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2nd Annual Bariatric Foodie "Play With MY Food" Recipe Contest

Cheesy Chicken & Brocolli Bake - The final shot
Recipes like my "Cheesy Chicken & Cauliflower Bake" are quick and easy - do you have a quick & easy recipe you love? Submit it!
I know you guys have some great recipes cooking in your kitchen. How? Let’s just call it intuition. (Or we could call it the fact that you guys often send me your recipes!)

Well now your recipes could win you something GOOD! That’s right…it’s time for the 2nd Annual Bariatric Foodie “Play With MY Food” recipe contest!

I’m not going to throw all the details and rules of the recipe contest at you in this post. Instead, I’ll post them on the officialcontest page, but here’s what you need to know:

What is it/How does the contest Work

This contest is your opportunity to show off WLS-friendly dishes you love – and possibly win a prize for doing so!

Last year, I invited Foodies to remake one of my most popular recipes. This year, you’ll be able to submit recipes for FIVE (5) different categories: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks and Desserts. You may enter as many categories as you like, but you may only submit one (1) recipe for each category.

There will be one (1) winner in each category. The five winners will each receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card to help inspire future creations!

Who is Judging?

This year I’ve again asked a panel of Foodie-judges to pick the one (1) winner from each category. You can check out the judges on the official contest page, but here’s what’s important to know. Pay attention to their judging criteria. It’s listed by their names and tells you what they’ll be looking for in a winning recipe. If you’re in it to win it, be sure to pay close attention to what the judges want to see.

When/How to enter

Please see the official contest page for instructions on how to enter your recipe. 

I would advise that you NOT just fire off a recipe right now. Read the judging criteria, take a GOOD picture of your dish and then submit your entry. Also I’d advise you to go over your recipe to make sure it works well. The judges will be trying out their pick for the winning recipe. If the recipe doesn’t work, they may have to pick another winner. Make sure that doesn’t happen!

So…how can the rest of us get all the recipes, Nik?

Just like last year, after the winners are chosen, ALL the recipes submitted will be included in the special Bariatric Foodie “PWMF” recipe e-book which will be available for free download. If you want to download last year’s copy, click the button below. (NOTE: You must have Adobe Acrobat installed in the device you are using in order to view the file.)

Click this button to download last year's recipe book!
Add to Cart

So…get your best recipes ready – they may pay off!

The winner of the free box of Enlightened Ice Cream Bars is...

April King!!! (Comment #9)

I've sent April an email with instructions on how to claim her free box. April, you have until tomorrow, September 10, at noon EST to respond or I have to draw another name. Don't make me do that!

Congrats and thanks to everyone for entering. Stay tuned this evening for another great Bariatric Foodie contest with even more opportunities to win prizes!

Foodie Review: Enlighten Fudge Bar

FCC Disclousre: The reviewer of this product was given free product for the purposes of this review, however was not monetarily compensated. The opinions expressed in this review are those solely of the individual reviewer and may not express the opinions of Bariatric Foodie.
Enlighten Ice Cream. The good for you ice cream. We'll just see about that won't we???
Admittedly this review is hella late (as is my custom at times). My apologies. But since there are a few more weeks of warm weather yet, I'm hoping this review will help you satisfy your end-of-summer ice cream cravings.
At first glance, I admit Enlightened has potential. Per their website, the bars come in FIVE different flavors: Fudge, Coffee, Orange Cream, Toasted Almond and Peanut Butter. Here are the stats on the fudge bar, which is what is being reviewed here. This is per the Enlightened website.
  • 70 calories
  • 2g fat
  • 14 total grams carbohydrates
  • 5g fiber (bringing the net carbs down to 9g)
  • 3g sugar
  • 6g erythritol (a sugar alcohol BUT one that tends to have very little impact on the human digestive system)
  • 8g protein
So let me pause and say this. From the numbers alone this appears to be a pretty decent bar. Which is exactly what makes me suspicious! That's why I asked my Foodie-pal Cindy to review check these bars out for you. Her mission: to find out if an ice cream bar could be both good and good FOR you.
I asked Cindy to review the product based on the following criteria: packaging, aesthetics (smell, look of the product), taste, nutritional value and to give an overall verdict. Here's what she had to say. 
Q: What did you think of the packaging? Was it informative? What could you tell simply by looking at the package?

Cindy: The small "e" with a halo above it makes it look like an Angelic item… sky and clouds. Very nice. There was lots of information to catch your eye on the front of box. Information WILL catch a Bari patient’s eye. Just from looking at the package I learned it has 8 grams of protein and only 70 calories. It has only 4 bars in one box. And it looked tasty.
Q: What did you think about the product's aesthetics? How did it look, smell?
Cindy: If anything I'd say the product had a frozen smell, not mediciny or foody, just icy. When I first bit into the bar it was a bit hard, so it does freeze well. Then after a few bites - as it thawed a  - the bar became softer softer.
Q: How did the Enlightened bar taste?
Cindy: I ate a few bars over the course of a week before answering this question to be sure of my opinion. These bars are yummy, thick, creamy and fulfilling. Not as creamy as a Dove bar but thick and creamy almost like that. Some fudge bars taste like ice milk, this has a creamy ice cream taste to it. I do have to say I have to bite the first couple bites as I mentioned earlier, but after a couple creamy licks, the flavoring of the fudge was also spot on.
Q: What did you think of the nutrition?
Cindy: This would be considered a high protein product, since there are 8 grams of protein and only 70 calories. This product does have 14 grams of carbohydrates though. The dietary fibers are 5 grams so subtract that from the carbs and you get 9 grams. It does say on the label that it has only 3 net carbs. Product contains Erythritol.
Q: What do you think of the overall value of this product? Is it something you'd buy?
The price on the bars is reasonable (Nik Note: At the time of this writing, the bars were on sale at my local grocery store for about $3.50/box of 4). I did very much enjoy this product. And glad to see they have a variety of flavors. My next couple to buy are: the Toasted Almond and the Ice Cream sandwich. I would like to see them have more than 4 items in one box.
Q: So what's your final verdict? Should Foodies purchase or pass?
Cindy: Purchase!
There are a few other notes I learned from reading their website's FAQs:
  • ENLIGHTENED Ice Cream is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union (OU).
  • It contains all-natural ingredients (yes, erythritol is a nutural ingredient)
  • Besides erythritol, the bars use monkfruit as a sweetener
  • The milk used in the bars is hormone-free
Enlightened was kind enough to give me another coupon to try out the bars and I'd love a review of one of the remaining flavors. Wanna be my reviewer?
Leave a comment about which flavor (besides fudge) you'd like to try (along with your email address) and you'll be entered to win! You have until Sunday at noon to put your name in the hat. I'll announce the winner Monday morning.
Good luck, everyone and thanks Cindy!

Shrimp & "Grits" A La Nik

Shrimp & Faux Grits
Now for those of you who are new, I’d like to let you in on an important piece of information (that you probably already know): when I put the name of food is “quotations,” it means it’s not really that food. So “rice” is not rice and, in this case, those “grits” are not grits. We all on the same page now? Lovely!

Over the summer, while the girls live with their dad, my boyfriend and I are culinary explorers. Here in the city of Baltimore there are ample opportunities for us to flex our wings, too. We have two events every year called “Restaurant Week” where fancy shmancy restaurants offer a special menu for a set price so that us gourmet-deprived masses may taste fine dining at least once in our lives (#sarcasm).

This year I really could only afford to do one restaurant during the week (which was the first week of August) and so I perused the Restaurant Week website to see what different places had on the menu and noticed a trend: grits are all the rage right now.

Now if you’ll indulge me a food memory, grits were a big part of my upbringing. We had them for breakfast countless times. My mom liked to crumble bacon over them and put the perfect amount of butter, salt and pepper. As an obese person, I added my own touch: a tablespoon of bacon drippings (along with the butter) and two fried eggs.

Nowadays I do eat grits sometimes but not in the quantity or the preparation that I used to. But still, it tickled me to see restaurants reimagining what amounts to the U.S. version of “peasant food.” (Meaning that it’s what most of us eat and not what most gourmets have traditionally cooked, NOT that we are all peasants!)

Fast forward to last night, when I needed a quick and tasty dinner. It was the divas first day of school and I’d worked all day. Generally I cook ahead but in prepping for school I didn’t get a chance to. This is when I start to look to my arsenal of 30-minute meal ideas. And I came back to that idea of dinner grits!

I’m going to give you two ways to do this. For those of you who eat grits in moderation, I will give you that method. For those who’d rather skip the grits (for whatever reason), I’ll give you “grits.” (See what I did there?)

Shrimp & Grits a la Nik
(Makes enough for three non-ops, one post-op with a post-op lunch portion left over!)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 non-green (yellow, red, orange – your choice!) pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ lb. shrimp, tails removed (I used frozen cooked ones but rinsed them to get them thawed enough to remove the tails)
  • 1 tomato (variety of your choice), diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste (or less if you want a more liquidy sauce)
  • 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning blend
  • 3 cups of spinach (or more, because I felt like it wasn’t enough)
  • A package of grits (quick or traditional, your choice – I’ll tell you what to do with it in the instructions)
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Spray a large skillet generously with non-stick cooking spray and set it over medium heat. Allow it to get HOT. Add onion and peppers and cook for 1-2 minutes, until slightly softened. Add garlic and stir.

Add shrimp and tomato and stir again. If shrimp are frozen, semi-frozen or cold, sprinkle some salt over the entire thing (not a bunch, it’s mostly to draw the water out of the veggies) and cover the pan and allow the shrimp to cook about 5 minutes or so. If shrimp are already fully cooked/room temperature, proceed to the next step.

Add tomato paste and seasoning and stir through. Add the spinach to the top of the mixture, cover and drop the heat to medium-low and allow it to simmer about 10 minutes or so. Uncover and mix the cooked spinach into the rest of the sauce.

While the sauce is simmering, cook the appropriate portion of grits, according to the amounts on the package directions EXCEPT instead of water, use milk (the fat percentage is up to you. I don’t give the family grits often so I just use whole milk when I do) and add a bit of salt and pepper to the milk as it is simmering. Once the grits have thickened, add 1 heaping tablespoon of Parmesan cheese for each intended serving of grits (so if you’re making 4 servings, use 4 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese).

Now if you're not into the idea of eating regular grits, this would be delicious atop my Four Cheese Mashed Cauliflower can make “grits.”

Nik’s “Grits”

(Makes 2 -3 servings, depending on your eating capacity and who else you are feeding)

  • 2 c. water
  • 3 c. of cauliflower florets
  • ¼ - 1/3 c. low-fat cream soup of your choice (nearly any flavor works. I used cream of mushroom)
  • ¼ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 tbsp. milk
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a pot, bring water to a boil and add cauliflower florets. Cook until very, very soft (about 10-12 minutes).

Drain and then mash (in whatever manner you see fit – I use a good old potato masher). You should mash it so that the cauliflower no longer looks like florets. If you still see florets, keep mashing! TIP: Drain the cauliflower into a colander and then mash in the colander in the sink. It helps to remove more of the water.

Mix in cream soup, cheese and milk. For thinner “grits” use more soup and milk. For thicker “grits” use less cream soup/milk. Mix thoroughly. 

Now just because I am a visual eater, I went at them with my immersion blender. But you certainly don’t have to do that. If you let them sit a moment, they thicken up and are very tasty. I will say though that they DO NOT feel like regular grits in your mouth. This is an alternative, not a replacement! J

And of course here are an outtake of this meal (photo I did not choose for the cover shot)

Shrimp & Faux Grits
…and the boyfriend’s portion with regular grits

PB&B Greek Yogurt

PB&B Yogurt with Blue Diamond Blueberry Almonds
Disclaimer: Blue Diamond provided almonds for use in this blog post. The opinions stated in this blog post are the unbiased opinions of its author. 

I'll let you in on a little secret if you promise not to shame me for it.

Part of why I like to work out is because I like workout recovery food.

There, I said it!

I do heavy weightlifting (I've been lifting since I had surgery 6.5 years ago) and one day was speaking to my trainer and asked what's a good thing to eat after a heavy lifting session. She advised me that something with some good carbs, protein and some fat is the best combo and suggested some lowfat yogurt with some fruit.

You don't have to tell me twice!

So this particular day I had three things going on:
  1. I had an abundance of blueberries (I'd visited the Reading Terminal Market in Philly and everything was a dollar at this one stall, including pints of blueberries. Needless to say, I went a little overboard!)
  2. I had a strong peanut butter craving.
  3. I'd just done a REALLY strenuous lift session (new routine and I bumped my weights up).
This post-workout mini-meal was the result. Now I usually don't eat before I go to my lifting class (it's at 5:45 a.m. and I don't care how agreeable my pouch is, it's not accepting food that early!) so it's essential I get something good in me once I get home. This was fast, easy and yummy! I call it a PB&B for peanut butter and blueberries, of course. In my former life I loved blueberry jam on a peanut butter sandwich, so I decided to play with my food and see if the flavor could work in a yogurt set-up.

NOTE: In the end I decided not to use the actual blueberries. (Stay tuned because I found another yummy use for them!)

Nik's PB&B Greek Yogurt

  • 6 oz. container unflavored Greek yogurt (I use 0%)
  • No-calorie sweetener, to taste
  • 1 tbsp. peanut butter powder (as you can see above I used PB Fit)
  • 1/2 serving Blue Diamond Blueberry Almonds (the above is a whole serving because the half serving looked sparse in the picture!)

In a bowl, mix together yogurt, sweetener and peanut butter powder.

Top with almonds.


Simple as that.

Blue Diamond offers a variety of flavored almonds that you can use in a variety of ways. I must admit I was skeptical about the blueberry almonds (I'm skeptical about almost any kind of blueberry-flavored anything), but I really did enjoy them. They were lightly sweet and crunchy. A nice offset to my peanut butter yogurt.

Now, if you'll excuse me I'm going to use my current post-workout endorphin high to knock out some laundry.

Keep playing with your food!

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