Cooking Again

The last few weeks in my house we haven’t been doing a lot of cooking. Since I work later in the day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I don’t get home until after dinner. This schedule has resulted in me making something quick or having leftovers from a restaurant visit the day before. This evening I made the decision to actually cook something. A few weeks ago I made sweet potato gnocchi from scratch and I ended up freezing them for future use.

My refusal to follow the fad diets that I’ve seen a lot of weight loss surgery patients do has allowed me to actually eat vegetables and fruits. I cannot go low-carb and I cannot only eat protein and no vegetables. That is not healthy and that is also not what my surgical team recommends.

Because my birthday was last week, I have allowed myself to be a little indulgent when it comes to certain things, like chocolate and sweets. This has also led me to not do as well in terms of what the scale says. When dinner time came, I knew that I needed to actually make a meal and knowing that the sweet potato gnocchi was in the freezer waiting to be used, motivated me enough to create something.

I made soup. My mom asked me what kind and I told her, “It’s messa soup because I put a whole mess of stuff I found in the kitchen,” which is true. The soup that I made actually wasn’t that bad and that’s good considering I will likely be eating it for the next few days.

If you are interested in the recipe, here it is.

1 lb hot sausage
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 stalks of celery chopped
15 oz can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
48 oz of chicken broth
1 tsp of rosemary
1 tsp of thyme
2 cups of kale, chopped
2 cups of sweet potato gnocchi
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the sausage. Add the onions and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add carrots and celery, cook for 3-5 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, broth, rosemary, thyme and salt and pepper. Cook for about another 5 minutes, add kale and gnocchi. Cook until the gnocchi float to the top (or if using store bought, cook for 3 more minutes). Serve.

I’ve gotten a lot better at creating my own recipes and finding things that go well together by experimenting and I love being able to add healthy foods into meals that could otherwise not be that good for me. I was worried the gnocchi didn’t turn out, but they were pretty good considering I have never made anything like that before.

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A Woman Walks into a Store

The sweet tooth I developed pre-surgery is still there, but it isn’t raging like it once was but that doesn’t mean I still don’t want sugary foods. Last night I experimented with some “healthy” baking and while I love to cook, baking isn’t really my thing. The healthy brownies I made turned out awful. I ended up dumping them in the trash. In my defense the recipe was very vague and I improvised the whole thing. One baking success that I have had is Fiber One haystacks. It is only three ingredients and it’s also technically not baking, but whatever. I use a sleeve of Fiber One cereal (8.1 oz), 12 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips, and 1/4 cup of peanut butter. I melt the chocolate with the peanut butter and then mix in the Fiber one. I end up spreading the mixture out on a cookie sheet, freezing it, then breaking them up when they are solid, but you can make individual cookies just as easily.

Today I stopped at a Dollar Tree on my way home from work because I needed to pick up some wrapping paper and a gift bag for my niece’s birthday. The one thing I used to love about the Dollar Tree was the cheap candy and salty snacks. Every time I would enter that store, I’d leave with at least 3 packages of candy and 1 bag of chips or popcorn. When I stopped by today, I walked down the food aisle with the intention of picking something out, but as I passed by the sour candy and Skittles that I always wanted before, I felt no desire to put a bag in my basket. The idea of having that candy just didn’t seem worth it. There was one candy item that I was considering buying and I even said to myself, “it’s only a dollar,” but I reacted like I did pre-surgery when an unnecessary food was just out of my price range; I told myself that while I really wanted it, my desire didn’t justify the cost. For the first time, I walked out of the Dollar Tree without anything edible. I got the items I came there for and left with only the items I intended on getting (except for the potholders because my dog keeps eating the ones we have and I’m sick of using things that aren’t potholders).

It’s weird things like being able to leave a store without a treat that have shocked me the most since having surgery. A few years ago I lived to eat and I now truly feel that I now only eat to live. I don’t really find pleasure in food anymore, but when I would find pleasure in food before, there was a strong emotion I was trying to bury. I used to binge on bags of chips, eating a whole bag in one sitting and finding myself with an upset stomach and anger at my inability to stop. When I tell people I don’t find pleasure in food anymore, I’m really saying I never found pleasure in food but only used it as a poor coping method for something deeper. Not having food be the focus of my life allows me to focus on things that are important to me, like writing. For the last two weeks I have been writing every night and that isn’t something I have been able to do for several years. I’d rather have my writing than a bag of chips and that’s one of the biggest changes I’ve seen in myself.

Product Discovery

After this week’s therapy appointment, I decided to make a stop at Aldi to pick up a few things. I had some recipe ideas that I wanted to make, including makeshift personal pizzas (which is 2 or more meals for me now). I came across packages of flatbread that I thought would make a really good crust for my pizzas.  The product is called Fit & Active: Multi-Grain Flatbread with Flax. That night I decided to make a flatbread pizza with the usual sauce and cheese and for toppings I chose pepperoni and spinach. Probably an odd combination, but I wanted some form of vegetable included and that’s what was handy. I baked the pizza at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes but it probably could have been in there less time. I was quite shocked that I actually really like the flatbread. When I had pizza before, the crust was never something I enjoyed, but I found this flatbread to be pleasing. I might try making chips with them too because I am a chip and dip fiend.

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Go-To Recipes (Week 5)

At Week 5 I am just beginning to introduce solid foods. There have been a few recipes that have helped me get through the transition and also give me a lot of protein at each meal. Because I am almost always running late, one meal that has been a Godsend for me is mini-egg muffins.  I typically make a batch of 48 mini-muffins and keep them in the freezer. I try different combinations with each batch, but the basic starter of each muffin batch is this:

  • 10 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of milk (I use skim)
  • 2 tsp of salt (although I like salt, so I usually add a little more)

Some combinations I have enjoyed are bacon, cheese and spinach, feta and tomato, feta and red pepper, cheese and bacon, and cheese and pepperoni.

Spray each muffin tin with a bit of cooking spray for easier removal and bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. The first time I made these, I was shocked at how buttery they tasted despite never adding any butter.

As I’ve said, I freeze mine and then just take 2 or 3 out when I’m running late, pop them in the microwave for about 30 seconds and eat them on the go. Depending upon what I add to each egg muffin, I can get between 3 and 6 grams of protein in each one.