Category Archives: Breakfast/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.

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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.

Lunch…the Most Predictable Meal of the Day!

Or maybe it should be titled Breakfast..the Most Predictable  Meal of the Day!  Both are pretty much set in stone right now.  I have a Chocolate Banana Protein Smoothie for breakfast everyday.  As far as I’m concerned not much can compete with 32 grams of protein, a serving of fruit, calcium and some vegetarian Omega 3s.  Plus it’s “calorically dense” enough to help maintain weight.

My lunch is almost as predictable…a glass of freshly juiced fruits and veggies with a teaspoon of orange flavored fish oil supplement, tuna or egg salad (each made with 1 tablespoon of Hellman’s olive oil mayo) on a white pita and 1 ounce of Lay’s baked potato chips.  I can’t explain it but there is something very soothing about baked potato chips.  I don’t know if it’s because they literally melt into nothing when eaten or if it’s the salt but either way they are easy to eat.  Pita bread is also a much easier alternative to gummy white sandwich bread.  This lunch is far from gourmet but it is easy to make, contains a decent amount of protein (approximately 10 grams for egg salad (made with 1 large egg)  and 17 grams for tuna salad (made with 1/2 can of water packed white tuna and a little fresh lemon juice), approximately 300 calories (not including juice or fish oil supplement), some healthy fat  and of course some fresh fruit and veggie vitamins.  Now that it’s getting colder a small cup of soup instead of juice might be a nice addition – especially to take out and about in a little thermos.  Besides the recipe for no puree Baby Food Sweet Potato Bisque (see 9/21/10 post) I’m working on a no puree Baby Food Green Pea Soup seasoned two ways.  Stay tuned!

This lunch also packs up easily into my stylish little “lunch box” that looks like a purse purchased at Homegoods for about $15.  It’s made by Fit & Fresh and comes with leakproof containers and lids as well as a removable ice pack that snaps into place.  I haven’t figured out how to keep my juice fresh for traveling so I usually substitute tomato juice.  We do have a Food Saver system that my mother-in-law purchased for us that supposedly takes the air out of canning jars preventing oxidation.  I will experiment with that and hopefully have a future post with the results.

A predicable day gives me the confidence to be a little more creative at dinnertime if I know I’ve gotten in some good nutrition and calories.  If anyone else has easy, healthy  lunch ideas they are welcome to share.

Sneaking in Those Greens

Frozen, chopped organic spinach is a staple in my freezer.  I purchase it 4 boxes at a time and have a defrosted, drained box in my fridge at all times.  Spinach is one of the veggies on the recommended list provided by the Dietitian.  Recently, at Whole Foods, I grabbed one of the booklets out on the tables in the dining area.  It suggested a clever way to get more greens by adding baby spinach or defrosted frozen chopped spinach to your morning smoothie.  The author promised that you wouldn’t even notice the spinach.  I thought about it for a minute and decided to give it a try with my morning Chocolate Banana Protein Smoothie.

I get the majority of my greens from juicing but for the days I know I’ll be out and about and not able to juice or know I’m going to be out for a GP friendly dinner of fish and baked potato, chicken and sweet potato or pancakes and scrambled eggs…all conspicuously devoid of greens it would be a great way to fill in the gap.  I’m happy to report that I put 1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped, defrosted, drained spinach in my smoothie this morning and all I noticed was a few green flecks.  Everyone is different so add whatever amount you feel comfortable with.  Also, everyone’s smoothie recipes are different so lighter flavors might not cover up the spinach taste as well as chocolate flavor.

Other easy ways to sneak in those greens:

Mashed Potatoes Florentine

Makes 4 generous servings

1 bag Ore Ida Steam & Mash Russets*

1 cup skim milk, low fat buttermilk, fat free half & half, chicken broth or a combination

frozen chopped spinach-defrosted and drained (snipped with scissors or pureed if necessary)-whatever amount is desired

fat free sprinkle cheese or grated parmesan

salt and pepper to taste

*OreIda Steam & Mash is a convenience item with a price to match (up to $3.99 a bag).  They’re good for hot or busy days when you don’t want to peel, chop and boil.

Make potatoes according to instructions.  My microwave is underpowered and it takes 20 minutes to cook potatoes thoroughly.  Heat spinach in microwave.  Mash potatoes with milk and stir in spinach, cheese and salt and pepper.

“Creamy” Chicken & Spinach Velvet Soup

I’m almost ashamed to call this a recipe but it helped get me throw the puree and liquid days.  The “velvet” comes from pureeing the pasta in the soup. It is warm, smooth and the prettiest shade of green.

1 19 oz can Homestyle Chicken Noodle Vegetable Soup*(not condensed)

frozen chopped spinach-defrosted and drained

leftover roasted chicken breast (for a little protein boost-optional)

*I use a local store brand because it doesn’t contain soy protein isolate.  I’m also, allergic to carrots and celery so I pick them out.  Leave the carrots in if you are able to eat them.

Thoroughly puree soup, spinach and extra chicken (if using) in a blender.  Transfer to a saucepan, heat and eat.

Breakfast of champions

Smoothies are a quick easy breakfast for me.  I find a liquid breakfast is an easy way to start the day as well as an easy way to get protein, calories and some healthy fat.  Everyone with GP has their own unique tolerance for fat and fiber.  I find that fat is more tolerable if it is spread out in a significant amount of liquid.

Banana Chocolate Protein Smoothie

1 cup skim milk

1 envelope Chocolate flavored Carnation Instant Breakfast

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.  Makes one serving.  Approximately 480 calories, 32 grams of protein and a source of vegetarian Omega 3’s