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#PWMF2014 Recipe Contest Breakfast Winner: Vicky's Strapatsada

I’m still working on the free recipe e-book for this year’s “Play With My Food” recipe contest, but I thought in the meantime I’d showcase the winning recipes. So check back this week as I post each of the five winning recipes in the following categories: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert.
First up, breakfast!

The winner of the breakfast category also has the honor of having submitted a recipe I had never, ever, EVER heard of in my life. But it’s kinda fun to say. Stapatsada!

This is a yummy breakfast recipe from Greece, where Vicky lives. (How awesome is it that we have Foodies, everywhere?)

Vicky’s Strapatsada
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoonful of olive oil
  • 1/2 tomato finely chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper finely chopped
  • 50 gr feta cheese (1/4 c. for us non-metric using Americans!)
  • Pepper, to taste
In a non-stick frying pan heat the olive oil with the green pepper until soft (2-3 minutes). (Nik-note: I’d set a pan over medium heat, allow it to get hot [2-ish minutes] then add olive oil.)

Add the tomato and let simmer for about 5 minutes.

Beat the egg and add to pan along with the feta cheese crumbled.

Cook for another 3 minutes. Add pepper to taste (no need to add salt as feta is quite salty), turn off heat and let stand for another 5 minutes. It will continue to cook.
Serve hot.
Here’s what the Breakfast Foodie-Judge had to say about why this was a winning recipe:
This recipe was super flavorful, the onions and tomatoes simmered gave this dish a fantastic rustic flavor...and while I would have probably added a tiny bit of salt (not recommended in the recipe) they flavors were fabulous together. I also chose this recipe because 90% of the time when I choose to prepare an actual breakfast and not a breakfast drink, I am the only person who will eat said breakfast.
This recipe had all the flavors I love, and was a perfect portion for me. I started out with half of the finished portion (as the recipe said it was filling) but I found that the full portion with a couple slices of tomato was just the right size for me. No leftovers!
Before the judges could make a final decision on a winning recipe, they had to prepare the dish they were considering. Here’s Shannon’s Strapatsada.

Congratulations to Vicky, who will win a $50 Amazon gift card for her winning entry.

Nik's Eggplant Parmesan Casserole

So I had all this stuff I had to use up. Isn’t that how the best dishes are made?
The challenge: to use up ¾ of an eggplant I had along with an entire roasted spaghetti squash. To be fair, I didn’t really have a great plan for either when I bought them. They both just looked so gorgeous, sitting there in the farmers market just waiting for me to buy them. I’m a sucker for a plump piece of produce, ya know?
Anyway, since neither eggplant nor spaghetti squash are on the elder daughters “approved veggies” list, I knew this dish would be completely vegetarian so that the younger daughter could eat it.
Thinking about it, the kid is pretty easy to please. Bless her, she loves anything I cook for her. But I kept having Eggplant Parmesan on the brain. I wondered if the concept could translate into a casserole.
I call this “casserolizing” – the art of taking something that has never been a casserole…and making a casserole out of it. Here’s how this one goes down.
Nik’s Eggplant Parmesan Casserole
  • 1 medium eggplant, cubed (you can remove the skin if you don’t like it.)
  • 1 small onion, cut into slivers
  • 1 green pepper, cut any way you like it (I diced mine)
  • The yield of one spaghetti squash (if you’re not sure how to cook it, click here)
  • ½ c. diced tomatoes (I used fresh you can also used diced)
  • Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, to taste
  • 1 jar of light Alfredo sauce (which is what I used)
  • 1 c. Italian-blend shredded cheese
ALTERNATIVE: I like the “Parm” part of Eggplant Parm best so that’s why I went with Alfredo sauce. If you are a purist, use a tomato-based sauce and top with cheese.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Spray your eggplant, onions and green pepper down with non-stick, season them however you like (I use salt, pepper and Italian seasoning) and put it onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Roast it about 25 minutes or so.
In a bowl, toss the roasted veggies with the spaghetti squash and tomatoes. Again, add seasoning if you like it as this is the best way to get flavor in there.
Add whatever sauce you are using and toss that until thoroughly mixed in.
Transfer to an small casserole dish (I used an 8x8) and top with cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and as brown as you like it.
This dish was a hit with the younger kid! I liked it too. The ONLY critique I have is that spaghetti squash is slightly sweet and it’s hard to play off of that. I usually allow myself to be a bit heavy handed with the salt for that reason. It didn’t make the dish bad, I just wish I had seasoned it better, which is why there are a few steps in the directions above so you can avoid that!
On Facebook I asked Foodies to vote for their favorite pic of the dish and the one at the top of the post is the one that is winning! Here are the others.

...I think I'm going to decide that, in general, close-up shots of casseroles generally are NOT a good thing! :)

BF Review: Celebrate ENS 2-in-1 Protein & Calcium Bars

See if you can identify with this sentiment.
You’re newly post-op and you have a LOT of requirements. You have to get so many calories and so much water and on top of all of that you have to get your vitamins. It’s stressful, isn’t it!
That’s why I’m a big fan of things that can do double duty. Protein shakes that double as liquid intake and possibly your vitamin does, stuff like that.
To that effect, Celebrate Vitamins has a new product offering for you – protein bars that help you get your vitamins!
The good folks at Celebrate sent me their ENS 2-in-1 Protein and Calcium Bars to try. They come in two flavors currently:
  • Caramel Chocolate Crunch: 130 calories, 3g fat, 18g carbs, 5g fiber (so 13 net grams of carbs), 5g sugar, 5g sugar alcohols (combo of polydextrose and malitol), 15g protein.
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch: 140 calories, 4.5g fat, 17g carbs, 4g fiber (so again, 13 net grams of carbs), 4g sugar, 4g sugar alcohols (again, combo of polydextrose and malitol), 15g protein.
So here’s where I need to make a comment on the nutritional content, because I give this information and people freak out. Yes, there are sugar alcohols in this. If you are particularly sensitive to sugar alcohols you should take heed. If you don’t have a particular sensitivity, from my experience (and keep in mind I’m not a registered dietician) 4-5g of sugar alcohol usually doesn’t do anything too terribly wonky to your system. So take that for what it’s worth.
Each bar also contains 500mg calcium citrate and 333 IU of Vitamin D.

So what’d I think?
  • Smell: Smelled like something sweet. The caramel had a whiff of caramel smell to it. I didn’t pick up any obvious protein smell (and I have with bars before!)
  • Texture: As you can see in the above photo, the bars are coated but beneath that they are sort of like a rice crispy treat. Crispy yet chewy. The texture helped it to not be too heavy. But then again I’m 6.5 years post-op so newbies, take that with a grain of salt!
  • Flavor: I really liked the Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch (surprise, surprise). I didn’t dislike the Caramel Chocolate Crunch, however, like most caramel flavored things nowadays, I thought it was a tad too sweet (which is saying something coming from me, the person who adds tons of Splenda to everything)
  • Cost/Value: A box of 7 bars is 15.75, which comes out to $2.25/bar. Each bar is about 1.5 oz. I always struggle with what a good “value” is with regards to protein supplements. I mean on the one hand you’re getting 15g protein out of 1.5 oz. of food mass. To give a comparison, 1.5 oz. of chicken is about 8-ish grams of protein, the same amount of tuna is about 5g. So if you really are limited in how much you can eat, it may be worth the investment, especially considering you are getting calcium and vitamin D as well.
Overall verdict: I actually would order the Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch. Why? Because I often forget to take my last calcium/vitamin D supplement! I like these bars and don’t envision it’d take much to convince me to have one as a snack. There’s that other calcium dose I need.
As for the Caramel, I’ll leave that to true caramel lovers. To learn more about all of Celebrate's great offerings, visit their website!
What say you, Foodie Nation? Who’s tried these bars. What did YOU think? I’d love to hear (and I’m sure your fellow Foodies would appreciate additional perspectives). Let me know in the comments!

#YWM2014 Lunch With the Experts Recap: Binge Eating


First, thank you for your patience in waiting for me to post this! And my apologies for the delay.

As it usually happens with me there was a bit of a challenge in writing this recap in that I lost my notes! I'm going from memory here but thankfully I have a good memory so let's get to it!

For background, this is a recap of a special "Lunch With the Experts" session that was offered as a part of the Obesity Action Coalition's "Your Weight Matters" Convention which was held in Orlando, FL September 25 - 28, 2014.

About the Expert

Michelle May, MD is the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break the Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle (Am I Hungry? Publishing, 2011). In this book, she lays out what she calls The Mindful Eating Cycle, which is a framework that shows how any person - no matter what size they are - approaches eating. She uses this framework to help people understand not only what they eat, but why they eat, especially when they are not physically hungry.

Some Binge Eating Resources

The notes I lost had a lot of binge eating resources but I went through and Googled quite a few for you guys. Here are some:
  • - This site is mainly for health professionals but gives some good statistics about the prevalance of binge eating in the United States.
  • Did you know Binge Eating Disorder is now contained in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual V (which is a manual that helps define psychological disorders so that they can be effectively treated? Click that link to read more, although I'm going to outline the definition a bit below.
  • There is also a Binge Eating Disorder Association dedicated to providing accurate information about binge eating and advocating against binge eating and obesity bias. 
So what is Binge Eating?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V (DSM-V), a person with Binge Eating Disorder may:
  • have recurring episodes of eating significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would eat under similar circumstances
  • feel a lack of control over how much they eat
  • eat quickly and even when not hungry
  • have feelings of embarassment, shame or guilt about what/how much they eat, such that they eat alone to hide the behavior
Binge Eating disorder affects nearly 3 million adults in the U.S. and it affects twice as many women as men. (

That means that if you are a binge eater, you are not alone. Far from it!

What to do if you think you are a Binge Eater

The thing Dr. May stressed again and again is that this is a disorder. Many people, because they feel guilt and shame about binge eating, try to handle the problem themselves. That rarely works. She strongly suggested going to see a licensed therapist and especially one who specializes in binge eating disorder.

Dr. May also stressed (as did several practitioners at the convention) that it's not so much about what you eat, but why you eat that's at the root of most people's problems with both binge eating disorder and obesity. That's not to say we shouldn't focus on eating healthfully but one point she made struck me as particularly important (so much so that I'm going to bold and underline it).

Even if you have limited yourself to bingeing on healthier options, let's be clear: you are still taking in more food than your body  needs or is asking for.

That's important to note. Many of us think we are doing less harm by choosing "healthier" binge options. In reality, while the substitution is probably more nutritious than a less healthy food we can choose, it is not necessarily healthier from a mental health perspective.

So again, if you think you may be a binge eater:
  • Consider the DSM V guidelines and be honest with yourself. Do they apply to you?
  • Seek professional help from a licensed therapist who has experience treating people with binge eating disorder. If you don't know of one you can ask your primary care physician OR your bariatric practice.
  • Take heart. As stated above, if you binge eat you are not alone. There are many people coping with this problem and there are communities to which you can turn for support. But you have to take that first step!
Follow Dr. May for more resources

I highly recommend following Dr. May online for more information and resources. Here's how you can do that.

And for those of you still reading, I took many pictures during Dr. May's general education presentation at the conference, which I've housed (along with all the other photos of the fun I had while at the convention) in this Flickr Album. Enjoy!

Ten-Minute Meal: Nik & Steak & Cheese Zoodles

This "as it happened" lunch is brought to you by...Nik! :) Seriously though...submitting a recipe for the contest is as easy as snapping a pic of one of your meals!

Hey friends! Are you getting together your entries for the 2ndannual Bariatric Foodie “Play With MY Food” recipe contest? (If not you should be. For simply sharing the recipe and a pic of one of your meals you could win a $50 Amazon gift card!)

If you need some inspiration, here’s a really quick and easy dish I made myself THIS very morning for lunch that is the perfect kind of recipe (and an example of what I mean by a decent food picture – this was taken with my phone).

Nik’s Steak & Cheese Zoodles
  • 3-ish oz. leftover cooked steak or roast beef (NOTE: You don’t HAVE to use beef. If you’ve got leftover chicken make it chicken and cheese…seafood, make it seafood and cheese. You get where I’m going with this right?)
  • 1 oz. onion slivers
  • Zoodles (zucchini noodles I made using my spiral vegetable cutter)
  • Whatever random quick-cooking veggies you wanna throw in there (I had spinach so I used that)
  • Salt, pepper, garlic (or garlic powder)
  • 1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Garlic & Herb cheese
  • Grated Parmesan cheese


Spray a skillet with non-stick set it over medium heat and let it get hot. Throw the steak and onions on there and get them cooking.

Meanwhile you can be cutting your zoodles. (It’s a quick, easy and, dare I say, fun process!)

Add zoodles to the pan and toss it around with the steak and onions. Let those go about a minute before adding the other veggies you intend to use. Add spices.

Once everything is tender (it only takes 3-ish minutes) throw in the Laughing Cow Light wedge (NOTE: you may want to dice it up. They don’t exactly “melt” easily). Toss throughout (I use tongs) allowing the temperature of the food to soften the cheese.

When ready to eat, top with Parmesan cheese and enjoy! These tasted like a steak & cheese sub - without the bread! And it literally took me 10 minutes to make.

So if you were hesitating to enter the contest because you thought you needed a "fancy" dish - don't! In fact most of the judges WANT simple and good recipes. So get yours together and submit by September 30 for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card! Plus you'll be helping to fill the contest e-book that will be available to everyone for FREE download.

Keep playing with your food!
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