Category Archives: smoothie

“Resistance is Futile”

No, I’m not a Star Trek fan but I catch myself using that phrase regularly and especially when talking about my life with Gastroparesis. It’s no secret I’ve come to appreciate the “path of least resistance”. Now before all you Sisyphus wannabes (those who get up every morning and push the same giant rock up the same steep hill only to watch it roll back down again) get yourselves in a uproar I’m in no way suggesting that the “path of least resistance” means giving in or giving up. For me it’s not wasting my energy whacking my head repeatedly against the same wall when I already know the result…a dented head and a headache!  It’s recognizing that which I have control over, acknowledging that which I don’t and practicing the fine art of living creatively within my limitations while still hoping for a cure. Yes, I do consider living my best life with a chronic digestive disorder an art and it requires letting go of what I had planned for life and getting creative within the confines of this life right here, right now. My reward for shifting my perspective…being well, feeling well, and doing well…within the confines of Gastroparesis. Please don’t get me wrong! I’m not cured, have good days and less than good days and I certainly don’t eat like a normal person (“Digestives” as Hubby and I have nicknamed them).

I routinely push myself to try new things…thoughtfully and cautiously. One of the biggest Gastroparesis-friendly things I’ve learned about myself is if it’s a fruit or veggie (raw especially) and it’s pureed to oblivion it’s most likely okay (for me!) provided I don’t do anything wild and crazy. My Green Smoothies were born that way as was my New Breakfast Smoothie below. My first post diagnosis experience with cantaloupe was just recently. I ate half a cup of very ripe cantaloupe and tolerated it okay…which means there was a little bloating. The second time I was up all night while it fermented in my tummy. Why am I doing this to myself? I asked when I already knew that I could consume three times as much if I just put it in the Vitamix and made a smoothie. The end result for me was more orange nutrients and less discomfort. How is that not a win/win? Sure, I missed out on the “experience” of eating cantaloupe but I also missed out on the unpleasant experience of fullness, bloating and a ruined night’s sleep.

My point is NOT that everyone should be pureeing their fruits and veggies! My point is that there are always creative solutions when one is faced with limitation and if one solution doesn’t work out don’t dent your head trying to force it to work. Spend that energy trying to find another. Recently, I had a follow-up appointment with my Gastroenterologist. It had been over a year since my first and only Botox treatment. He was sincerely interested in how I was doing on no medication and assuming the Botox had worn off long ago. I explained that daily exercise was my only “pill” and went on to tell him about eating six small meals per day, my Green Smoothies and this Blog (I regularly eat or use everything I write about here-eggs, chicken, fish, lobster, nut butter etc). The one perplexing question he asked was “But are you eating anything more challenging?”. I stifled all the sarcastic remarks that came to mind like “Oh thanks for reminding me! Friday is steak and broccoli night, Saturday is BBQ pork ribs with slaw night and Sunday is all you can eat donuts from Krispy Kream!” Thankfully, my face said it all for me because within an instant of asking he said “I assume feeling well is what’s most important to you.” BINGO!

My apologies for such a long post but I wanted to set the stage for my new breakfast smoothie…made with berries! I’ve gained eight pounds and no longer need to maintain my weight so a leaner, cleaner smoothie has taken my old smoothie’s place. So without further ado here is my New Breakfast Smoothie:

New Breakfast Smoothie (Kefir Berry Protein Smoothie)

I use blueberries and strawberries because they puree easily. I avoid unstrained blackberries and raspberries because even the Vitamix can’t pulverize the tough seeds to oblivion. This smoothie is “unsweetened” so feel free to adjust to your personal taste.  Makes one serving

1/2 cup plain low fat or non fat Kefir*

1/2 frozen banana

1/3 cup frozen blueberries (wild usually)

handful frozen strawberries (about 4 large berries)

1 scoop unflavored whey protein isolate**

1 tablespoon almond butter

Puree until smooth and there are no flecks.

*Kefir is cultured milk and is also considered a “fermented” food. I use Lifeway Kefir without added fiber. It has a sour, cultured taste that is stronger than yogurt. It also contains 10 probiotic strains and 11 grams of protein per cup. Click here to read more.

**I now use Jay Robb unflavored whey protein isolate. It has 26 grams of protein per scoop and has no other additives. I do not purchase the flavored powders as they are sweetened with Stevia which I have discovered makes me dizzy! I participate in their auto ship program and get one shipment per month at a 20% discount with free shipping. Click here to read more.

Mmm Milkshake!

Like a good GPer I eat several small meals a day…six to be exact. Yes, it’s a hassle and requires planning but I find it’s the easiest way for me to fulfill my nutritional needs as well as ward off unpleasant shifts in blood sugar. Most recently (and at least three times a week!) my last meal of the day has been a No Ice Cream Frozen Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Milkshake inspired by a recipe I found at The Kitchn  Anyone following on Twitter during my hiatus got a Retweet I was so excited to share it. By the way, keep an eye on the Twitter feed…sometimes there are a few gems there.  Back to the milkshake! It is YUMMY, easy and satisfying…and for anyone looking for packages of discounted bruised bananas in my neighborhood…I’ve already been there and you’re out of luck because they’re all in my freezer! Cool, creamy and just a tad bit savory thanks to the salted peanut butter this milkshake is “Hubster Approved” so it appeals to everyone.

Originally, I made the milkshake as published (click on the link above for the original version) then streamlined it a bit. My version is as follows:

Frozen Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Milkshake

Makes one modest milkshake but I usually double it for Hubby & I.

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 tablespoon peanut butter (Trader Joe’s Creamy Salted-just salt and peanuts)

1 frozen banana*

1 square Lindt 85% Extra Dark chocolate**

Place all ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth and creamy.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

263 Calories, 14.15 grams Fat, 5.1 grams Fiber, 6.1 grams Protein, 33 grams Carbohydrate

A few of the variations I’ve tried include:

Substituting unsweetened chocolate almond milk.

Adding a small container of baby food prunes for an extra serving of fruit, some additional sweetness or for their “magical properties”.

Substituting a squeeze of chocolate syrup when I was out of chocolate squares.

Adding a 1/2-1 scoop of whey protein isolate to make it an “I’m too hot and tired to cook dinner” milkshake. It does contain protein, carbohydrates and healthy fat plus at least two servings of fruit depending on how big the banana is and if you add some baby food prunes.

*Based on a medium banana (7-7 7/8″)

**1/10th of a 3.5 oz bar=50 Calories, 4.5 grams Fat, <1 gram Fiber, 1 gram Protein, 2 grams Carbohydrate)

Breakfast Smoothie Revamp

My original Banana Chocolate Protein Smoothie has served me well.  I make one every morning without fail.  It’s still an easy and nutritious way to start my day.  Recently, I had to buy the Carnation Instant Breakfast variety pack because the market was out of the big tub of milk chocolate flavor and I discovered something…although I still hate the vanilla and strawberry flavors, the dark chocolate variety is far more rich and delicious than the milk chocolate.  There’s a hitch though.  The dark chocolate flavor ONLY comes in the variety pack.  I’ve been a big fan of CIB powder…it’s helped me get well and be well fed over this past year with Gastroparesis.  All of us GPers know that frankly, when we’re really sick, have no appetite and are having trouble maintaining weight, sugar content is the last thing on our minds, getting enough to eat is the first but I’ve always had a nagging concern about all the added sugar in CIB (its second on the list of ingredients).

I’ve developed my own version of CIB powder using instant nonfat dry milk and dark, rich natural cocoa powder and not a stitch of added sugar.  The fresh milk, dry milk and banana in the smoothie already provide carbohydrates without the added sugar of CIB.  I already take a quality, high potency, daily liquid multivitamin supplement by Now Vitamins so the 10-25% RDA of vitamins and minerals found in CIB powder seems insignificant and redundant by comparison.

According to the Hershey’s website, natural cocoa powder (not dutched or dutch processed) contains healthy fat, antioxidants and a small amount of fiber (cocoa like coffee, is derived from a bean).  These antioxidants, called flavanols, are associated with good cardiovascular health, healthy cholesterol levels and reduced blood pressure.  Two tablespoons of natural cocoa have more antioxidant capacity than 3 1/2 cups of green tea, 3/4 cup blueberries and 1 1/3 cups red wine.

According to World’s Healthiest Foods, bananas are one of the best sources of potassium, essential for maintaining normal blood pressure, heart function and promoting bone health.  A simple mixture of banana and milk creates an antacid effect by suppressing  stomach acid production.  Bananas also contain pectin, a soluble fiber, called a hydrocolloid that can help normalize movement through the digestive tract and ease constipation…yes, you heard that right!  Although bananas are best known for treating loose bowel movements (think BRAT diet:bananas, rice, applesauce and toast…all coincidentally GP-friendly…something to ponder) they also can promote healthy bowel movements by providing soluble fiber to relieve constipation.

Milk and whey protein powder are excellent and easily digestible (as long as you’re not intolerant!) sources of protein.  Milk contains most of the nutrients essential for the body to carry out its daily functions.  According to Barlean’s, the makers of Barlean’s Omega Swirl Flax Oil Supplement, flax oil is nature’s richest source of vegetable-based Omega 3 fatty acids and promotes heart health, healthy cholesterol levels, joint mobility and bone density, energy, healthy blood glucose and skin, hair and nail health.

Mary’s No Sugar Added Instant Breakfast Powder

Approximately 12 servings at 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) per serving

2 1/4 cups instant nonfat dry milk

3/4 cup natural cocoa powder

sweetener of your choice, if desired, I like mine unsweetened

Mix milk and cocoa powders thoroughly…a wire whisk works well.  Store in an air-tight container (I’m using my old CIB tub).

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

68 calories, 2 grams fat, 1.6 grams fiber, 6.8 grams protein

Banana Chocolate Protein Smoothie Revamp

Serves 1

1 cup skim milk

4 tablespoons Mary’s No Sugar Added Instant Breakfast Powder

1 scoop chocolate flavored whey protein powder (I use Whole Foods brand)

1 large ripe banana*

1 Tbl Barlean’s Omega Swirl Flax Oil Supplement- Strawberry and Banana flavor (available at health food stores and on-line @ http://www.barleans.com)

Blend until smooth.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

Based on a large banana (8″-8 7/8″ long)*

433 calories, 7.4 grams fat, 5 grams fiber, 33.3 grams protein**

*Small banana (6″-6 7/8″ long): 90 calories, 0.3 grams fat, 2.6 grams fiber, 1.1 grams protein)

Medium banana (7″-7 7/8″ long): 100 calories, 0.4 grams fat, 3.1 grams fiber, 1.3 grams protein

Large banana (8″-8 7/8″ long): 121 calories, 0.4 grams fat, 3.5 grams fiber, 1.5 grams protein

**If either of the fat or fiber numbers concerns you, reduce the cocoa powder by half in the Mary’s No Added Sugar Instant Breakfast Powder, omit or reduce the flax oil supplement or choose a smaller banana.