Tag Archives: Omega 3s

Goin’ Green Plus My Video Debut…

Anyone with Gastroparesis is aware of how “carb-centic” and potentially sugar-fueled a GP-friendly life can be. Pair that with a diet devoid of whole grains and  light on fresh fruit and veggie vitamins and its enough to make you throw your hands up in frustration…at least that’s the way I feel sometimes. My weeks “on hiatus” have been a time of gently pressing my GP boundaries and finding ways of maximizing my nutrition in every bite while minimizing sugar and processed foods. Don’t worry I haven’t become a complete kill-joy! There are still treats and sweets after all nutritional needs are met. Life’s short! I still save room for dessert!

With the help of my Vitamix and inspiration from Victoria Boutenko’s book Green for Life (which I found completely by accident at the bookstore) I’ve been enjoying two Green Smoothies a day! Now before you tune out, it wasn’t until I read Victoria’s book and visited her website Raw Family that I realized I just might be able to tolerate an adapted* Green Smoothie. I was especially pleased to learn that a Green Smoothie, didn’t need to be thick or lumpy.  My Green Smoothies are actually quite thin-thinner than fruit nectar, V-8 vegetable juice or tomato juice. The website has a section of Victoria’s Green Smoothie recipes and a 15 Green Smoothies in 3 Minutes video with recipes. Some Green Smoothies are as simple as peaches, spinach and water.  In fact, I use the term “sipper” interchangeably with “smoothie” because I take one out during each of my snacks (mid-morning and mid-afternoon), insert a straw and simply sip until its gone.

Anyone who has been following the blog knows I’m a baby steps kinda gal who looks more than just a couple of times before she leaps. About a year ago, I started by juicing my fruits, roots and veggies. When Hubby surprised me with a Valentine’s Vitamix I started to puree a handful or two of greens with my juice and eventually graduated to a completely pureed Green Smoothie. Remember, no where is it written that you must jump into the deep end of the pool on your first day. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dipping your big toe in before wading in gradually from the shallow end. I’m still a huge fan of juicing. Having said that the normal caveat applies. My Green Smoothie works for me. I am in no way advocating that this is appropriate for everyone with Gastroparesis. You know your tolerances best and your judgement is still your best guide.

I was so excited to share my Green Smoothie with you as well as a few of the little tricks I’ve learned along the way (like minimizing the very unappealing foam that can form on the top of Green Smoothies) I’ve made a video! So come on, let’s make a Green Smoothie!

*A Vitamix is capable of pureeing a concrete block but I’m still careful about what I include in my Green Smoothies. I avoid really fibrous items and learned my lesson when I threw in half of a peeled orange because I was too lazy to put it through the juicer.  I was nauseous for a day and a half  because of the citrus fiber. Lesson learned! Victoria’s recipes are only a guideline for me.


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?

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.

Still Juicin’ & A Healthful Hint

Just a quickie juicing update.  I’m still juicing my raw fruits and veggies once a day and promised periodic juicing updates.  This is prime citrus season so if you’re able to tolerate fresh juice, and especially acidic juices like citrus this is the time to add them to your juicing.  The local farm stand closed just before Thanksgiving so I’ve been buying my greens at Whole Foods…all organic and beautiful but about three times the price of local produce.  I find the more mature bunched spinach juices better than the baby greens and I’m still using kale, dandelion greens, parsley and beet greens (actually more nutritious than the roots!).  Beside being a blood builder and beneficial to digestion the beetroot gives my juice a nice sweetness and a beautiful ruby color.  Cranberries are still available and the pineapples (juice the core!) have even been on sale these past few weeks.  Half a navel orange (leave as much pith, core and navel as possible!) and a quarter of a Ruby Red grapefruit round out the fruit portion of the juice.  The red and pink varieties of grapefruit contain lycopene…a powerful antioxidant also found in cooked tomato products, papaya and watermelon. Antioxidants are believed to counter the damage that naturally occurs within our bodies during the process of living.  Caution: grapefruit can interfere with the metabolism of certain medications so if you have any concerns consult your doctor or pharmacist before enjoying grapefruit.

My Super Swamp Juice “Recipe”:

1 handful mature spinach

1 handful dandelion greens

2-3 beet greens with stems, depending on size

1 leaf of kale (depending on size)

2-3 sprig of parsley

1/4-1/2 beet root (depending on size)

1/8 pineapple with core

1/4 cup raw cranberries

1/2 navel orange with pith, core and navel

1/4 large ruby red grapefruit with pith and core

1 teaspoon Barlean’s Fresh Catch Orange Flavored Fish Oil

2 teaspoons FruitFast Mixed Berry Concentrate

This combination produces approximately 16 ounces of my “Super Swamp Juice” as I’ve nicknamed it.  I’m still adding a teaspoon of Barlean’s Fresh Catch Orange Fish Oil which adds 4.5 grams of healthy Omega fats and a teaspoon of FruitFast Mixed Berry Concentrate (caution: adds 2 grams of fiber) which is supposed to be the equivalent of one cup of berries. I’m looking forward to trying blood oranges and other forms of citrus.   As with all juicing go slowly in the beginning until you know how your body reacts to it and build your way up.  I avoid all of the cabbage family except for kale.

Healthful Hint!

Recently, I read that a half teaspoon of dried oregano has more antioxidants than a cup of spinach!  So, if you’re able to tolerate tomato products it couldn’t hurt to add some dried oregano.  Grind it with a pinch of salt in a spice grinder and add to low salt/no salt tomato sauce for an antioxidant boost to your Pita Pizzas or pasta dishes and since spinach is on the GP-friendly list why not just add some as well.  Oregano, spinach and tomato sauce…an antioxidant trifecta!

Kissin’ Cousins

As you all know by now this is a Gastroparesis recipe blog but it’s also meant to be my vehicle for being well by eating well and living well with a chronic digestive disorder.  This is the time that I would be irresponsible if I didn’t remind everyone that I’m not a Registered Dietitian, nutritionist, medical professional, therapist or personal trainer…just a trained chef and amateur nutrition sleuth who happens to have Idiopathic Gastroparesis.  Everything that I develop or write about is based on my own research and experiences with GP.

Recently, during my internet travels, I came across a local Registered Dietitian’s Webinar presentation and article regarding GI disorders including Gastroparesis.  When I dug a little deeper I discovered another article that stated she had gastroparesis.  What better source could there be?    In her presentation and article she stressed the importance of protein, Omega 3 fatty acids and getting enough daily servings of fruits and vegetables.  According to her, most women (GP or not) don’t get enough protein in their diets.  She stressed protein is important because it builds antibodies that build the immune system.  Women should aim for 50 grams of protein per day along with Omega 3 fatty acids, two to three servings of fruit and two to four servings of vegetables per day.  Anyone with GP knows that there are many days when this is a challenge so I thought I’d do my best to map it out using foods from the Gastroparesis Diet.

Examples of Protein Sources and Servings:

These are all averages.  Individual items may vary.

Dairy Protein:

1/4 cup fat free cottage cheese:  6.5 grams

1 cup fat free milk:  9 grams

Low fat/ fat free yogurt/greek yogurt:  3 to 16 grams depending on brand, serving size and variety

1/4 cup fat free shredded mozzarella cheese:  9 grams

1 scoop whey protein powder:  16 grams

Animal Protein:

1 egg:  7 grams

2 ounces cooked chicken breast:  18 grams

3 ounces cooked white fish (haddock/cod):  20 grams

1/2 5 ounce can of solid white albacore tuna in water:  6.5 grams

Vegetarian Protein:

1 tablespoon almond butter: 3.5 grams

soy protein powder/rice protein powder:  12 to 20 grams per scoop

1 cup almond milk:  1 gram

1/2 cup mashed sweet potato:  2.5 grams

1/2 cup cooked white rice:  2 grams

1/2 cup prepared cream of wheat:  1.9 grams

1 slice white bread:  2 grams

Nutrition Drinks:

Depending on the brand (Boost, Ensure, Orgain, Isopure, Slimfast, Carnation Instant Breakfast):  Up to 15 grams per serving.  Servings can be halved and/or diluted with water for snacks.

Examples of Omega 3 fatty acid Sources:

flax oil, fish oil, canola oil


almond butter

omega 3 eggs

Examples of Servings Sizes for GP-friendly Fruit:

1 4″  banana

1/2 cup apple sauce

1/2 cup canned pears in juice

1/2 cup canned peaches in juice

4 to 6 ounces fruit juices

Examples of Serving Sizes for GP-friendly Vegetables:

1/2 cup sweet potato

1/2 cup mashed white potato

1 cup winter squash

1/2 cup cooked veggies: beets, carrots, spinach

1/2 cup baby food peas

6 ounces vegetable juice

I worry about getting enough nutrition on the GP diet and mapping out my nutrition give me some piece of mind that I’m doing the best I can for myself given the constraints of this condition and lifestyle.  I hope this information is helpful for everyone who shares my concerns.

This whole ‘nutrition tangent” inspired me to create Chocolate Almond Butter Protein Power Pudding…a “kissing cousin” to the original Chocolate Almond Protein Power Pudding.  I’ve swapped out the pureed cottage cheese for almond butter and upped the whey protein powder.  This might be an easier recipe for anyone who is dairy intolerant to adjust.  One little custard cup offers significant protein, calcium, and Omega 3 fat.  Slice half of a large banana on top and you’ve knocked one fruit serving off your day.  Caution: unlike his cottage cheese infused cousin, this version is not fat and fiber free…each serving contains 4 grams of fat and 2 grams of fiber due to the almond butter.

Chocolate Almond Butter Protein Power Pudding

Serves 2 but can be multiplied

1/2 3.9 ounce (4 servings) box chocolate instant pudding

1 cup fat free milk

1 tablespoon almond butter (softened if refrigerated)

1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder

sliced bananas (optional)

whipped topping and cocoa power (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl starting with softened almond butter.  Whisk for 2 minutes or until smooth and stating to thicken.  Refrigerate until firmed and ready to eat.  Garnish with sliced banana, whipped topping and a dusting of cocoa powder if desired.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

Based on 2 servings.  Does not include banana, whipped topping or cocoa powder.

248 Calories, 4 grams Fat, 2 grams Fiber, 14.25 grams Protein

Juicy News

I have some juicy news…I’ve added a seasonal favorite to my daily juicing.  Cranberries!  Very delicious when accompanied by half of a navel orange.  Fresh cranberries are only available in November and December so I plan on grabbing a bag each week until they’re gone.  Cranberries, especially when consumed raw, are loaded with several antioxidants and possess an antibacterial quality…great for cold and flu season.  Oranges are a rich source of antioxidants as well as bioflavanoids.  The white pith of the orange is chock full of benefits so I try to leave as much pith along with the “navel” when preparing an orange for the juicer.  The farm stand is open for the next two weeks and colder weather makes for great root veggies and greens.  Washed and dried, then wrapped in paper towels or linen tea towels and stored in clean plastic bags, fresh greens will stay viable for a week and are ready to juice when you are.

During my internet travels I came across a supplement made completely from berries.  FruitFast Mixed Berry Liquid Fruit Supplement is made from red raspberry, concord grape and wild blueberry juice concentrate, black raspberries, red raspberries, wild blueberries and strawberries (including skins and pulp).  One teaspoon delivers 200mg of Anthocyanins (potent antioxidants)…the amount in approximately one cup of  fresh berries.  Each bottle contains 60 servings at approximately $18 per bottle…much cheaper than purchasing berries out of season.  Warning for those who are very sensitive to fiber: each teaspoon contains 2 grams of fiber.

Unlike the “ginger debaucle” of the last juicing update cranberries and FruitFast have proven tasty and digestible.  Please keep in mind that canberries (as well as oranges) are considered highly acidic so start out small (1/4 cup cranberries with 1/4 -1/2 orange) in the beginning until you’re sure they agree with you.

I really look forward to my tall glass of “fresh” each day.  This has been your “juicy update”…Eat well!  Be well!  Enjoy!

My juicing recipe as of late is as follow:

1/2 cup raw cranberries

1/2 medium orange with as much white pith and navel left as possible

1 spear of pineapple with core

Greens: spinach, kale, dandelion, parsley, beet greens

1/2 small to medium beet root

1 teaspoon Barlean’s Fresh Catch orange flavored fish oil (available at health food stores or online at http://www.barleans.com)

1 teaspoon FruitFast Mixed Berry Liquid Fruit Supplement (available online at http://www.fruitfast.com)

Lunch…the Most Predictable Meal of the Day!

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

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

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

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