What’s the hardest thing after having gastric sleeve surgery? Getting enough protein. Yep, it’s not a problem keeping portion size small – that’s a mistake I’ve only made on rare occasions. Full + one bite = miserable. I have three small meals a day. But I’m trying to pack 60 grams of protein into a day, and that’s incredibly hard to do. Yes, there are shakes I can drink, but I’m lactose intolerant and I like to chew my food. After a month on liquids postop I literally begged my doctor for celery. She told me I was the bright spot in her day 🙂 Clearly she didn’t realize that if she’d said no I was probably going to take a bite out of her arm.
Thankfully, she freed me up to advance to solid foods. In the months since my idea of a “healthy meal” has changed dramatically. I was raised on the old “food pyramid” most of you may remember – the one with grains at the bottom and oils at the top. I was a cardiac nurse for my entire career, so it was all about fat grams. If you eat less than ten grams of fat a day you’re doing great! (Yeah, not so much.) I love my fresh veggies, and I’ll even break my only-three-meals-a-day rule for garden-fresh tomatoes, asparagus in season, or when broccoli calls to me. But if I don’t get enough protein I will start losing my hair, and that’s pretty motivational.
So without further delay here’s the tuna salad that’s flying out of my fridge faster than Michael and I can make it!
2 cans tuna, drained
4 large hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
avocado (on the side for the picky eaters)
I seriously can’t even call this a recipe. You don’t need to write it down or print it out. BET: beans, eggs, tuna. Those are the essentials, and anything you add after that is up to you. It can go on a sandwich, in a pita, on a plate with fresh tomatoes. Mayo is not needed to hold this together!
I can’t really even call this a recipe. It’s more like an equation or a rule of thumb. All credit goes to Dianna Kennedy, who was the first to ever introduce me to this idea. It’s been my go-to for salads ever since.
By greens I mean Romaine, or spinach, or even iceberg if you really must (I’m anti-iceberg). Whatever greenery you like, or whatever’s growing in your garden. For fruits I like whatever’s in season: strawberries, blueberries, apple chunks. You can always use canned mandarin oranges if nothing in the produce aisle looks tasty. I like crumbly cheeses, like Feta or Bleu, but you could go with chunks of Gouda, bits of Mozzarella, or whatever’s in the fridge. Nuts are pretty much “anything goes” as far as I’m concerned. If you have a nut allergy get some more protein in there another way: chunks of chicken, grilled tofu, maybe leftover roast beef. I do think it’s important to use a vinaigrette for a little “bite”, but there are dozens of options from savory (balsamic vinaigrette) to sweet (raspberry vinaigrette). I always put a bit of fresh coarse-ground black pepper on mine, too, but I put pepper on everything. I’ll leave that to your judgement 😉
Here’s my very first salad after I was allowed to advance from mushy food to real food after my gastric sleeve surgery. I’d been dying for something crunchy, and this salad was just perfect. I put a picture on Instagram and shared it on Facebook and Twitter and you’d have thought I’d sculpted a masterpiece or something. My first comment was from one of the top dogs at Nerium, who was at a huge conference in Dallas, waiting backstage to be called out and presented with a huge check! They must not have had enough snacks backstage – LOL!
John loves Imgur. I’ll hear him giggling away in a corner of the sofa and it’s almost always something he’s pulled up on Imgur. I Haven’t been sucked in yet, but I was interested when he showed me a sort-of recipe that involved crescent rolls, refried beans, and hamburger. It looked like something that could be put together in less than fifteen minutes (which is about how long I can stand without my back pain becoming more than I can tolerate) and that we’d all like.
So I made a grocery list and John and I went shopping. Michael has been doing most of the grocery shopping lately, and he got into the habit of shopping on the way home from work each evening. You’d think this would be fabulous, very European. The freshest fruits and vegetable, bread hot out of the oven, meats carefully wrapped by the butcher. Not so much. We ended up heating up canned or frozen meals most nights, and I’m not entirely sure he ever visited the produce section.
This led to my shopping trip with John. I needed something green in my diet, and something that didn’t involve cardboard or cans. The problem was that the grocery was busy and at about the halfway point (Mexican and Oriental aisle) my back was killing me even though John was pushing the cart and doing all the lifting. All I had to do was walk and point, but it was too much. I really, truly felt the need to just sit on the floor and lean against a refrigerated case. So I told John we needed to pick up the pace. I grabbed at what I thought was a package of taco mix. It wasn’t – it was a package of enchilada sauce mix. So here’s what we had for supper (a pain pill and a long rest later). The guys loved it so much I didn’t have the heart to tell them it was a “mistake meal”!
2 pkgs refrigerated crescent rolls
1 can refried beans
1 lb ground chuck, cooked and drained
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup shredded chopped cheddar
1/3 cup picante sauce
1 cup enchilada sauce mix
toppings of your choice (sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, etc)
Preheat oven to 375.
Once meat is drained stir in enchilada sauce packet and set aside.
Roll out one package crescent rolls on cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick spray.
Press seams together to form large rectangle.
Spread refried beans on rectangle.
Top with beef.
Add onions and cheese.
Add picante sauce.
Roll out second package of crescent rolls on countertop and seal seams.
Place on top of other ingredients and seal edges with tines of fork.
Bake 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Slice and serve with your choice of toppings.