Category Archives: cooking

Colleen’s Fleet Street Spinach Pie

pie

So, my friend Joanna who is in my writer’s group had a wonderful little party last night. The New York Philharmonic performed Sweeney Todd and she was the assistant producer. PBS filmed the production and it was broadcast on Friday night. Joannaaaaaaaaaa had a private screening for all her friends where she served “meat” pies and held a pie making contest.

I made spinach pie. I had never done that before. I was not really sure how to make a spinach pie. I had a three goals in mind when I started. One, I wanted a vegetable and spinach is my favorite. I was a little afraid that with meat pies and fruit pies, I would not have anything that was very bariatric friendly. Two, being bariatric friendly, I didn’t want to eat too much crust. And three, I wanted to win.

So, I perused a few spinach pie recipes and then just winged it. It was absolutely delicious. Even people who claim not to like spinach liked it. And I won!

I won a little plastic 1st place medal, a decanter of whiskey which I cannot drink, and the best part of all! I won a one month light membership to Canvas, which is an alternative co-work space for artistic types who do not have an office.

I was so thrilled because I really only expected to win the bragging rights for making the best pie, which really would have been enough for me. (Don’t tell Joanna, though!)

People have been asking me for the recipe. While I’m a good cook, I’m really bad at putting together recipes. I’m the worst kind of cook. I don’t measure and I just mix everything together until it “looks right”. So, here is the recipe for my award-winning Fleet Street Spinach Pie! Good luck!

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A Few Of My Favorite Things

I am a huge vegetable fan. Two of my favorites are kale and spinach. I have a great kale and spinach recipe that I want to share since today is Wednesday, and therefore food day

Now I’m horrible at measuring things. I’m one of those awful cooks who just throws things together until they “look right”. It’s hard for me to write down a recipe accurately. This is not one of those recipes that require precision, thankfully.

I hope you enjoy it!

Spinach & Kale

1 bag raw spinach

1 bag raw kale

1/2 red bell pepper

2 cloves garlic

sesame oil

wok

red pepper flakes

parmesan cheese

salt & pepper

Wash and dry spinach and kale. Cut red bell pepper into strips. Heat wok with sesame oil. Saute garlic, kale, spinach, and bell pepper together until soft. Add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes. You can add a splash of soy sauce at this point too. Serve with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

It’s simple and fast. I often eat it with a little bit of grilled chicken.

Sorry if this post seems rushed today. I have friends visiting DC and I have been dragging them all over the city. Or they have been dragging me. Anyway, for today, we are going to the top of the Washington Monument and hitting a couple of museums. Since I do the museum circuit regularly with my brother, I know just where take the kids. My friend’s little girl is very interested in seeing Dorothy’s ruby-red slippers and Kermit the Frog. She seemed somewhat wary of the bug suggestion, but the thought of seeing the Hope Diamond was exciting.

I’ll post an update on Thursday.

Talking About Food – Liquid Pizza (Writing 101 Day One Challenge)

Today is my first food post for my June blogging challenge. Not too many people understand meal planning and restrictions for bariatric patients. Today I am going to share a recipe for one of my favorite, albeit, stranger meals. I also want to talk about some of my dietary restrictions and why I chose to create this strange little meal.

For a long time after the surgery, I could not have bread at all. I do sometimes have a little, but I keep it very restricted. Bread swells in the stomach and can stretch the pouch. Also, it fills you up with starchy empty calories. My surgeon and nutritionist want me to focus on nutrient rich foods. Starchy foods, such as bread, are not nutrient rich.

One of my favorite foods is pizza. I have not been able to eat pizza since about 2002 because I developed very serious food allergies. I was very allergic to tomatoes and milk products. The combination of tomatoes and cheese sent me to the emergency room with a swollen face on more than one occasion. It seemed the wiser choice to give up pizza entirely.

After the surgery and some weight loss, my allergies abated. I decided to slowly reintroduce foods I had been allergic to. I had great success with that. My allergies did not bother me at all. I decided it was time to try pizza again. The problem was, I could not have any bread.

In the diet plan my surgeon gave me, I was allowed to have a few tablespoons of marinara sauce as a source of vegetables, especially during the pureed food phase of the diet.

During the first few months after the surgery, I decided to try to add cheese for protein, put it in a small dish and pop the whole thing into the microwave for 30 seconds. Tada- liquid pizza was invented.

Now I have taken this idea to a whole new level. I put shredded cheese into a dish and pour marinara sauce over the top. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top and put in toaster oven for 20 minutes.

The dish I use is 4 inches in circumference and 1 inch deep. This holds about 1/2 cup shredded cheese 1/2 cup marinara sauce. I usually cannot finish the meal. Here is a picture:

pizza

The dish looks much bigger than it actually is. I put it on a small plate because it is so hot when it comes out of the toaster oven.

I have varied this recipe quite a bit as well. I’ve added ground turkey, vegetables, pepperoni, chopped up turkey burger, whatever I happen to have on hand.

I do sometimes have pizza now. Thin crust, always. I usually take a couple of small bites to get the full-on pizza experience. Then I just peel off the cheese and other ingredients and eat that. Mostly though, when I want pizza, I forgo the bread and just make myself a small dish of the liquid pizza. I couple that with some vegetables or a piece of fruit. Here is the full recipe.

COLLEEN’S LIQUID PIZZA (This has been added to Skinny Girl Recipes tab)

1/2 cup shredded cheese – any kind will do although Trader Joe’s Quattro Formaggio is one of my faves (100 calories per 1/4 cup)

1/2 cup marinara sauce – I use Trader Joe’s organic marinara sauce (50 calories per 1/2 cup)

1/2 teaspoon of parmesan cheese (5 calories)

Calories per meal: 255

Combine all ingredients in a small dish, bake in toaster oven for 20 minutes. Use egg turner to remove from toaster oven and place dish on small plate. Enjoy with a small piece of fruit or a vegetable.

Alternately, you can microwave this. I am trying to get away from microwaving. I have become somewhat of a purist when it comes to my food. I’m buying more organic, shopping at farmer’s markets, and buying grass-fed meat free of antibiotics and steroids when I can. But that’s just me. You don’t have to be as neurotic as I am about food.

Enjoy!

(Disclaimer: While marinara sauce is an acceptable vegetable, I do not subscribe to the notion of pizza as a vegetable. Pizza is pizza which is a meal, and not always a very healthy option, particularly when a loaf of bread is consumed in the process.)

Changing of the Seasons

I love autumn!  I cannot wait until the leaves change and fall to the ground, and the air turns chilly.  There’s nothing better than walking down the street or through the park, colorful leaves on the trees, dry leaves crunching underfoot, cool air, scarves, hats, boots, warm jackets, steaming cups of coffee with friends.  Love, love, love, love, love fall. Cannot get here soon enough for me.

One thing I’ve always loved about the fall is the food that comes with it.  Apples, pumpkins, squash, root vegetables, all those hearty stick-to-the ribs foods that help keep you warm on cool autumn days.

I know fall has not truly even started yet, but the food is everywhere already.  Pumpkin bread, pumpkin coffee, apple pastries drizzled with caramel sauce, etc. are all over the place just taunting me.

I love going to coffee shops.  I don’t even have to get coffee.  Tea, water, popcorn, whatever, I’m happy just to be there.  I read.  I write.  I chat with friends.  This is a happy place for me.  There’s a Caribou Coffee in my neighborhood.  I love to walk there after dinner.  I stop at Starbucks on my way to work.  I take a moment to sip some coffee and center myself before heading into work.  There’s a nice little independent coffee shop not far from me that I like to go to sometimes.  The Rappahannock Coffee.  Nice little place.  It’s a bit far to walk, but still a good place to go.

These coffee shops are filled with all of the yummy fall pastry treats and blended coffee drinks that I love.  Some kind of pumpkin coffee, with sweet syrupy pumpkin flavoring, topped with whipped cream, drizzled with caramel sauce.  All kinds of pumpkin flavored pastry treats.  I love this stuff, and I cannot eat it anymore.

I cannot have bread, and I cannot have sugar.  Going to my favorite coffee shops has been pure torture.

Needless to say, these past few weeks have been a little difficult.  Dunkin Donuts does have pumpkin coffee beans that a friend of mine picked up for me.  That has helped.

I am kicking around some ideas in my head for my own brand of pumpkin, squash fall treats.  Once I have an actual idea put together, I’ll test out the recipe, take pics, and post them here.  I was able to put together a pretty good gluten-free pumpkin pie for my sister when she was first diagnosed with celiac disease, so I’m sure that I can make some sugar-free yummy pumpkin treat for myself for the fall.

Today is going to be a pretty exciting day.  I have a lot to do.  A good friend of mine is having a grand opening kick off for her art gallery and work studio.  That starts at 4:00pm.  I am doing some cooking for that.  She has requested that I make my curry chicken salad with mango chutney.  I made it for a party about 4 years ago, and she missed the party because of a family vacation.  She’s been hoping I would make it for her ever since.  So, tonight’s the night.  I have already started cooking, which is probably why I’m so focused on food this am.

I also have to hit the gym, get my hair done, and do a little bit of work.  All of this before 4:00pm.  Not sure if I will get it all done, but I will try.

Some good news, I am down one more pound.  I had kind of a rough week, so I’m pretty happy it ended on such a positive note.  Work was pretty busy and stressful, but ’tis the season there.  And I was struck by constipation not once, but twice this week.  Fortunately, I am doing much, much better today.

Anyway, sticking with my promise, I am posting a pic of today’s weight.  Oh and looking at this picture, I want to get a pedicure today.  I have to get hopping!  Have a great weekend!

weight

Way Too Easy…Effortless Even

I started the weekend off great.  I hit the gym early on Saturday.  Well, early as in noonish.  I walked the 1.7 miles to the gym and worked out for an hour and a half.  I then I walked to my friend’s art studio, which is ten minutes from the gym.  Another friend of ours showed up there, and the three of us walked the 1.4 miles back to my neighborhood.  We sat outside of Caribou Coffee for hours drinking fruffy coffee drinks and talked.  It was great.  Then I walked back up the monster hill to my place.

Yesterday started off great too.  I woke up and had a light breakfast and met my brother and niece in DC to do the Saturday am museum tour.  We walked around for about 2.5 hours.  I had my water and a protein snack, 1/3 cup of pistachios, while they ate at McDonald’s.

I went home and packed up some food to take to my sister’s house for a picnic.  She called me in a panic at one point asking me to give her instructions for making a particular chicken dish that I’ve made for her in the past.  She loves it and wanted to make it for the picnic.  I told her to hold off and I would make it when I arrived.

Cooking is easy for me, effortless in fact.  It almost seems to come naturally to me.  I walked into my sister’s kitchen and just took over.  I cleaned and dried the chicken breasts and began chopping them up while I gave my sister orders.  Before I knew it, the chicken was in the oven and I was reaching into my bag to begin prepping my next project.  I sliced and marinated zucchini while chatting it up with one of my sister’s friends without even thinking about it.  I handed the plate to my sister and ordered her to take it down to whichever male family member was manning the grill with specific cooking instructions.

I continued talking to a couple of people and reached into my bag and pulled out a couple of avocados and some spicy salsa.  As I cut the avocados in half, her friend said, “Now what are you making??”

“Guacamole,” I replied as I continued to cook without stopping.  I mixed the salsa and avocado together with a touch of olive oil and ordered someone take it down to the chip table.  Then I reached in my bag again and pulled out a can of Trader Joe’s Chili, grabbed a pot and began heating it up.  “For chili dogs,” I announced before another question could be asked.

That’s where my good behavior ended.

You know what else I can do effortlessly without even thinking about it?  Eat.

I chowed down as if I hadn’t eaten in months.  I ate a handful of corn chips with my yummy guacamole.  I ate random vegetables, potato salad, coleslaw, a little bit of the chicken dish, random other foods I cannot even remember.  Then I topped it off with a bunless hotdog with chili, relish, ketchup, and mustard.  Oh and let’s not for get the handfuls of M&Ms I tried hiding in my pockets thinking no one could see me eat them if I put them there.

WTF?

Obviously, I cannot be trusted at a food party.  I seriously thought I was going to throw up.  Granted, I didn’t eat it all at once, but I did go back to the food table over and over throughout the day.

After I got home last night, I took a walk through my neighborhood trying to walk some of the binge off.  I stopped at Caribou and drank some decaf tea hoping to push some of that food through my system with a warm drink.

Obviously, going to the gym is on the agenda today, as well as feeling horribly guilty about what I did to myself yesterday.  Yeah, I know there is no reason to really feel guilty.  Everyone falls off of the wagon sometimes.  What I should concentrate on is how I recover from this episode and move on.  I don’t know why I’m continually surprised every time I fall, but I am.  I am also very disappointed in myself.

I clearly need to watch my behavior more closely.  I had a somewhat prophetic conversation with my friend Sush on Saturday.  We were talking about yoga.  I kind of don’t like the yoga classes at the gym because of all of the movement.  The last time I took yoga classes, we concentrated on sitting in the positions and gently stretching, connecting mind and body.  The classes at the gym are more like yoga-exercise than a meditative stretching practice.

Sush agrees with my dislike for those kinds of yoga classes.  She grew up in India and they took yoga classes in school first thing in the morning.  What a fantastic way to start the day.

We talked a bit about “triangle pose” and she was talking about the importance of looking at your hands.  She said that yoga poses concentrate on looking at your hands because you mind should always know what your hands are doing.

I never thought of that before.  That made me think back to the endless number of times in my life where I just ate and ate without thinking.  The number of times I bought a giant bag of chips and ate through the whole thing and barely had any memory of how I ate that much.  If my mind had really been aware of what my hands, (and mouth quite frankly), were doing, would I have mindlessly eaten the whole bag?  Would I have slowed down?

I don’t know.  Maybe not.  All I know is that my mind was not paying attention to my hands yesterday.  Not while I was cooking, and especially not while I was eating.

I did manage to track all of the food.  I went home and made myself remember everything that I ate and logged it in “My Fitness Pal.”  Even with all of the eating I did, I still managed to stay below my allotted calories for the day. Not that I feel any better about what I did, but I guess that’s something.

Moving forward I am going to have to make sure that I stop and think before I eat.  Pay attention to what my hands are doing and be more mindful of what not just what I eat, but how I eat.  Maybe, eventually, I will be able to understand why.

Everybody’s Favorite Subject – Food! – Question #5

I decided to save the Kelli’s question for Friday because it is a little bit fun, for me anyway.  Kelli asked me:

Do you have any favorite healthy recipes to share?

Oh boy, do I!  Part of my weight problem has always been my love of food and cooking.  The surgery sure did not change that.

My sister and I started a Gluten-Free, Allergy-Free cookbook a while back, but we never finished it.  So, I have about 150 recipes suitable for people with gluten intolerance and other food allergies.  I have scads of suggestions on how to make yummy, yummy food for people with all kinds of food allergies.  Some of it is healthy, some of it, maybe not so much.

But Kelli asked specifically about healthy food so that is what I will address here.  I am using her question to do something I have been meaning to do all year.  As you can see, I have made substantial changes to my website.  I have added a tab up top called “Skinny Girl Recipes.”  I changed the theme to allow the tab to appear on the top.

I have a lot of recipes scattered through this blog, but I am going to be working on getting them moved to the “Skinny Girl Recipe” tab so that they are all in one place.

Today’s recipe is my famous vegetable salad with a cilantro-lime vinaigrette dressing.  OMG it is delicious.

I developed this recipe over several years.  I watched someone on one of the cooking channels make a roasted vegetable dish with Orzo pasta and a lemon dressing.  I made that a few times.  Then several years later, I became obsessed with cilantro-lime dressings and tried several times to make one of my own that was tasty.  Then, I changed the roasted vegetable dish, wish is really a fall-winter dish, to using fresh summer vegetables for some party I went to and then put my cilantro-lime dressing on it.  To say it was a hit, is an understatement.

To make this recipe gluten-free, you can use rice instead of Orzo.  You also do not have to use any grain or pasta at all, just vegetables, which is actually how I eat it since my gastric-by pass.  The recipe is quite versatile.  I have added chicken or tofu to add protein.  I have changed out the vegetables at the request of a friend who does not like peppers.  The dressing can even be changed if you don’t like cilantro-lime.  It’s a great recipe to play around with.  It’s healthy and perfect for a summer picnic.  Give it a try!

Listening To My Body

Since my Dallas trip, I have really been suffering and in pain as I recover from the damage I did.  I gained three pounds while in Dallas and I ate out for every meal.  I had no choice but to eat out, but I did cheat at least twice and have things that I probably should have passed on.

Then when I returned, I had to buy all new vitamins.  I decided to go ahead and start taking iron supplements in hopes to further combat the hair loss I have been suffering, which by the way, has slowed down tremendously.

As soon as I got back from my trip, I returned to my normal eating habits.  It took me all week, but I lost the three pounds that I gained, but my stomach was still really bothering me.  Then the other day, my stomach started feeling better.  I also noticed that I forgot to take my iron pill.  I made sure to take it yesterday though.  As soon as I took it, the stomach pain came right back.  Not only that, it felt like the iron tore right through me like Drano.  My stomach burned and ached and I had to run to the bathroom three times.  It was awful.  Today, I did not take the iron and I have not had any stomach problems at all.

All this time,  I thought it was just the food I ate in Dallas still bugging me.  I was afraid I had really hurt myself.  But no, it was the iron supplement.

I still want to take iron, but maybe I’ll only do it once or twice a week and take it with crackers or something so that it doesn’t rip my stomach apart again.  Or maybe I’ll just eat more spinach.  I like spinach.  Can you say Chicken Saag?