Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Black Bean Bowls

This is technically the filling for black bean burritos or enchiladas, but since I'm not doing the rice and tortillas, I used these beans as the base for a Tex-Mex bean bowl. The beans alone are pretty lean and low cal and the best part? It takes next to nothing in time and attention. Just put everything into a slow cooker, turn that baby on, and leave it alone for 8 loooong hours!

Slow Cooked Black Beans

1.5 C. Dry Black Beans
3 Carrots, chopped
2 Large Onions, chopped
5 Cloves Garlic, smashed
2-4 Birds Eye Chilies, sliced in half
4-6 C. Low Sodium, Low Fat Chicken Broth (enough just to cover everything in the crock)
1-2 T. Cumin, ground
1-2 T. Chili Powder
2 t. Salt

Rinse and soak the beans overnight in cool water. Discard water and simmer in fresh water for 20 minutes, or until they begin to soften (or, you can always substitute 4-5 cans of black beans and skip this step.) Drain and put into the slow cooker with remaining ingredients, except the salt. Cover tightly, and cook on low for 8 hours, or until beans are very tender. Add a little more broth if it looks like the beans are getting too dry. The long cooking time tends to mellow the spices, so you may find the need to add extra cumin and chili powder (and maybe onion or garlic powder) towards the end of the cooking time. This is also when you should add salt to taste.

Makes 6-8 Servings

I ate mine in a bowl loaded with other yumminess for garnish - salsa, low fat cheese, minced cilantro, and a dollop of low fat sour cream. What I love about this meal is that it's so filling and it really sticks with me through the day, so I'm less likely to want to snack. It's just a bonus that it's also cheap, easy, and the leftovers keep well.

Nutrition Roundup (not including garnishes): Calories 125.8, Total Fat 0.4 g, Cholesterol 0.0 mg, Sodium 111.2 mg, Total Carbs: 33.2 g, Dietary Fiber: 17.2 g, Protein: 12.0 g.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Asparagus and Eggs

Years ago I dated someone whose family was from Sicily. She taught me a traditional breakfast that her family enjoys - asparagus and eggs. I was inspired to make it this morning since I have so much wonderful produce from going to the farmer's market. This is a super quick meal that I eat any time I want something light but satisfying.

Asparagus and Eggs

1 C. Fresh Asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces
2 Eggs

Scramble eggs in a small bowl until they are blended. In a large skillet, heat 2 t. of olive oil and cook asparagus until it turns bright green. Add eggs and scramble. Easy easy easy! Yum.

I couldn't actually eat all of this food, but I wanted to dress up the plate. ;)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Just 'Cuz

Just because sometimes I'm an uber geek and like to see things in charts and pictures, I've made a chart of my weight since 2009. I haven't included every single weigh in, but you get the general idea. I like looking at it because it helps me wrap my brain around the fact that it's totally normal for weight to go up and down over time. Naturally, the whole point of weight loss surgery is to have it go down (which it is doing - quite nicely, I may add) but in general, everyone's weight fluctuates to some extent. Also, since the weight loss has slowed down a little since the first 8 weeks post-op (also totally normal an to be expected), it's nice to see that the trend is still going in the right direction.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Farmer's Market

I went to the city's year 'round, 100+ year old weekly farmer's market yesterday. It was partly because I felt the need to go look at mass quantities of produce to get inspired to cook a little more, but it was mostly in an effort to save money. Most everything they sell is about 60% less than the local grocery store. Of course, that 60% is covered in the PITA factor of shopping there. There's no parking because it's in the center of one of the oldest sections of the city, so you have to take public transit. From where I live, that's about 45 minutes by bus and train. I don't drive, so this isn't really a big deal, I just have to plan my schedule accordingly. No....the PITA factor really comes in when I have to haul all my cheaply gotten delicious fresh fruit and veggies home on the train and bus for 45 minutes. Yeah. That part's not so fun, but when I have a refrigerator full of healthy, fresh, yummy food, it's hard to really be bothered too much.

Yesterday's haul cost $22 and comprised approximately 35 lbs. of produce. In case you're wondering, that's 1 bunch cilantro, 1 bunch scallions, 5 limes, 13 navel oranges, 4 lbs. onions, 5 lbs. bananas, 2 lbs. red seedless grapes, 2 lbs. asparagus, 3 English cucumbers, 4 pints of blue berries, and 4 bird's eye chilies a nice lady gave me for free when I told her I didn't want a 6 oz. bag of them because I only needed a few.

I strategically piled all this loveliness into my re-useable shopping bags (heavy/hearty stuff on the bottom and delicate stuff on top) and proceeded the short distance to the train. It occurred to me as I was making my way there that 16 weeks ago (the week before surgery), that walk would have been far more difficult for me than it was yesterday. I would have had to stop several times. I would have been sweaty. I would have been sore by the time I got home. I would still be hurting today. I have to remind myself (sometimes several times a day) that there are many more benefits to this surgery than what can be seen on the scale.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thug's Spinach Cooler

Some internet friends of mine have introduced me to a very funny (and totally not safe for work!) food blog called Thug Kitchen. Today after a particularly challenging work out at the gym, I decided to try TK's Spinach Cooler. I changed it a little by using only 1 banana, instead of 2, eliminating the flax seed oil (because I don't have any), a bit more pineapple, and a scoop of unflavored Syntrax Whey Protein Isolate. Between the fruit and veggies and the whey protein, it makes a full meal with loads of good things in it. I've reposted his recipe here, but you really should go read his blog. :-)

Thug's Spinach Cooler (w/Protein)

2 C. Fresh Spinach
1 Frozen Banana
1 C. Cucumber, chopped
.25 C. Frozen Pineapple
1 C. Coconut Water
.25 C. Orange Juice
6 Mint Leaves
1 Scoop Syntrax Whey Protein Isolate (unflavored)

Put everything except the protein powder in the blender and blend until completely smooth. Add protein powder and blend until just incorporated. Drink while fresh and cold.

This makes 2 10 oz. servings.

Nutrition Roundup: Calories 164.7, Total Fat 0.7 g, Cholesterol 2.5 mg, Sodium 69.1 mg, Total Carbs 28.5 g, Dietary Fiber 3.3 g, Protein 13.5 g.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Time At The Gym

I was thinking that I haven't really been talking about the other aspects of life since WLS.  Specifically, exercise. I recently went to one of the post-surgical support groups at the Weight Center and listened to an hour "lesson" on the importance of exercise. But they didn't like that word and made a big deal about how we shouldn't look at it as "exercise," but instead should focus on adding more "activity" and "movement" to our days in lots of little ways. We were also encouraged to look for "non-exercise" ways of getting exercise - things we enjoy, like dancing, so that we are more likely to do them regularly. While I agree with the general premise of all this, it wasn't the most stimulating hour of my life. ;)

My gym routine has changed a little from when I started. When I was cleared for full activity, about a month after surgery, I was doing 30 minutes on the dreadmill (I mean, treadmill) and 15-20 minutes on the recumbent bike and calling it good. The thing is...as you can probably tell, I don't really enjoy the treadmill. The bike is okay, but I don't love it, either. Listening to audio books or good music helped make it less painful (and they have TVs and radio at the gym you can listen to on headphones), but it didn't really help with the enjoyment factor.

More recently, however, I've been at the gym a few times with my friend, D, and her system (designed by a friend of hers w/a degree in exercise science) is to do 10 minutes cardio, 3 sets of 12 of 3 different weight training machines, another 10 minutes of cardio, another group of weight machines, and end with a last 10 minutes of cardio. I tried it one day and found it much more pleasant. I've elongated the cardio time by 5 minutes each round, to make a total of 45 minutes of cardio interspersed with a full routine of either arms/chest & back or legs & abs. It means that my full routine takes about 90 minutes, but it doesn't feel like it because it's all broken up. By the time I get to 12 minutes of cardio and I'm starting to want to stab my eyes out with boredom, I realize I only have 3 minutes left until I get to do something else. Not bad, not bad at all.

As far as the weights go, I won't get into loads of detail (unless someone comments and tells me they want loads of detail), but for legs & abs days I do leg press, curl, extension, hip ab/adductors, calf raises and crunches. On the arms/chest & back days I do bicep curls, tricep extensions, overhead press, row machine, lat pull down, chest press, and back extension. And I stretch every time.

I still can't say that I enjoy going to the gym, but breaking things up has really helped me to handle the tedium. And I admit, I'm starting to like having gone to the gym.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Not Potatoes

I've never been a huge fan of potatoes. In fact, if they weren't sliced, deep fried in fat, and sprinkled in salt (chips), I really actively didn't like them. That is, until a few years ago when I found Yukon Gold potatoes which are super yummy, with a lightly sweet/nutty flavor.

Since surgery, however, I've been avoiding most starches. I'm cleared to eat them in extreme moderation, but I've been trying to keep my carbohydrate consumption to nutrition-dense foods, like dairy, but, and legumes. (I have had a little sweet potato here and there, though. :-) ) Because of this, I've been exploring the other root vegetables and have discovered that while beets from a can are okay, fresh beets correctly cooked are fabulous! I got this recipe from a friend named "whipperton" on a message board community and wanted to share it with all of you. Talk about YUM.

Sesame Roasted Beets

2 large Red Beets
2 Large Golden Beets
2-3 T. Sesame Oil
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.

Scrub the beets well, remove the green and trim the ends. Chop into 1" cubes and toss in sesame oil and salt (I used about 1/2 t.) Roast until a knife goes through them easily. If you want to punch up the sesame flavor, you can drizzle a little more sesame oil over them and/or sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds before serving. (I didn't bother because it smelled too good to wait.)