Monday, March 31, 2014

another round of egg bites

Yes, I'm obsessed with these!  They're so easy, tasty, and convenient.  If I have these in the fridge or freezer, I know an easy breakfast, lunch, or dinner is only a few minutes away.

As I've mentioned before, the grocery store is now marking down some cheeses to half price when they're a few days away from the Sell By date.  This has been a great way for me to stock up on unique cheeses I don't normally buy.  So for yesterday's egg cups (the bigger egg bites) I used two flavors of goat cheese:  PsycheDillic and Purple Haze.  PsycheDillic is basically goat cheese with dill and Purple Haze is goat cheese with lavender and fennel.  I made sure to lick my fingers after (after!) putting the cheese chunks in the muffin tin.  Great flavor and addictive!

For the little egg bites I decided to use some of the same ingredients I used for the Crockpot Southwest Chicken I made yesterday.  I went to BJ's Wholesale on Saturday morning and had tons of corn, black beans, and salsa to use up.  I added green and yellow onions, Mexican cheese and Tabasco.

One thing I want to note about these recipes:  it says to saute the onions, garlic and sausage.  You don't have to do that.  Sure, it probably adds a little more flavor, but if you want to truly make this simple and not dirty another pan, just skip this step.  I actually just dumped all the ingredients in the beaten eggs and stirred.  The sausage is already fully cooked and the onions will get soft when you bake the eggs.  Up to you.

Mexican Egg Bites on the left, Sausage and Goat Cheese Egg Cups on the right.

Mexican Egg Bites

Makes 24 bites.
Each bite contains:  35 calories, 1g fat, 2g carbs, and 2g protein.

1/2 an onion, diced
3 scallions, sliced thin
Butter flavored cooking spray
5 eggs
1/2 cup salsa (I used Medium)
1/2 cup canned corn, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
Dash of salt and black pepper
1/2 cup shredded Mexican or cheddar cheese
Few dashes of Tabasco, optional and to your taste

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.

Saute all onions in cooking spray over medium heat until slightly browned. 

Beat the eggs with the salt and pepper.  Add the onion mixture and stir.  Add the black beans, corn, salsa, and Tobasco and stir.  Add the cheese and stir.

Spoon the egg mixture into the muffin tin and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until eggs are set and tops start to brown slightly. Let cool before packing into a container and either chilling or freezing.

These taste best when warm from the oven, but they will chill or freeze and reheat just fine for at least 4 to 5 days.  If using the microwave to reheat, use 60% power so they don't turn out rubbery or hard around the edges.  100% power will kill them unless you keep it to a minute or so.

Sausage and Goat Cheese Egg Cups

Makes 12 egg cups
Each cup contains:  115 calories, 8.5g fat, 1g carbs, and 8.5g protein

1/2 an onion, diced
3 scallions, sliced thin
2 tsp minced garlic
6 Jones (or Banquet) turkey breakfast sausages, chopped
Butter flavored cooking spray
8 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash black pepper

4 oz Cypress Grove Chevre Purple Haze goat cheese
4 oz Cypress Grove Chevre PsycheDillic goat cheese
(Note:  You can use any goat cheese you want and use less if desired.  I happen to like a lot of cheese.  I made 6 egg cups with 4 oz of Purple Haze and 6 egg cups with 4 oz PsycheDillic.  I did not combine the cheeses and add to each cup.)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray a regular muffin tin with cooking spray.

Saute all onions in cooking spray over medium heat until slightly browned.  Add the garlic and chopped sausage and saute for a minute or so more.

Beat the eggs with the salt and pepper. Add the onion and sausage mixture and stir.  

Spoon the egg mixture into the cups. Add crumbles of goat cheese to each cup.  

Bake until they are set in the center, about 25 minutes.   Let cool before packing into a container and either chilling or freezing.

These taste best when warm from the oven, but they will chill or freeze and reheat just fine for at least 4 to 5 days.  If using the microwave to reheat, use 60% power so they don't turn out rubbery or hard around the edges.  100% power might kill them.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

crockpot southwest chicken

Today I decided to make one of the dinner recipes I found during The Cooking Cure:  Crockpot Southwest Chicken.

One of the assignments of The Cooking Cure was to find five dinner recipes to try.  I had a brick of cream cheese (neufchatel, actually) in the fridge and was looking for a way to use it.  Before surgery I would have made a big three-egg omelet and put a big slab of the cheese in it.  Three or four more breakfasts like that and it would have been gone.  But I can't eat that much anymore and it would take me a long time to use the cheese otherwise.  So I came across this recipe and it seemed super easy; just toss the stuff in a crockpot and forget about it.  I'm all for that.

This recipe made quite a bit, which is good if you have a few people in the house.  But since it's just me and Bob, and I can't eat much at one sitting, guess who's going to be eating this for lunch or dinner all week??

I liked it, but it seemed to be missing something.  At first I thought it's because my taste buds are changing, but Bob said the same thing. We both agreed that next time I should add some taco seasoning and maybe some green onions.

Here's the recipe I used:  Crockpot Southwest Chicken

It looks foggy because of the steam.

I put mine on a small 6" tortilla.  I was only able to eat about 3/4 of it.  Next time I will skip the tortilla, or maybe serve over baked tortilla chips.

what do i miss about my old life?

So many times I have started to write this post and then promptly forgot about it.  I'm kind of glad I forgot about it until now, because I have a different answer than I had a couple months ago.  

A couple months ago I would have said I missed going out to eat, eating junk food, drinking diet soda, stuffing myself at holidays, guzzling water when I'm really thirsty, tasting (or, really, snacking) as I cook or bake, and just the whole experience of eating in general.  

Someone on a weight loss forum I belong to posted this and I thought it was such a great description of how I felt after surgery:  "I think I am grieving food.  I am loving my results and so happy with my progress, but then I see a commercial or billboard with a deliciously juicy cheeseburger on it and I remember.  Almost like an ex boyfriend, lol.  Food was always my comfort, especially as an introvert who feels nobody understands me usually.  I would go to the drive through and get that greasy bag of love and comfort- they say food releases endorphins and some months those from food were the only I got.  I not only miss the cheeseburger, I miss the experience of eating it, bite after bite rapidly.  Taking gulps of soda in between and then squirting a smudge of ketchup on each bundle of fries I then shoved into my mouth.  I miss the large feeling of fullness in my stomach.  I hated myself each time not long after, but while I was eating I felt wonderful... Apply this to pizza, pasta, fried anything, cereal, Mexican food.... about anything triggers me."

So how do I feel now?  I still miss the experience of eating like I did before, but as my tastes change, I feel less and less like I am "grieving."  I'm enjoying trying new things and learning to judge my portions without measuring.  I can still pretty much eat what I want, just not as much.  I still get that "large feeling of fullness" mentioned above, but that happens when I accidentally overeat and it's definitely not enjoyable like it used to be; I try to avoid that.  I missed eating out at first, but I've started to go out to eat again (life isn't over!).  I don't miss junk food.  I don't miss diet soda, either.  I occasionally taste while I cook or bake, but not usually.  I need to save room in the tummy for my protein, so why bother?  I do miss being able to guzzle my water, though.  It kind of sucks that I can drink only about 2 ounces at a time, over the course of a few sips. That will change, though, as I get further out from surgery and my stomach pouch grows a little.

Overall, I feel good and it hasn't been the highly emotional experience I dreaded it would be.  Pretty much a non-event.  And that's a good thing.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

lunch today

I bought some Al Fresco Tomato & Basil Chicken Meatballs awhile back and they've been lurking in the bottom drawer of the fridge (fully cooked, of course).  I decided to have them for lunch today since I didn't feel like making tuna salad or anything.

Since I didn't feel like waiting for the oven and didn't want to dirty a pan by cooking on the stove, I microwaved the meatballs.  I served them with some bruschetta sauce I had in the fridge.  I didn't want to open a huge jar of pasta sauce just to dunk a few meatballs.

I really liked these meatballs.  There were little chunks of tomato.  The basil wasn't overpowering.  If anything, I think they could have used some oregano or more basil.  Ground chicken is bland so it needs to be dressed up in order to get it to taste like something.  I think next time I will use marinara sauce for dipping.  Bruschetta just isn't quite the right thing to use.

I ate the full serving size, which is 4 meatballs or 81g (a little under 3 ounces).  On the side I had 4 tablespoons of bruschetta; I really only needed 2 and ended up throwing the rest out.

dinner last night

Last night I opened the other package of Perdue Short Cuts, which is slices of fully cooked and seasoned chicken breast.  This time it was the honey roasted flavor.

I didn't bother heating the chicken up.  I just served it cold along with some Ken's Honey Mustard Dressing (yum!).  The chicken was good, but I prefer the Southwestern flavor I had on my barbecue chicken pizza earlier in the week.  I like the amount of protein I get from it and it's so convenient.  The chicken is tender and moist, also.  Not dry at all.

A serving size is 1/2 cup or about 2.5 ounces.  I ate most of it, plus most of the dressing.  I didn't stop because it was too filling, but because I just wasn't that into the flavor.  Next time I will buy a different flavor.

the cooking cure: last day! (day 20)

Yesterday's assignment was to think about the last several weeks and figure out which assignments I liked the most and revisit those every few weeks.  I would say the ones I like best were the ones where I had to write down everything I ate the week before.  First of all, it was easy.  And second, it helped me see where I can improve for purposes of my weight loss surgery.  It helped me see which meals I put some thought into and which ones I just ate whatever was around.

I was also supposed to plan some meals for next week, which I did.  I plan to use a few of the recipes I haven't tried yet.

The purpose of my doing this challenge was mainly to do something and follow through on it.  I followed through until the end, but I admit I didn't always give 100%.  I found I fell down when it came to cooking a meal each night.  Some nights when I didn't cook it was just laziness.  Other times it was because I had commitments after work and didn't get home until 6:30 pm or later.  That might not sound late, but Bob gets home about an hour before I do and, because he gets up an hour and a half earlier than me, his meal times tend to be earlier than mine.  He eats lunch around 11:30 am, so he's pretty hungry when he gets home around 4:30 pm.  It's tough for him if he has to wait for me to get home and then wait for dinner to cook.  Maybe a goal should be to make more crock pot meals.  That way it's done when he gets home.

Now that I've completed the challenge and followed through, I have a freezer full of egg bites and egg cups, and some new recipes to try.

Friday, March 28, 2014

the cooking cure: days 18 and 19

The assignments for Wednesday and last night were nice and easy.  Two more days and I'm done!

On Wednesday I had to make a list of all the foods and recipes I love.  Things that are easy to make and they never disappoint.  That was easy.  I tend like casseroles and things I can put together quickly.  So, here's the list.  Although, as you can see, I had some difficulty working around Max.

Last night I had to make a plan for my leftovers.  That was easy, too.  The leftover turkey meatloaf went to Bob for lunch at work.  I froze many of the egg cups I made, plus I'm taking some to work.  I didn't have much in the way of leftovers other than that.  We tend to eat most of what I make now since I'm making smaller amounts.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

dinner tonight: barbecue chicken pizza

Tonight's dinner was a homemade barbecue chicken pizza.  Even though it's not a pepperoni pizza from Vinny's or Pepe's, it satisfies my craving.  I had weight loss surgery and it's a lifelong commitment, but I'm not willing to live my life without being able to have some pizza occasionally.  If I designate some foods as being totally off limits, that just sets me up for a long, hard fall off the wagon.

I made it using a small 6" flour tortilla, 2 tablespoons of Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce (my favorite), 1/4 cup of Southwestern Style Perdue Short Cuts (fully cooked chicken; so convenient), and 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar.  I was able to eat 3/4 of it.  Bob got the last piece.

265 calories; 10.8g fat; 26.5g carbs; and 14.5g protein.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

dinner tonight: mediterranean turkey meatloaf

Tonight I baked the meatloaf I prepped last night, per The Cooking Cure assignments.  It's Mediterranean Turkey Meatloaf with Feta and Sun-dried Tomatoes.

I was trying to replicate the meatloaf Bob and I had at Knapp's Landing for our anniversary.  It was delicious and so moist.  So, I launched a search for a recipe that would seem to come close.   I read online that turkey meatloaf usually gets it's moisture from chopped mushrooms.  Since Bob is a hard-core mushroom-hater, that was out of the question.  So, I settled on this recipe.

I didn't really deviate from the recipe other than I used Italian bread crumbs instead of plain; that's what I had on-hand.  I also used dried parsley instead of fresh.

I really liked it, although it didn't have as much moisture as the one I was trying to replicate.  Definitely not dry, though.  I think next time I will make my own bread crumbs rather than using the dry store-bought ones. And then I'll soak the bread crumbs in some milk.  I'm thinking it might benefit from some caramelized onions, also.  And maybe I'll make the effort to buy fresh parsley.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Here's the recipe I used: Mediterranean Turkey Meatloaf with Feta & Sun-dried Tomatoes

This is about 4.25 oz.  I couldn't eat it all.  I ate about 2.75 oz.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

the cooking cure: days 15 through 17

The assignment for last Friday was to make dinner and then plan all three meals for this week.  For whatever reason, I didn't make dinner that night.  To be honest, I can't even remember what the heck I ate.  Normally I log all of my food, religiously, but didn't for some reason.  I think I may have had a chicken Caesar salad from Duchess.  Oh, yes!  I did.  And didn't eat much of it because they way overdid the dressing and the lettuce was soggy.  Quite disappointing.  I ate the croutons and the chicken, though.

I planned my dinners to some extent for this week:  egg cups using the blue cheese and herbed goat cheese I had bought for half price (!); Mediterranean turkey meatloaf; and homemade chicken fingers.  Breakfast I didn't plan, mainly because I can eat the egg cups I planned on making.  Also because I realized that I have a lot of Greek yogurt in the fridge that I need to use up.  A lot.  Lunches will be leftovers from the meatloaf and chicken tenders, as well as some tuna salad on Melba toast.

The assignment for yesterday was to treat myself for all the hard work I did planning and prepping the meals I will make this week.  What I actually did on the weekend, not last week like I was supposed to, was do the shopping the ingredients, do the prep (did some), and then baked a ton of egg cups, which I posted the other day.  I didn't actually treat myself to anything, but I guess I could consider watching a few episodes of The Amazing Race a treat; it's one of my favorite shows.

Today's assignment was to think about the meals for the rest of the week and lay out a plan to get them done.  So, I put the turkey meatloaf together, which I'll bake tomorrow night.  Tomorrow night I'll make up the tuna salad.  Breakfast and lunch are covered for tomorrow:  I'm having a couple egg cups for breakfast and for lunch it's turkey and pepper jack roll-ups, which I'll dip in some light mayo.

Monday, March 24, 2014

dinner tonight

Nothing very exciting tonight.  2.25 oz. of turkey breast rolled around .75 oz of pepper jack cheese, with honey mustard on the side.  I added a little pepper to make the picture look at little less boring.  I would have had three rolls, but the deli person sliced the turkey really thick.  Three slices (more than 3 ounces) would have been too much with the cheese.  My tummy can't fit all that yet.

I hadn't planned on having this for dinner, but I bought lunch meat over the weekend and didn't realize until 11 PM last night that I didn't buy any bread or rolls.  The bread isn't for me; it was so I could make sandwiches for Bob's lunch.  Since I couldn't make any sandwiches and didn't want to waste the lunch meat, I decided to have the ham with the pepper jack for lunch, and then turkey with pepper jack for dinner.  

Guess what I'm having for lunch tomorrow?

more egg cups with spinach and cheese

Last night I made some spinach and cheese egg cups.  Twenty-four to be exact.  I made half with garlic and herb goat cheese and the other half with blue cheese.  I followed this recipe.  I think I put in a little too much blue cheese, because the muffin tin was covered with melted cheese when I took it out of the oven.  I plan to keep some in the fridge for meals this week and freeze the rest.

Just a word of caution:  blue cheese and spinach cooking together in the oven is a stinky combination.  But if you love the combo, you won't mind it.

P.S. - Another word of caution...don't eat the browned cheese on the muffin tin unless you can handle the extreme taste of browned blue cheese.  Seriously.

Here are finished products:

Spinach with Maytag blue cheese.

Spinach with garlic and herb goat cheese.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

another milestone

I've officially lost 75.4 lbs as of today!  Here are a couple more before and after pictures of me.  Although I'm thrilled I'm more than halfway to my initial goal, my body is starting to look as though someone let the air out of me.  Like a balloon that's been inflated and deflated 30 times over.  I'm not all that upset over it, though.  I know that that's what 20+ years of dieting, losing weight, and regaining weight does to the body. And I'm almost 40 now; I'm not in my 20s anymore, when things bounce back to where they should be.  I've always said I wouldn't get plastic surgery after all the weight is gone, because losing the weight is all that's important.  But I'm starting to think about it.  I'll see how I feel when I get to my goal.

December 2013, during the first week of my pre-op diet.

Another before:  at my friend's picnic during the summer of 2013.  
I really dislike this picture, but it's reality; this is what I looked like.

After:  75 lbs lost
This shirt is pretty big on me now.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

bruschetta egg bites

I made some more egg bites the other day.  It's a mix of eggs, onions, garlic, bruschetta sauce, and Parmesan cheese with a fresh mozzarella ball in the middle.

They tasted good, but the fresh mozzarella gave off a lot of moisture, making them soggy on the bottom.  It could be the result of using the marinated mozzarella balls that are found at the olive bar.  (Notice I avoided writing "marinated balls.")  I didn't put them on a paper towel to get rid of the excess marinade, but I probably should have.  Next time I try this I will make sure to do that.

I used this recipe and omitted the green onions; I didn't have any in the house.  I also used 1 tsp of dried basil instead of the fresh basil, since I didn't have that either.

Bruschetta Bites

Thursday, March 20, 2014

the cooking cure: days 13 and 14

Yesterday's assignment was to find five recipes I want to make for dinner.  It was tough to find things I want to try, because many dishes that look so good contain pasta, which is something I'm supposed to severely limit.  That's OK by me, though, because I was never much of a pasta eater.  This was also a tough assignment, because I wanted to find meals that appeal to Bob, too.

So, here's the list:

Today's assignment was to stock the kitchen for one recipe.  Since I have no desire to grocery shop after work, I'll save this until the weekend.  Although, I do have the ingredients for at least one recipe already.  So let's say today's assignment is done. ;)

last night's dinner

Last night I had 1.5 oz of chicken salad and two pieces of melba toast.  I bought the chicken salad at a store across from the bank I work at.  Actually, I was in a different location for training the last couple days and didn't bring lunch. There's a store across the street that's like a mini Whole Foods (it's in an affluent area) and they had some prepared foods in the cold case.  I decided on the chicken salad since it's high in protein and it didn't have any visible crunchies.  ("Crunchies" are large pieces of celery and/or onion that ruin tuna, chicken, egg, and potato salads.  Seriously, these salads should not crunch.  I like celery.  I like onion.  But not in these salads.)  I wasn't thrilled with it as it didn't seem to have any salt or pepper and there wasn't much mayo.  I decided to bring it home and mix in some mayo, salt, and pepper.

I bought some Melba toast a couple weeks ago.  I was looking for a lower calorie, lower fat alternative to regular crackers.  I made the mistake of trying it plain.  Blech!  Very bland. So, I put the chicken salad on top of it and called it dinner.  It was pretty good.  next time I will look for flavored Melba toast, though.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

the cooking cure: days 11 and 12

The assignments for the last two days are the same as last Monday and Tuesday, except it was centered around dinner.

I'm almost embarrassed to show my list of dinners for last week; on two days I ate whatever I could grab and put no effort into it.  Some of you might see "pork rinds" and think either, "ewwww!" or, "what nutritional value could those possibly have?"  They have a lot of protein so they're good for snacking occasionally.

There isn't much I would want to subtract from this list, except maybe the pork rinds because it's just not "dinner."  I would leave everything else.  I would like to eat more egg cups, though.  They're so easy, delicious, and filling.  And the combinations are endless.  I just need to be more creative.

My goals are to eliminate snack-type food for dinner, cook more (always an issue with me; I get lazy and have a husband who lets me off easy), and start using the grill again.  The only reason I'm not grilling now is that we need to refill the propane.  Laziness, again.  Actually, my goal should be not to be so lazy.

Foods I'd like to eat more often are real, homemade hamburgers, real meat, like steak and chicken (not the vegetarian stuff), and more vegetables.  This surgery allows me to pretty much skip veggies in the early stages, but as I get further out I will need to add those back in.  I've realized one thing I will not be eating more of is salad.  Now that I have to chew so well, I find that it just doesn't appeal to me anymore.

So, tonight's assignment is to find five dinner recipes.  I plan to work on that and I'll post the recipes I want to try.

See?  Proof that I did the assignment.  Felix witnessed it.

Monday, March 17, 2014

mama's boy

My little Max.  Just because.

morningstar farms chik'n nuggets

In my quest to try new foods, tonight for dinner I tried MorningStar Farms Chik'n Nuggets.  Yup, vegetarian chicken nuggets.

A serving size is 4 nuggets.  Each serving contains 190 calories, 9g fat, 19g carbs, 4g fiber and 12g protein. I think that fat is a bit high for a product like this; I was surprised.  I definitely like the protein count, though.

I prepared them as recommended, which is to bake them in the oven at 375 for 15-18 minutes.  They came out perfect:  moist on the inside and crispy on the outside.

They taste pretty good.  I wouldn't say they actually taste like chicken, but they don't taste fake either. Actually there was a lack of taste in the filling, which seems like a bag thing, but it wasn't.  Instead I tasted the breading and the spices that were used.  I paired them with some barbecue sauce.  I wanted honey mustard, but I couldn't see adding another 260 calories to the meal (2 servings, because one serving of sauce is not enough).  The barbecue sauce was only 140 calories (2 servings).

So, the final answer is I would buy these again.

chocolite peanut butter cup patties

I found some sugar-free chocolate in the store this weekend:  Chocolite.  I bought the peanut butter patties.

Each package has two servings, which amounts to about 24 grams each.  Each serving has 35 calories, 2.5g fat, 8g carbs, 6g fiber, and 1g protein.  There's also 2g sugar alcohols.

They tasted pretty good, although if you're expecting Reese's Peanut Butter Cups you'll be disappointed. They're sugar-free so they weren't really sweet.  I would have to say they taste more like a Butterfinger or 5th Avenue bar.  Hard to describe.  The texture is drier than a Reese's cup, but not actually dry.  I ate only the serving size, because, being that it IS still candy, I got that crappy feeling I get when I eat too much candy.  When I used to eat too much candy.  Past tense.

I would buy these again to keep on hand when I want something sweet.  I don't crave sweets yet, though. Probably because I had to drink so many sweet protein shakes before surgery.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

weekend wrap-up

OK, I didn't do much of what I planned this weekend.  Instead, Bob and I went and looked at a couple houses yesterday.  One was in Prospect and one in Seymour.  The one in Seymour was nice, but not really what we're looking for.  While I didn't mind that it needed updating, the bedrooms were small and it had only a one-car garage (Bob wants two).  And there wasn't room to add another bay to the garage.  The one in Prospect is exactly what we're looking for:  two-car garage, lots of square footage, open floor plan, three bedrooms and more than one bathroom.  Plus, it's out in the sticks so it's nice and quiet and there's more land for less money.  The downside is that we're unsure of what an inspection will reveal.  It's a very young house, but we see a potential problem.  Hopefully it's not, but could be.  Today we went to three open houses and I'm glad we did - we were able to cross three houses off the list without wasting our realtor's time, and we now have a better idea of what different square footage looks like.

I went to Whole Foods, like I planned, to buy some salad and a side dish, which I'll use for lunch this week. I bought a small mesclun and goat cheese salad with walnuts and cranberries.  I also bought lemon cranberry quinoa, plus some tzatziki sauce.  I have no idea what I'll use the tzatziki for, but I'm sure I'll find something. I'm open to suggestions.  I wouldn't have bought it if it weren't for the guy pushing food samples in the produce section.  He kept giving them to me.  After 4 samples (hummus, tzatziki, tabbouleh, and eggplant dip), I was actually full.  So that was lunch on Saturday.

I had planned on making some protein mini muffins and some more egg bites, but that didn't happen.  I bought some great cheeses to use in the bites, though.  I got blue cheese, goat cheese with fennel and lavender, and garlic and herb goat cheese.  What's even better is they were all half price!  I'll use them during the week.

So, nothing really got done because we spent all day Saturday and Sunday riding around looking at houses. It was worth it, though.

Friday, March 14, 2014

the cooking cure: days 7, 8 and 9

The assignments for the last few days were to find five recipes I want to try for lunch, stock my kitchen in preparation, and to make lunch and then plan next week's breakfasts and lunches.

As I said in my last post, my goals for lunch aren't to actually make any new recipes, but, rather, to always bring my lunch, be prepared, and add some salad.  I had planned on visiting Whole Foods or Trader Joe's to pick up some prepared salads and side dishes (there's just something about those stores that greatly appeals to the food porn addict in me); however, I spent Wednesday night talking to my mortgage company and a realtor in preparation for buying a house.  Then I wasted the rest of the night looking at houses online (BIG time suck!).  The mortgage guy was supposed to call last night so I came right home from work.  Of course he didn't, so there went last night.  Tonight I have somewhere to be after work so that's out.  I'll have to do it this weekend.

Today's assignment is to plan next week's breakfasts and lunches so that will be a breeze.  I want to make some protein mini muffins and maybe some oatmeal to freeze into individual servings; I'll accomplish that this weekend.  I'll be sure to post pictures and maybe a recipe or two.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

dinner last night

Last night I decided I wanted a hamburger.  Not a frozen patty (the one at the diner last week was plenty!), but a homemade patty.  No bun, of course.  Since I had defrosted a nearly-three pound package of ground beef I figured I would use that.  Well, after browning a pound to mix with marinara sauce and pasta for Bob, I discovered I has less than I needed for a make-ahead meatloaf.  So, my homemade burger was not meant to be.  I actually had to add a little TVP to the meatloaf mix to make sure I had enough meat.  

I still wanted a burger and then remembered I bought a package of Morningstar Farms Grillers Prime "hamburger" patties.  I cooked it in the frying pan with some cooking spray.  I put some cheese on it right before it was done.  I also threw a few tater tots in the toaster over.  Can't have a burger without some form of fries.  I served it with some mayo and ketchup.  I put it all on a regular dinner plate this time so I could feel like a grownup.

I was only able to eat 3/4 of the burger and three tater tots.  The burger was good, although I didn't like the crispy texture of the edges.  It just seemed weird to me for some reason.  The flavor was good; it didn't taste like a burger, necessarily, but it didn't taste like grains or fakeness either, which was good.  I might buy these again, but would probably wait until my stomach can handle a small toasted roll or might buy a different flavor.  I bought them mostly for the protein and the lower fat and calorie content.  They make me feel like I'm dieting and if I feel like that too much, I'm not likely to do as well with this surgery.  I don't want to feel like I'm forced to eat fake food or diet food.  I've mostly stuck to real food (meaning no fat-free mayo or fake cheese, etc.) and that keeps me on track.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

halfway there!

Today I hit the 70 lbs mark!  And 70 more to go. But I'm halfway there in only three months.  I plan to make the most of the next six months and hit my first target weight.

So, what's life like now?  I feel great. I'm not tired all the time, I don't snore nearly as much (as evidenced by the fact that Bob is still in bed when I wake up in the morning), my sleep apnea is greatly reduced, my clothes are loose, my hair is growing like crazy because of the protein I eat, and I've discovered that I have a face shape that isn't round like I thought all these years. Oh, and I can feel my collar bone, which kinda freaks me out a little.  I don't dread the thought of moving off the couch.

One thing that I haven't gotten quite used to yet is that I fit in the booth when we go out to eat.  I still do a mental check when we walk in to see how big the booths are, are they small, will I fit, should I get a table, etc.  I also look at clothes and think I need a bigger size when I actually don't.  My mind needs to catch up to where my body is.  And I still occasionally put too much on my plate, although now I don't eat it all anyway like I used to.  It physically doesn't fit and the stomach doesn't really stretch much yet.

Give me another 20 pounds and I'll post some more pictures.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

the cooking cure: days 5 and 6

Yesterday's Cooking Cure assignment was to write down what I ate for lunch all week.  Since I log my food everyday, that was easy.  I've started to notice that when it comes to lunch, I have a pretty good variety, unlike breakfast (by the way, I'm happily eating my made-ahead breakfasts this week!).

Today's assignment was to go through and cross off anything I'm tired off, don't like, or just want to eliminate.  Vegetarian Sloppy Joe was the first to go.  I bought a box of this from a website I use to order my high protein hot chocolate and bariatric vitamins.  I used to eat it when I was on Medifast, but post-surgery it's just...BLECH.  I think what made it OK before surgery is that I could drink something while I ate it. Not so anymore.  It just seemed so thick and tomato-y.  I was longing for a drink of water.  I did cave and take a sip, but just a sip to wash it down.  I may try one more and add more water to the mix.  Next to go was the cashews.  Cashews are good and have some healthy fats, but they're just too high in calories.  I have a bag in my desk at work and find myself reaching for it in between meals.  Since I don't have a scale there I have no idea how much I'm eating.  I measure out one ounce over the weekend and I now know I was eating at least three ounces at work.  Doesn't sound like much, but that amounts to 510 calories!

I then had to go through and decide which foods I'd like to keep.  It's probably surprising to see a frozen dinner circled, but I have to say this was very good.  The chicken was actual chicken breast.  Not at all processed or mushy.  It was whole.  And there was a decent size piece of it.  Not just three bites' worth like other diet frozen dinners.  That's why I chose to keep it.

I also had to write down some foods I want to have more often and three goals for lunch in general.  Now that I can eat salad, I would like to take some for lunch once in awhile.  I'm a "garbage" salad person, though.  Meaning I like to add lots of toppings and drown it in dressing, which makes it more calories than a cheeseburger.  My plan is to go to Whole Foods (a.k.a.Whole Paycheck) and buy a few of their smallest salads, like goat cheese and walnut.  I also would like to grab a couple of their side dishes.  This should help me to avoid eating out by always being prepared.  I almost never brought lunch to work pre-surgery, but I'm faithful about it now.  I don't want to fall back into a pattern of ordering lunch out.  I plan to make tuna salad more often.   I like to top a couple of crackers.  And finally I want to start adding whole meats, like chicken and turkey breast, rather than buying lunch meat.

Tomorrow's assignment is to find five recipes I want to make.  I don't know if I will find five since my goals are more about being prepared and always bringing my lunch, but I'll see what I come up with.

For anyone who wants to check out The Cooking Cure, here's the link.

last night's bariatric workshop

Last night I attended a post-op bariatric workshop.  It was given by my doctor's office.  I was a little hesitant at first, because I'm not really into the whole support group thing, but I figured this would be OK since there would be talks about different subjects, like nutrition, plastic surgery, etc.  It turned out to be somewhat like a support group, but there was talk about many different subjects.  A representative from Bariatric Advantage was there handing out samples.  I filled up my bag with all sorts of goodies:  shake mixes, vitamin packs, a water bottle, calcium, vitamin crystals to mix with water, protein bars, a tote bag, etc.

The workshop was in a Q&A format, after the doctor's initial talk.  People asked questions, but some also shared their stories.  I noticed quite a few people talked about how they have no support at home, or they lost friends because they gained the confidence to say that the friendship wasn't working anymore (friends were unsupportive, jealous, or just wanted their drinking buddy back), or the husband stills calls the wife "fat," or they're not allowed to talk about their surgery around mom.  People said that after they lost weight, co-workers would tell them they look like they have cancer, or they look sick in general.  One man said that, before surgery, he would see his relatives every few months and someone would comment that he had gained weight.  After the surgery, not one of them commented that he had lost weight and looked great.  There was even a story about two sisters who stopped talking, because one had the surgery and lost the weight, while the other one was still heavy.  Apparently she couldn't take seeing her sister succeed so they stopped talking.  The list goes on.

I think the one that annoyed me the most was the woman who said she heard someone say that she had "taken the easy way out."  This one annoys me to no end.  Lucky for me (or maybe THEM), no one has said this to me.  I don't understand how someone can make such a statement when they haven't walked a mile in my shoes, or even done the research about the procedure to know what it involves.  Yes, I got lucky and don't seem to be having an emotionally tough time, don't have any complications (yet), and tolerate all the foods I've eaten so far.  But it doesn't mean this is "easy."  I had to go through three months of pre-op preparation:  sleep study, several rounds of lab work, upper endoscopy, ultrasound, psychiatric evaluation and counseling, and gall bladder removal.  Then I got denied by insurance and had to appeal.  Someone then cut me open, rearranged my guts, and made my stomach the size of my thumb, because I can't keep the weight off; I needed this surgery to help me with that. Then I was on all liquids for a minimum of three weeks.  In the months after surgery, it's practically a full-time job to make sure I get all my water, protein, and vitamins in for the day; make sure I chew thoroughly to ensure I don't get any food stuck; monitor my sugar intake; measure and weigh all my food; and log every bite that goes into my mouth.   And I'll be on vitamin supplements for the rest of my life.  The weight is falling off now, effortlessly, but in another year or so I will be just like every other person who struggles with their weight.  The only difference is that I will have a tool that will help me control my intake.  Yes, it was drastic.  But it was totally worth it.  I don't want to die of heart disease, diabetes, and arteriosclerosis like my mom did at the age of 71.  If there's a tool available to help me, why wouldn't I want to use it?  I think that's pretty smart.  And I thought it through thoroughly over the course of 10 years.  It's not like I woke up and said, "Hey, I think I'll go get my guts chopped up today."
OK, rant over.

Listening to these stories last night made me very happy, and thankful, that my family, friends, and especially my husband, are so supportive of me.  I'm not sure how I would be doing right now if I didn't have that.

Monday, March 10, 2014

eggs for me and eggs for the husband

Yesterday I made egg bites and I also made two kinds of egg cups, which are just a bigger version of the bites.  I made spinach and goat cheese egg cups and sausage and cheese egg bites for me, and I made breakfast egg cups for Bob.  These things are great to make ahead for fast breakfasts, or really any time of day.  Very quick and easy.

Sausage and Cheese Egg Bites on the left, and Breakfast Cups on the right.

Sausage and Cheese Egg Bites

Makes 24 bites.
Each bite contains:  49 calories, 2g fat, .5g carbs, and 3.8g protein.

1/2 an onion, diced
3 scallions, sliced thin
1 teaspoon butter (you can use butter flavored cooking spray if you want)
6 Jones turkey breakfast sausages, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Dash of black pepper
5 eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.

Saute all onions in butter (or cooking spray) over medium heat until slightly browned. Add chopped sausage and saute another minute or so.

Beat the eggs with the basil, oregano, salt and pepper.  Add the onion and sausage mixture and stir.  Add the cheddar cheese and stir.

Spoon the egg mixture into the muffin tin and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until eggs are set and tops start to brown slightly. Let cool before packing into a container and either chilling or freezing.

These taste best when warm from the oven, but they will chill or freeze and reheat just fine for at least 4 to 5 days.  If using the microwave to reheat, use 60% power so they don't turn out rubbery or hard around the edges.  100% power will kill them.

Breakfast Cups

Makes 12 egg cups
Each cup contains:  205 calories, 15g fat, 1g carbs, and 16g protein

1/2 pound cooked bacon, crumbled
4 Jimmy Dean fully cooked breakfast sausage patties, chopped
(or whatever kind you want, about 3.5 oz)
Butter flavored cooking spray
8 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash black pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray a regular muffin tin with cooking spray.
Beat the eggs with the salt and pepper. Add the cooked bacon, chopped sausage, and cheddar cheese to the egg mixture and stir to combine.

Spoon the egg mixture into the cups. Bake until they are set in the center, about 20 to 25 minutes.   Let cool before packing into a container and either chilling or freezing.

These taste best when warm from the oven, but they will chill or freeze and reheat just fine for at least 4 to 5 days.  If using the microwave to reheat, use 60% power so they don't turn out rubbery or hard around the edges.  100% power might kill them.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

spinach and goat cheese egg cups

I created my first post-op recipe!  I just made these and they are delicious.  If you don't like goat cheese then you can try any kind of cheese you want.  I'm a big fan of goat cheese and happened to have some of the herbed variety in the fridge.  If you use a mild cheese you might want to add about a 1/2 teaspoon of thyme, or any other seasonings to complement the cheese you use, to the egg mixture to give it a little more flavor.  But, really, the herbed goat cheese is delicious and has all the seasoning you need.  It's readily available in the cheese section at the grocery store. 

Spinach and Goat Cheese Egg Cups

Makes 12 individual servings
Each cup contains:  90 calories, 6g fat, 1.5g carbs, and 7 g protein.
1 package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted (or 2 cups fresh, washed and roughly chopped) 
1 tsp minced garlic
Butter flavored cooking spray
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less depending on your taste)
8 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash black pepper
5 oz herbed goat cheese, crumbled
Note:  Make sure you keep the goat cheese cold until ready to use.  It becomes creamy as it warms up and will be tough to handle.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Spray a frying pan with cooking spray and heat the garlic on medium heat for about 30 seconds. Add the spinach and red pepper flakes and cook about 5 minutes.  If using fresh spinach, heat until spinach is wilted.
Beat the eggs with the salt and pepper. Add the spinach mixture to the egg mixture.
Spray a regular 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.  Spoon the egg mixture into the cups. Sprinkle the tops with goat cheese. (You could push the cheese down into the mixture, if preferred.  Then you'll have warm nuggets of cheese inside when you cut them open.) Bake until they are set in the center, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Pop them out of the pan within 10 minutes so they don't stick to the bottom of the pan.  I'm not sure if I left them in the pan on the stove too long, or if I didn't spray a few cups as well as I thought I did.  
These taste best when warm from the oven, but they will chill or freeze and reheat just fine for at least 4 to 5 days.  If using the microwave to reheat, use 60% power so they don't turn out rubbery or hard around the edges.  100% power might kill them.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

today's menu

I have a tough time going out to eat post-surgery.  Not because I can't find anything to eat, but because I've become very cheap with food and tend to just order soup all the time.  Even though I could order a meal, bring 90% home, and get another 3 meals out of it, I just can't see paying for a whole dinner when it's just not necessary.  Food has become more like fuel, the way it's supposed to be, rather than something to do when I'm bored or a way to celebrate, etc., so I don't really place much emphasis on it anymore.

Bob and I were out most of the day today.  We got up at 4 am to go to the casino, but decided to wait until later in the day after my hair appointment.  Of course we couldn't fall back asleep so we got up and went to the Bridgeport Flyer Diner in Devon (my favorite diner!).  This time I ordered a whole breakfast, rather than ordering a side of hash (that's actually for Bob) and stealing some egg off of Bob's plate.  He wanted hash so I ordered the hash and eggs.  It came with two eggs, potatoes, toast and a big pile of corned beef hash.  I scooped almost all the has onto his plate, ate one egg and a few potatoes, and Bob ate all the toast.  And there was still a lot on my plate to bring home.

So, I then came home and took care of the bills, and then I went to my hair appointment.  My hair has been growing like crazy, because of all the protein I have to eat.  My hairdresser happens to be a family friend so it was a great appointment.  I got beautified and enjoyed great conversation.   I drive all the way to Hamden from Stratford to see her.  I love her!  If anyone is looking for a new hairdresser, her name is Marie Racalbuto.  Her number is (203) 430-2247 and she's at Daniella Marie Hair Boutique.

After that Bob and I decided to drive up to the military surplus store in Newington.  He's former Army so he likes to look around and buy certain things.  I did my duty and went into the store with him.  Then we drove up to Southbury to look at a house we saw online.  I like to do a drive-by before we decide to ask for a showing.  Sometimes a house looks great online and then when you drive by you see it's at the top of a really steep road, or it's very close to the road, or it just isn't what you thought.  We really liked it, though, and plan to ask for a showing.  It's in a hilly area, but there's a fabulous three-level deck on the back of the house, which includes a stone patio with a fire pit and a built-in outdoor kitchen.  It's close to shopping and the highway.  And Southbury is beautiful.  It would be a one-hour commute (depending where I'm working), but I'm OK with that for the right house.

Dinner was at a diner in Shelton.  Tonight I decided to order the blue cheese bacon burger without the bun. This was my first burger since surgery.  It came with fries, coleslaw, and a pickle.  I wasn't impressed with the burger.  It's surprising how much a bun hides; you don't realize what you're actually eating until the bun is gone.  The hamburger was a thin, frozen patty.  It was cooked to the right doneness, but it was pretty greasy. The blue cheese wasn't crumbled.  It was a slice of blue cheese and it was obviously a cheaper, processed variety.  I'm not a food snob by any means, but certain things, like blue cheese, should be real and of good quality.  It's just not the same if it's not.  Compounding the greasiness was the bacon.  I gave it to Bob and he said it was very good.  I think if I got it with the bun it would have soaked up the grease and been just fine.  The fries were very good.  The coleslaw was good, too.  The pickle wasn't a real pickle.  To me, pickles are dills.  I'm not a fan of the sweet pickles.  So I ended up eating a few bites of the burger, the cheese, about 12 fries dipped in gravy, one forkful of the coleslaw, and one forkful each of Bob's mashed potatoes and meatloaf.  I walked out full so I was OK with that.

the cooking cure: days 4 and 5

Day 4 involved putting together a shopping list for one breakfast recipe I picked on day 3 and then going shopping for the items.  Lucky for me I already had the necessary items so I didn't have to go shopping. (That's kinda why I picked the recipes I picked; I already had the ingredients.)

On day 5 I was supposed to make my breakfast; however, I decided to wait until this weekend.  It's hard enough having to get up earlier than I did for my last job.  There's no way I have time to cook in the morning. Yes, I could go to bed earlier and get up a half hour earlier, but I just don't want to.  Besides, the theme of my breakfast recipes is "make ahead", which I will do this weekend.

The weekend assignment says to think about next week and plan the rest of my recipes, do the shopping, and prep the ingredients.  I have mostly everything I need so I shouldn't have shop much tomorrow.  And all my recipes are pretty quick to make; mix everything in one bowl and then bake.

I will note that I've decided to swap a recipe for a different one.  I have some herbed goat cheese and some frozen spinach I need to use up so I am going to make fritatta cups (a bigger version of the little egg bites I make a couple weeks ago).   I'm thinking I probably won't need any additional seasonings, because the herbed goat cheese is pretty strong.  I'll just add a little salt and pepper and maybe a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

pizza for me tonight

So, tonight I made tortilla pizzas for Bob and I.  His was on a big 10 inch tortilla and mine was a little 6 inch one.  Both had mozzarella cheese and pepperoni, but Bob's had some sauce on it.  I stuck them in the toaster oven on Bake at 380 for about 10 minutes.

I put the pizza cutter next to it so you can see how small it is.  It was the perfect serving size, though.  I was able to finish it and not feel stuffed.  It was 235 calories and 10g of protein.  Fat and carbs were about 14g each.

the cooking cure: days 2 and 3

You thought I quit already, didn't you?  Nope.  Just didn't get around to posting last night.

Yesterday's assignment for The Cooking Cure was to look at my breakfast list I made on Monday and think about which foods I'd like to eliminate from the breakfast routine, which ones I love and want to keep in the rotation, a few things I'd like to eat more often, and three goals for breakfast going forward.

As you can see, I did the work.  I decided that the honey roasted sesame sticks should go, since I've discovered they're a huge red-light food (remember Weight Watchers??) for me right now.  And the only reason I grabbed them on that day is because I was in a rush for work and didn't get a chance to pack something better.  I want to keep my Greek yogurt and protein hot chocolate, both for the protein I get from them and for the great flavor, and keep the eggs and veggie sausage.  I also want to keep the egg bites, which leads me to my goals.  I want to do more make-ahead breakfasts, like baked goods with protein powder and the egg bites, and that will accomplish my goal of more variety.  Eventually I'll get tired of Greek yogurt.

So today's assignment was to find 5 recipes I want to try.  This was easy, because I'm always reading food blogs and magazines.  The 5 recipes I plan to try are:

  • Sausage and cheese egg bites
  • Bruschetta egg bites
  • Protein mini muffins
  • Frozen oatmeal discs
  • Ricotta pancakes

Notice these are all make-aheads.  Most of these recipes are found on one of my favorite blogs, The World According to Eggface (link is under my list of blogs on the home page).

Here's proof that I did the Day 2 assignment:

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

dinner tonight: nearly-meatless chili

Tonight I made nearly-meatless chili.  We couldn't figure out what to eat so we pulled out a bag of chili mix, Bear Creek "Darn Good" Chili, which turned out to be meatless.  Bob checked the freezer for ground beef. My choices were to defrost a 3 lb. package, use what I needed, and repackage what was left, or cook the 1/4 lb. of beef that was hanging around and add some textured vegetable protein (TVP) to the mix.  I chose to use the little bag of beef and add TVP to the pot.

A few weeks back I bought a bag of Bob's Red Mill TVP.  I've been trying to find ways to try new things and add more protein into my diet.  It's similar to tofu in that it takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it in. You just re-hydrate the chunks with some boiling water and then it's ready for use.  So I decided it should work well in chili:  it will thicken it up and the chili spices will cover up any weird taste (I wasn't sure what to expect).  I followed the directions to re-hydrate the chunks (1 cup dry TVP to 7/8 cup boiling water) and then added them to the chili to cook.

The result was pretty good.  I didn't notice any weird taste from the TVP.  It obviously didn't have the coloring or texture of beef, but it was a decent stand-in.  It definitely thickened the chili.  A lot.  And that was a good thing because this turned out to be a soupy chili mix.  I should have simmered it a little longer, though, because the dried beans in the mix didn't get soft enough.  They had a bit of bite to them.  I topped my serving with a little light sour cream.

Here's the general recipe:

  • Bear Creek "Darn Good" Chili Mix
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1/4 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup dry TVP (re-hydrated to make about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • sour cream for topping, or anything else you want

Brown the ground beef.  Re-hydrate the TVP.  Follow the directions on the chili mix package to make the chili, but add the TVP, onions, and beef when you mix the chili and tomato paste into the boiling water. Don't wait until the end like the directions suggest.  Makes 8 one-cup servings.

Nutritional information (my calculations, doesn't include the sour cream):  
Calories, 215; Fat, 2g; Protein, 22g, Carbs, 34g.

Monday, March 3, 2014

the cooking cure, day one...

I'm going to do something that will test my ability to follow through.  Following through on things has always been an issue for me.  So many times I would have a brainstorm or think of a project, start to work on it, and then promptly get bored and move onto something else.  It's strange - I always follow through on the really big things (buying a house, going to college later in life, weight loss surgery), the things that take the most effort. Weight loss itself is not included in this list, hence the weight loss surgery.  But the little things, the things that could be done in a short amount of time and with minimal effort, tend to escape me.  I don't know if I decide it's not worth the time or effort, or if I just get bored and want to do something more exciting.

So, I'm going to test myself.  I read a blog called theKitchn.  It's devoted to home cooking and kitchen design.  They've just started The Cooking Cure.  It's a project that runs for four weeks.  (They also run The Kitchen Cure, which focuses on getting your kitchen in order.) Each day I will receive an email with a homework assignment that I will need to complete.   The purpose of this particular Cure is to get people to cook at home more often.  A good thing since many of us eat out quite often.  I'm guilty of this.  Prior to my surgery I barely cooked at all, and if I did it was something quick and easy, a.k.a. frozen and processed.   I figure at the very least I will have followed through on something.  At most, maybe it will give me ideas for my new post-surgery diet and help me to want to cook more.

Today's assignment is to write down what I ate for breakfast for the last week.  That's it.  Don't do anything but write down what I ate.  But wouldn't you know? I want to take a shortcut already.  I have no patience. It says to write it down with pen and paper. Pen and paper.  I don't use pen and paper anymore, not really.  I want so bad to just type it in here.  But I won't.  Be right back...

OK, here it is.  Longhand!!  It just about killed me, but I did it.

If anyone cares to do their own Cooking Cure, here's the link.  You need to sign up to get the emails.

The Cooking Cure: Day One

The Cooking Cure: Signup

buddy went to the rainbow bridge...

I'm sorry to say that my brother's and sister-in-law's beloved cat, Buddy, went to the Rainbow Bridge on Friday.  They rescued Buddy from the streets several years ago.  At first he was a rough and tough outdoor cat, but then he became a sweet and cuddly indoor cat.  Buddy's favorite things to do were to catch moths and to mooch cat treats from his poor, unsuspecting, soft-hearted parents.  A few years after he was rescued, he was blessed with an adopted sister, Katie, who became his playmate and companion.  Buddy's life wasn't long, but he was well-loved.

We'll miss you, Buddy!

"Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together...."

- Author unknown

Sunday, March 2, 2014

another vegetarian sausage patty...

Today I tried MorningStar Farms Original Veggie Sausage Patties.  Each serving has 80 calories, 3g fat, 5g carbs, and 10g protein.  Serving size is one patty.  I also bought the maple flavor, which I reviewed yesterday.

I baked the patty, since that's the recommended method.  I popped it into the toaster oven and set it to bake at 350 for 11 minutes.  I skipped the foil this time.  There's no grease so it's not necessary.  When the patty was done cooking I scrambled one egg with a little milk.

In terms of how the sausage looked, it looked just like a regular breakfast sausage patty, but darker, and is about the same size as most.  I cut it with my fork and it cut easily.  In terms of texture, it's fairly similar to a real sausage patty, but it has a slightly different mouth feel.  Since it's made with textured vegetable protein (TVP) and not meat, that's to be expected.  The outside was crispy and the inside was soft, but not mushy.  The flavor was good.  It was pretty similar to real breakfast sausage and I tasted a tiny hint of spice.  By the way, make sure you bake or pan fry these patties. I think the microwave would make them mushy or rubbery.

I think this is a good product and I would buy it again.  I preferred the original flavor over the maple flavor, though. The maple was a little too sweet.  If you keep in mind that it's not real meat and you adjust your expectations accordingly, you won't be disappointed.

Here's my plate:  one scrambled egg and one MSF patty.  I ate the whole patty and almost all of the egg.

please help the SCP kitties...

From the Stratford Cat Project:  As the number of cats in our care increases and with kitten season rapidly approaching, SCP has designated both of its adoptions in March as food/supply drives.  Please help us help our furry friends with donations from our wish list, such as canned Friskies and Fancy Feast (chicken/turkey) Dry food such as Purina One or Friskies Surf N Turf N; Baby Wipes; Lysol or bleach wipes; gift cards to H3 Pet Supply, Walmart or Stop and Shop; scoopable litter of any kind; or paper towels.  Our little leprechauns are awaiting their pot of gold (a forever home).  Please help us help them until they get there.  Donations may be dropped off on March 15, at Fairfield Petco, 340 Grasmere Avenue, 11-3.  Or, for alternative arrangements, email

Saturday, March 1, 2014

trying new foods...

In my quest to find foods that pack a lot of protein, I've decided to start trying new products.  For example, textured vegetable protein and meatless sausage and chicken entrees.  I tried stuff like this before when I was dieting and quickly abandoned it, because I'd rather have a small portion of the real thing (that never worked) than a larger portion of fake meat that doesn't really taste like meat.  Now that protein is one of my mail goals, I see the value in eating some of these foods. So, I decided to give them a second look.

Today I tried MorningStar Farms Maple Flavored Veggie Sausage Patties.  Each serving has 80 calories, 3g fat, 5g carbs, and 10g protein.  Serving size is one patty.  I also bought the original flavor, which I'll try tomorrow.

It's recommended to bake the patties in the oven for best results, so that's what I did.  I popped it into the toaster oven on a piece of foil and set it to bake at 350 for 11 minutes.  While I was waiting I scrambled one egg with a little 2% milk and got my plate ready.  I didn't cook the egg until the patty was done, because one egg takes only a minute or so to cook.  Finally my patty was ready so I cooked my egg.

In terms of how the sausage looked, it looked just like a regular breakfast sausage patty and is about the same size as most.  I cut it with my fork and it cut easily.  In terms of texture, it's fairly similar to a sausage patty, but it has a slightly different mouth feel. And that't to be expected; there's no meat in it.  It was pretty close, though, because of the textured vegetable protein (TVP).  The outside was crispy and the inside was soft, but not mushy.  Flavor-wise, it was good, although I think the maple flavor seemed a little sweet.  Not bad, though.  I can see why they say to cook the patties in the oven.  I think the frying pan would be fine, but I probably wouldn't use the microwave.  They would be mushy or maybe overcook at the edges.

Overall, I think this is a good product and I would buy it again.  I'm attracted most to the amount of protein I get from just one patty.  If you keep in mind that it's not real meat and you adjust your expectations accordingly, you won't be disappointed.  I think that's true of any product that is meant to replace the real thing.

Here's my plate:  one scrambled egg and one MSF patty.  I wasn't able to finish the egg, but I ate the whole patty and about 3/4 of the egg.