Pumpkin Tortilla Soup

It’s that time of year when you can find just about every type of food made with pumpkin. I don’t know about anyone else but I don’t just wait until fall to eat pumpkin. I use the stuff year round. Now is a great time to stock up on cans of pumpkin since they frequently go on sale especially as we get closer to Thanksgiving.

Did you know that canned pumpkin is loaded with vitamin A? It even has more then fresh pumpkin. Check this out:

pumpkin nutrition

Who knew that 1/2 a cup of canned pumpkin packs a whopping 540% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A! Fresh pumpkin only has 26.5%. Make sure when you buy canned pumpkin that is says 100% pumpkin and pass on the pumpkin pie filling which is loaded with sugar. Once you pick up a few cans why not make this great pumpkin tortilla recipe.

Pumpkin Tortilla Soup

Pumpkin Tortilla Soup

Pumpkin Tortilla Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
  • 4 corn tortilla (6 inches in size)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 - 15 oz can 100% pumpkin
  • 1 - 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cut the tortillas into small ½ inch sized pieces.
  2. In a large stock pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and tortilla pieces. Stir frequently while cooking until onion is soft.
  3. Add in the cilantro and cumin. Saute for another minute until cilantro has softened.
  4. Add in the canned pumpkin, tomatoes and chicken or vegetable stock. Stir to combine and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.

pumpkin photo


How To Estimate Portion Size

Things have been nuts since school started. The last semester is ending with a flurry of group projects and the beginning of my first internship rotations. This means that my usual pattern of eating has been thrown off a bit. While I don’t normally pay attention to small fluctuations in what the scale says (I usually weigh myself every 2 or 3 days) I start to keep a close eye when it goes up 3-4 pounds. For me personally it’s easier to catch and deal with smaller changes in weight then wait until I’ve gained 15, 20 or more. I’ve dealt with regain before so this is my system of tackling the problem. When the scale starts to steadily move up it usually means one of several things.

– I’ve decreased the amount of vegetables that I normally eat.

– I’ve started to replace the vegetables with things that are fast and easy to grab and eat. This usually means snack type items such as crackers, pretzels, cereal and bread.

– I’ve started eating bigger portions of things that are good for you but higher in calories such as nuts, cheese, dried fruit, etc.

Thinking back over the last week or two I could see a pattern appearing. Some of the items that I bring with me to eat at school or on the run were slowly increasing in size. I’m currently out of the smaller snack sized plastic bags and began using the larger sandwich bags. I could kind of eyeball the small snack bags and knew how much I could put in the bag without it being an overly large portion. The sandwich bags however have far too much room for items such as trail mix, almonds, cashews, dried fruit, etc that I would bring to snack eat. I really hate measuring out my food but, after pouring some of my usual trail mix into the larger bag, I measured it and found that I was pouring myself two to three times as much when I used this size bag. To stop over measuring I will return to a method that I found handy and that doesn’t require pulling out measuring cups (though that is a great technique to control portions sizes). What I normally do is use my hand to quickly measure out items. Check out the chart below to see what I mean:


The way to use this chart is to look at the hand symbol on the left and see what measurement it can be used for on the right. For example, the third picture down on the left shows a handful. The food you are measure, nuts for example, should fit into this area of your hand. It’s a fast and easy method to measure items out and keep portions under control.

Hey….everyone’s hand size is different so doesn’t that mean that they are getting a bigger portion?

Well, yes the most likely are getting a slightly bigger portion. But the bigger/taller/larger a person is the more likely they will be eating more calories to maintain their larger frame size.

Paying attention to portion sizes is one way to keep the issue of regain under control. Food portion sizes are getting bigger all the time so it becomes important to remember that the item your eating might actually contain several portions and most likely isn’t a single serving of that item. Want to see what I mean? Check out two portion distortion quizzes available at Choose My Plate. There are links to each quiz about half way down the page. I think you’ll be quite surprised to see the increase in product sizes over the years.

Exciting News For This Semester

For the last few years I have been attending college in hopes of changing careers. Who knew that when I had gastric bypass surgery almost 9 years ago that it would affect so many other things besides what I weighed. Several years after having surgery I decided to return to school. Having worked as a nurse for many years it was time for a change. Since having surgery I began to connect nutrition to many of the medical issues that I had seen with my patients. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives before they got to the point that they needed care from a nurse. I returned to school to pursue a degree in nutrition with the hopes of becoming a registered dietitian. This would require not only a degree in nutrition but also an internship before you are able to sit for the licensing test.

If you know anyone who is a dietitian ask them about their internship. Or at least the process of obtaining one. It’s very long and the competition is incredible. It’s estimated that only about 50% of graduating students are able to get into one. The school I attend offers an internship program with a very limited number of spots. I applied in the spring and was put on hold until all the spring and summer grades were in. This past Thursday I picked up this letter at the nutrition office:


YES! I got into the program! I will be starting one of my first internships this semester and will spend time over four semesters getting in 1,200 internship hours. Who knew that WLS would one day lead to a whole new career!

Interesting Study On Gastric Bypass Surgery And Blood Sugar Crashes

crashing blood sugar

I came across this article a few days ago. When comparing three types of weight loss surgery (gastric bypass which I’m figuring means the RNY surgery, duodenal switch and the sleeve) it was noted that those who had the gastric bypass were more likely to have some type problem with blood sugar regulation after surgery. Some new conditions that were noted included:

– nesidioblastosis: hypoglycemia caused by the pancreas over secreting insulin

– noninsulinoma pancreatogenous hypoglycemia syndrome: yes another type of hypoglycemia caused by an over reacting pancreas

– hyperinsulinemia: excess levels of insulin circulating in the body for various reasons. Can be caused by prediabetes, insulin resistance and PCOS among other things.

While the number of patients followed after surgery was small, as someone who deals with reactive hypoglycemia since surgery, I find it very interesting. I hope they continue to follow more patients after surgery so additional information can be gathered and patients will have a better idea of some of the issues they may deal with after surgery.

Read the full article, Study Suggests Gastric Bypass Causes Glucose Spikes, Crashes, for more information.

Hot And Sour Chicken Soup

I love this soup!

Not only do I love the flavor combination of spicy and sour but I love the way the chicken comes out nice and tender. After WLS surgery chicken, as well as pork, is one of those food items that either goes down great or gives me that terrible stuck feeling. It all depends upon how it’s cooked. If it’s just the least bit dry then I know I may end up getting sick. Poaching the chicken in broth or water before making the dish really seems to help it stay tender enough to prevent problems.


hot and sour soup

Hot And Sour Chicken Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
You can also add cubes of tofu to this recipe if desired.
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound of boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • ½ cup sliced bamboo shoots
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger or a 1 inch piece of fresh ginger grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 4 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 large egg beaten
  1. Place chicken breasts in sauce pan, fill with enough water to just cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer chicken breasts until no longer pink in the center. Remove the chicken from the liquid and allow to cool. Once cool shred chicken and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan combine the chicken broth, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low.
  3. In a bowl combine the red wine vinegar and cornstarch. Add to the broth mixture and stir well.
  4. Add in the shredded chicken to the broth and turn the heat up to medium high. Slowly drizzle in the beaten egg while stirring gently. This should create long strands of cooked egg. Simmer for about 3 minutes.
  5. Turn off heat and stir in toasted sesame oil, green onions and cilantro.

If you wish to add tofu you can add it along with the shredded chicken.

Not only does this soup taste great and is high in protein but it can easily be eaten not matte what food consistency stage you are in after surgery. For those in the puree stage simply place the soup in a blender and blend to the correct consistency.

Picture by BrokenSphere
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