Maple Breakfast Sausage

It seems that healthy eating is something of a juggling act. People often turn to premade and highly processed foods because they are fast and easy to make. In order to get the convenience of these foods we often end up with less than healthy ingredients. Choosing options that are seen as healthier (freshly made with healthier ingredients, organic, etc) usually means paying a premium price. Sometimes you can get the best of both worlds (fast and easy without the high cost) by simply making it yourself. Homemade breakfast sausage is one of those things that can be quickly made up, contains no unnecessary ingredients and doesn’t cost a small fortune. This sausage also freezes well which means you will save yourself even more time in the future.

Maple Breakfast Sausage

Pass on those premade store bought breakfast sausage patties and links. Make your own. They not only taste delicious but they won’t be loaded with lots of artificial flavoring, fillers and other junk.

Maple Breakfast Sausage
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Make a double batch and freeze the extras to make another day. Homemade breakfast sausage is fast and easy to make.
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground pork (you can also use beef, turkey or a combination of meats)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sage
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and mix well.
  2. Form into patties.
  3. If cooking: in a large skillet cook over medium heat until centers are no longer pink

* To freeze: place in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze until firm.¬† If stacking in a double layer to freeze make sure to put a two pieces of waxed paper between the patties (see picture below). This keeps them from freezing together into one large frozen mass. Ask me know I learned this trick ūüôā¬† Placing two pieces of waxed papers between the stacked patties allows them to be easily separated.

maple breakfast sausage

* Wrap frozen patties in plastic wrap and transfer to a freezer bag. Label the bag with the date and the name of what’s in the bag.

* To use: remove from freezer and thaw in refrigerator before cooking.

* This recipe can be doubled or tripled easily. It just depends upon how big a mixing bowl you have to work with.

Recipes For Life After Weight Loss Surgery Book Review

Here’s another book that I recently picked up from my local library to check out. Actually I mistakenly got two copies of the book because the covers were different. One is the original book published in 2006 and the other is a revised edition published in 2012. The books contain the same recipes and almost the same information.

Recipes For Life After Weight Loss Surgery

The difference between the books is the updated version has added in information about the vertical sleeve. They have also updated the recipe information from indicating when a particular recipe could be eaten in weeks (ex: 6 to 8 weeks post op) to the type of texture (puree, mechanical soft, regular). I think these updates are very useful. The sleeve is becoming more popular so it’s good they have added information about eating for the sleeve. It also seems that many surgeons are moving to describing the post op diet by the texture rather than the number of weeks after surgery. Looking back at my old paperwork, from almost 9 years ago, my hospital broke eating down into stages. They listed the types of food to eat at each stage. In a way they set up the stage by texture which would have been much easier to understand as a patient then trying to remember what food was in each stage.

The book starts with some basic weight loss surgery guidelines when it comes to eating. It covers fluids, protein, carbs, sugars, fats, nutrients and even that question that EVERY post op patient has: how many calories should I eat? From there the book moves on to important post op information such as your appetite, tips for eating with a newly created stomach, dumping, weight loss slowing down, protein and exercise. Extensive information isn’t provided but the basic overview is quite good and one that a new post op can easily refer back to when they have questions. After this comes the stages/textures of food (clear liquids, full liquids, puree, mechanical soft and regular) with a description of the types of foods that generally have the texture for that stage. Such as mechanical soft foods are usually soft and mushy or minced.

Rather than lump all weight loss surgery patients together when discussing food and textures/stages they have a nicely written section for each type of surgery. Gastric banding folks can read through their section to see what types of foods work for them at each texture stage. They will also find tips on how to eat for their particular surgery. Besides the RNY and gastric band they also cover the vertical sleeve and biliopancreatic diversion (with or without the duodenal switch).

There’s additional information about types of sweeteners, protein powders and tips for stocking your kitchen before the book moves into the actual recipes. As for the recipes, they cover the range of daily meals including a few desserts. Most of the recipes are nice and easy with a few that might call for some added steps or ingredients that you would not normally have on hand. Some recipes are designed to be a single serving such as all the breakfast egg scrambles. Most others make multiple servings and are good if you are feeding several people. Each recipe includes a nutritional analysis as well as a serving size for WLS patients which often means a 1/2 to 1 cup serving size. Once the recipes move to the regular texture stage the serving sizes increase which is normal since your new stomach can now hold more.

The one thing that jumped out at me are the pictures. Please remember that this is a book and they must display the food in a artistically pleasing manner. The amount of food shown is most likely NOT what you will be able to eat in many cases such as the three pieces of fresh toast topped with berries or the mound of 20 or so shrimp on a plate. It may sound like a nit picky thing to complain about but I know I personally have spent most of my life with too much food on my plate. It’s very difficult for me to “eyeball” a 1/2 cup serving size especially if using a larger plate. I have to constantly watch how much I put on my plate which is why the¬† pictures of the food jumped out at me.

As for the recipes I have made the tomato Parmesan soup, kale apple and lentil soup, baked sea bass (made with tilapia instead) and the pot roast a la Sara. Later today I’m trying out the Almond milk rice pudding and tomorrow we are having the Asian chicken wraps. All were very easy to make and quite good. A few other recipes that caught my eye were the homemade dressing made with cottage cheese instead of mayonnaise, homemade green bean casserole (not made with canned cream of mushroom soup) and a brussel sprout hash (hey I’m not the only one who makes hash with sprouts!).

Overall I really liked the books and the way the information was presented. The recipes are easy to make and the ones I tried tasted very good. Nothing overly fussy to make. No weird ingredients that need to be purchased from a specialty store required. I would highly recommend this book for both new post ops as well as those further out who might be looking to get back on track.

Interested in this book? Click the link, head to amazon and pick up a copy for yourself (yes I earn a small fee from the purchase) or check out my Amazon Store to see the other WLS related books that I enjoy.

Got a favorite weight loss surgery book? Leave a comment below and let others know what you liked about it.

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup

My friend sent me a creamy tomato tortellini soup recipe and said her family loved it. It looked really good but there were a few ingredients that would make it hard for me to eat it. Between the milk, half and half, canned tomato soup and lots of pasta it was a recipe that would almost certainly cause some form of dumping or a RH reaction. I made a few changes to it so it would be a little more WLS friendly. For me that means making a quick, homemade tomato soup in place of the canned type and using less milk and pasta. Here’s the recipe with the changes that I made.

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup

tomato tortellini soup

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup
Author: 
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Serves: 5
 
If desired use two cans of condensed tomato soup in place of the can of crushed tomatoes. If you use the canned soup you can skip the initial cooking time and go straight to the part where you add the chicken broth to the soup.
Ingredients
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 - 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 6 to 8 sun dried tomatoes chopped
  • 3 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of half and half
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
  • 1 package of cheese or meat filled tortellini
  • Parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top
Instructions
  1. In a large stock pot add the olive oil and onion. Cook over medium heat until the onion is soft. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes.
  2. Add can of crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper and Italian seasonings to the pot. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the soup thickens slightly. Stir occasionally while simmering.
  3. In another pot cook the tortellini following directions on the package.
  4. When the soup has thickened add the chicken broth in and stir well. Slowly add in the milk stirring while pouring in. Next add in the half and half stirring also stirring while pouring in.
  5. Allow the soup to simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Ladle into bowls and add in desired amount of tortellini. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

The original recipe called for 2 cans of condensed tomato soup, 2 cups of half and half and a cup of milk. The pasta was also cooked in the soup itself. I find that canned condensed soup can cause a dumping episode. Most likely this is due to the soup being thickened with some type of starch and the fact that soups go through the pouch quickly. High carbs and a quick trip through the stomach can easily cause dumping. Instead of using canned soups, as well as all that milk (lactose intolerance….blech), it’s easy enough to make your own homemade tomato soup using crushed tomatoes. Yes it needs to cook a little bit longer but the flavor is so much better.

I also decided to make the pasta on the side instead of cooking it right in the soup. This way it’s much easier to put a few pieces of pasta in my bowl and then ladle the soup on top. This is much easier than trying to scoop around the pasta in order to avoid having tons of it in my bowl.

WLS TIP: I bought two types of tortellini to make two different meals. One was filled with cheese and the other meat filled. My initial thinking was the meat ones would probably have fewer carbs than the cheese and I would use these for the soup. Turns out I was wrong. The meat filled ones actually contained more carbs. I went with the cheese type instead.

Got a favorite tomato soup recipe that’s WLS friendly? Why not leave a comment below and include a link to it.

Weight Loss Surgery For Dummies Book Review

Where was this book when I first began researching weight loss surgery about 10 years ago. Books on the topic were no where to be found. Besides your doctor the only other place to find information were a few scattered forums and some yahoo groups. As time went on during the 1 1/2 years it took for me to finally be approved for the surgery due to insurance issues there were more surgically altered people chatting in forums. Even then the information was sparse and people mostly discussed their life after surgery. What we really needed was something like this book during our pre surgery stage.

These days it seems that there are growing numbers of books trying to meet various needs of those looking into surgery and those who have already had it. I would highly recommend¬† Weight Loss Surgery For Dummies for anyone looking into having surgery or even those who have already decided to go through the surgery. Even though it includes a small number of recipes it doesn’t offer much to those who have already had surgery.

The book itself is divided up in a very sensible manner. The chapters are sectioned off to cover the following information:

– Is weight loss surgery for you?

– Preparing for surgery

-The hospital experience

– Ensuring success

– Changing outside and in

Like many of the other Dummies book it is very easy to understand. Alot of the information is presented in a checked or bulleted format which helps make the main points stand out. I thought the section on the types of surgeries currently available, the pros/cons and potential risks was well written.

Bonus points for offering the tip to start a medically supervised weight loss diet as soon as possible if your thinking about having the surgery. This is one of those things that insurance companies tend to not tell you right away or you only discover that it is a requirement when the denial comes through. Thankfully, as the surgery becomes more common, doctors are aware of the different criteria that insurance companies request before approving surgery. Doing this ASAP can save you a six month or more delay. Of course this depends upon your particular insurance since it seems that each requiers something different.

The section on what you can eat in the first few months after surgery is broken down by stages rather than weeks. Working through stages seems to be more common now. When I had surgery the post surgery diet was broken down into weeks such as liquids for week 1, semi solid weeks 2 to 3, etc.¬† There is a table with a sample diet for each type of surgery (RNY, sleeve and band). While it’s helpful to see some ideas you should always follow what your particular surgeon tells you to eat. I find that the variation of acceptable foods varies greatly. Some focus on protein powders, some have you choose low carb options while others do not. There are a small number of recipes included.

The final sections covering success and change will give you lots of things to think about as your body changes. There’s even a section on handling social situations and dealing resentful coworkers (or perhaps family/friends) which is probably something you may have never thought could be an issue.

If your thinking about having weight loss surgery or have already scheduled a date for surgery then you may want to pick up a copy of this book. I think you’d find it very helpful.

 

Low Carb Cinnamon Almonds

I was busy cleaning and sorting through our freezer the other day and came across a bag of raw almonds. I vaguely remember purchasing them to make my own homemade smoked almonds. While searching for that recipe I came across another one for cinnamon glazed almonds. They sounded wonderful and looked even better with their sugary coating. Unfortunately me and things coated in sugar do not get along thanks to RH. I wondered if there would be a way to replace the sugar with Splenda which is usually my sugar replacement of choice. I thought I would make a small test batch and see how it worked out.

Thankfully it turned out quite well. Now I’ve got to try the smoked almond recipe next.

LOW CARB CINNAMON ALMONDS

low carb cinnamon almonds

Low Carb Cinnamon Almonds
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The recipe calls for a ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. If you really like cinnamon this could easily be doubled up to a teaspoon.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 1 egg white
  • ½ cup Splenda or sugar replacement of choice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300F.
  2. Grease a baking sheet.
  3. In a large bowl beat the egg white until it is frothy but not stiff.
  4. Add in Splenda, vanilla extract, salt and cinnamon. Stir to just combine.
  5. Add in almonds and mix gently to until they are just coated with the egg white mixture.
  6. Spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes and then gently stir.
  7. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the almonds are crisp.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  9. Store in an airtight container.

WLS Tip: while these almonds are lower in carbs than the original recipe that called for sugar please remember that you should not be eating handfuls. A serving size is about 1/4 cup of almonds. I found it quite easy to keep walking by the container and pop a few into my mouth without thinking. In the end I measured out each portion into a small snack bag to keep from randomly over snacking on these delicious treats.

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