Monday, May 28, 2012

Sunset and Smoked Salmon

Smoked salmon plate 
These are the good ol' days. 

Hubby is home for a couple of weeks from working overseas as a geoscientist, and one of our favorite things is sitting on the back porch sipping something cool and watching the sun go down just past our little urban forest of post oaks.

Nice to have something to nosh on and I've found that using cucumbers as my chips works really well. This is smoked salmon with the appropriate accoutrements of low-fat cream cheese, purple onions, capers, sliced cukes and water crackers for hubby.

My favorite dietician Steph at WeightWise would probably not be overjoyed with me having a bit of cream cheese on my cuke slices to snag a few pieces of onion and capers, but I didn't have much. Then I plop a small piece of salmon on top and voila, I have a lovely bite.

Only key is that I have to sip and then sample. Can't really do both at the same time. 

Some of my other appetizer favorites are homemade hummus and baba ghanoush (recipe is back a couple of months ago,) using dippers of cuke slices or celery sticks.

Imprinting this beautiful summer days on my mind. Lovely! We are lucky people and I'm feeling beautiful!

Still slow, slow, slow weight loss. Frustrating, but I tend to forget about it when hubby is home distracting me. Hooray!!


Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy Huevos -- or the Perfect Food I Can't Live Without

If I could only have one food forever, the one I'd probably choose is the super versatile egg. And not just any egg -- tasty local eggs from Ivy Acres Farm in Shawnee, Okla., about 40 miles from our home in Norman, Okla. I buy them at Norman's Native Roots Market.  The egg carton label notes they were packed May 20, and I purchased them on May 23. Another favorite egg source from Native Roots is the Chicken Shanty, which even has the most beautiful light turquoise eggs.

I'm big on using the best quality ingredients. If you can't eat a lot of food like I can't after my Dec. 27, 2011, gastric sleeve surgery, you sure want to eat the good stuff.  
Huevos Rancheros - salsa, cheese and eggy goodness without beans or tortilla
And local eggs taste infinitely better than the ones you buy in the grocery store and cost $4 a dozen -- about the same as a brand like Eggland's Omega 3 eggs. That may sound like a lot, but if you think about it, it's about 33 cents an egg. 

One of the ways I like to fix them is my version of Huevos Rancheros without the tortilla underneath -- breaking a couple of eggs into my about 4-inch round metal ring to keep them from running all over my griddle. When they start to set, I flip them over and cover them with about 1/4 c. of shredded low-fat cheddar cheese and Salsa with Roasted Chilies from Cocina San Pasqual, which says on the label that it's from Perkins, Okla., but is really from the tiny nearby town of Tryon. I purchased the salsa at Native Roots Market also. About the time the cheese melts and gets gooey, the eggs are perfect. I don't even add any salt or pepper -- the salsa gives more than enough kick. 

Cocina San Pasqual's salsa is home-style canned, made with fire-roasted chilies, vine-ripened tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lemon/lime juice, sea salt and garlic. The texture is just right to go on your eggs, but not fight them or upstage them. 

It's a simple, sumptuous dish I often eat for breakfast, but I've been known to eat it for lunch or supper too. 


'Mild' Salsa with Roasted Chilies
from Cocina San Pasqual in Tryon, Okla.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Onederland In Sight -- It's Not a Mirage

Lately my weight loss has slowed down to a crawl. I've been trading around two or three pounds since late April, one day I'm 210, another I'm 208, yesterday 211 for no apparent reason, and then this morning was 207.2. Also, no apparent reason. Halfway is coming soon, down from my high of 273 pounds and surgical weight of 256 with Dr. Greg Walton of WeightWise in Edmond. Almost 66 pounds gone.

And it also means I can sorta see Onederland coming soon. Onederland, you see, is when you get down into the 100s vs. the 200s. That will be fantastic. Haven't seen that in a bunch of years, maybe 12 or 13 years?

I know my body is still adjusting to my gastric sleeve, because at four months out, I hit the dreaded hair loss syndrome. I'll hit five months out May 27, also known as Sunday. I've read enough on the Vertical Sleeve Talk forum to know that the hair loss is temporary and I think the popular thought is because your body says, hey wait a minute. You're not going to starve me so I'm going to hold onto whatever resources I can and let go of things that aren't so important. And when it realizes, no you're not going to starve it, it calms down and your hair goes back to normal. Fortunately I had a lot of hair to start with, so it's not noticeable.

It's also common for weight loss to slow down at this time, and that's been frustrating, because I'm careful about making sure good stuff goes into my mouth. Protein and veggies mostly.

The other day I got a "Protein Bistro Box" from Starbucks when I was on the road and paid too much for not that much protein but I was past due on lunch and it seemed like the healthiest option. It was a hard-boiled egg, two small pieces of white cheddar, some apple slices and grapes and a small multigrain roll. I have no clue why they called it a protein box, except for the egg, because it had lots more carb grams than protein grams. On the other hand, it's probably lots better than having the more typical Starbucks fat-loaded scone or piece of coffeecake.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Desperately Seeking Savory ... Kale Chips

I'm still in search of some kind of crunchy, maybe salty or spicy chip type of thing.

I've made homemade kale chips using a vegetable spray and kosher salt. It was sorta OK, and the calorie count was right on mine (low.)

I was in the organic food store today and spotted these versions of kale chips, so I decided to do a taste test.

The Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips, Bombay Curry flavor, had a little bit of kick, a sweet curry taste and some good crunch. But they just didn't quite offer what I was hoping for. The other issue is that they have a surprisingly high number of calories. One 2-oz. bag of chips has two servings and each serving has a whopping 210 calories, 9 g fat, 16 g carbs, with it's biggest redeeming quality of 5 g of dietary fiber. The bag says instead of being fried, they're "air-crisped" at a low temperature. My take is that they're too many calories for what you get.

The Kale Chips from Kaia Foods on the right with sesame seeds had sort of a bitter taste to them, and didn't have enough body to stand up to any kind of topping, which would probably be one of the main reasons to try them.

The best of the three was the Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips, Kool Ranch flavor. It's the only one of the three that I want to try again. No bitterness. Good crunch. Nice flavor. But again, high calories for only half of the 2-oz. bag. I was looking for more.

Not enough bang -- or taste -- for the calories in any of these chips. My pursuit continues.

And today, still on the stall at 211.2 pounds. Sigh.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cornish Hens with Garlic and Sweet Vermouth

Cornish Hens with Garlic and Sweet Vermouth
I made this super healthy Cornish Hen with Garlic and Sweet Vermouth recipe and my darlin' daughter dropped in and shared it with me a few nights ago (I was so lucky to have halved the recipe, but still had enough for two.)

I'd love to take full credit for it, but I found this yumminess on, one of my favorite recipe sources. I'll probably up the garlic when I make it again, because I love poached garlic and that's a lot of the flavor in this dish.

I have been stuck, stuck, stuck, at about 210, 211, 210, 212, 210 pounds, etc. for a couple of weeks now. Just driving me nuts when I get on the scales in the morning. Tuesday was Weigh Day and wasn't eventful.

I've been having a terrible week on a completely unrelated business front that I unfortunately can't discuss with more than a tiny handful of people. Formerly I would have reacted with some bad behavior, probably drinking alcohol and grazing. Then you have guilt. Then you have more stress. Rinse and repeat. Not going there this time.

Bountiful Blue Blueberry, vaccinium corymbosum
This morning I realized was a huge bundle of nerves. So I went to the gym and blasted 30 minutes of intervals on the stationary bicycle, then another 30 minutes of leg strength training. Felt SO GOOD when I was done.

My blueberry bushes have a ton of berries on them and I'm just about to harvest the first one. Will be looking at concocting some blueberry recipes.

I also harvested my first yellow cherry tomato today and it was like a veggie explosion in my mouth. I rarely eat tomatoes until the real ones start coming in during spring and summer, because those darn weird, sawdust-tasting tomatoes they sell in the grocery stores in the wintertime are the poorest excuse for any kind of decent vegetables. Occasionally you can find decent ones in the organic stores.

I also had a revelation at the gym. This is a total lifestyle change, not a race. I'm saving my life, day by day, as I lose weight and get in better shape.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Before and Almost Half-Way

I was looking at the website of the Oklahoma City Gridiron Show today and was amazed that I was in three of the four flash photos from the February 2011 show on the home page, I was probably close to or at my highest weight ever -- 273 pounds. If you check it out, I'm on the far right in the first group shot, far left in the following two group shots.

Gridiron is sort of like Capitol Steps, and I adore singing and dancing badly while poking some good-natured fun at newsmakers and especially local, state and federal politicians. I've authored a handful of songs over the years and that's a lot of the fun. A couple of years ago, it was, "You're So Vain, You Probably Thought That Tweet Was About You," and I got to play Fox News' Greta Van Sustern singing out of the side of my mouth to the character playing President Barack Obama (which really wasn't all that easy, let me tell you.)

Posing after the show with House Speaker Kris Steele.

Here I am at this year's Saturday show Feb 25, 2012, posing after the show with Oklahoma House Speaker Kris Steele, whom I used to cover when I worked for the Shawnee News-Star.

In that pic, I'm about two months out from my Dec. 27, 2011, gastric sleeve surgery. I'm down to about 226 pounds at that point, which is 30 pounds down from surgery weight of 256, and 46 total, and I felt so much better already.

The show was at the Lyric Theatre in Oklahoma City and backstage has been tricky in previous years, because to get to the dressing rooms you have to negotiate the Spiral Staircase of Death. My knees hated it. My feet hated it. I huffed and puffed down those awful circular stairs, but I did it.

This year, I wouldn't go so far as to say I was bounding down the stairs. But let's just say I could hustle up and down those stairs in a fine fashion.

Weight loss has slowed in the last couple of months, which I'm concerned about but not worried. I'm down to 210 and wish it was more, but am glad my skin is getting every chance to remember where it used to be.

I believe my eating choices have changed permanently, even though in a few months technically I can eat whatever, albeit a smaller portion of whatever. At least that's what Steph, my favorite dietician, promised me. I am NEVER going back to where I was in those February 2011 pics.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Big NSV or Non-Sleeve Victory: Getting 'Belted'

Seat belt fastened April 26, 2012, en route to New York City.
Little things can be big victories. For those of us who have had gastric sleeve surgery, we call those NSVs or non-sleeve victories.

One of those happened last Thursday, April 26, when I flew to New York City for a conference. The last time I'd flown was in October 2011 to Las Vegas, also for a conference, likely at 273 pounds and with my airline seat belt let all the way out.

At right is how my seat belt looked Thursday on Delta 6015, 63 pounds down. And I can't tell you how much more comfortable I was in my seat. No comparison. I had to wonder if my seatmate thought I was nuts taking pictures of my lap.

I held my own while eating out for a week, making good protein-focused, veggie-focused choices. I confess to having a couple of glasses of wine at the cocktail parties Friday and Saturday evenings, which are not on plan.

The second night I was there, I ate at the lovely new restaurant Vitae on 46th Street around the corner from the Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan and had probably the best diver scallops I've ever eaten. It was just an appetizer and all I really needed that night.  Although I thought I'd found a restaurant on apps Yelp or Urbanspoon, I started out looking for a restaurant that turned out to be closed. It was a serendipitous thing to happen. Vitae was next door to the closed restaurant.

Vitae's Seared Diver Scallops with Cashews and Raisins
The scallops were sweet and perfectly seared, with cashews, golden raisins, Thai curry sauce and a light lime foam.

My whole philosophy of eating since surgery is that you can still eat wonderful things -- just a whole lot less of them. This was the perfect meal for me.

I didn't lose any more weight last week, but considering I ate out all week, I don't feel too badly about it.

I also took my monthly measurements today, which were about the same as last month.

I've decided that I need to ratchet my efforts up a bit and work harder on portion control, weighing my food, journaling on LiveStrong MyPlate and I also need to increase my cardio, strength training and I'll be doing yoga Friday.

Here's my measurements as of today:

May 2, 2012
Bust w/o bra: 41.5", -1.5"
Waist: 39", -4"
Hips: 46", -4.5"
Neck: 15.5, -1.25"
Upper right arm: 14.25", -1.75"
Right Thigh: 28", -2.25"
Right Calf: 17.5", -.25"

April 1, 2012
Bust w/o bra: 42", -1"
Waist: 39", -4"
Hips: 45", -5.5"
Neck: 15", -1.5"
Upper right arm: 15", -1"
Right Thigh: 27", -3.25"
Right Calf: 17", -.75"

Jan. 20, 2012 (The first time I measured after my Dec. 27, 2011, gastric sleeve surgery.)
Bust w/bra: 43"
Waist: 43" (makes me wonder if I'm a tree trunk ... I think getting a waist back will be sublime!)
Hips: 50.5"
Neck: 16.25"
Upper right arm: 16"
Right Thigh: 30.25"
Right Calf: 17.75"


Unmasking Black Pepper's Secrets as a Fat Fighter

Black pepper you say. Eating more black pepper could have blocked formation of new fat cells? Go figure.

Unmasking black pepper's secrets as a fat fighter

That's what I was doing wrong. Darn.