Ratatouille- it's not just a movie.......

There is more to do with the summer glut of zucchini and tomatoes then make zucchini bread. This is rather fabulous served with the cheesy zucchini bread, and it makes my vegetarian hubster a very happy man. I am convinced that whoever first came up with the idea to make ratatouille had a garden like mine. It always seems a good idea when you are planting 2 each of a variety of tomatoes, and 2 each of 2 different varieties of zucchini and yellow squash. Then the harvest starts.... yeah.  I digress. This is the quintessential summer dish. It is essentially a big pot of whatever your garden is throwing at you. It should always include squash, tomatoes, and eggplant. Other than that- pick your own combinations.
In a large, preferably cast iron pot, over medium heat, saute one medium onion and 2 cloves minced garlic in 2 tbs olive oil, until translucent. To this add 8-10 cups cubed vegetables. Tonight's mixture included zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes. Add 1 tbs each fresh chopped basil, thyme, and parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Stir well, cover and reduce heat, and allow to simmer for 1 hour.
That's it. So good they made a movie about it.....

Reduced Sugar Zucchini Bread

This one is very, very good- moist and delish, and could not be easier. I prefer pecans, and usually do not add fruit. Also very good if you reduce the splenda, and add protein powder to make up the difference. This does tend to be a bit dry, though- so I will play with that a bit, yet.

Preheat oven to 350

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/3 cup Splenda brown sugar blend
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups grated fresh zucchini
  • 2/3 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional)
    Combine ingredients, and divide between 2 greased 9x5"loaf pans. Bake for 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

    Cheesy Zucchini Bread- it's what's for lunch!

    Preheat oven to 350

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced fat grated cheese (I like a cheese blend)
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  •  1/4 cup chopped peppers (hot or sweet, your choice)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs

  • In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients with the zucchini, cheese, scallions and peppers. Combine buttermilk and eggs in a measuring cup, and beat lightly. Pour over dry mixture, and stir to combine. Will be very thick. Pour into a greased 9x5" loaf pan, and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn out on a wire rack and cool completely before slicing.
    OK, so the cooling completely is the hardest part, honestly. Now for lunch I am having a thin slice of this, topped with a slice of fresh tomato, salt, pepper, and provolone cheese, run under the broiler. YUM!!!

    But I have had WLS- what can I eat?

    Getting ready to do some baking, but I needed to make a grocery run first. Early on in this journey, I too was always saying "but what can I eat?". My sleeve has helped me learn, finally, everything in moderation.
    So- in no particular order- in the fridge we have the giant pitcher of sugar free ice tea. There is protein chocolate/butterscotch mousse. Eggs, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, celery, blueberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, both sweet and hot peppers, Chobani bites, Laughing cow cheese (light), low fat (NOT fat free) shredded cheese, fat free sour cream, fat free cottage cheese, low fat ricotta, Parmesan and feta cheeses, skim milk, half fat mayo, pickles, cukes, garlic, spinach, arugula, boneless, skinless chicken breast, bacon, Tofurkey beer brats, meatless sausages, fat free salad dressings, yeast, butter, mangos, and mustard.
    In the freezer is a variety of fish, frozen fruits and veggies from the garden, frozen fat free/sugar free yogurt, Cornish game hens, zucchini bread, pre-made veggie meals for the hubster, and chicken.
    In the pantry- whole wheat and bread flour, quinoa, sugar free/fat free pudding mix, Bariatric advantage protein powder, Splenda, Bisquick, spices, chick peas, canned tomatoes, canned chicken, bouillon, broth, baking powder, baking soda, grits, couscous, cereal, spaghetti squash, olive oil, raisins, dried cranberries, and an assortment of nuts.
    On the deck is my herb garden, in pots- basil, dill, rosemary, thyme, parsley, cilantro, and sage. Currently in the garden I have yellow neck and zucchini squash, tomatoes, and peppers. Long term plants are sunchokes and rhubarb.
    This list is adjusted, all the time. However, from this I can make almost anything my little heart desires. No beef is included in my kitchen, nor is pasta (not true- hubby is a vegetarian, and he eats pasta! I just don't use it)- I find my sleeve does not approve. Fat free cheese I find does not melt/bake well, not to mention the fact I find I hate the taste. I am a bit of a cheese snob.
    I am off to start shredding zucchini, and will share the recipes. I am going to up the protein on my reduced sugar zucchini bread today, and make a zesty one as well. Recipes to follow.

    Sunday morning brunch

    I visited family last week, and was inspired today by the breakfast by beautiful and amazing niece Carrie made for me. Carrie topped arugula with a fried egg, grated cheese, and sriracha. Well, I had no arugula, or sriracha, but had an abundance of tomatoes. This is just another one of those keep it simple meals. Stack/arrange on a plate- baby spinach (or arugula), sweet onion, jalapeno (to taste), sliced tomato, fried egg, grated hard cheese, salt and pepper. Low carb, high protein, high flavor. Just what the doctor ordered, and you can adjust the serving size to your pouch, as well as make enough to make the non-wls people happy. Hubster loved it- said it tasted even better than it looked, and that was saying something. Enjoy!

    Mary, Mary, quite contrary. How does your garden grow?

    Very well, actually. But the first few attempts? Not so much. One of the first things I learned was that here in the 'burbs, a good garden requires a good fence. Unless of course you want to just feed the neighborhood wildlife. Be sure to bury it a few inches into the ground to keep the rabbits and groundhogs from burrowing under.
    Second thing? Unless you dig into your soil and find it rich and black, it probably could use some improvement. If you have a lot of clay, mix in some peat moss, and remove as much clay and rocks as you can. Early on, you are probably going to have to buy compost, but check Craigslist. You will often find someone offering manure, or a manure/hay mixture. This is perfect. Start now preparing your garden for your first planting, next spring. Remove grass from your chosen area. You can create raised beds if you like (landscape timbers work well for building the boxes), but we find that they require more watering. You can of course, dig by hand a small plot, making sure to turn the soil at least 6 inches down. For larger areas, you can hire someone to plow your patch. Once this is accomplished, mix in some of the compost/manure. Add some more on top, and let it rest until spring. You can cover it with landscape fabric or black plastic to speed killing off the weeds that will come, but other than weed control, let it rest. Come spring, plow/dig it in again, and you will be ready to plant.
    Now is the time to start composting as well. There are gadgets you can buy to make this a bit more sophisticated, but I am a big fan of my mother's method, and keep it simple. All fruit and veggie scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, - go into a small container I keep on my kitchen counter. After dinner, that goes out to the compost pile, where grass clippings are added. My pile is in the woods behind my house. Mom's was just beside the garden. When plants die down, they are pulled and added to the pile as well. We have a fish pond, so the goop from the filter, and muck from cleaning the pond, goes in as well.  Every month, the pile is turned. Eventually this all gets very warm, and starts to rot. This is a very good thing! You can start new piles every so often and let them rot down completely- but again, I keep it simple. After about 3 months, you have compost at the bottom of the pile, it just needs to be scooped up and added to the garden.
    Once your plants are up and growing, this is great for "top dressing". Shovel some compost around the base of each plant. It will not only provide great fertilizer (organic, natch!), but will help with weed control.
    That is enough for today, I think. What do you want to know about next?

    Chicken Roulade

    Easy peasy- one of my favorite bari-friendly summer meals. One chicken breast can go a really long way when you are have a baby sleeve. I'm a year out and still don't eat but about half of one roulade.
     Place boneless, skinless chicken breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, and pound with a meat tenderizer until thin. Pat dry with a paper towel.
     Spread with one wedge of laughing cow light cheese. I happened to have creamy swiss handy, but this is REALLY good made with the garlic and herb.
     Add a layer of green veggies. I used baby spinach this time, asparagas is exceptionally tasty in this. Broccoli would also work- you get the idea.
     Roll 'em up. Place seam side down in a glass baking dish, Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until the juices run clear.
     They will look like this when done.
     While the chicken bakes, saute about 1/4 cup of onions 1 clove garlic, minced, in 2 tsp olive oil. Add 1/4 cut minced pepper (hot or sweet, your preference), 3/4 cup chopped zucchini, 1 cup fresh chopped tomato, 1 TBS each fresh thyme and parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Cook over low heat.
    To serve- slice the roulade, and spoon sauce over top.
    Now, as a friend of mine says, play with your food. Adjust the veggies according to what you have available, or just prefer. Add some crookneck squash, and or broccoli, etc. Change up the herbs. I use all fresh from the garden veggies, and I swear it just makes it taste even better. This is super low fat, high in protein, and low in carbs. Enjoy!

    Choc full of bananas bread

    Without thinking, I bought a bunch of bananas.... then the hubster and I went away for the week. Smart, right? The kitchen smelled of bananas when I got home, and there was only one thing to do. Start baking. This recipe makes one large loaf. You can make it without the protein powder, just increase the splenda to 1 cup. Of course you could always use cane sugar instead of the splenda, but I just cannot justify the added carbs and calories.

  • 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup splenda 
  • 1/2 cup chocolate protein powder (I used Bariatric Advantage)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
    Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, and pour into a 9x5" greased loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling before slicing and enjoying.