Tag Archives: spinach

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.


I Can’t Eat ‘Em…But I Can Drink ‘Em!

I promised periodic juicing updates and since a picture speaks a thousand words…strawberries, kiwi, grapefruit, pineapple, spinach, watercress, kale, parsley, beet and beet greens!  How healthy does that look?  And that’s what I’ve been drinking this week.  This assortment of pictured fruit and veggies produced a 16 ounce glass of ruby red juice.  Watercress, the newest addition to my juicing. This semi-aquatic herb has a distinctive peppery flavor…think peppery like arugula.  Watercress is considered an anticancer super food and is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamin C, beta-carotene, folic acid, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and iodine.  In fact, according to my research, watercress contains more calcium than milk and more iron than spinach and offers moderate amounts of vitamins B1 and B2.  The strawberries were a bit of a splurge but paired nicely with the peppery bite of the watercress.  I held them up to my face, inhaled deeply and took in all their sweet, sunny strawberry essence before dropping them into the juicer!

I look forward to my glass of “fresh” and in all honesty some combinations are better than others.  My rule of thumb is that if it would taste good as a salad it will probably create a tasty juice.  If you are new to juicing start out slowly until you know if it agrees with you.  Carrots are sweet and apples are crisp and are the base for many people’s juicing.  Unfortunately, I’m allergic but that doesn’t mean they’re not an option for anyone who can eat them.   Strain your juice through a mesh sieve if you are concerned about any residual fiber.  As always…Eat Well!  Be Well!  Enjoy!

Soup’s On!

It was 7 degrees when I got up yesterday morning and I spent the entire day trying to chase away the winter chill.  All I wanted was a nice, hot, savory bowl of minestrone soup that ate like a modest meal.  The trouble is, most of what makes a good minestrone isn’t necessarily GP-friendly.  There was a bag of low fat cheese tortellini stashed in the freezer and not surprising,  a box of organic chopped spinach snuggled next to it.  My Ode to Minestrone Soup aka Tortellini Soup is really a hearty twist on traditional tortellini soup which is commonly served as a simple chicken broth with some parsley and a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. When shopping for cheese tortellini read the package carefully as some brands are much lower in fat than others.  I’ve used  Mama Rosie’s frozen cheese tortellini.  A full serving of 28 pieces contains 260 calories, 3 grams of fat and 10 grams of protein…I certainly can’t eat 28 pieces so each serving of soup consists of 14 tortellini at 130 calories, 1.5 grams fat and 5 grams of protein.

I thought a nice dusting of freshly grated parmesan cheese would finish off the soup nicely but then decided to make this simple meal a little more special by baking off a few Frico.  A frico is simply a thin, delicate parmesan crisp that’s toasted in the oven.  They are very simple to make and the cooking concentrates the nutty, salty goodness that is Parmigiano Reggiano.

Ode to Minestrone Soup aka Tortellini Soup

Combining beef and chicken broth gives the soup a heartier flavor.  I’ve kept things simple but feel free to add any veggies (carrots, zucchini) that are GP-friendly for you for more of a Minestrone feel.

Serves 4

4 cups beef broth

4 cups chicken broth

2 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning

1 bay leaf

56 low fat cheese tortellini

1/2 of 10 ounce box frozen, chopped spinach-defrosted, excess water squeezed out

salt and pepper to taste

freshly grated nutmeg

Bring beef and chicken broths, garlic cloves, tomato paste, Italian herb seasoning and bay leaf to a simmer.  Cook until fragrant and garlic is soft enough to smash into a paste on the side of the pan.  Alternatively, remove the garlic cloves if desired.  Bring soup to a boil and cook tortellini until very tender (Mama Rosie’s recommends 15 minutes).  Stir in spinach and warm through.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg.  Serve 14 tortellini per portion with a Frico on the side for crumbling over the soup.

Nutritional Information Per Serving: 14 tortellini per bowl of soup

170 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 1 gram fiber, 8 grams protein


Courtesy of Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie Season One.  These are simple three ingredient parmesan crisps that pack a salty, nutty punch of  Parmigiano Reggiano flavor.  Don’t skimp on the parmesan…use real Parmigiano Reggiano for the best results.

Makes 6

1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano coarsely shredded on the largest holes of a box grater

1/2 tablespoon flour

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and using a compass or biscuit cutter draw six  3″ circles about 4″ apart with a pencil.  Turn parchment over so the graphite is on the other side of the paper.  Mix shredded cheese, flour and pepper.  Place a tablespoon of the mixture in the center of each circle stirring ingredients between each spoonful.  Flatten mounds to fill each circle.  Bake for 10 minutes (I like mine to get a little toasty and golden).  Remove pan and cool on a rack for 2 minutes.  Remove parchment paper with frico to the rack and allow to cool and crisp.  Repeat with remaining sheet pan.  Store frico in an airtight container with parchment or wax paper between each layer.  Will keep for 3 days.

Nutritional Information Per Serving: 1 Frico per serving

33 calories, 2 grams fat, o grams fiber, 2.8 grams protein

Inspiration From Unlikely Sources

I promised a hearty stew and here it is…with inspiration from an unlikely source!  The following recipe for Chicken Stew with Greens and Two Potatoes is adapted from a Recipe of the Month published in the free, little local newspaper that appears in my mail each week.  Except for the lentils…which are sadly not Gastroparesis-friendly the recipe was made to be adapted for us GPers.  Warning: this dish has a kick and is not the recipe for any GPer who is “spice shy” because it packs a lot of flavor into humble GP-friendly ingredients.  The ginger, garlic, cumin, cinnamon and coriander are a warming addition to simple chicken and potatoes. If you are at all concerned cut the spice by half or season in whatever manner you feel most comfortable.

This is the first recipe for the blog that uses chicken thighs.  Thighs work better for a longer simmer but do contain more fat than chicken breast so I trimmed all visible fat with kitchen scissors before cooking and blotted the seared thigh pieces with paper towels before continuing on with the dish.  The original recipe called for carrots so I left them in for anyone who is able to eat them…unfortunately, I’m allergic.  The stew is finished with spinach and two tablespoons of fresh cilantro.  I used only the tender cilantro leaves and stirred them into the hot stew with the spinach but if you’re at all concerned leave the cilantro out.  Potatoes don’t freeze well so share this one with friends and family.

Chicken Stew with Greens and Two Potatoes

Serves 6

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of all visible fat, cut into 1″ pieces

1 teaspoon salt

ground black pepper, to taste

2 cloves garlic, grated on microplane

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, pressed through as sieve to collect fibers

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried coriander

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (used Vietnamese-it has a stronger flavor)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

4 cups (1 32 ounce box) low sodium chicken stock

1 15 ounce can tomato sauce

2 carrots, cut into half-inch rounds (allergic, left out)

2 white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes (12 ounces)

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes (12 ounces)

1 16 ounce bag frozen, chopped spinach defrosted and excess water squeezed out

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional, if concerned leave out)

6 tablespoons fat free plain yogurt

Spray a dutch oven with olive oil cooking spray.  Preheat over medium heat.  Add chicken, sprinkle with salt and pepper and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Blot chicken with paper towel to remove fat.  Add remaining ingredients up to spinach, cilantro and yogurt.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer until vegetables are tender (approximately 30 minutes, 40 for very tender).  Stir in spinach and cilantro and simmer until heated through.  Serve each helping with a tablespoon of fat free plain yogurt.

Nutritional Information Per Serving: (includes carrots)

232 calories, 4.7 grams fat, 3 grams fiber, 24.3 grams protein

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

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