Tag Archives: cooking

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!

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.

Rebooting My Diet

I have been feeling all out of sorts over the past few weeks.  I have been upset that my weight loss has really slowed down and really plateaued.  I have had a lot of emotional ups and downs.  And I have fallen off the wagon, so to speak, a couple of times.  Nothing too major, but enough that I feel I have had several setbacks.

I have decided that I just simply need to reboot my diet.  I got out the diet plan that the surgeon’s office gave me and I am going to examine the food that I have been eating to make sure it is in-line with the Dr.’s recommended diet plan.  Then, I am really going to focus on exercising.  I have been walking a lot, but not really doing anything more than that.

mzl.ptmxiquk.320x480-75

I still have not joined a gym, which I plan to do.  But until I actually can get in one to join, there are lots of things I can be doing.  A friend of mine suggested an app called Zero to 5K.  It is a running app.  I have no intention of running, but he suggested that I could use it to train for walking, biking, or swimming as well.  I love doing those things.  I downloaded the app today.  I will start tomorrow.

I also need to cook more.  I love cooking.  I just have not been taking the time to cook my meals consistently.  I have been eating out some and eating things I can grab quickly, like cheese.  I love cheese and I was not able to eat it for years.  But the truth is, it is very high in calories.  Maybe I should not have 2-3 meals every day.

So, tonight I am making my homemade chicken saag.  Chicken Saag is my favorite Indian dish.  I have a friend from Mumbai who helped me improve my own version of this yummy dish.  I took some to her a couple of weeks ago for lunch and she said it tastes just like authentic Indian cooking.  It should.  It’s her recipe!  I still have it simmering on the stove, but here’s a picture.  I promise to add the recipe to my skinny girl recipes tab.

saag

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!

Weigh-in 2.0

I bought a scale today, finally.  My brother took me to Target so that I could shop and get some good solid walking in.

A funny aside, my brother was teasing me by calling Target Tar-gay making fun of the way everyone calls it Tar-Jay.  My sister corrected him and said, “Tar-JAY!”  Then my brother’s four-year old chimed in and said in all earnest, “No, it’s Tar-GET!”  We cracked up.

Anyway, I bought a scale.  I weighed myself this evening and it looks like I’m down to 273.  That’s a total of 25 pounds lost.

Walking is so much easier.  I was chucking through Target so quickly, my brother could not keep up.  I didn’t have to stop to rest or catch my breath or anything.  It was so nice to go to a big store like Target and have to try to figure out where I could rest.  I feel completely different.  I can hardly believe that I was as sick as I was before the surgery.

Eating is getting a little bit easier.  I am still pureeing my food.  I have been adding different spices to add flavor.  I blended cilantro and garlic in avocado.  I guess you would call that guacamole.  I blended a red bell pepper with cilantro, garlic, and onion.  I put a tiny dollop of that on the avocado.  It is so yummy.  Tomorrow, I am cooking some chicken breasts with the cilantro and oil.  Then I will puree the chicken.  I cannot wait until I move on to soft food and away from having to puree everything.