Saturday, November 16, 2013

What's For Dinner? Beef, Vegetable, and Barley Soup

It was really cold this week, at least for North Carolina, and my urge for soup was really strong. It's difficult at times to get a sufficient amount of protein into a meal if soup is the main course, and this recipe is no different. You have a few options - adjust your eating throughout the day so that this meal can handle having only about half the normal amount of protein in a meal, or add extra meat to the soup. If you do that, remember the nutritional information will change in all respects, not just in the protein count.

Don't skip the fresh herbs, it really makes the flavor.

This recipe makes a ton of soup when you're eating it in just 1 cup servings, but it freezes well. I use 2-cup storage bowls and pop them in the freezer, that way I'll either have a meal for both of us, or two lunch servings for myself. 

Beef, Vegetable, and Barley Soup
  • 1 small turnip, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1.5 to 2 cups)
  • 4 or 5 medium carrots, peeled and diced (2 cups)
  • 2 stalks celery - outermost fibers peeled off, then diced (1 cup)
  • 2-3 small red potatoes, diced (1 to 1.5 cups)
  • 1 cup petite peas, frozen
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 12 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth (or homemade)
  • 12 oz beef tenderloin cut into small cubes
  • 1.5 tbsp minced fresh thyme
  • 1.5 tbsp minced fresh oregano
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
Melt butter in large pot. Add all vegetables, along with a healthy teaspoon of kosher salt and a few twists of freshly cracked black pepper. Saute for about 10-15 minutes until they soften and onions begin to turn translucent. Add broth, bring to a boil. Reduce to a firm simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add barley, and herbs, stirring well. Cook for 30-35 minutes until barley is softened. It will absorb quite a bit of liquid, so what may have looked like a very brothy soup will be thicker at this point. Add  the beef, simmer another 10 minutes for beef to cook through.

Nutritional information: Makes approximately 12 1-cup servings. 204 calories, 6.2g fat, 25.8g carbohydrates, 5.5g dietary fiber, 5.5g sugars, 12.6g protein


Monday, October 21, 2013

What's For Dinner? Simple Chicken Posole

Cool weather is finally starting to arrive here in North Carolina, and one of the challenges in bariatric eating is to find warm, hearty dishes that won't be too heavy on our limited stomachs, but also meets our nutritional needs.

Posole is a traditional Mexican stew, typically made with pork, but sometimes with other meats. I had chicken left over from roasting a whole bird a few days ago, so I chose that as my meat. An added bonus to using cooked meat is bypassing the braising step all together. It does, however, move this even further away from authentic posole, but the spirit of the dish remains I think.

I'll note that I am not super heat-tolerant in spices. My choice in the measurements for cumin and chile pepper may be too mild for your taste. Give the flavors a few moments to blend, then taste and add more to your desired level of spicy. 

Do be sure to drain the hominy, the liquid is quite salty.

Serve with a variety of toppings - radishes, shredded lettuce, a bit of cheese, and avocado are favorites. Add a few broken up tortilla chips of you choose to eat those. This is often served with warm flour or corn tortillas - avoid those if you aren't eating bread or don't want the extra calories. 

  • 1 cup diced or shredded roast chicken - skin removed
  • 1 15-oz can white or golden hominy, drained (found near the corn in the canned vegetable aisle)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground California chile pepper (or other mild chili powder)
  • 1/2 tsp butter
Melt butter in medium sized sauce pan, add onions. Saute until they begin to turn translucent. Add chicken stock and tomato paste, whisk to combine. Add cumin and chile pepper, with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and stir frequently for 2-3 minutes to allow flavors to combine. Add hominy and chicken. Simmer for five minutes or until all ingredients are up to heat.

Makes 3 servings. 

Nutritional information (soup only, exclusive of toppings): 189 calories, 3g fat, 22g carbohydrates, 18g protein, 2g sugars.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

What's for Dinner? Cheesey Corn Chowder

I've been really quiet on the blog over the summer - a couple reasons for that. Still working on the baby making thing - had to deal with a few surprises in uterine health that I'm not going to get in to tonight. But then mostly? Summer eating for us is about steaks and corn on the cob on the grill. We'd eat that 3 or 4 nights a week and be really happy with it, so it's not very blog-worthy!

But, the weather has started to cool down, it's by no means "fall" yet here in the North Carolina, but we can start thinking about soup and not have it need to be chilled! I was watching the Food Network this morning and caught an episode oft he Pioneer Woman making a cheese and corn chowder. YUM! I started with her recipe as a jumping point, and shaped it to my tastes and needs.

The key to a good soup that has only a few ingredients is to use the best quality ingredients that you can. Each component really has to hold up. To that end, I used some late season fresh corn, home made chicken and vegetable stock, and good quality cheese. If corn is out of season, frozen would be preferable to canned, and commercial stock or broth will work as well. As for cheese, grate it yourself off a block. Most packaged shredded cheese offerings have corn starch or another added ingredient to prevent clumping in the bag, and that can create a grainy texture in a chowder. Take the extra minute or two to do it yourself.

Pre-op, I'd have made this with half and half and full fat cheese. I can tell the difference, but the differences are modest enough that it doesn't impact the dish for me.

That said - here's the recipe!

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 strips cooked bacon with rendered fat reserved
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped fine
  • 5 ears corn, kernels removed (about 2 cups)
  • 1 small red bell pepper - seeded, chopped fine
  • 2 cups home made chicken stock
  • 1 cup home made vegetable stock
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 8 oz Monterey Jack cheese - shredded
  • 8 oz 2% sharp cheddar cheese - shredded
  • 1 bunch green onions, white and green part  - chopped
  • salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Melt butter in a large pot - preferably an enabled cast iron pot. Add reserved bacon fat. Saute onion until it begins to turn translucent.

Add bacon, then add bell pepper - cook for a minute or two until it begins to soften. Add corn, stir to coat with butter and fat.

Add flour, mixing until the fat is absorbed. Cook stirring frequently for 3 to 4 minutes letting flour and fat turn into a light roux bound to the vegetables.

Add chicken and vegetable stock - bring just to a boil. Mixture should begin to thicken.

Add milk, salt and pepper to taste (I use about 1 tsp kosher salt and a good dozen cranks of freshly cracked black pepper). Reduce heat and cover, simmering for 15 minutes.

Add both cheeses, stirring until melted into the chowder. Ladle into bowls, top with green onions.

Recipe makes about 9 1-cup servings.

Bariatric eaters: up the protein by adding diced roast chicken at the end - 1 oz chicken adds 7g protein, 35 calories, and 1g fat. 

WLS Post-Op Rating: 9+ months (fat content and corn). 

Nutritional information (1 cup serving): 263 calories, 15g fat, 24g carbohydrates, 13g protein, 9g sugars.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Recipe: Any Day Chicken with Lemon Scented Carrots and Snap Peas

There's some days where you just don't feel like cooking, are uninspired, tired, or otherwise just not excited about being in the kitchen. Today was one of those days for me. But, we still have to eat and as a post-op, still need to have a reasonably healthy meal.

This is one of my go-to dinners when I need something quick but don't want to go through a lot of fuss. All of the ingredients are regularly in my pantry. The only plan-ahead would be defrosting the chicken if I don't have any fresh in the refrigerator (tip: freeze breasts individually in Food-Saver bags - perfect portions for a post-op plus 1 or 2 others).  The process of flattening the chicken breaks up some of the muscle fibers which makes for a more tender piece of meat, something that can make chicken easier to handle for many post-ops.

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs - plain or Italian seasoned
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil - divided
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 6 medium carrots
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1/3 cup water
 Prepare chicken breast by pounding it out to 1/2 inch thickness. There's a couple ways to approach this. Place chicken between 2 pieces of wax or parchment paper. If you have a meat mallet with flat side (vs. the nubby side), put some muscle behind it and pound the meat with a slightly outward motion. The idea is to spread out the breast while making it thinner (rather than just smashing it down).  If you don't own a meat mallet, a heavy bottomed pan can also get the job done - I've been known to use my cast iron skillet - that will flatten it instantly!  Cut flattened breast into serving sized pieces - my very large one pound breast was cut into 5 pieces, roughly 3 oz each.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Peel carrots, then slice thinly on a diagonal - about 1/8 inch thick. Trim ends and any strings from sugar snap peas. Saute carrots for 2 minutes, then add peas, saute for another 2 minutes. Add zest from the lemon, then it's juice along with 1/3 cup water. Cover and simmer over medium low heat while preparing the chicken.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Pan is ready when oil begins to shimmer.

 Pour milk into a shallow dish or plate. Using paper plates for easy clean-up, put flour and bread crumbs on their own plates. Working one piece at a time, dip chicken in milk then press into flour on both sides. Shake off any excess. Dip again in milk, then press into bread crumbs on both sides, again shaking off any excess. Sprinkle with salt and pepper as you place them in the pan. Saute until cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.

Nutritional information: Chicken: 3 to 4 oz serving - 197 calories, 6g fat, 10g carbohydrates, 28g protein. 

Nutritional information: vegetables - 1/4 recipe - 92 calories, 4g fat,  13g carbohydrates, 6g sugars, 2g protein

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Recipe: Roasted Beet & Barley Salad

One of my favorite things is beets. I grew up eating canned pickled beets - an odd thing for a kid to really like, particularly when my mother served them hot as a side dish, where the juice would run and color all the other food on the plate. But then I ate them frequently in salads, and continued to love them as an adult.

Then I discovered roasted beets. So different! A mild sweetness, they do take on flavors that surround them. They still of course are that bright purple color, and they will color any other ingredient in the dish.

This is not my recipe - it was developed by Anna Thomas for this month's Eating Well magazine.

The only ingredient I didn't have on hand was fresh basil - my plant didn't survive our recent major thunderstorm. I actually think this would be even better with some argula mixed in - giving a bit more green color, plus the crunch of peppery leaf.

The magazine gives 6 servings for the recipe - 8 would be more in line with post-op serving sizes. 

  • 1 1/4 lbs small beets
  • 3/4 cup pearled barley
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey or agave nectar
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1 cup thinly sliced radishes
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced basil
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 400F. Scrub beats under running water. Wrap tightly in foil and roast in oven for 1 to 1.5 hours until beets are tender when pierced with a fork. When they are cool enough to handle, slip skins off with your fingers or a paring knife (this will color your fingers if you don't wear gloves). Chop beets into a small dice.

Bring large saucepan of water to boil with 3/4 tsp salt. Add barley, reduce to a minimal simmer and cook uncovered 45 minutes. Drain well, spread onto a baking sheet to cool.

Heat dry skillet over medium heat on stove. Add chopped nuts - toast stirring frequently until fragrant. Remove from heat to cool.

Whisk vinegar, oil, mustard, honey, fresh cracked black pepper to taste and remaining 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl. Add beets, celery, radishes and scallions, toss to coat. Let sit for about 15 minutes, then add barley.

 Just before serving, stir in basil and nuts.

Nutritional information (based on 8 servings): 181 calories, 24g carbohydrates, 7g sugars, 9g fat, 4g protein

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Faith, Denial, Hope or Despair

Otherwise known as someone has to be on the wrong end of a "great chance".

We got the call Friday afternoon. My quantitative HCG test was negative. More accurately, the value was less than 1, but effectively that's negative.I go in Wednesday for a consult on whether anything else needs to be done before we move on to round 2 with the frozen back-up team.

I spent the last week searching for some sort of sign - I should have felt differently, I should have "known". Any time you get a bunch of women together on the internet talking about pregnancy or trying to conceive, there's always the contests - who knew the exact moment that implantation occurred - no hints from a little bit of spotting, oh no, that's too obvious - but they felt it. Suddenly their life took on an beatific glow, and before they could take the time to drive down to the 24-hour pharmacy there was enough HCG flowing through their system that a single drop of urine would produce an unquestionable double line on the test.

You know what? They're full of shit. Sure, some women, even some women I know, experience some early symptoms, but not everyone does. Others do only through the rosy-pink glasses of confirmation bias. Others, though I find it nearly equally as incredulous, never know they're pregnant until they're about to deliver. Everyone's experience is different.

I know, though, that for at least a day or two, I had two viable embryos inside me.

I suspect the one on the left was our little over-achiever - the one that made 9 cells by day 3. I don't know why neither of them "stuck" - and I don't think that anyone will ever be able to tell us why. There were some things that the doctor may want to investigate in some manner, that's what the consult on Wednesday is about.

My husband held me while I cried - and then told me that there was no need for despair, because the back-up team in the deep freeze would do fine and in another month-ish I'd be pregnant. He had faith.

I had hope, and what it got me was another kick in the gut. Faith only seems to delay the inevitable disappointment. I suppose that firmly believing something will be true will make you happy while you wait, it could forestall any angst in the mean time, but is that really better?

Anxiety isn't fun. Though the Man does sometimes tease me about not being happy unless I have something to worry about, I don't really believe that's true. I need to guard my heart. We made the decision to move forward with this, knowing that the 80-90% chances we were quoted were good. But I also know there's no guarantee that we'd be one of those 8 or 9 out of 10 - that we could just as easily be part of the 2 - or even the single 1.

I need to know, that even if we're not successful with the reserve team that everything will be OK. Right now, I'm having a hard time imagining the finality of "no more chances". Well, I can certainly imagine that outcome, but I can't imagine what I'll actually do with myself.

For over 7 years now, we've been trying in one way or another. The interventions we had shortly after we got together, the time it took for us to decide that we'd become foster parents, the training, the waiting. The wonderful time we did have in that experience, and the stark disappointments of the reality of the whole process. The nightmare, the fallout. Hearing that my WLS may improve fertility, realizing that in terms of motherhood I'm fucking old.

I don't know what to do with myself. Almost everything has been cleared out of the bedroom the girls used to share. The only remnants are the shelves he put up, the chest of drawers in the closet, and the framed pictures of J up on one of the shelves. I had to put down the pictures of T, but I've been able to enjoy the pictures of J for what they are. But today I'm tempted to put them away, or close the door again. The black hole that hides behind two sheets of wood and a couple of hinges. It was closed for the better part of a year. We've been waiting to replace the guest bed until after we knew we'd need a new crib or not.

Part of me wants to be able to have hope, to have faith that the universe isn't so cruel as to say no to us again. I'll admit that a larger part of me right now says that to believe so is only to be in denial.

Maybe that room should be closed - otherwise it's where hope will go to die.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Recipe: Chicken Salad with Creamy Balsamic Dressing

Salad is an interesting topic for WLS patients - most people immediately go to "salad" as a food for those on a diet, but what is typically thought of as a salad is actually a rather poor choice for us - lettuce is pretty much void of nutritional content, vegetables are good, but then it's usually doused in very fattening dressings and other toppings. This salad uses a lean boneless skinless chicken breast for protein, goes light on the lettuce, and gets considerable flavor from the balsamic component of the dressing. As with any dish with just a few ingredients, using the highest quality produce you can find is paramount.

You may used left over chicken, rotisserie chicken, or cook a breast fresh - coat a single boneless skinless breast with a very light coating of olive oil or mayonaisse, bake for approx. 20 minutes at 375F, let rest until you can handle it comfortably to slice.

  • 3-oz boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1/2 flavorful heirloom tomato - variety of your choice, chopped
  • 1 oz sliced pickled beets
  • 1 cup salad greens
  • 2 tsp finely grated Romano cheese
For Dressing

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise - low fat or regular
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp milk

For dressing choose a moderately priced brand, there's no need to use super expensive imported brands, but don't use the bargain brand either.

To make dressing, combine vinegar, brown sugar, and soy sauce in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil then reduce to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes until syrupy - sauce should coat a spoon without running off. Let cool.

Combine mayonnaise  with 1/2 tsp vinegar reduction to start, adding a bit more to taste - I like mine fairly flavorful, so my ratio was about 2:1. Thin as desired with milk for your preferred dressing consistency.

Remaining reduction can be kept air-tight in the refrigerator for other uses.

Combine first 4 salad ingredients in a serving bowl. Drizzle with dressing, then top with cheese and serve.

Nutritional information based on use of regular mayonnaise for dressing.

Per serving: 245 calories, 15g fat, 10g carbohydrates, 8g sugars, 17g protein

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Large Batch Cooking

Cooking from "standard" recipes for the post-op sometimes turns into an exercise in multiple serving storage. I am usually quite adept at reducing recipes to serve 2 standard servings (so 4 bariatric - or as The Man puts it, .5 for me and 1.5 for him). At other times, a particular ingredient or recipe pushes me to make it as written. This occured tonight as I wanted to slightly adapt a recipe I found on the Food Network web site by Rachel Ray - for a French White Burgundy Chicken. Using over half a bottle of wine made it more suited to cooking the whole batch (and using that much wine), vs. trying to use only half a cup or so of a good bottle of wine.

So I'm not eating the same thing for 3 days or more, I make use of my Food Saver and freeze the extra servings. At almost 18 months post-op I'm at a stage where I can tolerate traditional pasta. I served it over egg noodles. Still in very small quantities (1/3 cup tonight), but sometimes it's a food I choose to eat, and I am able to enjoy it in small quantities without it being something that lures me into making poor or excessive choices. An alternate choice would be brown rice other other complex carbohydrate grains such as farro or barley.

French Bordeaux Chicken

As for other things, we're still in the prep waiting game for the IVF - or donor is on her round of stims, retrieval, lab work, and transfer on track to begin in another week-ish from now.

We've celebrated my birthday and our 5-year anniversary in the last week, more on those events in a post or two later.

Recipe: French Bordeaux Chicken

This recipe could be done in a smaller batch, but with a good wine involved, I hate to make too small of a batch or the rest of the wine might go to waste. So with this recipe, I made it with the intent to freeze and save additional portions.

Adapted from a Rachel Ray recipe , I've changed some ingredient quantities and cooking times - it was a 30-minute meal, and with some things, you just need a bit more time than that.

  • 1 lb cubed boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 medium parsnips, diced
  • 3 celery stalks - tender inner ones with leaves
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 cups white Bordeaux wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth - low sodium
  • 1 small box frozen pearl onions (alternately 1 box sweet onions - diced)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • salt and pepper
 Using a heavy dutch oven, brown bacon until most of the fat has been rendered. Remove bacon bits and drain on a paper towel.

Salt and pepper chicken, then toss in flour. Shake all excess before adding to the bacon fat. Brown on all sides, about 6 minutes total. Remove from pan and set aside. Add celery, carrots, and parsnips, browning in remaining fat until softened. If choosing to use diced onion, add at this time as well. Season again with salt and pepper, add chopped thyme.

When vegetables are cooked, push to outer edge of pan leaving an empty circle in the middle.  Melt butter, then whisk in 2 tbsp flour to make a roux. Cook roux for 1 minute, then add wine, whisking to fully incorporate. Add chicken broth. Mixture will thicken, bring to a low simmer.

Add chicken back into pan along with pearl onions. Simmer for at least 15 minutes, or reduce to low heat and simmer for up to an hour to allow flavors to combine.

Serve over egg noodles, brown rice, farro, or barley as desired. Nutritional information for chicken and sauce mixture only.

Freeze extra servings air-tight using Food-Saver type storage.

Recipe makes 8 servings: 201 calories, 5.7g fat, 13.6g carbohydrates, 4.4g sugars, 14.5g protein, 6.1g alcohol

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Recipe: Garlic Rosemary Lamb Chops

In a post-op life, identifying a variety of protein options becomes a necessity as some go-to meals like pasta are no longer in our rotations. Lamb was a pleasant addition to my list of "yum!" proteins. This can look very fancy but is ultra quick for a week night meal as well.

Fresh spices really make the flavors pop.

  • 2 bone-in lamb loin chops (locally best found in butcher case at Harris Teeter, Fresh Market or Whole Foods)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
Mince garlic, mash to combine with salt with back of spoon or a mortar and pestle. Add lemon zest, rosemary, and olive oil and stir to combine.

Brush mixture onto all surfaces of lamb choices - cover and let sit for 20 minutes.

Place rack in oven near top - about 3-4 inches below broiler element. Turn oven to high broil, line baking sheet with foil. Broil chops for 5 minutes per side for medium rare (with chops being 1.5 to 2 inches thick).

Take care when turning, some of the rendering fat may smoke a bit.

Shown served with steamed brocolli.

Rated: 3+ months - lamb is tender, chew well!

Nutritional information based on 3 oz usable meat - roughly half the cooked weight of a bone-in chop, and approx 1/4 of garlic rosemary mixture.

Nutritional information: 201 calories, 11.7g fat, 22.6g protein

Monday, May 6, 2013

Recipe: Chocolate Caramel Frozen Greek Yogurt

Chocolate, sweet, and frozen - some of the things that you think you may have to give up in a post-op life, but not so! And, it doesn't have to be the fake food nastiness that's in a lot of the things in your grocer's freezer section.

Now, I will admit that I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to these things - to make a good frozen yogurt you do need some fat. It may be possible to make this work with non-fat or very low fat products, but the texture and mouth feel just won't be the same and it will harden into an icier freeze - not optimal. You may choose to make some substitutions, but the savings in calories and fat, in my opinion, don't make the changes in the final product worth it.

  •  12 oz plain greek yogurt (I use Greek Gods brand, found at Harris Teeter)
  • 1/3 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/8 cup Truvia (stevia sweetener)
  • 1/4 cup Torani sugar-free caramel syrup
  • 3/4 cup whole milk 
Whisk ingredients together in medium sized bowl until thoroughly combined. Consistency will be thicker than milk, but not as thick as a milkshake. Add milk a tablespoon at a time if you feel it needs thinning.

 Freeze in home ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions - mine takes about 25 minutes to get to a good soft-serve stage. Freezing for 4-6 hours will give a firmer but still scoopable consistency. I find that a thaw of ~45 minutes or more is necessary to get back to a soft consistency after a hard freeze, longer than you'd expect a traditional ice cream to need to rest.

I've rated this recipe 12+ months only because the fat content is bumping out against our goals for the losing stage. As always, let your own tummy be your guide as long as it fits within your daily nutritional goals.

This recipe makes just a bit under 1 quart - or approximately 4 ~3/4 cup servings.

Nutritional information (1/4 recipe): 173 calories, 14.2g fat, 17g carbohydrates, 6.5g sugars, 7.5g protein

Friday, April 26, 2013

Recipe: Chicken and Spring Veggie Farro Salad

  • 6-8 oz boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup dry farro
  • 2 cups trimmed green beans, wax beans, and snow peas
  • 1 ear corn on the cob
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1.5 tsp country dijon mustard
  • salt 
  • freshly ground black pepper

Trim chicken of all visible fat - poach in simmering water for 10-12 minutes until cooked through. Drain and let cool, then dice into small bite size pieces.

Steam beans and peas for approximately 2 minutes until color brightens. Plung in ice bath to stop cooking, drain and pat dry. Cut into bite size pieces.

Cook farro according to package directions, drain and cool.

Grill corn or cut kernels from cob and saute briefly with minced shallot in butter in a small saute pan. Set aside to cool.

Combine farro, chicken, and vegetables in large bowl.

In small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, and approximately 1/4 tsp salt.

Mix dressing into salad, add 5-6 grinds of fresh black pepper, stir to combine.

I enjoy this salad best at slightly warm room temperature but it may also be served cold.

Makes 4 servings. 

Nutritional information: 191 calories, 6g fat, 18.6g carbohydrates, 4.3g dietary fiber, 1g sugars, 16.7g protein

Saturday, April 20, 2013

What's For Dinner? Honey Lemon Chicken

It's been such an odd day. It seemed that it finally had decided it was spring around here, and the weather had started to settle on upper 70s/low 80s for high temps, then suddenly it was back to low 40s this morning barely topping out at 60 but with a very chilly wind. Between that and a strong rain storm yesterday afternoon and evening, finishing the tilling of the garden was out - too mucky.

I woke up with a pain in my neck in the middle of the night, stretched a bit, and went back to sleep, and wasn't really going to think much more of it, except when I woke up for good this morning and rolled over, I felt like somehow I'd managed to break the middle finger of my right hand in my sleep. Moving my hand hurt, bending my finger was out of the question - what on Earth had happened?

I got up, moved my arms around a bit, stretched my shoulders and neck a bit more (got a half decent pop in the neck), but the pain in the hand was still shockingly strong. I noticed that while it was centered on the joint where your finger meets your hand, that movement did "tug" on things through my palm and give shocks up my forearm. A paramedic friend asked if I slept funny (at which point I remembered waking up in the middle of the night with the neck pain) - and we've fairly well decided I pinched a nerve some how, but I haven't managed to massage it away, and vicodin while taking the edge of the pain a bit hasn't relaxed anything enough to provide serious relief. I may end up at my chiropractor on Monday if I can't get any relief. Ugh.

I was looking for something fresh and "spring" like to make for dinner, and created a quick little recipe for Honey Lemon Chicken. It's super quick, very low calorie, and despite having honey it, less than 5g of sugars in a serving.

I served it tonight with some steamed broccoli spears and a third of a cup of Trader Joe's Rice Medley - a great combo of brown rice, red rice, and black barley - it's in the freezer section, so the rice is already cooked. It comes in steamer bags, 3 minutes in the microwave and it's whole grain goodness!

In non-food related news - I finally got my new assignment at work. My former group was brought back out of the global application development pool and into a different technology group - led by a woman I've known for most of my career at the bank. She's pretty awesome, and I think it's a great move. I'll be working on application governance for our group and the rest of her boss' organization - making sure we're adhering to enterprise policy on a number of issues: technology choices, data management, etc. Much more exciting for me than coding has ever been, so I'm very much looking forward to getting started on all that.

Finally, our egg donor has her major evaluation at the clinic on Monday and barring any surprises that throw a wrench into things, starting the meds which would put us on course for retrieval in about 4 weeks, with transfer to me about 4 days later. So quick, but so slow at the same time! Ugh!

Hoping tomorrow that my finger won't be messed up and that it's a bit warmer, really wanting to take Mabel the bike out for a ride. So how's your weekend going?

Recipe: Honey Lemon Chicken

Some post-ops have trouble with chicken, in part because it can be dry, even when cooked carefully. To that end, though I rate this recipe as 3+ months post-op, you should be mindful of your own personal tolerances to chicken and as always, chew chew chew.

  • 12 oz boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • zest and juice from one lemon
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375F. Trim any remaining fat from the chicken breast(s), season with salt and pepper, and place in a baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. In a small bowl whisk together honey, oil, and juice. Pour half of honey combination over the chicken, turn over, then pour on remaining mixture. Turn or use a pastry brush as necessary to coat chicken completely.

Bake in oven for approximately 40 minutes - turning half way through and basting as necessary to keep moist.

Makes 4 3-oz servings.

Rated: 3+ months post-op

Nutritional Information: 124 calories, 4.5g fat, 5.7g carbohydrates, 4.7g sugars, 17.3g protein

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Recipe: Veal with Shallot Wine Sauce

  • 6 oz veal scallop, cut into 2 portions (often sold pre-packaged - ask at the butcher counter)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp chopped shallot (one medium)
  • 2 tsp country dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tbsp half and half
  • salt and pepper to taste
Add 1 tsp butter to skillet over medium high heat.  Saute veal 1 minute each side, remove to a plate. Reduce heat to medium low and add shallots and remaining butter, cook until softened and just beginning to brown. Add wine, mustard, and sage, bring heat back to medium high and reduce by about half. Add half and half, then return veal to the pan along with any juices from the plate and warm through - only about another minute. Serve with sauce over the top of each veal scallop.

Rating: 9+ months post-op (for alcohol content)

Nutritional information: 1/2 recipe. 304 calories, 15.9g fat, 2.8g carbohydrates, no sugars, 26.5g protein

Friday, April 12, 2013

Recipe: Sauteed Lemon-Chive Cauliflower

  • 1/2 head cauliflower - cut into small florets
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese - grated
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
Warm olive oil and salt in large skillet over medium heat. Add cauliflower and saute without stirring for 3-4 minutes until beginning to brown on the bottom side. Toss and continue to cook until most pieces are caramelized. Add  garlic during last 30 seconds of cooking. Remove from heat, toss in in lemon zest and chives. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese when serving.

Serves 4 (bariatric), or 2-3 traditional servings.

Rated: 6+ months post-op

Nutritional information (1/4 recipe): 54 calories, 4.2g fat, 3g carbohydrates, 1.2g sugars, 2g protein

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Milestone: Down Below Half

When I began this blog and chose the name "Leaving Half of Me Behind" it was a cute hook more than a real goal - I knew that losing that much weight was a possibility, but I wasn't anywhere near certain that it was something I could do.

With my surgical recoveries and a few other things going on including what probably has been a bit of a real plateau, I've been bouncing around the same 1-2 pounds for the last couple months.

But, as of this morning, we've broken through that - and officially, finally, have left MORE than half of me behind:

My starting weight was 338, so half was 169 - I've finally gone under that mark. Yay! Officially I've now lost 74% of my excess weight.

That's a number that really kind of bugs me - the ideal weight calculations used for women are 100 pounds, plus (or minus if necessary) 5 pounds per inch of height above/below 5 feet. So at 5' 1.5", that makes my "ideal" weight 107.5. Sorry kids, I'd look like a skeleton at that weight. I have a picture of me as a high school freshman where I weighed 117 and thought I had a bit of a belly pooch, but really it was how my trousers fit. But I was FOURTEEN years old. My junior prom photo is when I weighed 139 pounds. I felt at the time I could lose 15-20 pounds, but again, I was 17 years old.

Using commonly available BMI calculators online, I'd need to get down to 163 to not be considered "obese" any longer, and just be labelled as overweight. To get into a normal weight range (for 5-2) would require getting down to 136. That's a maybe, but I'm not sure where I'm going to get 32 pounds off of me - realistically, plastics may take off up to 10, but do I really have 22 more pounds to lose? I'm not sure.

Though it's a silly self-portrait in a corporate headquarters ladies room, but really - I'm not sure. The belly puff is some serious skin droopage, and the boobs are empty tube socks held up in a fairly solid structurally supportive bra. Get rid of the underarms, but that's maybe a pound or two each really.

We'll have to see what happens. Plastics may be later this summer, or in another year to year and a half, depending on another little project we're doing.

We're giving having a family one last "Hail Mary" pass - I'm undergoing IVF with donor eggs (due to my geriatric age when it comes to motherhood). Just getting the cycle started, the donor has been located (through an agency, it's not someone we know), and getting ready for her to get on the meds cycle, and so a transfer will probably be another month away.

So lots to be celebrating, but that number up at the top really made my day today!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

On Fat Acceptance and Denial of Risk

Since coming to my decision to have weight loss surgery, I’ve also been painfully aware of what I say or how I express my opinions about weight related matters. The last thing anyone wants to turn into is “that person” who finds a new mantra and is suddenly the world’s foremost expert and evangelizer for their newfound life choices. I fully admit that WLS is not for everyone, and even if it would be a good solution for an individual – it’s not the right solution for them until they are in the appropriate mental headspace for it. Sometimes that point can be reached with a short period of education, or it may take months or years to work through the denial and finally acceptance that has to come with it. 

Now – deep breath – that all said: sometimes the answer to health problems really is “you need to lose some weight”. Unfortunately that’s not a statement that many people want to hear. Even more unfortunately, it’s a statement that a growing portion of the population is rejecting out of hand as “sizism” or “fat shaming” on the part of the public and even the medical community. Weekly I hear tales of people refusing to follow sound medical advice if any portion of that discussion has included the phrase “if you lost some weight…”. 

Before anyone picks up the pitchforks – or for those already armed, before you start swinging them at me – I fully recognize and acknowledge that some members of the medical community either over-focus on weight or have poor enough patient communication skills that their valid points get lost in the talk about weight management. They are out there. They are not, however, every medical practitioner out there, nor I would say, even the majority of medical practitioners. 

I’ll go ahead and put it out there that I think the root of many of these reactions from heavier patients can be found in the loosely defined “fat acceptance” (FA) movement. The idea has been around for decades – that no one should be discriminated against based on their size. Oh baby, am I all for that idea. I was no less mentally capable or intelligent or less skilled in my work when I (barely) wore a size 28 than I am today in a size 12. Luckily my current profession doesn’t require significant physical abilities – as long as I can sit at a desk and work on a computer 40 hours a week, whether I can do push-ups, lift 50 pounds, or run 100 yards in a sprint is pretty irrelevant. 

Where FA falls down in my opinion, is when it moves beyond the idea of non-discrimination, and that people of any size should be able to feel good about themselves and comfortable in their own skins, into activism or dogma that promotes the idea that fat is healthy. No. No, it’s not.
"Fat as healthy" activists claim that an individual can be both “metabolically healthy” and fat.  Metabolically healthy is defined as having standard measures of blood work and screenings for high blood pressure, diabetes, and other diseases often associated with obesity coming back “normal”. It can happen. In fact, I used to be one of those people. I consistently had blood pressure of 110/70, no indication of diabetes or insulin resistance, and had lung capacity that was better than many people who did physical work for a living – and I weight 250-300 pounds. 

Where the idea of  “metabolically healthy and fat” starts to fall apart is that it only looks at that one snapshot of time, with no acknowledgement of risk factors – obesity related or not. The proven facts are that being obese increases a person’s chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other life-shortening illnesses considerably. The scientific literature is pretty damned sound on this point.
Now nothing in this says that “normal” weight or “skinny” people don’t have risk factors for heart disease, or that only obese people get diabetes. I’m not arguing that in any way. But the risk factors are consistently higher when you are obese. 

Beyond metabolic issues is the wear and tear that obesity takes out on your body. Despite being athletic before gaining weight, and being able to do quite a few things with great cardiac response at my current weight (I just passed a stress EKG with flying colors), I was diagnosed with pretty significant osteo-arthritis in my knee after an injury just before New Year’s. It’s clearly been building over time per the orthopedist, and at this point can only be managed – there’s no reversing arthritis. I’m not unduly restricted in what activities I can participate in, but I was encouraged not to try and run a 5K, instead walk it and choose activities that aren’t super-high-impact in nature. 

So what’s my point? Be happy in who you are. Accepting yourself, your body, your looks for what they are is a good thing. But please don’t confuse self-acceptance with denial of the clear and real risks that obesity brings with it. You’ll not be doing your self – or your self-esteem – any favors.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mental Challenges

This last week or so has been a real mental challenge for me. I'm in a bit of a rut as far as weight loss goes - and there's probably three or four real reasons for that.

 First, of course, was surgery a week ago - really, it was only a week ago and I have to remind myself of that. Despite that hopefully being the last round of ass surgery, it will take some time for the incision she made to heal - so it's not unexpected that exercise will continue to aggravate it. Add the New Year's Knee Incident in, and exercise has been extra complicated.

Next, it's been fucking cold here this week, as in barely above freezing at all cold. Some of you in more northern climates might laugh at that, but for North Carolina, it's cold. Add that to carrying around 160+ pounds less than I used to, and it's cold! I've never worn layers in my life - I went to my WLS support group meeting on Thursday night wearing a long sleeved tee, a hand knit sweater, my suede jacket, a hand-knit cowl and hand-knit gloves. And I was still cold! Add to that, the cold tends to make me want hearty, warm, comfort food - which tends to be calorie dense.

I've been struggling a bit with brain cravings, or what I sometimes call "the nibbles". I think some of it at times is boredom, other times it may be putting off breakfast a little too long, and then the "need fuel!" signal doesn't seem to get turned off as it should. I love nuts and things like pumpkins seeds or sunflower seeds, but again - calorie dense, so I need to find alternatives that will give me the satisfaction of a snack without making my daily totals go crazy.

And finally, I've been in a bit of an emotional funk. After the news that the ass surgeries should be over, I can now make the appointment with our reproductive endocrinologist to see what testing he needs to do, if there's any hope of doing IVF on our own, or if we'll need to go to donor eggs. If we need to go the donor route, the expense goes up astronomically, as any donor costs are not covered by insurance. We'll have to weigh chances of success against the cost, a decision that will undoubtedly painful. On top of that, a dear friend's 20-year old daughter just had a beautiful baby boy. Unfortunately her life is a bit of a shambles right now, and the baby daddy is...well...not exactly a parental dream. I hope mother and child succeed, but there's quite a few roadblocks in their way, and it honestly breaks my heart for all involved.

So with all those things in mind, I'm trying to work through whether or not I've actually hit a real "stall" point in my loss. Mentally, I know I just want the loss segment to be over-  I'm so close, roughly 25 pounds to my stated goal, and maybe 15 more with plastic surgery and a smidge more loss, but 25 for now. That's really nothing, in the grand scheme of things, since I'm down 164, but it feels like a mountain right now.

I know I need to buckle down, get as much exercise I can with the limitations I have, make sure I'm maintaining 850-900 calories, and things will happen.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What's For Dinner? Cheesy Chicken Corn Chowder

I was never this cold when I was fat! It stayed below freezing most of the day today, and the house was just cold, even though I had the heat set to 72, and a space heater going in my office. Until I went downstairs to the treadmill at lunch, I was huddled in a shirt and a cardigan sweater - something I'd never have worn in the past, but I was that cold! You don't really think about body heat too much when you're heavy, but it really did make a difference!

In deference to the weather, tonight I wanted soup and decided chicken corn chowder sounded good. I wanted to keep it relatively light, so I'd use broth and milk instead of cream, and I do believe this version was a success.

My Meals

  •  1 cup Kashi Go Lean! cereal
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  •  1 Trader Joe's Chicken Tikka Masala with Cumin Rice
  • 10 almonds
  •  45 minutes treadmill - 3.2 mph, 2% incline, 200 calories burned
Water - 72 oz

Daily Totals - 977 calories, 43.3g fat, 105g carbohydrates, 24.1g sugars, 53.5g protein

Cheesy Chicken Corn Chowder

This chowder uses a mix of broth and milk as it's base - lightening it up compared to some traditional cream or half and half based chowders.  Note that ore-shredded cheeses tend to be packed with corn starch or other additives that prevent sticking and clumping, which may result in some separation when added to hot liquids. I recommend shredding your own cheese for this dish.

  • 4 oz cooked and diced boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup yellow corn
  • 1.5 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 small to medium onion,chopped
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 large red potato, diced (about 8 oz)
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh minced thyme
Slice bacon into 1 inch pieces and render in heavy bottom sauce pan. When browned, remove to drain on paper towels. Discard all but 1 to 2 tsp fat. Saute onion in bacon fat until translucent. Add carrot, potato, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until vegetables are soft. 

Add milk, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer (but do not boil). Add thyme and bell pepper. Stir in cheese until melted. Sprinkle reserved bacon over soup when served.

Nutritional information (1/6 recipe) - 221 calories, 9.4g fat, 19.5g carbohydrates, 7.1g sugars, 15.7g protein

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What's For Dinner? Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Red Wine Sauce

First day back at work post-op and it went pretty well - no Vicodin during the day today, so that's good. I've got multiple meetings tomorrow morning, an interview for an internal job posting tomorrow afternoon, and I'm hoping that goes well.

I was browsing around for a recipe to use with the piece of pork tenderloin I took out of the freezer yesterday, concentrating mostly on something with red wine and ran across a lamb recipe with a pomegranate red wine sauce (which I will make as written at some point).

I decided to adapt it to my pork and was pleased with the results. The fun part was making pomegranate molasses. You can purchase this as a prepared food item from middle eastern grocers or online, but the lamb recipe author had a quick substitute available - so I did that, as detailed in the recipe. Be careful though, I went from a simmering and reducing liquid to a bubbling syrup in about 30 seconds - so you need to watch it at the end.

As happens some times, I got chatting with the Man and realized I was eating too fast - things still complain if I don't chew thoroughly, or swallow too fast - and I did it to myself tonight. I ate about half of what is shown on my plate (which was 3 oz of pork, 1/3 cup of rice and 1/3 cup of peas). Some day I'll learn!

Today was also the first day of any exercise post-op, it was pretty light - the Man wanted to show me the XBox Kinect Star Wars game, so I went through some of the tutorial stages of that (lots of lunges with arm swings), and then made him do some planks with me, and did my upper arm workout with the weights. My knee is still bothering me a bit, but I'm going to give it at least another week before setting an appointment with the ortho clinic. 

My Meals

  • 1 cup Kashi Go Lean! cereal
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Approx 1/2 cup left over lasagna
  • 1.5 cups romaine, 2 radishes, 1/4 cup corn, 2 tbsp Ken's Lite Options Honey French Dressing
  • 2 small slices garlic toast
  • 186 calories burned between Xbox Kinect, planks, and upper body weight work
  • 48 oz
Daily Totals - 1110 calories, 38g fat, 141g carbohydrates, 36.5g sugars, 61.7g protein

Definitely could have done without the bread!

Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Red Wine Sauce

Adapted from a lamb recipe over on the Closet Cook , this was a quick dinner full of flavor. Make the molasses ahead of time and keep left overs in a pint canning jar.

  • 6 oz pork tenderloin, trimmed of any excess fat, flattened into medallions
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine (I used cabernet sauvignon)
  • 1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses ** 
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh chives
Heat oil in skillet until it begins to shimmer. Sprinkle pork medallions with salt and pepper on both sides, then add to pan - saute for 3-4 minutes per side until cooked through. Remove to plate and keep warm.

Deglaze pan with wine, then add stock, molasses, honey, and vinegar then whisk to combine. Add butter 1 tbsp at a time, whisking to incorporate. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until sauce thickens. Serve sauce over pork, top with chives. 

** To make pomegranate molasses: In thick-bottomed sauce pan combine 2 cups pure pomegranate juice, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 1 tbsp lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 40-45 minutes, whisking occasionally. Watch mixture carefully from about 35 minutes on, as mixture will turn from simmering liquid to bubbling syrup quite suddenly. Transfer to pint canning jar to cool.

 Nutritional information (based on 3oz pork and 1/4 sauce recipe): 249 calories, 9.9g fat, 10.6g carbohydrates, 9.6g sugars, 26.6g protein

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Recovery and Long Weekends

It's strange, sometimes it seems like the simpler a procedure is, the longer my recovery takes. As I posted about Ass Surgery Round Four - I only had sedation instead of full general anesthesia. I don't have a rubber band ring hanging out of my butt, yet I've been parked on the recliner for two days keeping the Vicodin dose going full strength. Granted, she did cut open part of the fistula, and we were told I could be bleeding for a few days, but I wasn't expecting to need as much as I have.

That said, it's given me some time to try and focus on my first week's school assignments - neoclassic growth models in macro economics, and a review of single-equation linear regression for econometrics. That's fun when doped up, let me tell you.

I did manage to make dinner tonight, and was hoping to present a recipe for a bariatric friendly corn pudding, but I wasn't entirely thrilled with the result - a bit less corn meal, a bit more salt, and probably an added herb or two. I'll work on developing the recipe a bit more before presenting it to you.

Thankfully, as the evil banker that I am, I have tomorrow off for the Martin Luther King holiday. I'll be making good use of the day for additional recuperation. Hopefully that will also include a good dinner - I've got a pork tenderloin down from the freezer, so as long as I feel up to cooking, I'm hoping to have a yummy meal at the end of the day.

How was your weekend?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Could It Be? Last of the Ass Surgery!

Yesterday I went in for ass surgery round four - this time with the new surgeon from Wake Forest. I'll never willingly undergo surgery at Forsyth Medical Center again unless it's my absolute only choice. The difference in how things were handled at the two hospitals was just startling. It started with my pre-op anesthesia appointment. WF does it as a separate event, so I went in at 7am on Monday morning. First appointment of the day was awesome - they tell you it can take up to 2 hours, but I was in and out in just about 45 minutes.

We were told to arrive yesterday at the outpatient surgery center at 1:30pm for a 2:30 procedure. I checked in at the desk and had barely sat down and we were called back. After I was undressed and ready to go on the gurney, the nurse came in and started my IV, the anesthesiology resident and primary anesthesiologist both came in and talked with me, my surgeon came in, and then the OR nurse came in - I really didn't have an opportunity to read more than a page or two in the book I'd brought between visits.

My surgeon suggested that we could do what she needed under sedation rather than full general anesthesia - sedation like you'd have with a colonoscopy. I was a bit anxious about that, but she said recovery is obviously quicker (and having had a colonoscopy I knew this). I said I'd go with it if she assured me that if I had any negative awareness that they'd crank up the drugs. She laughed and said definitely, so we went with that idea.

The plan for the day was to have her take a look around at what was going on, and insert a seton - basically a loop of rubber band like material through the fistula tunnel that would connect externally - rather like an ass ring (oh, that's a painful visual).

They took me back, had me lay prone on the table with several nice foam pieces to keep my head positioned well so I could breathe. The next thing I knew, they were asking me to roll back over onto the gurney, and rolled me out into recovery. They brought the Man back in to see me, and he said the surgeon told him she didn't need to put in the rubber band, and had opened part of the tunnel up to heal on it's own, and the rest had gone away.

I'm still a little confused as to which part was opened and which had closed - the part closest to external was bigger than the internal bit - but I've sent my surgeon a message to clarify, and I have an appointment to see her in 2 weeks (I love Wake Forest's electronic patient access system - you can securely email any care giver, and they will answer promptly).

The Man said she seemed pretty confident that this was over now. Hooray! That means I can make the appointment with our reproductive endocrinologist (also at Wake Forest) and see what we might be able to do about baby making.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What's For Dinner? Velvety Carrot Parsnip Soup

It's been raining for days here in North Carolina, and they're predicting it may turn into snow tomorrow night into Friday morning (yay - hospital for surgery in the snow!). So it's been cold, dank, and dreary - the perfect weather for soup.

No exercise today, yesterday's treadmill session left my knee a bit sore, not taking any chances.

My Meals


  •  1 serving Maple Pumpkin Seed Breakfast Barley


  •  Salad of 3 oz grilled chicken, 1.5 cups romaine, 1 small tomato, 2 radishes, 1/2 oz shredded cheddar, 1 tbsp chipotle ranch dressing


  •  1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts


Water - 72 oz

Daily Totals - 905 calories, 42.1g fat, 77.2g carbohydrates, 23.6g sugars, 64.3g protein

Velvety Carrot Parsnip Soup

Cold, dreary days call for soup! This velvety vegetable soup is probably best as a portion of a meal - add a salad and some bread (if you can tolerate it), or half a warm sandwich or other protein to round out the meal.

  • 1 cup peeled chopped carrots
  • 1 cup peeled chopped parsnip
  • 1 small or 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives

Heat oil in heavy bottomed pan, then saute onion for 10 minutes until golden. Add broth, carrots and parsnip, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes until vegetables are thoroughly softened. Add salt and pepper.

Carefully transfer soup to blender and puree, then return to pan. Add milk and whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat until milk is up to temperature - do not boil. Top with chives when serving.

Optional - stir in 1 scoop Any Whey protein powder to milk and whisk to combine. Temper with 1/4 cup puree, whisking again. Then add milk/protein mixture to soup and continue as directed. 

Nutritional information (without added protein) - 1/4 recipe.  116 calories, 3.9g fat, 15.4g carbohydrates, 2.8g fiber, 7.4g sugars, 5.9g protein

Adapted from Cooking Light

Sunday, January 13, 2013

What's For Breakfast? Warm Maple Pumpkin Seed Barley

My weekends have been odd lately, I seem to spend most of my time thinking how short they are, and how I don't want to be bored all week. My job isn't that boring, but I suppose it does illustrate how much of a slump I've felt I'm in professionally (working on that, my resume was sent to the hiring manager for one of the positions I posted for).

Today involved some quality Star Wars: The Old Republic play time, some knitting, a bit of house work, and a workout that included learning some new dance moves with Kinect Dance Central 3. I still feel really silly when it shows you dancing for a few seconds in high speed. But at least I'm having fun while getting some cardio in.

The Man had brought his car battery home and we took it back over there after he got home from work today, and his car started right back up. But as soon as we got home and he shut it down, it refused to start again. No idea what's going on. Pain in the ass though, as tomorrow I have pre-op anesthesia appointment at the hospital at 7am - he has to be at work at 6am, and works a block away from the hospital (and 20 minutes from here). So it wouldn't make any sense to drop him off and come home, so I get to find somewhere to try and have breakfast that won't blow out  my daily calorie intake and entertain myself for an hour. Joy. Of course then I'll have to leave for 45 minutes to go get him when he's off at 3. Most days we don't have conflicts in needing a vehicle, but it sucks when we're down one and really need two.

Breakfast today was scrumptious - I've never been a hot cereal fan, but this sounded good, and it's been too cold to really enjoy cold cereal and milk lately. Though I had to use additives too much, by adding half a scoop of heat tolerant protein powder kept the protein level where I need it. While it's a few more calories than I usually have for breakfast, it was a nice switch.

My Meals

  •  1 serving left over Cottage Pie
  • 1/2 cup romaine with 6 grape tomatoes and 1 tbsp Ken's Lite Ranch
  •  2 celery stalks
  •  2.75 oz top sirloin steak
  • 1/3 cup corn, .5 tsp butter
  • 1/4 yukon gold potato
  • 3 carrots, tossed lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper
Water - 72 oz

Exercise - 30 minutes of Kinect Dance Central, 2 30-second planks, weight work: 4lb dumbell set, 20x tricep kickbacks, 20x bicep curls, 20x lateral raises, 40x lunges

Daily Totals - 1006 calories, 33.8g fat, 119.8g carbohydrates, 34.5g sugars, 63.1g protein

Breakfast Barley

It's been cold enough lately, and having 160lb less on my frame means that I feel it a lot more, that I've really been craving warm breakfast. Eggs get old quickly, and honestly they've not tasted quite the same post-op. I've been looking around for protein-rich alternatives to my stand-by cold cereal and milk. This recipe covers all concerns - it's warm, it has comparable protein thanks to the heat tolerant protein powder, and a comforting feel on a cold morning. It's also a great way to use up left over grains.

  • 2/3 cup cooked, salted barley
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 scoop Any Whey protein powder 
  • 1 tbsp roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup 

Mix milk and protein powder together in small bowl until thoroughly combined. Add barley. Microwave for 2-3 minutes until warm (or warm on the stop top in small pan). Protein powder may rise to the top, just stir back into the barley mixture. Top with pumpkin seeds and maple syrup.

Nutritional information: 1 recipe = 1 serving. 264 calories, 4.7g fat, 43.1g carbohydrates, 11.8g sugars, 14.4g protein

Saturday, January 12, 2013

What's For Dinner? Easy Cottage Pie

Lazy Saturday - I slept in a bit, 8 am!, and got a a decent amount of housework and laundry done, but mostly fiddled around online. Classes start up on Monday for my MSAE program, and I really should get a jump on the reading - maybe tomorrow.

Tonight I wanted something a bit different for dinner, and found a recipe for a beef-based Shepherd's pie (probably better called cottage pie since it's beef and not lamb). I fiddled slightly with it, and I thought it tasted pretty darned good. The Man gave it just an "OK" - turns out he's not a fan of that type of dish - who knew?

My Meals

  • Dannon Light & Fit raspberry yogurt
  • 12 lightly salted almonds
  • 2 oz deli roast beef
  • 1 oz provolone cheese
  • 11 Kashi Sea Salt Pita Crisps
  •  1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
Water - 60 oz

Daily Totals - 810 calories, 37.3g fat, 64g carbohydrates, 17.5g sugars, 57.7g protein

Easy Cottage Pie

The variety bug has bitten me lately, and I've been scouring blogs, recipe sites, and more looking for something new to introduce into our meal rotation. It doesn't need to be fancy, and tonight's dinner definitely wasn't, but I found it quite tasty. Turns out the Man doesn't particularly like "this kind of dish" - so I suppose it was good it didn't have any spendy ingredients in it, but it was warm, filling, and best of all - fit well into my meal guidelines.

Modestly adapted from the Framed Cooks.

  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 medium russet potatoes - peeled and cubed
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter, divided
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425F. 

Brown ground beef in large skillet then drain and set aside - reserve 1 tbsp drippings in pan.
Saute onion in reserved drippings and 2 tsp butter. As onion turns translucent, add carrots. Saute for about 5 minutes, until carrot softens. Add tomato paste, flour, and 1/4 cup water. Stir until paste and flour are well blended. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add back ground beef,Wworcestershire sauce, and 1.5 cups water. Simmer 5 minutes until sauce thickens. Mix in corn and peas, simmer 5 more minutes.

While mixture simmers, bring potatoes to a boil in salted water. Reduce heat and cover, simmering for 15-20 minutes. Drain potatoes, mix in remaining butter and slowly add 1/3 cup milk while you mash or whip the potatoes. Add approx 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper.

Spoon beef mixture into 9 inch pie or cake pan, or 8x8 square baker. Spread potatoes on top.

Bake in 425F oven for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly. Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional information: (1/6 recipe) - 227 calories, 7.3g fat, 21g carbohydrates, 4g sugars, 19.2g protein