Friday, February 25, 2011

Bruschetta makes everything better.

I learned to like brown rice because of bruschetta.  The irony here is that once upon a time I used to HATE tomatoes. I'm sure they felt the same way, until my friend Lindsey introduced us properly. Since that glorious day when she force fed me a piece of her homemade Tomato Basil Bruschetta we have been close friends.
I now keep a batch of the tomato topping on hand at all times and it has been used on everything from omelets at breakfast to fish at dinner.
So when I got the news that I had to cut calories, I knew that I wasn't going to lose my friend bruschetta. No way... not now...not ever. They can pry the goodness from my cold dead... well you get the picture.

The classic recipes usually contain more olive oil than balsamic vinegar, but that doesn't work for me now.  Because I wanted the ability to closely monitor the fats I chose to make my Hypo Bruschetta without oil. Instead, I add it in if necessary on bread but I use a sprayer from Pampered Chef that has olive oil in it.

So here's my recipe for
Hypo Bruschetta Topping

(Keep in mind that I NEVER measure this. )
5-8 roma tomatoes
, chopped
6 leaves fresh basil, roll them together and slice (it's called a chiffonade if you want to sound fancy)
1 few glugs of really good balsamic vinegar2-8 cloves fresh garlic (the amount varies depending on how many people I may have to talk to after I eat it)
1-2 tablespoons onion, chopped
Mix all of this together and let it sit for a little bit before devouring.

Here are a few things I like to do with it
1) Do the classic thing. Use it as a topping on whole wheat bread. Add a slice of fresh mozzarella on top and pop it under the broiler until the cheese is melted.
2) Cook up a few egg whites to top a toasted whole wheat english muffin and put this on top.
3) Use this instead of pasta sauce.

4) It's very good with leftover chicken on a lettuce salad.
5) Saute it with some olive oil and whole wheat ravioli.
6) Add it to steamed green beans.
7) It tastes great on grilled chicken, tilapia, salmon and beef.
8) Stuffed peppers! Use bruschetta, brown rice/wild rice blend and ground turkey to make an amazing stuffed pepper. (I really ought to blog about this one sometime cause it is sooo good.)
9) Add a few pieces of mozzarella and some bruschetta to brown rice or pasta. I take this to work a lot. About a minute and 30 seconds in the microwave gives me a delicious lunch.
10) Use it as a topping on a baked potato.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Denny's for the breakfast win?

Making smart breakfast choices is easy on the weekdays when I take my usual half of a whole wheat English muffin with 1 tbs peanut butter, 8 oz skim milk and piece of fresh fruit.
The weekends are hard though. I was known and loved for my breakfast skillets and homemade waffles. None of those things, including the pumpkin and cinnamon roll waffles have made an appearance in this household since the diagnosis, but someday I will modify them to meet the rules.
Anyway, last Saturday when I overslept and we needed to run errands, my husband suggested we just grab breakfast on the road and I reluctantly agreed. We dropped the car off for service and walked to Denny's. As we took our seat I was ready to break the rules because obviously this place was full of grease and had nothing to offer someone with dieting and sugar issues.
The place mat on the table was meant for me. Beautiful picture of pancakes to get my attention and the words "whole wheat pancakes" to keep it there. HOORAY! I won't totally break the rules (too badly)!
So I settled on the Grand Slam with egg whites, whole wheat pancakes with sugar free syrup, turkey bacon, a chicken patty and orange juice.
Clearly this was more food than I was allowed, but I can justify almost anything. (This meal was ok considering the time we finally got our food, the fact that I counted it as a breakfast and a snack, I planned on doing some exercise later, my jeans felt loose, it was a full moon and I avoided coffee all week so a slight splurge was allowed.)
The chicken patty was left untouched after a nibble and the egg whites were pretty greasy, but those pancakes hit the spot.  They were so good, and I wanted to finish them so badly but there was no room in the Inn. It's funny to say that because not long ago I was the girl that could finish off a large pizza by herself.

Calorie wise, it wasn't toooooo bad. Each whole wheat pancake has the following:
Calories: 155, Total Fat: .75g, Total Carbs: 32g, Protein: 5g I was able to finish about 1 and a quarter of the pancakes (193cal) with more sugar free syrup than I needed (46cal), plus the egg whites (50cal) and the 2 pieces of turkey bacon (70cal) and glass of orange juice (140). It was definitely more calories than I am used to consuming in the morning, but at roughly 500 calories, I could have done MUCH MUCH worse.

Now after reading this if you are as hungry for whole wheat pancakes as I am, take a click over to the American Diabetes Association's recipe and let me know what you think.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Shopping for a multivitamin

See the hypo girl shop.
See the hypo girl read labels.
See the hypo girl throw bottles of multivitamins at the heads of helpless store clerks.

It's not easy to shop for a vitamin, or to choose which one is best. Shopping for clothes is easy. Clothes fit, they make my body a little more bootylicious, I buy them. Shopping for sinus medicine is easy. Find card that says the good stuff is behind the counter, surrender drivers license into state database, buy it. If I feel better I repeat that choice the next time I have those same symptoms.
But how do you really know if you are benefiting from a multivitamin? There are so many variations on the market, and they are not mandated by any manufacturing rules. Basically this means that a multivitamin may not contain what the bottle claims or it could be contaminated with something from the manufacturing plant, or might have tainted ingredients.
So how do you know....
Well you can look for bottles containing a seal from the United States Pharmacopoeia or NSF International. Both of those are nonprofit groups that offer checks to companies that volunteer for them. They make sure the goods aren't contaminated with bads and offer a pretty seal of approval if it is all good.  The other option is to ask your doctor to recommend a good multivitamin.

In doing my homework online (and trying to avoid a breakdown in the vitamin isle) I have found a wonderful article that told me what I knew, but didn't want to hear. I need more than just a one-pill wonder here.
The following vitamin cocktail is recommended by the University of Maryland Medical Center in their article about Hypoglycemia.
  • A daily multivitamin, containing the antioxidant vitamins A, C, E, the B-complex vitamins, and trace minerals such as magnesium, calcium, zinc, and selenium.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil, 1 - 2 capsules or 1 - 2 tbs. of oil daily, to help decrease inflammation and help with immunity. Omega-3 fatty acids can have a blood thinning effect. People taking blood thinning medications should speak to their doctor before taking omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Vitamin C, 500 - 1,000 mg daily, as an antioxidant and for immune support.
  • Alpha-lipoic acid, 25 - 50 mg twice daily, for antioxidant support.
  • Magnesium, 250 - 750 mg daily, for nutrient support. If you are taking blood pressure medication or other heart medication, speak to your doctor before taking magnesium.
  • Chromium, 250 - 800 mcg daily, for blood sugar regulation.
  • Probiotic supplement (containing Lactobacillus acidophilus), 5 - 10 billion CFUs (colony forming units) a day, when needed for maintenance of gastrointestinal and immune health. Some acidophilus products may need refrigeration -- read labels carefully.

It makes sense to me, especially all the things about immune support because I have literally spent a 1/3 of this year sick with something. It's a bit ridiculous. The news about chromium and how it is being researched with diabetes is pretty interesting. According to a great article by "Studies have shown that chromium supplementation is helpful with hypoglycemia and can improve glucose tolerance test results and increase the number of insulin receptors on red blood cells."

So now I know what I want to do and I'll fax a copy of this vitamin plan to my doctor before I purchase all of the cocktail ingredients. It would be great to find a mix that helped combat the illnesses and helped me stay on track to becoming a healthier me.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Vegetable Mind Games - Butternut Squash

I will trick myself into liking every vegetable... some how...

This week's nemesis is Butternut Squash.
I know it is good for me, but I am not a fan. Because of that, I sought out a recipe to trick my mind into enjoying it and landed on Parmesan Squash Cakes from Eating Well. For those of you that haven't checked out I highly recommend it. You can search by eating restrictions such as diabetic recipes, gluten free, high fiber, low sodium...etc. And while their recipes look amazing, I really love this site because of their exchange lists on the bottom of each recipe. As someone learning new ways to combine my 1 oz of protein, with the 1 veggie serving, and 1 carb in interesting ways it is extremely comforting to know someone has done the calculations for me.

The first change I made to their recipe was using Butternut Squash instead of a summer squash like the recipe suggested (because it is winter). The second was using only half the Parmesan cheese because I didn't realize we were almost out of it.I'm really looking forward to summer because summer squash counts as a veggie. This butternut squash is a starch.
Prep time took a lot long then I planned and I nearly lost a finger in the Squash vs. Grater round-off. If you have a food processor, USE IT. The recipe says it takes only 35 minutes to make, but grating time took at least that long.  Don't try and be a hero and grate it all by hand.

From the beginning my family was not on board with this dinner option, but they agreed to taste it. My husband and daughter both choked down a bite before they gave up and hid like cowards. I powered through because I was starving, it was my only option, and I had to prove that I was braver and tougher than them.
It really wasn't that bad. The leftovers were really good and easy to grab and heat up at work. I put each one in a little  fold top sandwich bag, and heated it for 30 seconds. it was perfect. Really my only complaint is that I am not a huge Butternut Squash fan, but I'm working on it.

I will try this recipe again when it isn't winter, and it isn't rainy, and I have guarded the Parmesan from the refrigerator goblins.  Until then I will continue to steam or saute the chopped butternut squash with cayenne pepper and garlic because that seems to be the only way I can handle it.  If you have a butternut squash recipe that you love please send it my way.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hypo Pizza

I love pizza! On this new hypo diet I'm not really allowed to have it though. Ok ok, I am, but it is very restricting with what can be on it, and pizza delivery places don't exactly have that whole grain crust option. Anyway, once I get an idea in my head it is pretty hard to just let it go. Once I get that craving it is equally hard to let it go, and so I gave in and ordered the pizza I wanted so badly.
Some of it was because of my inherited German stubbornness and reluctance to accept this new lifestyle, the rest of it is also stubbornness. But here's what I learned:
1) That Dominoes pizza binge really hit the spot because I had been dreaming about it for weeks.
2) No one should be allowed to eat half a large delivery pizza, no matter how good it is or how long they had it reserved online.
3) I felt like ass after I ate that pizza.
4) I need to find another way to satisfy my pizza craving that won't leave me feeling sick all night.
5) I need it to be delicious and as easy as ordering online.

Enter my dear friend, Lester...
We had a date night, and let me explain because my family had some Facebook confusion:
Lester is a girl. I am not cheating on my husband and dating other people. And even though she has been my "second husband" for years now... I'm not into her like that.
Lester and I devised a plan to meet up at her place to make a pizza, and because I like bragging here it goes:

Here is the recipe for all you lovely people
Hypo Margherita Pizza

1 whole wheat Boboli pre-made pizza crust (Yup, it's a real product!!)
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 tablespoon of that pre-chopped garlic in a jar
A few glugs of olive oil
Some salt
Fresh mozzarella cut in slices to cover the pizza
Fresh basil leaves (roll about 5-10 together in a ball and slice it thinly)
Grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 450. Put olive oil on pizza crust, then mozzarella, then tomatoes, sprinkle with garlic and a little salt. Toss it in the oven and watch some Jersey Shore or other trashy TV for 8-10 minutes. When it comes out toss on the sliced basil and Parmesan. Slice, eat and return to the TV trash.

We rounded out the hypo meal with some fresh green beans sauteed in garlic and some fresh fruit. It really was delicious and super easy.
So here's what I learned:
1) There is no other place in at least a 40 mile radius that I could go to for this delicious well rounded and controlled meal.
2) Leftovers would probably be good, but the two of us polished of the whole thing easily.
3) I felt great all night, despite eating half a pizza.
4) As far as the diet... I spaced out the slices.. one for dinner and the other a little while later as my snack. It still wasn't perfectly on point, but it was really, really close.
5) With the ingredients on hand I can make it faster than a pimply faced pizza delivery person can find my house.
6) It was cheaper than delivery. The most expensive part was the fresh mozzarella, and I have several plans for cooking with the remainder of it in the future.

Mmmmmmm...learning tastes good.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ain't no party like a Hypo girl's party

I love to entertain and make delicious goodness so we frequently have parties where I can show off and create happy bellies. Back in the beginning of December we put this BBQ on the calendars and everyone was excited...the problem was how soon it came after the unexpected diagnosis.
I spent most of the week in a deep depression. I'd make frequent trips to the bathroom to hide the tears that came without warning. I sat in my car crying and desperately searching the internet for recipes I could make people that I would also be able to enjoy. For those of you that don't know, the diet is very particular with amounts and types to be eaten, and the limitations have been frustrating.
Here is a sample dinner I made earlier in the week:
3 oz. skinless baked chicken
1 cup steamed broccoli
One small sweet potato, chopped and baked with olive oil and garlic
1 small apple

It was good, it was healthy but it is not exactly party food. Despite that, I decided to make something similar.
My husband planned to make a brisket and he started smoking it at 8 in the morning.  I prepped the sweet potatoes and.... well that was it. Normally party prep includes hours of dicing, stuffing, blending, baking, frosting and the works, but there was nothing else this time. My dear friend offered to bring Ratatouille, and I had fruit juice to drink while I kicked their butts at 10,000.

With people set to arrive at 6 I made sure to adjust my eating times accordingly and followed the rules all day.
At 5:30 the sweet potatoes went in and at 6:00 I realized I didn't have nearly enough for 2 pregnant women, 3 big guys, myself and the kiddlets. 
Looking back, that is when I lost it. Normally I have back-ups I can make other things to fill in any gaps. My Minnesotan upbringing trained me to be ready for unexpected guests and snowstorms, and I take great pride from being able to whip up something without notice. And yes, I had other things I could have made...but not that I could have eaten that would have followed ALL the rules.
Around 6:15 there were still no guests and I started to get super emotional. The baking pans in the cupboard refused to cooperate which led to the discovery that I have Hulk like strength when left without food. My poor husband was at a loss for what to do with me and the new hole in the cupboard.
At 6:20 he was excused to get the doorbell and the friends took over. I am so lucky for this friend. She helped me off the floor (literally) and listened to me blubber through the options.
By 6:30 I had powered through the shakes and mixed up a mixture of brown and white rice (because only handfuls remained of each kind) and topped it with homemade bruschetta that I almost always have around.

While it didn't follow all the rules or portion sizes, I think I came pretty close for my first social event.
4 oz Smoked Beef Brisket
1/2 cup diced sweet potato baked with garlic and olive oil
1/2 cup Brown/White Rice mix with bruschetta
1 cup Ratatouille
8 oz Odwalla Tropical Fruit Juice
There was also some delicious BLT dip and whole wheat crackers that I probably shouldn't have been snacking on...but peer pressure got the best of me.

Friday, February 4, 2011

It's baaaack!

Coffee!! I love coffee!!
After 2 days of fighting the headaches and pains and sleepiness,I brought it back. The doctor's words were to avoid caffeine intake and so I did. That said I am not going all in, I won't repeat my 22 oz coffee runs. But these headaches need to stop.
This morning I mixed a shot of espresso in with my 8 oz glass of milk in the morning and some sugar free caramel syrup. Not only was it delicious, but I also feel a little better.
Coffee has been studied for years and really has legit health benefits. For example coffee drinkers are less likely to have type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and dementia. They also have fewer cases of certain cancers, heart rhythm problems, and strokes. (Here's a great article to tell you more in case you don't believe me.)
So why did it make me feel better? Well it helped derail the withdrawal symptoms, but I think it also had something do to with elevating my blood sugar giving that me that instant "happy feeling".
I've done my research and I understand that caffeine releases glycogen and that further aggravates the blood sugar roller coaster, especially in hypoglycemics. So coffee needs to go eventually but for now I think I will focus on it being more of a treat than a necessity. said it best, "Be extremely careful when and how you eliminate the offending substances. Only YOU, with the guidance of a health-care professional, can decide. Some patients choose to go at a steady pace. If you drink ten cups of coffee a day, gradually reduce consumption over a period of days or weeks."

As a side note a little sugar free caramel syrup (the coffee kind, not the ice cream kind) and some hot milk is delicious and a great way to curb that sweet tooth. I had that tonight with my whole grain toast before bed.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Withdrawls and hunger pains

One of the things that prompted my doctor to subject me to the HORRIBLE Glucose Tolerance Test was the fact that I was always hungry. I could sit down and polish off half a large pizza by myself and be hungry a few hours later. So maybe it is the hunger pains, maybe it is the caffeine withdrawals or maybe it is the sugar withdrawals. I don't know what it is exactly, but I am miserable. I hate this life.
I want coffee.
I want an English muffin with peanut butter and jelly, or an apple fritter.
I don't want to think about what I can eat or when I have to eat or how much I can have. It's exhausting!
There is nothing in my home that I can have for dinner. I had a business lunch where there was nothing I could eat. There is a BBQ at my house this weekend and I don't know what to do for people. Why should I cook big elaborate meals and entertain when I can't enjoy any of it myself?
I have dieted before with great results and I know the drill. Consume fewer calories than you burn. It was simple. This is insane.
I have poured over the Diabetic Exchange Diet that was prescribed and I still believe that this is crazy. How am I supposed to go from 2500 calories a day (that is my recommended daily intake based on my height, weight and lifestyle) to 1200 calories? It seems idiotic to cut calories by that much, that quickly. He wants me to workout too!  Is it really smart to send someone with low blood sugar who's taken a drastic cut in calories out to workout by themselves for an hour three times a week? UGH!!
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