Category Archives: Holiday

Parmigiano Reggiano Lovers Rejoice!

I’ve always been a big fan of Eating Well Magazine.  They’ve never let me down and this time was no exception.  Spinach and parmesan baked into little individual quiche-like cakes…savory and delicious!  I adapted the following recipe for Parmesan Spinach Cakes to be more GP-friendly without sacrificing one morsel of Parmigiano Reggiano.  I’ve also cut out a few steps (that whole laziness thing).  The original recipe uses 12 ounces of fresh baby spinach that is chopped before being mixed into the other ingredients.  I always have a box of frozen chopped spinach in the freezer so I used that.  Feel free to pulse the spinach in the food processor if you’d like.  Don’t forget that a few fresh gratings of whole nutmeg make anything with spinach and parmesan sing.  These little guys are nice enough for the holiday table or can be paired with a cup of tomato soup for a quick and easy mini meal.  It is my pleasure to announce: The ‘King of Cheeses” is no longer in exile…long live the King!

Parmesan Spinach Cakes

Update 4/5/11 I’ve added some finely chopped fresh dill and a few tablespoons of fat free feta with tasty results.  Enjoy!

Serves 8

10 ounce box frozen chopped spinach, drained and squeezed of excess water*

1/2 cup fat free cottage cheese

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (weight is the most accurate measurement: 50 grams/scant 2 ounces)

2 eggs, beaten

2 cloves garlic, grated on microplane/rasp

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

a few gratings of fresh nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray 8 cups of a 12 cup muffin tin with olive oil spray.  Combine all ingredients and fill muffin cups evenly.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Let rest for 5 minutes in pan before running a knife around the edges to loosen.  Turn cakes out of pan.

*Puree in a food processor for a more uniform appearance, if desired.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

1 per serving, serves 8

64 calories, 3 grams fat, 0.8 grams fiber, 6.7 grams protein


Fleetingly Festive

It’s that time of year again and historically I have about a four minute window in which I feel festive.  Those four minutes basically fall somewhere between Thanksgiving Day and December 1st…after that I get “Scrinchy”…a combination of Scroogy and Grinchy.  Yesterday that four minute window opened so I took the opportunity to decorate and hang wreathes on the front and mudroom doors.  This is my first holiday season with Gastroparesis and I’m doing my very best to accept and adjust to “the new normal” but that doesn’t mean I still don’t feel a profound sense of loss.  Just between us, an occasional tantrum has been thrown…like when I dropped the gravy on Thanksgiving Day and promptly put my coat on and went out to “walk it off”.

Back to the wreathes!  It felt so good to get completely lost in a task.  I was so focused on wired ribbons and faux-sugared fruit picks that I completely lost track of time and when I looked at the clock it was time to start thinking about dinner.  What to have?

Pancakes are always easy and my stash of pumpkin spice pancakes in the freezer were gone.  Since I was feeling fleetingly festive I whipped up a batch of Gingerbread Pancakes seasoned with brown sugar, molasses and holiday spices and for topping: some Vanilla Maple Pear Compote…how I LOVE pears…at least they’re GP-friendly!  I generally enjoy my pancakes with scrambled eggs but given they were gingerbread with warm pear compote decided on a 1/4 cup of cottage cheese instead…vanilla Greek yogurt might also be a nice addition.  Either way, don’t forget some extra maple syrup to put it completely over the top!  Warm, seasonal, festive and yes…another tasty Gastroparesis-friendly recipe.

Just a reminder: Pancakes freeze well separated by wax paper in a Ziploc bag and the compote freezes just as well in small containers…just defrost in the microwave and pair with a protein for a no effort GP-friendly dinner.

Gingerbread Pancakes

These pancakes are not sweet and are subtly spiced.  Feel free to add more sweetener and amp up the spices but be careful there’s a fine line between spicy and bitter.  Having said that, the Vanilla Maple Pear Compote complements them beautifully.  Pancake batter can be made a day ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.

Makes 12 4″ pancakes, 6 servings of 2 pancakes

Pancake mix of your choice-enough to make 12 4″ pancakes (I used 2 cups Whole Foods 365 Organic Buttermilk Pancake & Waffle Mix)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon molasses (I prefer Blackstrap molasses)

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

freshly grated zest of 1 lemon – (a microplane produces very light wispy gratings of zest-leave out if you are concerned)

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 eggs

1 1/3 cups fat free milk (follow whatever your mix suggests, may also use water if your mix contains buttermilk-check preparation instructions)

Mix all ingredients together until smooth.  Do not overmix.  For best results allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before using.  Drop batter by 1/4 cups onto a sprayed non-stick griddle.  When bubbles form on the top of the pancake its time to flip.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

Based on 2 4″ pancakes

222 Calories, 0.4 grams Fiber, 3.9 grams Fat, 7.8 grams Protein

Vanilla Maple Pear Compote

Makes approximately 2 1/2 cups or 10 1/4 cup servings

Can be made ahead of time.  Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

3 large ripe Bartlet pears (about 2 pounds), peeled, cored and chopped

juice of 1 lemon, strained

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Cook until pears are very soft-approximately 30 minutes-only you know how soft you require cooked fruit.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

Based on 10 1/4 cup servings

88 Calories, 0.1 grams Fat, 3 grams Fiber*, 0.4 grams Protein

*Recipe analysis based on unpeeled pears-peels contain a significant amount of fiber so this figure may be a little inflated.

Thanksgiving Leftovers. My Most Favorite Second, Third and Fourth Meal of the Year!

What’s the best thing about Thanksgiving dinner?  Leftovers of course!  The following three ideas for leftovers are family traditions that I’ve adapted for my new GP-friendly lifestyle.  Because everyone’s leftovers are different and there are no exact serving sizes I can’t do a nutritional breakdown of each recipe…just make sure all of your leftover components and portions are GP-friendly for you.

GP-Friendly Big Bird Sammie

Serves 1

1 pita round, split into 2 rounds with scissors (I purchase pita bread from a local Syrian/Lebanese bakery.  The loaves are very thin and the large rounds are 9-10″ in diameter.)  Save remaining half for another purpose.

1 triangle Laughing Cow cheese (any flavor-I used garlic and herb)

thinly sliced leftover turkey breast

leftover jellied cranberry sauce

leftover stuffing

leftover gravy

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees.  Spread Laughing Cow wedge over entire surface of pita round.  Layer turkey, cranberry sauce then stuffing over half of the pita.  Salt and pepper between each layer.  Fold pita over to make a half- moon.  Seal in a foil packet and bake until warm-15 to 20 minutes.  Cut into 4 wedges and serve with leftover gravy, if desired.

Turkey Soup

Add a spoonful or cooked rice or noodles to each bowl before serving, if desired.

6 cups turkey stock (From previous post-freeze the other 6 cups or so with some leftover turkey meat for another batch of soup in a month or so)

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes (or carrots if able to eat)

8 ounces sliced mushrooms (I used crimini)

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence (ground into a powder with a pinch of salt in spice grinder)

1 tablespoon onion powder

2 teaspoons soy sauce

reserved turkey meat

10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed of excess liquid

Add sweet potato cubes, mushrooms, garlic, bay leaf, Herbes de Provence and onion powder to 6 cups of turkey stock.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until sweet potato cubes are tender (approximately 15 minutes).  Add soy sauce, reserved turkey meat and spinach.  Simmer until hot.  Season with salt and pepper.

Leftover Thanksgiving Dinner Pie

Serves 1 in an individual gratin dish or multiplied in a pie plate to serve more

Leftover low-fat GP-friendly stuffing

Leftover fat free gravy

bite sized pieces of leftover turkey, skin removed

cooked carrots  (for those who eat carrots)

Leftover fat free mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes or a combination

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Press leftover stuffing into gratin dish or pie plate.  Pre-bake in oven until crispy bottom crust is formed.  Meanwhile, warm gravy, turkey and carrots (if using) in a saucepan.  Pour filling into warm stuffing shell.  Loosen potatoes by stirring with a fork.  Spread or pipe mashed potatoes on top of “pie”.  Bake until potato topping is warm and puffed.

Watch For Bones Kids!

That’s exactly what my mother would say as she was ladling out steaming bowls of her Post Thanksgiving Turkey Soup.  My mother was a lovely, but very frugal woman and her idea of soup was a pot full of turkey bones and spent vegetables to which she’d add rice and call soup.  We literally had to “watch for bones” in the “soup”.  Years later my brother asked me: “Why was Mom’s turkey soup so bad?”…  My answer: “Because stock isn’t soup”.

Good stock is the building block of great soup.  All the turkey bones and vegetables should be spent having given up their essences to the pot.  The bones and veggies are then discarded so that fresh vegetables, seasonings and meat can be added to create soup.

Hopefully, you’ve saved your turkey bones and carcass because good stock is just a simmer away!

Turkey Stock for Soup

Good soup starts with good stock.  More of a guideline than a recipe.  Add anything: mushroom stems, leek tops, parsnips, scallions, etc. but remember adding too many green things can make the stock appear green (avoid all cabbage family veggies).  The less fat and skin that goes into the pot the less fat there will be to skim off the top.

turkey carcass pick off  “good meat” and reserve for soup.

3 onions, roughly chopped

3 stalks of celery including leaves, roughly chopped

3 carrots, peeled if not organic, roughly chopped (the only way I can use carrots)

mushroom stems and trimmings

parsley stems

1 large bay leaf

1 sprig thyme

1 large clove garlic, smashed

a few whole peppercorns

Place ingredients in a large stock pot.  Cover with cold water and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and skim any scum that forms on the surface.  Cook uncovered for 3 hours.  When cool enough to work with remove solids from pot with tongs or a large strainer.  Ladle stock through a cheese cloth lined sieve.  The last 1/2 to 1 cup of stock or so will be cloudy and dusty don’t put it through the cheese cloth just discard it.  Refrigerate stock overnight.  Any fat will rise to the surface and solidify making it easy to remove with a spoon and discard.

You are now ready to make soup!  Stay tuned for the next installment of Turkey Day Leftovers for Turkey Soup, GP-friendly Big Bird Sammies and Leftover Thanksgiving Dinner Pie.

Turkey Day Recipes! Gobble! Gobble!

I love thanksgiving so much that I keep a three-ring binder specifically for Thanksgiving recipes.  Each recipe page is enclosed in a plastic page protector so that it can be wiped down in case of spills.  This was my first Thanksgiving with Gastroparesis so for the first time in a decade my Thanksgiving binder stayed shut.  Instead, I decided to start a completely new chapter (plastic page protectors and all!).

My philosophy this year was KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!).  Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie…all festive but more importantly GP-friendly.  Because I LOVE Thanksgiving leftovers I chose to break down a 15+ pound turkey and bone out the breast in order to have the roast plus the dark meat and the carcass and bones for soup.  Breaking down and boning out a turkey is an ambitious task.  These recipes will work just as well accompanying an intact roasted turkey or a boneless turkey breast ordered from the butcher.  I’ll be honest I still shed a few tears while I was cleaning mushrooms instead of cutting cornbread cubes for stuffing but the happy news is that there are a few new low-fat, low fiber Gastroparesis-friendly recipe pages to add to my Thanksgiving binder.  Oh, and I lied in a previous post…this wasn’t a butter-less Thanksgiving..there was one tablespoon of butter in the entire meal!

Maple Glazed Boneless Stuffed Turkey Breast

Serves 8

5-7 pound boneless turkey breast

1 recipe Wild Mushroom, Roasted Pear & Herbes de Provence Bread Stuffing

2 tablespoons maple syrup (I like grade B)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place turkey breast skin side down on work surface.  Open up each breast lobe by slicing open the middle of each breast. The new meat flaps should open like pages of a book and even out the roast.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place half of stuffing in the center of roast and wrap edges of turkey around stuffing-it should look like a football.   Tie roast with kitchen string and secure with “turkey pins”(the small skewers sold as turkey lacers).  Place skin side up on a rimmed sheet pan or in a shallow baking dish, spray with cooking spray and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for an 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours or until internal temperature (center of stuffing) registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer.  Approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes into roasting brush entire surface with maple syrup.  Allow roast to rest on cutting board 15 minutes before slicing.

Wild Mushroom, Roasted Pear & Herbes de Provence Bread Stuffing

Enough stuffing for a 5-7 pound boneless turkey breast and an additional baking dish of dressing.  This can be made a day ahead if desired.

1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence (savory, thyme, rosemary, basil, tarragon, lavender flowers)

1/2 teaspoon dried french thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

1 1/2 pounds French Pullman (French white sandwich loaf) crusts removed and cut into 1″ cubes – stale

2 large Roasted Pears cut into 3/4″ chunks

2 1/2 pounds assorted wild mushrooms* (I used 1 lb chanterelles, 1 lb shiitake, 1/2 lb crimini) washed and trimmed.  Shiitake stems are tough and inedible remove.  Save stems and trimmings for Turkey Soup Stock.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 cup dry French white vermouth (optional-can substitute stuffing stock)

2 teaspoons onion powder

1/2 cup fat free half & half

1 recipe Stuffing Stock

Grind Herbes d Provence, thyme and sage into a powder using a spice (coffee) grinder.  Divide mixture in half and set aside.  Spray a large saute pan and melt butter over medium high heat.  Add mushrooms to pan.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until mushrooms give off their liquid.  Add vermouth, onion powder and half of the reserved herb powder.  Cook until liquid is 3/4 evaporated.  Add fat free half & half.  Warm through and check for seasoning.  Add more salt and pepper if necessary.  Pour mushroom mixture into a large bowl with bread cubes and roasted pear chunks.  Season with remaining herb powder.  Toss to combine.  Ladle Stuffing Stock into stuffing mixture until moist but not soupy.  Save any unused stuffing stock for Turkey Soup Stock.  Taste for seasoning.  Adjust if necessary.  Use half of stuffing to stuff turkey breast and bake remaining stuffing uncovered in a baking dish along side turkey breast until crispy on top.  Approximately 1 1/2 hours.

*If using Portobellos remove gills from underneath the cap as they will stain the stuffing purple/gray.  Avoid using all white button mushrooms-they don’t have the depth of flavor of Crimini, Portobello, Shiitake and wild mushrooms.

Roasted Pears

These can be made a a few days ahead if desired.

3 ripe/firm Bartlet pears, peeled and halved

juice of 1/2 lemon

Salt and pepper

cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a small sheet pan with cooking spray.  Toss pears in lemon juice.  Place cut side down on sheet pan.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spray tops.  Roast 40-50 minutes or until tender and bottoms are golden.  When cool enough to handle, remove to cutting board and scoop out core with small spoon or melon baller and remove strings with a small knife.

Stuffing Stock

This can be made a few days ahead or even frozen until needed.

Makes 6 to 8 cups

6-8 cups low sodium chicken stock (1 1/2-2 32 ounce boxes)

3 onions, chopped

3 stalks celery, including leaves, chopped

sprig parsley

1 bay leaf

5 peppercorns

mushroom stems (optional – I had a few shiitake stems in the freezer)

Add all ingredients to a large pot with a lid.  Bring mixture to a boil, cover and simmer 1-2 hours until fragrant.  Strain and discard solids.  Cool then refrigerate.

Doctored Fat Free Turkey Gravy From The Jar

Serves 8

2 jars Heinz Fat free roasted turkey gravy

1 Roasted Pear

pinch dried thyme

fresh lemon juice

Puree roasted pear and thyme.  Stir into gravy.  Adjust seasoning with freshly ground black pepper and a few drops of fresh lemon juice.

LIBBY’S Famous Pumpkin Pie the GP-friendly Way

LIBBY’S Famous Pumpkin Pie recipe has been on the can since 1950.  I’ve always added a few gratings of fresh nutmeg and vanilla extract.  You won’t even miss the crust.  Serve with fat free ReddiWip and gingersnaps.

Serves 8

3/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Freshly grated nutmeg (a few passes across microplane/rasp)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 eggs

15 ounce can pumpkin puree

12 ounce can fat free evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Mix sugar, spices and salt in a small bowl to combine.  In a larger bowl, beat eggs add vanilla, sugar mixture and pumpkin puree.  Mix to combine.  Stir in evaporated milk.  Pour into pie plate.  Bake for 15 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 degrees.  Bake 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the radius (half-way between the center and the edge) comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutritional Information Per Serving of Pie:

Serves 8

144 calories, 1.4 grams fat, 1.7 grams fiber, 5.2 grams protein

How Do Angels Celebrate Thanksgiving?

By eating Pumpkin Spice Angel Food Cake of course!  I figured I could get this recipe in just under the wire for this Thanksgiving…I’m not stepping foot in a grocery store after the turkey pick up on Monday night if I don’t have to!  Hubby loves Angel Food Cake.  I’ve never made one and frankly before my GP diagnosis didn’t see much of a point to baking without butter.  Easy doesn’t even begin to describe this fabulous, fat and fiber free recipe…yes, you heard me correctly…the perfect, Gastroparesis-friendly, festive Thanksgiving dessert.  Thanks to one of my favorite websites ( no adapting was needed.

Pumpkin Spice Angel Food Cake

Serves 12

1   1 pound box white angel food cake mix

1 tablespoon flour

1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*

3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 cup cold water

Move oven rack to lowest position; preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In an extra-large glass or metal bowl, beat all cake ingredients with and electric mixer on low-speed for 30 seconds.  Beat on medium speed for 1 minute.  Pour into an ungreased 10-inch angel food (tube) cake pan.

Bake 37-47 minutes or until crust is dark golden brown and cracks are dry.  Immediately turn pan upside down onto a heatproof funnel or glass bottle.  Let hang about 2 hours or until cake is completely cool.  Loosen cake from side of pan with a knife or long, metal spatula.  Turn cake upside down onto serving plate.

Optional Filling (I did not make this but wanted to include it as an entertaining option)

1 8 ounce container fat-free frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 teaspoon ground ginger (or 2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger-I do not consider this GP-friendly)

Gently fold ground ginger into whipped topping.  Cut cake in half horizontally to make two even layers (a serrated bread knife works best).  Spread half the filling on the bottom layer.  Replace the top layer and spread remaining filing on top of cake.  Sprinkle with additional pumpkin pie spice, if desired.  Refrigerate cake.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

Makes 12 servings

As published (including whipped topping): 180 calories, 0 grams fat, o grams fiber, 3 grams protein

*Mix your own Pumpkin Pie Spice by combining 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon cloves (courtesy of Allrecipes)

Thoughts of Thanksgiving…My Most Favorite Meal of the Year!

Thanksgiving is just two and a half weeks away and I’ve ordered my turkey from Whole Foods…a 14-16 pound free range bird.  I’ve had some trouble digesting turkey since my diagnosis and have avoided it for the past six months or so.  This weekend I successfully enjoyed a turkey breast sandwich (as a calculated “dry run”) so it’s going to be roast turkey on Turkey Day!

This year’s tentative (and butterless) Gastroparesis-friendly Thanksgiving Menu:

No Fat Lobster Bisque served in demitasse cups

Maple Glazed Boneless Stuffed Turkey Breast with Wild Mushroom, Roasted Pear and Herbes de Provence Bread Stuffing.

Fat-free Mashed Potatoes with Turkey Gravy (doctored from a jar this year…who knows about next year)

Cranberry Sauce (ditto)

Crustless Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnaps and Fat-free Whipped Cream

I’ve tried to focus on what can be included versus what I can no longer have.  This is my first GP-friendly Thanksgiving so I’m trying to keep things simple.  Because I haven’t made any of these recipes yet I’m unable to share them but will take careful notes and post complete recipes as soon as I’m able for Gastroparesis-friendly recipes for Christmas as well as a few GP-friendly leftovers.  What I am certain about is the time the Big Meal will be served…nice and early so there is ample time for a post-prandial digestive stroll between dinner and dessert.

Realistically, I know this Thanksgiving will be different from the rest.  I know I will spend the day alternating between mourning my old life and resenting the new one.  I remind myself on a regular basis that there are certain situations in life where we simply do not have a choice in the matter…things are as they are and although I may not have control over what’s happened to me I am in complete control over how I choose to view my present situation.  This Thanksgiving I will be thankful for the ability to enjoy certain solids again, to be able to exercise (had paralysis in one foot during this megaflare making it difficult to walk) and for a peaceful mind (after an unpleasant experience with Reglan).  Most importantly, I’m thankful for a loving husband and his constant care and support throughout this journey.

Please feel free to share your thoughts, recipes and cooking questions for a Gastroparesis-friendly Thanksgiving.  I’d love to hear them all!  Eat well!  Be well! Enjoy! GOBBLE!  GOBBLE!