Monday, January 30, 2017

biscuits and sausage gravy

I went to the grocery store Friday night after working out with my trainer. Bob was working a double shift and wouldn't be home until midnight, and since I'd done really well with eating during the week I didn't want to risk blowing it by sitting home alone watching TV and having time alone with the food in the kitchen. I've come to realize that my urges to eat are strongest when he's not home, or when I think he can't see or hear me in the other room. So, I hit the grocery store. I've found that I like going grocery shopping. As I've said before, I really enjoy looking at and shopping for food. So many possibilities.  And I wanted to buy some fruits and veggies anyway. I ate more of those this week, and it seems to have helped. I didn't eat nearly as much processed crap. I bought bananas, fresh green beans, celery for snacking, and a bunch of those frozen veggie steam packs, the ones with the sauce. I normally don't like frozen veggies, but they now make a lot of different combinations with sauce and some with rice or quinoa. I looked at the calorie content and I can basically eat the whole package for about 150 calories. Toss in some chicken and I have a full meal. Best part?  They were only $1.00 each. I also bought some biscuits for the purpose of making biscuits and sausage gravy for Bob Saturday morning.

When I went to go make the sausage gravy, I realized I didn't buy the sausage. But I improvised, of course. It called for bulk breakfast sausage, but I used maple flavored pork sausage links that I had in the freezer. Not the fully cooked brown and serve kind, but the raw kind that has to be fully cooked. After cooking I tossed the links in the food processor to grind them up and it came out the perfect consistency. I then stirred in 1/4 cup of flour and 2 1/2 cups of milk, let it come to a boil while stirring and let it thicken a bit. That's it. I put the toasted biscuit halves on the plate, topped each with a sausage patty, scrambled eggs and gravy.

This is Bob's plate:  3 biscuit halves, each topped with a maple sausage patty, scrambled eggs and sausage gravy. He wasn't able to finish it.

And this is mine:  half a light multi-grain English muffin, one scrambled egg and some sausage gravy. Mine is on a salad plate and Bob's is on a dinner plate. I couldn't finish mine. Although, that could be because I took a taste of his breakfast before I gave it to him. Had to make sure it wasn't poison...

This is what I woke up to Saturday morning.  It was a rare moment of Marty being still, so I grabbed my phone and took a pic.

Friday, January 27, 2017

small victories: bagel vs. fruit AKA "things left in the cafeteria"

A cafeteria/kitchen at work is a wonderful thing to have, except when you're trying like hell to get your diet on track so you can lose a few pounds before surgery.

During the holidays it was a dumping ground for cookies, candy, miscellaneous gift basket contents, cake and other assorted items. Even fruit cake, which actually got eaten.  (I tried it for the first time and I liked mom would be so proud!) It was awful having to go in there everyday to put my lunch in the fridge, refill my water bottle, etc. Now that the holidays are over, it's way easier to deal with going in there, as there typically isn't anything there. Today, however, I went into the cafeteria to get my hard-boiled egg, which was to be my mid-morning snack, and spotted bagels and fruit salad left over from a meeting. Immediately it popped into my head to grab 1/4 of a bagel (luckily they were cut up into quarters) and some cream cheese. I fought with myself about it. A quarter of a bagel is no big deal, it's not that many calories, I just lost a couple pounds (yay me!), and on and on. (I don't know why free food at work is such a powerful magnet!) You know what I did?  I didn't take one. I got my egg from the fridge and grabbed a few pieces of the fruit salad and went back to my office. Yes, I really REALLY wanted that bagel, but I told myself that bagels aren't going to go extinct any time soon and if I want to hit my goal before surgery, I have to make sacrifices. Yes, for me not eating a bagel is a sacrifice, and yes, I do think that bagels or (insert any food here) will go extinct tomorrow which is why I-must-eat-it-today.

So, yeah, I ate my egg and fruit salad and I'm just fine.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

kitty pics

Time for a few cute kitty pictures. The cats enjoyed the nice weather this past weekend. I opened the side door and let them bird watch for a bit. Tiffany and Bailey took advantage.

Others decided to nap.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

weekly cookbook project: balsamic and orange-glazed chicken thighs

In keeping with my goal to cook one recipe per week from my cookbook collection, today I made balsamic and orange-glazed chicken thighs from The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book.  I've been loving this book. The recipes, for the most part, are pretty easy and it gives me a chance to use my Instant Pot.

This was really easy. All I had to do was brown the boneless skinless chicken thighs, which I did right in the Instant Pot, whisk the balsamic and marmalade together and throw it in the pot with a rosemary sprig (cut fresh from my rosemary plant).  The only thing I needed to buy to make this recipe was the orange marmalade. I've never tried orange marmalade and since I've had weight loss surgery, I tend to stay away from jams and jellies--way too much sugar in them.

I was worried the finished dish it would be really orange-y tasting, or have a strong vinegar taste, but it was fine. It didn't have a vinegar taste, just a hint of it, really. And the orange wasn't overpowering at all. The vinegar, marmalade and rosemary all worked well together. I served it with my seasoned brown rice, which was fresh out of the Instant Pot, too. We poured the balsamic-orange mixture over the rice and it was delicious.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

small victories: i did ALL my workouts last week

For the first time in awhile, probably since the beginning of the holidays, I worked out five days last week!  That means I did my four on-my-own workouts and worked out with the trainer, too. Three of the four days I did my prescribed workout, which bores the crap out of me but it's necessary, and one day I did the 30-minute workout my trainer gave me awhile ago. Having one day to take a break from the usual routine, while still working really hard, seems to make all the difference mentally for me. I really like the 30-minute workout because it goes by really fast and I'm just as tired when I'm done as when I do the normal routine that takes close to an hour.

While I was training Friday night, my trainer gave me a little preview of what I can expect after surgery. He didn't show me any new moves, but explained that I will be doing many new things, things I'll probably think are awful, while others I might like. He also said I'd be learning burpees and that no client of his ever leaves a session without doing them. That one scares me, actually, and I'm dreading it. Overall, though, I'm looking forward to changing things up.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

weekly cookbook project: chicken and pasta with a spicy peanut sauce

I posted recently that my goal this year is to cook at least one recipe per week from my collection of cookbooks.  I have 20 of them and pretty much never use them other than to look through them from time to time.

This week I made my first cookbook recipe for my New Year's weekly cookbook project:  chicken and pasta with a spicy peanut sauce.  It's from The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book. I really like this book.  It has a big variety of recipes; it gives notes with each recipe as to how to change things up, how to serve it, etc.; the introduction talks about what to do and not to do with a pressure cooker and why; and it's written with the Instant Pot/electric pressure cooker in mind.

I picked this recipe because I had all the ingredients. (Actually, I didn't have the whole wheat ziti or fresh ginger, but I had regular ziti and ground ginger; both of these worked just fine.) Also, I really wanted to use the pressure cooker function on my new Instant Pot.

Here are the ingredients for the recipe:
  • ground allspice
  • ground cayenne pepper
  • chicken breasts
  • ground cinnamon
  • ginger
  • peanut oil
  • peanut butter
  • chicken broth
  • ground cloves
  • yellow onions
  • whole wheat ziti pasta
  • canned diced tomatoes
I couldn't find the whole recipe on the internet and I didn't feel like typing it out, so I just included the ingredients. Basically, you sauté the onions, garlic and ginger in the oil and the add the other ingredients. The Instant Pot is set the pressure cook on high for 8 minutes and then you do the Quick Release to release the pressure. That's it.

We both liked this recipe. It had good peanut taste that wasn't overwhelming and, since I didn't use the full amount of cayenne pepper, it wasn't really spicy. Had I been cooking it for myself only, I would have used the full amount, but Bob doesn't like as much spice as I do. I think this would have been better over rice, though. Ziti in a Thai-inspired dish just seemed odd to me. My only complaint about this dish is how totally blah it looked. It was a big mass of brown. Even the ziti turned brown from the peanut butter.  Otherwise, I'd make this again.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

tummy tuck pre-op appointment: done!

I went to my pre-op appointment last week for my excess skin removal surgery.

It wasn't quite so invasive this time. (Last time it was kind of like that dream we all have where we're in public, naked.  But imagine someone is also poking you and playing around with your rolls of skin in front of everyone.)  The doctor had me pull down my pants and stand in front of the mirror so she could show me what she will be doing. Basically, everything between my waist and pubic area will be gone, my belly button will be relocated on the skin's surface (because the area where it is now will be gone), and the abdominal muscles will be stitched together. According to the doctor, those muscles tend to separate when someone spends a good portion of their life being obese. She's going to stitch them together like a corset and pull the skin down to meet the incision, like a window shade.  My new belly button opening will be probably a good six inches above (in terms of the skin area) where it is now. I mean, it will be in the same place visually, but because the skin is being pulled down, it ends up about six inches higher on the skin's surface. Make sense? That also means that some of my gallbladder and gastric bypass scars will be gone, too. They've faded quite a bit by now, but it will nice for them to be gone totally. I may also see some smoothing of the "love handles." They're not significant anymore and I don't care about them, but that would be a nice little side benefit.

I go into surgery at 8:30 am on February 27 and will be done around noon. I have to be there at 7:30 am so they can prep me. Believe it or not, this is done on an outpatient basis. Pretty amazing that they can send me home after all the work they'll be doing, but that's the standard these days, I guess. I won't be able to shower that night; however, I'm pretty sure I won't be up to it anyway. I'll be going home with two drains in me, which will be in the pubic area. That should be fun. Actually, that's one of the things that freaks me out most, because if they're going in, eventually they have to come out.

The next day I have to go see my doctor so she can check me. She'll check my drain output and my incision. Oh--I won't have external stitches. They're all internal.  Two layers inside and then surgical glue outside, then surgical tape over that. Once I get home from seeing her I can take a shower.

The following week she'll check my drains again. As long as my output is 30cc (1 ounce) or less per drain in 24 hours, the drains can come out. She said it's likely the first one will come out at the one-week mark and the other will come out the following week. I'm pretty nervous about having them out. I know skin heals fast, so all I can think about is how it's going to feel coming out.

I was there a little over an hour. I kind of felt like my head was spinning, as it was a flood of information. Bob went with me.  He will be taking care of me afterwards, so he wanted to be there to hear what the doctor had to say. ,He was able to absorb anything I missed. I went armed with a notebook of questions I'd written down, but they were pretty much all answered without me having to ask.

So, what do I need to do to prep for surgery?
  • Lose the last 16 pounds. I don't NEED to. I want to. That means making sure I workout five days a week and eat right. The doctor told me to eat lots of protein and green veggies, and to stay away from processed food as much as I can. I don't need to go crazy, but she said the high protein, veggie-rich diet will help to speed my recovery.
  • Buy special antimicrobial soap called Hibiclens.  Prior to surgery, I have to shower with this soap for five days. It kills anything that might be on my skin, like MRSA and other nasty things we don't want getting into my system. 
  • Buy a special garment (aka "sausage casing") that I'll need to wear for at least a couple months to help keep the swelling down and help the abdominal muscles heal and bind together. It's not really a sausage casing, but those garments always feel like that because they're mega tight. This is the one the doctor recommended:  panty-length girdle.  Isn't it pretty??
  • Clean, clean, clean! It won't be easy to get around for awhile so I want to clean the house good. 
  • Make some egg muffins to stash in the freezer. That way no one has to cook for me. They can just pull them out of the freezer and pop them in the microwave. I'll also stock up on things like Greek yogurt, peanuts, protein shakes and bars, and I'll make a big batch of hard-cooked eggs.
  • Install a new toilet in the downstairs bathroom. The one that's there now is very low to the floor. Both of us are tall and we need something higher.  Plus this will make it easier for me to get up and down by myself. We've been wanting to do this anyway, but having the surgery will ensure it gets done sooner.

I feel like I'm forgetting something, but I'll just keep a list and add to it as the time goes by.

I'm getting excited, but I'm also nervous, as this is my first open surgery. The other three surgeries I've had were all laparoscopic and recovery was pretty easy. Time in surgery is about the same, but I always have a fear of waking up during it or having some awareness when they intubate me. And this time I will have an incision from hip to hip, so I'm nervous about the pain afterwards. But she said she will give me some nice narcotics (Dilaudid). I'll probably be feeling pretty good. :)

Monday, January 2, 2017

today's food diary

Here's today's food diary. It says I earned 398 calories from exercise. Seems a bit excessive. I have it synced with the Fitbit app, so I think that's why it's in there. I worked out this morning, but I doubt I earned that many calories. My goal is 1,200 a day, whether I exercise or not. I don't want to get used to adding extra calories, because that will slow down the weight loss. It also keeps changing my nutrient goals. My protein goal is about 105-110 grams a day, not 140 grams.

Anyway, I didn't do too bad today. I could have done without the egg muffins. The only reason I ate them was because I baked them tonight. I wasn't even hungry. I went to the movies and didn't get popcorn, which is unusual for me. I brought my bottle of Crystal Light and a Kashi granola bar.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

cookbook overload!

I've amassed some cookbooks over the last few years.

Before I moved to the new house, I went through all my cook books and gave away the ones I didn't want anymore or didn't use.  I was left with just a few.  However, me being me, I've built up the collection again.

I'm not sure why I have a fascination with cook books. I think it's because I enjoy the possibilities. I love browsing them in the bookstore, looking at the pictures, and reading the recipes. I then buy it or ask for it as a gift. Once I get it, I then sit down with the book all over again and peruse it. Lots of times I actually read it--I tend to pick up a lot of cooking knowledge this way. I might cook one or two recipes from it...and then it goes on the shelf, never to be picked up or cooked from again.

Some of the books listed below were gifts, some I bought either new or used, and a few I grabbed from the cafeteria at work (someone brought in a huge pile of old cook books a few months ago and I grabbed one).

This is what I have:
  1. 365 Pies & Tarts by Better Homes and Gardens
  2. Baking and Pastry by the Culinary Institute of America
  3. Betty Crocker's Best of Baking
  4. Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum 
  5. Chocolate by Christine McFadden and Christine France
  6. Colette's Cakes by Colette Peters
  7. Cooks Illustrated Baking Book
  8. Gastronomique by Ida Bailey Allen
  9. German Cooking by Mariana Olszewska Heberle
  10. How Cooking Works by Sylvia Rosenthal and Fran Shinagel
  11. Martha Stewart's Cooking School by Martha Stewart
  12. Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck
  13. Russian, German & Polish Food & Cooking by Lesley Chamberlain
  14. The 4-Hour Chef by Timothy Ferriss
  15. The Art of the Cake by Bruce Healy and Paul Bugat
  16. The Big Pressure Cooker Book by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbough
  17. The Fine Art of Italian Cooking by Giuliano Bugialli
  18. The New Best Recipe from the Editors of Cooks Illustrated
  19. The Science of Good Cooking by Cooks Illustrated
  20. Eat Like You Give a Fuck by Thug Kitchen
  21. The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion (10 Anniversary Edition) by King Arthur Flour

I'm not sure if this is a huge list, or if it's normal.  I'm hoping it's somewhat normal.

So, my plan for 2017 is to cook at least one recipe from one of my cookbooks every week. (Obviously some of these books are strictly dessert cook books and, since I don't generally eat dessert and neither does Bob, I'm excluding them from the one-a-week requirement. That eliminates 1, 4, 5, 6 and 15.) It will get me cooking more and both of us eating better, hopefully. Plus the books will get some use.  While I'd love to do something ambitious like cooking through Julia Child's cook book, I just don't have that in me; it's expensive and time-consuming. And it's been done.

My plan is to start this week. I'll be sure to post what I make.  Wish me luck!