Be Thankful Be Mindful

Be Thankful, Be Mindful
The average weight gain over the holiday season can range anywhere from 1-10 pounds. It’s all about what you eat AND how you approach the table this holiday season. Here are some tips to consider while trying to keep your healthy habits and avoid gaining weight.


Eat a balanced breakfast and maybe a light lunch or snack depending when your dinner is. This will allow you to approach the meal with more control and less hunger. Do not skip meals all days to “save room” or “save calories” for the big meal later. This is basically setting yourself up to overindulge.
Be mindful when eating appetizers. They will spoil the meal for you and can add hundreds of extra calories.
When is the best time of the day to eat? The optimal time to eat your meal is between noon and 3 o’clock. This gives your stomach time to empty and your body time to digest the food. This also gives you the option to wait a while before enjoying dessert.


Sometimes we can’t control what shows up on the table around the holidays. What we can do is know what the best choices are.
First look at all the options.
Start your plate with non-starchy foods first. Avoid filling your plate with stuffing, rolls, macaroni and cheese. Begin with a protein then add some vegetables and see where things may go from there. Wait to see if you are even still hungry before diving in to those carb loaded foods.
You could also take extremely small servings of everything to get a taste and maybe go back for a slightly larger helping of something you really enjoyed
Use a dessert plate over the large plates to help keep your portions in check.
Choose sweet potatoes over mashed potatoes…that is if the sweet potatoes weren’t made with 20 pounds of sugar!
Avoid drowning your turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and whatever else in GRAVY… a little can go a long way.
Avoid vegetables cooked in creams, gravy, or butter…these are very fatting and full of calories.
Limit the carbs. Either choose your favorite or consider taking very small servings of different things.
Choose apple pie over pecan pie…try sharing a piece with someone!
DO NOT over eat! Listen to your body. When you get to the point of fullness, you are probably OVER FULL. Stop when you feel comfortable or satisfied. This is not your last supper, nor will it be the only time to enjoy turkey, mashed potatoes, or stuffing this year.
Get up from the table when you are finished. The longer we sit with food right in front of us the more likely we will keep helping ourselves until we can’t button our jeans.
Avoid wandering around and picking at the food after the meal. There will be leftovers for you to enjoy for days to come (especially if you’re hosting). Brush your teeth, pop in a mint or gum to freshen your mouth and hopefully steer you away from eating any more.


Get up after you’ve finished your meal. Go help clear the table or with the dishes. Stand up while having a conversation or go throw around the football outside. Slouching or laying on the couch after eating can increase your chance of having heart burn and really slow things down digestively. Stay active to keep things flowing!

Soy Foods – Good or Bad?

TofuMany of you have heard of various soy products, but what are they and are they healthy options for after your weight loss surgery? Soy products include edamame, tofu, tempeh and soymilk. You’ll also find soy in various packaged items, like protein bars, veggie burgers, baked goods, cereals, and more. Turn over five packaged foods in your house and check out the ingredients. At least one of those items likely says it contains soy in one form or another. That’s because soy is used for all kinds of reasons beyond nutrition, including adding texture, flavor, protein, etc. It is very versatile and soy is a very inexpensive crop to grow in the USA, so it is used frequently!

Soy products are a great source of protein, fiber and various other nutrients. They are also low in calories, so they can be a big help for weight loss. Soy foods may actually help lower risk for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and some forms of cancer.

However, there are many myths out there about soy foods that make them sound not so good for you. There are compounds found in soy called isoflavones, which have estrogen-like effects in the body. Because of this, many assume that if men were to eat soy foods, they’d have more estrogen in their bodies and become more “feminine.” This is proven to be untrue by multiple studies. The estrogen-like effects also scare people into thinking it would increase breast cancer risk, but this has also been shown to be a myth. Another myth involves soy foods and isoflavones adversely affecting thyroid function, but there is, in fact, no evidence that soy foods or isoflavones affect thyroid function.

Given all of that information, soy foods are worth working into your diet on occasion. Don’t just assume you don’t like them if you haven’t even tried them before. Try them and you might actually find that you like them!

Eggplant Parmigiana

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetIngredients:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1½ cups of pre made marinara sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 12 basil leaves
  • ½ cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cook ground turkey and set aside.
  3. Wash and dry eggplant.
  4. Slice eggplant into 12 even slices, about 1 inch thick.
  5. Place in microwave safe dish with 2 tablespoons of water and cover with paper towel. Microwave for 4 minutes.
  6. Remove from microwave and place on plate lined with paper towel to let dry and cool while you assemble the other ingredients.
  7. In 9 x 11 dish place 6 slices of eggplant, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  8. To each eggplant slice add 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce, 1 tablespoon mozzarella cheese, 1 basil leave. Top each eggplant slice with additional six eggplant slices, and repeat layering process.
  9. Sprinkle each stack with 1 heaping tablespoon of whole wheat panko bread crumbs.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and brown.

Recipe makes 6 servings.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 234 Calories, 11 g Total Fat, 70 mg Cholesterol, 462 mg Sodium, 14 g Total Carbohydrate, 5 g Fiber, 6 g Sugar, 21 g Protein.

Recipe adapted from

Chocolate Fruit Dip

Chocolate Fruit Dip (3)Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 packets no sugar added hot chocolate mix


  1. Combine Greek yogurt and hot chocolate mix in a bowl. Stir briskly until mixture is smooth. Enjoy by itself or as a dip for strawberries, grapes or apples.

Recipe makes 4 servings.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 90 Calories, 1 g Fat, 4 mg Cholesterol, 190 mg Sodium, 12 g Carbohydrate, 1 g Fiber, 9 g Sugars, 8 g Protein.

Turkey Meatballs

Turkey Meatballs (3)Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 6 fresh sage leaves
  • 6 large basil leaves
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 large sprig of rosemary
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley
  • 1 handful arugula or spinach
  • 1 pound ground turkey breast
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine the onion, garlic, herbs, and arugula in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until very finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and add turkey, salt, and pepper. Mix gently to combine. Form into balls and place on baking sheet at least one inch apart. Drizzle olive oil on top of balls.
  1. Bake in 350°F oven for 25 minutes.

Recipe makes 10 meatballs.

Nutrition Information Per Meatball: 88 Calories, 4 g Total Fat, 28 mg Cholesterol, 249 mg Sodium, 1 g Total Carbohydrate, 0 g Fiber, 0 g Sugar, 11 g Protein.

Recipe modified from

Spaghetti Squash Fritters

Spaghetti Squash Fritters (4)Ingredients:

  • 1 (2-pound) spaghetti squash
  • 1 (8-oz) package baby spinach
  • ½ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2 Tbsp. grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, divided


  1. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds; discard. Place squash halves, cut sides up, in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave on HIGH 20 minutes or until tender. Let stand 10 minutes. Scrape inside of squash with a fork to remove spaghetti-like strands to measure 4 cups.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach to pan; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Place squash and spinach on a clean dish towel; squeeze until barely moist. Coarsely chop squash mixture, and place in a large bowl. Add panko and next 4 ingredients (through baking powder), and toss well to combine. Place egg whites in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into squash mixture.
  3. Fill a ¼-cup dry measuring cup with squash mixture. Invert onto work surface; gently pat into a ¾-inch-thick patty. Repeat procedure with remaining squash mixture, forming 10 patties total. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 ½ teaspoons oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add 5 patties to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove patties from pan; keep warm. Repeat the procedure with remaining 1 ½ teaspoons oil and squash patties.

Recipe makes 5 servings.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 141 Calories, 5 g Total Fat, 2 mg Cholesterol, 204 mg Sodium, 22 g Carbohydrate, 1 g Dietary Fiber, 1 g Sugar, 6 g Protein.

Inspiration from

Hot Lemon Tea

hot teaThis is a simple recipe for a hot tea that will keep you warm this winter!


  • 1 green tea bag
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. Splenda (or other sweetener)
  • Cinnamon stick, if desired

Steep tea bag in boiling hot water for 4-5 minutes. Discard tea bag. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla extract. Slowly stir in Splenda, adjusting to your liking. Garnish with cinnamon stick if desired.

Recipe makes one serving.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 26 Calories, 0 g Fat, 0 mg Cholesterol, 6 mg Sodium, 5 g Carbohydrate, 1 g Fiber, 2 g Sugar, 0 g Protein.

Recipe inspired by

Frozen Yogurt Bark

Frozen Yogurt Bark (3)


  • 2 cups fat-free Greek yogurt (plain)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp cranberries
  • 1 Tbsp raisins
  • 5 fresh strawberries, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp shredded coconut


  1. Mix the yogurt and honey together until well combined. Add the cranberries and raisins and stir again.
  2. Line a baking tray with foil and pour the yogurt mixture on top. Spread it depending on how thick or thin you want your bark to be. Mine was approx ½ inch thick.
  3. Sprinkle the strawberries, chocolate chips and desiccated coconut on top and place in the freezer for 1 hour or until it is completely frozen.
  4. Remove from the freezer and use a sharp knife to break the bark into pieces. The bark can be stored in the freezer in food bags.

Recipe makes 8 servings.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 61 Calories, 0 g Fat, 0 mg Cholesterol, 27 mg Sodium, 9 g Total Carbohydrate, 0 g Fiber, 8 g Sugar, 6 g Protein.

Recipe from

Karen's Potless Chicken Pie

Karen's Potless Chicken PieIngredients:

  • 4 frozen chicken breast tenderloins
  • ½ bag frozen mixed vegetables (approx. 2 cups)
  • 1 packet chicken/poultry gravy mix (low sodium)
  • 1 cup low fat shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Cooking spray



  1. Place frozen chicken and frozen veggies in the crock-pot on low for 6 hours. Do NOT add any water or juices.
  2. 30 minutes before the crock-pot is finished, preheat oven to 375 degrees and begin stirring your chicken to shred it. Do NOT drain any juices.
  3. Continue stirring until the chicken is finely shredded.
  4. Add packet of chicken/poultry gravy mix. Stir until mixed well. Do NOT add any water.
  5. Use about ½ of your cheese and stir into the chicken/veggie mixture.
  6. Spray your glass pie dish or square casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon the mixture into the glass dish and top with remaining cheese.
  7. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is golden.


  1. Thaw chicken and vegetables.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Cut chicken into small pieces and cook in skillet over medium/high heat until cooked through.
  4. Remove chicken from skillet and chop or shred into fine pieces. (tip: place chicken and juices in a Kitchenaid mixer and stir until finely shredded)
  5. Add veggies to skillet cook until the veggies are soft. Do NOT drain any juices
  6. In a mixing bowl, combine your shredded chicken and cooked veggies with the juice from the skillet.
  7. Add packet of poultry gravy mix and stir until mixed well.
  8. Stir in ½ of your shredded cheese.
  9. Spray glass pie baking dish with cooking spray.
  10. Spoon mixture into dish and top with remaining shredded cheese.
  11. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden.

Recipe makes 6 servings.

Nutrition  Information Per Serving: 179 Calories, 6 g Total Fat, 27 mg Cholesterol, 697 mg Sodium, 16 g Carbohydrate, 0 g Fiber, 0 g Sugar, 13 g Protein.

This recipe was created by one of our own HOAB employees, Karen.

How To Eat

Small BiteHow Do You Eat?  That may seem like a silly question, but how you eat is just about as important as what you eat. In order to have success with weight loss surgery, you must take small bites, eat slowly and chew thoroughly. By eating slowly, you are giving your body time to realize it is getting full, so you will end up eating less. Foods that are not chewed properly can get stuck in the stoma. This can cause pain and vomiting. You should be taking bites about the size of a pencil eraser. It helps if you cut your food into very small bites before you ever start eating. Use baby forks and spoons to help you take very small bites. If you catch yourself eating too fast, set a timer for a minute after every bite, so you cannot swallow your food until after the minute is up. Consider putting your fork down between bites. All foods should be chewed to toothpaste-consistency before you swallow your food so no chunks can get stuck in the stoma.

Another important factor to consider is the consistency of the foods you are eating. You need to choose wisely because tough, stringy or doughy foods are not going to be able to be chewed to toothpaste consistency as easily. You may try cutting these foods into tiny pieces and chewing them extra or you may want to avoid the food altogether. If you cannot chew a food to the appropriate consistency, you are better off spitting it out than trying to choke it down. Set aside 15-30 minutes for each meal, so you are not rushed and can take the time to appropriately chew your food. Avoid distractions while you are eating. Do not do anything else during meal time, so don’t eat while you are driving, watching TV or any other activity. This will help you focus on eating properly, so you do not get foods stuck.

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