Thursday, February 24, 2011

Post-Surgery Post

On the 17th I had surgery to remove a 9.5cm cyst from my left ovary. Turns out I had more than just the one cyst. There were dozens of smaller cysts behind the monster that they had originally gone in for. I ended up losing my ovary altogether. The upside is that my right ovary is just peachy after they cleared it of endometriosis.

My pathology came back clear and I am on the road to recovery. However, for the last week I haven't been able to cook. Standing up for too long still exhausts me. Tonight was the first night that I really got back into making dinner and I hadn't realized how much I missed it.

A week full of pizza, fried chicken, tacos and take-out Chinese... while fun... has left me wanting more of a variety in my menu. Tonight I laid out our next 2 weeks of dinners as well as the 2 weeks of breakfast muffins. This time it was far easier than ever. I am excited to not only bring back some old favorites, but bring some new recipes as well.

Eating well and balanced is something I've missed. And I am really looking forward to getting back to it again.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Recipe: Pumpkin Bran Muffins

  • 2 cups bran cereal*
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk or sour milk**
  • 1 1/2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin (or canned pumpkin puree)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine bran cereal, all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, raisins, sesame seeds, flaxseed, wheat germ, baking soda, and salt.

2. In a very large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, brown sugar, pumpkin and oil. Gradually fold in bran mixture until well combined. Bake immediately or cover and refridgerate for up to 1 week.

3. Scoop about 1/3 cup batter per muffin into prepared muffin cups.

4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops are firm to the touch and a tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove to cool completely.

*I put the bran cereal in a food processor to make it a little more fine. Came out great!

**To make sour milk: Combine 1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar per 1 cup milk

Yields 24 Muffins

Per Muffin:
Calories: 216
Carbs: 34g
Fat: 8g
Protein: 5

Note: I omitted the raisins and sesame seeds from the muffins and they came out fine. Also, I measured out 1/3 cup per muffin and only ended up making 19 muffins instead of the 24 that the recipe claims to yield. Also, these taste wonderful with just a bit of cream cheese.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Cost of Healthy Eating

Everyone says that eating healthy is expensive. Grocery bills seem to only soar higher and higher each time that a family goes to do their weekly shopping. But when you really look at the numbers, it's far cheaper than you might think.

As an example, here are our household stats:
  • Four adults and one REALLY picky 8 year-old
  • Two adults with Diabetes
  • One adult with high blood pressure, ADHD, and food allergies
  • One adult eating healthy alongside becoming a certified personal trainer
  • All adults are overweight and trying to get fit
To put it plainly, we have a lot to work around in the food department. A lot we can't eat, or even bring into the house. Sugary sweets are out, pies, cakes, cookies... can't really have those either. But it's not fair to the kid who can have goodies, and to the non-diabetics who can as well. The challenge is finding really delicious recipes that everyone can enjoy without feeling like they're missing out on the flavors.

Every two weeks (when I get paid) I sit down with my myriad of cookbooks (I think I'm up to 15 of them now) and plan out a 2-week cycle menu. For two weeks, we eat something different for dinner every day. We have chicken, steaks, soups, roasts, chili, pasta.... you name it, it's probably on the menu. Then I come up with two different muffin recipes so that we have something to grab-and-go. Still diabetic-friendly, but tasty enough to fool anyone.

This must cost a great deal of money, right? All that meat, all the fresh vegetables these different recipes require, right? Well, yes and no. Here's how it breaks down:
  • $650 per month on groceries
  • $300 per paycheck (bi-weekly - 26 paychecks in a year)
  • $130 per person (5 people)
  • $4.33 per day per person (30 days/month)
  • $1.45 per meal per person (3 meals/day)
  • If snacks are counted in per person at 2 snacks a day: $0.87 per meal or snack per person.
Still think it's too expensive for you to eat healthy?

Side note: Since I have started eating a Diabetic Diet I have lost 10 pounds. I have done no workouts outside of going for a walk. A healthy diet is your foundation, without it all your other work won't be nearly as solid.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Recipe: Sweet Potato Puff

  • 2 pounds dark sweet potatoes (2 cups mashed)
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 2/3 cup Splenda granulated sweetener
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

1. To prepare the sweet potatoes, pierce the sweet potato with a fork and place in microwave. Cook on high for 10 minutes, or until the flesh is soft.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 2-quart casserole or souffle dish with nonstick cooking spray.

3. Cut the sweet potatoes in half and scoop out the flesh into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, except the pecans, and beat until smooth. Spoon into the casserole dish and smooth the top. Sprinkle with nuts.

4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the center slightly puffs.

Per 1/2 cup
Calories: 140
Fat: 6g
Carbs: 19
Protein: 4g

Note: This was so so so good! It tasted a lot like pumpkin pie, without the crust. I wish I could've had a second helping. It is seriously one of my favorite things I've made. It may just become a Thanksgiving and Christmas staple. You MUST try it!!

In Preparation for Laziness

We all have days when we really don't feel like doing anything. Getting up and making breakfast, or coming home from work and going straight into the kitchen to cook dinner aren't exactly appealing every single day. There are days when cooking is the very last thing that I want to do. This morning was no exception.

For the past 2 weeks I have gotten up every morning at 4:45, gotten dressed and made myself 2 fried eggs, and english muffin or toast, and heated up one of the muffins I make on the weekend.... this week was the chocolate chip banana ones. But the past 2 days I didn't want to make breakfast at all. I just wanted to sleep in, or sit on the couch and check out Facebook.

So, what do I do? Boiling some eggs on the weekend and storing them in the fridge helps out a lot. I already make 2 dozen muffins every weekend so that everyone has something that's grab-n-go in the mornings.

Preparing for the days when you just "don't feel like it" is extremely important to keeping up with eating right. There are days when there just isn't time. There are days when you don't sleep well, or the kids keep you up too late. There are days when you're sick, or that you have to work late. Being ready for these things prior to them happening is not only easy, but essential.

Find recipes for healthy things that can be grabbed quickly and popped into a toaster oven or microwave. Leftovers from the night before can be made into quick wraps. Muffins are wonderful for this. Having some grilled chicken ready in the fridge to slice and put onto an english muffin with some cheese. Having fruit ready and handy is helpful too. If you put the not-so-good for you food up in the top of the cabinet, but leave the apples, oranges and bananas out on the counter, the simple ease of access will help you stay on track. Slice up some carrots, bell peppers, or celery and put them in containers or zip-top baggies in the fridge.

So then you ask, "When will I have time for all this?" Time is always an issue. It always will be. But it comes down to making time for your own health. That hour you spend playing Facebook games on Sunday afternoon could be spent preparing your food for the week. Your health, and consequently, the health of your whole family is important enough to take this time.

Prepare for the days when you want to relax. You deserve to relax. You also deserve to live a long and healthy life. I have finally figured out that my family and I are worth it.... you are too.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Listening Closely

I have figured out something really interesting now that I am watching my food intake as closely as I am. My body tells me when something is wrong. Very loudly and very clear!

Today I had my first C# class and was terribly excited about learning something new. However, my class ran through what is normally my morning snack time. I figured, "Hey, it's just a snack. I had a hearty breakfast, I should be fine until 11, when this is over." Little did I know then how completely wrong I was.

About 9:30 (an hour after my "normal" morning snack) I started to get really sleepy. I could not stop yawning for the life of me. Which of course made me feel badly because I wasn't bored by the topic... I was actually really thrilled to be learning something and actually applying it on the computer in front of me!

As it got closer to 10:30 not only was I yawning, but my head was pounding and I was freezing cold. When I finally got up at 11, all of that still held true on top of a new level of fuzzy-headed blurry-sightedness that was going on. My body was screaming at me to get some food into it, pronto!

I don't know if this is something specific to diabetics, or if everyone is like this when their blood sugar dips, or when they are hungry and make a decision not to eat. But it's the first time I have actually paid attention to what I was being told. I think if you are really watching what you are putting into your body, these signs are more apparent.

I know that I have felt all of this in the past, but I've always chalked it up to having a heavy workout the night before, not drinking enough water, not getting enough sleep, or simply being a thin-blooded Floridian in Seattle. But all along it was my blood sugar bottoming out.

Listen to what your body is telling you. It sends far more signals than you'd initially believe.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Benefits of Diet Change

At my heaviest, I was 315 pounds. Right now, I am 260. That is a 55 pounds weight difference. Seeing that number is a big deal. Knowing that I used to wear size 28 jeans and was nearly too big for them, and today I put on size 16W pair of jeans... and they fit.

While I think working out is a truly vital part of health and weight loss, without a healthy diet, working out will get you no where.

I worked out for 8 weeks, doing some really intense cardio and nothing changed on the scale. During these workouts I was eating as well as I could, but I was still splurging every so often. Sometimes that "every so often" turned in to way too often way too many times. I thought I was eating really well, because my mind was just choosing to glaze over all the times that I slipped up and had something I shouldn't have.

That is until I was diagnosed with diabetes. I had to make the choice to change my diet or possibly stay on blood sugar regulation meds for the rest of my life. When I made that choice my body listened.

For nearly a month now I have been watching every single bite that has passed across my lips. I have kept to the 45g carbs meals and 15g carbs snacks. In this month I have lost about 10 pounds. And that is without doing any workouts. All I have done is simply restrict what foods I eat.

I have found recipes for the most delicious meals I have ever made in my entire 30 years. Everyone in my household is eating healthy and hearty. I am not missing out on anything. And I feel so much better for it. Now let's see what happens when I get to start working out again after surgery!

Recipe: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 3 tbsp margarine or butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 6 tbsp dark chocolate chips or chunks

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray 12 muffin cups with nonstick baking spray (paper or foil liners may be added before spraying).

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients (banana through vanilla extract). Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and baking powder and stir. Make a well in the center and add the banana mixture. Using a large spoon or spatula, stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Chop the chocolate (by hand or in a food processor) and add to the batter. Stir until well-combined.

4. Spoon the batter into prepared muffin tins, filling each cup two-thirds full.

5. Bake for 15 minutes or until the center springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack

Per Muffin:
Calories: 157
Fat: 6.3
Carb: 21.1
Protein: 3.8

Note: I changed this recipe a little bit. It initially called for a half cup of Splenda, but as Splenda contains Maltodextrin which can possible spike blood sugar, I omitted it. The muffins are no worse for it either. The bananas are plenty sweet enough to make them really tasty. The chocolate helps as well. I used 65% dark chocolate, and that is reflected in the calories here. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Recipe: Tera's Greek Turkey Burgers and Polenta Triangles

  • ‎1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 cloves of garlic diced fine
  • 1/2 cup of feta crumbled
  • 1/2 cup of spinach leaves, minus stems, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine, make into patties. refridgerate for 30 mins, then cook til done.

Per Burger Patty:
Calories: 231
Fat: 14.5
Carbs: 1.4
Protein: 22.7

Note: I put these on Oroweat Double Fiber English Muffins and they came out really well. Everyone loved them.

  • 1/2 cup uncooked yellow corn grits
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1. Combine grits and 1/2 cup chicken broth in a small bowl; mix well. Set aside. Pour remaining 1 cup broth into large heavy saucepan; bring to a boil. Add garlic and moistened grits; mix well. Return to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover; cook 20 minutes. Remove from heat; add feta cheese. Stir until cheese is completely melted.

2. Spray 8-inch square pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon grits mixture into prepared pan. With wet fingertips, press grits evenly into pan. Refrigerate until cold.

3. Spray grill with nonstick cooking spray. Prepare grill for direct cooking. Turn polenta out onto cutting board; cut into 4 (2-inch) squares. Cut each square diagonally into 2 triangles.

4. Place polenta triangles on grill. Cook over medium-high heat 1 minute or until bottoms or are lightly browned. Turn triangles over; grill until browned and crisp. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Per Triangle:
Calories: 58
Fat: 2.1
Carbs: 7.8
Protein: 2.1

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Keep on Keeping On

Today was rough. At work, I felt like I had people coming at me from all directions. I had three projects asking for attention and didn't have enough of it to focus on even one. I was so happy to get done with work only to realize that as soon as I got home I had to go directly to the kitchen to cook.

Unfortunately this realization always puts me in the most foul of moods. And my poor husband has to bear the brunt of my frustration. After about 20 minutes of getting things started I calm down and apologize profusely. He's always such a sport.

Having to come home after working long days and travelling on a long commute, the idea of cooking is probably the last thing anyone wants to do. It's certainly not the first thing on my list of ideal things to do when I get home. The big comfy L-couch in our living room is far more inviting.

The fact is, I have to cook when I get home at night. Especially on nights like tonight when everyone is home and  the recipe I was making would take an hour to bake, not to mention the prep time. These are nights that I would much rather go out to the store and buy something quick and easy. Or even go through a drive through for some burgers and fries.

Once I made dinner though, and it was in the oven, I was able to relax. That part was nice. And the benefit of not going out for the quick and easy meal is that we had plenty of food for us all. It was extremely healthy and tasted amazing!

Quick fixes aren't always the answer. I leave the house at 6am and don't usually get home until 5p or 5:30. I go right to the kitchen and get dinner started so that everyone (including a usually very hungry me) can eat as soon as possible. This is vital to not only my health and well-being, but those that I care for as well.

Recipe: Fresh Vegetable Lasagna


  • 8 ounces (approx. 9 noodles) uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups low fat (1%) cottage cheese
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 2 cups (8 oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt; drain. Rinse under cold water; drain well. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pat spinach with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Combine spinach, carrots, green onions, bell pepper, parsley and black pepper in a large bowl; set aside.

3. Combine cottage cheese, buttermilk, yogurt and egg whites in a food processor or blender. Cover; process until smooth.

4. Spray 13x9 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange third of lasagna noodles in bottom of pan. Spread with half of cottage cheese mixture, half of vegetable mixture, half of mushrooms, half of artichokes and 3/4 cup mozzarella. Repeat layers, ending with noodles. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and Parmesan.

5. Cover; bake 30 minutes. Remove cover; continue baking 20 minutes or until bubbly and heated through. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces to serve. 

Per Slice:
Calories: 287
Carbs: 33
Fat: 7
Protein: 23

Note: I ended up leaving out the onions and mushrooms (hubby is allergic) and made 12 servings out of this instead of 8. But it was probably the yummiest vegetable lasagna I've EVER had. The cottage cheese mix looks and tastes JUST like ricotta would have with far fewer calories and fat. I can't wait to make this again!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Recipe: Vegetable Confetti Rice

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup bottled roasted sweet red peppers, diced
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 10 oz Broccoli Florets, chopped into small pieces
  • 10 oz Cauliflower, chopped into small pieces

1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add celery; cook, stirring occasionally, about 5-6 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add rice; cook and stir about 3-4 minutes or until rice is opaque. Add diced red peppers; stir to combine. Add broth. Cover; simmer about 12 minutes or until rice is just cooked through.

2. Add broccoli and cauliflower. Cover; cook about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add water, if needed, to prevent burning. Stir well before serving.

Per 1/2 cup:
Calories: 90
Carb: 14g
Fat: 2g
Protein: 4g

Note: This tastes a lot like Rice-A-Roni to me. Really super good. And just for the record, this is more vegetable than rice, but still really delicious.

Breifly Medicated

Yesterday I went to my doctor to discuss my newly diagnosed Diabetes. And as I expected, she put me on Metformin immediately. Her reasoning is that I will be going through surgery in about 2 weeks. And diabetics are at a higher risk for infection and complications, so she wanted to minimize the risks by ensuring that my blood sugar will stay in the acceptable range.

The upside though? After looking over the 7 days of meals that I'd recorded and brought into her she said she was really happy with my progress. She also said that with more weight loss (according to their scale I'd lost 11 pounds since January 3rd!) and my continuance on this diet plan, I may be pulled off the meds at our next visit.

That, my friends, is super extra wonderful amazing news. If I can go just 2 months on the meds and then jump back off of them? I will be absolutely elated. Being on meds for the rest of my life is just not something that I foresee for myself. If that means that I need to pay attention to every gram of carbohydrates that crosses my lips for the rest of my days, so be it! I would much rather take that route than the pharmaceutical one.

So, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for my April appointment. It gives me something to look forward to... and past the surgery coming up in about 2 weeks.