Stuff to read

Friday, July 30, 2010

Travelling early post-op: packing protein

I have to take a trip to the east coast at 4 weeks out. I never check luggage because of the hassle, so I needed protein that was under the 3 oz. TSA liquid limit to take with me. I found it on a bodybuilding website. Profect. It comes in several fruit flavors. Stats:2.9 oz, 100 calories, 0 carbs, 25 gr protein, plus vitamins. The official website is can order samples.

After I ordered those samples, I found Gotein and ordered a sample pack of that too. It's a powder that you add to water. It comes in individual serving sizes. I got the samples at for $3.00.

This won't weigh down my carry-on bag, and I won't have to worry about getting my protein in. I'll be on the soft solids part of my diet, so I figured I'll be able to eat in restaurants as long as I'm careful what I choose. I thought I would share this tidbit in case anyone has to travel early out.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Stuff I bought pre-op: sources

I Googled to find the best prices. I live in a rural area so I have to do most of my shopping by mail. You will probably be able to find a lot of this at local stores.

1. Kitchenaid food chopper

2. 4 oz. ramekins

3. Isopure zero carb protein powder and DaVinci sugar free syrups (less than $5):
4. Richard Simmons Sweatin' to the Oldies DVD Box Set. I know it's cheesy but it was the only exercise I could handle because I was so out of shape. I got a Zumba box set for later.

I googled for the best prices on the rest of the stuff in the pre-op pantry post--I just thought I would provide this info as reference if you're trying to gauge costs.

I can also tell you what to avoid--weight loss cookbooks by RNYers, who don't absorb calories. I got three of them before I realized I would have to modify every recipe. Weight Watchers cookbooks are more apropriate for sleevers than RNY recipes! Atkins recipes allow too much fat. We need high protein, low carb, low fat.

Week 2 post op- Quick Puree/Mushies

Now is the time to whip out the 4 oz. ramekins and start filling them with yummy stuff to eat. Here are some fast simple ideas, especially for when you don't feel like cooking, to get you started:

Fiesta bowl:
Fill ramekin with refried beans and top with shredded low fat cheese. Microwave for 2 minutes. Don't forget no liquids 1/2 before and after meal! Yummy! 90 calories, 15 carbs/9 net carbs, 9 protein. If you use non-fat beans there are only 6 carbs--read the labels.

Southwest treat:
Put 4 oz. canned all-meat chili in a food processor or blender. Add a bit of finely chopped onion if you like onions, and/or finely chopped tomato if you want a fresher flavor.

Add a little beef/chicken broth if it's too thick, and puree until it is as smooth as applesauce. Pour into a 4 oz. ramekin and top with low fat cheese. Microwave for 2 minutes. Great to satisfy those beef cravings.

Fast and easy beef stew:
Put canned beef stew (look at the label stats for the most appropriate one, remembering that 4 oz is 1/2 cup for serving size purposes) in a blender/food processor until smooth. Thin with beef/chicken broth if needed. Pour into 4 oz. ramekin and microwave 2 minutes. You can also make your own beef stew from scratch and then puree, but right now I'm focusing on those "I just got home from work, I don't feel like cooking" solutions. You can do the same thing with split pea with ham soup for a change.

Quick chicken salad:
One can of chicken breast chunks, or pieces of a roasted (not boiled) chicken breast, or chicken from whatever source you've got. Never boil chicken btw, it destroys the flavor. Chop it up and then add an appropriate amount of fat free mayonnaise (Hellman's has an olive-oil based mayo that is supposed to be good).

Celery is a no-no this early out, but you can add some crunch with a small amount of finely chopped jicama. Use celery salt for flavor. Put it in the food processor and blend until smooth. Use a small amount of chicken broth to thin if needed. Put into a 4 oz ramekin and garnish with finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley. Salt and pepper to taste. Do the same thing with canned tuna for a change.

Deviled egg salad:
Everyone has their own recipe for deviled eggs. Mine is kind of simple; feel free to add what you want. Some people like to add pickle relish or mustard to the mix, for example. I prefer to simply boil eggs, cool, peel, halve, remove yolks. Beat yolks with appropriate amount of lowfat mayo, and sprinkle with paprika. Add some salt and pepper as desired.

Add chopped egg whites to deviled egg mixture in food processor. Mix until smooth. Thin with a little chicken broth if needed. Freeze leftovers for later. Use your ice cube trays--actually this is true for all of these recipes.

Serve in a 4 oz ramekin, garnished with a sprinkle of paprika on the top.


The basic rule of mushies is: everything you can get into a food processor is dinner! Don't be bored stiff buying bland baby food like some people do. Just stick to the 4 oz ramekin, freeze the leftovers in an ice cube tray, and mushies will be a breeze! It's only for 2 weeks. The idea is to "pre-digest" things so your stomach doesn't have to work very hard to digest them.

It's at this stage you can add frozen berries to your protein shakes in a blender/food processor to thicken them, too. You can also thaw and puree fruit for a dessert treat. Top with a spoonful of nonfat Cool Whip. Be warned, fruit has a lot of carbs, so you don't want to do this all the time.

Don't forget that during the mushies stage you can still have sugar free pudding, protein shakes, and chicken broth like you did before. You can also have applesauce, and in moments of extreme weakness, mashed potatoes (only as 1/3 of your total meal volume--not 4 oz. by themselves.) Remember, protein first!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Stocking the Pantry

Once you get your surgery date, you want to prepare your kitchen. If you live alone, give away all your white carbs--rice, pasta, bread--you won't be needing them for about a year! Next, here's my surgery kitchen prep list, along with the rationale for the item:

4 oz ceramic ramekins ( So you can make portion controlled casseroles or other foods. 4 oz is what your stomach will be able to hold.

2 oz plastic measuring cups (Tupperware): Early out, you will only be able to get in 2 to 3 oz of heavy liquid or puree--use these so that you don't overload yourself, which hurts and causes vomiting.

2 oz ice cube tray: for freezing purees to use during the mushy stage. You can't eat enough of anything to not end up with leftovers. Then when you come home, microwave a couple of cubes for 2 minutes and you have dinner.

Toddler flatware: to get you used to how radically different your portion size is and to get you used to eating less. It works.

8 oz plastic bowls with lids: for leftovers and salads

Salad plates: use instead of regular plates for portion control


Atkins Advantage Vanilla Protein Shakes

IsoPure Zero Carb Protein Powder, Vanilla (you will use this forever)

Sugar free flavored syrups (for your Isopure powdered shakes)

Clear liquid phase (right after surgery)

IsoPure Plus RTD protein: to get your liquids and your protein in at the same time for your first 2 weeks post op.

Unjury Chicken Broth Protein Powder: see above (you just need a few sample packets of this--don't buy a big tub of it. It's rather salty (about 700mg).

Gerber 4 oz apple juice containers ( pack of 4 should do it)

Full liquid phase: (3 days to 2 weeks post-surgery)

Keep using the Atkins Advantage Shakes and the Isopure Protein Powder Shakes

Creamed soups (strain them)

Sugar Free Pudding (just a few, to break the monotony)

Greek Yogurt, look at label for low carb, low fat, low sugar

Low fat yogurt with no fruit in it. You can flavor with your syrups. The Greek Yogurt is better because it has 15 grams protein/serving.

Puree/"Mushies" (Week 2-4 post-op)

Canned chili

Cottage cheese


Refried beans

Lowfat cheese for melting

Frozen berries (for blending with your protein shakes or mixing with Greek Yogurt)

Regular soups (you have to blend them till the chunks are gone--avoid noodle soups, think split pea with ham, beef stew)

I'll be posting some mushies recipes, but if you have these things in your kitchen, you'll always have something to eat. After the 4th week you'll be transitioning to "real food" and I'll be posting recipes for that. Feel free to hit me up with recipe requests.

Avoiding Protein Shake Boredom

First off, buy a good whey isolate protein powder. I recommend IsoPure Zero vanilla-25 grams protein per scoop, mixes in water with a spoon.

Then decide what flavors you want your shakes to be, and choose the appropriate DaVinci or Torino sugar free syrups. That way you just doctor the vanilla powder with the flavored syrup, and voila!--any flavor you want without having to buy a bunch of different powders. You can get both cheap at

Some people say not to buy a big tub of anything before surgery because your tastes change, but my tastes didn't change, and I don't complain that my protein shake doesn't taste like ice cream, like some people do. I mix my protein with water. Later, in your post-op liquids stage, this makes it easier to drink so you can get your 60 grams of protein in at the same time you work on your 64 oz of fluid. Some people mix their protein powder with soy milk, rice milk, or nonfat milk for extra body, but I'd rather not have the extra carbs and sugar. If you look around you can find low carb soy milk, but you have to read the labels. I look for 5 grams or less of carbs per meal. BUT my nutritionist says 15 grams carbs/serving from milk is ok--but I am so carb conscious that I don't follow that advice. I low-carb it for faster weight loss, and to prevent carb craving.

Once you get to the puree stage post-op, you can add frozen berries to your protein drink to thicken it. You'll lose more weight pre-op by eliminating those carbs, but it's ok post-op as long as you don't overdo it.

I see people on other sites adding bananas and other high carb fruit to their shakes, but then I remember--they are RNY Gastric Bypass patients--they don't absorb all the calories they eat, and as a Gastric Sleeve patient, I do. So be careful of RNY nutritional advice--they can eat more fat and carbs than us because they aren't absorbing it. We are.

Pre-op diet vinaigrette/marinade recipes

Double the proportions for a marinade. Otherwise these recipes assume you're dressing 1 cup salad for yourself only.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 or 2 tbsp good balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt or kosher salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
Optional: Herbs, fresh or dried, 1 tsp (pick one: basil, tarragon, oregano)
Optional: Small diced shallot
Optional: 1/2 clove garlic, diced

Combine vinegar with other ingredients; slowly whisk in olive oil

Variations: Balsamic vinegar is very strong, has a distinctive flavor, and goes particularly well with tomatoes and basil. For a lighter, more subtle dressing, substitute white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar. Experiment with the different vinegars and see what you like.

Creamy dressing
1 individual small container low fat low carb Greek Yogurt
Between 1/8 and 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (add oil until you reach the desired consistency)
Juice of one lemon
Sea salt or kosher salt to taste
1/2 clove minced garlic
2 tbsp fresh chopped mint

Mix ingredients except for oil. Stir in oil until desired consistency is achieved.

Variations: for marinade, add 1 tbsp paprika or whatever other spice you'd like to highlight: cumin for a curry flavor, curry powder, powdered ginger. You can also use this as a sauce for blending pureed meats and vegetables in your food processor during the puree (mushies) stage of your post-op diet.

You won't be putting this on pasta, but it's good on chicken and as a salad dressing if you thin it out a bit. This recipe makes a good size batch, so halve it if you want less. It freezes well--use the ice cube tray!

2 cups lightly packed basil leaves
Optional: 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons pine nuts (look in the baking aisle)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Up to one cup of extra virgin olive oil

Put everything except oil in food processor. Pulse until basil is pureed. Add olive oil slowly, while pulsing, until you get the consistency you want. Great on a low fat buffalo mozarella and tomato salad.

In general, I suggest you stay away from iceberg lettuce for your salads; it is bland in taste and has practically no nutritional value. Try some bagged baby greens, or a mixed bagged salad. Add mushrooms (calorie free!), tomatoes, or other veggies to your salads as you see fit. Enjoy your salads pre-op--you won't be able to have them again for 6 months post-op.

Pre-op diet

Two week pre-op diet: Ground rules
Breakfast: Atkins Advantage Protein Shake
Snack: 1 oz string cheese
Lunch: Atkins Advantage Protein Shake
Snack: 1 cup salad with homemade viniagrette
Dinner: 4-6 oz lean meat and 1/2 to 1 cup non-starchy veggie
64 oz non-carbonated, calorie-free liquid
Centrum multivitamin, calcium citrate supplement

The worst thing about this was the hunger on the first four days. After that it got better. Here are some of the menu highlights:

Salad viniagrette: Homemade olive oil and vinegar (red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, basalmic vinegar, apple cider vinegar) dressing has much less fat/carbs/sugar than "low fat" and "diet" prepared dressings and they taste better. Change up your salad by changing your dressing every day. I made more dressing than I needed and used the leftovers as a meat marinade for dinner. Google for basic recipes--add shallots, garlic, different spices for variety. You can also use Greek Yogurt-based dressings--but be careful and read the label. It should not have more than 5 carbs and no fat or sugar. It should give you about 15 grams of protein per serving.

Dinner: My favorite dinners were pretty simple: butterflied marinated pork chops pan fried in a little olive oil. Seasoned with whatever that day's salad dressing was. For the veggie: microwaved asparagus with shaved Parmeggiano Reggiano and olive oil drizzled on top. Pan seared swordfish and sauteed summer squash.

Basic rules: stay away from potatoes, bread, wine, butter, and prepared sauces and frozen foods. Use olive oil and non-starchy veggies (no peas and corn).

After the first week, I found that I was actually enjoying the diet, and if I drank my 64 oz fluid, I wasn't hungry. When I didn't feel like cooking dinner, I substituted 2 protein shakes.

I lost 18 lbs over two weeks on this pre-op diet without feeling deprived. You can modify most of your existing recipes to use in this phase.

During this phase it's time to stock the pantry for post-op. more on that next post.