Curried Butternut Squash Soup

I have been having a serious craving for sweet potatoes after making baked chili sweet potatoes. I cooked them a few days back. First I used them in a school lunch I had packed:

School lunch2

It included chicken and black bean salad with a homemade dressing, a tiny slice of gingerbread cake and the baked chili sweet potatoes. They were great. I finished off what was left of the potatoes over the next two days. Now they are gone 🙁

I would make a grocery store run but I think we all know how those trips in for just one item turn out. Ten items and $30 or $40 later you leave the store and sometimes even forget to pick up the one item you went in to buy in the first place. So, I’ve added the sweet potatoes to my grocery list.

While gazing into the freezer to see what other veggies I had on hand I noticed a bag of frozen butternut squash. I like squash so I decided to make some soup.

Squash Soup

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
With just a few ingredients this curried butternut squash soup can be quickly whipped together. Using frozen squash really cut down on the cooking time.
  • 16 oz bag of frozen butternut squash
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 3 cups of chicken broth
  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil or butter
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: sour cream or yogurt
  1. Place the olive oil or butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat.
  2. Sautee the onion until beginning to turn transluscent.
  3. Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes more.
  4. Add in the frozen butternut squash, chicken broth and spices except for salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the butternut squash has softened.
  6. Using a stick blender puree the mixture in the pan. If using a blender carefully transfer the mixture to the blender and puree until smooth.
  7. Return back to the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve as is or try swirling in a heaping teaspoon of sour cream or plain yogurt.

WLS Tip: sometimes just eating a meal without some protein will cause my RH to kick up and I have a slight reaction. In order to avoid this I always include some fat, such as full fat sour cream, or some protein on the side. In this case I had some diced chicken in the refrigerator. A sprinkle of curry powder on top of the chicken and 30 seconds in the microwave made for a nice but of curried chicken to eat as a side. I had about 1/3 of a cup which is enough to keep me from crashing.


Healthy Lunch Ideas

The new semester starts tomorrow which means it’s time to start packing lunches again. I’ve got several 12+ hour days ahead of me once travel time is factored in. Going without lunch isn’t an option and grabbing something to eat on campus does work well either. While there are some healthy options available such as prepackaged salad, yogurt parfaits (sooo not a yogurt fan) and fruit cups, the majority of the food available isn’t very weight loss surgery friendly. It’s the usual college fair…..hamburgers, cheeseburgers, pizza, sandwiches, etc. They have a pretty neat grill where they will sautee up your favorite mix of veggies and meat but they are served over your choice of rice or noodles. Besides the not so WLS friendly reason there’s also the added cost of purchasing food to think about. If most college students are strapped for cash try being a college student who also has to rasie a family as well.

I use to pack all my lunch items up into plastic baggies until I found the EasyLunchboxes 3-compartment Bento Lunch Box Containers. I bought each of my kids a Insulated Lunch Box Cooler Bag and got an extra order of the containers. This way I don’t have to wash them as soon as they come home in order to pack the next days lunch. I also started to use the containers myself. One of these days I’ll buy a bag. Until then I use an old insulated bag that’s made to carry a 6 pack of soda.

Here’s tomorrow lunch:

First Day of school lunch

Salad made with romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes, red peppers, carrots and cheese topped with half of a hamburger patty. There’s also dressing in the smaller compartment and a blueberry muffin in the larger one. I’ll have to post the recipe for the muffins. I made them with pureed beans. I started making them this way after last semesters research project. I also have a small thermos that I’m bringing along for lunch.

First day lunch2

The thermos contains red grapefruit slices topped with a drizzle of sugarfree maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon. Sounds weird but it tastes great!

Here’s a few more healthy lunch ideas:

Leftover salad: use your favorite salad greens or a bag of salad mix and top with leftovers. Made a roast the other night? When not top the salad with diced roast and carrots. Made fajitas? Use the filling mix to add to your salad greens. Don’t forget to include some olives and guacomole. Got one lone hamburger sitting around? I did! Dice it and use it in your salad.

Use leftover rotissere chicken to make chicken salad. Use lettuce leaves instead of bread to create a roll up. Works great for tuna salad and shrimp salad too.

Just about anything you can put on a sandwich you can put in a salad. Here’s an idea for a Big Mac salad or how about a Cuban salad.

Go Mediterranean with your favorite hummus and sliced sweet peppers, carrot sticks or even slightly steamed string beans as dippers. If you want pita chips remember to not over do it. The chips and the hummus can easily become a slider food. Add some olives and grapes to round out the meal.

If your lucky enough to have a microwave then bring homemade chili or soup. Pack chili toppings such as diced onion, shredded cheese and a bit of sour cream. Make a batch of corn muffins (watch the size) and keep them in the freezer until needed. Pop a muffin in your bag and by the time you get to work it will be thawed.

How about Caprese salad of sliced mozzarella and tomatoes drizzled with a bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of basil (if you have fresh basil to use even better). Bring some thinly sliced pieces of bagette to place the mozzarella and tomato on top.

Just a few ideas to get you started. What are some of your favorite WLS friendly lunches that you enjoy?


How Many Calories Do I Need?


Ah the life of a nutrition student. The first part of any nutritional consult includes calculating how many calories does this particular person need to maintain their current weight. Before you can begin discussing what they might need to do to lose or gain weight (yes, some people do need to gain) you first need to know what their current intake should be to maintain weight.

We have a couple of calculations we use to determine what is called basal or resting energy expenditure. This is the amount of caloires that a person needs to take in to simply sit around like a couch potato and still have their brain and vital organs function. Calories increase once you begin to add in any type of activity. The average person doesn’t deal with these equations. Instead they usually look at a chart to figure out how many calories they should have such as this one:

Calorie chart

This gives you are very basic idea of how many calories you need daily based on your age and sex. But it’s not calculated specifically for you which means that you could be over eating or not eating enough. Knowing how many calories that YOU specifically need can help when it comes to active weight loss, the dreaded weight regain or even for those who need to gain a bit of weight. I know it’s hard to believe but after WLS some people actually lose too much weight, become underweight and need to gain.

So now you might be wondering exactly how many calories do I need? Here’s a nice calculator that takes into account your height, current weight, age and activity level: Weight Maintenance Calculator For Women  and here’s the Weight Maintenance Calculator for Men.

When I used the calculator based on my activity level during school (lots of brisk walking to classes and from the distant parking lots) my calorie intake to MAINTAIN my current weight is almost 2,200 calories. Right now I’ve been on school vacation since Christmas. Sure I did some extra indulging over the holidays but my weight has slowly begun to creep up again. My biggest problem is I’m less active now but have still been eating pretty much the same way as I did while at school. Going back to the weight calculator and changing the activity level to something that represents the fact that I’m walking less and sitting around more while catching up on movies that I’ve had saved in Netflix for months now I see that I would need to eat a little over 1,800 calories to maintain my weight. Wow….that’s a 400 calorie difference! Add in a little extra snacking (one of the 5 rules that I often struggle with) and it’s no wonder the scale is slowly creeping up.

Knowing what it takes to maintain your current weight is super helpful. Want to lose weight? Then you’ll need to reduce the amount of calories you are eating. Need to gain weight? You’ll have to increase the number of calories your eating. 500 calories a day is the number that you need to change to either lose or gain a pound in a week. For weight loss you don’t just have to reduce calories. If you increase your activity while slightly decreasing your calories then you’ll lose weight. For example, if I wanted to continue to eat 2,220 calories and still lose weight I would need to do enough activity to burn about 500 calories a day. Or I could decrease my calories by 200 and increase activity to burn 300.

TIP: As your weight goes down and you hit the dreaded plateau you might want to check with the calculator again. A smaller sized body needs fewer calories to run. For example: if I weighed 20 lbs more than I do now it would now take a little over 2,300 calories to maintain the same weight. What if I were 20 lbs lighter than my current weight? It would actually only take 2,000 calories to maintain my weight. If your weight loss has stalled you might discover it’s because your actually eating the correct number of calories to maintain your weight.



WLS Pouch Rules

5 rules

Anyone who has had any type of weight loss surgery is usually given some type of information about eating after the surgery.  They are usually referred to as WLS pouch rules. Some doctors add in addtional “rules” but most use the following ones, or some version of them, to help with weight loss as well as create long term changes in behavior to help maintain the weight loss. These pouch rules are generally used once you are eating solid foods which, depending upon your doctor, could be as far as 10 to 12 weeks after surgery. These were the rules I was given:

1). Protein first but eat balanced meals

2). No drinking with meals or up to 30 minutes after meals

3). Take your vitamins daily

4). Eat slowly

5). No snacking between meals

The basic rules were expanded up with additional guidelines.

Protein: eat at least 65 to 75 grams of protein daily. Protein should come from sources such as meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy, tofu, etc. It was suggested that ground meats might be better tolerated than meat such as steak and pork. Of course the topic of what is and isn’t tolerated is a whole subject of its own. It is not unusual to actually become lactose intolerant after surgery (raising hand here) so dairy might be an issue. The ultimate goal is to eat meals that are balanced while getting in protein.

Drinking/Liquids: drinking with or immediately after meals will create a slurry in the stomach and food passes more quickly through. The rule about not drinking with or right after meals helps to keep the food in your stomach longer which keeps you feeling full longer. I’ve seen lots of people say that coffee or other caffinated drinks are not allowed. This seems to vary from one surgeon to the next. Needless to say getting in regular water (or no calorie flavored water) is always important and should be first. I won’t even get into the craziness I have read about the use of straws. There is one drink that I will touch upon: alcohol. If you’ve had an RNY, DS or the sleeve than please be aware of how quickly alcohol is absorbed. Do a google search on drinking alcohol after gastric bypass or weight loss surgery for more information.

Vitamins and Supplements: most people, even the ones with a band, have been told to at least take a multivitamin. Calcium with added vitamin D is also very common supplement taken. If you’ve had some type of malaborptive surgery than daily vitamins are a must! Your doctor has most likely told you which ones to take. Often times, as years go by, changes might have to be made if you develope some type of deficieny along the way.

Eat slowly: the pouch that was created during surgery is small and eating slowly allows you to get enough nutrition in before getting too full. It helps keep you from overeating by learning to recognize your body’s signals for being full. For many, the results of overeating even a bite or two is extremely uncomfortable. Even painful. For some it can lead to vomiting. As time goes on eating slowly helps to maintain that feeling of fullness which can help prevent regain.

No snacking between meals: for many of us this is the rule that leads to regain once it starts being broken since what we ultimately begin snacking on are slider foods. Slider foods are the ones that are easy to eat, do not make us feel full or make the pouch feel tight and easily slip through leading to weight gain. Slider foods include things like crackers, pretzels, cookies, mashed potatoes, ice cream, smoothies or any other type of food that you personally can eat without feeling full. Many of these foods are ones we snacked on or ate large amounts of before surgery. If we return to snacking it’s common to return to snacking on the same types of foods.

These are the five basic pouch rules I was presented with once graduating to solid foods about 8 weeks after surgery. I find when I begin to regain weight returning to the rules helps to get me on track.

Have you had WLS? If so, what rules were you given to follow to help with long term weight loss? Were they similar? Different? Leave a comment below and share with others what rules you follow.

Low Carb Big Mac Salad

In my pre-WLS days, when I needed a quick bite to eat, a run through the nearest drive through fast food joint always did the trick. McDonald’s was popular and the Big Mac meal was a favorite.

I can’t tell you the last time I’ve been to McDonald’s but that hasn’t stopped me from having Big Mac’s. Well, at least my own low carb, WLS friendly version of the Big Mac. I’ve discovered that many of the things that I previously ate between two pieces of bread taste pretty darn good made into a salad version of their former selves. If you really think about it all the bread did was hold the best part of the sandwich, the delicious filling, together. These days I still get the two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions but I don’t need the sesame seed bun. Give it a try.


Low Carb Big Mac Salad
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1-2
Get the same delicious taste of a Big Mac without all the fat and extra calories.
  • 1 or 2 cooked hamburgers (or use cheeseburgers), diced into pieces
  • shredded lettuce or salad greens
  • shredded or cubed cheddar cheese
  • finely sliced onions
  • dill pickle slices, chopped
  • tomato slices if desired
  • Thousand Island salad dressing (reduced or low fat if desired)
  1. Place shredded lettuce or a blend of salad greens into a bowl. Top with several tomato slices (not originally on the Big Mac but I usually add them in). Add the remaining ingredients (cheese, onions and pickles) amounts based on your own personal tastes. Top with diced cooked burgers. Drizzle the Thousand Island dressing over the top and enjoy!
LOW CARB TIP:be careful when choosing a dressing. Light and low fat varieties have the highest amount of carbs per 2 tablespoon servings. Full fat dressings seem to run about 5 grams (Kraft brand) to 4 grams per 2 tablespoon serving.

TIME SAVING TIP: when making burgers cook a few extra so you can make this. The burgers can be reheated in the microwave before being added to the salad. Or, do like I do, just add the cold diced pieces of burger straight from the refrigerator to your salad.

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