Product Review – Birdseye Steamfresh Protein Blends Southwest Style

I make my best effort to cook on a regular basis but there are times when I lack the time and energy to do so. If I have been able to plan ahead then I can take something out of the freezer from my last round of batch cooking. If unexpected things have come up, as they often do, I’m scrambling for a meal. One option is to purchase something from a local fast food restaurant. I try to avoid that since a regular diet of burgers and fries or take out pizza isn’t exactly the healthiest and the cost really adds up. This is where finding a convenience item at the local grocery store is helpful. I’m always on the look out for something that tastes great and isn’t a nutritional nightmare. Bonus points of you can work some veggies in. I recently discovered the Birdseye Steamfresh Protein Blends and, for me, this product has helped me put together a quick meal that tastes great.

Birdseye Steamfresh Protein Blends – Southwest Style

Southwest Style Protein Blend1

Birdseye says “A delicious blend of whole grains, black beans, corn, lentils, red bell peppers, and sauce. Perfectly cooks in the bag!” I would have to agree. This blend contains a bit of pasta (Acini de pepe pasta), brown rice, black beans, lentils and corn along with red peppers in a light sauce. This blend makes a great starter base for a complete meal. While a 1 cup serving has 14 grams of protein I like to add in some diced chicken. If you have some seasoned ground beef from making tacos hanging around that works quite nice as well. I bump up the veggies by adding some more diced fire roasted red peppers, diced tomatoes and even some cooked spinach. They blend quite well with the sauce.

Southwest Style Protein Blend2

A serving size is stated as being 1 cup and there are 2 servings in the package. If I’ve added chicken and a few other veggies a single package will give me about 3 meals (I’m 11 years post op). The portion size you are able to eat will of course depend upon how far out from surgery you are. As for the nutritional information:

Birdseye Southwest Style Nutrtition

This is based on a one cup serving. For those who need to keep an eye on the carb count remember that this blend contains pasta, rice, corn, beans and legumes which are high in carbs but also contain lots of fiber (17 grams in a one cup serving). I’ve found that the combination of fiber and protein have kept me from having any blood sugar crashes but of course your mileage may vary. If you need to watch your salt intake for health reasons pay attention to the amounts in convenience items as they are always a bit on the high side.

Personally I have enjoyed this item and will continue to buy it. For those days I can’t cook it helps me quickly pull together a tasty meal without resorting to fast foods. A few quick additions help to bump up the amount of veggies and protein and it’s quite tasty. There are several other protein blend combinations that I will have to try soon. They include:

California Style: A delicious blend of whole grains, lentils, peas, broccoli, shelled edamame, and sauce.

Italian Style: Delicious blend of whole grains, lentils, spinach, broccoli, white beans, and sauce. Perfectly cooks in the bag!

Asian Style: Delicious blend of whole grains, shelled edamame, carrots, red peppers, and sauce.

 

Have you tried any of these blends? Got a favorite? Ever used them in a recipe? If so why not leave a comment or a link below.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

There are some things that I know my family eats on a regular basis. When I go to prepare a meal, instead of just making enough for that dish, I often prepare extra and freeze it. Seasoned ground beef for tacos is one of those foods that I always double or triple the amount that I make. While I can eat tacos on a regular basis sometimes it’s nice to make something different. I had been planning on making traditional stuffed peppers when I noticed the package of frozen seasoned ground beef. If you can stuff a pepper with ground beef and rice why not stuff them Mexican style!

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Mexican Stuffed Peppers
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
These stuffed peppers can be baked in the oven at 425 F for 30 to 40 minutes or you can cook them in the crockpot on low for 6 to 7 hours.
Ingredients
  • 4 green, red, yellow or orange sweet bell peppers
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 cup prepared brown or white rice
  • 1½ cups salsa
  • 1½ cups shredded Pepperjack cheese (or cheese of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons Penzeys taco seasoning (or your favorite taco seasoning mix)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Instructions
  1. Cut the tops of the peppers and remove the seeds. Rinse and set aside.
  2. In a skillet brown the beef until no longer pink. Drain.
  3. Mix the rice, salsa and taco seasoning into the browned beef. Add in ¾ of shredded cheese. Spoon into peppers.
  4. Place peppers into a 8 X 8 pan and pour about a cup of water into the bottom of the pan. If using a crockpot stand the peppers up inside of the crockpot and pour the water around them.
  5. If cooking in the oven bake at 425F for 30 to 40 minutes or until peppers are tender.
  6. If cooking in the crockpot cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or until peppers are tender.
  7. Top with remaining cheese and cilantro.

FREEZER TIP: These peppers can also be made in bulk and frozen before being cooked. I usually take them out a day before and allow them to thaw in the refrigerator (cuts down on cooking time). Then bake them or put them in the crockpot as directed.

WLS TIP: if you want to make these peppers even lower in carbs leave out the rice. The are just as tasty being an all beef stuffed pepper.

Got a favorite stuffed pepper recipe? Why not share it in the comment section below.

Time Saving Tuesday (TST) 5 – Prep For The Week

Time Saving Tuesday

As a single mother with three daughters, a house, cats and a job working close to 50 hours a week, the only way I can keep up my wonder woman persona is to find things that save me time. This can be a good thing when it comes to not slipping back into former habits that contributed to hurting my health. Over the years I’ve come up with lots of tricks that work for me and, thanks to Pinterest and the many websites out there, I see lots of others that I’d like to try one day. Each week I thought I would share either a tip that I use or something that I’ve seen on another site. Perhaps some of these will work for you to help save you time and make things a bit easier. If you’ve got a great time saving tip to share why not post it in the comment section below.

This week’s TST tip is to help save you time and money is to chop and prepare all your vegetables for the week.

With the exception of a few vegetables that will brown once cut or peeled, such as potatoes or lettuce, most vegetables can be prepared for future meals ahead of time. Why not make a mess all at once! You’ve already spent some time planning and shopping for meals. After a long day, looking at a bunch of onions, broccoli, carrots, etc that need to be peeled, chopped and diced before the meal can be cooked can be a challenge when you’re tired. This is when it become easy to slip back into former habits that aren’t the healthiest. Set aside a bit of time to get all those veggies prepared so meals can be quickly put together. Not only do you save yourself time but you only create a mess once. Bonus points for being more likely to actually follow through and cook what you have planned.

Do you have kids? Spouse? Significant other? Why not get them in on the chopping action. This creates a benefit that can’t be measured. You get to spend time with people you care about. If you have teens (like I do) a minor miracle may take place and they will actually talk. I know. It doesn’t seem possible but you would be surprised. Some other benefits of cooking with your kids:

  • You are teaching them cooking skills that will last a life time
  • They are more likely to try healthy foods that they have helped prepare
  • Less time in front of a TV, phone or computer
  • They will have a sense of accomplishment once the meal is complete
  • Kids who eat well are more likely to continue to eat well as an adult

After WLS we often make huge changes in the way we eat. We picture surgery as only affecting us but it can actually change the way a whole family eats for the better. Worried about younger children handling knives? Here’s a link to a site with tips for teaching children knife skills.

Do you include your family in preparing meals? Got a favorite site with knife handling skills for younger children? Or favorite recipes that you enjoy making with your family? Why not leave a comment and a link below.

How To Fold A Wrap Sandwich (So It Doesn’t Fall Apart)

Sometimes it’s easy to come up with ideas for lunch. The harder part is how to transport your sandwich masterpiece to work in one piece without it falling apart. I’ve tried a variety of methods from plastic wrap to sandwich bags to bringing all the ingredients so I can put the wrap together on the spot. In the end, this method works out amazingly well. Not only can you create your wrap at home but it won’t fall apart even while you’re eating it.

You’ll need a piece of foil slightly larger than whatever your are using for a wrap (tortilla, lettuce leaf, Flatout Flatbread, etc. Place the wrap wrapper on top of the foil and top with your favorite filling. Make sure to leave space all around the edge.

 

flatout1

 

In the wrap above I’ve used roasted red pepper hummus, topped with tabbouleh, several falafel patties and a sprinkle of feta cheese. Fold the edges of both sides in and then fold the bottom up.

flatout2

 

Start rolling the wrap. If the filling seem to get pushed up while you are folding you can tuck them back in as you go along. Keep rolling and tucking. Once it’s all rolled up leave it seam side down. Also at this point turn the foil at an angle and position the wrap like it’s shown below.

flatout3

 

Fold the bottom corner of the foil up like this:

flatout4

 

Next fold the side corner over to the center like this:

flatout5

 

Roll the partially covered wrap up like this:

flatout6

 

One last step to keep your wrap held firmly in place so it doesn’t fall apart. Fold the other side of the foil over to the middle like this:

flatout7

 

You now have a tightly wrapped sandwich that can be tucked into your lunch bag. When it comes time to eat simple unwrap the sandwich by pulling bag the corner and gently pulling the foil down as you eat. The filling stay inside the whole time. No need to worry about any condiments dripping out of the bottom as the foil keeps them inside.

flatout8 I’ve made wraps for every meal with this method and the technique works great with any topping. No more wraps that fall apart or have stuff dripping out of the bottom while I eat it. Since I often can’t eat a whole wrap it makes it much easier to save the rest to eat later.Got a favorite wrap recipe? Why not share a link below. I love finding new things to bring with me for lunch.

Product Review – Flatout Flatbread

Bread.

In all of it’s many forms.

Ask 10 post op WLSers about bread (do you eat it? should you eat it?) and you’ll probably get 10 different answers.

Immediately after surgery and for the first 6 to 9 months eating bread will take up what little space you have in your stomach. You need this space for more important things such as protein and vegetables (fiber, antioxidants, minerals yay!). Bread might go down easy but many of us find that it fills us up quickly. My suggestion is to hold off and eat your protein first.

As time goes on, and there’s a bit more room in your pouch, the issue of bread comes back up again. For some of us the quickly broken down carbohydrates in bread lead to a dumping episode  or a fun time with reactive hypoglycemia. Others find that it makes them feel too full or that it feels like it’s just sitting there. The sensation can be uncomfortable and so they avoid bread.

Others avoid bread for their own personal reasons. Perhaps it was a trigger food that lead them to over eating in the past. They avoid it now because they don’t want to go back to former habits that lead to unhealthy eating.

Me? I avoided it for years due to issues of lack of space, dumping and reactive hypoglycemia episodes. I’m now 11 years out and I do enjoy a sandwich as well as pizza on occasion. I’ve tried making a variety of low carb versions but nothing was quite the same. Often I would just stick my sandwich fillings into a salad or scrape the pizza toppings on to a single slice. But now I’ve discovered Flatout Flatbread. I love this stuff!

 

flat out bread 1

One version I can find in my local store is the Multigrain with flax. It contains half the calories of 2 slices of whole wheat bread and, even better, each flatbread contains only 7 grams of carbohydrates (15 grams total minus the 8 grams of fiber). This means I can actually make a sandwich, quesadilla or pizza and not die from horrible dumping induced gut death or have a blood sugar crash. They are soft yet nice and sturdy. They also fold easy without breaking or tearing apart like most tortillas do. Taste? They taste great! Far superior to any low carb breads or wraps I’ve tried to make myself and the carb count is quite similar.

I make my lunch for work every day and bring a wrap in once or twice a week. I can’t eat the whole thing at once so I usually have half during lunch and the remainder as a snack when I’m on break. I’ve discovered a really easy method of creating a wrap so that I can get it to work in one piece and easily wrap the remaining sandwich to eat later. I’ll post this tomorrow so stop by in and check it out.

Are you post WLS? Do you eat bread or avoid it? Got a favorite brand to share. Why not leave a comment,  share how you deal with the issue of eating bread after weight loss surgery.

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