Sunday, June 28, 2015

artichoke dip

I was supposed to post this recipe a couple weeks ago, but I forgot.

I had some friends over to the house awhile back.  We sat on the patio, had some light snacks, got eaten alive by the mosquitoes, and caught up with each other; it was a good time.

We had cheese and crackers, hummus and veggies, fruit, and artichoke dip with crostinis (store bought, not homemade - sorry!). The artichoke dip was pretty much demolished, while the veggies were virtually untouched.  My husband came along and joined us, so he ate some of the cheese.  That was the only thing on the table he would eat.  He's not into raw veggies or fruit, and definitely not artichoke dip.  I really wanted some of pineapple on the fruit plate (I normally don't eat it because it's very high in sugar and too much sugar upsets my stomach), so I grabbed a chunk.  It wasn't sweet at all!  So weird.  That was it on the fruit for me since I don't eat honeydew or cantelope. And grapes are kind of...I don't know...weird for me since the surgery. I think it's the skin I don't like anymore.

All during our visit I was hoping that there would be some dip left over - the following day I like to put the dip on the crostini and put it in the toaster oven; it's usually my breakfast.  But lucky for me there was enough dip left over the next day to have leftovers.  As fate would have it, I opened the container, turned around, and somehow knocked the container to the floor.  Upside down.  And all the dip was on the floor.  So, no breakfast treat for me. My husband yelled. "Five second rule!"  Um, no.  Not in a house with 11 cats. And especially not with dip.

Anyway, this is the recipe I always use and it's never failed me yet.  I wish I could remember where I got it from.  Mostly likely a website.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture, so you'll just have to imagine a casserole dish full of hot, creamy, cheesy artichoke dip.

Creamy Artichoke Dip


2 8 oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 TB fresh lemon juice
1 TB Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce
3 6 oz jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained, coarsely chopped
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)
3 green onions, finely chopped


  1. Using electric mixer, beat first 8 ingredients in large bowl to blend. 
  2. Fold in artichokes, mozzarella cheese, and green onions. 
  3. Transfer to 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
  4. Preheat oven to 400°F. 
  5. Bake dip until bubbling and brown on top, about 20 minutes. Note:  If you refrigerated the dip, bring it to room temperature before baking.  Or cover with foil and bake for about 10 minutes. Then uncover and continue baking as instructed.
  6. Serve hot dip with pita chips, crostini, or crackers. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

kitty dentistry

One of my kitties, Oscar, had a tooth pulled yesterday.  For a week or so he's been drooling and his lower lip wasn't looking too good.  The the other night we noticed that he was getting skinny and not really eating.  He would go to his dish and cry.  He tried to eat a little, but would just walk away.  I then noticed that he was stumbling around, like he couldn't keep his balance.  Finally, I noticed some gunk in his ear and he was shaking his head off and on.  Off to the vet we went last night.

It turned out his front fang tooth was loose and his gums were receding, which is why he wasn't eating. Poor baby was in pain.  The vet told me he could give him a light anesthesia, pull the tooth, and I could pick him up in about an hour and a half.  He also said he would look at his ear.

It went smoothly with the tooth.  Turned out he has a double ear infection. I suspect that is what the stumbling is about; it can throw off the equilibrium.

Before I left they gave me an estimate:  $473.00!  I knew it would be a lot, but I didn't think it would be that much. They forgot to give me a copy, so I assume that price was for full anesthesia, because when it came time to pay, it was only $200.00, which included meds for the ear infections and a rabies shot.  That wasn't so bad.

As soon as we got home Oscar made a run for the food dish and started chowing down.  (I'd love to know how and why a cat with almost no teeth eats only dry food.  Bizarre. But he's always been that way.) I guess he was feeling better!  Then it was time for a full bath and a nap.  He's feeling perky today, although he's still stumbling. But I suspect that will improve once we get the meds going for the ears.

This is Oscar.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

grilled stuffed chicken two ways

I decided to try one of the recipes I saw on my Facebook page:  grilled stuffed chicken Italiano.  It looked pretty simple.  All you do is split a boneless chicken breast, put a mozzarella cheese stick, roasted red peppers and spinach leaves in the middle, roll it up, brush with Italian dressing and grill it.

It was very easy to put together, although I will say that the chicken breast should be pounded thinner after splitting it; it's just too thick to roll easily.  Since my husband doesn't like spinach, I decided to make his with deli ham and mozzarella cheese.  Kind of like chicken cordon bleu.  

Grilling was easy.  I was worried that the toothpicks wouldn't hold, but they did.  And they didn't burn up, either.

They came out great.  I think next time I might use a different Italian dressing.  The one I used didn't have enough flavor for me.  I probably could have brushed some inside the chicken before rolling it up.

The only downside to this recipe was that I had to buy a huge bag of spinach (that's all the store had, and it didn't occur to me to get them from the salad bar) and I only used about 5 leaves.  I now have a huge open bag I need to use.  Maybe I'll make some sauteed spinach with lemon and garlic this weekend.

Sorry in advance for the quality of the pictures.  I have to reinstall my photo editing software.

Recipe is below.

Here they are, hot off the grill.

Mine.  I was only able to eat half, barely.

Bob's.  He ate a whole one.

Grilled Stuffed Chicken


4 - 4 oz. chicken breasts
4 to 8 roasted red pepper strips, depending on size
20 baby spinach leaves
4 mozzarella string cheeses
Italian dressing for basting

If you want to make the ham-filled chicken breasts, omit the spinach and red peppers.  Use 4 slices of deli ham, one for each chicken breast.

  1. Preheat grill to med-high.
  2. Split each chicken breast in half. Don't cut all the way through.  If they're still thick after cutting, pound them flat with a meat mallet.
  3. Place about 5 baby spinach leaves in middle.
  4. Put roasted red pepper and string cheese on top of spinach. (Or put a slice of ham on the chicken and then put the cheese on the ham.)
  5. Roll like a cigar and put 1-2 toothpicks on ends to hold the roll-up together.
  6. Brush with Italian dressing.
  7. Grill for 5 minutes, turn and grill 5 more minutes. Check for doneness and turn again if needed, until cooked through (10-15 minutes depending on your grill and thickness of chicken).
  8. Serve as is or slice to ensure chicken is fully cooked.

Monday, June 22, 2015

today's breakfast and lunch

I had a week of food craziness after my latest 6 month checkup, so now it's time to get back on the wagon.

Breakfast is the usual Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt and 1 oz. of dry roasted peanuts.  Yogurt on it's own isn't very filling, even to someone whose stomach is the size of an egg.  Mixing in peanuts gives me a full feeling and makes me feel like I'm eating a real meal.

Lunch is 2.65 oz. of honey roasted turkey breast rolled with 1.5 oz. Swiss cheese.  Gulden's Spicy Brown Mustard for dipping.  It amazes me that I've grown to prefer using mustard instead of gobs of Hellmann's mayo.  I never thought I'd see the day.

Snack is 4 oz. celery sticks with 56g of Tribe "Everything" flavor hummus.  I've become addicted to hummus I believe.

Total calories for breakfast, lunch, and snack are 669.  That leaves me 431 for dinner and maybe an after-dinner snack.  It doesn't seem like much, but I'll earn some calories when I take my one-mile walk at work.  I also plan to mow the lawn later, and that burns a ton of calories with a lawn the size of mine!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

happy father's day!

Bob and I may not have children in the traditional, human sense, but we do have kitties that feel like our children.  And they act the way I imagine children would act:  they cost us money, they eat everything in sight, they've got 'tudes, and they mess up the house about three seconds after I vacuum.  But we love them and couldn't imagine life without them.

Bob is a great "cat daddy" (and a great husband, too!!).  As you can see, the kitties agree. He spends lots of quality time with them: watching TV, playing Words with Friends (even getting some help from Max), and just cuddling.

So, happy Father's Day to Bob, and all the other pet daddies out there!



Riley (RIP) and Bailey.

Oscar, Max, George, Leo, and Thelma's butt.

Oscar and Felix.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

what's new?

It's been an incredibly busy week at work, so I haven't been able to write much.  We're getting ready for an audit, working on a project, and having to do all the other routine things.  Plus, one person is getting ready to take some time off. At least I'm finally in a position where I feel comfortable at work.  Most days I feel like I'm cooking with gas, rather than over a campfire; it's a great feeling.  Can you believe I've been there six months already?

I had my 18-month follow-up with the bariatric surgeon this past Monday.  I lost five pounds in six months.  Not great, but I created a lot of good habits in that time, which is more important in my opinion.  And that doctor was fine with that.  She said it's very normal for the number on the scale to not change too much at this point.  The honeymoon phase is over and I'm just like everyone else now:  I have to watch what I eat and exercise.  I'm thinking another 30 pounds and I'll be at my goal weight.  The doctor gave me a few business cards for plastic surgeons so I can go for a consultation.  I always said I'd never get plastic surgery, but now that I'm living it, it's something I'd like to do at some point.  There's only so far exercise can take me - 40 years of gaining and losing weight over and over does a real number on the body.  It's so expensive, though, and I'm not sure it's "medically necessary" at this point, which is what's required if I want my health insurance to pay for part of it.  I mean, it's uncomfortable sometimes, prone to rashes (yuck!), and it makes shopping for a pants a real hassle, but that's probably not enough to qualify.  We'll see what the future holds. 

I have my first-ever bout of poison ivy.  I got it from all that weeding I did, of course.  It's on my forearm.  Anyone know how long this rash sticks around?  I've had it for a week and a half and it doesn't look any better.  In fact, it's spread a bit. It went from my forearm to the side of my stomach, because I have my arm resting on my side when I sleep on my side.  Any because of all the extra skin, I have some on the tops of my thigh, too (another hassle of having all this extra skin). I'm treating it with Caladyl Clear, but it doesn't show any sign of getting better.  Not sure if I should be going to a dermatologist.

Tomorrow ends a busy week.  I'm having a couple friends over, so that should be fun.  I'm making my artichoke dip, which is delicious.  I'll post the recipe this weekend.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

oh, how my garden grows

I'm so excited:  I have two tomatoes growing!!  And I didn't kill the plant!  I'm know to be a plant killer. But in my defense, the yard at the old house wasn't really conducive to gardening.  Being 150 lbs overweight wasn't either, to be perfectly honest.

Here are some updated pictures of my garden and some plants I have around the patio.  I still need to weed more in the garden, but it's looking better.

My little tomatoes!

Looking pretty good.  Still have more weeding, although it's tough to 
tell what's a weed at this point. And I need to weed whack, too.

I love these.  Not sure what they are, but they're pretty.  And soft!
Update:  I'm told these are Rose Champion.  Thanks fposte!!

Any ideas as to what this is?  Something smells lemon-y in the garden and I'm not sure if it's this.  
Ignore the weeds poking out.

Update:  This is Golden Sedum.

How about this?  I thought it was a weed at first, but I'm not sure now.  And a full view of the same plant.  

My hanging plants.

Friday, June 12, 2015

life in the "country": nature bites back

I don't really feel like I live in the "country," but I'd say it's semi-rural. My husband is from an inner city environment, so he thinks we live "in the sticks."  Anyway, what follows is something I don't think would have happened at my old house, which was somewhat city-like. 

So, this morning I got bit by a chipmunk.  Yes, a cute little chipmunk.

I left for work this morning and Lou, one of my cats, came trotting up the lawn with something in his mouth.  I figured it was another mouse...or another rat - he's been bringing those home as a trophy for me to find either near the back door or out in the lawn.  (Don't worry, he doesn't eat them!) But as he got closer I realized it was a chipmunk.  Poor thing was hanging upside down from his mouth.

I grabbed my gardening gloves, the ones with the heavy rubber fingers, and made Lou drop the little guy.  He did, although he wasn't happy about it.  After a few seconds the little guy got up and started doing somersaults, which was really weird.  I figured maybe he was hurt or confused so I picked him up.  Then the little bugger bit my finger and held on!  Chipmunks may be tiny, but they bite hard!  Luckily I had those gloves on.  Otherwise I might be getting rabies shots right now. He let go, but he was still running in circles.  I grabbed Lou so he wouldn't go after him again, but he started howling and squirming and scratched my leg; he's a bit of a grump.  So I let him go.  I didn't want Lou to grab the chipmunk again so I was trying to see if I could grab it by the tail and put him on the tree trunk.  Nope.  Kept squirming and trying to bite.  I finally found a stick.  I let him grab on and then I put him on the tree trunk.  He ran up it as fast as he could!

So, I saved a cute little furry creature, but apparently it wasn't appreciated.  Oh well.  That's nature for ya.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

long-term post-wls eating: it's complicated

This is a long one today.

I have to say before I go any further that I absolutely, 100% feel that I did the right thing, and the best thing, for me when I got gastric bypass surgery in December 2013.  I have never, ever regretted it. And no one can tell me that I shouldn't have done it, that I should have tried harder to lose the weight "on my own" or the "traditional" way, or that I took the "easy way out."  I know I did what I had to do, and wanted to do, for my health and well-being.  That being said...

It's been tough lately when it comes to eating.  I'm mostly talking about eating out, but it applies to eating at home, too.  For a long time after my surgery I didn't want to go out to eat out.  I didn't see the point in it for me, because I couldn't enjoy it like I used to.  "Enjoy it like I used to" meaning I couldn't get the appetizer, meal, and dessert and eat it all.  Or order the 1,200 calorie bomb that was dripping in some creamy sauce. 

There were a few things other going on, too. First, I hated getting a big plate of food (big to me, not to others) and being full after just a few bites. Second, I hated (HATED!) spending money on something that I'd only being able to enjoy a few bites of.  Yes, I could take a doggy bag home, but it just seemed, I don't know, like a waste I guess; leftovers just aren't the same sometimes.  Because I didn't want to spend money on a whole meal (I became El Cheapo) I often limited myself to appetizers:  chicken tenders, chicken quesadillas, and soup.  That got pretty boring.  Not to mention, I should have been eating something better than tenders and quesadillas.  Finally, I really felt like a freak ordering just an appetizer and packing up most of it for home.  I know that's my own problem, but people judge.  I judge other people, too.  Pre-WLS I would look at someone's leftovers at the diner and think the person must have an eating disorder, or be a picky eater, or be very wasteful because 75% of their meal was still on the plate and they weren't taking it home with them. (I still feel people are wasteful when they do that, but they're paying for it so whatever.)

I'm at the point now where I can eat somewhat normal portions, although still nearly not as much as most people.  I'm happy about that because I feel more "normal," I can order other things and not feel like I'm wasting my money, and I get more enjoyment out of my meal. 

The downside to being able to eat more now, which I didn't anticipate, is that I constantly analyze what I ate, how much I ate, how fast I ate it, and what I should have eaten instead.  A good example is the other night when we went to the diner and I ordered two eggs with bacon (a lot of places don't do just one egg), which also came with fries and toast.  I ordered the eggs poached.  When the food came I saw there were four pieces of bacon so I handed one over to Bob.  I also gave him a piece of toast.  When I was done, I noticed that I'd eaten both eggs, three pieces of bacon, one whole piece of toast and a few fries.  I felt really disgusted with myself and started thinking that I shouldn't have been able to do that, what if my stomach is getting bigger, I'm going to gain all the weight back, etc.  It drove me nuts. 

Being able to eat more scares me, because all I can think is, "What if I gain back all the weight?"  I worry about that now. A lot.  I know my new stomach is working for me - I've lost 138 pounds! - but I keep worrying that it's going to grow back to normal size and I'm going to have done all this for nothing.  I know I'm just having a reaction, but I think it's probably something a lot of WLS patients go through around this time.  I think what makes this harder is that I've been a very lucky WLS patient:  I can eat whatever I want.  I don't ever feel sick and have never had food get stuck.  I do have to limit sugar to about 10g at a time, but other than that I have no food issues.  I think if certain foods were a problem it might make it a little easier.

So, in order to combat gaining the weight back I make sure to count my calories, measure my food, don't buy trigger foods, and walk daily.  So basically, I'm a regular person once again.  I have to watch what I eat just like everyone else who's trying to lose weight or maintain their weight.  I have to remember that and live it. And remember that I went through all this for a good reason:  to live a longer, healthier life.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

breakfast pizza

In the spirit of changing up breakfast a little bit, I made a mini breakfast pizza yesterday morning.  It's quick and simple, and it tastes good.

I scrambled one egg with a little bit of milk.  Then I chopped up two lite breakfast sausage links.  I put the eggs on a small tortilla, topped it with the sausage and then added some shredded cheddar.  I popped it into the toaster oven for about 4 to 5 minutes and voila:  breakfast pizza.

You can mix this up any number of ways and it will be yummy.

I was able to eat about 2 1/2 wedges today.  But to be honest, I've been eating really fast lately so I would probably have been fine with 2. I'm not adhering to the WLS rule, which is to eat slowly and take at least 20 minutes to eat a meal (that's how long it takes for the stomach to tell the brain it's full).  So, I'm probably eating a little more than I should. Gotta work on that!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

sausage and hash brown casserole

Last weekend I decided to make a breakfast casserole.  Partly because I had a ton of eggs to use up and partly because I thought my husband might like to come home from camping and have a nice breakfast.  Plus, it's something different and he would have breakfast to take to work the rest of the week.  And someone posted a link on Facebook to some breakfast recipes.  Gotta love Facebook.

The recipe I found online called for a pound of pork sausage and a pound of hot pork sausage for a total of two pounds of sausage.  It didn't specify if that was the ground sausage in a roll, or if it was Italian sausage. I went to the store Sunday morning to get the sausage and saw that they Jimmy Dean ground sausage roll was a whopping 5.49 - I need TWO of them.  I saw the Italian sausage links were on sale for 3.49 per package.  I decided to go that route and just squeeze the sausage out of the casings before cooking.  Cheaper and, as it turned out, less greasy.

It all came together quickly, but the sausage and hash browns had to be cooked before mixing all the ingredients together.  I'd say this could be done ahead so all you would have to do in the morning is mix it all up and then bake it.

It tasted great and was VERY filling. At least for me it was. But my stomach only hold so much these days.  If I were making this just for myself I would probably omit the hash browns to lighten the calorie and carb load a little.

In case you didn't know, you can import an online recipe into MyFitnessPal and calculate the calories. it's an awesome tool, and useful, but sometimes scary.  I imported the online recipe and then edited the ingredients to match the way I made it.  The calorie count is a whopping 531 calories per serving assuming you divide it into 10 servings. (Serving size will vary:  a WLS patient will likely get 20 servings from this recipe, but someone who hasn't had weight loss surgery might get only 8, depending on appetite.)  If you omit the hash browns and cut the sausage to a total of 1 1/2 pounds, the calorie count is reduced to 394 calories per serving, again assuming 10 servings.

So, here's the finished product.  I forgot to take a pic before we served ourselves, so this is the half that remained intact. I didn't want to post a picture of a half-eaten casserole. Recipe below.

Sausage and Hash Brown Casserole


1 pound sweet Italian ground sausage (or links; remove from casings before cooking)
1 pound hot Italian ground sausage (or links; remove from casings before cooking)
1 20 oz. package frozen shredded hash browns
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, sharp or mild
6 large eggs
2 cups 2% milk

  1. Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through.  Break up the sausage as it cooks. Drain well.
  2. Prepare hash browns according to package directions, using 1/2 tsp salt and the pepper.
  3. Stir together hash browns, sausage, and cheese. Pour into a 13- x 9-inch baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
  4. Whisk together eggs, milk, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Pour evenly over potato mixture.
  5. Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center is set.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

off the rails this week

This is just a quick blurb to say how off the rails I am the last several days with my eating.  I think it's because it's *that* time of month.  What's weird, though, is that ever since I've had gastric bypass, I don't usually get those monthly cravings anymore.  This month?  I don't know.  I just want to eat everything in sight. 

Actually, as I'm writing this right this minute I realize what's going on:  my financial situation is easing up and I'm "celebrating" by buying foods I haven't bought in many months because I couldn't afford to spend the extra money.  Oh, that's bad.  And I'm glad I just realized that. Thinking back to my last shopping trip, I realize there were some items in there that I may have "bought for my husband" with myself in mind.  My husband is able to keep something good in the house for awhile and not eat it all up in a day.  Not me.  And it drives me berzerk that he's able to do that.  So, what happens is I get annoyed that he hasn't finished the whatever goodie it is, and then I go in the cabinet or fridge and finish it for him.  I'm sure someone out there is nodding their head right now saying, "Yup, I do that."

Now that I've realized what I'm doing, I need to stop.  Right now.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

trimino protein infused water

I discovered something new yesterday:  Trimino Protein Infused Water.

This weekend I was at a little gourmet-to-go place near me, La Piastra.  They do catering and make to-go meals for two.  They have a pretty nice variety. I ended up buying broccoli rabe with garlic, chipotle chicken tacos (I cut the tortillas in half), and jerked chicken with pineapple salsa.  I also bought some food for Bob:  penne with meatballs, sausage ravioli, and beef lasagna.

Doesn't it all look delicious?  I have food for a week here!

I noticed they had a cold case of drinks. The typical stuff like bottled water and soda.  They also had something called Trimino. At first I didn't notice that it was actually water.  All I saw was "7G Protein" and "Strawberry Lemonade" and had to pick it up to check it out.  I love strawberry lemonade, but it's got a ton of sugar.  I figured after weight loss surgery it would be off limits forever (I haven't tried to make my own sugar free concoction yet).  Then I looked at the nutritional content - no sugar, no fat, no carbs, and only 28 calories!  That's when I figured out it wasn't actually strawberry lemonade.  I was intrigued so I bought a bottle.  I got the Coconut Pineapple, too.  They also had Mixed Berry and Peach.

I tried this today and I have to say, it's delicious.  The Strawberry Lemonade tastes just like it's supposed to, although it's a little "lighter" in taste than actual strawberry lemonade.  The Coconut Pineapple was good; it tasted like a pina colada.  I'm not a big pan of pina coladas, but I liked this water.  
Know what else I noticed about this water?  The protein is whey isolate, which is exactly what I'm supposed to have.   So, I got strawberry lemonade (and a "pina colada") without the sugar, calories, carbs, and fat.  AND I got high quality protein!

The caveat?  It cost me about $2.50 a bottle.  I wouldn't spend that on bottled water as a habit, but I'd definitely spend it on an occasional treat, especially in the summer.