Stuff to read

Sunday, August 29, 2010

6 weeks out- 1st fresh tomato caveat

Today's lunch: 4 small slices fresh mozzarella, chopped fresh basil, one peeled farmer's market tomato.

I was able to finish half of this, and the tomato, though delicious, isn't sitting well. Now I know why people wait 3 months before trying salad. Next time I do this, it'll be with canned tomato.

Friday, August 27, 2010

6 weeks out - general report

I'm averaging a loss of 3 lbs a week since surgery--which is what my surgeon said would happen. My biggest cheat (wine and dark chocolate) gave me 1,200 calories for one day, but on average it's about 800 a day. This morning I weigh 292. I started on my surgery day at 313. Slow but steady. 6 weeks, 21 lbs gone. It's the long term that counts--I don't pay attention to the day to day 1-2 pound fluctuations (probably water weight) on the scale, I go by my Monday weekly weigh-in.

Things I find helpful: Always having a shaker bottle in my hand. I use the kind with the metal ball inside for mixing protein easier ("Blender Bottle"); drinking no cal beverages constantly (helps with hunger feelings, which I still get sometimes. The Grehlin leaves our system slowly).

Things I keep in my desk at work: Protein powder, tons of the Wal-Mart version of Crystal Lite (half the price, and the apple one is really good)

Progresso Light Soups (160 calories a can, no opener needed, good when I forget to bring my lunch)

Areas where I seem to be different from other people on the VST board: my tastes didn't change after surgery; I have no problems getting liquids in (I drink like before, unless the liquid is thick) and meats are no problem to eat. I still haven't tried fresh fruits, salads, and veggies (because of the indigestible fiber) but I can have frozen, canned and cooked fruits and veggies so that's fine. I didn't become lactose intolerant. I had a very smooth surgery recovery. I think protein shakes taste fine (lots of people hate them but I think it may be because they buy the cheap ones, but I could be wrong).

Eating in restaurants isn't a problem, I just pick grilled or broiled meat, chicken, or fish and tell them to hold the carbs (no potato, bread, rice etc). I take whatever's left home for the next day's lunch. I stay away from fast food completely.

Areas where I was the same: Constipation as soon as I hit mushies/soft solids (it cleared up); the dreaded 3-week stall (it cleared up). It's just our bodies adjusting.

Things I'm working on: exercising more. For people who have reached goal, exercise seems to be key, and they do it every day. Doing it in the morning is best because you burn calories faster all day long. I use Leslie Sansone's 3 Mile Walk DVD for now.

In total, I've lost 37 lbs since I started the pre-op diet and I feel a lot better, I can walk more easily, and don't regret having the surgery. I'm off all my pre-op meds. (Diabetes, cholesterol, triglycerides, anti-depressants)

I am very conscious of having a protein RTD Isopure Plus drink in my purse and in the office for peace of mind. You never know when you'll need it (long meetings etc). I also carry a MedicAlert bracelet that says "Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy-No blind NG tube" when I travel.

That's all I can think of, any questions just ask!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Spanish tortilla breakfast recipe

Ok, no pic this time, but it would just look like an egg, lol. A Spanish tortilla (from Spain, not Mexico) is an egg fritatta served in slices like a pie. I love the flavor, but I'm not going to make a whole pan of it, so here's my single serving substitute:

One SMALL (like new red 1 inch diameter tiny tiny) potato. Peel and then microwave 3 mins. Chop.
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 eggs
Salt to taste

Put a small amount of olive oil in pan. Add potato and garlic and cook until the smell is amazing. Then add the egg, crush the yolk and cook until egg is done.


About 300 calories
15 gr protein
27 grams carbs (I don't eat other carbs when I have this breakfast--my limit is 35 carbs/day but my nutritionist says I can have 100 carbs/day but I don't believe her lol)
15 grams fat (but it's "good" fat)

I finished out this day with cheese sticks and protein shakes. I just wasn't that hungry after having that breakfast. Total calories today, about 700. Some days are less than others, but I run 700-1,000.

I will take pictures of the stuffed peppers when I make them this week. They deserve a pic.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

5 weeks out - here's what I'm eating

With 64 oz of liquid and a protein shake and lowfat string cheese here and there, here is a one week menu for me 5 weeks out. I'll post recipes as soon as possible for the stuff that needs it. Tip: I got a George Foreman grill and it rocks! You don't use any oil for cooking and chicken, fish, beef, and quesadillas come out great. It's fast, too, because both the top and the bottom are heated.

Ok, here's the lowdown on the 5 weeks out menu, about 1,000 calories a day, mostly under 35 carbs a day, low fat and sugar--most meals average 200-300 calories each---recipes to follow in a later post:

Egg & Cheese omelet: Sunday breakfast

Roast Beef Quesadilla: Sunday lunch
Corn tortilla
Lowfat Swiss cheese
Lean Roast beef

Italian salad: Sunday dinner
Mozzarella (in a ball, lowfat if you can find it)
Fresh tomato
Fresh basil
Olive Oil & vinegar
Purple onion

Squash and zucchini fritatta: Monday breakfast, save leftovers for Tues breakfast
Leek (you can substitute shallot or onion)

Salmon and green beans: Monday lunch (cook in morning, wrap for lunch)

Stuffed green peppers: Monday dinner, take other half as lunch Tues
97% fat free Hamburger
Mexican tomatoes from can
Fat free Ricotta
Lowfat Shredded cheese to melt on top

Fritatta: leftovers for Tues breakfast

Crock Pot Soup:  prepare Tuesday morning/Tues dinner
Potatoes (small red)
Green Beans
Canned tomato

Wed: Fritatta breakfast leftovers

Wed lunch: Soup leftovers packed for work

Wed Dinner: Roast beef quesadilla

Thurs breakfast: Steak and eggs

Thurs lunch: Leftover steak and frozen broccoli/carrots

Thurs dinner:  Cod and frozen green beans (save leftovers for Fri lunch)

Fri breakfast: Protein shake with iced coffee

Fri lunch: Corn tortilla, refried beans, cheese quesadilla

Fri dinner: Salmon and eggplant

Spanish tortilla: Sat breakfast, leftovers to follow

Friday, August 6, 2010

Soft Solids Easy Recipe: 5 minute Portabello

This is for when you have absolutely no desire to cook--but you gotta get that protein in! And it's preferable that it taste good.

5 minute Portabello Mushroom Melt

1 medium portabello mushroom cap, stem removed, upended
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (remove stems)
2-3 slices buffalo mozzarella (the kind that looks like a round ball; the best kind is packed in liquid. If you can't find that, get the one that's in the round ball)

Turn the mushroom cap upside down
Microwave for 4 minutes if you have the lowest-power/wattage microwave like me; 2 minutes if you've got a powerful microwave. The mushroom should be moist and tender.

Chop a reasonable amount of fresh basil (fresh is crucial for flavor) and completely fill in the mushroom cap.

Top with thick slices of buffalo mozzarella; be generous. Even if it's not lowfat, it's only 70 calories per slice.  If you can find lowfat, be even more generous. When I made this, I used 3 thin/medium slices of full fat cheese. (I was low on calories). The mushroom only has 20 calories.

Mircowave until the cheese starts to melt down the side. About 1 minute.

[For more protein, and if you have the extra time, sautee a bit of shallot, garlic, and ground meat to add to the basil filling.]


Approximate stats:
150-170 calories, depending on amount of cheese
6 carbs
9 protein
3 fat

Thursday, August 5, 2010

For pre-ops with a surgery date

After surgery, you are put on clear liquids. The big challenge is getting in your liquids, and your protein, that can help healing. I made sure I had a few bottles of Isopure Plus RTD, and when I got sick of sweet stuff, Unjury protein Chicken Broth. I had a very easy time after surgery, and I think having these was part of the reason.

I have a few packets of the Unjury protein chicken broth powder left--enough to get someone through the clear liquids stage. It's a shame to just have it sitting around, so if you have a surgery date, and there's time enough for me to mail it to you, send me an email and let me know you want it. I'll just need your mailing address. The first mailing address received gets it. My email is

I hope this is of help to someone!


UPDATE: Broth has already been sent to someone.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Soft Foods Recipe: Chinese Beef

Well, the scale has stopped moving so I've eliminated all possible extra calories from this recipe.

Chinese Beef & Vegetables

1/2 lb (1 cup/8 oz) lowfat ground beef 
1 minced shallot
1 minced garlic clove
1/2 cup any veggie combo, chopped. I used carrots and broccoli.
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp Chinese 5 spice (if you can't find this, throw in a little allspice)
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Season ground beef with salt and pepper. Cook until halfway done. Then add shallots, garlic, and other spices to hamburger, and continue cooking
Microwave chopped veggies until tender (no peas/corn/potatoes allowed)
Add veggies to hamburger mixture and mix. If you want more calories and protein, add 1/4 cup nonfat ricotta to mixture and combine.
Portion into 1 cup servings and top with a bit of shredded cheese.


If you used at least 90% lean ground beef: about 350

The Dreaded Week 3 Post-op Stall

With the move to more solid foods, I'm constipated (even using Benefiber) and the scale isn't moving. Time to buy a laxative! I posted this to and it seems like others are in the same boat. It seems to be the body's temporary reaction to a major change, after being on liquids so long. It just got used to liquids, and now I'm making a change. I'm doing all the right things food-wise (600-800 calories a day, high protein, low carbs/fat) , so I'm going to step up my walking (I'm not cleared for regular exercise yet) and see if that helps.

If this happens to you, don't get discouraged, it happens to a lot of people week 3 post-op. Just keep following the good habits and it should sort itself out. Ill keep you posted.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

My first soft foods recipe

I stop mushies and start soft foods as of tomorrow. According to my surgeon's plan this means:
Meats must be ground or finely chopped. No steak yet.
Veggies must be peeled and cooked until very soft
No fibrous veggies like corn and peas
No raw veggies/fruit
Eggs are ok now

I'll be posting recipes as I go. Here's the first one.

Italian Beef & Zucchini

This will make five 1 cup servings, so you will have leftovers.

2 medium zucchini, peeled and  chopped
1/2 lb (which is 8 oz, or 1 cup) lean hamburger
1/4 small onion
1 clove minced garlic (optional)
1 cup canned chopped tomatoes, with liquid
1/2 cup (4 oz) fresh minced basil (set aside)
1/2 cup (4 oz no or low fat ricotta (set aside)
4 tbsp grated Parmeggiano Reggiano (if you can get it, if not use the shredded Parmesan from the supermarket. Do NOT use Parmesan from a green (or any other) can. This is crucial to the flavor. (set aside)
Kosher or sea salt (very important to flavor--don't use regular Morton's) and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tbsp dried oregano
Optional: 1 tbsp dried red pepper flakes

Chop the peeled zucchini and put into a microwaveable container with a tbsp of water. Since microwave times vary, I'm hesitant to give an exact time. Start with one minute and then check it. Keep going until the zucchini is soft and tender, but not mushy. Drain and dry with paper towels if needed and set aside. It should be moist but not wet.

Finely chop the onion and garlic, and then mix with the zucchini that you have set aside.

Heat a skillet and brown lightly salted and peppered hamburger with oregano, (and red pepper flakes if you are using them), breaking the hamburger into small pieces.

When hamburger is halfway done, add the reserved zucchini mixture and cook until the onion is clear and hamburger is done through. Add tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes or until liquid simmers off. Add a bit of chicken stock to moisten if pan becomes too dry. When done, drain any excess fat/liquid and transfer mixture to a large bowl. The mixture should be moist but not wet.

Add ricotta and basil to bowl and toss with cooked mixture. Season to taste. Divide mixture into five one cup servings in small bowls, or small plates. Divide Parmesan evenly, to top each serving. Garnish with a small amount of minced basil over the top.

Approximate stats per serving:
220 calories
18 protein
5 fat
8 carbs
2 fiber (subtract from carbs to get 6 net carbs)

Enjoy! If you have to cook for other people, mix left over mixture with rigatoni, fusilli, rotelli, or penne pasta for them and top with fresh tomato.

A little fat philosophy on a Saturday morning

I was working my university's booth at the State Fair this Saturday. The booth faced the entrance so it was great for people watching. As I casually watched people/families come in, I noticed a couple of interesting things. First, most people were overweight/obese. Maybe 20% weren't. And of those who were overweight, about half looked like they had BMIs of over 40.

I had the Fair brochure that listed all the food booths available, and out of about 50 choices, only two were reasonably healthy (kebabs and fajitas). The rest were full of sugar/fat and/or fried. I thought--"look how ingrained unhealthy food choices are in our culture--people couldn't make a healthy choice here even if they wanted to". I then thought about all the fast food and restaurants in town, and even our own university cafeteria--and the situation is just about the same. The State Fair was a mirror of larger life.

The reason that the unhealthy food is so successful is that cheap ingredients are high sugar/fat/carb so it's a great profit-maker for food businesses. Therefore they promote these items heavily; people respond to the advertising, eat the food, and get addicted to the fat/carbs/sugar, and eat more or at least regularly, driving the profit machine. Because they are addicted to this unhealthy food, economically they create a demand in business and a habit in themselves. Most of what is available for us to eat is no longer nutritious food. We get fat; business owners get rich.

Our children learn to like the first foods they are exposed to that hit the magic nerve centers of sugar/carb/fat. They create a larger demand, and they pressure their parents into buying them unhealthy food. Our schools serve pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs to our children for lunch. It's cheaper for the school that way, and once it is available to the students, they get addicted and demand is created.

I think we as a culture could learn something very valuable from French food culture. American culture emphasizes portions. When talking about restaurants, Americans say things like "It's really good, they have huge portions" as if the amount of food is more important than the quality or taste of the food. In France the opposite is true. They grow their vegetables for taste rather than size. We breed huge tasteless commercial tomatoes, beans, everything with size, color, and shippability in mind. We are concerned with everything BUT taste. No wonder the kids don't want to eat their vegetables. Their vegetables are tasteless!

French schools don't serve junk food. They serve real food, a great variety, with plenty of vegetables cooked in interesting ways (not canned, not boiled, not tasteless). Kids are the opposite of picky because the culture encourages them to try a little of everything. And a "little" is key. The French are satisfied with far smaller portions, and emphasize taste over amount of food. This difference in the food culture is the reason that they, as a nation, eat extremely well, don't deprive themselves, but have lower obesity rates and a longer life span than we do. They revere food. We scarcely care about food as long as it's warm, comforting, and there's a lot of it. This is fundamentally unhealthy and leads to obesity.

We have to fix our food culture. It can only be done though the media and through education. We are treating the symptoms of our food culture with Photoshop, Jenny Craig and other useless diets that don't work, WLS, and eating disorders. We need to treat the cause, and that is junk food in our schools, fast food culture, and the commercial food producing practices that value color, size, and shippability over taste and nutrition. It requires a shift in culture and a shift in the way the food business operates. "Super-size it", cries the billboard and we say yes to double the fat and calories.

Having McDonald's offer a salad does not change the fact that that most of what they are selling is high-fat psuedo-food. Why are they selling it? Because people think they like it, creating demand. Why do consumers think they like Big Macs? Because they don't have better tasting healthful alternatives in reasonable portion sizes. Because they've been raised on high fat/carb/sugar food in large portions. Portions=comfort. If taste were comfort, we wouldn't have this problem.

So back to the State Fair: what I saw there was a slice of American food culture in microcosm. And I pictured what could be done about it. 50 stands of food that was healthy and delicious. Rich food in MODERATION. Smaller portions. But that would be expensive! To businesses and to consumers! Why yes, it would, but can we put a price on good health, a longer life span, and less disease? As a society, would this cost outweigh diabetes, cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood pressure medication and doctor visits? Would it outweigh lost workplace productivity due to premature heart attacks, strokes, and other obesity-related illness?

Maybe good health is expensive. Maybe if the demand was large enough for healthy items, the price would go down as food producers and retailers started to realize economies of scale--that's basic laws of economics.

WLS is a sad reminder that our culture is sick, and as a society we have chosen to stigmatize those affected by our sick food culture, and American culture is so sick that the only option for many is WLS. Instead of fixing individual victims of the food culture, we should fix the food culture itself.

So that's what my day at the State Fair made me think of. Comments/discussion encouraged!