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#PWMF Recipe Contest Dinner Winner: Erin's Creamy Chicken Fajita Soup

(Heh...Dinner Winner...ok...moving along...)
Dinner! I don’t know about you but it’s always been a challenging meal for me.

I think it’s the finality of it all. Like dinner. It means you’re, like, done. With food. For the rest of the day. (In my head.)

My issues aside, a good, WLS-friendly dinner the entire family can eat is worth its weight in gold. It means you don’t have to play short-order cook to your family and you can all sit down and eat the same thing at the same time (theoretically). That’s important.

Hillery, our dinner judge, is a working girl. She manages to pack a lot into her day and now she’s having a baby! So she was looking for a good dinner that doesn’t take long to make, that both she and her hubby can enjoy.

Here’s her pick.

Erin’s Creamy ​Chicken Fajita Soup

  • 4 C. boneless, skinless chicken breasts , shredded
  • 1 whole onion, diced
  • 1 (28 Oz. Size) Can Stewed Tomatoes
  • 2 (14.5 Oz. Size) Cans Great Northern Beans
  • 2 (14.5 Oz. Size) Cans of Sweet Corn
  • 2 (14.5 Oz. Size) Diced Carrots
  • 8 C. Low-Sodium, Fat-Free Chicken Broth
  • 8 Oz. Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 Package of Fajita Seasoning
  • Garlic Powder. Salt, Pepper to taste
Add chicken breasts to slow cooker. Add enough water to cover meat and cook on low for 6 hours. Take cooked chicken out, once cool enough shred meat. Set chicken aside.

Remaining liquid can be added with chicken broth.

Drain and rinse beans, carrots and sweet corn, set aside.

In stockpot, add diced onions and saute on low for 1-2 minutes. Add chicken broth, remaining liquid and greek yogurt. Bring to a boil and stirring constantly until smooth.

Add to stock pot, whole can of stewed tomatoes, package of fajita seasoning, beans, carrots, sweet corn and chicken.

Reduce heat, add garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Note: If you have picky eaters at home, I puree my beans and tomatoes prior to adding.

Additional add ins depending on tastes:
  • Hot Sauce
  • Diced Jalapenos
  • Diced Green Chilis
  • Use 1 can of Black Beans, 1 can Great Northern Beans
  • Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese for topping
Unfortunately, Hillery had a family emergency (NOT the baby!) that has prevented her from snapping a pic of Erin's dish, but she assures you all that she loved it and will snap a pic and send it in very soon. I'll update when I get it.
Congrats, Erin! Keep playing with your food!


#PWMF2014 Recipe Contest Lunch Winner: Margaret's Avocado Egg Salad

(Dear Margaret: This is by far one of the BEST food pictures I've ever been sent!)
The lunch judge – Pam T. – is not easy to please.
We’ve been friends forever and two more days. You all know her without knowing her, especially if you’ve ever bought a Bariatric Foodiebook – she designed all the covers!
And as hard as she works on her design stuff and as meticulous as she is with it, she is a self-professed “lazy cook.” I can’t get her to try any of my recipes that involve more than a few ingredients or a few steps. When she does try my recipes, she always plays with it to reduce the amount of ingredients and steps! 
So I was especially curious to see which lunch recipe she chose as the winner. Pam would like you to know it was not an easy decision. Each judge had to prepare the recipe(s) they were considering for the win. I believe Pam tried three.
But in the end, here is the winner!
Margaret’s Avocado Egg Salad
  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 tbsp dill pickle relish
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp onion powder or 2 tbsp minced onion
  • Paprika (optional)

Slice hard boiled eggs and remove the yolk.
Mix the yolk with relish, mayo, salt, pepper and onion (just as if you were making deviled eggs).
Chop the egg white, cut the avocado into bite size piece and add to the eggs.
Pour the mayonnaise mixture over top, gently mix to coat everything.
Spoon on a lettuce leaf and sprinkle with paprika. Serve.

Here's what Pam had to say about what makes this a winning recipe:

"It's egg salad, with a twist! I love that this is as easy to make as normal egg salad, but the addition of avocado takes this egg salad to the next level. I also loved that this is a low-carb option by using lettuce leaves as the vehicle for the salad rather than bread."

So there you have it. Simple. Nutritious. Good! Here's Pam's photo of Margaret's recipe:


#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 simmered tomatoes 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!
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