some cheese for the family?)

                            veggie pancakes/latkes -- shredded veggies, egg, herbs, a little almond meal

                            stuffed mushrooms -- with nuts, rice, veggies, lentils, etc

                            spinach, mushroom and/or other veggie frittata using eggs and almond milk, garlic etc.

                            for sweets, why not meringues or dacquoise or pavlova or brownies (using soy-free dairy-free chocolate and coconut oil or dairy-free margarine or oil), or cookies with cocoa butter...

                            i could keep going, but don't even know if what i've got here fits the bill...

                            1. Not a main dish, but Food and Wine has a brownie bites recipe that is soy and dairy free, and you could leave out the salt. I've made it for vegan friends and it's very good. I wasn't concerned about the gluten so I just used regular flour and left out the xanthan gum.