This colorful, nutritious, and delicious meal has been a hit at my house. We've had it a couple of times this month. I hope you enjoy it too. And bonus... everything is cooked on the same sheet pan so clean-up is a breeze.
Shelly's Sheet Pan Shrimp and Peppers
2 Bell Peppers, sliced into strips 1/2 Red Onion, sliced into strips 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil a sprinkle of Kosher Salt
1/2 pound (16/20 ct.) Shrimp, peeled and deveined 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil 1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic 1/4 teaspoon Oregano dash of Salt a few twists of Black Pepper to taste 1/2 Lemon, sliced a few sprigs of Dill
Place shrimp in a gallon zipper plastic bag, add olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper and zip shut. Toss to coat and set aside in the fridge while peppers begin cooking. Set oven to 425. On a baking sheet toss sliced peppers (any color is great, I used 1/2 of 4 different colored bell peppers you want 2 peppers total) and onion in olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and cook till golden about 35 minutes, stirring twice during cooking.
Push veggies to one side of the sheet pan. Place 3-4 lemon slices on the tray, add the shrimp that have been marinating in the fridge (discard marinade) and a sprinkle of fresh dill. Place back in the oven and cook for 8-10 minutes more till shrimp are opaque and pink. Remove from the oven, toss veggies and shrimp together and squeeze the juice of the lemon slices over everything. I served over riced cauliflower (frozen steamer bag.)
Time-saving Tip: As this shrimp dinner is cooking put another tray in the oven with the same veggies when dinner is done your extra tray of roasted veggies are done too. To roast veggies: chop into 1-2" pieces, place in an even layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a little Kosher salt. You can use any combo of veggies (eggplant is another I do often) but try and keep the pieces close in size so they cook evenly.
Roast at 425 (I did it in a countertop oven but a traditional oven is great too) for about 45 minutes, turn veggies with a spatula 2-3 times during cooking.
My yesterday in post weight loss surgery eating was a quite the international tour... there was some Chinese, a little Mexican food on the menu. If anyone says eating after bariatric surgery is boring, send 'em over ;)
Breakfast: I made a "beefed up" Cherry Cheesecake Protein Shake and sat outside reading the new issue of Your Weight Matters Magazine. If you haven't received yours yet it should be on its way. It's got a sneak peek at the awesome OAC Community Website that's coming soon, more about how you can take #OACAction and info about this year's Your Weight Matters National Convention in Denver. Hope to see you there! Registration Info P.S. There are a few more days to apply for the limited scholarships the OAC offers and if any of my readers are able to give to the scholarship fund to help bring more people, any dollar amount is awesome.
Shelly's Cherry Cottage Cheesecake Protein Shake
1 cup Vanilla Almond Milk (you can use any milk) 1 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder 1/4 cup Cottage Cheese 1 Tablespoon Sugar-Free Black Cherry Torani Syrup 5 or 6 Frozen Pitted Cherries
Whiz in blender till smooth.
This is a great "beefed up" breakfast shake for mornings you just don't feel like cooking/eating because it's packed with protein with the added cottage cheese dollop. Try this, even if you are not a cottage cheese fan. I promise you, it's delicious! You could also do plain Greek yogurt.
Lunch: I roasted some of the veggies I picked up at the Farmer's Market this weekend (peppers, zucchini, red onions chopped, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt, 425 for 45 minutes or so, stirring every 15) which I used in these Shrimp and Roasted Veggie Baked Tacos.
I just sauteed some shrimp in a tiny bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of chili powder. I topped each taco with a plop (very technical cooking term) of guacamole.
We ate outside. It was a gorgeous day and I spent most of it outside... weeding and trimming stuff so my neighbors don't call one of those "Fix That Yard" type ambush shows on me. Why is it that tomatoes and veggies I have trouble keeping alive but weeds grow like Jack & the Beanstalk tall despite all my efforts to kill them?!
Dinner: This is one of my favorite dinners: Egg Foo Bites. It's my Mum's too, so it happens at least once a month in some form. I took a quicker way out and used a storebought, frozen cauliflower "rice" mix versus the more lengthy side (my Cauliflower Fried "Rice") I usually make.
I served them with Trader Joe's Frozen Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry Mix. If you don't have a Trader Joe's nearby Green Giant makes a great bunch of Riced Cauliflower Mixes too (my Target, Walmart carries them) and you could just add ginger, some veggies and a splash of soy sauce to give it the Asian vibe or if you have more time you could make my Cauliflower "Fried Rice." All are delicious lower carb options and I never miss the rice (which has way fewer nutrients and lays heavy for most weight loss surgery post-ops.)
Shelly's Egg Foo Young Bites
2 cups Bean Sprouts 6 Mushrooms, chopped 4 Green Onions, diced 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce 5 Eggs, beaten 1/2 teaspoon Salt a few twists of Black Pepper Olive oil for sauteing
Preheat oven to 350. Saute mushrooms till golden. Add bean sprouts. Cover and cook till bean sprouts go limp about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. When cool, I snip the bean sprouts up a bit with kitchen shears. Helps them fit in the mini muffin tin better. Mix all ingredients together. Spoon into lightly greased (Pam non-stick spray works great for this) mini muffin tins. Bake for 30 minutes at 350. Let them cool a few moments they pull away and pop right out. Makes 24. Optional: Serve with Foo Young Gravy
Shelly's Foo Young Gravy
1 Green Onion, diced 1 cup Chicken Broth 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce 1 Tablespoon Corn Starch
Mix cornstarch into 1/4 cup of the broth (can do vegetable broth for a vegetarian version) in a small pitcher and stir till dissolved. Add to remaining ingredients in a saucepan and cook on low, stirring constantly, till bubbling and thickened. Spoon over Egg Foo Young Bites.
These reheat great the next day too! Yay for leftovers.
Snacks: Coffee, a Cheesestick, and I wanted a little something sweet last night so I made Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Cookie Sandwiches out of the protein bar cookies I make. I put a smear of peanut butter between 2 double chocolate protein bar "cookies." Messy but yum! Each protein bar makes 8 cookies, so 4 sandwich cookies. 1 "cookie sandwich" was the perfect portion and hit the spot.
I know it's supposed to be Taco Tuesday but this good news I'm sharing is somewhat appropriate since it's about another type of Mexican food: Enchiladas, specifically the Real Good Frozen Enchiladas I love. You know... the protein-packed, low carb ones where the "tortilla" is actually made of chicken and cheese and filled with all sorts of yummy enchilada fillings like shredded chicken, beef, pork or cheese. Check out my review of them back in December.
You can still buy the enchiladas online (feel free to use my affiliate coupon code: eggface to score 10% off your Real Good Foods online orders) but the good news I was asked by the company to share is that the enchiladas are now available in more local supermarkets including: Ralph's, Kroger, Fred Meyer, Fry's, Smith's, Harris Teeter, and several others around the country. Look for them in the freezer case near you!
Also, FYI if you are an Ibotta user (Ibotta is a free app that pays you cash back for your purchases) right now you can score $2 cash back on your purchase of Real Good Enchiladas in participating supermarkets (offer ends July 1.)
They are great to take to work and nuke for lunch. They come in a microwavable tray of 2 of the same flavor. For dinner, I love to make 2 different flavors and give each person one of each. I served them that way tonight with another great frozen product Green Giant Riced Veggies (cauliflower, peas, carrots.) I added some sauteed onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, chopped and a 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin to give the riced veggies a little Mexican vibe. The whole dinner was done in less than 15 minutes. Delicious, or should I say delicioso!
This post is sponsored by Real Good Foods. For the purposes of this post Real Good Foods provided me with products reviewed. Thanks for the opportunity to share the good news about the enchiladas. All shared opinions are mine. These are soooo good.
I've seen cauliflower tots in the supermarket and some recipes online and most of them have been a little carbier than I liked and didn't offer much in the way of protein. I was in the mood to experiment the other day and we really enjoyed what I came up with. It was definitely blog-worthy and will be added to my menu in the future. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
2 cups of Fresh Cauliflower, crumbled/riced 2 Tablespoons Garlic and Herb Cream Cheese (like Boursin) 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated 1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese, drained 1/4 cup Spelt or Chickpea Flour 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt 1/2 teaspoon Oregano 1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder a few twists of Black Pepper Bagel Spice/Everything Bagel Seasoning for sprinkling
A few hours before you want to make the tots (or better yet the night before) place the ricotta cheese in a mesh sieve over a bowl (make sure it doesn't touch the bottom) and place back in the fridge. Discard the liquid that drains. Saute cauliflower in a non-stick pan about 8-10 minutes till golden, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 425, line a baking sheet with foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray and set aside. Add the remaining ingredients including the drained ricotta cheese to the cooled cauliflower (except the Bagel Seasoning.) Stir everything together until well combined and you have a thick dough. Form the dough into about 16, 3" cylindrical tots, I like double tot length, for more traditional tot size you'll get 32. Sprinkle with Bagel Seasoning.
Place on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip, spray the tops of the Cauli-Tots lightly with non-stick spray and bake 15 more minutes or until golden brown.
Cook's Note: I used fresh, bagged, pre-riced cauliflower. You could always pulse fresh florets in a food processor till rice consistency too. I wouldn't suggest frozen for this recipe it's a little too soft a consistency.
I served the Cauli-Tots with a duo of dips: warmed Tomato Sauce (jarred Rao's Tomato Basil) and cool Homemade Greek Yogurt "Ranch" Dip.
Homemade Greek Yogurt "Ranch" Dip
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt, plain 1 teaspoon Dry Buttermilk Powder 1/2 teaspoon Dried Parsley 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder 1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder 1/2 teaspoon Dried Chives a few twists of Black Pepper Salt to taste
Mix till well combined. You can find Dry Buttermilk Powder near regular powdered milk (though it's not the same) or online. This is basically that supermarket ranch packet mix without all the names you can't pronounce. If you want to turn it into dressing for salad just thin it with milk, water, or a light vinegar.
These Baked Cauli-Tots (aka Cauliflower Croquettes) would be perfect served with a salad. Great for Meatless Monday or if you have vegetarian pals coming over for lunch or dinner. They reheat in the microwave (losing some crispness but still yummy.)
Here's what you can do with all those extra hardboiled eggs you will have next week. Make Deviled Eggs! 12 eggs ($1.50 or so, even cheaper around Easter) so it's a fairly inexpensive protein source. A single large egg packs 6 grams of protein and only 78 calories.
Here are a few of my favorite deviled egg recipes from the blog...
A round-up of tidbits, tips, products, ideas, news articles, random cool things from the weight, health, nutrition, food, fitness, weight loss surgery world...
1. I am loving the new Sugar Free Pineapple Torani Syrup flavor. This flavor will be in my pantry on a permanent basis. It is soooo good. It may have been cloudy today in Southern California but my Protein Shake had me feeling like I was on a tropical island... just missing the cabana boy ;)
Shelly's Tropical Sunrise Protein Shake
8 oz. Milk (any) 1 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder (I used Celebrate Vitamins Vanilla Cake Batter ENS) 1 Tablespoon Sugar-Free Torani Pineapple Syrup 1 teaspoon Sugar-Free Torani Coconut Syrup a hunk of frozen Banana a few ice cubes
I'll be doing some more experimenting with this flavor this weekend. I'll keep you posted on what I come up with.
2. Speaking of Celebrate Vitamins (a blog sponsor) If you are looking for a new Calcium be sure to check out the yummy flavors of soft chews (think Starburst) Celebrate makes now: Watermelon, Cherry, Strawberry-Banana, Café Mocha, Chocolate, Caramel, Orange, and Blackberry.
I've tried them all now (except Blackberry so someone let me know how that one is.) They have all been delicious so far and have 500 mg calcium citrate and 500 IU of vitamin D3 in each chew. FYI They offer a sample pack which includes a bunch of their products including their calcium soft chews so you can find your favorites because not taking vitamins post-Bariatric Surgery is not an option.
You can also try products from great companies like Celebrate Vitamins by attending events like the Your Weight Matters National Convention. Be sure to leave room in your luggage for all the freebies from the exhibit hall you'll bring home.
3. The Registration and Discounted room block for #YWM2018 The Your Weight Matters National Convention is NOW OPEN. This year it's being held in Denver, Colorado July 19th-22nd. I got a chance to tour the hotel and the city in January and it's awesome, we going to have a great time.
The educational agenda is always top-notch and you will meet a ton of supportive pals, including me! Oh, and a bonus everyone who registers through midnight EST this Monday, March 12, will automatically be entered to win a FREE, 3-night stay at the Convention’s host hotel. Be sure to follow the Convention Facebook Page during the week of March 12 to see if you are the lucky winner! I hope to see you all there in July!
4. Ever wanted to pay it forward and do something to help others affected by obesity? I've got an easy suggestion for you. Take #OACAction
Head over to Twitter or Instagram or Facebook and type: #OACAction in the search box the Obesity Action Coalition will be adding easy ways you can help in your own communities, some even without leaving your house. Here are a few examples...
Keep checking the hashtag #OACAction and please jump in and take an #OACAction whenever you can. Remember when you share it, tag it #OACAction and we'll all be able to be inspired by each other! Got a suggestion for an #OACAction feel free to and I'll pass it along.
5. Are you following my Instagram Page? Be sure to follow it because you never know when a giveaway will pop-up. I'm excited about some coming up soon!
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. Today's protein packed delicious menu...
Breakfast: Chilly AM but I felt up to a walk and I took my breakfast with me. I love these Cottage Cheese Doubles (Knudsen/Breakstone) they have a little section of fruit goo, the goo has some sugars, so if you are super sensitive add in moderation. I get the Pineapple ones, lowest sugars of all their flavors and I have no issues with it. I took a little baggie of Protein Granola that I sprinkled in. I like the crunch.
Squeeze together with your hands till clumps form. You need to use your hands for this one. Place on a Pam sprayed, foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
Let it cool. It crisps as it cools. Crumble into smaller bite-sized pieces. When completely cool, store in an airtight container. This a great snack on a hike or topping for protein ice cream, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, protein pudding or yogurt.
For those following along... I had my Post Thyroid Cancer Surgery Check-up and the Pathology Report was great. Looks like my surgeon got it all. It was a single tumor (stage 1) encased in the center of my right thyroid and no other area was affected. Obviously I have to keep checking the area with periodic ultrasounds but for now, I am all clear. Feeling blessed. Next step is an appointment with an Endocrinologist who will be looking at blood tests (TSH, T3, T4, Calcitonin) to determine if my left thyroid is kicking in and picking up the slack. Fingers crossed, it'll mean little to no medication. I'm still a little more tired than I should be and I have had a few too many headaches lately though that could be from the stress of all the "patient responsibility" portion of the medical bills that are rolling in... oh and suddenly having a car payment again thanks to the Christmas Eve car scrooges. If any of my blog pals win the Powerball this weekend and have an extra $5000 they can spare you'll have a pal for life... I should probably play... I mean there's a 5% chance of a thyroid nodule turning out to be thyroid cancer and mine was. I figure I will either win the lottery next or umm get hit by lightning. LOL, maybe you shouldn't stand too close to me in a rainstorm that's all I'm saying ;)
Lunch: If you are jonesing for a Grilled Cheese Sandwich you should try this. I make a batch of Savory Ricotta Pancakes and use them like the "bread" by sprinkling a little cheese in the middle and warming them in a nonstick pan till the cheese is melted and gooey. Soooo good.
Shelly's Savory Ricotta Pancakes
1 Egg, beaten 1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese 3 Tablespoons Multigrain Pancake Mix 1 Tablespoon Parmesan Cheese 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder 1 Tablespoon Chives 1/2 teaspoon Oregano 1 Green Onion, diced fine dash of Salt a few twists of Black Pepper
Mix pancake ingredients together. Spray non-stick pan with Pam. Cook on low till bubbles appear, flip. Cook till done. Makes 8 pancakes (about the size of the container those BreathSavers 3 Hour Mints that I love, about 3"-ish across.) These pancakes can be made ahead and reheated.
For the Grilled Cheese "Sandwiches" Pancakes: You'll need a little sprinkle or 1/4 of a slice of some good melting cheese... I use Colby, Jack, or Muenster cheese mostly.
Cook's Note: I used whole milk ricotta if you use part skim. Drain through a mesh sieve lined with a coffee filter for several hours or overnight in the fridge. Avoid ricotta that says "creamier formula" you want regular ricotta.
Dinner: I made Mini Meatloaves for dinner the other night so lunch was already done basically. I have found the trick to eating leftovers as a post-op is to keep things from drying out. I love this gadget for that. You put a couple of tablespoons of water in the base and it steam heats the food. One of the best post-op gadgets in my kitchen.
Shelly's Greek Mini Meatloaf
1 1/4 pounds Ground Beef (or Turkey) 1/4 cup Oatmeal, dry 1/4 cup Milk 1 Egg, beaten 1 Yellow Onion, diced 1/4 cup Sliced Black Olives 1/3 cup Feta Cheese, crumbled 1 teaspoon Oregano a few twists of Black Pepper
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. Saute onions until slightly golden. Set aside to cool. Combine cooled onions and all remaining ingredients together. Divide into 8 equal mounds. Form into mini meatloaves or if you have this super groovy pan like me use it. Bake for 45 minutes in a 350-degree oven. These freeze well either cooked or uncooked.
I served them originally with a salad and the leftovers I served with cooked chickpea sprinkled with a little Zaatar seasoning.
Snacks: Coffee, Tea (so sad Trader Joe's discontinued my favorite Rooibos & Honeybush so I'm savoring the last few bags) and I made a protein shake when I got back from my walk: Celebrate Vitamins Wildberry Protein 20 single serve packet, Almond Milk, Ice.
Last week I had my thyroid cancer surgery. I was surprisingly not nervous. I really felt comfortable with my surgeon and our game plan. If it was as it appeared on the ultrasound contained to the right thyroid and no lymph nodes were involved he'd take just the right thyroid (lobectomy) but if it was more involved he had my OK to take it all (thyroidectomy.) Just the right side would be a big win and would mean fewer complications (parathyroid damage/calcium issues), no additional treatments (radioactive iodine I131 which is annoying and lonely sounding) and potentially little to no medication if my left thyroid continues to do its thing. I woke up in recovery and recall my surgeon saying that he, in fact, was able to just take the right side. He came in later that day and told me again. The cancer hadn't gone beyond the thyroid, no lymph nodes were involved, it was still about the same size, about a 2 cm rock. Woot Woot. I won't know about the need for thyroid medication for a while pending blood work but I am hopeful.
I was the first surgery on the schedule so required to check-in at 5:30 AM. I live about 50 miles from the hospital and the traffic in the AM can be pretty bad so we decided to stay the night closer and head over in the AM. I wanted to give a shoutout to the Marriot La Jolla who not only had a great AAA discount but when I commented on the pretty cheese platter they posted on their Instagram account surprised me by having one in my room waiting when I arrived.
Thankfully, I was able to eat or drink until midnight so my Mum and I sat in Marriott fluffy robes and had a little cheese tidbit party which as you know from past cheese tidbit parties is our thing. I don't eat crackers as you know so my Mum scored. I missed my cucumber crackers and cold cuts I usually accompany my cheese eating but mmmm cheese.
Everyone at UCSD Thorton Hospital was great. I was thankful I brought my Mum along. I usually go it alone by choice (RNY, plastics, etc.) but I'll tell you it was so nice to have someone feed me ice chips those first few hours while I was in recovery, no one would have kept coming to do that at the rate I wanted them. I was moved to my own room at around 11 AM, better bed, closer bathroom, and TV. I highly recommend the No Sugar Added Vanilla Pudding. It was heaven on my throat. My throat was sore and pitchy for a few days but I think my talking voice is almost back, not singing just yet.
We lucked out and I had no one in the bed next to mine so Mum spent a more comfortable night. She ate my fish and steamed veggies for dinner. I tried but I was still having trouble swallowing so I just ate tomato bisque soup and of course more pudding. I didn't sleep at all... which as you know is an issue for me anyway but then add-in pain and noises and scratchy hospital gowns and vitals. Speaking of scratchy hospital gowns this is me sporting mine post-op...
I was thankful that night for the Food Network marathon of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives but after about 20 episodes I'm OK if I never see another again in this lifetime. I ordered an omelet for breakfast and I actually ate about 1/4 of it. So I felt like that was a big improvement from the night before already. I was released before Noon on Saturday. The ride home was long and I felt every bump even with a pillow so when I got home I was glad it was time for a pain pill. I spent the day on the couch, propped up. Sunday I took my first shower and began to feel human again. The first few days were uncomfortable and I definitely needed the pain meds but I also hate how they make me feel so I axed them after a few days and have been just doing the occasional ice pack for the last day or so. Soft foods and protein shakes help...
Shelly's Valentine Protein Shake
8-10 oz. Milk (any) 1 packet Celebrate Vitamins Wildberry Protein 20 1 Tablespoon Sugar-Free Strawberry Torani Syrup 1 Tablespoon Sugar-Free Vanilla Torani Syrup a few ice cubes
Mix all ingredients together. I use whole milk ricotta, if you use part skim, drain first. Spray pan with non-stick spray. Spoon a dollop of the mixture into the pan and pat flat. Cook on low till golden, flip, pat flat, cook till done. Serve each pancake with a drizzle of warm Sugar-Free Maple Syrup or chopped Strawberries mixed with a little Sugar-Free Strawberry Jam that has been warmed in the microwave or they are delicious just plain. Makes 8 pancakes.
These can be frozen between slices of wax paper or kept in the fridge a day or 2 and reheated (nuke 25 seconds) for breakfast during the week. Surprising good cold too. Leftovers usually get some SF jam, almond or peanut butter smeared on them, wrapped in foil and they become a great breakfast-on-the-go.
I ventured out for the first time on Tuesday to Starbucks. I went to the supermarket for a few things the next day. Yesterday I went to the Hemo Doc to get my 3rd iron infusion. So my outings are getting a little longer. No exercise yet but I am hoping to get back to my walks next week. Now is when I am thankful I work from home because I am yellow bruised from my chin to my boobs. I have steri-strips and they are still on so I haven't seen my scar yet. Ehh just add it to the many others on this body. For those who ask about it... I already have a creative story about my short-lived career in the circus as the assistant to the one-eyed, knife thrower. LOL.
Thank you for the prayers, lovely messages and I've been enjoying the beautiful flowers the Obesity Action Coalition Board and Staff sent me. My issue of Your Weight Matters Magazine came yesterday and I sat and read it cover to cover while dipping cucumber spears in plain Greek yogurt sprinkled with Everything Bagel Spice. I'll know more after next Tuesday's check-up. Fingers crossed the post-surgery pathology says they got it all.
I'm starting to cook more so I'll be back posting more recipes this week! Thanks for following along on this unexpected part of my journey.
My Thyroid Cancer Update: (Not sure what's going on here's the post to catch up) I had a little drama finding a surgeon. There were no head & neck, thyroid cancer surgeons in my area that accepted my insurance but after lots of phone calls and lots of annoying hold music I was able to find a surgeon about 50 miles away. I have a fellow Obesity Action Coalition Board Member who knew him and highly praised his skills so that made me feel more at ease. I met with him last week and I'm on the surgery schedule this Friday, February 9th.
The plan is a Thyroid Lobectomy which is the removal of half of the thyroid gland which has the malignant nodule (it appears to my surgeon to have not spread, still 1.9 cm on the right side according to the latest ultrasound) but I gave him the all-clear to take it all if there is the hint the other side could have issues. The benefit of leaving half my thyroid is perhaps (based on labs and how I feel after) not being on thyroid medication for the rest of my life, which would be a big positive, as some of you know who are on it, it often has a slew of side effects that can be managed and adjusted but it would be even better if they could be avoided entirely. But... like I said getting a good look inside will determine what's needed and I'll just hope for the best. Prayers and good vibes are much appreciated. I will update via my Twitter and Instagram account as soon as I am able and not as drugged... or maybe I'll update while I am drugged... that could be interesting ;) LOL.
Lunch: I got home later than I hoped yesterday. I went to buy some easy to slip-on slippers and a robe so my bare toosh doesn't make an appearance like Jack Nicholson's in Something's Gotta Give. Thankfully, this is literally one of the quickest meals ever and soooo satisfying. You can use any cooked meat you like, ground turkey, chicken, beef, pork. Shrimp is great too. It's a great use for leftover chicken breast or steak too. Just brown the meat and toss it in to warm through toward the end of cooking. This time I used ground sausage meat.
Shelly's Egg Roll Bowl
1 (14 - 16 oz.) Bag Coleslaw Mix (or any salad mix that is mostly cabbage) 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce 1 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar 2 Green Onions, diced 1-2 cloves Fresh Garlic, grated 1-2 teaspoons (to taste, I like a lot) Fresh Ginger, grated a few twists of Black Pepper 2 Tablespoons of Slivered Almonds, toasted Optional: Any Cooked Meat (about 1/2 - 3/4 cup)
Saute the coleslaw mix, green onion, soy, rice wine vinegar, ginger, and garlic until limp about 8 minutes. Add sliced/chopped cooked meat and a few twists of pepper, toss till warmed through. I add toasted almond slivers I like the nutty crunch surprise in every few bites (toast the almonds 1-2 minutes in a dry pan, stir once or twice, don't walk away they'll burn quickly.)
Dinner: Leftovers from our Super Bowl/Pride and Prejudice marathon. Amazon Prime has the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice free right now. I did watch a little Super Bowl but I couldn't help getting my Colin Firth fix. If you don't have Prime (you can still view it, just get the 30-day free trial they have) but you may be hooked on all the perks and want to keep it. Our snacks were BBQ Beef Egg Bites (crustless quiches) and Cucumber Spears with 2 protein-packed Greek Yogurt Dips and Roasted Almonds.
Shelly's BBQ Beef Bites (Crustless Quiches)
5 Eggs, beaten 1 cup Shredded Beef (leftover pot roast is great for this) 1/2 cup Shredded Cheese (any you love, I used Colby) 2 Tablespoon BBQ Sauce 2 Green Onions, diced dash of Salt a few twists of Black Pepper
Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients together. Spoon into lightly greased (Pam non-stick spray works great for this) mini muffin tins. Bake for 30 minutes at 350. Let them cool a few moments they pull away and pop right out. Makes 24.
Cooks Note: They do make sugar free/low sugar BBQ sauces but I just use the real deal. It's 2 Tablespoons spread out over 24 egg bites so the sugar isn't an issue for most but if you are highly sensitive maybe try one of those.
Oh, and the 2 yogurt dips for the cucumber spears were Everything Bagel Dip: 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt with Everything Bagel Spice mixed in and Bacon Dip: 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt with real Bacon Bits mixed in.
One more thing on the cancer front... I've been reading lots about the 13 cancers associated with overweight and obesity (CDC, 2018)
If you are considering addressing your health and weight (via bariatric surgery or any other means) and you are on the fence and weighing those pros and cons... I would consider reducing your cancer risk as an added plus side benefit.
Well, I think I'm ready to share some news about what's been going on in my world. You know I spent most of November after I returned from ObesityWeek in Washington DC sick with the flu. It was a bad strain this year as anyone that got it can tell you. I got over the major symptoms but I was still feeling not quite myself: swollen glands, tired/sluggish, cold, anxious. I thought maybe my iron/ferritin was just getting low again, a few years ago I dipped low and it required a round of infusions, which for those that don't know sounds like a big deal but really it's just an IV drip (sometimes an hour or so, in the past I had Injectafer which is quicker 30 minutes, 2 treatments, a week apart) and I was back up in the black for the past few years. I am faithful in taking my vitamins (a non-negotiable, post-bariatric surgery) so when I was still feeling not like myself after a month I knew something was up.
I went to my Primary Care Provider (PCP) who ordered blood work and it came back Ferritin 10 (range is 10-232.) I emailed him when I saw the results and asked for a referral to a Hematologist. I received a reply that that wasn't needed because I wasn't anemic. I emailed again and received no reply. So I made an appointment to have a little chat: Me: "I really think I need iron infusions." His reply: "I don't know who is telling you that you are anemic but you aren't." I explained my symptoms again and I finally got him to refer me to a Hematologist. Me: "I get you are saying I am not anemic but do you have a problem giving me a referral? I'd like to hear that from a specialist." Him: "No, but you aren't anemic." Me: "Good." I couldn't see the Hematologist that I'd been referred to a few years ago as my insurance no longer covered him and was sent to a new office and I mean brand new, they were still having furniture delivered, disorganized, not fully staffed. I wasn't pleased but New Hemo Doc was pleasant enough and said he'd put in for infusions but he didn't think they would be covered until I dropped below 10 (he was right they were initially denied) but he ordered more blood work said he'd resubmit as soon as my ferritin dropped below 10 and then he asked me about a nodule they had found in my neck via ultrasound this past summer.
Rewind... well over a year ago I went to a health fair with my Mum. We both had a free stroke test ultrasound. The technician told me after mine that I should tell my Dr that he saw something on the ultrasound and to give me a thyroid test. At my next appointment, I mentioned it and my PCP (yes, same one as above) said something to the effect of health fairs causing unneeded tests... he'd order a thyroid test and ultrasound but it was probably just a nodule... tons of people have nodules that they are only cancer in 1% of cases so it's "usually unnecessary to have a need stuck in your neck." My blood work came back "fine" and ultrasound confirmed a nodule but again he gave me the line about the needle in your neck... so I passed on the needle.
Fast forward... New Hemo Doc: What's this nodule mentioned in your file. Have you had a needle biopsy on it? Me: No, my PCP said tons of people have them, that they are only cancerous in 1% of cases so it's usually unnecessary to have a need stuck in your neck. Why? Could that be causing my issues? New Hemo Doc: It could. It's no big deal. It's a fine needle... like blood work. Get it done.
I scheduled the biopsy for December 20th, trying to get in before the end of the year when my insurance was changing. I figured if I didn't just do it, New Hemo Doc might not push for infusions. It was a fairly easy procedure... sort of like the ultrasound of the neck I had in the summer but instead of lying down I was in a cool motorized reclining chair that tipped me back, I felt a little pressure, 2-3 needle pricks then ice. I waited in the cool reclining chair with ice on my neck while the Biopsy Doc examined the tissue. Instant pathology results. I remember thinking that's great I don't have to wait for days to get the all clear and I really want one of these chairs.
A few minutes later Biopsy Doc returned, "Well, it's thyroid cancer." I remember saying "What?!" She must have walked into the wrong room. "Yep, it's thyroid cancer but if you are going to get cancer this is the best cancer to have. It's highly treatable. I'll be sending your doctor the report and you should expect a call from him tomorrow but if he doesn't call you, call him. Do you have any questions?" I think I asked her what the treatments are? Do I have to have chemo? Am I going to lose my hair? Sort of in a rapid-fire string. I felt like I should have better questions but this was not supposed to happen. I remember her saying something about surgery and chemo only being necessary if it's spread beyond the thyroid. I could feel myself welling up and just needed to get out of the building. So I said thank you, was handed some aftercare paper and walked into the waiting room. My Mum was with me and I remember her looking at my face and I could feel my eyes widen in that "holy crap!" deer in the headlights look and she said "what, what" and I remember just saying, "come on, let's go" as I walked out of the office. I got to the parking lot before I burst into tears and told her. I remember straightening myself up and saying nothing has changed. I walked in there with this and the only thing that has changed is me knowing and how everything was going to be OK. So yeah... not a good day in my world.
I spent the rest of the day Googling, freaking out, crying, and a little cursing "WTH?! My PCP said 1 f---ing percent." (It's actually closer to 5% of nodules that are cancerous as I am learning more.) My Hemo Doc called me later that night and said, "So you got some bad news?" "Umm yep." He said he'd see me on the 27th and we'll talk about finding a surgeon to remove the thyroid." I already knew from my Googling I was looking at Full or Partial Thyroidectomy (perhaps removal of some lymph nodes in the area) then depending on the biopsy I might need I-131 treatment where you take a radioactive iodine pill and need to be quarantined for a few days from people and pets (it targets and kills any remaining thyroid tissue) and a lifetime of a prescription thyroid hormone replacement medication (oh joy) but that is usually it. Unless... cancer has spread beyond the thyroid and then well you know the drill chemo, radiation, that hair loss I was so worried about. But... one step at a time. I remember telling him I had new insurance starting in January, that I was hoping it wouldn't cause delays and he said to bring that information on the 27th. He said to try and have a Happy Holiday and I said you too.
Christmas. Wow, I really had forgotten. I would try and enjoy it. It was just my Mum and I. My sister just had her 2nd knee replacement so was recovering from that still and my brother had visited earlier in the month. We went shopping for a few things on Christmas Eve. I made a few seafood dishes, it's tradition and I tried to be cheerful but my mind kept going back to worst-case scenarios and what-ifs which only got me upset and gave me a gnarly headache and the Tylenol I kept taking wasn't doing a thing for it, so I went to bed pretty early. It was a quiet Christmas Day we stayed home and watched movies, I made a couple of steaks with sauteed mushrooms and I made a super yummy loaded cauliflower side dish.
On the 26th we decided we needed some things from the store and at around noon when I walked around the corner of my house... I was staring at... an empty driveway. My car was gone. Seriously... you can't make this shit up. We think based on our neighbor not seeing it on Christmas Day it was gone late Christmas Eve (he got one of those hovercrafts for Christmas and was flying it down the street and thought we were out visiting for the holiday... it's our only car.) I filed a police report and as of today they still haven't recovered it. I remember waiting for the cops to come take the report and thinking well had this happened a few days ago I would have been way more devastated but hearing the word cancer sort of puts everything into perspective but... WTH?! Seriously?! I actually had to Uber to my Hemo Doc appointment on the 27th to hear about my cancer diagnosis. And OK, I know it's bad karma but I figure I'll get a pass on this one... my car trunk, if you aren't careful can fall on your head. I know about it and it's still happened to me, twice... and it's gnarly-knot-creating-concussion-hard. Gosh, I hope the creeps who stole my car need to put something in the trunk ;)
Anyway... the New Year came and with it a new attitude. I went to Denver for the Obesity Action Strategic Planning Meeting/Retreat and am really excited about all the plans we have for the year. I'm serving as Chair of the National Board this year. All the great plans are keeping me busy and sane. I can't wait to share all those throughout the year and am hoping to see everyone in July at the Your Weight Matters National Convention. Big plans this year so I need to kick cancer's ass and move on...
So where I'm at now... my insurance change caused some delays for new pre-authorizations but I think we are good on that front now. I had an iron infusion this Friday (my Ferritin dropped to 9 on my last blood work) and while the only in-network surgeon is about 50 miles away I understand he's top notch in his field. I see him this Tuesday for a consult and we'll hopefully schedule surgery in February. Thyroid cancer is very treatable and I'll likely be all good with the removal of some or all of my thyroid. Fingers crossed and prayers welcomed. I'll put some resources I've found helpful at the end of this post for anyone recently diagnosed and Googling who stumbles upon this. I Google a lot and I would be lying if I didn't still sometimes start worrying about what if's (damage to vocal chords during surgery, medication-related weight issues, calcium issues, etc. etc.) but I try not to stay in those thoughts too long. There is power in positive thinking.
If you are still reading along... sorry I know this was loooong... thank you. I have lived the last decade sharing my life post-Bariatric Surgery on this blog so it felt strange not sharing this past month, I just needed a little time to process. I thank you in advance for prayers and good thoughts. They are much appreciated.
Oh and if you take anything away from this blog entry I hope you take this: if you know something is not right DO NOT let anyone push your concerns aside. You know your body better than anyone.
Thyroid Cancer Facts: • Thyroid cancer is the most common endocrine cancer. • The cause of most thyroid cancer is unknown. • Thyroid cancer is one of 13 cancers associated with overweight and obesity. • Thyroid cancer is a malignant tumor or growth originating within the thyroid gland. It is also called thyroid carcinoma. • Thyroid cancer is one of the few cancers that has increased in incidence over recent years. More than 56,000 people will be newly diagnosed with thyroid cancer in the United States in 2017 and more than 600,000 people in the U.S. are living with thyroid cancer. • 2 of every 3 people diagnosed with thyroid cancer are between ages 20 and 55. • Thyroid cancer is more common in women than in men. More than 7 of 10 people diagnosed with thyroid cancer are female. • Thyroid cancer is usually highly treatable when found early.