Like I mentioned in my first blog post – here – part of my success has been sticking to a low carb diet. I have gotten some emails and comments about what that actually means. So, this post is dedicated to my new low carb lifestyle!!
When you first have weight loss surgery – your main goal is to eat ALL the protein. Protein is what really jumps start and helps you with your weight loss. When you do your pre-op diet – which is actually pretty difficult – you are consuming all liquids. This liquids include protein shakes made with skim milk. I love a good protein shake and still have one every morning. After the surgery – you continue with the liquids for about 2 more weeks and then you can have soft foods. Soft foods include eggs, shredded chicken, yogurts, and some soft cheese. I was really content with the soft food stage because frankly, after all the liquids, I was looking forward to chewing!! Plus…I love eggs and cheese. That first egg was glorious!! Of course, I could only have about three bites – but it really hit the spot!! After you are cleared to move on you can really go ahead and eat whatever you want – within reason, of course.
I stick to eating protein first and limiting things like potatoes, rice, and pasta. To be honest, I have not tried pasta since I’ve had surgery. I really haven’t craved or missed it. I have had some roasted and baked potato – mostly sweet potato. I do make these unreal roasted Golden Potatoes with some of my friends special seasoning called Gooch Hooch. The stuff is good on everything – but popcorn and potato are a go-to in my house. When I make those potatoes, I probably have a few more than I should but they are just too delish!! As far as rice is concerned – I really haven’t gone back to that either. Every once and awhile, I might have a spoonful when I serve it to the rest of the family. One thing that I did not want to do throughout this process was deny my family what they like to eat. I am the one that is on this journey and although I want them to be healthy too, they can eat what they want and in most cases, I will make it for them. Does this lead to temptation? Sure, and do I sometimes cave and have a bite of something – absolutely, I’m human and I love food. One bite or one taste is not going to derail me. However, I do not want to fall back into bad habits – so I work at discretion and self-control. I’m learning every day what works and what doesn’t. I eat carbs – but mostly they come in in the form of fruits and veggies. Every once and while I have a piece of toast with a poached egg for breakfast. The toast fills me up quicker – so I actually end up being less satisfied in the long run. I would rather eat the whole egg and a bite of toast than the whole piece of toast and a bite of egg. I also eat chocolate – EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I was hoping that I would wake up from surgery and not still be in love with chocolate. NOPE…not so much. Now however, I eat real good chocolate and I mix it with deluxe nuts and make a top shelf trail mix. It really hits the spot and handles my chocolate craving.
The go-to for protein has always been chicken. Chicken is a great source of protein and it’s relatively cheap and easy to prepare. You can do a lot with chicken and we eat it about twice a week at home. But, what do you do when you get bored with grilled or baked chicken breast? You spice it up and add other proteins such as beans, lentils, turkey, moose meat, steak, different types of fish, and shrimp. There are a lot of options out there – you just have to get creative. Other things that I’ve gotten creative with are side dishes that work for all of us. For example – I’ve been having a lot of fun playing around with both Zoodles and Cauliflower rice. My hubby isn’t jazzed about the Zoodles but has enjoyed all the variations of cauliflower rice that I have offered. I am also obsessed with my crock pot – which is an amazing kitchen tool to use with my tummy tool (my sleeve). You can do a lot of low carb, low fat, and low calorie options in the crock. It’s also an extra bonus for meal prep because you can set it and forget it and eat all week from your creations!! I plan on some posts about Zoodles, Cauli Rice and the crock pot in the very near future…
So, without further ado…here are a few recipes that I enjoy and are very tasty. They are high protein and low carb but they work for my whole family. I have to give my hubby credit for being willing to try pretty much anything that I put down in front of him at the dinner table. The kids are a little bit more picky…but they are getting there!!
Please note that these are my recipes – however, I am sure you can find ones just like it on Pintrest or really anywhere on the internet. None of these recipes are overly difficult or too time consuming. Something that I like to do is find recipes and fool around with them to make them low carb and fit my lifestyle.
Lightened Up Turkey Pot Pie
- Turkey breast cooked off – I used 2 big ones for this recipe
- Bag of frozen peas and carrots – can use fresh if you have it handy
- Small can of corn or a cob of corn – if you can can one!
- Small diced onion
- 1 cup of chicken broth
- salt and peper to taste
- 1 tablespoon of corn starch
- 1 roll of Pillsbury Reduced fat crescent rolls
Preheat oven 375 degrees. Cook the turkey breasts – you can either bake them in the over or cut them up into small pieces and cook them in a skillet in a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
Heat up a skillet with a drizzle of olive oil – once hot enough add your diced onion and cook until translucent. Add the rest of your veggies and half of the chicken broth. Put a lid on your skillet and let all the veggies get soft and yummy – about 8 to 10 minutes. Once the veggies are soft add your turkey meat. In a small bowl mix the rest of the chicken broth and corn starch until totally combined and add to your skillet. Mix to combine and you’ll notice the juices getting thick!!
In the meantime – open your crescent rolls and using a rolling pin – roll it into one sheet. Put your pot pie innards in a greased baking or casserole dish and then place the crescent roll sheet on top. Make sure that you grease the top rim of the dish because you don’t want the crescent rolls to stick! I pierced a few holes in the top of the crust. Put pot pie in oven and cook for about 25 minutes. Check in to make sure the crescents do not get too dark!!
My family did not miss the bottom crust that a traditional pot pie has. They also didn’t miss the milk and butter. In fact, they did not even realize that this was a lightened up recipe. To be totally honest, I don’t use a lot of reduced fat/fat free stuff because I would really rather eat whole foods – like I use butter, never ever margarine. But, these reduced fat crescent rolls actually taste pretty good. As you can tell from my plate, I did not actually get any crust – I was holding out for chocolate with my evening snack.
Roasted Turkey Breasts
- 1 package of 2 turkey thighs – you could also use chicken thighs
- 2 cups of instant brown rice
- 2 large lemons – I buy the XL lemons
- Kosher salt to taste
- Poultry Seasoning
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes
Preheat oven 375
Put the 2 cups of rice in the bottom of a baking dish. Cut up your lemon into slices and place the slices on top of the rice – you need about 8 slices total. Place the turkey thighs on top of the lemons and rice. In a measuring cup fill to the 2 cup mark with warm water and place your chicken bouillon cubes in. You want them to start to dissolve, but they do not have to be totally dissolved when you are ready to use them.
Next using some left over lemon, squeeze it right over the turkey thighs. Sprinkle some kosher salt on both of the thighs. Next, hit those thighs with some rosemary, thyme, and poultry seasoning. We like our poultry well seasoned – so do not go lightly! Lastly, pour the water with the bouillon cubes into the baking pan. I just pour the water around the thighs – making sure the rice gets covered. Place in the oven and bake for one hour.
I did not get a chance to take an “after baked” picture of this meal. It is one of my family’s favorites so it usually does not last long. Two of the thighs will feed my family of 4. These turkey thighs by Shady Brook Farms are cost effective and totally delish. Yes, I leave the skin on and cook it that way. We prefer the way the skin keeps the meat juicy. I do not eat the skin these days…I just take it off and go about my business. The lemony rice in this dish is SOOOOO good. Like I mentioned – I really do not do a lot of rice – but I will have a couple bites of this rice. It comes out crunchy on the edges and mushy in the middle. My hubby and the kiddos LOVE this meal – there are NO leftovers.
Other stuff I’ve been eating lately that I am really enjoying…
After my 9 month check up – I stopped off at Chipotle for lunch. I LOVE CHIPOTLE. E Coli – be damned – I still eat there. To make Chipotle fit into my lifestyle and diet choices, I just change up my order a bit. First off – the portions at Chipotle are way to big for my tummy these days. To be honest, before surgery, I couldn’t finish a whole burrito…now, it would be simply impossible. These days, I order a kids build- your-own. I chose chicken, pico, black beans, lettuce, cheese, a little bit of sour cream, and of course guac…ALL THE GUAC. I don’t get any tacos or burrito wraps. I love the cute little bags of chips and probably have a couple to scoop up my bites. But typically, I do not crunch many of them. To be honest, the meal pictured above would definitely give me two meals and maybe a small third one. It’s affordable and low carb and really hits the spot when I’m craving Chipotle!!! (Again – I’m not sponsored by Chipotle, or any of the brands I mention. However, if Chipotle wanted to sponsor me, they could pay me in guac and chicken!!)
So as a teacher I eat my breakfast around 7am on my way to work and have lunch at 11am. When I leave school – typically by 3:30pm or later – I am hungry. Lately my go-to snack has been a non fat greek yogurt cup with one of my delicious homemade banana cookies crumbled up on top. When I’m feeling really sassy – I add a couple almonds. I shared the recipe for these cookies here. I LOVE these cookies and I make them every single Sunday as part of my meal prep for the week. They are so easy to make and have zero added sugar – just bananas, peanut butter, protein powder, and oats. I do add a couple chocolate chips – so I guess that does count as added sugar – but seriously, you gotta live, people!! As far as yogurt goes the above picture contains your basic Hannaford brand non-fat Greek. I think they do a nice job with their Greek yogurt and it is cheaper than the Chobani and pretty on par with their quality. The yogurt that I am LOVING right now is called Siggis. Technically it is called skyr and it’s a traditional strained Icelandic non-fat yogurt. It is delicious and it’s stats are awesome. In one cup it has 14g of protein, 11g of sugar, and about 100 calories!! What I love most about it is that it is all natural and made with really high quality ingredients. As a result, it’s fairly expensive – but I think it’s totally worth it. You can find a coupon on their website. It has also been hard to find. In fact, it’s not available here in Machias. I was having my mom send me a months supply and freezing it!! I was so PUMPED when I was at Target in Bangor last weekend and they finally had it!! YEEE HAAAW!! According to their web site it is also being carried at a Hannaford and Shaws in Bangor…you people are so lucky – go out and enjoy it!!
Monday through Friday I have a smoothie with protein for breakfast – on the weekends I indulge in one of these flapJacked pancakes. I LOVE THEM!!! The pancake mix is high protein. Apparently you can also use the mix for other baking…I haven’t gone there yet!! You mix a half cup of the mix with a third of a cup of either water or milk. I use my Fairlife skim milk – this adds even more protein! I also add a dollop of pumpkin and some pumpkin spice. You mix it up and let it sit for a couple minutes and it gets like malty and think. I cook it up and let it get nice and toasty and then spread a little butter on top…again, you gotta live!! I don’t do syrup – but I do use some homemade honey roasted peanut butter and a smear of cream cheese. As you can tell from the above picture…I can’t eat too much of it as it’s a heavy pancake…but so worth it!! It keeps me full and satisfied.
Well….I hope that some of the above recipes and food options will be helpful!! Stay tuned for some more food posts this month. I plan to talk about some healthy Halloween options and I have some tricks and treats up my sleeve. As always, I hope you found something you need and will pass it on to someone in need!!!