Recipe: Beef and Tomato Casserole

This has been adapted slightly from the original: http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/food-wine/cuisine/70896855/recipe-beef-and-cherry-tomato-casserole-with-pumpkin–potato-gratin
The wine has been removed – and so has the gratin!

  • 800g gravy, blade or chuck steak
  • Flour for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • A few sprigs thyme
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 400g can cherry tomatoes (no added sugar)
  • 1⁄2 cup flat-leafed parsley, coarsely chopped

Cut the beef into large pieces. Season the flour with salt and freshly ground black pepper then use to coat the beef.

Heat the oil in a casserole dish and brown the beef well, in batches, removing it to a plate as you go.

If necessary, add a little more oil to the casserole, then add the onion and carrot. Fry gently until very soft but uncoloured. Add the whole peeled garlic cloves and thyme sprigs then return the beef to the casserole. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and add the stock and tomatoes.

Cook, with a lid slightly ajar, for 1 1⁄2 -2 hours or until the meat is tender (alternatively, cook in the oven at 180°C). Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Top with parsley then puree until smooth

Freeze 1/4 cup portions in ice cube trays

 

Coffee – I Miss You!

My family are doing this funny thing … where they seem to be a little nervous to eat around me or apologise throughout the meal.  Honestly, its not even a thing to me!  I don’t feel hungry at all and even push myself to have my three meals.  Sure food smells nice, I just don’t want to eat it.

I learned a big lesson the other day, I pushed myself too far to eat whats on the recommended menu and I felt so uncomfortable all day.  So I’m now choosing the most liquid of meals.  Yesterday was much much better.
So I went and bought a wee Food and Exercise notebook (me and stationary, I can’t help myself!) and I’m hoping, based on past experiences, that this will help me know what and when.

I’d fully expected to be MISSING things.  Like ice-cream – or cheese.  But with not feeling hungry at all, its actually pretty bloody easy.  But I’ll tell you what I really miss, you know what I really miss right?  Yes, coffee, shit I miss you!!!  But you’ll just have to wait until I can get my fluid intake up and keep it up.  You’ll dehydrate me – and make me pee lots.  Naughty coffee.

I still love you though.

OMG! Its Done! What Next?

Today is Day Four – Post Op.
I’m back at home and Mom and I are about to go out for a walk.  Its actually pissing with rain so we’re headed to the mall and I feel good enough to get out of my palazzo pants and into something nicer – and to have dried my hair and flicked on some mascara.

The last three or four days have been a bit of a blur but I’ve made a few notes and I might come back to a post about surgery and the hospital stay but right now I’m concentrating on three things;

  • water – 1.5l is my target for each day but I’ll tell you what, 750mls is hard and 1.5l is a bitch!
  • walking – yesterday I didn’t even manage a kilometre, today I did 2.5km
  • food – my goal is to eat three meals a day.  Yesterday I felt uncomfortable and perhaps pushed the limits a wee bit.  I’ve pared it back today and I feel a lot better.

I’m very aware that I need to give the anaesthetic time to work its way out of my system (and it can take 3-6 months) and I also know that I won’t be getting the best sleeps however the healing is happening pretty okay.  I’ve got 6 tiny incisions on my belly – I call them my ‘racing stripes’ – and they are sealed with plasters which I should be able to take off in a few more days.  I’m quite lucky that my Mom is/was a registered nurse and she’s here with my checking them each day.

I’m still a little tender however I wouldn’t register my pain level – I guess from here its all about adjusting and finding out what works for me.  As well as trying to drink all this bloody water!

The Final Countdown

And just like that, I am into my final week pre-op.  I think I have done almost everything that I need to do – in the next couple of days I’ll order some of the bariatric meal replacements (rather than relying on Optifast), I need to pack my hospital bag and the day before I need to get a final round of blood tests.

I’m full of nervous excitement.

Last night we went to the movies and as we were walking back to the car, the movie theatre is in a large shopping complex, I walked past a store I have never ever ever been able to shop in.  I caught myself wondering “would I be able to wear that?”.
Whilst the previews were on before the movie, there was something on the screen that made me think of the Tongariro Crossing, an adventure I haven’t even been able to consider doing and I thought to myself “one day I could actually do that”.  So I added it to Blondie’s Goals.

From now on these will be my victories – and my rewards.  Not on the scale wins, but non-scale victories.
I’ve met my goal weight loss for the surgery and in four more sleeps I will be in that operating theatre ready for a whole new chapter in my life.  I can’t believe how fast it has come around.  Or that the pieces have all fallen in to place.

Let’s just have a quick look at private weight loss surgery in New Zealand;

  • Visit your GP and discuss with them whether this is the best option for you.  You need their referral.
  • Check your medical insurance. I’m with Southern Cross on the WellBeing One plan, I’ve been with them for three years so they could cover up to $7500.
  • Get an appointment with the Surgery team – individual meetings with the nurse, surgeon, dietician and psychologist.  The team will meet and discuss your case and decide together whether to schedule your surgery.
  • Costs are approximately $20,000 for the surgeon and the hospital.  This includes 12 most post op care and support.
  • Medical procedure finance is available – Nova Medical Finance is often recommended.  Their process is slow and you must have all the paper work exact else it takes ages and can get very frustrating.
  • Optifast (for the pre-op diet) is available instore at Life Pharmacy or online at Pharmacy Direct.  Alternatively, even though its been out of stock, ams nutrition.co.nz has the Celebrate range which is supposed to be a hundred times nicer.  I’ll let you know when I finally get my hands on it.

Wanna know the biggest issues I have come across to date?
I can’t stop buying water bottles.  Eco friendly, fruit infusion, squeezable.  I think I have a problem.

2 Weeks Pre-Op

Time has absolutely flown by and all of a sudden, here we are.
Less than 2 weeks to my bypass now and I am into the 2 week pre-op diet.  Its actually not too bad – and not too hard.  Sure having 2 shakes a day is pretty boring but I’ve already met the weight loss goal that my surgeon set for me so now I am playing a game of “how low can it go?”

My starting weight was 154.5 kilograms and todays weight is 146.1 kilograms.

One of the questions, or sections of questions, that I was asked on my initial patient profile were around my relationship with food.

  • Do you eat in the car? 
  • Do you choose not to eat in front of others?
  • Do you eat when you are sad?

Oh no I thought, not really in the car.  I’m okay with eating around other people. Sad, not me!!

Woah – how bloody wrong was I?  And I started realising these things even before I entered the two week period.  I ate so much – and much more often than I even realised.  I felt quite deflated after this realisation, and quite scared and sad.  I ended up texting my Mom and laying it all out – even though I had admitted it to myself in my head, I wasn’t quite ready to say it out loud.  And then Mom gave me one of her talking to’s, which is exactly what I needed, and reassured me that I wasn’t making a mistake, this anxiety would pass and that she was proud.

So here we are – my surgery is in 10 days and I think I am organised.  I’ve met my goal weight loss, my final approval has come through from Southern Cross so they will cover the full $7500, I have my hospital pack and a new shiny Nutri Bullet blender.  I think I’m ready to go!  Am I missing anything?

5 Weeks Pre-Op

As I write this its actually more like 4.5 weeks until surgery and my excitement isn’t waning.

Whilst I haven’t lost a lot more, probably only a kg or so, the number one rule that the nurse gave me was not to gain any more weight.  So we are doing alright on that front!  I haven’t been swimming but I have upped my steps and finally gotten around to replacing the battery in my Fitbit.  Cos everyone knows those steps don’t count unless they are logged on your Fitbit – am I right?

Now that my dates confirmed, I haven’t been shy in telling people.  I figure that they are going to work it out pretty quickly once my body starts changing but its really surprising the amount of people that think its okay to give me their opinion on what I should be doing – and that eating the proper foods and exercising should be all I need to do.
Yea, cheers, thanks asshole.  If that was all it took do you think I’d be putting myself and my wallet through this?

Apparently surgery is the easy way out.

As far as I’m concerned, both them and their opinions can take a long walk off a short pier.  Dick heads.

Even now, I can feel my self confidence returning, I’m wearing makeup, coloured clothing, I feel a change in the air.

 

6 Weeks Pre-Op

My gastric bypass surgery is in 6 weeks and whilst my official pre-op diet is another month away, my own preparation starts today.

After the surgery, carbohydrates WILL NOT be my friend and so because I’ve had some success with paleo eating in the past, I’m going cold turkey on bread & pasta, all added sugars and processed foods.
My boyfriend and I had a huge chat about our meals and how big they are so we’re both cutting down to around 120-150g of protein per meal and increasing our vege count.

In the last couple of days I’ve made an effort to drink lots and lots of water, pay attention to those meals and exercise and I’m down about 5kgs.  I must have been bloated or something on the day I weighed in with the nurse!!!

Now that I feel comfortable with my decision, and now that I know my date, I am a lot more comfortable with telling people.  I never care all that much about what other people think but I’ve discovered something.  A LOT more people have had some form of weight loss surgery than I ever imagined!  And now I’m doing it too, they are all in my corner.  And thats pretty awesome.