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BF Top 5: Summer Recipes

We're now in what I like to call "the thick of summer." The first day of summer has passed. The 4th of July has passed. Now it's time to settle into summer until Labor Day gets here. I actually like the thick of summer. Holidays sometimes stress me out. You either have to host something or contribute a dish to something. I'd much rather have a lazy day with good food.

Here's a few recipes perfect for the thick of summer.

Thai Shrimp Skillet. This one was a contribution from one of our long-time Foodies, Julia! It's a skillet meal that combines all the luxurious flavors of Thai food into an easy, low-carb, high-protein meal!

Here's your Thai Shrimp Skillet recipe!


S'mores Protein Pudding. I mean c'mon...what says summer like S'mores??? When Torani released this sugar-free flavor I was so excited. So. Excited! You can make this as a pudding or dump it into popsicle molds for a delicious, chocolatey, marshmallow-y frozen treat!

Here's your S'mores Protein Pudding recipe!

Buffalo-Style Chicken Meatballs. So to be fair, I do this one in the oven, which is a bit counter-intuitive during the summer. These meatballs can also be cooked in a slow cooker (use whatever method works best for you). I LOVE me some buffalo wings. They actually remind me of both summer and football season, so expect to see this suggestion again come fall!

Here's your Buffalo-Style Chicken Meatball recipe!

Protein Orange Creamsicles (featuring Premier Protein)

Protein Orange Creamsicles. This is a more recent post but I swear...I'm on my third batch of these things! (To be fair the kids lapped up some before leaving for the summer and my boyfriend seems to like them as well.) It's cool and cream and, best of all, three ingredients!

Here's your Protein Orange Creamsicle recipe!

Sugar-free Tropical Lemonade

No-Sugar Added Tropical Lemonade. When I posted this recipe I got a lot of "Why not just make Crystal Light?" Ohhhhh, Foodies. Have you tasted real lemonade? Made from real lemons? It's out of this world! This recipe is really intended to be an occasion drink more than a "this is what I drink every day" because it does take some effort. But for the experience of having cool, tart, refreshing, real lemonade...I think you're worth it. But I may be biased.

Here's your No-Sugar Added Lemonade recipe!

Summer Shrimp Salad with Watermelon Champagne Vinaigrette

Summer Shrimp Salad w/ Watermelon Champagne Vinaigrette 

Ok so let me set the scene of this meal for you.

It’s Wednesday – Hump Day – mid-summer. It’s warm, but not offensively so. There’s a slight breeze that feels really nice against your skin and it’s evening so there’s just enough shade for you to think to yourself, “It would be nice to have dinner outside tonight.”

And maybe you have a spouse or significant other arriving home soon. Or, if not, maybe you have a good friend who doesn’t live that far away and you invite them over. Because this evening feels like the kind of evening for good conversations and relaxation. After all, you’ve only got half the work week to go and you feel kinda good.

Thinking about what you want to prepare, you don’t want anything fussy. It should take maybe 30 minutes to prep. You don’t want anything too heavy – it’s just a tad too warm for that. You want something fresh, light and good. But since this evening feels so breezy you also want something that feels a little fancy. Because…well…you deserve it!

This is the meal you make for that occasion. Ladies. This is a meal to put on a maxi dress to eat!

A word about the dressing. It totally makes the salad. So I tried to limit the amount of fat in other places in the recipe so you could spend it on the dressing. I can't even describe how good it is. And with the watermelon...swoon! It feels fancy because it is fancy - but not fussy!

Nik’s Summer Shrimp Salad with Watermelon Champagne Vinaigrette
(The above picture is either one non-op portion, two post-op portions, or a combination thereof)


For the salad
  • 10-12 cooked/shelled shrimp in the size of your choosing (I used medium, 24-30 ct.)
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4 c. salad mix (I used spring mix…just make sure to use something hearty)
  • About 10 chunks/balls of seedless watermelon (I bought a small personal sized one and made the balls with a teaspoon measure)
  • 2 tbsp. crumbled goat cheese (garlic/herb flavor works well here)
  • 2 tbsp. pepitas (roasted and shelled pumpkin seeds – I used unsalted)
For the dressing (makes enough to toss into about 4 servings of salad so don’t freak out!)
  • 3 tbsp. Champagne vinegar (it’s available in most grocery stores)
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 heaping tsp. honey Dijon mustard (or the same amount of regular Dijon mustard with ¼ packet no-calorie sweetener, if you want to skip the honey)
  • 2-3 tbsp. juice from the watermelon (of which there should be plenty)
  • ½ tsp. minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper

Spray a small skillet generously with non-stick cooking spray and set it over medium heat, allowing it to get hot.

If your shrimp are frozen, run them under some cold water in a colander. If not, then season them with garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Place them in the hot pan and cook about 2-3 minutes, turning once. Set aside and allow them to cool.

Place salad greens in a mixing bowl with watermelon, goat cheese and pepitas. Add half of your dressing and toss salad with tongs.

Distribute evenly between two plates. Top with shrimp and serve.

To Make the Dressing: In a bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, watermelon juice, garlic and pepper. Refrigerate at least one hour before straining through a sieve into a bowl or dressing bottle.

Outtake Photos

Summer Shrimp Salad w/ Watermelon Champagne Vinaigrette
Not sure you've ever wondered, but I generally photograph on my front porch (I live in a row house which means my house is attached to other houses on either side). My neighbors think I am very strange!
Summer Shrimp Salad w/ Watermelon Champagne Vinaigrette
I was trying to play with the mood on this one, but I think I just ended up making it look like it's about to rain on my salad. Hmph. The struggle continues...
Summer Shrimp Salad w/ Watermelon Champagne Vinaigrette
This was almost the cover photo for this recipe but I wanted you guys to see the whole salad. Oh, fun fact: that super cute "napkin" is actually an apron I got as a souvernir from Haiti. I liked the pattern and I don't have many cloth napkins so I figured I'd just MacGuyver it!

No-Sugar Added Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Spoiler Alert: Nutella is never going to be health food. This is not health food. It will always be a treat.

I felt like I should lead with that because there are always new folks coming to this blog and I want you to know that we do, in fact, know the difference between a healthy food and indulgences. We talk about that quite a bit.

But my personal philosophy (your mileage may vary) is that my food life should be about 85-90ish% above board choices, 10-15-ish% indulgences. This is how I do moderation. Again, your mileage may vary. 

So. Back to the good stuff. Nutella!

I had surgery in 2008. This was before Nutella was a common item on US grocery store shelves. It’s been around in Europe, apparently since Europe was invented or something. But here in the US it’s become a popular shelf staple only over the last five years or so.

My youngest daughter lives for Nutella. Like seriously…she will even do her chores if she thinks there’s Nutella involved. Unfortunately for her I don’t do food rewards, but who am I to get in the way of her motivation if she chooses to think Nutella will be her reward? (Did that make me sound like a bad parent?)

Now I’m all for moderation. And having a little of what you like and a lot of what you need. But Nutella has one big problem I can’t get around.

The sugar content. It would kill me.

So that’s why I was so happy when Buzzfeed produced a videoon how to make your own Nutella at home (btw…the Nutella people are probably preparing a lawsuit against me for the sheer number of times I’ve used the term Nutella in this post! Keeping that in mind…Nutella!).

Anyhoo…I basically followed their directions I just modified the recipe a little bit.

No-Sugar Added Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

  • 1 c. chopped hazelnuts (look in the baking aisle at the grocery store)
  • 4 oz. baking chocolate (unsweetened), chopped
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (or you can use canola, I just had olive)
  • ½ c. milk (whatever kind you use)
  • No calorie sweetener (use your preferred kind in amount equivalent to ¾ - 1 c. sugar, depending on your desired level of sweetness. To get the correct amount, consult the conversion chart on your packaging.)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Dash of salt

Place your chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 10 second increments until it’s all melted. (I did a double-boil but that’s because I have this weird Martha Stewart fetish.)

Heat a dry skillet over your stovetop (don’t spray it with nonstick, just leave it dry). Add the hazelnuts and toss them around a minute or two, until you can begin to smell the nuts. Remove from heat immediately.

Combine nuts, melted chocolate, oil, milk, vanilla, sweetener and salt in a food processor or blender (I used my Nutri-Ninja) until smooth. If it’s not smoothing out/blending, add milk by the tablespoon until it gets going.

Transfer to a clean container (I used a glass jar). This is NOT a recipe developed for canning. Refrigerate and use this within a month. I personally like it right off the spoon (and a spoonful is enough for me). I also tried it on a Pink Lady apple and that was divine as well.

To answer your inevitable question, no it doesn’t worry me having this around. Sweet stuff is not my trigger – salty food is! (Which is why you will never see a WLS-friendly Dorito recipe coming from me.) If sweet stuff is your trigger I would not be hurt if you decided to pass on this one.'s ok!

Outtake Photos:

I like mine a bit nutty still, not completely smooth. The longer you blend, the smoother your final product should get. 

Because...melted chocolate. That is all!

Red, White and Blue Protein Popsicles (Featuring Premier Protein)

This post is sponsored by Premier Protein
It is my theory that the 4th of July is a blueberry's favorite holiday. Why? Because on that day the red/white/blue color combo is just everything -- and, really, what other food can you use to play that up?

I personally love blueberries, not only for their antioxidant qualities, but because they are a nice, mild berry. I like popping a few straight out of the fridge, adding to my cottage cheese and a multitude of other options.

That's why when the good folks at Premier Protein sent me the recipe for this Patriotic Protein Pop (see what I did there?) I couldn't wait to share it with you. It's so easy! Especially if you've invested in popsicle molds to make my Orange Creamsicle Protein Pops. Now you have not one, but TWO, three ingredient recipes to make in them!

Red, White and Blue Protein Popsicles

  • Sliced Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • 1-2 Premier Protein® Vanilla Shake

Line popsicle molds with sliced strawberries and blueberries.

Fill popsicle molds with Premier Protein® Vanilla Shake.

Freeze overnight.


3 Things I Learned in Haiti That Changed Me


I struggled with how to do this blog post. This trip was so educational for me. I learned a lot about Haiti, about the world, but especially about myself. It would be impossible to summarize in one blog post. So I thought I’d concentrate it to the thee big things I learned that truly did change me.

But first…

Why exactly were you in Haiti, Nik?

Quiet as it’s kept, Bariatric Foodie is not my only “job.” My “day job” is as the staff writer for an organization that helps people around the world fight poverty and build strong livelihoods (and proud as I am of that work I will decline to name said organization because I like to keep my BF life and my day job life somewhat separate – thank you for understanding!). I traveled to Haiti to see our work there with coffee farmers and to document that work in video. I traveled to the city of Cap Haitien, which is about 6 hours north of Port-au-Prince, not that far from the border to the Dominican Republic. We also visited coffee farmers at two cooperatives, both high up in the mountains about 3 hours further north.

Without further adieu, here are my three things.

With a little support, you can overcome even the most difficult obstacles.


This is a photo of two leaves from a coffee tree that was struck by leaf rust, a disease that can kill coffee trees. Coffee farms all over the Caribbean and Central America have been affected by it. While I was in Haiti I got to see and hear a lot about leaf rust. It’s a truly devastating disease. It kills the branches of a coffee tree so it can’t produce “cherries” (little berry-like fruits that contain coffee beans).

To understand the full impact of that you have to know how coffee farmers use coffee to support themselves. Think of it almost like the reliability of your direct deposit in your bank account. Most farmers grow food they can eat. Coffee provides cash for all those other little things you must pay for like school fees for children, medical care and food to supplement what you grow. Many coffee farmers lost 60% or more of their coffee crop to leaf rust. That meant they saw a dramatic reduction in their income. Some dealt with it by switching their kids to less expensive schools. They knocked back on their amount of meals per day. It’s hard but folks are surviving.

They are coping by putting more effort into growing food for their families to eat but also testing out coffee plants that seem to resist leaf rust. They aren’t panicking. They are being organized, addressing their immediate needs and trying to recover for the future. 

My Big Lesson: We face those situations sometimes too. Things that want to derail us. Knock us off of our big plan. I know in the past I’ve freaked about it. These farmers taught me that the most effective way to deal with those situations is to determine what you need most right now and work on that then, little by little, work on getting back to where you used to be.

Accept your shortcomings, get out of your own way, and great things can happen!

Little Mama

I wish I could tell you the names of these little girls. They are absolutely adorable (although this photo makes them look sort of serious). On our second day of shooting, high in the mountains, I was taking a quick break while our videographer got some footage of a coffee farmer’s house. The village we were in had quite a few houses relatively near one another and all had little kids laughing, playing, eating mangoes (from the trees in their yards!).

This little girl is six. Her sister is about two. And that was about the only thing I understood that she said. In this region, Haitian Creole is the first language. Kids learn French in school but she was a bit young to know much French.

When she approached me she started asking questions (universally I think our intonation is about the same when asking a question). I think she was asking me what we were doing and about the cameras. I had our local staff close by BUT they speak Creole and French but no English. I speak English but no Creole and French. And I was stressed out about that for a minute.

But then that sweet little girl smiled and started chatting on, not really caring that our words didn’t match up. It was a magical moment for me.

My Big Lesson: Accepting your shortcomings is not the end of the world. I didn’t speak Creole and I wasn’t going to try to butcher the language at that point. I also decided I wasn’t going to feel bad about not speaking Creole. The little girl certainly didn’t feel bad about not speaking English. And she also didn’t see it as a barrier to making a new friend. I think I need to be like that more in life. Shortcomings are a challenge, yes, but they don’t make or break my ability to survive a situation.

You only get one life and if it’s a damn shame if you waste it feeling bad about yourself.


I got this picture going up the mountain. Oh my goodness there was so much to see! There were people working in the fields. There were cows. There were pigs and chickens and baby goats that seemed to be playing tag with one another. There were streams and flowers. And bugs, yes, bugs!

But then there were also the mountains. I was awe-struck by them. My photos don’t accurately capture the scale of these mountains. They were majestic and beautiful. I have always loved mountains because they make you realize how small you are relative to the universe. Our individual worlds are so small that our problems sometimes seem to fill them up. The mountains expand that world (at least for me) and put things into perspective.

I could have focused on the bumpy ride it took to get up that mountain (I banged my head on the top of our truck about 57 times and I’m lucky I didn’t get a concussion!) but I was too busy being in awe of what was going on around me. There were many moments like that on this trip, where folks were having serious discussions and I just wanted to look out the window, drink it all in.

My Big Lesson: Life really is amazing, Foodies. And if you’re not careful, in the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “if you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you might miss it.”

So there you have it. Three big things I learned while in Haiti. I didn’t take a whole, whole bunch of pictures but I did get a few shots. Here are my best ones. If you’d like to know anything more about the trip, drop a comment. I’m happy to answer!

These are bananas on a tree. I had never seen a real banana tree before so I didnt' know what to make of that large...vine? With the flower on the end. I won't lie, my inner 12 year-old had a field day.

The massive lobster tail
It's a bit fuzzy, but this is one thing Cap Haitien is known for. Lobster! My co-worker ordered this dinner (which, by the way, was a paltry $18!) and we were all really surprised byt he size of it (it's wider than she is). That's all lobster meat by the way, with seasonings on top.

This painting hung outside my hotel room door and I think it captures the spirit of Haiti very well. There's always stuff going on! Life doesn't stop. People are moving about, to and fro. It's a very industrious place but you can tell the people take care of one another and themselves!

Cap Haitien is a jogging city
Speaking of taking care of yourself...this is one lone jogger early in the morning. But by about 7 a.m. there are THRONGS of people - locals - jogging. Old people, young people, plump people, skinny people. Literally...there were dozens. It was inspiring!

There are even more pictures on my Flickr account. Feel free to check them out if you like! 
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