Category Archives: recipe

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.)

Holiday Foods: Planning vs. Reality

So, a few weeks back, I wrote a post about being prepared for the holidays food-wise.  I thought I was ready to deal with the holiday eating season.  Honestly, for the most part, I have been very disciplined.  I have allowed myself some cheats, but all in all, this has been much harder than I originally thought it would be.

october-holiday-food

There are three things that have really put me in jeopardy this Christmas season.  Well, five now that I think about it.  They are as follows:

  • The return of hunger pains – Not with a vengeance, but at meal time and snack time, I do get hungry.  And if I skip any part of my diet plan, I definitely feel it.  So, I have had to learn to manage hunger pains, which I really did not need to worry about for at least 8 months post-op.  Plus, I can eat more now that I could last year.  Those two things combined has made dealing with food this holiday season difficult to say the least.
  • Office party #1 – My work has had two Christmas parties.  The first one was at Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum in DC.  This was so much fun.  Trays and trays and trays of food everywhere.  And if that wasn’t enough, waiters walked around with more trays passing out more food.  I was very good all day.  Light meals and snacks, sticking to the bariatric food diet plan.  Then the party hit.  I still tried to stay on schedule, protein and veggies only.  I just ate too much, which let’s face it, is probably just a normal sized meal for non-bariatric surgery peeps.  But for me, it is way too much.  I did have a tummy ache and get a little nauseated, but I survived mostly intact, I think.
  • Office party #2 – My department had its own office party.  That was a 2 1/2 hour eating feat I have not really done at all since the surgery.  I had appetizers, fried zucchini shoe strings, cheese, a slice of some kind of meat, and assorted veggies.  Then we sat down to dinner.  Salad.  Not bad. I had a small spoonful.  Then the pasta course started. Two different kinds of pasta.  I had four tiny pieces of pasta.  I really cannot have starchy food, but I wanted a taste.  Now, keep in mind, I was pretty much full after the appetizers.  They served the food slowly, so there was a lot of time between courses, but I am already in forbidden territory and the food just kept coming.  Then they brought out eggplant parm, which I hate, so I did not eat.  Then rosemary chicken and roasted broccoli.  I had about three bites of chicken and 2-4 bites of broccoli and I really just had to stop.  I thought I was going to explode.  Then they brought out dessert.  Tiramisu and chocolate mousse.  I did not even look at the Tiramisu.  I knew if I did it would be all over.  I took my spoon and sliced off the teeniest bite of mousse I could manage and just a spot of whipped cream.  It was just heaven.  I thought I was going to pop.  I had to get up and walk away from the table before I was tempted to try another bite.  My stomach hurt so much, and I was very nauseated.  It stayed in the bathroom for about 10 minutes.  Then when everyone else was done eating dessert, I ordered a cup of coffee hoping the warm liquid would start moving some of the feast through my system.  When I got home, I dutifully logged every bite into My Fitness Pal, chocolate mousse bite and all.  I ate over 500 calories in one meal that took me over 2 hours to eat.  For me, that’s twice what I normally have.
  • Writer’s Group Party – OK, this one was not so bad, but still, a little bad.  This was held at a bar.  I did not actually order any food. I just ate what other people were sharing.  I had three wings, carrots, celery, humus, and some nachos over the course of about an hour and a half.  Not the greatest meal, but not too bad.  Once I was done nibbling, I just drank water for the rest of the night.
  • Office treats and other junk – This has been the hardest for me to deal with.  So many yummy things.  Tons of cookies, truffles, peppermint bark, candy, etc.  I got tired of seeing cookies, so after having one cookie, I was done.  I managed to stay away from the cranberry-orange bread, which was tempting.  But the chocolate truffles just killed me.  Someone sent French truffles filled with caramel.  I love, love, love, love, love caramel filled chocolate.  I decided that I would give in and allow myself one French caramel filled truffle.  I took it back to my desk and took one small bite.  It was heaven.  The caramel just melted in my mouth.  Before I could stop myself or change my mind, I quickly threw the rest of the truffle into the trash.  I knew if I finished it, it would be all over.  I would have to go back and just scarf up the rest of them. My co-worker could not believe I did that.  She was like, “Wow, you have incredible will-power.”  I replied, “No, I do not.  If I didn’t get rid of this now, you might as well check me into French caramel truffle rehab!”  It was tempting to reach into the trash and retrieve the truffle, but my pride just would not let me.

Now I am in Pittsburgh visiting with my mother for the holidays.  She’s kind of a food nazi. All my life, I have hated her fixation on limiting what I eat.  Now all I have to say is, “Thank goodness.”  She does not keep junk in her house.  OK, she keeps popcorn in her house, but I dare not touch her stash.  It has been a relief not to have all those temptations so close at hand.  I need to refocus.  I need to become more disciplined in the New Year if I want to lose the remaining 46 pounds.

I will be glad when the holidays are over, and the pressure is off.  It will be a relief to return to normal eating patterns.  This holiday season has been very tough for me to deal with.  Last year was not as difficult because I could barely eat.  But now that I actually feel hungry and can eat almost 1400 calories per day, (including protein drinks), the temptation to over-indulge has been very stressful.

My next biggest hurdle is New Year’s Eve.  I am spending that time with friends.  I am making chicken saag and my pumpkin brownies for everyone.  And I know that there will be a lot of other foods.  I think I’ll be OK because I will have many good options to choose from.  And my one friend is kind of worried about food herself so I know she will not have a lot of junk on hand.

Wish me luck!

Where The Heck Have I Been?

No, I have not abandoned this blog, although it may seem that way.  I have just been super busy.  Some good things have happened recently, and I just wanted to take a moment to share.

1. Work has suddenly become much more manageable.  I have been through an extremely busy period for the last few months, but with the holidays comes the traditional slow-down.  I have also been permitted to actually hire someone, so when the busy season hits again in January, I won’t be so overwhelmed…hopefully!

2.  I took vacation Thanksgiving week.  I was also very busy that week.  I had a friend visit me, and we spent that time running around visiting family and friends.  I had a blast.  We saw some friends that I haven’t seen since the surgery and a couple of friends who I have not seen since January.

As a funny aside, my friend Marianne’s son told me he did not recognize me with my glasses.  Everyone thought that was funny.  Not that he didn’t recognize me because the last time he saw me I weighed 298 pounds…it was the glasses that threw him off.  I told him it’s because I’m secretly a super-hero and with glasses I’m like Clark Kent.  Did I say he’s 10?

3.  I finally dumped the tea party guy.  Oh I know…I said I was dumping him a month ago.  I tried to.  But we still went out a couple more times.  Then things just got weird.  Not that him being a tea partier wasn’t weird enough.

He stopped calling and said work was crazy busy.  I thought it was pretty much over.  Then the texts and phone calls started again.  “I miss you.” “I need to see you.”  So, we planned a couple more dates, all of which he cancelled, promising to reschedule “soon.”  Finally, I just sent him an email and ended it.  I told him that I want someone who is excited to see me and makes me a priority in his life and I didn’t feel I was getting that from him.

A friend of mine told me that maybe I scared him off by telling him this.  I thought that was a nutty response.  Maybe I did scare him off by telling him that, but if being honest is enough to make him run, then it’s better that he goes.  That’s not the kind of relationship I want.  I want to be able to be honest with someone, and I want them to be honest with me.  Tell me what you want.  I’ll tell you what I want.  We can build from there.  Anything short of that is a lie and won’t work.

Here’s the thing.  When I weighed 300 pounds I didn’t put up with that kind of crap.  Granted, I had fewer options, but I still did not settle for less than what I wanted just to have a guy in my life.  So, when I have more options why on earth would I start to settle for less?

I was disappointed to see it end.  We actually did have a good time when we were together.  We had a lot in common, apart from politics.  He also had the gastric by-pass surgery and had lost a lot of weight.  We had many great conversations.  But, he was never going to be anyone I would be terribly serious about.

4.  I also posted a new recipe.  This is one that I created myself.  I wanted a yummy pumpkin flavored dessert that was not too sugary.  I think I came up with a pretty good option.  Click on this picture to get to the recipe:

pmpkin2

 

 

5.  I also “finished” my children’s novel.  I say “finished” because I did get all of the major plot points down on paper, and I have written about 55K words, but it is quite a mess.  I still have a lot more writing ahead of me in the form of re-writes.  I’m not going to look at it until January, however.

That is pretty much it.  I have not lost any more weight.  I have also not gained any weight.  I am not going to weigh myself until after the holidays.  I am watching what I eat, definitely.  I still log my food on myfitnesspal.com.  I have had a few bad days, but overall, I’m sticking to the plan.  I want to get back to the gym now that things have kind of slowed down in my life.  I’m hoping that will kickstart the weight loss again.

I promise to keep up on this blog more often.  I have a lot planned for the holidays, but I will have time to get a few more posts in.  And in January, I will post my weight to let you know how I fared through the crazy holiday feasting season!

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

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!