Category Archives: Gastroparesis

Simple, Yet Sophisticated, Single Ingredient Sorbets

What if I told you that two cool, creamy and easy fruit sorbets were just a blend away?  That’s two sorbets with no peeling, pitting or poaching required? And the best part: no ice cream maker necessary! It’s true! Simple, yet sophisticated Pear & Peach Sorbet is that easy! All you need is canned fruit halves in heavy syrup, a freezer and a food processor or sturdy blender. Fruit packed in heavy syrup is what makes this recipe work as sugar syrup doesn’t freeze completely like juice. Avoid fruit packed in juice as it will yield disappointing results.

These sorbets are nice enough to serve as is or garnish with some very finely diced candied ginger, homemade or store bought berry syrup or diced canned pears or peaches for a little flavor alliteration. No matter how you scoop or serve  them these sorbets are keepers. And by the way, I’m happily eating candied ginger again. There was a time that even those fibers bothered me. It’s so nice to have a useful old friend back in my life.

Pear & Peach Sorbet

For best flavor allow sorbet to soften for approximately 5 minutes before serving

2 15-16 ounce cans pear or peach halves in heavy syrup

Freeze unopened cans of fruit for a minimum of 8 hours. Dip unopened cans in hot water for 20 seconds to loosen filling. Pour contents into the bowl of a food processor (I used my Vitamix) tearing at the filling with a fork to break up the pieces of fruit. Puree until smooth. Transfer sorbet to a covered container and refreeze. When ready to serve, remove from the freezer and let soften for approximately 5 minutes.

Advertisements

“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.

What’s In Your Bag?

Hubby and I were relaxing in our local Starbucks when I reached into my bag for a little treat to go with my first iced coffee of the summer. I’m one of those petite women who carries a bag that’s twice as big (and heavy!) as she is and as I fished around and started to “unload” the Hubster laughed and asked “Exactly what’s in that bag?”. “Be prepared” isn’t just the motto of the Boy Scouts. So, here’s what’s in my bag:

1. Individual servings of almond butter (flavored with honey, maple and chocolate) are handy if I’m out and about and get caught without a snack. All I need to do is purchase a bagel, roll, crackers or other “vehicle” for my almond butter. No utensil needed just tear off a corner and squeeze out the almond butter. Sometimes I carry peanut butter pouches and Justin’s also makes chocolate hazelnut butter in an individual pouch.

2. Ziploc snack bags of mini pretzels and low fat ginger cat cookies from Trader Joes’s. I find rather than avoiding food, eating just a small handful of something crunchy and salty or crunchy and spicy (gingery) can actually make me feel better when my tummy is a little queasy and uncertain.

3. Glucose Tablets and a Glucose Liquid Shot in case of low blood sugar. I’m not diabetic and am diligent about eating 6 small meals a day but have had two occasions when I’ve had an unpleasant shift in blood sugar. I sat in my car and ate 6 hard candies until it passed but never want to get “stuck” in a situation like that again. I picked up this helpful tip from Crystal’s Traveling with Gastroparesis Video Blog Post. I haven’t had to use them but having the glucose products gives me a little extra peace of mind that I won’t be caught unprepared if another sugar shift is in my future.

4. Ginger tea bags for “tummy taming”. I can ask for a cup of hot water anywhere. I’ve been enjoying Twinings Herbal Revive Lemon and Chinese Ginger lately.

5. Jelly Belly Sports Beans. I’m not kidding myself, although these claim to be “quick energy for sports performance” they’re nothing more than glorified candy. What I do like about them is that they’re portioned into 100 calorie packs and contain carbohydrates, electrolytes and a few vitamins. Each resealable packet comes in berry, lemon/lime, watermelon (contains caffeine) and orange flavor. I found them completely by accident when I was browsing through the food items at REI Sports.

6. Gin-Gins, Ginger Chews and Ricola Lozenges. I keep a handful of Gin-Gins ginger hard candies and Ginger Chews from the Ginger People as well as Original Ricola lozenges. Between the spicy ginger and minty-herbal flavors I always have something soothing to suck on.

7. Peppermint Gum. Not pictured because I just chewed my last piece! I find chewing gum helps with the feelings of fullness. I’ve never been quite sure if chewing gum helps move the food along or just takes my mind off a full tummy but either way it makes me feel better after a meal that won’t “move”.

So, I’ve shown your mine…what’s in your bag?

As always…Eat Well! Be Well! Enjoy!

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)

Twelve Letters. Begins with C…

The answer to this crossword clue: constipation.  The dreaded “c” word just happens to be a not so pleasant side effect of the low fat/ low fiber GP diet which often exacerbates Gastroparesis symptoms.  The last time I mentioned this unfortunate problem I used “whisper voice” but we all know it’s the white elephant in the room so here goes….

Shortly after diagnosis, I mentioned this new phenomenon to my Gastroenterologist.  His advice was literally one word: Miralax.  I’ve always been a compliant patient so I went to the store and picked a bottle off the shelf and began to read the ingredients.  It was right then and there I decided there had to be another way before I headed down the Miralax path.

This is the point where I would be irresponsible if I failed to mention that I’m not a Dietitian or medical professional.  Everything I write about is based on my own research and experience and should not be construed as professional nutritional or medical advice.  It is also not meant, in any way, to be disparaging or critical of anyone’s GP lifestyle.  We are all doing what we need to do in order to be well and live well with a chronic digestive disorder.  One piece of wisdom I got from the Dietitian (when the look of horror came over my face when I first saw the limitations of the GP diet and heard the words “puree” and “baby food”) was that you can only give your body what it is willing and able to tolerate.  I should also mention that I have been diagnosed with Idiopathic Gastroparesis and no other dysfunction any further down my digestive system.  Now that we have that out of the way…

These are a few of the ways I’m able to keep the “trains running on schedule” while adhering to the GP diet.  They work best as maintenance tools rather than solutions so I address any “slow downs” (when things get sluggish, incomplete or nonexistent for one day) very quickly to avoid “back log”.

Juicing: I’m a big fan of juicing and not just because it’s a great way to get fresh, raw fruits and veggies.  I firmly believe that what is included in my juice helps me fend off the dreaded “c” word.  Greens are magnesium-rich thanks to their pigment chlorophyll.  Magnesium is necessary for normal muscle function including the intestines.  It relaxes the muscles in the intestines and attracts water to the intestines.  My favorite greens for juicing are dandelion, spinach, chard, parsley, kale and beet.  Speaking of beet, drinking beet juice regularly is thought to relieve constipation so I include beet root every time I juice.  During the summer months I include watermelon in my juice and find it very effective.  The white part of the rind is loaded with chlorophyll so don’t cut it off with the green skin.  Here is a link for a few Juicing Recipes for Constipation .

Limiting the White: Bananas, canned/cooked peaches and pears, prunes (as baby food or pulp-less juice), peas (as baby food), squash, sweet potatoes, white potatoes (without skin and not instant/processed potato) are all starches or carbohydrates that promote regularity.  Think anti-BRAT diet.  White rice, white bread, noodles and cream of wheat type cereals promote constipation because they are highly processed.  I’m very mindful of how much “white” I consume and try to opt for less processed forms of starch/carbohydrate to balance out the “white” when I can.

Hot Beverages: Don’t underestimate the power of a strong cup of coffee if you are able to tolerate it.  I enjoy one cup of strong, black coffee after my breakfast smoothie has settled each morning to help get things going.  If things feel like they’re becoming sluggish I make myself a Cup O’Go, as I like to call it,  in the evening as the last thing I consume before I go to bed.  One tablespoon of blackstrap molasses dissolved in a cup of hot water (milk, coffee or tea) produces a mild laxative effect without fiber.  Blackstrap molasses is the result of the third boiling of sugar and is a significant source of potassium, iron and calcium.

Probiotics: Dosing with good bacteria is believed to keep pathogens (harmful microorganisms) in check, aid digestion and nutrient absorption and contribute to immune function.  I’m a bit of a novice as far as probiotics are concerned and get mine with a daily Acidophilus pearl and a serving of Activia yogurt.  Recently, I weened myself off of the sugar-sweetened vanilla and now enjoy plain, unsweetened with a serving of baby food fruit poured over the top.  Many GPers swear by Align.  I haven’t tried it but Mollee at www.mybrokenstomach.com is a huge fan.  Click on the link to read what she has to say about Align.  

Regular Exercise: We’ve all heard or read that regular exercise is good for us and it’s also good for all facets of digestion…that includes elimination.  Weather permitting, I speed/power walk my neighborhood which is  3 miles or spend 50 minutes (5.5 miles) on the elliptical at the gym.  Getting 5 days of exercise a week diminishes ALL of my GP symptoms including constipation.

Water: Again, we’ve all heard or read that being properly hydrated aids all aspects of digestion.  Proper hydration lubricates the intestines and makes waste soft and easier to pass. I drink water with and between meals.

Yoga: My favorite yoga pose or asana for “intestinal discomfort” is Pavanamuktasana. The literal translation is: “wind release pose”.  Click on the link.  It’s much easier to see the pose than for me to explain it.  I find this pose relieves bloating and discomfort associated with “slow down”. 

Supplements: My last resort if everything else I’ve mentioned isn’t working.  Magnesium is available in supplement form.  Phillips makes a magnesium caplet (not to be confused with Milk of Magnesia which is a saline laxative).  Each caplet is 500 mg of magnesium oxide.  I take one or two caplets with an eight ounce glass of water before bed.  I have no idea if magnesium interacts with medication so if you have any concerns consult your doctor of pharmacist.

We’ve all been diagnosed with the same condition and following the GP diet may help by keeping us fed and healthy but it has it’s drawbacks.  I hope some of these suggestions prove helpful and if you have any “home spun” wisdom of your own please share.

Hoping you’re all Eating Well!  Being Well! and Enjoying!

The Hubster Loves Me!

Not that I was having my doubts…but then, the UPS man delivered a box to the front porch.  Let me tell you, I have no shame and when I spotted it from the driveway did a very undignified OMG dance.  Grinning like an idiot I scooped up my prize and broke my legs to get us both into the house.

Hubby’s Valentine’s gift to me was a shiny, new Vitamix 5300 in what else…Valentine red!  Now, I may have mentioned once or twice that the other GP blogger girls each have a Vitamix and they believe it has been a valuable tool for their GP-friendly lifestyle…but this was all Hubby’s doing.  Some may feel a blender for Valentine’s Day isn’t the most romantic gift but for this GP-friendly recipe blogger girl it was a testament to true love!  I look forward to creating all sorts of nutritious treats in my new Vitamix and as usual my good fortune is yours… as I will promptly share them all.

Yes, Valentine’s Day conjures up visions of candy, roses and candle lit dinners but romance isn’t limited to the stereotypical…sometimes an appliance is the perfect way to say “I Love You”.

Eat Well!  Be Well!  Enjoy!