Missing chimichangas but not the gluten or dairy that can contribute to thyroid-damaging inflammation? This Chimichanga Stew is a nourishing and easy way to enjoy a Mexican classic, sans the ingredients that can cause an inflammatory response in the body for some people.
This recipe has both nightshade-free and Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) options to make it even more food-intolerance friendly!
Why consider omitting nightshades from your diet (even if only temporarily) if you have Hashimoto's thyroiditis or hypothyroidism? Some preliminary research suggests that varying lectins, saponins, and capsaicin present in nightshade produce can increase intestinal permeability (hello, leaky gut!), triggering an immune response in the body and irritating the GI tract.
Leaky gut may be a precursor to autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto's and a factor leading to widespread inflammation that can affect the thyroid gland.
It may be a good idea for you to go nightshade-free—even for just a little while—if you already know you are sensitive or to take your inflammation down a few notches to troubleshoot lingering thyroid symptoms.
Common nightshades you may find at your local grocery store are white potatoes (NOT sweet potatoes or yams), cayenne or chili powders, tomatoes and tomatillos, bell peppers, eggplant, and goji berries. Nightshades are also in many adaptogenic herbal supplements in the form of ashwagandha. So, be aware of what is also in your holistic remedy cabinet if you are looking to take on the nightshade-free challenge!
Nightshade-free adaptations to Chimichanga Stew
Substitute the tomato paste for tamarind paste and pumpkin puree
Though tomato paste is one of the better-tolerated forms of tomatoes in those that are nightshade sensitive, go ahead and give tamarind and pumpkin a try. You'll be pleasantly surprised that the texture and flavors are quite similar to tomato paste! Tamarind paste is a sticky sweet-tart delight that you only need small amounts to pack a flavor punch. At the same time, pumpkin puree has a velvety texture that you'll also find easy to use as a tomato substitute for sauces and in blue ribbon-winning chilis!
TIP: Look for pumpkin in BPA-free containers to avoid thyroid hormone-disrupting chemicals, and look for tamarind paste that is free of added sugar and preservatives.
Substitute the red bell pepper for carrot
While red bell peppers are not as easy to copycat in flavor as tomatoes, you can still mimic their sweetness and even texture slightly by using carrots instead! Carrots have a delicious, naturally sweet flavor that can play excellent pretend peppers. Carrots often need a longer cooking time than bell peppers, so try slicing them more thinly not to adjust the cooking time.
If you also want to duplicate the gorgeous color of sweet peppers, you can choose red, orange, or yellow carrots. Go ahead, have fun with your creative palette in the kitchen!
Carrots are rich in nutrients like potassium, vitamin K1, and beta-carotene and boast antioxidant properties that support your thyroid.
TIP: If you have a hard time letting go of bell pepper, consider purchasing pre-roasted red bell peppers jarred in water.
These pre-roasted, jarred bell peppers break down in the cooking process, and you can use them instead of fresh bell peppers. Red is the ripest version of all of the bell pepper colors—both factors that make this version more easily digestible.
You can even pressure-cook bell peppers, de-seed them, and puree in the blender for an easily-digestible red pepper coulis! Store it preserved with a splash of raw apple cider vinegar in the fridge for up to two weeks, or freeze in an ice cube tray wrapped in BPA-free wrap for more extended storage.
Substitutions for a nightshade-free or AIP-complaint spice cabinet
The spice rack is where many people can feel the most overwhelmed when making anti-inflammatory swaps in the kitchen. Where does the flavor come from when you cannot have nightshades like chili powder, cayenne pepper, or chili flakes? Or for further AIP elimination, fruit-based spices like black pepper, nutmeg, and allspice; and seed-based spices like cumin, coriander, and fennel seed?
The great news is that you can still add a massive flavor punch to your meals even when your options seem limited!
Hot chilis on the "no" list? You can kick up the heat factor by using black pepper or hot ground mustard seed for a nightshade-free version. Or for AIP, ground fresh or ground ginger and horseradish pack a heat-packed zing!
What if you're foregoing seed spices but still want that Southwestern flavor? Whip up a homemade "taco" blend of 3 tablespoons ground turmeric, three tablespoons ground ginger, one tablespoon ground horseradish, one tablespoon dried oregano, one tablespoon dried cilantro, and ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional). Add everything to a repurposed spice jar and shake it up!
TIP: Add about one tablespoon of the blend per four cups of other ingredients in your favorite recipes.
You can add some salt to your homemade nightshade-free and seed-free "taco" spice blend, or leave it out so that way you can add salt as needed when making other recipes.
This recipe is a spin on tortilla soup, with a little more flare. It is absolutely delicious topped with guacamole or chunks of avocado. Pile on the cilantro and onions, too! Makes four servings.
See NF for nightshade-free substitutions.
See AIP for Paleo Autoimmune Protocol Substitutions.
- 1 & 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 medium summer squash, cubed
- 2 & 1/2 cups bone broth, chicken
- 2 Tb tomato paste (NF/AIP: sub 2 tsp tamarind paste & 2 Tb pumpkin puree)
- 1 bunch green onion, thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced (NF/AIP: sub 1 large carrot, diced)
- 8 oz baby portabella mushrooms, roughly diced
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed
- 2 tsp ground cumin (AIP: omit)
- 1 tsp ground coriander (AIP: omit)
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper (NF: substitute 1/4 tsp ground black pepper; AIP: omit)
- 1 tsp ground paprika (NF: substitute ground achiote, AIP: omit)
- 1 tsp chili powder (NF/AIP: substitute 2 tsp ground ginger)
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 & 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- Salsa/pico de gallo (NF/AIP: omit)
- Chopped cilantro
- Lime juice
- Diced onions
- Add chicken, squash, and bone broth to a large pot over medium-high heat.
- Bring to a low boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove chicken pieces and add to a medium mixing bowl, keeping the other ingredients on low heat.
- Shred the chicken, then set aside. (You can use hand beaters or a twisting motion with a meat chopper for quick shredding.)
- Add tomato paste to the pot. Use an immersion blender directly in the pot to puree until smooth. (Or cool for 30 minutes, then transfer to a high-speed blender in batches, and return puree to the pot.)
- Return chicken to the pot, then add all remaining ingredients except nutritional yeast. Stir well, then increase heat to medium, and bring to a simmer.
- Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
- Add nutritional yeast, and stir well to dissolve. Ladle into bowls served with your favorite toppings.