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The Art of the Low-Carb Quesadilla

Yes, yes I know we should be beyond crappy cell phone pics. Bare with me! I'll get a better one. :)

(But first...are you planning on taking part in the Bariatric Foodie Pledge? If so, you need to read up on the Pledge and make sure your device will work to participate. If you haven't done that yet, go do it!)

So let's talk about take-out food for a moment.

Before surgery I loved fast food. Cheesesteaks (steaks...not cakes!), pizza, oh my!

Immediately after surgery I couldn't eat those things (everything made me sick and I do mean everything). Nowadays, it's just not conducive to my lifestyle anymore. That's not to say I don't do it occasionally, but it usually makes me feel sluggish and overfull and sometimes queasy.

But over past few years I've found a good way to substitute many of my favorite take-out offerings. The low-carb quesadilla! It has several benefits:

  • Low-carb quesadillas are made of high fiber tortillas (like these), which give you fiber and sometimes additional protein
  • They can be made with any size tortilla, so if you can't eat much, use a taco sized one OR you can even use a cookie cutter to cut a "you-sized" tortilla
  • You can put nearly anything you love in these suckers and make them good. Read on for some tips.
How to Make (Almost) Any Take-Out Into a Quesadilla

Do do this you'll, of course, need a low-carb tortilla. But in addition you may need:
Here's how to actually cook a quesadilla

Step One: Spray down your pan or griddle well and allow it to get HOT (1-2 minutes over a medium flame out to do it).

Step Two: Lay out your tortilla on a plate or clean surface. Spread half your cheese across half the tortilla (measure it out so you don't go bonkers), then top with any meat/veggies, then do another layer of cheese. Fold the empty half of the tortilla over your "stuff" so that it makes a half moon shape.

Step Three: Lift the uncooked quesadilla by the open sides and lay it in a pan. Fry for about 1-2 minutes on each side or until tortilla is crisp.

Step Four: Transfer to a plate and cut into the appropriate amount of wedges. 

And here are some ideas of things you can make into quesadillas (all tested by me!)
  • Taco-dilla: (pictured) Fill your tortilla with leftover taco meat, some shredded cheese (or, as I like to do, a wedge of jalapeno Laughing Cow cheese) along with a bit of salsa.
  • Cheesesteak Quesadilla: Spray a pan down with non-stick and cook up some shredded low-sodium and/or low-fat deli beef (or leftover beef, your choice) along with slivers of onions and green pepper.
  • French Dip Quesadilla: Sort of like the cheesesteak, but be sure to use Swiss cheese (or Laughing Cow Swiss) along with grilled onions. I usually do this as a family thing and serve some nice soup instead of au jus. (WARNING: It's debatable if this violates the no eating/drinking rule. Use your best judgment!)
  • Mushroom Chicken Quesadilla: I tend to use deli chicken meat and sautee it but you can also use leftover chicken breast. Combine with sauteed mushrooms (and onions if that's your thing). I love this with Laughing Cow White Cheddar cheese wedges (I swear I am NOT getting kickback from Laughing Cow for this...but...Laughing Cow if you see this...feel free to send CHEESE!)
  • Breakfast Quesadilla: Load up scrambled eggs, cheese, diced sausage and/or bacon (turkey or pork, your choice!) into your tortilla. 
  • Dessert Quesadilla: Combine about 1/2 c. Greek yogurt with 1/4 c. lowfat cream cheese until combined (you might have to nuke the cream cheese to soften). Sweeten it however you do. If you want to boost it a bit more, add in some unflavored protein to the mixture. Place between the tortilla and add sugar-free or no-sugar added jam of your choice and cook. NOM! Trust me, this is good.
So there you have it. How to satisfy your take-out cravings with a quesadilla. Remember, Foodies, there is NO food you can't make WLS-friendly. Play with your food!

The 2015 Bariatric Foodie Pledge - What You Need to Know to Participate!

The Bariatric Foodie Pledge begins February 1st. Are you excited? I am! 

Here's a run-down of what the Bariatric Foodie Pledge is and how to participate. Please read this post in its entirety so that you have the best chance of participating fully and winning great prizes!

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments or email me at I'm happy to answer them!

The Pledge: What is It?

The Bariatric Foodie Pledge is an annual four-week contest  that helps you make and keep healthy goals.

Here’s how it works:
  • Each week in February, you'll “pledge” a goal (see the schedule below for exact dates). It can be any goal you want. 
  • At the end of the week, you'll “check in” about how your goal went. To do that you’ll have to answer a few short questions.
  • If you do both you'll be entered to win a weekly prize! (More info on the prizes to come.)
But wait…there’s more! If you participate all four weeks, you’ll be eligible to win a special grand prize, which is winner takes all – that means you’ll win every prize from the preceding four weeks!

Sweet, right?

How Do I Pledge/Check-In?

At the beginning of each week in February you'll pledge a goal. At the end of the week you'll check in. There are strictly enforced time limits on pledges/check-ins in so take note of the following schedule:

When you will pledge goals:
When you will check in:
Week 1
Opens:  Sunday February 1, 12 pm EST

Closes: Monday February 2, 12 pm EST
Opens: Saturday February 7, 12 pm EST

Closes: Sunday February 8, 12 pm EST
Week 2
Opens: Sunday February 8, 12 pm EST 

Closes: Monday February 9, 12 pm EST
Opens: Saturday February 14, 12 pm EST

Closes: Sunday February 15, 12 pm EST
Week 3
Opens: Sunday February 15, 12 pm EST

Closes: Monday February 16, 12 pm EST
Opens: Saturday February 21, 12 pm EST

Closes: Sunday February 22, 12 pm EST
Week 4
Opens: Sunday February 22,12 pm EST

Closes: Monday February 23, 12 pm EST
Opens: Saturday February 28, 12 pm EST

Closes: Sunday March 1, 12 pm EST

If you'd like reminders about pledging and checking in you can sign up for email reminders.

You'll submit both your pledges and your check-ins through Google Form. Here's where there's a little pre-work to do. 

Below this text is a form a lot like the form you'll use to submit your pledges and check-ins here on the blog. If you do not see a form, that means your device can't read it. Your mission is to find a computer or device where you can see the form. Once you find one, fill the form out and press "submit." If all goes well you should get a confirmation screen. That means you're all set! Be sure to remember which device you used so that you can submit your pledges and check-ins on time. PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT a sign-up form. You do not have to sign up or register ahead of time to take part in the Pledge. 

So What Do I Need to Do Right Now?

Test out the form! Like I said, find a device where the form works and take note of that device so that you can submit your pledges and check-ins on time. Also, if you'd like a reminders about pledging and checking in, you can sign up for email reminders

Also, if you have any questions, leave them in the comments or email me at Any and ALL questions are welcome!

7 Things in 7 Years: What I’ve Learned Since Having Weight Loss Surgery

Me pre-op versus a few months ago. I'm using this "after" pic because it's cold today and I look a hot mess so I don't want to take a picture, k? I'm the exact same weight today as in the picture (and yes, that weight IS over 200 lbs.)

Sad, but true fact: I didn’t realize today was my surgery anniversary until my friend Pam congratulated me. Wow. (I call that a “Nik Moment”)

In honor of this momentous occasion, I’d like to share seven insights I’ve learned in as many years since my surgery. In no particular order.

Balance is way more important than perfection

As a newer post-op I was something of a health zealot. Some of you know me from back then. If you do, you know I’m the girl who once reamed a fellow post-op out for eating strawberries because strawberries are (gasp!) CARBS!

The truth of the matter is that it’s not so important to do everything perfectly, but to find things you can stick with. That’s why when folks ask me what’s the best protein powder, I answer, “The one you can stick with using.” What’s the best form of exercise? “The one you’ll keep doing.” This is a marathon, not a sprint. Which brings me to my next point.

This fight never ends.

You don’t graduate. There is no finish line. That may depress some of you but it is reality. Science is beginning to give us some insight about obesity. One thing I learned at Obesity Action Coalition Convention one year was that the metabolic systems of obese people are different from those of people who never had a weight problem. That means that we always have to be mindful of what and how much we eat, we always have to be living a healthy lifestyle, if we expect to keep the weight off and remain healthy. However…

I refuse to be on a diet for the rest of my life

One thing you’ll notice about Bariatric Foodie in general is that I am not afraid of food. I like cookies. (Note: I can’t eat too many of them because my body reacts to the sugar!) I sometimes eat McDonald’s. I have an abiding peanut butter addiction. I did not go through this process to be on a strict diet for the rest of my life. My goal, instead, is to live healthfully and mindfully. When I’m honest with myself, most of the time the healthier stuff is what I want (I mean, have you seen some of my recipes? Holy healthy NOM!). So I try to focus on living life, rather than restricting it.

The person I thought I’d be once I lost the weight does not exist

But in my head she was something. She was powerful and successful and happy and everybody LOVED her! She traveled, she bought fabulous clothes, had a wonderful boyfriend and, frankly, they both loved seeing her naked (hey, you guys always say I keep it real here!).

But here was the tricky part. In my head I wasn't allowed to be that person until I reached a certain number. And so YEARS went by and I was still waiting to start my life. Each day that didn't happen I felt more and more like a failure. The crazy thing was I was succeeding in so many other ways but I wasn't giving myself credit for it.

So the bottom line is this: at my lowest weight I was stressed out, insecure and lonely. It should have been the greatest time of my life. For goodness sakes, I hit a size 6 at one point! But things only began to change when I allowed myself to be the person I want to be now instead of waiting for some milestone. 

Hard stuff is still hard

Long-time readers know I went through the worst year of my life in 2012. My mother died, I lost our family home to the housing bubble. It was a dark, dark year and I was happy to see it end!

As hard as it was, I’m proud I was able to get through it without going bonkers with my eating. I think it’s because the stuff I dealt with was so painful, that I actually did reach out for help. I couldn’t withstand those sorts of shocks on my own and I didn’t even try to. I asked for hugs when I needed them. I cried. I stopped blogging for a while. I took long walks and argued with my mother, God and any other entity I was angry with.

Hard stuff will still happen to you as you are losing the weight. But it’s ok, you can get through it.

There are a million interesting things about me…weight loss surgery is only one of them

There was a time when my entire life revolved around weight loss surgery! But that’s only one part of who I am. Around year three, I began to nourish the other parts of who I am. I’ve shared that I’m a professional writer. I am almost finished earning a master’s degree in communications. I’ve written a few manuscripts (one day I may seek publication, until then…). I have two wonderfully insightful teenaged daughters, a batsh*t crazy Basset Hound and a Samurai black cat. I volunteer a lot. I enjoy singing and dancing and weight lifting and…

Get the point? It sounds weird to say but I didn’t know myself that well before surgery. I didn’t know what fed my soul or what made me excited to get up in the morning. Now I do and I am so grateful for that knowledge – and it keeps on building!

Everyone’s picture of success looks different

I started at 330 lbs. My lowest weight after surgery was 172 lbs. My highest weight after hitting my low point was 215. I haven’t checked my weight in a while, although I’m thinking I’m somewhere around 210. Yes, this scares the crap out of most of you. To answer your question, no I’m not afraid of gaining it all back. I don’t think I will, although it’s certainly possible. But given the fact that I love to exercise, I move a lot and I generally eat a pretty balanced diet, no matter what size I am, I’ll be healthy.

And that’s my picture of success. Yours may be to get to a certain weight. Or a certain size. And that’s fine! Within this community I simply ask that if you don’t knock my picture, I won’t knock yours.

So there you have it…seven of the many things I’ve learned since my weight loss surgery. Thanks for being a part of this crazy ride with me!

Check out my journey! Here are past year's surgery anniversary reflections:
(As you can see I've been inconsistent in documenting this!)

BF Top 5: Soup for the Weight Loss Surgery Soul

Baby, it's cold outside! I hear it even snowed in Southern California. Wow.

Cold times, in my mind at least, call for SOUP!

I get asked about soup a lot. Technically soup sort of violates the whole "no eating and drinking together" rule. I tend to eat the "guts" out of soup (the meat and veggies) and leave the broth or I sip the broth then eat the chunky stuff.

For those of you who don't know why that's a rule, it's mainly a rule for gastric bypass patients who don't have the "trap door," so to speak, between the stomach and the intestines. So when you drink on top of food it pushes food through the stomach too quickly, putting you at risk of getting hungry again too fast. Here's a video by my friend Rob Portinga, of Former Fat Dudes, that explains it WAY better than I can.

Anyhoo here are a few soup recipes from the BF coffers. Most of them are easy to make (some are even 30 minute meals), warm and comforting.

These soups will all warm your body while giving you veggies, protein and nutrients! 

For those who live in warmer temps, I'm giving you the stinkeye count your blessings. For the rest of us, bundle up! And play with your food!

5 Hacks to Make Healthy Living Easier

Happy New Year!

If you're anything like me, the new year is a chance to re-energize your commitment to stay healthy.

Keeping that in mind here are 5 hacks (or ridiculously simple tips) to help you live your healthiest life possible!

Exercise on a (television) schedule

These days I love "Pawn Stars." So when do I go to the gym? When Pawn Stars is on! My gym has individual tv's on the machines so I time my arrival to coincide with the beginning of the show. Doing this motivates me to stay on the machine 30 whole minutes (lest I miss something!) and I even use the commercials to my benefit. I interval. I go harder on commercial breaks and go back to a challenging, but slower, pace during the show.

(NOTE: This works even if you work out at home. Just make sure you are on a machine! This generally takes some discipline if you are working out without a machine to your favorite tv show. Do the right thing.)

Don't want to overeat? Wear clothes that fit!

I've found it to be true that the more fitted my clothes are (and especially my shape-wear) the faster I feel uncomfortable when I've eaten a bit too much. Depending on the temptation level of the event, I may even go down a size in my shape-wear to induce that feeling even faster. It sounds crazy but it works, try it!

The Five Minute Rule

There's probably an official name for this but here's how it goes. I know many times after I eat something really good, I immediately want to get up and get a little more. But if you can wait just five minutes, usually all the signals from your stomach to your brain (and vice versa) get where they need to be and you find you really don't want that extra bit of food. (And sometimes you do.) So start a conversation or check out Bariatric Foodie on Facebook for a few minutes. You'll be surprised how many times you choose not to eat more!

Play Drinking Games

I struggle with getting enough fluids. When I'm at work I play "drinking games" to get enough fluids. Doing it is easy! Pick a word or an action that will be your "drink trigger" (for example, every time someone at your job says a certain word) and then keep a bottle of hydrating liquid (water, Crystal Light, NOT alcohol!) handy. Of course it's not always possible to be playing your game, so use some discretion! But it's kinda fun, especially when you assign a triggers that are stress relievers ("take one sip every time a person says X", "take two sips every time your boss gets on your nerves" etc.) and nobody knows but you!

Does the family keep tempting foods around? Institute the "Supermarket Rule"

I've talked about this one a lot. The Supermarket Rule is a good way to organize your refrigerator and cupboards if you live with others who stock foods you'd like to avoid. It does require some buy-in but the concept is pretty simple.

Tell your family members, roommates, loved ones (whatever) that they can keep their unhealthy offerings BUT that they have to keep them on the very highest or lowest shelves of the cupboard OR the very lowest shelf on the fridge. Why?

Take notice of a supermarket shelf. Companies pay big money for their products to be right at eye level - where you'll notice them and buy them! The same rule applies here. Make the tempting stuff harder to see and you'll be less likely to try to eat it.

I hope these five hacks give you creative inspiration for healthy living. If you have tips, I'd love to hear them. Leave them in the comments!

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