Tag Archives: protein

Snack Time!

Who doesn’t love Lipton’s Onion Soup Dip? I certainly always have and rumor has it that’s what Julia Child made a bee-line for at a reception for the Schlesinger Library at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study which happens to house a culinary collection of 15,000 books. So I’m in good company!

I enjoy two snacks a day and consume my fair share of Greek yogurt but there is only so much Greek yogurt with honey that this girl can tolerate. Sometimes I want a crunchy, salty, savory snack…but it still needs to be healthy. My favorite afternoon snack with a half ounce of baked potato chips is Protein Powered Onion Soup Dip enriched with the protein power of Greek yogurt. This dip hits the snack spot and provides 9 grams of protein!

My proportions yield a milder onion flavor. I use fat free Greek yogurt feel free to substitute 2% Greek yogurt for a creamier dip. As always the seasoning can be adjusted up or down depending on your preferences. Not only is this great as a snack but its a great new way to enjoy an old favorite while guaranteeing there is something potentially GP-friendly at your next BBQ or get together.

Protein Powered Onion Soup Dip

Makes 2 servings

1 6 ounce cup fat free Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons onion powder (or more depending on taste)

1 teaspoon Better Than Gravy gravy mix for beef (sold in a 1 ounce envelope)

freshly ground black pepper

finely snipped chives (optional)

Combine all ingredients and stir until smooth. Enjoy with baked chips of your choice. Pictured above with Kettle Brand Baked Chips sea salt flavor.


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)

Leftovers for Lunch

A woman I once knew, who was a quintessential Yankee and wasted nothing, was kind enough to share half her sandwich with me.  It was a very odd combination…tuna salad with a leftover baked potato (skin and all) cubed and mixed in…and it was delicious.  I have enjoyed Baked Potato Tuna Salad ever since.  I’ve even been known to bake an extra potato to guarantee leftovers.  Pre-GP, my salad included lots of diced red onion and the baked potato still wore its jacket.  I’m Irish so as far as I’m concerned the skin is THE reason for eating a baked potato and the flesh is just the annoying part I have to get through in order to get to the good part.  Unfortunately for us, it’s not GP-friendly and should be discarded as it promotes bezoar formation*.

I debated whether I should post this as a recipe but decided to go ahead because it has always been and continues to be an easy and satisfying  lunch for me.  I don’t even bother with the bread.  I haven’t posted a photo because as you can imagine, like most comfort food, it’s not beautiful to look at but don’t let that discourage you from trying it.

Baked Potato Tuna Salad

I enjoy this as a “salad” but it can also be enjoyed as a sandwich or on crackers.  It’s an odd combination but really very satisfying.

Serves 1

1/2 leftover baked potato, skin removed and cubed (approximately 6 ounces)

1/2 of a 5 ounce can of white tuna in water, drained

1 tablespoon mayo of your choice (I like Hellman’s Olive Oil Mayo)

fresh lemon juice

onion powder to taste

salt free seasoning-I like Penzey’s Mural of Flavor (optional)

salt and pepper

Combine ingredients and season to taste.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

182 calories, 6.2 grams of fat (if using olive oil mayo, sub in fat free if desired), 1.1 grams fiber, 14.5 grams protein, 33.6 grams carbohydrates

*For any GPer who isn’t familiar with that term, a bezoar is a mixture of food residues that can accumulate (similar to a hair ball in cats) in a stomach that doesn’t empty well.  Foods that have been associated with bezoar formation are:  Apples, Berries, Coconuts, Corn, Figs, Oranges, Persimmons, Brussels sprouts, Green beans, Legumes, Potato peels, Sauerkraut and Tomato skins.

Single Serving

Yesterday was a bitterly cold, blustery day.  After a trip to the gym I pottered around most of the afternoon and because, like most GPers, I’m not always hungry the dinner hour sneaked up on me.  What to eat?  I wanted something warm and comforting with absolutely no effort involved…translation: Hubby was on his own for dinner.  Quickie Salmon Corn Chowder was just the ticket…easy, nutritious and the epitome of a “dump recipe” with literally three ingredients: Trader Joe’s Simply Wild Pacific Salmon (already cooked and available in the refrigerator section), a jar of Earth’s Best Organic Corn and Butternut Squash baby food and fat free milk.  A handful of Ritz-type crackers rounded out the meal.

Oh, and if you’re worried about Hubby, don’t be.  He rustled up enough ingredients to build a hearty and delicious open-faced sandwich that he toasted to perfection under the broiler.

Just a reminder: If you haven’t participated in the one question poll and would like to it will be open for another week.  The front-runner to date is “getting more fruits and veggies”.  Thank you if you’ve already participated.

Quickie Salmon and Corn Chowder

I used cooked wild Pacific salmon but crab meat and a sprinkling of Old Bay seasoning might be a nice version as well…I’m allergic so if you try it please let me know how it is.

Serves 1 but can be multiplied

3 ounces cooked salmon, flaked (used Trader Joe’s Simply Wild Pacific Salmon)

1 4 ounce jar Earth’s Best Organic Corn and Butternut Squash baby food

1/2 cup fat free milk (or milk substitute) I just filled the empty baby food jar

generous sprinkling of Penzey’s Mural of Flavor salt free seasoning

salt and pepper (be generous as baby food is under-seasoned)

pinch Spanish smoked paprika  (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until warmed through

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

205 calories, 2 grams fat, 1 gram fiber, 23.5 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.

Are You Keeping A Food Diary?

Currently, I’m not but that doesn’t mean I haven’t kept one in the past.  After my diagnosis I found the Three Step Gastroparesis Diet (the link is located under blog roll on this page) during my internet travels.  My Gastroenterologist was great at diagnosis, lousy with advice about eating.  And we all know the saying “God helps those who help themselves.”  I started a food diary because I knew I wasn’t getting enough calories and my “nutrition” was pretty poor…the obvious signs: I continued losing weight and my hair was thinning.  My diary was “old school”, just a small notebook where I would jot down the time I ate, what I ate, the amount and the approximate calories…always in Sharpie marker in case of spills!  At the end of the day I’d take out my trusty calculator and add up my total for the day…four small “meals” and two “snacks”.  Along with that basic information, I would make a notation (usually as a giant asterisk or big unhappy face) next to an item or meal when it really didn’t agree with me or I’d write “MISTAKE” in giant block letters next to an item or amount that might have seemed like a sound choice but wasn’t.  I weighed myself every Thursday morning (and continue to), noted the number and difference from the prior week in my food diary.

I brought the diary to my appointment with the Registered Dietitian as evidence, that despite the condition I was in, I was eating and trying to get my calories and nutrition in.  She was able to examine it and tell me where I could improve and how I could increase my caloric intake…namely making my snacks more “calorically dense”.

I learned a few important things from keeping a food diary.  I was gradually and steadily increasing my caloric intake and I was narrowing down an eating plan without even knowing it.  When I looked back over the months of daily journaling definite patterns emerged.  I stopped keeping my diary when I got to a regular 2,000 calories per day, gained 3 pounds and was able to start exercising again while maintaining my weight.  I don’t think any of this would have been possible without the structure of daily journaling.

Today, I use the recipe analyzer at http://www.caloriecount.about.com to keep a close eye on the calories, fat, fiber and protein in the recipes I eat and post on the blog.  It’s very easy to use and gives me the information I need to keep myself well…and well fed.  And now, the whole point to this post: CalorieCount now offers a new Food Log on its site.  The log allows you to catalogue what you’ve eaten while it tracks your calories and lets you know if you are meeting your caloric and nutritional needs.  The log also give a “nutritional grade” but before you get disappointed most GP-friendly choices don’t grade well given their lack of fiber so don’t despair if you get a bad “nutritional grade” from CalorieCount.  I personally believe that if I’m are eating well (given the constraints of the low-fat/low fiber Gastroparesis Diet), feeling well, maintaining my weight and getting my calories, allowed fruits/veggies and protein, I’m doing well.

As the saying goes: “Knowledge is power” and having a tool that gives you that knowledge puts the power of wellness in your hands.  I hope you’ll check the food log out.  Eat well!  Be well!  Enjoy!

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