Category Archives: Vitamix

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.

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“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.

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)

Confession Time…

Bless me, fellow GPers, for I have strayed!  It’s been about a month since the Vitamix entered my life and I’ve been indulging “off diet”.  There have been dalliances with berries, onions, peas and greens other than spinach…and I’m not the least bit repentant!  My instruments of debauchery: Vitamix blender, fine mesh strainer, rubber scraper and ice cube trays. Would you like to hear more?  Discontinue reading now lest you be lured into similar mischief!  You’ve been warned.

All kidding aside, as I have mentioned a few times already, I was told that all baby food is considered acceptable for Gastroparesis because it’s pureed and strained.  So, why can’t I make my own pureed and strained fruits and veggies, season them according to my taste and press them through a fine, mesh strainer for further peace of mind?  With that in mind I have been enjoying Fresh Strawberry Puree and Five Berry Puree poured over my daily plain Activia yogurt and I’ve even taken some berry puree with me to pour over frozen yogurt at Red Mango (my favorite frozen yogurt spot).  I’ve also been indulging in cups of pureed veggie soup including Spring Pea & Lettuce Soup with my dinner.

I’m in no way advocating that these recipes are appropriate for everyone.  Remember, if in doubt, just leave it out.  You know your tolerances best and your personal judgment is still your best guide.

Fresh Strawberry Puree/Five Berry Puree

Perfectly portioned for individual servings of yogurt (just defrost one or two cubes) or dropping into smoothies (no need to defrost).

2 pounds fresh strawberries, washed and hulled or

frozen mixed berries, defrosted (I used a bag of mixed berries containing cherries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries and augmented with a bag strawberries from Trader Joe’s)

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Puree berries thoroughly and press through a fine mesh strainer.  Stir in a squeeze of fresh, strained lemon juice.  Spoon puree into ice cube trays (2 lbs of strawberries fill approximately two 12 count trays generously).  Freeze then pop out puree cubes and store in a Ziploc bag.

Spring Pea & Lettuce Soup

Adapted from Epicurious.com.  Makes 6 Servings of 2/3 cup each

To put things into perspective, a 3.5 ounce serving of Gerber 2nd Foods peas contains 45 calories, o grams fat, 3 grams of fiber, 8 grams of carbohydrate and 3 grams of protein.

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 head Romaine lettuce (approximately 1 pound) including dark green outer leaves, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced

10 ounces frozen baby peas, rinsed

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1 1/2 cups water

3/4 teaspoon salt

pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill

fresh lemon juice

Spray the interior of a large soup pot with cooking spray, add olive oil and saute onion until soft (approximately 5 minutes).  Add garlic and saute an additional minute.  Stir in lettuce and cook until wilted (approximately 3 minutes).  Add peas, broth, water, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.  The lettuce should be very wilted and the peas should look “puckered”.   Stir in dill during the last minute of cooking.  Puree thoroughly then press through a fine, mesh strainer before returning to the pot.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Season each serving with a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

77.6 calories, 2 grams fat, 3.5 grams fiber, 10.4 grams carbohydrate, 3.26 grams protein

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!

Sooo Clever…

Sooo clever I wish I had thought of it myself!  As you know, I’m the proud new owner of a Valentine’s red Vitamix and before you think it, I promise this will not become a “Vitamix Required” Gastroparesis recipe blog.  I just had to share one recipe from the Whole Food Recipes book that came as part of the order.

Ginger is every GPer’s best friend.  It aids digestion and relieves nausea plus, its spicy heat makes everything it’s added to (sweet or savory) warm, comforting and slightly exotic.  I thought I was being clever by peeling and freezing thumb-sized pieces of ginger then grating them and pressing the pulp through a fine sieve as needed.  Turns out there is an even better way!

Ginger Paste

What an absolutely fantastic way to always have ginger on hand for entrees, soups, marinades or even baking (use half the amount of paste if a recipe calls for ground ginger).

1 1/2 cups fresh ginger root (I peeled mine and sliced it into coins)

1.  If using a Vitamix:

Place ginger into the container and secure lid.  Select Variable 1 and turn the machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10 then to High.  Blend for 45 seconds, using the tamper to press ginger into the blades.

If using a food processor:

Chop ginger into small pieces.  Pulse in food processor stopping to scrape down the sides periodically.

2.  Press ginger puree through a fine mesh sieve with a spatula or rubber scraper.  Discard fibers.

3.  Spoon heaping spoonfuls (I used a 2 teaspoon measure) into an ice cube tray.  Freeze then pop out ginger paste cubes and store in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.