Saturday, October 24, 2009

Creamy Date Spread

One of my old favorite treats was a slab of date nut bread covered with a slab of cream cheese. Especially if someone else made the date nut bread, because I'm not much of a baker. I was trying to think of a new dip or spread to go with my afternoon fruit snack and came up with this yummy-licious creamy date spread.

1/2 c. low fat cottage cheese (I use 1%)
2 oz low fat cream cheese (you could use fat-free)
1/4 c. chopped dates
1 tbl Splenda
1 tbl honey (don't skip this - the flavor it adds is worth the sugar calories)
a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)
a few drops of vanilla, almond, or caramel extract (optional)
2 tbl chopped walnuts (or other nuts)

Put everything except the walnuts in a mini food processor and whiz until well combined. Stir in the walnuts. Spread it on slices of apple, pear, or banana.

I figured out the nutritional info based on the cottage cheese/cream cheese mixture above and compared it to what it would be if you used all cream cheese. Using the cottage cheese/cream cheese mixture saves you 14.5 calories, 1.5g total fat, .9g saturated fat per tablespoon.

Nutritional info per tablespoon:
Calories: 35.7
Total fat: 1.5g
Sat fat: .6 g
Cholesterol: 2.6mg
Sodium: 44.9mg
Carbs: 4.4g
Fiber: .3 g
Protein: 1.7 gram

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Half a crab cake? Half?

Last night my husband and I took my friend Elaine out to dinner. Elaine is Chinese, lives in Hong Kong and China, and comes to the States maybe once a year. When I traveled in China on business three times a year, I would spend a lot of time with Elaine, and ate many, many wonderful meals with her. She loves my cooking but since I had to work yesterday, I decided not to try to combine cooking and socializing, so we went out to Sassafrazz, one of our nicer local restaurants.

Elaine and I each ordered the appetizer crab cakes (2 generous cakes) and a half-size house salad. We were served the salads first, and by the time they arrived at the table, I was starving. I hoovered down the whole salad, no problemo (it was quite finely chopped), then thought, "How could I eat that whole thing?" (forgetting the days when I would have eaten a full-size salad and an entree and a dessert).

The crab cakes were marvelous, but I told myself I would eat only one of them and save the other for lunch the next day. Crab cakes are so soft, they really don't count as solid protein, so I didn't expect to feel much satiety after eating the one cake. Surprise! Halfway through the crab cake, I had to stop eating. I heard myself say, "I can't eat another bite." Hurray!

Elaine is a few inches shorter than me and (like all her family) solidly built, but not fat. She told me that she has gained 10 pounds and asked me to guess her weight. I hate that kind of game, but I played along. I guessed she weighs 130 pounds, so I said,"120 pounds."

"No! XXX! I weigh XXX pounds!" [Note: she swore me to secrecy about the actual number.]

I was truly astonished. "But Elaine, that can't be! That's only 10 pounds less than me!"

She in turn was astonished. "No, Jean! I think you weigh 110 pounds."

That was a slight understatement! I laughed, but I was flattered.

Elaine made me promise to follow up with her in a month to make sure she's still working on losing those 10 pounds.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Body Measurements Before & After

Last week when I was organizing some books to donate to the library, I found a list of my body measurements from 1993 (14 yrs before WLS) into a sewing book. I was not at my highest weight in 1993, but I was getting there. I'm not at my lowest weight now, but comparing the before and after measurements reminded me of how far I've come.
1993 2009
Neck 16 13.5
Bust 46 41
Waist 37 34
Hips 46 42.5
Ankle 9 6

You know what impresses me the most? The ankle measurement. When I lost weight after WLS, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I have nice looking ankles now instead of the tree stumps I had before.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Using small plates

Yesterday, Lisa posted on Obesity Help about her struggle to accept the small amounts of food she can eat now, and that got me to thinking.

Using small plates instead of big plates is one of the things that has helped me a lot in my WLS journey. It sounds so simple - maybe too simple. Why does it work?

I think that most obese people are accustomed to eating huge dinner plates piled high with food at every meal (plus snacks inbetween). I know I was. I ate the equivalent of Thanksgiving Dinner every night. In some ways, a plate piled high with food is a good thing - a sign of plenty, or wealth, or security, or comfort. Just think of those starving 3rd world children holding up empty bowls, hoping for a few grains of rice. So a steak so big that half of it falls off the plate is good, right?

Not if you eat it all at one sitting.

After I had WLS, and after I had enough fill in my band to truly comprehend how little I could eat, my obese soul rebelled. This could not possibly be enough to keep a body alive! I would eat 4 bites of food, feel uncomfortable, and have to debate: stop now (the sensible thing) or keep on eating (because I "needed" more) and get into trouble? The small portion of food I could handle looked so meager on a dinner plate, but was just right on a salad plate. I still got to eat a full plate of food, so somehow I didn't feel so deprived.

This afternoon, I was thinking about this issue and remembered some of the wonderful meals I've had while traveling in China (too many to count). When I first visited China (in the late 1980's), I rarely saw an obese person. Since then, fast food and other delights of Western civilization have had their effects, and there are more obese Chinese people, but still nothing like what you see here in the USA. A traditional Chinese meal is served in big dishes at the center of the table, with each diner taking one or two bites worth of food at a time, using their chopsticks and putting the food on tiny (smaller than American salad plates) plates. The serving dishes are circulated until everyone has had their fill, but no one takes more than those few bites at a time. The etiquette behind this is: when food is scarce, you share it equally with other community members, so no one goes hungry and everybody has enough fuel to do the next chore to support the community.

I have been to small villages in China where having plates was not a priority. You might be too poor to buy plates, or so rich that you couldn't provide plates for the 800 hungry people that came to your daughter's wedding reception (many of those guests had to walk 5 hours on country roads to get there). The food is served in a big communal bowl, and each person takes 1 bite at a time. You don't pile a big dinner plate with food you don't need, just because you want it or deserve it or whatever. The Chinese people who still observe this tradition are not obese. They feel they have had plenty even when there were only 4 bites to share amongst 4 people.