Snack Time!

Who doesn’t love Lipton’s Onion Soup Dip? I certainly always have and rumor has it that’s what Julia Child made a bee-line for at a reception for the Schlesinger Library at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study which happens to house a culinary collection of 15,000 books. So I’m in good company!

I enjoy two snacks a day and consume my fair share of Greek yogurt but there is only so much Greek yogurt with honey that this girl can tolerate. Sometimes I want a crunchy, salty, savory snack…but it still needs to be healthy. My favorite afternoon snack with a half ounce of baked potato chips is Protein Powered Onion Soup Dip enriched with the protein power of Greek yogurt. This dip hits the snack spot and provides 9 grams of protein!

My proportions yield a milder onion flavor. I use fat free Greek yogurt feel free to substitute 2% Greek yogurt for a creamier dip. As always the seasoning can be adjusted up or down depending on your preferences. Not only is this great as a snack but its a great new way to enjoy an old favorite while guaranteeing there is something potentially GP-friendly at your next BBQ or get together.

Protein Powered Onion Soup Dip

Makes 2 servings

1 6 ounce cup fat free Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons onion powder (or more depending on taste)

1 teaspoon Better Than Gravy gravy mix for beef (sold in a 1 ounce envelope)

freshly ground black pepper

finely snipped chives (optional)

Combine all ingredients and stir until smooth. Enjoy with baked chips of your choice. Pictured above with Kettle Brand Baked Chips sea salt flavor.

Go Ahead…Ask Me

As you know, I’m a trained chef who happens to have Idiopathic Gastroparesis. The past year and a half or so has been a journey of rediscovering how to do the two things I’ve always enjoyed…cooking and eating. But thankfully some things do stay the same. For instance:

As a general rule a fillet of fish baked at 400 degrees takes 10 minutes per each inch of thickness (at its thickest part) to be done and remain moist.

A perfectly hard cooked egg takes 10 minutes covered and off the heat once it’s come to the boil to prevent an unappealing green line forming around the yolk.

Homemade oven fries brown and crisp best baked on a dark sheet pan…even better if the sheet pan is preheated along with the oven first.

Green veggies should be dropped into salted boiling water and cooked uncovered to preserve their beautiful color…even if you need to cook them to death because of Gastroparesis.

Purees freeze best when they don’t contain white potato or milk products.

Simple syrup is simply equal parts sugar and water.

A turkey or chicken burger is done (and still moist) when an instant read thermometer inserted through the side of the burger reads 165 degrees.

These are all facts I know and routinely forget that I know. I also make assumptions that everyone knows how to make or do certain things in the kitchen. Just like most of you this way of living and eating is a new challenge for me but at least some of the old rules and guidelines remain the same. So, go ahead. Pick my brain. Ask me. I’m happy to share and in the event I don’t know the answer I’m happy to attempt to find one. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead…ask me.

Moist, Quick & Lemony

I love all things citrus and love cooking with buttermilk so imagine my delight when my friends at Eat Better America posted a recipe for Buttermilk Lime Tea Bread! I’ve adapted their recipe slightly by replacing the lime with lemon for a moist, simple tea bread with a light lemony flavor. Enjoy a slice as is or smear on a spoonful of seedless blackberry jam for an extra special treat. The folks at Eat Better America suggest mixing 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of zest into a tub of spreadable cream cheese.

I can read your minds and they’re thinking: “Great, but what do I do with the other 3 cups of buttermilk in the quart because that’s the only way it’s sold?”. I’m one step ahead of you on that one! I plan on using the remaining buttermilk in Buttermilk Chive Mashed Potatoes-simply stir buttermilk and some very finely snipped chives (only if you think you can tolerate them), salt, pepper and just a touch of butter (again, whatever you can tolerate) into a batch of mashed potatoes. Next, I’m going to make Buttermilk “Fried” Chicken followed by Impromptu Buttermilk Ranch Sauce (for dipping oven fries and dressing baked potatoes) by mixing buttermilk, some fat free Greek yogurt, a squeeze of fresh lemon and a sprinkling of my favorite all-purpose seasoning Penzey’s Mural of Flavor…add some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano for even more savory flavor. Finally, because I know the little mouse I’m married to will polish off the tea bread faster than it took to bake it, I’ll be making Raspberry Filled Chocolate Layer Cake (such a keeper!). Any questions? Go get cooking!

Low-fat Lemon Buttermilk Tea Bread

Makes 16 servings

1 3/4 cups flour

3/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup canola oil

2 teaspoons finely grate lemon peel

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9×5 inch pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Mix flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl mix egg, buttermilk, oil, lemon peel and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice until well blended. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir until just moistened (there may be some lumps). Spread mixture in prepared pan.

Bake 50-60 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Meanwhile, mix remaining lemon juice with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Brush mixture over the top of the warm bread then cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, remove bread from pan and cool an additional hour. When completely cool, wrap in plastic wrap. This bread is best served the next day.

Nutritional Information Per Serving: Based on 16 slices

130 calories, 4 grams fat, o grams fiber, 2 grams protein, 22 grams carbohydrate

Helpful Hints: For dark or non-stick pans reduce the oven to 325 degrees to prevent too much darkening. Also, remember, a plastic or metal washable ruler makes portioning a snap. This recipe makes 16 slices-keep yourself honest by measuring out the slices before you enjoy.

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)

Goin’ Green Plus My Video Debut…

Anyone with Gastroparesis is aware of how “carb-centic” and potentially sugar-fueled a GP-friendly life can be. Pair that with a diet devoid of whole grains and  light on fresh fruit and veggie vitamins and its enough to make you throw your hands up in frustration…at least that’s the way I feel sometimes. My weeks “on hiatus” have been a time of gently pressing my GP boundaries and finding ways of maximizing my nutrition in every bite while minimizing sugar and processed foods. Don’t worry I haven’t become a complete kill-joy! There are still treats and sweets after all nutritional needs are met. Life’s short! I still save room for dessert!

With the help of my Vitamix and inspiration from Victoria Boutenko’s book Green for Life (which I found completely by accident at the bookstore) I’ve been enjoying two Green Smoothies a day! Now before you tune out, it wasn’t until I read Victoria’s book and visited her website Raw Family that I realized I just might be able to tolerate an adapted* Green Smoothie. I was especially pleased to learn that a Green Smoothie, didn’t need to be thick or lumpy.  My Green Smoothies are actually quite thin-thinner than fruit nectar, V-8 vegetable juice or tomato juice. The website has a section of Victoria’s Green Smoothie recipes and a 15 Green Smoothies in 3 Minutes video with recipes. Some Green Smoothies are as simple as peaches, spinach and water.  In fact, I use the term “sipper” interchangeably with “smoothie” because I take one out during each of my snacks (mid-morning and mid-afternoon), insert a straw and simply sip until its gone.

Anyone who has been following the blog knows I’m a baby steps kinda gal who looks more than just a couple of times before she leaps. About a year ago, I started by juicing my fruits, roots and veggies. When Hubby surprised me with a Valentine’s Vitamix I started to puree a handful or two of greens with my juice and eventually graduated to a completely pureed Green Smoothie. Remember, no where is it written that you must jump into the deep end of the pool on your first day. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dipping your big toe in before wading in gradually from the shallow end. I’m still a huge fan of juicing. Having said that the normal caveat applies. My Green Smoothie works for me. I am in no way advocating that this is appropriate for everyone with Gastroparesis. You know your tolerances best and your judgement is still your best guide.

I was so excited to share my Green Smoothie with you as well as a few of the little tricks I’ve learned along the way (like minimizing the very unappealing foam that can form on the top of Green Smoothies) I’ve made a video! So come on, let’s make a Green Smoothie!

*A Vitamix is capable of pureeing a concrete block but I’m still careful about what I include in my Green Smoothies. I avoid really fibrous items and learned my lesson when I threw in half of a peeled orange because I was too lazy to put it through the juicer.  I was nauseous for a day and a half  because of the citrus fiber. Lesson learned! Victoria’s recipes are only a guideline for me.


Refresher Read…

This is first and foremost a Gastroparesis recipe blog and as I’ve mentioned a few times before, it’s also my vehicle for being well and living well with a chronic illness. As you know, I’ve been “on hiatus” for a while playing catch up, enjoying my life and gently testing my GP boundaries. My “hiatus” has surprisingly turned into a bit of a sabatical…but more about that later!

The other morning Hubby and I were out walking our usual course around the neighborhood and the conversation got very negative. Before I realized I was the negative in the equation I had sunk into an angry, full-blown “why me” tirade. I truly believe all that I have written about being fortunate and grateful and also believe you have to roll with life or life will roll over you but I’m human so there are occasional pity parties, tantrums and tirades along with moment of bitterness. At least five years ago (and long before I’d even heard the word “gastroparesis” let along been diagnosed with it) I read an article written by Richard Eisenberg in The Empty Vessel magazine. It spoke to me so profoundly that I keep a copy of it in my desk and take it out for a “refresher read” whenever I’m feeling “picked on” by life’s capriciousness. I’ve even sent a copy to friends during difficult times in their lives.

I’m not an overtly religious person and in no way wish to inflict any of my beliefs or philosophies on others. I’ve posted the article for anyone who wishes to read and hopefully it will speak to you as profoundly as it has and continues to speak to me. Recently, I needed a “refresher read” and will undoubtedly need more over the years to come. The only way I could think to post it was as pictures (techno I’m not!) so just click on each page to enlarge for reading.

Oh, and by the way, hiatus really doesn’t mean good-bye so keep your eyes open for a little surprise I have planned for next week! Until then…Eat Well! Be Well! Enjoy!

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Hiatus Does Not Mean Good-bye…

Thank you for all your kind words and wishes!  It is impossible to turn off the creative process so I’m still cooking and taking notes.  “On Hiatus” does not mean good-bye…or that I’m magically cured.  It simply means I’m taking some time for myself and enjoying life…something I was unable to do last spring and summer.  I’m looking forward to a few exciting adventure like kayaking with Hubby or taking our 100-plus pound Bullmastiff Zelda for a few good romps on the beach as well as more mundane pursuits like being able to spread bark mulch and mow my own lawn.  I sincerely hope you’re all able to do similar things in your own lives.

My Twitter account is still active and you can follow “GastroandGastro” (Mary K) whenever you’d like or stop in periodically to check the Twitter feed on the blog.  Stay tuned and subscribed as G&G will be back but until then…keep moving, keep hoping and keep taking on life one (GP-friendly) meal at a time.  Eat Well!  Be Well!  Enjoy!  Mary