Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

This morning I had my two-week post-op appointment with the surgeon, and it was refreshing because it was the first time I had an appointment in the bariatric department when I wasn’t worried about making the weight loss requirement.  Unlike my previous appointments, I even had breakfast (a protein shake) prior to weighing in.

gold-starI got on the scale, and it showed 266, which is an 11 pound loss since the day of surgery.  (It also means that I’ve lost 49 lbs so far, so I’m hoping that a big, celebratory post will be in order tomorrow!).  Then they took my blood pressure, something that in the past has always been on the lower side of the high range.  Today it read 119/79, which they said is perfect!  I’m thrilled!!  They asked me a series of questions about my medication, my diet, my pain, as well as my overall feeling, and told me they were really impressed with how well I was doing.  That I was following everything to the letter, and that it showed.  (I felt like they were giving me a gold star, and being the girl who is the perfect student, that was amazing).

Then I met with the surgeon, who said that he was impressed with the way that my scars were healing, with my level of energy, and my general health.  He said I was a model patient!!  He answered a few of the questions that I had, and the entire appointment went really smoothly.

Today’s visit:

  • cleared me for driving!!
  • allows me to move on to more activities than just walking.  Bike, elliptical, and light weight training – here I come.  As soon as all my incisions completely close (2-3 days’ time), I can start swimming!!
  • moves me into Stage III foods!!!!

Stage III Foods

The exciting thing about Stage III foods is that it opens up a wide set of textures and tastes that make me feel like more of a normal person again.  I get to chew my food!  :D  On Stage III I can eat:

  • eggs (although I don’t think I’ll be partaking, since I’m not a huge fan)
  • deli lunchmeat, like turkey, chicken, and ham
  • soft fish, like tilapia, salmon (in moderation), etc.  (No shrimp yet, since those are firmer)
  • canned tuna and chicken
  • tofu
  • dairy: Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, string cheese, semi-soft cheeses (like gouda, mozzarella, etc).
  • all fruit!!  I have to peel the skin off of fruits like apples and pears, but otherwise, I can have all of them.  Pre-op I was limiting my fruit because of the carbs, but now that my portions are so small, I’m going to have fruit with most meals.
  • most veggies, well cooked.  (Stage 4 is where I can have raw veggies and greens, which I cannot wait for).  They did say to avoid overly fibrous vegetables, like asparagus.
  • hard crackers and well-toasted wheat bread
  • mashed potatoes

I can work with that!  I’m already thinking of fun meal plans. Today I kept things fairly simple:


I can’t tell you how delicious the peach tasted!  And having crackers and tuna?  So  good!


My veggies have to be “well cooked,” and since I really don’t like overcooked vegetables, I decided to grill the eggplant.  One small eggplant yielded enough for lunch and dinner for the next few days.

I can already tell that my grocery bill is going to go way down.  It’s going to take some getting used to not to overbuy, but I guess that’s all part of my new lifestyle.  I am definitely going to keep Eggface’s blog in my bookmarks, because she puts together food that looks so appealing (maybe because Shelly’s Italian, too, so we like the same foods?). In any case, I put one of her famous bentos on my Amazon wishlist, and I’m hoping I get it for my birthday.  If not, I’ll buy one before school starts, because it really is perfect for portion control post-wls.

Today was a great day, the whole way around.  Not only did I have a stellar appointment, but I am eating food I really enjoy, AND I got to spend the day with my dad.  He was kind enough to plant a bunch of flowers for me.  (See my IG photo —->).

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Happy Monday! It’s been a little while since I’ve had the time on Mondays to take part in the FMM posts, so I’m happy to have a bit of time to write this up.

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: www.alltheweigh.com so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Food Questions

1. What did you eat for dinner last night? Lowfat curry chicken with roasted cauliflower.
2. If you could make one food calorie-free for the next year, What would you choose? Cheese.
3. How often do you go to the grocery store? I average about 2-3 times a week – I go to Sprouts for produce, Safeway or Target for a few name brand items, and Trader Joe’s for most other things.
4. Do you make a list before buying groceries? Most of the time, it helps me stay organized and get through the shopping quicker.  I’ve also noticed that if I stick to a list, I stay on budget a bit easier.
5. List three things that can always be found in your kitchen. Leafy greens, protein powder, and Cherub tomatoes.
6. How often do you clean out your fridge? I do a thorough cleaning, taking out the drawers and shelves, on a monthly basis.
7. Do you ever use a slow cooker? If so, will you share a recipe? I have a few great, go-to slow cooker recipes, but my all time favorite is my version of Hungry Girl’s 10-Alarm Crock Pot Turkey Chili:

8. How often do you try new recipes? I love trying new recipes!  I’ve found a ton of great ones on Pinterest, ZipList, and Skinnytaste.com.
9. What is the most delicious meal(s) you make? Without sounding like I’m bragging, I would say that most of the meals I make are delicious.  :)  I really enjoy cooking for myself.  Check out Bella Cooks to see some of my recipes.
10. Share at least one thing that is currently in your kitchen even though you don’t like it.  I bought some Better n Peanut Butter to see if I liked it, and it’s awful.  It tastes so artificial and gross.  It’s definitely heading into the garbage can soon.

Now it’s your turn to answer the questions!   And also be sure to go back to Kenlie’s blog and leave a link to your FMM post in the comments!  I really encourage you to comment on as many people’s posts as you can – I’ve met some fantastic people through FMM, including Kim, among many other wonderful people.  You never know who you’ll meet today.

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It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for a WIAW. What I Ate Wednesday is a fun weekly post/blog social event started over at Peas and Crayons. If you want to follow my eats everyday, become my friend on MyFitnessPal.



My first time using PB2 – I loved it in my smoothie on Saturday!


I got this idea from Truly Jess: layered oats + Fage + PB2. It was so hearty and stayed with me for hours.



My usual wrap (Flatout, 2 oz turkey, 2 oz ham, 1 wedge Laughing Cow, romaine leaves) + cucumber sprinkled with Tajin (chili lime seasoning I get from the Mexican market).


I tried one of the Lean Cuisine salad creations, and added my own romaine. It was convenient and tasted good, but not something I’d buy on a daily basis. I can make my own salads just as well for less.



Stir fry: jalapeno chicken sausage, kale, onions, mushrooms, red and green bell peppers. (sorry the photo is so dark).


My Hungry Girl 10-Alarm Turkey Chili with 1 TBSP Greek yogurt and 1 oz shredded cheese + a salad. Great on a cold night.


Skinnytaste.com’s baked chicken cutlet (her recipe uses lemon juice & olive oil instead of egg before dipping into the breadcrumbs, and I love the fresh flavor the lemon adds to the chicken) with broccoli rabe. This was the perfect Sunday Dinner meal – very Italian.



Absolutely gorgeous watermelon radish. I love that they’re spicier than regular radishes, and SO much prettier!

  • What was the best thing you’ve eaten today? This week?

I highly recommend joining in on the WIAW posts! Not only do you get a TON of great ideas for healthy, interesting meals, but you can make some new blogging buddies, too.

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It’s Wednesday, and now that I’m back to eating real food for all three meals (well, including protein shakes for breakfast), I’m excited that I can once again participate in WIAW. What I Ate Wednesday is a fun weekly post/blog social event started over at Peas and Crayons. If you want to follow my eats everyday, become my friend on MyFitnessPal.

This past week I’ve LOVED my veggies, especially cauliflower! My sister even joked that with all of the recipes I’ve been using cauliflower for, I will soon be able to write my own cookbook. It really is a great substitute for rice and even pizza dough now that I’m eating low carb.


As I mentioned, I’ve been having protein shakes for breakfast everyday. Some days I grab a pre-made Premeir Nutrition shake and other mornings that I have a bit more time, I blend up my own using protein powder and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. My go-to protein powders have been Syntrax Cookies & Cream and BSN Lean Dessert Banana Nut Bread. If you have any other favorite protein powders, please let me know.


As much as I crave variety in my dinner menu, you’d think I’d get bored with the thing for lunch everyday. I guess I’ve been loving my homemade wraps so much that I don’t mind. I use a Flat Out wrap, spread it with a Laughing Cow wedge, add clover sprouts or romaine lettuce, and fill it with ham & turkey or tuna, pickles, and mayo (on Fridays). I pair the wrap with popcorn/pretzel nuggets or sliced bell pepper/cucumbers with Bolthouse Farms yogurt dressing.



Dinners are where my variety and creativity have come into play. I’ve been having fun trying strange and unusual recipes, as you’ll see. I can’t wait to read everyone else’s WIAW posts so I can get even more new ideas. Since I’m avoiding eating complex carbs at night (rice, pasta, potatoes, bread), I’ve noticed that I’ve really been coming up with inventive substitutions. It’s fun experimenting in the kitchen.

Last Thursday I made pizza with cauliflower crust, and while I still need to perfect the recipe in terms of texture, the taste was out of this world. I’ll definitely make this pizza again and again.


Friday I was having my sister over for dinner, and since it’s Lent, we wanted to keep it meatless. But I also wanted to keep it from getting boring or blah, so I made my grilled sriracha-marinated tofu. It has the perfect amount of spice to warm up any winter night. I paired it with TJ’s Organic Power to the Greens sauteed with onions and garlic.

Saturday I made my delicious lowfat chicken curry, but instead of having a side of rice, I thought roasted cauliflower would be a great replacement. Boy was I right! I actually think I like the meal better this way.


I have been really enjoying turkey meatloaf “muffins.”  I haven’t written a formal recipe post for them (yet), but I combine 1 package of Jennie-O Italian seasoned ground turkey, 1 whole egg, a few TBSPs of grated Parmesan/Romano cheese, 1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs, 1 onion, and 1 red bell pepper. I spoon the mixture into muffin tins and back at 400 for 45-50 min.  So, so good!   I I love how the muffins give me instant portion control.  Last night I had 3 muffins (mushed up in this photo) along with rainbow chard sauteed with onions and garlic.



I’ve been trying to make sure that my afternoon snacks have a nice balance of protein, carbs, and veggies:

When I’m not eating my carefully measured Girl Scout cookies (5 Trefoils = 160 calories), I’ve been loving Fage with 1/2 TBSP of cocoa and a few drops of chocolate liquid stevia. So rich and decadent, yet only 100 calories!


  • What was the best thing you’ve eaten today? This week?

I highly recommend joining in on the WIAW posts! Not only do you get a TON of great ideas for healthy, interesting meals, but you can make some new blogging buddies, too.

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bilblcooksCheesy Garlic Cauliflower Pizza Crust

I first heard about this recipe from one of the YouTubers I follow, VSGTanya. Her video gives step-by-step instructions. This recipe interested me because I’m trying to keep things low carb, and who doesn’t love pizza? This recipe does take time to prepare, but it’s definitely worth it.


cauliflower crust


The best thing about this pizza (and all pizzas) is that you can top it with whatever you like, so I’ll show you what I topped this with in a little bit.

Preheat oven to 450.

Cut cauliflower into florets and boil for 10 minutes.


20130222-103652.jpg Drain cauliflower thoroughly.  The video emphasized how important it is to remove as much water from the cauliflower as possible.  I should have heeded this warning a bit more, because I think this is one of the reasons that my first attempt was softer than I’d have liked.

20130222-103724.jpg Rice the cauliflower.  Rather than a ricer, which I don’t have, I used my Cuisinart, which made quick work of it.

***After trying the recipe and realizing that the crust was too soft, I did a bit of research online and discovered a slightly different method for these first steps on Eating Bird Food, which I’ll use when I make this the next time:

  1. Rice the cauliflower in the Cuisinart.
  2. Sauté the cauliflower for 6-8 minutes in a nonstick skillet.  This seems like it would really help with removing the moisture.

20130222-105840.jpgIf you have a pizza stone, use it, because that will really help the crust get a bit crispier.  Since I don’t have one, I put some olive oil on a cookie sheet that I covered with foil (makes cleanup easier), then I added parchment paper. (The olive oil helps the parchment paper stick to the cookie sheet).  Then I used my Misto to spray a tiny bit of olive oil on the top of the parchment paper, too.  I had absolutely no problem with the pizza sticking.

20130222-103747.jpg The recipe called for for one riced up of cauliflower.

20130222-103803.jpg Combine the cauliflower, quattro formaggio (or shredded parm), light mozzarella, crushed garlic, 1 egg white, and spices.  I used Italian seasoning, dried oregano, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder (the title does have ‘garlic’ in it!).  I didn’t add any salt, since I’d salted the water I boiled the cauliflower in and the cheese can be salty.

Now comes the messy part: flattening and shaping the crust onto the sheet.  The recipe calls for the crust to be fairly thin, to aid with crisping.


In terms of cooking time, the original recipe I was following said to cook it for 15 minutes at 450.  Because I felt it was a bit soft, I think I’d cook it for at least 10 minutes more next time (25 min).

Now let’s talk toppings: I used pizza sauce, jalapeño chicken sausage, and mushrooms, plus a bit more of both cheeses (a 1/8 cup of each, total).


The possibilities are endless in terms of what you could top the pizza with.  Next time I’m thinking of bbq sauce, chicken, and purple onions.  I’d also love to try a veggie version one of these Fridays of Lent.

My finished product looked and smelled delicious!


Other than the crust being softer than I’d like, it was simply delicious.  Definitely a better, lower calorie, lower carb version of something I love.  I ate mine “Italian style” with a knife and fork because the crust wouldn’t allow me to pick it up with my hands.  Reviews of the second method I mention said that the crust was strong/crisp enough to eat it by hand.

20130222-104009.jpg I ate 2 servings – 1/2 the pizza, and as I made it with my toppings, it came to 367 calories, 8g carbs, 23g fat (high because of the cheese), and 35g of protein.

I highly recommend this recipe with the second set of directions for the prep of the cauliflower.  I can’t wait to have the leftovers and to try it again.

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I love that I’m writing my weekend wrap-up on a Tuesday! Don’t you just love short weeks like this one?

I had a fantastic weekend! It was a perfect mix of fun, obligations, and down time. If you follow me on Instagram (bellablogger), you’ve seen many of these photos already, but most of them are good enough to view more than once.

Saturday Scenes


Sofi & I started off with a late-morning walk around our neighborhood. I’m happy to report that I was able to walk at my pre-plantar fasciitis speed. Sofi was as relieved as I was that I’m back to normal.


Later in the afternoon, I met up with Tinkerbell, her hubby, and two of their friends for a “biker gang” bike ride. I’ve never ridden with 4 other people before. I’m sure we were a funny site, since we all have beach cruisers. It as a gorgeous day, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than riding my bike on a sunny Saturday.


This week marks the end of my amaryllis. A student had given me the bulbs as a thank you for a letter of recommendation that I wrote for her, and I’ve enjoyed watching it grow and bloom since November.

Sunday Scenes


Sunday morning I headed out bright and early to take yoga at my local Lululemon store. I love that local instructors from all sorts of studios take turns leading these classes. It’s always a form of vinyasa, and since that’s the type of yoga I’m least familiar with, I’m really enjoying trying it. Plus, I woke up the next day sore all over, which is always a great sign.


Ani had met me at yoga, and afterward we grabbed tea and basked in the sunshine. It was a great way to begin the day.


Sunday afternoon my 49ers came back from a 17-point deficit to secure their spot in the Superbowl!!! As a lifelong 9ers fan, I can’t tell you how excited I am that they’re returning to the glory days of the 80s and early 90s. It’s been a long time in coming, but it just feels like this year is our time.


After the game, my friend Di and I met up for iced tea (Passion tea for me)and “catch up” time. Yes, that does make two trips to Starbucks in one day, but at least both of my drinks were calorie-free and counted towards my water intake.

Scenes from Monday


After skipping the aqua aerobics class I’d planned on because it was way too chilly out, I was sure to make my date with the elliptical. Again, I’m seeing progress in my heel, because just a few weeks ago I wasn’t able to stand on the elliptical for 30 minutes. I also want to note that I actually burned 605 calories.


A post-wrokout, post-grocery store shot of me driving with the convertible top down. It was in the high 60s all weekend, and you know when it gets anywhere near a warm temp like that, my Beetle goes topless. (It also helped that I was so warm after my workout that the breeze didn’t bother me one bit).


Finally, a shot of the roasted broccoli I made last night. I’m not a huge fan of broccoli (one of the only veggies I don’t really like), but I do like it roasted. I added a bit of olive oil, sea salt, and quite a bit of cayenne pepper. I popped it in the oven at 400 for 20 minutes. Delish! (I make cauliflower the same way, but at 425 for 25-30 minutes).

The rest of the day and evening on Monday was spent cleaning and getting ready for the week ahead.

All in all, I had a really fun, productive weekend.  I’m proud of myself for working out each day, seeing several friends, and getting everything else accomplished.  If only all weekends could last 3 days!

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Throughout the month of December, I’ll be participating in #reverb12: celebrating the successes of 2012, honoring the challenges of 2012, and planting the seeds for a rich and rewarding 2013. December is the perfect time to reflect on the year that has passed and start to manifest dreams for the new year.

Day 15 – What was the most extraordinary dish you sampled in 2012? What made it so magical? It needn’t be the most extravagant dish, just the one that knocked your socks off with its flavor, texture, aroma, freshness, color, significance, timing… whatever. Relive the magic and help us savor it with you here.

The best dish I created in 2012 was the evening I had my parents and sister over for a seafood feast.  I indulged on the ingredients, but it was worth every penny to experience their enjoyment of the meal.  Here’s a repost of my original one:

Originally posted on August 28, 2012, as part of a #WIAW post.
It all started when I saw this lobster salad recipe on Skinnytaste. I’ll get into the details of that meal later, it’s a good one. Ever since school started I’ve been in the mood to try new recipes. Summertime is always really laid back, and I go with the flow in terms of recipes. Now that school’s back in, I find myself craving the creative outlet that trying new recipes gives me. It’s strange, you’d think that I’d do more innovative cooking in the summer, when I have nothing but time on my hands, but I guess I like to keep it flexible, even with cooking.

First up is a delicious baked crab cake recipe from Skinnytaste. (Can you tell I love her site?) I tried the recipe out earlier in the week, because it was my first time making it, and I didn’t want to serve it to my parents and sister at Saturday’s dinner party without trying it first. I modified the recipe just slightly, and although mine don’t look half as appealing as hers, they tasted great.


The diner party was designed around Skinnytaste’s Chilled Lobster, Sweet Corn, and Tomato Salad. There’s quite a story behind making this dish, but I’ll save the details for the actual Bella Cooks blog post. One thing I will say is that this is one time that living on the West Coast puts me at a disadvantage. Lobster is expensive here – two lobster tails were $50! But my family is worth the splurge, and the salad tasted so fresh and healthy that it was well worth it.


I wish this photo wasn’t blurry, because the dish really looked gorgeous.

I wanted to start off the dinner with a nice accompaniment, and my sister actually suggested an avocado salad. I searched, and found this Chilled Avocado Soup on EatBoutique. This was the surprise hit of the evening. Everyone raved about it, and I agree. I’ll absolutely make this again. I don’t like cilantro, so I substituted Italian parsley, and it was simply divine. And it only took about 15 minutes to put together!


Here’s a shot of the seafood feast. One of my FB friends said that this angle makes it look like you’re sitting with us at the table, so I thought I’d include it. My mom, who is an amazing cook in her own right, was incredibly impressed by my planning and execution, and I think she was really touched that I put in all this effort for my family.


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