Category Archives: Nutrition

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!

Tasty Find! And This Time It’s A Book

So you can’t eat it, but it may be able to help you eat better!  Fifty percent of those who were kind enough to participate in the most recent Poll were looking for ways to include more fruits and veggies in their diet…not always an easy task for those of us with Gastroparesis.

Recently, during a post-prandial, pro-digestive stroll, Hubby and I took  a browse through Sur La Table, one of my favorite cookware shops.  It was there I leafed through an interesting book: Cooking for Baby Recipes by Lisa Barnes. The cover boasts “Wholesome, homemade, delicious foods for 6 to 18 months”.  I’m always on the lookout for easily digestible ways to include more fruits and veggies in my day whether it’s juicing raw fruits and veggies, oven-roasting squash and root veggies, pureeing soups or even eating baby food.

During a visit with a Registered Dietitian shortly after my diagnosis I was told, because it has been pureed and strained, ALL baby food is acceptable for people with Gastroparesis .  Early on in the book the author asks “Do you eat a lot of  jarred, canned or processed food?”  The answer for most GPers is probably “Yes” given the constraints of the low fat/low fiber GP diet.  She then lists the benefits of making baby food at home: It’s unadulterated, more versatile, more varied and more nutritious.  I got to thinking, if it is that beneficial to babies why couldn’t it be beneficial to those of us with Gastroparesis, especially given our fruit and veggie challenges?  I ordered the book from Amazon (sorry Sur La Table) where it was cheaper and qualified for super saver shipping.

After reading the entire book, I feel the recipes are easily adaptable to be GP-friendly and provide a healthy and easy way to include more fruits and veggies day-to-day.  There are also suggestions for what herbs and spices pair best with certain fruits and veggies and the book includes a “how to” for making meat purees if that is or ever becomes necessary.

Recipes range from simple purees to more appealing dishes like Pumpkin Soup with Alphabet Pasta, Hidden Veggie Sauce (a combination of  homemade spinach and sweet potato purees combined with strained tomato sauce for sneaking in extra veggies plus a little Blackstrap Molasses for added iron) and Vegetable Oven Fries (using sweet potatoes, beets and rutabaga).  My only disappointment with the book is the lack of nutritional information for the recipes.

Just a reminder, purees can be easily morphed into very tasty soups with a little chicken or veggie stock and some creative seasoning.  Press purees and soups through a fine mesh strainer for extra peace of mind.  I regularly enjoy a teacup of pureed veggie soup with my dinner in lieu of plain, overcooked veggies.  I hope this “Tasty Find!” is able to help any of my fellow GPer’s who are looking for creative ways to increase their produce intake.  As always: Eat Well!  Be Well! Enjoy!

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!

D-lightful!

This is a Gastroparesis recipe blog and a vehicle for eating well and being well.  In that spirit I’d like to share that after almost a year my Vitamin D levels have finally settled into a normal range.  Shortly after my diagnoses last February I found out I was Vitamin D deficient after my Primary Care Physician sent me for blood tests at my routine annual appointment.  Why am I chatting about my Vitamin D levels?  Because a significant percentage of the population (non-GPers included) is Vitamin D deficient.

In a nutshell: Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and hormone that promotes calcium absorption in the gut and maintains normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus which are important in maintaining strong bones.  Vitamin D also modulates cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function and reduces inflammation.  There is growing research suggesting that Vitamin D provides protection from osteoporosis, high blood pressure, several autoimmune diseases and cancers.  Vitamin D is found in foods such as fish, eggs, fortified milk and cod liver oil and is synthesized in the skin when exposed to sunlight.  The U.S. government currently recommends 600 units per day.

My doctor’s first course of action was to write a prescription for 50,000 units of Vitamin D to be taken once a week for 12 weeks.  My levels rose to the normal range and I was told to take a maintenance dose of 2,000 units of Vitamin D3 per day.  I couldn’t maintain a normal level at that dosage.  My doctor suggested that people with digestive disorders have a harder time absorbing certain vitamins and nutrients and told me to increase my daily dose to 3,000 units of Vitamin D3.  Happily, my levels are now in the normal range and I’m continuing (under my doctor’s supervision) at the daily dose of 3,000 units of Vitamin D3.

I’m not a Dietitian and this isn’t meant to be nutritional or medical advice.  I’m  just passing along what I’ve learned from this experience with the hope that it will be helpful to other GPers.  So, if you have Gastroparesis and don’t know what your Vitamin D levels are I suggest you ask your doctor for a simple blood test to see if you are in need of supplementation.

As always…Eat Well!  Be Well!  Enjoy!

Fat is Flavor! Fat Delays Gastric Emptying!

Fat is flavor!  That’s one of the first things I learned in culinary school.  Fat delays gastric emptying!  That’s one of the first things I learned after I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis.  As I’ve been learning, some GPers can eat all the fat they want and some cannot.  Just as some GPers can tolerate more fiber than others.  Right now I would consider myself “middle of the road” as far as fat and fiber are concerned.

Before GP, I was living a very “clean” life…plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean proteins and most importantly, healthy fats by way of olive, canola, fish and flax oils, avocado, peanut and almond butter, nuts, dark chocolate, egg yolks, naturally raised grass-fed meats and cold water fish.  Healthy fat helps with the absorption of many nutrients, keeps skin and hair healthy, improves cardiovascular health, reduces the symptoms of hypertension, depression and inflammation in the body and as we’ve all been told, delays gastric emptying.

After my diagnosis I shied away from fat altogether.  The GP diet is low-fat NOT no fat and I have to keep reminding myself of that.  We’ve all been there.  Newly diagnosed and still in the flare that was responsible for the diagnosis or just out of a flare and experiencing the fear and paranoia of putting ourselves back into one while being completely clueless as to what is safe to eat.

Food allergies and Gastroparesis have made me a very cautious eater.  You all know my motto: “Nothing tastes as good as being well feels!”.  I’m a “baby steps kinda gal” not a “leap before I look gal”.    While trying to safely and responsibly introduce foods back into my diet (healthy fat in particular), I’ve been using what I’ve nicknamed the Three Cs Method…Caution, Conservatism and Calculation.

Caution: I carefully choose meals I tolerate easily which are already very low or contain no fat to “improve” with a little healthy fat.

Conservatism: I add fat very slowly, in small increments until I feel I’m at a healthy and tolerable level for me.

Calculation: I keep in mind the other meals and fat contents I’ve already consumed that day when deciding how much fat to allow in a meal.

Examples of introducing more healthy fat into my day are:

Adding a tablespoon of strawberry banana flavored flax oil supplement to my morning Banana Chocolate Protein Smoothie adds 5 grams of healthy fat including Omega 3 fatty acids.  On the mornings I’m out of Barlean’s Omega Swirl I add a heaping teaspoon of smooth almond butter to my smoothie.  The recent addition of one tablespoon of natural cocoa powder in each serving of Mary’s No Sugar Added Instant Breakfast Powder adds an additional two grams of healthy fat to my breakfast.

Spreading mashed avocado onto my sliced turkey or chicken sandwiches has been another easy way to incorporate some healthy fat into my lunch when I’m not enjoying chicken, tuna or egg salad made with one tablespoon of Hellman’s Olive Oil Mayonnaise (50 calories, 5 grams fat).  According to www.avocadocentral.com, 1/5 or 1 ounce of a Hass avocado contains 50 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 1 gram fiber and 1 gram protein.  Avocado is also part of the menu that was provided by the dietitian and was suggested by a fellow GPer on the GP Yahoo group I belong to.  They are a friendly, kind and informative group I might add!

I juice my fresh fruits and veggies almost daily.  I find fat in liquid form or fat diluted in liquid much easier to tolerate.  I add 1 teaspoon of Barlean’s Fresh Catch Fish Oil to my juice.  It adds a pleasant orange flavor 45 calories and 4.5 grams of fat including healthy Omega fat.  Recently, when I was out of fish oil I quickly pureed a quarter of an avocado into my juice with my stick blender for an Omega boost.

I try to consume most of my eggs whole (with the yolk) and only make sacrifices when trying to bake a low fat, GP-friendly treat…remember treats and sweets after all nutritional needs are met.  Although the yolk is a significant source of cholesterol, it is full of important nutrients including fat soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids (according to www.cholesterol-and-health.com).

In keeping with advice I received during a webinar sponsored by G-PACT back in August, I try to introduce one new food back into my diet each week or so.  My most recent addition is poached salmon and I’m happy to announce it was a success.  I went the lazy route and purchased a package of wild pacific salmon prepared with salt and lemon from the refrigerator case at Trader Joe’s.  Each 3 ounce serving contained 90 calories, 1.5 grams fat, 18 grams protein and a whopping 1,000 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids.  It was delicious mixed with a little olive oil mayo, Penzey’s Mural of Flavor salt free seasoning and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

The very first meal I tinkered with was the Three Cheese and Spinach Pita Pizza which is almost fat free.  Each time I made one, I drizzled a little extra virgin olive oil over the fat free cottage, ricotta or feta cheese starting out with a 1/4 teaspoon and working up to 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil which adds 40 calories, and 4.7 grams of mostly monounsaturated fat.  I enjoy the flavor of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and just a teaspoon makes my pita pizzas taste more like the real thing.

During a quickie impromptu dinner.  I divided a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil into thirds and drizzled it over each layer of a sweet potato I filled with 1/4 cup seasoned fat free ricotta cheese and cooked spinach.  Along with the 1/3 teaspoon of olive oil I salted and peppered each layer and finished with a dusting of finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano.  It was a simple, delicious and healthy dinner!

While I’m not an expert on GP, I’m becoming an expert on my own GP.  Right now, I feel most comfortable consuming 5 grams of fat at a time.  This isn’t a race…it’s a journey.  GP is a chronic condition so I have the rest of my life to tinker with my diet until I get to my most healthy and tolerated way of eating.  How are you able to incorporate healthy fats into your day?

Making The Most of Baby Food…The Sequel

Yes, I’ve been enjoying Noodle Kugel, Chicken Curry and even a small ham sandwich for lunch…my first red meat in over a year (anything with four legs is considered red meat, by the way)!  And, I’m still buying baby food fruits and veggies.  They’re convenient, already portioned plus they’re pureed and strained, making them easy on the tummy-tums.  Despite the progress I’ve made over this past year I’m still a very cautious eater because: chant it with me now…Nothing tastes as good as being well feels!  I periodically give my tummy a rest in order to enjoy a few more highly seasoned solids.  According to the Registered Dietitian I saw shortly after I was diagnosed, all baby food is considered acceptable on the Gastroparesis Diet and anything that spared me from some of the endless pureeing in those days was a blessing.

Back in September, I posted the original Making The Most of Baby Food with a recipe for No Puree Baby Food Sweet Potato Bisque and promised to revisit the topic.  I’m still enjoying my daily vanilla Activia yogurt with a jar of baby food fruit poured over the top.  My favorites are Gerber 1st Foods prunes, Gerber 2nd Foods peaches, peach cobbler smoothie, pears, pear with wild blueberries and pear with pineapple and Earth’s Best Organic pear with raspberries.  Except for the peach cobbler flavor, which is sweetened with white grape juice and thickened with rice flour,  none of the fruit has added starch or sweeteners and at approximately 60 calories each are considered a serving of fruit.  I’m allergic to apples so I haven’t been able to try the varieties that are cut with apple like Gerber 2nd Foods cherry and in my opinion anything mixed with mango is revolting.  Each flavor has one to three grams of fiber but since the fruit has been cooked, pureed and strained it hasn’t bothered me (which is why I use it as a very sneaky way to include a little “legal” fiber in my day).  I still buy canned peaches and pears packed in juice for when I want to enjoy fruit I can chew or use in a quickie recipe.

Baby food veggies are a different story.  Because they have no added sugar, salt or flavorings like adult processed food, they require a great deal of seasoning.  I stick to the veggies that are not considered GP-friendly except in baby food form like peas and corn.  I’m able to eat frozen chopped spinach and preferred it pureed (when necessary) to other forms of spinach.  I absolutely love crisp blanched french green beans so I haven’t been able to bring myself to try baby food green beans and am allergic to carrots so I haven’t been able to try any varieties mixed with carrots.  I heat up a package of Gerber 2nd Foods peas whenever I have fish or scallops for dinner.  They are especially good poured over baked or mashed potatoes but be warned, because we are all so used to processed adult food (even frozen and canned peas are packaged with salt and sometimes sugar) they are blander than bland without some serious salting and peppering, garlic powder or onion powder.  As far as fiber is concerned the same is true for baby food veggies as is with baby food fruit…each serving has one to three grams of fiber.  The veggies have been pureed and strained and I haven’t had any difficulties with the small amounts of fiber.

Recently, after a cold day out I wanted an easy cup of warming soup with a little substance.  No Puree Cup O’ Green Pea Soup was born.  Thicker and more substantial than a broth based soup and not tomato based it was savory and felt hearty and substantial without being overwhelming.  My newest baby food veggie find is Earth’s Best Organic corn and butternut squash.  It actually inspired me to develop (with a little inspiration from two Whole Foods recipes for Cod Chowder) the following recipe for Non-dairy Baby Food Corn & Cod Chowder.  Unlike some of my more recently posted recipes with curry and cumin this chowder is warming, plain and comforting…yes, I said “plain” but I mean it in the most positive way possible.  The corn, potato and cod are gentle, simple flavors that make this mild soup very easy to eat.  I have found white fish very easy to tolerate even on more symptomatic days.  So if thoughts of curry, cumin or anything tomato based make you recoil this is the soup for you.  Hubby and I enjoyed it with Ritz-type crackers because I forgot to pick up the oyster crackers.

No Puree Cup O’Green Pea Soup

Serves 1

1 package Gerber 2nd Foods peas

1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock

1 teaspoon onion powder

pinch Herbes de Provence or oregano, pulverized with a pinch of salt to form a powder (I use a coffee grinder specifically to grind spices or use a mortar and pestle)

1/4 teaspoon salt (can always add more but can’t take away)

pepper to taste

pinch Spanish smoked paprika (optional)

well-cooked or canned diced potato, carrots (if tolerated) and/or lowfat ham (optional)

Combine peas and chicken stock in a small saucepan.  Whisk in seasonings.  Bring to a simmer and adjust salt to taste.  Optional: add well-cooked or canned diced potatoes, carrots and ham if “Chunky”-style pea soup is desired/tolerated.

Nutritional Information Per Serving: (does not include additional potatoes, carrots or ham)

52.5 calories, .5 grams fat, 3 grams fiber, 3.5 grams protein

Non-dairy Baby Food Corn & Cod Chowder

Serves 4  (Can be easily halved.  For a true “dump recipe” if you’re too tired to peel and dice potatoes, drained and rinsed canned diced potatoes can be substituted for the diced fresh potatoes just reduce the chicken stock by half.)

2 cups unsweetened almond milk

1 cup low sodium chicken stock

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, ground to a powder with a little salt

1 pound red skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice

4 4 ounce jars Earth’s Best corn and butternut squash baby food

1 pound cod, cut into 1″ chunks

salt and pepper, to taste

Spanish smoked paprika (optional)

Bring almond milk, stock, spices and potatoes to a boil.  Simmer until potatoes are very tender (approximately 20 minutes).  Stir in baby food and bring back to a simmer.  Season with salt and pepper and be generous with the salt as up to this point there has been very little added to the chowder.  Add cod chunks (do not stir) and cover.  Simmer until cod is cooked (approximately 7 minutes).  Dish up bowls of hot chowder and garnish with Spanish smoked paprika, if desired.  Serve with Ritz-type or oyster crackers.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

315 calories, 3.3 grams fat, 3.6 grams fiber, 29 grams protein

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.