Sunday, April 30, 2017

chicken pot pie casserole

I realized today, as I was going through my pictures on my SD card, that I never posted this recipe I tried. It's a take on a turkey pot pie. But since it's not Thanksgiving and I didn't have turkey in the house, I used some chicken I had poached for other purposes. So, we'll call it chicken pot pie casserole.

I got the recipe here:  Cauliflower Crust Pot Pie. (She's got a lot of great bariatric-friendly recipes there!) The only changes I made was to sub in chicken for turkey, and I left out the parsley. I don't keep parsley on hand and wasn't about to go buy it just for this. Oh, and I used frozen peas and carrots (2 cups total). The ones that come in the same bag together. It's much faster and easier than dicing raw carrots.

This was a good way to use up some items I had on hand. but either hadn't gotten around to using, or needed to use because there was just so much of it.  I had a small amount of quinoa in the cabinet, and a bag of frozen riced cauliflower that I bought and just hadn't found a use for. I also had that leftover poached chicken. I always buy the 5 pound family pack of boneless skinless chicken breast, so I always have a lot left over after a grilled chicken dinner.

This recipe was easy and it tasted great. My only issue was that it took much longer than 30 minutes for the crust to be done to my liking. I didn't want it to be mushy, so I cooked it for almost an hour so it was crisp up a little and get browned. But that's totally up to you as to how you want it done. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

today's lunch: Green Giant Steamers and boneless chicken thighs

I'm in a funk again when it comes to putting together my work lunch. I typically bring some rolled-up lunchmeat and mustard for dipping, but that's getting really boring. I think one of my biggest struggles sometimes is figuring out what to eat that doesn't get boring, but isn't overly fussy or complicated at the same time.

Recently I stocked up on frozen veggie mixes in an effort to eat more veggies and to have something different, but still easy. I found a bunch of Green Giant Steamers on sale for $1.00 each a couple months ago, so I grabbed some and tossed them in the freezer. Then I promptly forgot about them, Well...that's not 100% true. I didn't exactly forget about them. Rather, I came across them a few times when looking for something else in the freezer and said, "Hmmm. I need to start using those. What else looks better in here??" Then I'd shut the door, to be forgotten until another day.

This week I finally started using them. I got lazy a couple times and didn't prepare my lunch the night before, and of course I was running late for work the next morning (like always; not sure why I'm always late for work but never anything else...). I had a plate of grilled boneless chicken thighs in the fridge, so I tossed a thigh in a container and grabbed the Green Giant Steamers Healthy Weight veggie blend and was on my way.

So here's today's lunch. I just microwaved the bag of veggies for 4 minutes, heated the chicken for about 2 minutes, and then tossed it all in one container. The veggie mix is sliced carrots, sugar snap peas, black beans, and edamame in a butter sauce. The chicken had enough seasoning, so I didn't add any salt; however, the veggies by themselves might be better with some salt or seasonings. This is the whole box, which is two servings. It's 180 calories total, plus whatever is in the chicken.

Very fast, very convenient, I got my veggies in, and it tasted good.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

the week in review

The crab apples trees are ready to bloom!

It's been a while since my last post, so I thought I'd write an update.

I've been sick for over a week. Last Saturday I started with a scratchy throat. I thought, "OK. I'm getting a cold. This sucks, but no big deal." Wrong. Sunday I woke up feeling like I had razor blades in my throat. Every time I swallowed, I wanted to cry and die at the same time. It hurt in my ears, my glands were swollen, and I had a bad headache and a little congestion in my throat. This last for FIVE days. I went to the doctor for a strep test and it was negative, of course. (I was actually hoping it was strep so I'd get some antibiotics and it would be gone.) I tried things that I found online, such as a spoonful of honey. The relief lasted about three minutes. Honey is way too high in sugar for that to be a go-to option, so I scrapped that. I tried gargling with salt water and also mouthwash. Neither helped. I tried throat numbing spray and lozenges. Those helped slightly.  Wednesday night I was so desperate I started Googling:  "will dilaudid work on a sore throat." Dilaudid is the narcotic that was prescribed when I had the tummy tuck in February. I had some left and decided to save it for an emergency. I scrapped the idea of taking the dilaudid, since I didn't feel like I'd get much bang for my buck. I stuck with Tylenol and/or ibuprofen and DayQuil, which I used throughout the week and seemed to help take the edge off at least. I drank a lot of tea, too (in case anyone cares, my favorite is Bigelow Constant Comment).

So, on Thursday I then started with a cold. Wonderful. I was headed out of town to meet my cousin and since I didn't actually feel that bad anymore, I went. I continued with the cold medicine and switch to ibuprofen. I felt mostly OK. Much better than earlier in the week, anyway. I rested off and on in the hotel room, drank a ton of water, and used Halls throat lozenges when I didn't have water. My throat was pretty sore by the end of each day, but, again, not nearly as bad as earlier in the week.

Yesterday I'm driving home and it feels like I have something in my eye so I start rubbing it. By the time I got home, I had some discharge and my eye was tearing. It continued all evening and then started swelling and getting red. Bob thought it was pink eye. Fabulous. I've never had pink eye so I had no idea what it looked or felt like, or that it's highly contagious. Today I wake up and my eye is sealed shut from all the gunk (I know, TMI). It was also swollen and getting itchy. I decided to go to the walk-in clinic near my house, rather than waiting for tomorrow for the doctor. Diagnosis?  Pink eye. The doctor prescribed some eye drops, which I'm now taking.

Is there any bright side to this week+ of misery? Yes. I got to see my favorite cousin and we had a good time.  My incision is almost closed, which means I'll be headed back to my trainer soon.  And today I'm wearing pants without my compression garment. I tried going without it a couple weeks ago when I was wearing workout capris, but it was irritating to my belly button. For several weeks I've been going without it once I change out of my regular clothes, but still wore it with my work clothes. Seems to be OK now, though. Getting there!

This is my lawn. I love the Springtime when the lawn is covered in white and purple flowers. I know they technically weeds, but they look pretty. Shortly after I took this picture, Bob mowed over them with the tractor. 😥

It's gorgeous today and all the trees and flowers are in bloom. My two baby apple trees are blooming, as well as the established ones. The baby trees, although they are budding, will take several years to bear fruit.

Here are my two established apple trees. I think they're McIntosh, but I'm not sure.
Here's are the fruit clusters. I'm really hoping I have a big harvest this year. I got none at all last year.
This is my Liberty apple tree. When planting apple trees, it is recommended to plant several
different varieties so that they cross pollinate and produce more fruit.

As you can see, it's budding.
Here's my baby McIntosh apple tree.
It's budding, too! I wonder if it will produce any fruit this year?
My garden is blooming, too. Ignore all the dead stuff. I haven't gotten out there to weed yet. I have lots of daffodils, some tulips coming in, the poppies are starting to grow and the phlox is blooming nicely.

I have lots of frogs in my little pond. They all squeak and then jump in the water as soon as they see me coming.
I was able to take a picture of this guy, though.
Now that Spring is here, it's time to bury Felix's ashes. I'm thinking I may put him next to Thomas's grave. I'll need to find more kitty statues. I find them at tag sales typically and use them as grave markers. 

This is Thomas's grave. I got the two kitty statues at the Stratford Cat Project semi-annual tag sale last year. 

I'm hoping this illness goes away very soon and that this week is a better week. Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

ice cream tastings

First of all, Happy Easter! I'm home sick, so I figured I'd finish this post I started a couple days ago.

Awhile back I tried one of the new light "ice cream" products that came out and it didn't blow me away.  (Actually, it was an ice cream alternative, to be fair.) Since then, I've seen Halo Top all over Facebook and recently was told about Enlightened. Both of these are light ice creams that claim to be a better ice cream:  less sugar, fat and calories, and more protein.

This past week, one of my co-workers bought five pints total of Halo Top and Enlightened and brought them to work for a late-afternoon ice cream tasting. She's a body builder and is very health conscious, so leave it to her to find better alternatives to high-calorie and high-fat snacks. She miraculously found it on sale for less than $3.00 a pint (standard price is $4.00+).

Here's what we tried (links included since I hadn't planned on a blog post and have no pictures):

Enlightened:  Sea Salt Caramel:  This was good. I'm not usually a fan of this flavor in general, but I thought it was pretty good. The texture was like real ice cream and the flavor was better than the Halo Top Sea Salt Caramel.

Halo Top:  Sea Salt Caramel, Pistachio, Oatmeal Cookie, and Chocolate Almond Crunch:

Sea Salt Caramel: I didn't like the texture, which was like ice milk. And it seemed very artificially sweet.

Pistachio:  I didn't taste any pistachio flavor at all. It was basically sweet and green with a non-descriptive flavor. Texture was more like ice cream, though. It would have been nice if they added some actual pistachio nuts to it, too.

Oatmeal Cookie:  This was my favorite of all the ice creams we tried; everyone agreed. It has a good oatmeal cookie flavor and there were chewy bits of rolled oats. And the texture was like real ice cream. (This was the winner.)

Chocolate Almond Crunch:  I didn't taste the chocolate ice cream at all. All I could taste was almond, which was more of an almond extract flavor. The crunchy almonds were nice, but it just piled on more almond flavor, which wasn't needed. It was very sweet, but the texture was good.

My own personal taste test

Fresh off the Friday afternoon ice cream tasting, I decided to try a pint of Enlightened Brownies & Cookie Dough ice cream. I got it at my local grocery store and it was $4.99 a pint. I normally would not spend that on ice cream, even Ben & Jerry's, but I wanted to try something new and was excited about diet ice cream that might possibly taste good. This is a brand new flavor and it's not even on their website yet, so I have no link to post.

Here is the nutrition label. As you can see, it has only 6 grams of sugar, but there are sugar alcohols in there to make up for that. It also has fiber, is low in calories, and has some added protein (milk protein isolate).

This ice cream freezes VERY hard. I couldn't get a spoon into it at all. I don't know if it's my freezer setting, or if it's the ice cream. I had to microwave it for about 30 seconds at full power to soften it up so I could scoop it. Even then, chunks of it broke off and it didn't scoop very smoothly. Also, the core of the container was melted while the outsides were soft and the inner ring was hard.  That was bizarre.

I measured out the correct serving, which is a 1/2 cup. No, a serving is not the full pint! Although it would have been prior to weight loss surgery. Also, it gives the total calories for the whole pint on the lid. And even though this has 7 grams of protein per serving, you will not get brownie points (ha!) for eating the whole container under the guise that you're "getting in your protein." (It's not like I thought of doing that...)

This tasted good and had a good texture to it. It was somewhere between ice milk (blech!) and ice cream. It didn't taste as good when it started melting, so you might want to eat this before it melts. I didn't find it unpleasantly sweet. It has lower sugar, but also has sugar alcohols to add more sweetness. The ice cream didn't taste all that chocolatey, but that's pretty standard with light ice cream. Considering cocoa powder isn't high in calories, I'm thinking the could have added more to give it more of a chocolate punch.

Onto the chunks, which is the most important part of any ice cream (for me). It had some decent brownie and cookie dough chunks, and also had chocolate chips. It didn't mention chocolate chips on the container aside from the cookie dough, so it was puzzling at first, but it was a nice surprise. I'm a lover of chunky ice cream, so I was happy that I could actually see the chunks and they had some bite to them. Prior to surgery, my ice cream of choice was one that was more chunks that ice cream. Actually, I often added more to whatever ice cream I bought. When I was a kid I used to take chocolate ice cream, or whatever was in the house actually, and add cereal, peanut butter and sometimes hot cocoa powder or chocolate milk mix. Yes, all at once in the same bowl.

I mentioned earlier that it gives the total calories for the whole pint on the lid. See what it says on the back of the pint?  It tells you to go ahead and eat the whole thing. I'm not usually a stickler or the food police, but this just seems wrong to me. I understand it's basically the same amount of calories for the whole pint and one serving of a premium ice cream, but still. I don't think a company that's supposed to be making good-for-you ice cream (it says it right on the container!!) should be encouraging people to gorge themselves on a whole pint of ice cream in one sitting.

I would buy this again; however, I definitely would wait until I could find it on sale. I'm not enough of an ice cream eater to want to spend $4.99 a pint. Not on light ice cream, anyway. Also, I would have to limit it to half a serving due to the sugar alcohols. If you think it will bother you, or already know that it does, eat just a couple spoonfuls at first to test the waters. I find that some sugar alcohols bother me and others don't, and that's mainly why I don't eat light ice cream or other "diet" snacks. I'd rather eat one or two spoonfuls of the real thing, both for the taste and satisfaction.

I definitely did not taste any of these ice creams with the notion that they would be identical to Ben & Jerry's or Haagan Dazs ice cream.  How can they be when these ice creams have a fraction of the sugar, fat and calories? I went into this knowing that these are substitutes for the real thing. That said, most of them were disappointing. Although, a couple were good enough that I would buy them again. If you're someone who really misses ice cream, you might like to try these.

Do you eat light ice creams or snacks? Have you found ones you like? Ones that are ghastly? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

lazy sunday

Marty and Max. Seems the orange kitties stick together.

This is what the kitties are doing today. Just being lazy and enjoying the sun. I'm surfing the internet, listening to the Golden Girls on TV (it's on the in other room, and Leia and Louise are currently enjoying it), and getting ready to make a new recipe I found online.  I'll post after I make it.  I did some grocery shopping this morning--I feel like I spend my life doing that!

Tiffany stole my seat. She moved on to the window, though, when I gently kicked her out.

And here they are, all lined up. Bailey, Marty, Max and Tiffany. I can never get them to all look at the camera at the same time. I wish I had this life!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

tummy tuck recovery progress

No pictures to post today, as my incision is a bit gross looking. 

The incision is healing very well overall; however, a small portion of it--maybe four inches or so, in the front above the pubic area--has separated. It's a shallow separation, as the internal stitches have held very well, but it's annoying nonetheless. It started the week my father died, probably because of the swelling after the long car ride to and from New Hampshire, as well as the added physical activity. I went to the doctor before my next trip up north, just to make sure it wasn't a serious problem to have and to make sure it wasn't infected. It wasn't infected and she said it does happen from time to time since that particular area is a high-tension area after surgery. She cleaned it up since it was still very scabby and there were lots of dead white blood cells surfacing (looks like pus, but it's not runny). It experience. Thankfully I was still numb in that area, because she scrubbed it with peroxide and gauze like it was her kitchen floor! She then told me to make sure I clean it like this a few times a week, and I could even use a loofah sponge if I want to (Hell no!). She also told me to cover it with gauze, and that, yes, it will stick, but when I pull it off it will take some debris with it. How wonderful!

Anyway, I've been cleaning it, but I'm not scrubbing it like I'm stripping varnish. (Sorry, but I just can't bring myself to do that to myself. I admit I'm a chicken.) I keep it covered and change the gauze a couple times a day. Any scabs that form I pull off. Since I'm still numb there it doesn't bother me. Well, not really. It's starting to heal up, but it's very, very slow. Basically, one little area right in the middle of the opening has finally come together, so now it looks like two separate openings. I know it will eventually heal, but it's really annoying to see.

The rest of the incision looks good; however, each end (at either hip) is bothering me. That's where the internal stitches were tied off on the outside and there's a lump of skin at either end that rubs against everything: my clothes, my garment, my bed when I sleep. The tied-off ends of the thread have fallen off finally, but I have a scab on each side, which I think is adding to the discomfort.

As for the rest of me, I feel decent. I tighten up when I sit too long, so I try to get up often. It still hurts when I sneeze, although it's not bad. It feels more like movement with stiff muscles. I've started wearing my compression garment only during the day at work. I take it off when I come home and don't wear it to bed. It seems like I feel better in the morning when I've slept without it. But it's only been two nights, so I haven't had extensive experience with this yet. I find that the surface of my skin in the ab and hip areas get sore when I take the garment off, which makes me feel worse for awhile. Not sure why that is. I still get some itching around the ends of the incision, but it's not as intense or frequent as it was. Pants are still a problem. I can wear leggings and workout capris that have a softer elastic waistband, but definitely can't wear my skinny leggings that have a regular waistband, nor can I wear jeans yet. Even the things I can wear bother me a bit. I find my hips tend to feel bruised when I wear pants, and the waistband sometimes feels tight. Eventually I'll get back into jeans and regular pants.

I haven't gone back to working out yet. I was cleared a couple weeks ago to do so, but I'm waiting until the incision is closed. I don't want to chance it taking even longer to heal, or separating even more. 

I've a little over five weeks out from surgery and I'm feeling pretty good, but definitely not back to normal 100%. I definitely feel annoyed that there are still things that bother me physically, that I'm slower than normal, and still have to remind myself to straighten up. I know it will get better, eventually, and this whole thing will be in the rearview mirror soon, but I just wish it would hurry up. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

ON Protein Cake Bites

I saw these in the store and decided to try them. I'm always up for trying new protein bars and snacks; however, I find I need to be very careful with them, as I tend to treat them like candy bars and not the meal replacements/supplements they should be.

I don't normally like the birthday cake flavor of protein bars, but thought I'd give these a try. The idea of three "cakes" I could spread out over the day was an intriguing thought. Plus, this was the only flavor the store had.

Three cake bites (the whole package is one serving) contains 240 calories, 7g fat, 20g protein, 25g carbs, and 5g sugar (includes 3g sugar alcohol). The protein is a blend of milk protein concentrate and isolate, and whey protein isolate. My only complaint about these is that they don't have any fiber.

I really liked these. They didn't have any of the weird aftertaste I've gotten with other birthday cake flavored protein bars. (Oh Yeah! brand comes to mind.) I wouldn't say these are light and airy like the package implies. It doesn't say light and airy, but typically something that has a whipped texture tends to be lighter. They seem to be about the same texture as most protein bars. I thought the portion size was generous, but maybe it's because the idea of three separate cakes is tricking my mind.

When I tried these I wasn't hungry. So was I a good girl? Did I spread the three bites out over the course of the day? Hell no. I was delusional to think I could do that, which is why, if I decide to have them, I'll eat them when I'm actually hungry. Since I wasn't hungry, I felt like a stuffed pig afterwards (flashback to old, bad eating habits pre-surgery...).

I've since seen these in another store and they also had Chocolate Dipped Cherry and Red Velvet Cake. I bought the cherry, but not the Red Velvet. The cherry ones were covered in a chocolatey coating. They were delicious and if I buy them again, this is the one I'd buy. It really tasted like chocolate cherries, although they were a tad on the sweeter side. Not overly so, though. Nutritional content is the same as the birthday cake flavor.

Overall, I would say that these probably aren't great for a new post-op since it's not pure whey protein isolate and are kind of high in carbs, but I think they're find for someone further out like me. Just my opinion! I plan to not buy these too often since I am very likely to use these like candy and not as a meal replacement like I should.

You can find them in GNC and online here:  Optimum Nutrition. Vitamin Shoppe may have them, but I haven't checked. I probably shouldn't anyway...