Bariatric Cookery | Recipes and advice for weight-loss surgery patients
Bariatric Cookery is the UK's first and only dedicated food and free recipe website to help those who have undergone bariatric surgery to achieve long-lasting weight-loss success. Follow this blog for free recipes, menus and advice for all post-operation stages of eating. Includes ideas for seasonal dishes, tips for success and a blog.
I haven’t quite given up on spring as yet but I sure am still making the cold weather type food that warms the soul! Soups, casseroles, stews, hot pots, pies and other cold-comfort dishes have all seen a return to my recipe repertoire this last week or two – and here’s the latest addition.
An Indian-influenced curry, this is a fragrant combination of chicken, onions, garlic, apple and sweet potato with turmeric, chillies, cardamom and cumin. It’s a lovely spicy, warming treat!
If you prefer you can use ordinary white potato instead of sweet potato but the stats will change slightly. I serve with a little basmati rice and cucumber raita (basically cucumber with yogurt and mint if you wish), with a scattering of sliced red onion and chopped coriander/cilantro.
CAPE MALAY CHICKEN CURRY
low-fat cooking spray or mist
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chilli, seeded and chopped
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
6 cardamom pods (bashed to split them open)
1 cinnamon stick
450 g/1 lb skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 Pink Lady or Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
200 g/7 oz sweet potato, peeled and chopped
400 g/14 oz light coconut milk
200 ml/¾ cup chicken or vegetable stock/bouillon
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander/cilantro
2 tsp cornflour
Generously spritz a large pan with low-fat cooking spray or mist. Heat, add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chilli, turmeric, cumin, cardamom pods, and cinnamon stick and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Stir in the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes to seal, then add the apple, sweet potato, coconut milk, stock/bouillon and coriander/cilantro. Simmer gently, partially-covered, for 30-35 minutes, adding a splash of water if necessary.
Mix the cornflour with a little water and stir into the chicken mixture to thicken slightly.
Old-timers to the website will know that I often suggest a low-fat cooking spray in my recipes for spritzing or spraying cookware or food prior to cooking or baking. I have often in the past used a ready-made spray (like Frylight or Pam) but now often use one that I make myself.
Why? well it’s cheaper, but it also enables me to know what’s in the mix other than water and oil. I’m not always happy with the long list of synthetic ingredients in commercially prepared ones; know the build-up negates their use (and guarantee) with certain cooking appliances (like air-fryers and some bakeware); and sometimes the synthetic flavours I think fall short of what I want and I think I can improve upon by using my own fresh.
Making your own is really simple and means you can choose the oil you like; add flavourings you approve of like herbs and spices, plus you can make a ‘bespoke’ one for say stir-frying.
For simplicity I have a very basic one of just water with oil (and usually extra-virgin oil is my choice) and then a special one for flavouring too. In the one you can see above this has herbs, chilli and garlic. But you don’t have to stop there you can make a Chinese or Thai Stir-Fry one with say sesame oil, ginger, garlic, 5 spice powder and coriander/cilantro, for example. The only limit is your own imagination!
I make my basic low-fat spray with a 1 part oil to 5 parts water in a spray bottle ratio, and because I cook a lot I use a bottle that will hold 350 ml/12 fl oz/1½ cups distilled water with 50 ml/2 fl oz/4 tbsp oil (you might only want to make half of this quantity). I do halve it this quantity myself for my special sprays, like the one above, where I use 175 ml/6 fl oz/¾ cup water and 2 tbsp oil.
And what kind of bottles do I use? I have used plastic sprays that are really cheap, cheerful and effective in the past but now have invested in some pretty plant or gardener’s spray glass bottles (still inexpensive at under £5 each) that I am happy to even display. That said, I do tend to keep mine in the refrigerator (and especially the ones with fresh ingredients within them). Their shelf life does depend upon their ingredients but I think a good rule of thumb is about 2 weeks. I do use boiled distilled water when I make.
And so there you have it – a quick, easy, healthy and simple cooking spray for lower-fat cooking. All that you need to remember is to shake before every use!
As a child we always celebrated Mother’s Day with some kind of cake (along with the obligatory home-made card). My mother now in her 80’s still enjoys a slice of cake on special days – and although not as sprightly as she was, and with a diminished appetite due to illness, can demolish a treat of this kind in record time!
Her favourite was usually something creamy or with chocolate (like an éclair) but now is also tempted with a fruity alternative. So in honour of her and all the other great mothers out there here’s my take on a cake for Mother’s Day that we can all hopefully enjoy. In the UK it’s on Sunday!
It’s a gluten-free polenta cake made with apples and ground almonds – and it’s moist, moreish and dare I say marvellous! If you are sweetener as well as sugar sensitive then do proceed with care or give this a miss. I am sugar-sensitive but didn’t have any problems with the basic cake itself (I didn’t eat the topping) but everyone is different.
We have covered many other sweet and savoury treats for this celebratory day over the years – see the archive of features at the end of the blog for some sweet and savoury alternatives – there’s something for breakfast in bed, lunch/brunch/ dessert and teatime.
SOUTH AFRICAN PINK LADY CORNMEAL CAKE
1 Pink Lady apple, peeled, cored and chopped
150 g/2/3 cup butter or light butter
150 g/¾ cup caster/superfine sugar (or the equivalent in baking blend artificial sweetener – I used 50 g/2 oz Truvia baking blend)
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
150 g/1 cup polenta
pinch of salt
200 g/2 cups ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder (gluten-free if necessary but most is)
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
finely-shredded zest and juice or 1 lemon
40 g/generous ¼ cup sifted icing/confectioner’s sugar
1 Pink Lady apple, cored and thinly sliced
crème fraîche, yogurt or light cream to serve (optional)
Cook the chopped apple in a small amount of water for 5-6 minutes until tender. Drain and cool. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/gas 4. Grease and line a 20 cm/8 inch round cake tin.
Beat the butter with the sugar or sweetener until light and creamy, then gradually beat in the eggs. Fold in the vanilla, polenta, salt, ground almonds and baking powder. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and cooled apple.
Spoon into the cake tin and smooth the top to level. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until firm and golden. Allow to cool for 20 minutes in the tin, then turn out carefully to cool completely on a wire rack.
Heat the lemon zest with 4 tbsp water and the icing/confectioner’s sugar. Add the apple slices and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Spoon over the cake and allow to cool.
Serve sliced with crème fraîche, yogurt or light cream if liked.
WLS PORTION: ½
V suitable for Vegetarians
CALORIES PER PORTION: (using Truvia baking blend) 253
The latest free Bariatric Cookery Newsletter has now been sent out to all subscribers – I hope you have had yours (check your inbox). It has some sage advice on using leftovers and repurposing food plus some new recipes for you to try with these thoughts in mind.
GUEST POST: Many of us have been swerving the bread basket for years under the misguided belief that we’re doing our waistlines a favour. Registered dietitian, Sue Baic takes a look at the humble loaf and its much maligned nutritional status.
It may surprise you but bread is the most popular food in the UK. Over 95% of Britons eat it regularly, chomping through an average of two medium slices a day. Whether it’s a slice of toast at breakfast or wrapped around your favourite filling for your lunchtime sandwich – bread is clearly a staple in our diets, but should it be banned or embraced when it comes to weight-loss? Opinions vary from fad diet to fad diet – some demonise a slice of white, opting for low-carb foods, while others extol the virtues as a hunger-busting, fibre-filled option. So who to believe? Registered dietitian and nutrition expert, Sue Baic gives us the REAL lowdown on the humble loaf and its nutrition credentials…
Bread provides an amazingly wide range of nutrients. It is a good source of both starchy carbohydrate and protein whilst being low in fat and sugar. It is a major contributor of B vitamins in our diet – in particular thiamine, niacin, folate.
Besides bursting with B vitamins, bread provides valuable amounts of other essential minerals including: potassium, copper and phosphorus and vitamin E in wheatgerm enriched bread. All types of bread provide dietary fibre needed for a healthy gut with wholemeal being a particularly good source.
Trends in bread consumption
UK National Diet and Nutrition Surveys have shown small but steady drops in the numbers of people eating bread and in the amount eaten.
There are many possible reasons for declines in bread popularity including a resurgence in use of low-carbohydrate diets or concerns over the role of bread in weight management and in bowel problems such as bloating or food allergy. Given the valuable role of bread in the diet it is worth exploring these questions a little further…
1. Is bread fattening?
Often people have concerns that starchy foods such as bread are fattening however, each gram of carbohydrate has only 4 calories compared with 9 in a gram of fat. Studies have also shown carbohydrates – in particular higher fibre starchy carbohydrates – are good at satisfying our hunger.
Many people trying to lose weight mistakenly believe we should cut out bread. This idea has arisen in part from the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets such as the Atkins Diet. However, it is usually not the bread itself which provides most calories, rather what is added to it. For example if a fat spread is added thickly to toast, or if high-fat fillings are used for sandwiches, it is easy to consume more calories from these than from the bread itself (see the table below). Replacing overly processed white bread with higher fibre types is an easy way to increase fibre which may help those trying to lose weight feel fuller for longer. Seeded and wheatgerm enriched breads in particular have a low glycaemic index which help keep blood sugar levels steady and ward off hunger.
Energy content (Kcals)
2 medium slices of bread
+ Margarine or butter (10g)
+ Cheese & pickle
+ Egg mayonnaise
+ Ham salad
+ Chicken salad
2. Should I cut out bread to lose weight?
Low-carbohydrate diets are sometimes used for weight-loss but long term studies have not convincingly shown that these are any more effective than other diets in helping people to lose weight and keep it off. There appears to be no magic metabolic effect from restricting carbohydrate and the approach is only effective if lower calories are eaten. However, we tend to over-do the carbohydrates and should probably be eating a bit less overall.
Cutting carbs completely is not a great idea though – many people using this approach to weight-loss experience side effects such as constipation, fatigue, headache, bad breath and nausea. If you exclude an entire food group, you risk unbalancing your diet and missing out on essential nutrients.
3. Does bread cause food intolerance and/or bloating?
A recent scientific review found no evidence that bread causes bloating in healthy people. In fact low intakes of dietary fibre are more likely to be associated with constipation, which may aggravate feelings of bloating. So cutting out bread, which contributes significantly to fibre intake, could in fact worsen symptoms.
Around 20% of people believe they have a food allergy, but it is estimated that only 1-2 per cent of adults have a genuine intolerance. Coeliac Disease (CD) is a specific condition where the gluten found in bread needs to be avoided. Whilst it is relatively rare – around 1 in 100 people in the UK have it – it has increased 4 fold in the last 20 years. But beware, self-diagnosis with over-the-counter allergy tests and unnecessary avoidance of wheat or gluten without a medical diagnosis can have a significant impact on both quality of life and nutritional intake. It is therefore advisable to consult your GP and get properly tested before cutting out bread if you suspect a food allergy.
The VavistaLife View
Bread is a versatile and affordable food and plays an important role in many healthy diets around the world. It is satisfying to the appetite and a good source of fibre. Enjoying a range of different breads in the diet is a tasty and convenient way of getting many of the key nutrients we need…but, like everything, should be enjoyed in moderation.
Bates B, et al (2011). National Diet and Nutrition Survey: Headline results from years 1 and 2 ( combined) of the Rolling Programme (2008/2009- 2009/10). Department of Health and Food Standards Agency: London.
British Dietetic Association . Food allergy and Intolerances https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/Allergy.pdf
Thane CW, et al (2005). Whole-grain intake of British young people aged 4–18 years. British Journal of Nutrition; 94: 825–831
Wyness LA, Butriss JL, Stanner SA (2012). Reducing the population’s sodium intake: the UK Food Standards Agency’s salt reduction programme. Public Health Nutrition; 15: 254–61
Weichselbaum E (2012). Does bread cause bloating? British Nutrition Bulletin; 37: 30-36.
Feature courtesy of Dr Sally Norton. NHS Weight Loss Consultant Surgeon. Health Expert & Writer. www.vavistalife.com
A Bariatric Point of View (from Bariatric Cookery)
A few WLS patients do seem to have an issue with tolerating bread but it usually occurs with the white processed variety that, when chewed, sits like a ball of sticky glue in the pouch and feels uncomfortable. Many patients seem to have better luck with tolerating wholemeal variety breads, pittas and bread that is toasted.
We have also developed a protein bread that may well suit your regime better – it’s also high in protein, toasts well, can be frozen and good to use for both sweet and savoury options. Try it and see …
I used to miss crispy chicken until I realised that I could still have it post-op – I just needed to tinker with the recipe and cook in a different way to get the same kind of result as the fried former version. Here’s my favourite way of producing a Crispy Caesar Chicken, perfect for serving with a side salad.
CRISPY CAESAR CHICKEN
low-fat cooking spray or mist
25 g/¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
25 g/¼ cup crispy Panko breadcrumbs
1 tbsp melted light butter
4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, about 100 g/4 oz each
½ tsp garlic or onion powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tbsp low-fat Caesar dressing (use one of your choice or see the recipe here)
chopped parsley to garnish
Preheat the oven to 220 C/425 F/gas 7. Spritz a baking tray with low-fat cooking spray or mist.
To make the crispy coating mix the Parmesan with the breadcrumbs and butter.
Flatten the chicken breasts between sheets of cling film or grease-proof paper until about 1.25 cm/½ inch thick. Season with the garlic or onion powder and salt and pepper to taste,
Place the chicken on the tray and brush the tops with the Caesar dressing. Sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture, pressing down lightly to stick and coat the chicken.
Bake for 10-14 minutes or until the chicken is cooked – it is ready when the juices run clear when the centre of the thickest part of the breast is cut.
Our dietitian friends Lisa & Monica at Bariatric Surgery Nutrition who have contributed frequently to bariatriccookery.com are about to publish their new book that covers a multitude of questions relating to weight-loss surgery. I have been fortunate enough to see it in advance and can say without hesitation it will be so valuable to both pre- and post-op wls patients who need to check on some salient facts alongside those given by their busy bariatric teams. I found it a very useful reminder to refresh myself of so many aspects of ‘wls after-life’, and gain insights into new recommendations and advice based on current research findings.
Lisa and Monica have kindly allowed me to give you a taster of what you might find in the book with one of the most popular questions I get asked – “why do certain foods happily go down and settle one day, but not the next?” Read on for their answers and check the end of the blog for more details of the upcoming book plus a special offer for subscribers.
Why do certain foods go down one day, but not the next?
GUEST POST: Generally there are a few reasons this can happen including:
Cooking methods. If you tolerated a saucy chicken pot-pie, it doesn’t mean roast chicken will go down just as comfortably. Dryer methods of cooking (like broiling, roasting, grilling, and pan-frying) tend to be more difficult to tolerate. Moist cooking methods on the other hand (like steaming, braising, stewing, simmering, poaching) that involve liquids or a sauce are typically better tolerated. Also, be careful when microwaving, as the process of reheating foods can dry them out. A good way to keep the moisture in is by resting the lid on the container (not sealed) and stir after each minute until ready. If you’re reheating dry foods remember to sprinkle in some water, broth, tomato juice, milk, or low fat gravy to add additional moisture.
Mechanical reasons like not chewing well enough and taking large bites. You should always be sure to cut your food into small pieces—as small as your pinky fingernail to start—and chew your food until it’s puree in your mouth before swallowing. Remember that digestion starts in the mouth!
Emotional stress and anxiety can tighten the upper digestive system which makes food more difficult to tolerate. Do you find you eat more comfortably at home or on the weekends compared to at work? If so, your tolerance issues could be related to stress or anxiety. Always be sure to eat in a calm environment and start your meals by taking a few deep breaths to relax yourself and decompress. Some patients feel more comfortable eating alone at first (i.e. in their office instead of in the cafeteria).
Eating while multitasking! When you are eating, you should only be eating. We know that this is a tough one to practice, but eating while driving, watching TV, cleaning, working through lunch, etc. can distract you from taking small bites and chewing well. Do your best to put away distractions during meal times. If you choose to eat lunch in your office, mute the volume on your computer and turn off the monitor so you’re not tempted to check your email in between bites.
Posture. It sounds silly to discuss, but it’s true, poor posture can negatively affect digestion. If you are eating while slouched or reclined on the couch or awkwardly propped up on pillows in bed, chances are that you will experience some tolerance issues. When you are eating, you should ideally be sitting in a chair pulled close to the table with your bum as far back as possible and with your back nice and straight. Eating at the table in your kitchen or dining room will also give your meals and snacks more structure. Generally speaking, it’s a good habit to limit food and eating to only the kitchen and dining room.
“The Complete Guide to Weight Loss Surgery: Your Questions Finally Answered“
…this will be released soon! We spent A LONG time writing, editing, and preparing this book for the WLS community, and we’re looking forward to sharing it with you. The book will be available on Amazon in hard-copy form, but it will also be available for download from our website for which you will automatically receive 25% off simply for being a newsletter subscriber!
More details to come! See here for newsletter details.
I don’t really go in for the forced fun or jollity of Valentine’s Day nor do I enjoy the commercialism surrounding it, but I won’t be a spoil sport or killjoy for those who really do like to celebrate.
Often this means champagne, red roses, chocolates, sweets/candy and other treats – some ok for wls patients, some less so. Looking at the food angle there’s still much that can be enjoyed and the links below will take you to some recipes we have developed in previous years.
This year I am reviving a recipe for a chocolate mousse that featured in one of our free Bariatric Newsletters but didn’t make it to the website archive. The ingredients are probably not what you’re expecting but trust me when I say they make a smooth, rich, creamy mousse that’s guilt-free. It’s dairy-free, not too sweet and buttery smooth. It is sweetened with low-sugar syrup like agave nectar (although I used Sweet Freedom syrup) but you can sweeten with another type of articifical sweetener (or even sugar) as liked – just add to taste.
So here it is again but with quantities to serve just 2 (but can be doubled or more if liked). We shall enjoy it on Wednesday evening, with two spoons … sharing the love!
GUILT-FREE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
1 ripe avocado
70 g/¼ cup agave nectar or Sweet Freedom syrup (or other sweetener – see intro)
¾ tsp vanilla extract
20 g/¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
fresh berries to serve if liked
Halve the avocado and remove the stone. Scoop the flesh into a food processor bowl and add the agave nectar or other sweetener, vanilla extract and cocoa powder. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides a few times during processing. Alternatively, place in a bowl and beat until smooth with an electric whisk.
Spoon or pipe into small serving dishes and chill thoroughly.
It’s the start of half-term here in the UK which means I shall have a number of visitors over the coming two weeks (often with little ones in tow) who will, if previous years have anything to go by, welcome a biscuit or cookie during their stay. I have a cat-shaped (don’t ask!) cookie jar that the children always remember and it’s often their first port of call after removing coats, hats and gloves.
So today I have made some healthy, quick-fix, just-sweet-enough oaty cookies for such eventualities. Made with oats, grated apple, banana and seeds they are gorgeous and there’s not a bit of added sugar in sight.
To ensure they have a crisp texture squeeze as much excess juice from the grated apple as you can before adding to the oat mixture especially if the apples are crisp and new (mine were fruit bowl lingerers and so had very little). I’m unsure how long they will store for but I estimate about 3 days in an airtight tin – mine will be lucky to last the day out …
OATY FRUIT AND SEED COOKIES
200 g/21/3 cups porridge or rolled oats (gluten free if liked)
2 dessert or eating apples, peeled, cored and grated then squeeze to remove any excess juice
1 tsp ground ginger
3 tbsp dried fruit and seed mix
1 banana, mashed
2 tbsp oil
Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F/gas 6. Line 2 baking sheets with non-stick baking paper or easy-glide.
Mix the oats with the apple, ginger and fruit and seed mix in a bowl.
Mix the banana with the oil, add to the oat mixture and mix well.
Divide and loosely roll spoonfuls of the mixture into balls by squeezing gently together in your hands – the mixture will make about 24. Place on the baking sheets and press down with a fork to gently flatten.
Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden and crispy. Cool on a wire rack.
‘Paella’ on Bariatric Portion Plate (details here) with Bariatric Portion Control Cutlery (details here)
OK so this isn’t an authentic or traditional paella but it’s flavoursome, speedy and as bariatric-friendly as I can make it. I have used a sachet of 7 grain mix by Seeds of Change (with long-grain brown rice, barley, rye, millet, bulghur wheat, red quinoa and wild rice in the mix) to prepare but you can use all rice, cauliflower rice (see here) or any other combo of grains or rice that you can tolerate or like. It’s ideal if you have some left-over rice or grains to use up.
The flavouring comes from the chorizo, roasted peppers and smoked paprika. I used some frozen slices of roasted peppers but you can use fresh (just cook a little longer), canned or those in a jar for convenience. Peas used were frozen straight from the freezer and the dish was still ready for the table in about 15 minutes.
If you wish to boost the protein then you could add some pieces of cooked chicken or a few cooked prawns/shrimp with the grain or rice mix. Without these additions this is also a thrifty recipe and so is included as one of our Bariatric Budget Buster recipe ideas.
SPEEDY SMOKY CHORIZO ‘PAELLA’
50 g/2 oz chorizo (for cooking), thinly sliced
½ onion, finely chopped
75 g/3 oz frozen peas or petits pois
5 tablespoons very hot stock/bouillon
100 g/4 oz roasted red and yellow peppers/capsicums (I used frozen slices)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 x 240 g/8 oz packet/pouch cooked Seven Grain Mix or 250 g/12/3 cup cooked rice or rice and grains of choice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
lemon wedges to serve
Cook the chorizo and the onion in a large frying or sauté pan until the onion has softened, the chorizo has released its oils and has started to brown and crisp.
Meanwhile, pour the hot stock/bouillon over the frozen peas and leave to stand.
Add the peppers/capsicums and smoked paprika and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the grains or rice, stock/bouillon with peas and salt and pepper to taste, mixing well. Increase the heat slightly and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the stock/bouillon has been absorbed.
Serve sprinkled with the parsley and with lemon wedges for squeezing over.