Saturday, October 10, 2015

Post Weight Loss Surgery Menus: A day in my pouch

A day in my pouch is a series of blog posts to show what a typical daily menu looks like in my post weight loss surgery world. Yesterday's healthy and delicious menu...

Breakfast: I love this egg cooking gadget. I got it for my Mum to use (no need to turn on stove) but I have used it more than her I think. Squirt a little non-stick spray inside, sprinkle some bacon bits (teaspoon, not even really, 2 dashes, I used Hormel Real Bacon Sprinkles, found them at Walmart), crack egg on top, put the lid on tight. Microwave, times will vary and you have to play with that... I have a small 700 watt and over hard (Egg McMuffin texture) takes 1 minute. Take out of microwave (careful when opening the sucker is hot) and flip onto a plate. It's like a Mini Bacon and Egg Omelet. I sometimes sprinkle with a Tablespoon of shredded cheese.

More of my favorite Egg Recipes
More Eggface Breakfasts

Lunch: I had a couple of yellow squashes from the last Farmer's Market trip that needed using, I sliced and sauteed them with an onion. Sprinkle of salt and pepper. Topped it with a dollop of Ricotta Cheese and a sprinkle of Parmesan. The heat of the squash and onion warmed the ricotta and Parmesan and it spread like a sauce throughout. Simple and delicious. This was actually one of my first veggies post weight loss surgery... without the onion.

Dinner: Leftover mini meatloaf. I love these little meatloaves. We use a couple for dinner then wrap the others individually in foil or plastic wrap and place them in a gallon-size freezer bag. Then we can pull them out and nuke them anytime we need a stress-free lunch or dinner well really even breakfast with an egg. You can also defrost and crumble them and use them in soup, in a lettuce cup or as a topping for a salad or tortilla pizza. I reheated mine (in this little steamer, love this for leftovers) and ate it with sliced tomatoes.

Shelly's Mushroom, Onion & Bacon Mini Meatloaf

1 pound Mushrooms, chopped
1 Yellow Onion, chopped
1 pound Ground Beef (or Turkey)
1/4 cup Oatmeal
1/4 cup Milk
1 Egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
a few twists of Black Pepper

1 slice of Bacon

Saute onion and mushrooms till golden. Set aside to cool. Soak oatmeal in milk for 1 minute (you can use almond meal or bread crumbs if you do bread) Beat egg. Add egg and soaked oats to ground meat. Add all remaining ingredients including cooled veggies. Mix till combined.

Divide into 8 equal mounds. Form into mini meatloaves or if you have this super groovy pan like me use it. Place 1 slice of bacon on the top of each loaf. Bake for 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

More Mini Meatloaf Madness

Snacks: Too much coffee, a hunk of one of those Limited Edition Quest Pumpkin Pie Bars and I made a yummy frosty Protein Shake in the hottest part of the afternoon, despite the calendar saying it's Fall we kissed triple digits yesterday and it's supposed to be hotter today. This totally cools your whole body down. I used Celebrate Vitamins yummy Caramel Vanilla Swirl Protein 20 Powder and added things to make me feel like it was Fall.

Shelly's Pumpkin Caramel Vanilla Swirl Protein Shake

1 scoop Celebrate Vitamins Caramel Vanilla Swirl Protein 20 Powder
8 oz. Milk (I used 1/2 Almond Milk and 1/2 Soy Milk)
1 Tablespoon Sugar Free Torani Syrup (I used SF Caramel)
a dollop of Pumpkin Puree (not pie filling)
a sprinkle of Pumpkin Pie Spice
a few ice cubes

Whiz on high in a blender. Sprinkle with a little more pie spice.

More Eggface Protein Shakes and Smoothies

Oh in case you were wondering if you can make cookies out of the Pumpkin Quest Protein Bars... You can but they aren't like regular Quest bars they have a coating so when you press them down in the cookie making process it gets a little messy... tasty messy but not as easy or pretty as the regular Quest Bar Cookies. Check it out below they were an insomnomnomnia cooking project one night last week. My favorite Quest Bar Cookies are the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars with a Pecan pressed in.

More Eggface Days in Pouch Menus

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Healthy Travel Tips: Keeping Your Health On Track While Traveling

I was honored to be asked to facilitate a couple of Lunch with the Experts table talks at the Your Weight Matters National Convention this year. One of my topics was "On the Road Again - Keeping Your Health On Track While Traveling" I thought I would share the slides from my presentation. Just click on the arrow to move the 14 slides along.

You don't get the benefit of the great chat and shares that happened at the table but I hope my tips, suggestions and resources in the above slides and throughout the blog help those of you reading along stay healthy when traveling for pleasure or work. The slides were meant to encourage conversation at the table so feel free to share any of your staying healthy while traveling tips in the comment section below.

One of the slides above shares some of my go-to snacks and emergency meals I toss in my bag when I'm on the road. They keep me from making poor choices and require no refrigeration. They are great to carry-on the plane saving you from paying $7 for an in flight snack box. Here's a closer look and some online links for the items that may be harder to find. 

Travel snacks that require no refrigeration.

Pictured: water (ask for it on the plane, buy one beyond security checkpoint or carry an empty one with you and refill free at one of the restaurants, Starbucks beyond security.), shaker bottles, Cruncha-mame, Crunchy Beans, RTDs ready-to-drink protein shakes like Premier Protein Note: RTDs are above the carryon ounce rule if flying (great for roadtrips), Crab, Salmon or Tuna pouches and cups, Skinny Pop popcorn, Celebrate Vitamins ENS Vitamin drink sticks, Crystal Light drink sticks, Kay's Cookie Bites, Crunchy Cheese, Chike High Protein Iced Coffee Travel Packets, Celebrate Vitamins ENS Packets, Peanuts, Protein Bars: Celebrate 2 in 1 Bars, Power Crunch Protein Wafers, Quest Bars, Premier Protein Bars, Blue Diamond Almond Packets, Krave Jerky, Apple with Almond or Peanut Butter packets.

More Travel Posts:
Disney After Weight Loss Surgery
Traveling Post Op - More General Tips

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P.S. Be sure to check out my Instagram page for an opportunity for you and a pal to win an Eggface groovy folding, reusable lunch bag perfect for taking some of these snacks on your next adventure (or to work.)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Life After Weight Loss Surgery Q & A - Long Term Success, Newbie Advice?

One post-op's thoughts on life after weight loss surgery.

Question: Do you have any advice about staying successful long term post weight loss surgery? or sometimes it's... What advice would you give new post-ops?

Answer: My answer basically breaks down to 3 things. But first, I caution that success and failure are words to ditch. Long term means there will be lots of great, poster child for post weight loss surgery and life done right kind of days and some not so much. Take every day as it comes and aim for the best you can do that day. No regrets, guilt, or shame. Those are pretty useless uses of energy. If a not so great choice is made, learn from it, make a better plan and move forward.

The Big 3 Ways to Take Action...

1. Build a support team and stay connected with them (Dr, dietitian, therapists, psychiatrist, psychologist, supportive family and friends, online and real world support groups, events like the Obesity Action Coalition's Your Weight Matters National Convention, etc.) I think of this like a war (and you'd never go into battle alone.) I want people that have my back when the you-know-what hits the fan... because... life happens. Never be afraid to say, "I thought I had this but I guess I don't. I need help." Obesity is a chronic disease and so chronic treatment is required. I will ALWAYS be a person affected by obesity like a cancer patient in remission I need to follow my Dr's orders and do what is in my power to do.

2. Speaking of life... work on any neck up stuff. No more avoiding, pushing stuff under the carpet, self medicating with food, people, or anything else. Work on your why's. There is an emotional component to obesity for most of us and that does not go away with the pounds. When the weight is gone, there will be no more blaming that. It's time to start slaying the dragons.

and finally...

3. Consider the helping hand of weight loss surgery as a DO BETTER not a DO OVER. Find healthy foods you enjoy, plan meals, think ahead, set yourself up for a great week, don't just wing it. Move your body as much as you are able (fun way: 3-4 song dance breaks = 10 minutes, AM, mid-day and before bed and you have a 30 minute workout.) Get rid of the diet mentality that you can suffer through something till a # on the scale appears or a clothing size is hanging in your closet. Create a lifestyle that you can repeat FOREVER because there is no finish-line.

Just one post-ops 2 cents ;)

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili

The first day of real rain in months and I roast butternut squash and break out the Le Creuset to make a pot of chili. Now you know I am longing for cooler weather. I took advantage right away. This chili is one of my favorite recipes... 

Shelly's Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili

1/2 pound Ground Beef (or Turkey)
1 Yellow Onion, chopped
1-2 cloves Garlic, chopped fine
1 stalk Celery, chopped
1 (4 oz.) can Mild Green Chilies, chopped
1 (15 oz) Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup Tomato, whole, crushed
1 cup Butternut Squash, cubed and roasted
1 1/2 teaspoons Cumin
Salt to taste
a few twists of Black Pepper, to taste

Peel and cube the butternut squash (or cheat like I do and buy it already peeled and cubes, Costco has a great 2 lb package.) Drizzle with little olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Roast for 40-45 minutes or so at 425. Stirring a once or twice. You'll use 1 cup of cooked squash in the chili. Use the rest in my favorite Fall casserole.

Saute onions till golden. Add garlic, celery, ground meat. Cook meat till no pink is seen. Add chilies, beans, tomatoes (crush them a bit when you stir them in), cooked squash and seasonings. Simmer on low for 30 minutes. This can be made ahead and reheated the next day... chili always tastes even better the next day when all the ingredients get a chance to love on one another.

I topped my bowl with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of shredded cheese. This is a mild chili (Mum is not a spicy fan) so if you like it hot maybe use a hot green chilies or add some hot sauce to taste. Also I prefer to use whole, canned tomatoes and crush them a little as I stir them in... I like chunky chili but you could use diced tomatoes too.

I have to share the lovely message I received today from a blog reader Heidi J. It made my day. Thank you Heidi!
Happy Sunday Shelly! I just wanted to drop you an email and say thank you for your blog and sharing your story!  I just had the Vertical Sleeve surgery on July 17th and am already down 83 pounds!  I had a baking day with some friends yesterday and we made mini protein muffins and mini protein donuts!  I am so unbelievably pleased with the results and am sharing these delicious bites with my fellow teachers.  Even though I am the only WLS person, my colleagues are LOVING anything I bring in made from your blog (Bento Box lunches included)! Thank you so much for the inspiration! With much appreciation, Heidi 
I am so happy for her and I love how she's embracing and sharing her new life with her friends and co-workers. Oh and she sent some photos of the baking day yummy looking results... Yum! 

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sharing Obesity Action Coalition Resources

Last weekend I had the pleasure of representing the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) at the Loma Linda University Hospital Health Fair in Murrieta, California (slightly north of me) It was a great event. Huge. Lots of great health information, tons of free preventive health screenings, a mini farmer's market, lots of fun family activities all free... rock wall, petting zoo, the cars from Back to the Future, Batman, Jurassic Park, Knight Rider, a pretty great band I was enjoying. Loads of freebies, my Mum came with and she walked around while I was doing my thing at the OAC booth and everyone was handing her fun swag. So if you are local be sure to check it out next year.

I met a lot of great folks and shared some of the free educational resources the OAC publishes and chatted about our efforts on weight bias and access to care issues. Hopefully a few new OAC members are joining from this area. Almost all the materials I brought were distributed!

If you are interested in becoming an OAC member it's only $10 till the end of the year (for a full year membership) instead of the regular $20... since it's our 10 year anniversary.

Here's my booth set-up...

The wind can kick up in the valley in the afternoon and I was glad I decided to bring a bunch of pumpkins to act as festive paperweights or I would have been running after flying brochures. It worked out well and looked pretty too. They are back in place now as my dining room table centerpiece. I am trying to get into the Fall spirit despite it being high 90's most of the week. It's supposed to cool down this weekend and I am looking forward to making those casseroles and soups I've been wanting to make. I have a whole Pinterest page of Fall yummy recipes and Halloween treats to make. Come on sweater weather!

Oh and those of you in the LA, IE, OC, SD area. Mark your calendars for Saturday, November 7th. The OAC is having a FREE Your Weight Matters Local 1/2 Day Event in Los Angeles during Obesity Week. Hope to see some of my local pals.

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

It's Pancake Lover's Day!

It's Pancake Lover's Day! I love pancakes. I make mine high protein and low carb. Sometimes sweet and sometimes savory. Here's a roundup of a few favorite blog recipes...

Shelly's Bruschetta Pancakes
Ricotta Pancakes with No Sugar Added Chia Jam
Savory Onion Ricotta Mini Pancakes with Smoked Salmon
Shelly's Variety Pancakes Bites
Shelly's Sand Dollar Churro Pancakes
Shelly's Ricotta Pancake Breadless Sandwiches
Shelly's Pistachio Pancakes
Shelly's Baked Raspberry Pancake (Clafoutis)
Shelly's Blueberry Cannoli Pancakes (IHOP healthified)

Find even more here and here.

The other day I was thinking about a movie I watched when I was a kid on one of those old metal projectors (am I dating myself?!) it was the late 70's (I graduated High School in 1989) anyway... I loved it... and because you can find EVERYTHING now on the Internet. I found it and watched it. It's sort of Halloweeny. Winter of the Witch. A single mom and her son move into a creepy old house with a witch that makes magic psychedelic pancakes. Anyway if you have 22 minutes and nothing to do. Not sure why they felt the need for us to watch it in elementary school but this may explain things about me ;)

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Flavors of Fall: Pumpkin Spice Protein Muffins

The first day of Fall is just days away but we're still in the high 90's in my 'hood so it's hard to get into the spirit. Oh how I want to. I'm longing to wear my favorite hoodie on a crisp morning walk. We had one day of rain last week I was so thrilled I roasted butternut squash and made a casserole for dinner. I want to use the oven more but uggh heating up the house is not appealing. I did make a batch of pumpkin spice muffins yesterday because they are done in 12 minutes. I can handle that. Especially for these. I have another version I make but I didn't have some of the ingredients so I adapted. I think I might even like this one better with the addition of chai spices.

Shelly's Pumpkin Spice Protein Mini Muffins

1 Egg, beaten
3 Tablespoons Milk
2 Tablespoons Sugar Free Vanilla Torani Syrup
1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
2 Tablespoons Pumpkin Puree (not pie filling)
3 Tablespoons Multigrain Pancake Mix
2 Tablespoons Big Train Spiced Chai Fit Frappe Protein Powder
1 scoop (1/4 cup-ish) Vanilla Protein Powder
Pinch salt

Mix egg, milk, syrup, pumpkin and oil and combine thoroughly. If you are watching your fat grams you could ax the oil and sub NSA applesauce but 1 T of oil for the whole batch is not a lot and I think they are tastier with it and doesn't compete with the pumpkin flavor. In a separate bowl, mix pancake mix, protein powders and salt. Tip dry into wet and stir till combined. Pour into a non stick 12 cup mini muffin pan that has been sprayed with Pam.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or till toothpick inserted comes out clean. Makes 12 moist, delicious, mini muffins.

Cooks Note: No Spiced Chai Protein? Get some. No seriously, it's a yummy shake or warm drink in the winter but then you can make my granola and yogurt dip too. Really can't wait to get it 1/2 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice and 1-1/2 -ish T of extra Vanilla Protein will work. But... really get the Spiced Chai, it's soooo good.

Optional: You can add cheese filling. I usually do about 1/2 the batch with filling and half I leave plain. Allow muffins to cool slightly. Using a drinking straw poke a little hole in the center of each mini muffin and pipe filling inside. The filling really makes them like a healthier version of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Muffins but those suckers are 420 calories a piece (most often paired with a 380 cal Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte) ouch?! that's no snack. P.S. Mine are about 40 cals.

Shelly's Cheese Filling

1/4 cup Ricotta Cheese
1 teaspoon Sugar Free Jello Cheesecake Pudding Mix, dry
2 teaspoons Sugar Free Vanilla Torani Syrup

Mix till well combined. Spoon into a piping bag or a snack sized baggie that has the corner snipped off. Seal baggie with tape. Pipe into mini muffins. This is plenty for 12 mini muffins. If you don't want to pipe it you can always slice them in half and smear it in the middle. Leftover filling is also great smeared on sliced apples.

More low carb, sugar free or no sugar added, weight loss surgery friendly recipes and tastes of Fall can be found on my Fall Pinterest Page.

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Friday, September 18, 2015

National Cheeseburger Day - 6 Low Carb Recipes to Celebrate

It's National Cheeseburger Day and while I tend to choose leaner protein sources most of the time. I love me a gooey cheeseburger. One of my favorites is a place called Burger Lounge, here in Temecula (several in Southern California) and they will wrap it in lettuce. Since I choose not to eat bread post weight loss surgery, it's a great low carb option (albeit a little messy.) I'm thankful most every place I've asked will accommodate. Try it. I think without the bread you get to taste and enjoy all the yummy stuff even more.

You can also get all the great taste of a cheeseburger in one of these favorite recipes from the blog...

Shelly's Top Hat Bacon Cheeseburger Sliders (Winner of Wolfgang Puck's Oscar Contest)
Shelly's Bacon Cheeseburger Bites
Shelly's Bacon Cheeseburger Soup
Shelly's Bacon Cheeseburger Deviled Eggs
Shelly's Cheeseburger Tortilla Pizza
Shelly's Bacon Onion Cheeseburger Mini Meatloaf

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Post Weight Loss Surgery Menus: A day in my pouch

A day in my pouch is a series of blog posts to show what a typical daily menu looks like in my post weight loss surgery world. Yesterday's healthy and delicious menu...

Breakfast: Ricotta Pancakes topped with Chia Jam. If you haven't made this jam yet, do it. It's sooo good. No sugar added topping for Greek yogurt, ricotta or cottage cheese, ricotta pancakes, smeared on a slice of protein cake or a protein muffin, as a protein ice cream topping, stirred in oatmeal (a spoon of powdered peanut butter and a spoon of this jam = PB&J heaven)

More Eggface Breakfast Ideas

Lunch: I am so done with summer. I'm ready for sweaters, pumpkin everything, casseroles, chilly air. It was 100 yesterday. Supposed to be 102 today and above 95 for the rest of the week. Uggh. So the first of many non-cook (aka not heating up the kitchen till after dark) lunches I will survive on for the next week was this sort of Caprese Salad with Fresh Mozzarella and Avocado (drizzle of balsamic dressing, salt, pepper, oregano)

More Eggface Healthy Salads and Cold Eats

Dinner: I made a batch of un-"breaded" chicken tenders and served them with a tomato pesto Greek yogurt dip (1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt and a dollop of that tomato pesto I made the other day) and sauteed zucchini and onions.

I just dredged some Foster Farms chicken tenders in beaten egg then in a combo of almond meal and parmesan (1/2 cup almond meal to 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese) and (salt, pepper, sprinkle of Zaatar) seasonings. I sauteed them in a small amount of olive oil but for an even lighter version you can bake them. I do 425 (foil lined, non stick sprayed, baking sheet) for 15-20 minutes depending on thickness.

Snacks: Too much coffee, I made a Cherry Coconut Protein Shake and later in the day in honor of Ants on a Log Day (which is actually today, so still time to celebrate) I made an assortment: the OG classic "Ants on a Log" peanut butter and raisins and "Ants and Friends" peanut butter and dark chocolate almond, almond butter and dried cranberry and dried cherry and spreadable cheese. I cut them in half post picture and shared with my Mum and she declared the cherry/cheese combo the winner. I couldn't decide, loved them all. Hooray for preschool snack time ;)

Shelly's Cherry Coconut Protein Shake

8 oz. Milk (any, I used soy)
1 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder
1 Tablespoon Sugar Free Torani Syrup (I used SF Coconut)
1/4 cup Frozen Cherries
a few cubes of ice

Whiz on high in a blender.

More Eggface Protein Shakes and Smoothies

More Days in my Pouch

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Monday, September 7, 2015

Life After Weight Loss Surgery Q & A - Couldn't you just try exercise and dieting?

One post-op's thoughts on life after weight loss surgery...

Question: Couldn't you just try exercise and dieting? Why have weight loss surgery?

Answer: I will answer your question but bear in mind... this is MY STORY and we (those who have chosen the helping hand of weight loss surgery to address their obesity) will have different stories (we are all unique snowflakes us humans.)

I dieted most of my teenage and adult years off and on and whenever I was told "well you know you really should lose some weight" by a Dr (they don't give you much more than that in a 10 minute visit) I would try the latest diet, best selling book, $$$ program, infomercial, pill or potion, etc. low carb, low cal, no fat, I did them all (none of which were covered by insurance, though my obesity related illnesses were but that's a rant for another day) and like most diets they will work for a time. I can suffer through anything for a few weeks, months but is it sustainable for life... that's the difference. I am not suffering. I utilized the early months after weight loss surgery to make lifestyle changes that I can live with forever... finding healthy food I love, eliminating some that needed to go, moving my body every day, working on the emotional factors of obesity. The scale #'s going down in a way no diet ever helped me achieve were a big motivation, my activity level just in everyday life increased and add the ability to move more easily and effectiveness of exercise without 150+ extra pounds but more importantly the rapid weight loss resolved all my health issues.

I had a ton of major health issues going on: GERD, acid reflux so severe that it would rise up out of my nose and mouth, severe sleep apnea episodes where I would stop breathing almost 100 times in the night, the combo of those are deadly as you can imagine (aspiration, lack of oxygen, stress on heart, stroke risk, etc.) as part of the treatment for those conditions (along with the high blood pressure and some other conditions) I was on 8 medications. You can imagine I wasn't always up for doing burpees or jogging... in fact many of the medications I was prescribed list weight gain as a side effect (not an excuse, just a fact.)

When you are next in a store like Costco or Sam's do this: pick up a 150 pound bag of something... rice or beans or dog food and try and run... but do it when you are ill and keep that bag with you for many years, at work, at school, try and fit in this world with it's airplane seats and tray tables, student desks, hospital gowns, and turnstiles... oh and on occasion as you are carrying that weight have someone call you names, or treat you differently, or pass you over, or assume and make judgements, make disgusted faces or ask questions like "have you ever tried dieting and exercise?"

Hope that answers your question.

P.S. But wait there's more... and then when you decide with the advice of your doctor that surgical assistance is needed you have to justify your "readiness to change" and wait for 6-12 months as you jump through hoops for approval of the procedure. Often despite all the hoop jumping, you are denied coverage and that blow is so devastating that many do not recover from it, too tired and ill to fight the powers that be. Is there another condition or disease that this would ever happen with?! (There isn't) "I'm sorry Ms. Vicari before we grant your heart bypass or stent you have to prove you tried to change your diet and exercised and if in 6 month you lose xx amount of weight and bring us proof we'll help you... maybe." or "I'm sorry Ms. Vicari we can't remove the tumor or give you chemo or radiation until you show that you can change your lifestyle." It's unacceptable.

I am thankful everyday for the helping hand weight loss surgery gave me and to all those that infer I cheated, took a shortcut or the easy way out (like health is some sort of game) or say "Ohhh you had that surgery, I lost weight with diet and exercise" I say... "Yeah me too, every single day for the rest of my life." Best wishes to all of us!

Join me and become a member of the Obesity Action Coalition, together we're working for positive change to some of the negatives above (It's only $10 for the remainder of the year too, part of the OAC's 10th Anniversary celebration.)

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomato Recipes

Last week I found out I was the winner of an Instagram contest held by Windset Farms and California Grown. Big THANK YOU! Oodles of gorgeous California grown veggies arrived on my doorstep: Concerto Grape Tomatoes, Tomatoes on the Vine, Campari Tomatoes, Symphony Tomato Ensemble, Roma Tomatoes, Fresco Seedless Cucumbers and Fresco Cocktail Cukes! Cucumbers are my post weight loss surgery cracker replacement and I love tomatoes (Hello?! 1/2 Sicilian) so it really was the perfect prize for me to win.

You should go follow them on Instagram @windsetfarms and @CAgrownofficial to get in on their next giveaway tell them @theworldaccordingtoeggface sent you over. Be sure to follow me I do some fun Instagram giveaways from time to time too.

Needless to say I've been making A LOT of recipes with tomatoes this past week. I took the Roma tomatoes and made a big pot of Chili for dinner the very first night, 1/2 of which is in the freezer and will make for an easy dinner next week. I made a few salads, a few bento box lunches, invited neighbors to have a taste and I even broke out my dehydrator and dried some. This morning I turned the dried tomatoes into a crazy good pesto I plan to use in recipes this week... thinking about mixing some into one of my mini meatloaf recipes. Will post the results.

Here's a few of my favorites uses from last week...

Shelly's Pizza Tomatoes

Sliced Tomatoes
Shredded Italian Blend Cheese
Grated Parmesan
a sprinkle of Salt
a few twists of Black Pepper
a dash of Oregano

Slice the tomatoes, top with a Tablespoon of shredded cheese, sprinkle seasonings and Parmesan. Broil till bubbly and slightly golden.

I served them as a side with Egg Bites (crustless quiches) and another day with grilled fish. Delicious and easy side dish I will make often. I think I might put a slice of pepperoni on top next time.

5 Healthy Pizza Snacks

Along the same lines as the above one afternoon I made low carb, breadless Tuna Melts...

Shelly's Breadless Tuna Melts (Tuna Salad topped Tomatoes)

Sliced Tomatoes
Tuna Salad
Sliced Cheese

Make your tuna salad however you like it. Mine: Lemon Pepper seasoned tuna with chopped green onion and chopped cucumber, a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, salt & pepper to taste.

Top the sliced tomatoes. Top with sliced cheese. Broil till melty and bubbly. About 3 minutes.

More Eggface Healthy Salads

Some of my winnings showed up in some Bento Box Lunches like this one...

Pink Box (top left): Ham and Cucumber "Sandwiches" with Mustard
Green Box (top right): Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pecan Quest Protein Bar "Cookies"
Blue Box (bottom left): Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with a dash of Oregano & drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar
Orange Box (bottom right): Mango

More Bento Box lunches, FAQ's and an Online Source for them
My Bento Pinterest Page (Tons of Lunch Ideas) 

Some became part of one of my favorite things to do Tidbit Parties: protein packed snacks, fresh air, good conversation and laughs with family and friends.

Pictured above: Fresh Mozzarella, Cucumber Spears, Tomatoes, Shelly's Parmesan Yogurt Dip (1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, a Tablespoon grated Parmesan, a sprinkle of oregano, salt and pepper to taste.)

More Eggface Healthy Party Foods

and my Pesto project...

Shelly's Tomato Pesto

1/2 cup Dried Tomatoes (not oil packed)
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan
2 Tablespoons Walnuts
a couple of cloves of Garlic
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt and a few twists of Black Pepper to taste

Pulse all ingredients in a mini food processor till desired consistency. You can replace walnuts with pine nuts (they are $$$ though) or almonds. It'll stay for a week in the fridge or freeze in ice cube trays. Mix in Greek yogurt for a dip or dressing. Spread on fish or chicken before baking. Mix in recipes. Spread on a tortilla pizza instead of sauce. Mixed in chicken, tuna, bean or egg salad. Mix in soup. Endless uses.

I was determined to use every last one of those delicious tomatoes. Hope the above gives you a few ideas.

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