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