Lose the soy, but keep the teriyaki

I have been avoiding gluten for a month. My body has been offering positive feedback in the form of significantly reduced mental fog and a more normal level of energy. Initially my digestive issues improved but I remained moderately uncomfortable. Referring once again to the trifecta of common food intolerances (gluten, dairy, and soy) I have made a second sweeping change in my diet. Soy is off the menu.

I won’t say it was easy to cut gluten. My first choice would be to maintain a straight forward approach to eating – any food may be enjoyed mindfully and moderately. However, in my mind, identifying foods with and without gluten feels fairly straight forward. In my previous post I mentioned having a kitchen already full of basic ingredients rather than prepared foods. So far a few simple adjustments have enabled me to revamp our home cooked favorites. This has not been the case with soy.

Foods that I previously considered ingredients have become complex chemical concoctions and I have stomped in hungry frustration more than once these last few weeks. A quick lunch of tuna salad had to be revamped when I read the label and learned that inexpensive canned tuna contains vegetable broth made with soy. Discovering only one gluten containing item in my chocolate stash was a relief. Two weeks later I found soy lecithin in every single one.

In the grand scheme of things tuna fish and chocolate bars play an insignificant role in my day to day life. I can also seek out soy free options to keep on hand. Truthfully, the food that really tripped me up may sound just as innocuous as these examples. Teriyaki chicken. For better or worse we have fallen into a routine of grabbing dinner from a local teriyaki restaurant at least once a week. It is our go-to inexpensive meal for the nights I would like a break from cooking. It is also a quintessentially Seattle fast food staple. In 2010 The New York Times even published a piece on Seattle’s passionate love of the stuff.

Not long ago I was surprised to learn that the first ingredient in regular old soy sauce is wheat gluten. When I eliminated gluten I crossed our regular teriyaki haunts off the list. Living near Seattle I felt confident that we could find a few places using gluten free Tamari soy sauce. We could keep those establishments in mind for special occasions and ultimately benefit from eating out a little less.

Unfortunately removing soy entirely from my diet was a total game changer. No soy meant no teriyaki – at all. I was not a happy camper.

When it comes to weight loss I have been able to achieve my goals by adopting a flexible approach to eating. Baked not fried? Done. Cut the sugar and reduce the fat? All over it. Spice foods liberally to boost the indulgence factor? Call the East India Company I’m ready to invest! But, label something I enjoy as a never, not ever, treat. FORGET IT! I refuse to accept that I can’t have one of my favorite foods.

So, like a squirrel after a nut I stopped being flexible and dusted off, “find a way or make away.”

Standing defiantly in front of Whole Foods selection of soy sauces my eyes fell upon a bottle labeled Coconut Secret – Coconut Aminos. The ingredient list was short, only coconut and mineral sea salt, most importantly it was free of gluten and soy. I lustily dropped a bottle into my basket. A few days later our family sat down to a meal of barbacued teriyaki chicken that any fast food restaurant would be hard pressed to recreate. The Coconut Aminos were sweet and smooth tasting. Adding fresh ginger and lime to the marinade turned the dish light and almost summery. A couple extra pinches of salt and a hit of hot sauce boosted the tanginess, while char from the grill finished the dish with a flair. Digging in to dinner brought smiles around the table.

Will I miss the connivence of our teriyaki nights, you bet. But when the next craving strikes I’m glad to have a not so secret weapon that beats the fast food version by a mile.

Soy Free Teriyaki

A soy free take on Seattle style teriyaki marinade. Boneless skinless chicken thighs are the standard but this marinade will be a delight with any protein from delicate tofu to thick cuts of sirloin.

Ingredients

• 1/2 cup Coconut Aminos

• 1/2 cup water

• 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce

• 5 1/4 inch slices of ginger root

• juice of 1/2 a lime plus the remaining rind

• 2 pinches of fine grain sea salt

• 3 lbs of raw boneless skinless chicken thighs

Method

1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a large shallow dish or a gallon size zip top bag. Add chicken (or other protein) and cover. If using a zip top bag gently squeeze out any air before sealing. Refrigerate for an hour rearranging meat once or twice to achieve even coverage.

2. Remove from marinade and grill or bake chicken until fully cooked.

To use the marinade as a sauce: Pour remaining marinade into a small sauce pan. Whisk in about 2 teaspoons of cornstarch. Slowly bring marinade to a boil on medium high heat. Hold at a boil for 5 full minutes stirring frequently. Any marinade that has come into contact with raw meat must be boiled for at least 5 minutes to kill any harmful bacteria. Reduce heat to low and let simmer until ready to serve.

Read more from Rose McAvoy at Our Lady of Second Helpings.

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