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Kale Chips – There Just Might Be Something to Healthier Eating

So, you know when you’re on a diet, you start missing food.  You may not have even eaten all that much of it when you weren’t dieting, but as soon as you feel like you can’t have something, it becomes The. Most. Important. Food. EVER.

Chips are kind of that food for me.  I could go from birthday party to birthday party and rarely think about eating a potato chip or a Dorito.  But put my fat arse on a diet and tell me things like chips are a forbidden food, and I won’t rest until I have some.  So there.

But today, I’m here to tell you that my chip crisis has been solved!  Thanks to my fabulous friend Faith, I have discovered the joys of Kale Chips!  Yes, that’s right, kale.  As in the green, curly, leafy stuff that you move off to the side of your plate and act like you don’t see it there.  Someone once described the taste of kale to me as a cross between a brussels sprout and asparagus.  I once described kale to them as something I’m not eating, even in the event of an apocalypse, where the only thing that survives on this earth is me and kale.  So how can calling something this nasty “chip” make it so appealing?

Before attempting, I grilled Faith on the important stuff – taste, texture, and kid rating.  It all sounded positive, so I picked up an enormous bunch of kale at the grocery store and figured I’d give it a try.  If nothing else, it was $2 towards my free Easter ham from the local ShopRite.  And honestly, if they’re terrible, it’s not my fault – kale is supposed to be terrible.

These were oh my gosh so easy to make.  You wash and thoroughly dry your kale leaves, and separate them from the thick vein that runs through the middle.

When you’ve finished, rip any big pieces into bite sized (chip sized!!) pieces.

My $2 bunch looked like quite a bit of kale, especially when ripped into pieces.  Don’t worry.  The mound of kale will soon be reduced dramatically.

Once your kale is clean, cut, and ripped, you drizzle olive oil and some seasoning on it.  I used just sea salt on most of it, but on a small batch, I used Garlic Bread Sprinkle from McCormick.  It contains a little garlic powder and a tiny bit of parmesan cheese, and is great to make garlic bread or to sprinkle on popcorn or vegetables.

I tossed the kale in a big bowl in the olive oil and seasonings, although you could probably just as easily use a cooking spray.  When I was sure I’d gotten some of the seasoning on each piece, I put them on a flat cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

In the oven at 350 degrees, my chips were ready in just about 12 minutes.  They should be crispy but not burnt (the crispier they get, the more delicate they are, and the curly parts get crumbly).  They are delicate and crispy, and I’m not sure which I loved more – the salted ones or the garlicked ones.  Both are absolutely delicious.

Now, you can certainly make these less healthy by adding too much oil or the parmesan cheese (which really was just a tiny amount in what I used), but kale on it’s own has only about 25 calories in a cup.  Even if you add olive oil and salt, you still have a snack that’s less than 3 grams of fat and under 60 calories.  Compared to the over 150 calories and nearly 11 grams of fat in an ounce of potato chips, and you’ve got a healthy, kid friendly snack that you won’t have to sneak around to eat once you tell people you’re dieting!

Thanks, Faith, for the great idea!

What Happens When You’re Gastrically Altered – Protein and You, Perfect Together!

There are really only two words you need to know right now if you are recently post-op.  Pro. Tein.  Yeah, okay, so it’s only one word, but doesn’t it look much easier to swallow broken up that way?  Good, because for some of us, protein is not easy to swallow at all, and we spend a good bit of time in those early post-op days trying to find creative ways to get it in.

Your surgeon should tell you that you are going to need something like a bazillion grams of protein.  Well, alright, not quite that much.  But you should know that now that you’re bypassed, you are only going to be able to absorb about 25 – 50% of the nutrients you actually consume.  What did she just say?  Yeah, I said it.  You’re only going to get half of what you need in your food – the rest becomes, well, you know what the rest becomes.  There is no way you can eat enough food to get all of the nutrients you’re going to need.

And guess what?  That bazillion grams of protein, well, it might as well be, because to some of us, the 100 – 140 grams we need is just as hard to get in as the bazillion!

Remember when you were trying to get your kids to eat their vegetables, and you’d mash them up into spaghetti sauce or puree them and add them to your meatloaf, or you dredged them in batter, fried them in oil, and drowned them in cheese sauce?  Yeah, well, that’s the kind of creative thinking you might need now.

My best advice on the protein thing is sample.  If you belong to a Weight Loss Surgery support group, suggest a protein exchange.  Everyone can bring in zip-top bags with one portion of their favorite protein shake and you can swap them.  It saves you from investing upwards of $25 for a can of protein, only to find out you hate it.  Visit websites like www.vitalady.com and order samples of things you think you’d like.  And keep in mind – not all vanillas are the same.  If vanilla is your thing, order samples from two or three companies.  Some are super sweet, some of them don’t seem to blend well, and some are just way too chalky.  So if one brand of vanilla doesn’t work, don’t assume you all of a sudden hate vanilla.

But don’t be surprised if you do!

You know what I did before I went to the hospital?  I stocked up on Jello and chicken broth for my liquid diet stage.  Who knew that I’d come home from the hospital hating Jello and chicken broth?  So even if you’ve experimented before surgery to see which shakes you like, don’t buy them in bulk.  I had no idea that some things would be so offensive tasting to me after surgery.  I learned the hard way there really is always room for Jello – in my trash can 🙁

And did you know you can experiment with protein shakes?  Why, yes you can!  If it just doesn’t taste quite right with just the plain protein, add a half of a banana.  Throw in a little peanut butter.  Vanilla is better with a splash of orange juice added.  You can add flavored coffees, flavored syrups, fresh or frozen fruit – haven’t you always wanted to be a bartender?  Now’s the time to try your hand at mixed drinks!

Oh – and all protein is NOT created equal!  Sugar is not your friend, so you want to avoid shakes that contain lots of sugar.  The type of protein is pretty crucial too.  I’ve found through research and personal experience that the best one for us gastrically twisted sisters (and brothers) is Whey Protein Isolate.

So, bottom line – play with your food (or at least with your drinks), drink everything that’s put in your cup, and take your vitamins, so you’ll shrink to be littler and strong!

49 Days Post-Op