Monthly Archives: December 2010

I Go Where The Muse Takes Me….

I still have plans for the stew and casserole I promised but the placard outside Whole Foods announced: wild caught shrimp $4.99 per pound.  The muse called and I answered!  It’s shrimp season…yes, shrimp has a season.  In the days before the revolting abomination that is farm raised shrimp people actually waited until this time of year to enjoy those tasty little critters.  Shrimp, shrimp…that’s literally what shrimp scampi translates to.  So in an effort not to be redundant I’ve named this dish Oven Roasted Scampi.  The following recipe was inspired by Ina Garten’s Roasted Shrimp Cocktail and Lydia Bastianich’s Scampi Alla Buonavia but adapted to be Gastroparesis-friendly…with only 1 tablespoon of butter in the entire dish!

Shrimp are classified by “U” number…U10-12, U20-25 or in this case U31-40.  The U number refers to how many shrimp there are per pound.  Larger shrimp have a smaller U number.  At U31-40, the shrimp I purchased from Whole Foods were about the size of peel and eat shrimp. I prefer to buy shrimp raw with the shells and heads, if I’m lucky.  Last year they had raw, whole, wild shrimp (with the heads!) at Whole Foods…such a treat to find up here in New England you would have thought they were encrusted with diamonds with the way I reacted. Shrimp shells (and the heads!) are loaded with flavor and easy to transform into the quickie shrimp stock that provides a savory boost to this dish and any seafood dish, soup or stew.  Simply peel and devein shrimp with a pair of kitchen scissors by cutting down the back, peeling off the shell leaving the tail portion attached then scraping out the vein.

Hubby and I enjoyed our Oven Roasted Scampi with chunks of french bread to sop up all the saucy goodness.  For a complete meal spoon shrimp and pan sauce over very well cooked orzo pasta and spinach…and have some bread on hand for sopping.

Quickie Shrimp Stock

Makes approximately 2 1/2 cups.  The Oven Roasted Scampi only needs 1/2 cup.  Freeze the remaining shrimp stock for future use.

Shells from 2 pounds raw shrimp

3 cups water

2 bay leaves

1/2 lemon

1 onion, finely chopped

1 large clove garlic, smashed

1 sprig fresh thyme (can substitute generous pinch of dried)

1 sprig fresh tarragon (optional…I had it already, feel free to substitute dry)

a few peppercorns

pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

Place all ingredients in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain and cool.

Oven Roasted Scampi

Serves 4

2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left intact  (I used U31-40 shrimp)

3 cloves garlic, grated to a paste using a microplane

1 tablespoon butter

sprigs of fresh thyme

1/2 cup Quickie Shrimp Stock

1/4 cup dry white french vermouth

1 tablespoon lemon juice

zest of 1 lemon, grated using a microplane

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Combine butter and garlic into a paste.  Set aside.  Spray a large baking dish with olive oil cooking spray (I used a large porcelain casserole the size of a large lasagna pan).  Spread shrimp out in a single layer.  Lay sprigs of thyme over shrimp.  Combine shrimp stock, vermouth, lemon juice and lemon zest.  Pour over shrimp.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Dot garlic butter over casserole.  Bake until shrimp are pink and firm, approximately 5 to 10 minutes or longer depending on size of shrimp and how cold they were when they went in the oven.  Toss to coat shrimp with sauce and transfer shrimp and sauce to a serving dish.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

253 calories, 5.3 grams fat, 0.1 grams fiber, 47.6 grams protein

Pukka Christmas Dinner

I honestly wasn’t planning on having curry for Christmas but one thing led to another.  Blame it on the creative process and my slowly evolving craving for more spice in my life.  Both good signs in my opinion!  Curried Chicken & Chutney is definitely a keeper but I’m respectfully going to withhold the recipe until I can perfect it further.  This simple dish consisted of chicken breast, my Christmas Chutney (see post from 12/13/10), mild curry powder, chicken stock and a splash of fat free half & half but it could be so much more with some fresh ginger and a few other flavors.  Paired with basmati rice and Roasted Butternut Squash Cubes it was a very unexpected, very delicious albeit very nontraditional Christmas dinner for us.  I’m hoping it can become some sort of new tradition.  So forgive me for not sharing any further on the chicken and chutney front…I promise it will be forthcoming.  I’ve included the Roasted Butternut Squash Cubes as they’re a pleasing alternative to mashed squash.  They can be seasoned sweet or savory…just remember to roast until really tender.

As for dessert…I can definitely share what was a simple but special treat.  Warm Banana Sundae with Sea Salt Caramel is another keeper…warm, creamy and sophisticatedly sweet with the unexpected savoriness of sea salt and crunch of crushed salted pretzels!  Frankly, it’s the sea salt and pretzels that make this dessert…without them it would just be cloyingly sweet and one-dimensional.  I love (understatement!) dulce de leche, the south american milk caramel…if you’ve never tried it just imagine “sex on a spoon” but at $10 a jar it’s not practical for everyone’s budget so I substituted Smucker’s Special Recipe Butterscotch Caramel topping ($2.29 at Target).  I hope you’ll try this scrumptious dessert.  The leftover caramel can be spread on toast (like Argentinians do with their dulce de leche!), spooned over banana pancakes, drizzled over bread or rice pudding, stirred into hot chocolate or served with warmed canned pears!

Roasted Butternut Squash Cubes

Serves 4 generously

2 pounds butternut squash peeled and cut into 1″ cubes

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Toss squash cubes in olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread cubes out on a sprayed sheet pan.  Roast 40-50 minutes or until very tender.

Nutritional information Per Serving:

122 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 4.5 grams fiber, 2.3 grams protein


Warm Banana Sundaes with Sea Salt Caramel

This combination is ALL about the crunchy salted pretzels and sea salt caramel!  Serves 1 but can be multiplied

1 small, ripe banana

1/4 cup scoop Edy’s Slow Churned vanilla ice cream (or fat free frozen yogurt)

2 tablespoons Smucker’s Special Recipe Butterscotch Caramel

a few grindings sea salt

4 mini pretzels, crushed

Peel banana and cut in half lengthwise then in half.  Preheat a no stick skillet and spray with flavorless cooking spray.  Saute banana until golden, turn and saute until golden and soft.  Meanwhile, warm caramel in microwave.  Remove bananas to a serving bowl, top with ice cream, warm caramel, sea salt and crushed pretzels.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

302 calories, 3.05 grams fat, 2.7 grams fiber, 3.75 grams protein

Have a Very Merry Christmas!

My Warmest Wishes for a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthier New Year!  Remember that Christmas is about love, sharing and hope.  Be open to the positive, fend off the negative and find magic in ordinary things.

As with Thanksgiving, I will be cooking and taking copious notes for the Christmas Dinner post.  I’m also looking forward to trying a few new Gastroparesis-friendly comfort food recipes I’ve been saving for us GPers to enjoy in the cold, snowy months ahead…Hint: one is a hearty stew and the other, a comforting casserole so stay tuned!  Until then…Eat well!  Be Well!  Enjoy!

Are You Feeling Left Out This Holiday Season?

Food plays such an enormous part of holiday celebrations.  Whether it’s Grandma’s sugar cookies, the well-meaning festive food gift from friends or the potluck luncheon at work we are surrounded by goodies this time of year. The onslaught of  holiday treats is difficult for even the most “normal” digestive system to deal with.  For us GPer’s it’s temptation and the aftermath of an “indiscretion” isn’t just mild indigestion or a few extra holiday pounds it can be some serious digestive upset…even a full-blown flare.

You all know my mantra: “Nothing tastes as good as being well feels!” and I sincerely believe this.  Food has been the center of my Universe for most of my life.  This is my first holiday season with GP and I’ve spent a great deal of time in my “bubble” as I like to call it..and I’m eating well and enjoying.  Plus, life inside my own little “GP bubble” is easy.  I don’t feel “freakish” or deprived or different in any way but life in “the bubble” isn’t very realistic…in fact it can be very limiting.  Between GP and food allergies (because of the carrots, apples and soy I can’t even buy any of the prepared veggie/fruit/protein juices on the market), I’ve been cooking or preparing all my own meals and snacks, avoiding parties and get togethers and rarely eating out.  Although it’s easy, the “GP bubble” isn’t the best long-term strategy for living the rest of my life with a chronic digestive disorder.

My biggest lesson this holiday season has been separating food from fun…in other words it’s possible to have fun without focusing on food.  I’ve enjoyed decorating my wreathes, shopping for the children in my life, watching the amaryllis Hubby gave me grow, traveling around my neighborhood of antique houses at night enjoying all the lights and decorations and have a “Girls Night Out” to look forward to at new local sewing business this week.  I’ll be brushing up on my sewing skills by making infinity scarves.

How are you filling the gap this season?  What strategies have you employed to enjoy the holidays without focusing on food?

Tasty Find! Trader Joe’s Light Egg Nog

No holiday season feels complete without a little cup of egg nog (with “cheer” or without).  I’m one of those GPers who can’t tolerate whole fat dairy and most commercial egg nogs start at four grams of fat for a half cup serving and go all the way up to 10 grams for the luxurious full fat versions.  I’ve been pining for a small egg nog since Thanksgiving and downright fantasizing about a Starbuck’s egg nog latte.  I had given up my search at four grams of fat for a half cup serving so you can imagine my delight when I picked up a carton of Trader Joe’s Light Egg Nog!  A half cup serving comes in at 110 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein…yes, you read that correctly…1 gram of fat!  Just a little tidbit about fat: fat coats the palate and creates the pleasant “mouth feel” of super premium ice cream, full fat dairy and baked goods made with butter.  It also dulls flavor so when it’s removed low fat products become less than luxurious and very sweet.  This is true for the Trader Joe’s Light Egg Nog but I’ve chosen to overlook its shortcomings and focus on its possibilities…

Trader Joe’s Light Egg Nog Latte aka DIY Holiday Egg Nog Latte

Serves one but can be multiplied

1/2 cup light egg nog

1 cup (or so) hot coffee

vanilla sugar (optional)

Fat free ReddiWip (optional)

freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

Brew coffee.  Microwave egg nog until hot.  Froth with stick blender (or cover container and shake vigouously….the “poor man’s milk frother”…open carefully).  Blend coffee with hot, frothed egg nog.  Sweeten with vanilla sugar or as desired and top with optional Fat free ReddiWip and a fresh grating of nutmeg.  Sing Christmas carols at the top of your lungs…just kidding-it’s okay to be quietly festive while enjoying your egg nog latte.

Not all GPers can tolerate coffee.  Generally, I limit myself to one cup in the morning after my smoothie but made an exception for the latte.  Coffee has a tendency to kill my appetite and there are days when I can feel it sitting in my tummy.  If this is the case and you’re not sure what to do with the remaining seven servings left in the quart may I suggest adding it to pancake batter, french toast or bread pudding custard or baking a pumpkin egg nog flan.

Cookies! Cookies! Cookies!

My favorite cookie tin originally housed rich, French butter biscuits from Brittany (where the butter contains extra milk fat!) and it was feeling very empty, lonely and forgotten.  In case you haven’t noticed I haven’t exactly been shy about sharing my frustration with low fat baking.  Not one to give up easily, I thought I’d give it another try.  I was so hopeful, I even purchased a bag of Nestle’s Semisweet Chocolate Mini morsels the last time I was marketing…and I’m glad I did.  These Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies are like cakey, little baby chocolate chip banana muffin tops!  Thanks to the Taste of Home’s website only slight adaptation was needed to make it a Gastroparesis-friendly recipe.

I bake with parchment paper…it guarantees there will be no sticking and no clean up.  No spatula is needed-just carefully pull each sheet of baked cookies onto an awaiting wire rack for cooling.  Once cool, cookies will lift off the parchment easily.  And a word about portioning: this recipe makes 36 cookies so to ensure the correct portioning I placed four sheets of parchment out on the counter and dropped the dough until I had 36 relatively uniform servings before baking. Remember to start each sheet of cookies with a cooled sheet pan in order to get the best results.

Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies

Makes 3 dozen

1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled

2 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup mashed ripe banana

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup Nestle semisweet chocolate mini morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix first 5 ingredients (butter through sugar) until well combined.  In separate bowl mix remaining ingredients.  Combine liquid ingredients with the dry.  Drop by scant tablespoon measures 2 inches apart onto parchment paper lined baking sheets*.  Bake 11-13 minutes or until cookies are slightly browned around the edges.  Remove parchment sheet to a wire rack to cool.  Remove cookies from parchment.  Store in your favorite wax paper lined tin.

*I measured out all 36 on 4 sheets of parchment paper before baking to ensure good “portioning”.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

1 cookie per serving

50 Calories, 2.2 grams Fat, 0.4 grams Fiber, 0.8 grams Protein

Are You Keeping A Food Diary?

Currently, I’m not but that doesn’t mean I haven’t kept one in the past.  After my diagnosis I found the Three Step Gastroparesis Diet (the link is located under blog roll on this page) during my internet travels.  My Gastroenterologist was great at diagnosis, lousy with advice about eating.  And we all know the saying “God helps those who help themselves.”  I started a food diary because I knew I wasn’t getting enough calories and my “nutrition” was pretty poor…the obvious signs: I continued losing weight and my hair was thinning.  My diary was “old school”, just a small notebook where I would jot down the time I ate, what I ate, the amount and the approximate calories…always in Sharpie marker in case of spills!  At the end of the day I’d take out my trusty calculator and add up my total for the day…four small “meals” and two “snacks”.  Along with that basic information, I would make a notation (usually as a giant asterisk or big unhappy face) next to an item or meal when it really didn’t agree with me or I’d write “MISTAKE” in giant block letters next to an item or amount that might have seemed like a sound choice but wasn’t.  I weighed myself every Thursday morning (and continue to), noted the number and difference from the prior week in my food diary.

I brought the diary to my appointment with the Registered Dietitian as evidence, that despite the condition I was in, I was eating and trying to get my calories and nutrition in.  She was able to examine it and tell me where I could improve and how I could increase my caloric intake…namely making my snacks more “calorically dense”.

I learned a few important things from keeping a food diary.  I was gradually and steadily increasing my caloric intake and I was narrowing down an eating plan without even knowing it.  When I looked back over the months of daily journaling definite patterns emerged.  I stopped keeping my diary when I got to a regular 2,000 calories per day, gained 3 pounds and was able to start exercising again while maintaining my weight.  I don’t think any of this would have been possible without the structure of daily journaling.

Today, I use the recipe analyzer at http://www.caloriecount.about.com to keep a close eye on the calories, fat, fiber and protein in the recipes I eat and post on the blog.  It’s very easy to use and gives me the information I need to keep myself well…and well fed.  And now, the whole point to this post: CalorieCount now offers a new Food Log on its site.  The log allows you to catalogue what you’ve eaten while it tracks your calories and lets you know if you are meeting your caloric and nutritional needs.  The log also give a “nutritional grade” but before you get disappointed most GP-friendly choices don’t grade well given their lack of fiber so don’t despair if you get a bad “nutritional grade” from CalorieCount.  I personally believe that if I’m are eating well (given the constraints of the low-fat/low fiber Gastroparesis Diet), feeling well, maintaining my weight and getting my calories, allowed fruits/veggies and protein, I’m doing well.

As the saying goes: “Knowledge is power” and having a tool that gives you that knowledge puts the power of wellness in your hands.  I hope you’ll check the food log out.  Eat well!  Be well!  Enjoy!