Monday, March 17, 2014

KICKED UP EGGS

This month's Kosher Link has us using horseradish as an ingredient.  Passover is coming up soon and horseradish is a staple during this holiday.  I was thinking of another staple and realized that eggs are another standard food for Passover.  And eggs are a great source of protein for post-bariatric patients!  I hope you enjoy this recipe!



KICKED UP EGGS

6 Hard-boiled eggs
2 Tablespoons chopped onion, sauteed
2 Teaspoons minced pickles
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise (can substitute Greek Yogurt if you want a dairy egg)
1 1/2 Tablespoons prepared horseradish (NOT with beets inside)
Sea salt to taste

Bring eggs covered with cold water to boil.  Once a roiling boil is achieved, turn off flame and cover eggs. Let them sit for 20 minutes and then rinse in very cold water for several minutes (or alternatively, add a bunch of ice).

While eggs are sitting, chop onion and saute in a non-stick pan until caramelized.  Set aside to cool.

Peel eggs and slice each in half.  Remove yolks from the whites and place into a bowl.  Mash the yolks with all the ingredients until smooth. Place yolk mixture into the whites and serve.

(DISCLAIMER: The Kosher Link Up might link you to recipes that are NOT suitable for bariatric patients)



Monday, February 17, 2014

Purim Mocktail



This month's kosher link-up challenge is cocktail/mocktails.  Since bariatric patients are cautioned not to drink alcohol and I would prefer to promote that stance, I present to you a protein mocktail!  You can have fun on Purim and not get drunk nor miss ingesting the protein your body needs!

This is a Protein Pina Colada and serves TWO people.

Protein Pina Colada

1 very ripe banana, frozen
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 scoops of unflavored whey protein powder (or 2 servings if your protein powder uses 2 or more scoops per serving size)
6 pumps of Torani sugar-free coconut syrup
1/2 cup of ice


Puree banana, pineapple, juice, coconut milk, whey protein powder and sugar free syrup in a blender.  Add ice and blend again until ice is crushed.

So you can have your Purim fun and still stick to your food program!

(DISCLAIMER: The Kosher Link Up might link you to recipes that are NOT suitable for bariatric patients)








Sunday, January 19, 2014

MAHOGANY CHICKEN WINGS

This month's Kosher Link-Up challenge is Super Bowl/Finger Food.  I instantly thought of these really yummy chicken wings.



MAHOGANY CHICKEN WINGS

15 chicken wings (about 3 lbs - cleaned well)
1/2 cup gluten-free soy sauce
1/2 cup apple butter
1/4 cup all fruit apricot spread (no sugar)
2 Tablespoons sugar free or unsweetened ketchup
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Cut each chicken wings at joints to make 3 pieces. Discard the tips.  Cut off excess skin and discard. Place chicken in shallow glass or plastic bowl. Mix remaining ingredients and then pour over the chicken.  Cover and refrigerate for one hour, turning occasionally.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line broiler pan with foil.

Remove chicken from marinade; reserve remaining marinade. Place chicken in a single layer on a rack in foil-lined broiler pan; brush with marinade.

Bake for 30 minutes, turn.  Bake for about another 20 minutes, brushing occasionally with marinade, until deep brown in color and the juice of the chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest parts are cut.  Discard any remaining marinade.

(DISCLAIMER: The Kosher Link Up might link you to recipes that are NOT suitable for bariatric patients)








Sunday, December 15, 2013

COMFORT FOOD

My initial response when I think of comfort food is grilled cheese. Maybe that is because my Mom used to make me the best grilled cheese sandwich when I was in the need for some extra special pampering.  Who doesn't love melted, ooey-gooey cheese?  Well, I'm not posting a grilled cheese recipe, partly because there's not much to it and partly because it's really hard to make it bariatric-friendly as once you take out the carb-loaded bread it ruins it.

My next best comfort food have to be ribs.  I love sticky delicious flavorful ribs.  I know some post-Bariatric patients cannot tolerate beef but luckily, I can.  I don't eat it often but when I do, I like the good stuff!  Of course, feel free to use this BBQ sauce on other types of meat, including chicken.  You could even use the sauce as a base for a slow cooker meat meal (I wouldn't recommend it for fish but it might taste great on tofu).


BBQ RIBS
4 1/2 lbs beef ribs (bone-in the best but you can do it with boneless flanken as well)
BBQ Sauce (recipe below)

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Place ribs into a large roasting pan.  Pour sauce over ribs and cover and bake until tender, about 2 1/2 hours.  Spoon sauce over ribs and serve.

BBQ SAUCE
2 Tbsp. dry mustard
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (adjust the heat according to your taste, use even more if you like it hot)
2 Tbsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. onion powder
2 1/2 tsp. salt-free lemon pepper
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. sea salt
6 Tbsp. apple juice concentrate (you could use Stevia to taste instead)
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce

Mix all ingredients together.  Any sauce that did not come in contact with meat can be refrigerated for about a week.





(DISCLAIMER: The Kosher Link Up might link you to recipes that are NOT suitable for bariatric patients)





Friday, November 29, 2013

ROUND AND APPROACHABLE

My dear friend, Cee, calls donuts "round and approachable" and as a post-bariatric patient and a newly gluten-free person I can wholeheartedly say that donuts are NOT approachable for me!  So off I went to Shelly's blog, The World According to Eggface.  I've made her recipe before but this time I wanted to make it really extra kosher for those with the strongest kosher standards. Therefore, everything in this recipe is chalav yisroel (special supervised milk products) and with the highest kosher supervision. That meant I needed to play around with her original recipe.  I really like the way these came out.

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL GLUTEN FREE DONUTS
1 cup Almond Flour
1/2 cup NutriSupreme PLAIN unflavored Whey Protein Powder
1/2 cup Gluten Free Pancake Mix (I used Arrowhead Mills)
2 packets of Splenda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons Shufra unsweetened cocoa powder
1 box (1.4 ounces) of Leibers sugar free chocolate pudding mix (you can use Jello brand if you wish)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup sugar free caramel syrup (I used Torani)
1 Tablespoon coconut oil (you can substitute canola oil)
3/4 cup milk

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix all dry ingredients really well, making sure there are no lumps in there. Add liquid ingredients and mix well.  The mixture is going to be thick and sticky.


Spray a non-stick mini donut baking pan with non-stick spray.  Fill each well with about a tablespoon of dough.  Bake for 8 minutes.
Cool on a rack.  This recipe makes about 24 mini donuts.



You can top the donuts with melted sugar free chocolate.  Melt about 4 ounces of sugar free chocolate and 1 tablespoon of sugar free syrup (flavor of your choice).  You can then top it with chopped or slivered almonds, coconut or crushed sugar free candy.




Sunday, November 24, 2013

PUMPKIN FLUFF

I was visiting my good friend and she made this delicious pumpkin fluff that was bariatric friendly.  However, it was also dairy and I wanted to make a non-dairy, pareve pumpkin fluff (yes it is VEGAN for those that need vegetarian and vegan recipes). To me, pumpkin fluff is the post-bariatric person's pumpkin pie. It has the taste of pumpkin pie without all the stuff that can make you sick or prevent you from reaching your weight loss goals. I made it without a crust and probably could have put it into a nut crust but I preferred it more pudding-like than pie-like.  Be sure to read through the entire recipe directions before attempting to make it.  It is not difficult but does involve numerous steps.

And before I post the recipe, I wanted to tell you all something about kosher turkey.  My dear friend Nikki at the Bariatric Foodie blog (see my favorite links page as well) told me that I should post about kosher turkey.  Did you know that if you want a brined turkey you can skip the messy brining process and just purchase a kosher turkey?  Yes folks, kosher meats and poultry are brined as part of the kashering process. The only caveat I have to post here is that for people not used to kosher poultry be aware and armed with your tweezers or a knife as you find many pin feathers to pluck out of your bird!  The reason for this is that there is no hot water used in processing the poultry (or meat) and cold water just doesn't release all the feathers the way hot water does.  So, if you want to skip the brining, look for a kosher turkey in your local supermarket.  If you live in a densely populated Jewish area you might even find fresh kosher turkeys.  But if you don't you will probably find them in your freezer section.

In the next while, I plan on working on a dairy version of pumpkin fluff that has some whey protein powder in it as well.  I will post that recipe when it's all worked out to my satisfaction.

PUMPKIN FLUFF
1 - 13.5 ounce can of regular coconut milk (do NOT use lite) (this is the one I used)
Soy Milk to fill to the 2 cup line (see directions) (I use this one)
1 - 1.5 ounce box of Jello fat free sugar free instant vanilla pudding mix
1 Tablespoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 - 15 ounce can of 100% pure canned Pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cup Splenda or Stevia for Baking

Please read instructions CAREFULLY - this will take some time to make and is actually best if you can start the preparations a day before.  

Make sure your can of coconut milk is CHILLED.  The best thing is to buy it before you need it and put it in the refrigerator to chill for 24 hours.  Once it is chilled, turn the can of coconut milk UPSIDE down.  Trust me, you really need to do this step.  Open it from the bottom side (alternatively, you can store the can UPSIDE down in the refrigerator and then turn it right side up).  You will see the coconut liquid there, pour that out into a measuring cup.  Add soy milk until the 1 1/2 cup mark, the amount you need will vary depending on the can of coconut milk.  Now remove the thick coconut cream from the can and set aside in a medium bowl.  If it is warm out, put the cream into the refrigerator to stay chilled.

Now in a mixing bowl, put your Jello fat free sugar free vanilla pudding mix.  Add the 1 1/2 cups of combined coconut and soy milks and beat according to package directions for making pudding, about 2 minutes.  Add Pumpkin Pie spice and the can of pure pumpkin and beat for another 2-3 minutes.  

In the medium bowl, beat the coconut cream until it forms soft peaks.  Add in the Splenda or Stevia and beat until you get stiff peaks (it won't be as stiff as egg whites).  

Slowly and gently incorporate the coconut cream "whipped cream" into the pudding fluff.  Refrigerate until serving.

NOTE: If you want even more whipped topping, buy a second can of coconut milk and remove the liquid and reserve for another usage.  Whip the coconut cream as described above and dollop your pumpkin fluff with the coconut "whipped cream."




Friday, November 15, 2013

CHANUKAH/THANKSGIVING

This month's kosher link-up is a "Thanksgivukah" mash-up.  I thought it would be awesome to make something kind of traditional and Jewish and yet bariatric friendly.  Here are two amazing recipes.  One is very traditionally Jewish and since it's dairy and a latke it's really fitting for Chanukah.  The second recipe is a mash-up of a traditional Thanksgiving dish with a Jewish twist.  I hope you enjoy both of them!  They are obviously bariatric-friendly but they are also gluten-free.




CHEESE LATKES

4 eggs, beaten
1 cup  low fat cottage cheese
2 cups low fat ricotta cheese
1/3 cup Splenda or Stevia
1 cup almond flour
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Non-stick spray


Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Spray a non-stick pan with the cooking spray.  When pan is hot, add batter by the tablespoon and dry until golden on each side, about 2 minutes for each side.

Serve plain or spruce it up with some sugar free maple syrup.




BARIATRIC FRIENDLY SWEET POTATO "NOODLE" KUGEL

Kugel:
·         2 to 3 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
·         1 recipe egg noodles (see below)
·         2 large eggs
·         1/4 cup orange flavored Crystal Light or Strong herbal orange tea
·         1/4 cup coconut oil (can substitute with other oil)
·         1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese
·         1/3 cup plain unflavored Greek yogurt
·         1 teaspoon cinnamon
·         1/4 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
·         1/3 cup Splenda or Stevia

Egg “Noodles”
·         3 eggs
·         1/4 cup water
·         1/8 teaspoon salt
·         Non stick spray
Beat eggs with a wire whisk or beaters until fluffy.  Add water and salt and beat for 1-2 minutes.  Heat sprayed non-stick skillet over medium flame.  Now make the crepes: Pour 1/4 cup of the mixture at a time and flip over when the first side browns (about 1-2 minutes on each side).  When done, roll up crepes and slice very thinly so they are in strips, resembling noodles.

Topping:
·         1 cup chopped almonds
·         1 cup chopped pecans
·         1/4 cup Splenda or Stevia or brown sugar substitute
·         1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·         1/4 cup coconut oil (can substitute with other oil)


Preparation:
1. Heat oven to 350°F.
2. Pierce sweet potatoes several times with a knife; place on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 2 hours or until tender.
3. When sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and mash in a large bowl or run through a food mill until smooth. Set sweet potato puree aside.
4. Prepare egg “noodles” according to recipe above and set aside.
5. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, diet orange drink, and coconut oil. Add the sweet potato puree, cottage cheese, yogurt, cinnamon, pecans, and Splenda, mixing well. Stir in the cooked egg “noodles.”
6. Lightly coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick spray.
7. Pour the sweet potato/noodle mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
8. Bake for 25 minutes.
9. Combine the first four topping ingredients (almonds, pecans, Splenda, and cinnamon) in a medium bowl. Drizzle with the coconut oil, stirring to incorporate. Sprinkle the nut mixture evenly over the kugel.
10. Bake for another 15 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then serve.


(DISCLAIMER: The Kosher Link Up might link you to recipes that are NOT suitable for bariatric patients)





Wednesday, November 13, 2013

CONTEST WINNERS

Congratulations to the winners of the Better'n Peanut Butter Contest!  The winners are: Mikimi, Julia and Waning Woman. Please email me your full name and complete mailing address! Also put in the email your top three flavor choices. And head over to Better'n Peanut Butter's Facebook page and thank them for the generous sponsorship of the prize!

Next week's blog will be about the Chanukah/Thanksgiving mash-up and how to change things so that you can still stick to traditional items but make them more Bariatric-friendly.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

DOING THE IMPOSSIBLE

Two years ago, I could not walk even one block without tremendous pain and I walked slower than 2 miles per hour.  Each step was pure agony due to my excessive weight and chronic back problems.  For those of you following this blog, you know that I started to walk about six months out from my surgery.  I walked daily for 30 minutes as quickly as I could and after a few months, I increased the time to 45 minutes 6 days per week.  Then I worked on increasing my speed.  When I started, I was on the treadmill walking at 2.5 mph.  Then it increased to 3 mph and then 3.5 mph and then 4 mph.  In September 2012, I decided to take my routine outdoors and started to run as well.  At that time, my goal was to complete a 5K.  I did that by running/walking the Walk From Obesity in Dallas TX in October 2012.  Then I completed my first official race in Prospect Park at the 5 mile Turkey Trot.  I then worked on completing a 10K which I did in December 2012.

On October 20, 2013, I completed my first half marathon.  Two years ago, if you had asked me if I would ever do anything like that I would have laughed in your face and told you that if a hungry lion was chasing me I would make an excellent steak dinner!  I never would have imagined becoming a runner nor completing a half marathon. By trying to adopt a more healthful lifestyle I have evolved into someone that I never would have dreamed of.  I encourage you all to find your inner passion for movement, whatever that might be.  Not everyone is suited to running.  Do you like dancing? zumba? spin class? yoga? walking? bike riding? swimming?  Find your passion!

I would love to share a part of my journey with you.  I could not have achieved this amazing accomplishment without the help of many people.  One group are my fellow Disney/running friends.  They are constantly pushing me and inspiring me to greatness.  In that group are marathon maniacs, half fanatics and folks that are just finding their running legs.  But one thing that is common among all of these amazing people are their positive attitudes and how they encourage and inspire those around them.  Some of these Disney/running friends are also weight loss surgery friends.  So their journeys also started with them going from couch potatoes to movement on a daily/consistent basis.

The other group that I need to acknowledge specifically are the weight loss surgery athletes.  These are folks that are doing things that at this point in time I cannot even imagine accomplishing: ironmans, ultra runs, etc. Inspiration in the highest form possible!

And lastly I must acknowledge my dear friend Lea Crosetti from BariAthletes.  When I think of what an athlete looks like, Lea pretty much fills that image! But that is not why I adore her!  She is not only my nutritionist and trainer but she is someone who has helped me to achieve the impossible!  When I contacted Lea I was concerned because I could not fuel my body properly for the amount of movement I wanted it to do.  With Lea really listening to me (and trust me, I don't think I have encountered another dietitian who listens like Lea does) and with her understanding what MY body needs, I was able to train and complete my first half marathon.  Lea has also helped me to overcome some of the negative self-talk that goes on in my head at times. She is one of the most insightful and positive people I have ever met! If you have any interest in improving your movement, I honestly think Lea can be of tremendous help to you!

So my first half marathon experience was not what I thought it would be.  Leading up to the half marathon, I was really positive and thought it would be "easy" considering how great I felt during my training.  Unfortunately, the course was hillier than I thought it would be and with my lack of hill training combined with the severe cold I found it challenging.  Additionally, my phone died at mile 8 and I was reliant on my phone not only for music but also to keep me on track with my run/walk/run intervals.  It was discouraging and I ended up walking the last 3 miles because I just could not keep track of the intervals.  But I did achieve my goal of finishing the race and doing that standing upright!  I also learned to make sure that I have back-up interval timer so that I can continue my intervals throughout the entire race.  The other shocker was the great disparity between the app MapMyRun and my Garmin running watch.  The Garmin hit each mile marker exactly as posted on the course while MapMyRun was off by a mile or so which makes my pace much slower than I anticipated.  The best part of running is that I am only in competition with myself so I only have to beat my own time!  There is loads of room for improvement!

So, where do I go from here?  Right now, unfortunately, I am still battling some Achilles'\tendon issues that will hopefully be sorted out.  But my next half marathon is planned for the end of February 2014.  I am training for that race and hope to do better both with my time of completion but also my mental attitude.  It will be my very first Disney race so I hope that being in my happy place will help the experience to be the best ever. And it is a Princess race, so there's that!

I also plan on completing the Niagara Women's Half Marathon on June 1, 2014 to celebrate my 50th birthday as well.  I cannot imagine a better way of celebrating than moving my body in such a challenging way.

So, know that you CAN do the impossible.  Just go out there and grab it!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Corn, Pear, Spinach and Blue Cheese Crustless Quiche



This month's kosher link up challenge is a "chopped" type challenge.  The three ingredients are: canned corn, pear and Mike and Ike's original candy.  Originally, we were challenged to use all three ingredients but luckily the rules were changed to needing to use only two.  Which is good because I was totally going to cheat and NOT use the Mike and Ike's candy! Obviously, candy is something that all bariatric patients should avoid (unless it is the occasional sugar-free treat).  One thing that I adore are the "bites" from the blog The World According to Eggface.  I thought that concept would work really well in creating a crustless quiche using the chopped ingredients. And a bonus, this is recipe is completely gluten-free, too!

CORN, PEAR, SPINACH & BLUE CHEESE CRUSTLESS QUICHE

Non stick spray
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 ripe pear, chopped (use any type of pear, I used Bartlett)
1/2 can corn, drained
1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
5 extra large eggs, beaten
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1 tsp. sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Saute the onion and scallions in a non-stick pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and pear and saute until the pear is caramelized. Set aside and let cool.

In a large bowl, mix corn, spinach, beaten eggs and blue cheese. Add salt and cooled pear/onion/garlic mixture.  Mix well.

Spoon mixture into a sprayed non-stick muffin pan (you can use regular or mini sized).  Bake for about 20 minutes for the mini muffins or 30 minutes for the large muffins (or until browned and puffed up). Makes approximately 12 large sized or 24 mini sized quiches.



(DISCLAIMER: The Kosher Link Up might link you to recipes that are NOT suitable for bariatric patients)





Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Gluten Free, Part Two

I found a wonderful store that is local to my area that carries kosher food and is gluten free.  It also has an online website so all of you out of the Brooklyn area can shop!  It is called the Gluten Free Shoppe.  I spent a bunch of money there but I know all the products I bought are not only kosher and gluten free but very bariatric friendly!  I couldn't be more thrilled with what I found there.  So here's the rundown of what I purchased and what products might be interesting for you to explore.

First off, is almond flour.  I didn't take a picture of it as it came in a 5 pound generic bucket.  I have a place for it in my freezer so it stays fresh for longer.  It's very light in color and I have used it before in amazing recipes from The World According To Eggface blog.

On the left are crackers that are made with whole grain rice, quinoa and other things.  As I am training for a half marathon, there are times when I need crackers to fuel my exercise and these and some of the other products I purchased will be perfect for that purpose.  On the right, are "pretzels" from the same company and essentially the same ingredients but in pretzel-shaped form.  Obviously, if you are not training or doing extreme exercise, you might not need these products.  But if you do, they are a great choice.

The crackers pictured above are from Australia!  Of course that made me think of one of my favorite books - Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good very bad day due to the Australian reference.  Anyway, I picked these because they have loads of fiber in addition to some healthful ingredients.

Below are some almond flour crackers, which makes a nice choice if you want that crunch without the carbohydrates.

Above are some coconut crackers that are more like cookies to me.  They have xylitol and coconut and taste very sweet to me.  They also need a better label, preferably one with no spelling mistakes.


Here we have two products on the left and right that are for "breading" foods.  It will be helpful for those nights when I have no desire to make myself a separate supper and yet still be appealing to the kids.  Both have no sugar added and are made from whole grains instead of the usual potato starch of gluten free foods.






Above, you will see Tamari soy sauce.  Yes, folks, soy sauce is a huge source of gluten!  Check your labels!


I still didn't find vegetarian burgers.  The store had the Dr. Praeger's gluten free vegetarian burgers but they are not a great choice for bariatric patients since they only contain 5 grams of protein.  I want my vegetarian burgers to have at least 12 grams of protein (preferably more).  It looks like I will have to make my own and post that recipe, if it turns out.  Anyway, this product looked interesting.  They had other flavors that had a bit too much added sugar for me (3 grams).  This one has only 1 gram of sugar.  It seemed interesting and does not need to be refrigerated or frozen as it's shelf stable.  It had a nice serving of protein coming in at 15 grams per serving.

And finally, I found two different protein bars.  They are both non-dairy (vegan) and have low sugar content (3 grams or less) with at least 16 grams of protein per bar.


So concludes my gluten free shopping trip!  I was quite happy with all the options available there!  Yes, it is a bit trickier for a bariatric patient as we have to read labels, look for sugars, etc.  But I am coming to realize it is doable.



Monday, October 7, 2013

Gluten Free

I wasn't sure if I was going to post about this but I decided to go for it because I think it's really important if you are a bariatric patient and keep kosher AND need gluten free products!  Phew!  I just returned from the doctor with a diagnosis that explains my two month unstoppable itch. It's called dermatitis herpetiformis and is related to a wheat allergy and perhaps celiac disease.  So now that I am thinking about how to reformat my diet I realize there are some issues that will affect me.  One are Morningstar Farms products.  I like the protein content and it's kosher vegetarian status.  Unfortunately, they all contain wheat so finding a substitute is going to be quite challenging.  For a ground meat substitute, I know that TVP will be great and it's gluten free!  The other shocker was that one of my calcium supplements contains wheat!  So, as I discover what products are kosher, gluten-free and bariatric friendly, I will let you know.  Meanwhile, you are all welcome to join me on this very interesting and new journey into the world of kosher, bariatric, sugar-free and gluten-free diet!

As I was researching this topic I was curious as to why this might have happened post-bariatric surgery and whether there is any indication that it could be caused from having bariatric surgery.  I found this very interesting article and plan doing more research to find the original text from the Mayo Clinic. The relevant part is towards the bottom of the page.  And to further complicate my issue, I had some serious rheumatoid arthritis symptoms that needed medical intervention about a year out from my weight loss surgery.  From some more of the sleuthing I discovered that there might be a connection between gluten sensitivity and RA! So now I wonder if the pain I had experienced was really gluten sensitivity!  I don't have any clear cut answers yet but I will let you know when and if I do.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My Second Surgiversary

Two years ago today I embarked on one of the most challenging and frightening adventures - having gastric bypass surgery.  I was terrified of taking that step because I feared I'd die in the middle of surgery but I was terrified of NOT taking that step because I saw myself becoming more disabled and sick from conditions related to my morbid obesity.  Here I am two years later and there is no doubt that I would make the same choice to have bariatric surgery.  It has changed my life for the better in a so many ways.

I started the dieting process when I was 12 years old.  And with each diet attempt, I would lose some weight and then gain it all back plus some more pounds.  So much so that by the time I was in my 20s, I was already in the high 200 lb range.  I never gave up trying but nothing seemed to work or help me.  By the time I was 47 years old,I weighed at least 310 pounds (I'm not sure of my actual highest weight as I avoided the scale), I was a type 2 diabetic on 4 different medications for that condition as well as 3 medications for high blood pressure (and my pressure was never better than 140/90).  My Ha1c level was 11 and I was nearly about to be put on insulin. I had chronic back pain that disabled me so badly that I could barely walk a block and each step was excruciatingly painful.  As a Disney World fan, I had to resort to using an electric scooter to get around the parks.  I knew that if I didn't make a change in my health I was headed towards permanent disability and an early death.  I wanted to see my children grow up.  Fortunately, I had two very close friends who had bariatric surgery (one the gastric bypass and one the lapband) and with their successes I felt encouraged to try it myself.

When I see this picture of myself I don't even connect that the woman in the picture was me!  This was me at my highest weight.  Not the nicest nor the most flattering picture that I have but it is a real one that captures the severe issue of my obesity.  This picture was taken on a cruise in 2009 and I needed a scooter just to get around the ship!

Here I am today. My health has completely changed for the better.  I am off all prescription medications and only take an acid reflux medication to protect my gastric bypass and the required vitamins and supplements.  My cholesterol is perfect, my last Ha1c was 6, my blood pressure is 110/70 (again, with NO medication) and I feel great.

As I wrote above, two years ago I couldn't even walk ONE block without severe pain and certainly walked very, very slowly.  Walking even 2.0 mph was fast for me.  About 6 months out from surgery, I decided to just start walking.  I walked at 3.0 mph on the treadmill for 30 minutes 6 days per week.  I then decided to walk for 45 minutes 6 days per week.  And then I started walking a bit faster, realizing that I hadn't been pushing myself to my limit of what I was able to do.  One year after my surgery date, I was walking at around 4.0 mph and realized that I might be ready to start jogging.  So exactly one year ago, I took to the streets to run.  I wasn't fast by any stretch of the imagination but was able to run around 14:30 min/mile.  I then decided to try a 5K race, then the 5 mile Turkey Trot and then a 10K Hot Chocolate race.  I completed all of them with a smile on my face.  Today, I am in training for my very first half marathon.  I run at least 3 times per week and the other days I do other exercises like yoga, elliptical and strength training.  My average speed is anywhere from 12:30 min/mile to 13:30 min/mile.  I now know that I can do ANYTHING that I want to in the physical realm.  I am only limited by my mind, not my body.

I look forward to seeing what is in store for me in the next year.  I know that I will definitely be completing TWO half marathons and perhaps even more half marathons than that but those are the two that I am registered for.  I am also thinking of doing a full marathon (26.2 miles) in honor of my 50th birthday which happens in this next year.  I will let you all know when and what I am racing.

Meanwhile, whether you've had bariatric surgery or are just thinking about it, know that it is merely a tool to help you make positive changes in your life.  It is not a miracle solution, I have to work hard at making the right choices every single day.  But it can be a helpful boost to achieving the health and happiness that you deserve to have.

Friday, August 30, 2013

CONTEST ALERT: BETTER'N PEANUT BUTTER

So here comes the big reveal!  The product that I got entirely way too excited by at the OAC Convention is a kosher product that I had been completely unaware of!!  That fantastic product is none other than Better'n Peanut Butter!  It comes in several amazing flavors: Original, Low Sodium, Banana, Maple Bacon, Hot Pepper, Chocolate, Raspberry Chocolate, Coconut Chocolate, Cinnamon Chocolate and Peppermint Chocolate!!  10 different flavors!  All these are certified kosher by the O-U and pareve.  The nutritional stats are fantastic: they have 85% less fat and 40% less calories than regular peanut butter.  It is made with non GMO peanuts, has no preservatives and no refined sugars and is pasteurized.  You do need to refrigerate the peanut butter as soon as it's opened.  Basically 2 tablespoons are 100 calories with 13 grams carbohydrates and 4 grams protein.

You can find Better'n Peanut Butter at Food Emporium, Wegmans, Fairway, Target, Trader Joes, Shaws and Acme Markets.  You can also find it online and perhaps even in your local stores, I saw the chocolate at Shoprite in Brooklyn.  Here is a store locator for you.

The Better'n Peanut Butter people have graciously sent me several jars of peanut butter to sample. Over the next few months I will be playing around with some of the flavors in new recipes and I will post it here.  But I have way more peanut butter than I need since Better'n Peanut Butter sent me TWO of every flavor so I have decided to do a give away contest!  Do you want to win some free Better'n Peanut Butter?  Then read on!

CONTEST RULES:

1) To be entered you must do the following:
a) Go like Better'N Peanut Butter's Facebook Page and tell them that Kosher Bariatric sent you
b) Make sure you have liked Kosher Bariatric's page
This will get you one entry into the contest.

2) If you want a second entry, go follow Better'n Peanut Butter on Twitter and then tweet that Kosher Bariatric sent you.

3) If you want a third entry, follow me on Twitter.

4) If you want a fourth entry, post an interesting way to use Better'n Peanut Butter in a recipe - any flavor you prefer - on the Kosher Bariatric Facebook page.

5) To be entered into ANY one of the above, you must then post a comment on this blog page stating what entries you are entitled to and your name so I can find you if you win.  Winners will be chosen using a random name picker.  One entry will place your name there once, two entries will place your name there twice, etc.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me kosherbariatric@gmail.com


Sunday, August 25, 2013

OAC Convention 2013 Recap

I was fortunate to attend the Second Obesity Action Coalition's Convention in Phoenix, Arizona. Just as the first year, this year was chock-full of amazing educational sessions that were eye opening and enlightening.  But even more exciting for me was to meet up with some old friends and to have some in person meet-ups with people I have admired online for ages.

I arrived really late on Wednesday night, basically got a huge hug from Pandora and Heather and then we crashed.  It was 2 a.m. Phoenix time which means my body was at 5 a.m.!  I was up at 7 a.m. Phoenix time Thursday morning and got up to go for a walk outside.  I did about 3 miles and instead of taking the trail, I got lost and ended up in a suburban area.  One thing I have to say is that anyone who lives in Phoenix and works out outdoors in the summer is made of some very hardy stuff!  It never got cooler than 89 degrees while we were there and that was just too hot for my NYC body!

I attended the amazing advocacy training last year so this year I decided to skip it and just enjoy the resort and some down time until the OAC Member Mingle Thursday evening.  I got to sample the waterpark at the resort and even went down both water slides!  That was amazing feat since there is no way I could have done that when I weighed 130 lbs more than I do now.

The OAC Member Mingle Thursday evening was amazing.  It started with my meeting Nikki Massie, one of the most influential people in my weight loss journey.  Nikki is the blogger behind Bariatric Foodie, a website that has some really amazing recipes and ways to eat post-bariatric surgery.  I grabbed a photo with her and another online friend, Diana.

At the Member Mingle, two physicians spoke and they were informative but the real stars were the two NFL players, Corey Louchiey and James Thornton, who shared their stories of combating obesity. They were very dynamic and engaging and I loved hearing about their journeys in overcoming the challenge of obesity.

Friday morning I was up bright and early to go on the organized walk at 6 a.m.  My friend Lisa was the fastest of all with her jogging ahead of us but for the walking group, we did pretty well! Of course I was in goof-ball mode since I was suffering from lack of sleep and jet lag.  I would post the goofy pictures of Lisa and I and Trish and I but my kids forbid me from doing it.

After doing a bit more than 3 miles, I decided to attend Abby Lentz's amazing yoga class.  I have to stop here and comment that I attended Abby's class last year and ended up sobbing at the end of her class.  I just wished that someone like Abby would have come into my life when I weighed 310 lbs and tell me that I COULD move my large body and that it would be fine.  Abby's energy is so healing and loving and I adore her!  Honestly folks, if you want a great yoga workout you must buy Abby's yoga DVDs!  So back to this year's class.  Once again, it was awesome.  She really takes in the energy of the group and guides us so well through stretching our bodies and connecting to our inner selves.  I felt so energized and grounded after the class. Please ignore my sweat - it's just liquid awesome! :)

After working out it was time to clean up and get ready for an amazing day of lectures.  The day started off with some amazing words by Heidi Hanna and then Dr. Robert Kushner.  Then there were some interesting insights into the media bias against obese individuals that affects us all given by Ted and Joe from the OAC.  For instance, have you ever noticed that obese individuals are shown with their body parts and no heads?  Or eating unhealthful foods?  Have you seen many media images of obese individuals exercising?  Or choosing to eat healthfully?  Let alone with their heads attached?  Totally unfair!

I have to say that one huge highlight was meeting Lea Crosetti, my personal trainer and nutritionist. I have been working with Lea since June of this year in order to fuel myself for my goal of completing two half marathons in the next few months.  Our post surgical bodies need a different approach than what is usually out there.  Lea blew me away with her open mind and her uncanny ability to really listen.  I know I can achieve my goals with Lea cheering behind me.

After that it was time for lunch with the experts.  I was lucky enough to sit at Dr. Christopher Still's talk entitled, "Weight Loss Plauteaus - Breaking Through the Frustration."  This was the very first session in which my own personal message I needed to hear was hammered into my head.  But I will get to that a bit later.  Basically Dr. Still spoke about the unrealistic expectation that we will lose anywhere from 75% to 100% of our excess body weight and keep it off.  He said that in reality the number is closer to 50%.  He also is the developer of an amazing app that I actually had on my phone called Get2Goal.

The absolute highlight of the afternoon had to be Merrill Littleberry.
 I remembered her from last year and the things she spoke of last year have not only helped me in my own journey but were such enlightening concepts that I was able to bring them home and utilize them in helping my own clients.  Once again, she just blew me away! There were so many precious nuggets that she gave us.  I love that woman so much and she is one of the shining lights in my journey.  I even asked to adopt her but she said her boys would have to come with and I told her no problem since her boys are the same age as my boys!  Too bad NYC is so far from TX!  One thing I can share with you is the 4H's: ask yourself does this help, hinder, hurt or heal you?  If you frame everything you do or the people you are surrounded by with these parameters it will make a huge impact on your actions!  The night ended with an amazing costume party.

The next morning started with Dr. Avena's lecture on food addiction.  I have been following Dr. Avena's work for a long time and was thrilled to be able to hear her in person.  I was also lucky enough to have lunch with the experts at Dr. Avena's table.  I love hearing about the neurochemical connection between food and cravings, etc.  Then Dr. Holly Lofton spoke - NYU in the house!  I was excited because Dr. Lofton is from NYU and that is where I had my surgery.  She spoke on the topic of how sleep and stress can impact your weight.  And then the last lecture before lunch was Dr. Gary Foster who spoke on the topic of "Weighing Success Beyond the Scale: Identifying and Maintaining A Healthy Weight."  This was the second time the message I needed to hear sunk in.  Again, a teaser but I really want to give it it's own section as it was such an important and challenging message for me.

After lunch I attended Dr. Gary Foster's talk on "Channeling Stress" and then Dr. Connolly's talk on "The Science Behind Willpower."  And then the closing session was on plastic surgery which was a huge panel of many different viewpoints - from the surgeon to the patient.  It was very enlightening. And I am very proud of my dear friend Pandora who so bravely spoke about her journey as a weight loss surgery patient and a plastic surgery reconstruction patient.  That evening we celebrated with the awards dinner and I got to meet some more online friends for the first time - Cara De La Cruz from A Post Op and a Doc.  Of course I spoke with Dr. Connie Stapleton for ages, I practically ambushed the poor woman! But she is another shining light in my weight loss journey.  Last year I was lucky to have her table as one of my lunch with the experts talks and she was so encouraging to me, I felt instantly uplifted by her words.  Once again, speaking with her for what seemed only a few minutes healed a life-time of misguided thoughts.


The next morning was the last official event with the Walk From Obesity.  I am training for a half marathon and needed to do 5 miles so I went out early to get walking before the official walk time and did my nearly 5 miles by the time the walk started and with the walk itself I ended up doing an unofficial 10K (6.2 miles).  The best part was that Lea Crosetti, my personal trainer and nutritionist walked with me.  I loved being able to meet Lea in person.  Our weekly sessions are phone sessions so connecting with her in person made it even better.  Lea is the person who has gotten to see that I am only limited by my own mind and that anything I want to accomplish, I can.  Here is an amazing photo of the hiking trails up near the resort.  It was really beautiful and I wish I had more time to take a leisurely hike up there but I didn't.


And I had to recreate last year's button photo by taking a photo with Pandora and Merrill like we did at last year's Walk From Obesity.

Okay, now to the main thing that I took away from me from this year's convention.  I don't know if I will be able to grasp it completely but I am working on it.  Basically it is to STOP focusing on the numbers: the BMI, the scale, the dress size, etc. and to start focusing on what you can do now that you could not do before.  How healthy are you now compared to how you were before.  This is a very hard challenge for me.  I am upset that I am stuck at a size 14.  That I have not become "skinny" that when I look in the mirror all I can see is my excess skin which registers as "fat" to me.  I don't see the 310 pound person anymore but I don't see the thin person I want to see. However, when I started this journey, I was a type 2 diabetic with high blood pressure on SEVEN prescription medications and about to be put on insulin.  My HbA1c was 11!!!  My blood pressure with all the medication was 140/90.  I couldn't walk ONE single block without immense pain and could barely hobble it at a very slow pace.  Fast forward to nearly two years later.  I am off all of those medications.  The only thing I take is Prilosec to protect my stomach and a bunch of vitamins and supplements to keep me healthy.  My diabetes is completely in control and my last HbA1c was 5.5.  My blood pressure is usually around 110/60.  I not only can walk but I do running intervals and today I ran for nearly 6 miles.  So if I stop focusing on the numbers and start focusing on the amazing transformation of my health and abilities it will seriously change my life.

Stay tuned for more about the new (to me) product that is KOSHER and great for post bariatric patients (and their families).  And a contest to give away FREE product from this amazing company!  Ten people are going to be very happy winners!!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

OAC Convention 2013

I've just returned from the amazing OAC convention and wanted to just write a quick note about my experience and a hint towards an exciting "new to me" kosher product that I saw and sampled for the first time!

I was lucky enough to attend the very first OAC convention last year in Dallas, TX.  I was was so uplifted by the high quality educational sessions that I knew I had to attend again this year.  This year the convention took place in Phoenix, AZ (yes, in AUGUST).  And once again the OAC has risen to the task of providing quality educational sessions and life-changing information.  And it is always so fantastic to meet up with other post-Bariatric patients and the professionals who work with post-Bariatric patients.

When I recover from jet lag, I plan on writing up all the details that stood out to me and to reveal a thrilling new kosher product.  Until then, go out and conquer your week!

Apples and a New Year

I am thrilled to be a new member of the Kosher Bloggers link-up!  This month, I was asked to post a recipe using apples.  The challenge with Bariatric surgery is that one size does NOT fit all. What foods you are able to tolerate may be quite individual. Some lap-band patients cannot eat chicken or coarse vegetables.  I myself could not eat cabbage very early out from my surgery but now I adore it!  So, with that disclaimer, I decided to actually post TWO recipes using apples or apple butter (apple butter is concentrated stewed apples). That way at least one of them might be a new food that your body will be happy to consume. Both are safe for bariatric patients and have the required food types that most Bariatric Nutritionists recommend. I'd love to hear from you if you make either (or both) and let me know what you think!

This recipe has vegetables, fruits and a favorite of most Bariatric patients: CHEESE!  Oh how I adore cheese!  Now this is a huge recipe and there is no way one post-Bariatric patient can eat it all so please make it and share it with friends or family.



CABBAGE, APPLE AND CHEDDAR SLAW

Dressing:

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. light sesame oil
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Salad Ingredients:

1 medium cabbage, cored and thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
3 apples (any variety), unpeeled, cored and cut into matchsticks
3 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely grated (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 celery stalks, cut into matchsticks (omit if celery bothers you)
1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup raw walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  When heated, add walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast until browned, about 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool and then chop walnuts.

In a blender, combine vinegar, sesame oil, mustard, soy sauce and cinnamon.  Blend until smooth. While blender is running, slowly add olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and set dressing aside.

In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients.  Add enough dressing to coat salad well and toss together until well combined.  Cover and keep refrigerated until serving time.  This salad is great for leftovers.

**************************************************************

This next recipe is a updated take on the traditional honey chicken that people serve on Rosh Hashana. Dark meat tends to be moister and therefore easier for most post-Bariatric patients to tolerate.
APPLE BAKED CHICKEN

6 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 eggs, beaten (or egg beater equivalent)
2 Tbsp. water
1 cup of almond meal or almond flour
1 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. Hungarian paprika
1/4 cup hot chicken broth
1/2 cup unsweetened apple butter
1 cup Crystal Light orange flavored drink mix (or unsweetened orange herbal tea made strongly)
Non stick spray

In a shallow bowl combine eggs and water and beat well.  In another shallow bowl, combine almond meal, salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika.  Dip chicken pieces into the egg mixture and then roll into the almond flour.

Place coated chicken thighs into a generously sprayed baking pan.  Then spray the chicken on the top so it will crisp up.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Remove from oven. Lower oven temperature to 325.

In a small bowl, combine the apple butter and Crystal Light drink mix.  Pour over chicken and bake uncovered for about 45 minutes or until tender.  Baste with sauce every 15 minutes.


I wish everyone a very happy and healthy New Year and hope that this year brings you success in your fight against obesity.

(DISCLAIMER: The Kosher Link Up might link you to recipes that are NOT suitable for bariatric patients)



Friday, August 9, 2013

Perfect Protein Shakes

I just purchased a new Oster blender that has ice-crushing ability and I have to say after trying it out for over a week of protein shakes and protein ice cream that it's the best blender I've owned. And it was only $60!  Before this blender, I had cheaper blenders that left huge chunks of ice in the bottom.  I felt like my hamster, Rhino, as I spit out chunks of ice!  It was an unpleasant situation.  As a post-bariatric patient, I like to make sure I get in enough protein so shakes help.  Besides, as a bariatric athlete, I usually run first thing in the morning and I cannot run on a stomach full of food.  So, for me, the protein shakes work really well into my lifestyle.

Before this blender, I was using the method of making protein shakes that I learned from this amazing book by Nikki Massie called, "The Bariatric Foodie Guide to Perfect Protein Shakes."  Let me tell you that this book is awesome!  I have used it constantly and the recipes are outstanding.  I love the way Nikki explains the how-to part of making a great protein shake.  In the summer, I like my shakes very icy and thick - more milkshake-like.  In the winter, I live on hot protein cocoa or other flavored hot protein drinks.  Now with this blender, I can throw all the ingredients, including the ice, into the blender and get a perfect protein shake.  But for those of you with only so-so blenders, you will need to follow Nikki's instructions for that perfect shake.

Today's shake was just amazing so I thought I would share my recipe.

S'mores Protein Shake
1 cup chocolate Soy Slender
1 packet Swiss Miss Diet 25 calorie hot cocoa mix * (see note)
1 scoop chocolate flavored whey protein
6 pumps Torani sugar-free S'mores syrup
8 ice cubes

If you need to make this with an older blender, put all the ingredients but NOT the ice into the blender and blend on medium speed for two minutes.  Then add all the ice cubes all at once and blend on high until the ice is crushed.

I also used this exact recipe yesterday to make protein ice cream (without the ice added of course).

Note:  You can substitute the diet cocoa mix with 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder and 1-2 Splenda packets - that's what I usually do but I ran out of the unsweetened cocoa.

So here's to great protein shakes!  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

GREEK VEGETARIAN CASSEROLE

I thought I would post this delicious recipe that I invented based on Nik's Taco Casserole from Bariatric Foodie.  I entered it into the contest they were having but I didn't make the finals.  However, this recipe is AWESOME!  I love it and it made my pouch very happy.  I bet it will make yours happy, too!  As a kosher keeper, I have to find substitutions for meat and cheese mixes.  I can either make it with real meat and fake cheese (soy cheese) or fake meat and real cheese.  I really prefer the latter as I adore real cheese and the fake meat tastes good and is high in protein and healthy.  If you are not strict on Cholov Yisroel, you can use the Morningstar Farms crumbles found in your local grocery store's freezer.  If you are, head over to your local health food store or big chain grocery where they carry healthy foods and buy yourself some TVP aka Texturized Vegetable Protein.  What you need to do is reconstitute it by taking 7/8th of a cup of TVP and pouring 1 cup of hot water over it.  For this recipe, you will need 3 portions so, approximately 2 2/3 cups of TVP and 3 cups of hot water.

So, here's the recipe:
GREEK VEGETARIAN CASSEROLE

1 small eggplant, roughly chopped
1 medium zucchini, finely chopped
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 small red onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 package Morningstar Farms crumbles (soy meat) or equivalent in TVP 
2 ½ Tbsp. Greek spice mix (see recipe below)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 - 14.5 ounce can fire roasted diced garlic tomatoes, juices reserved
8 ounces feta cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella

Directions:

Take diced eggplant and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Let stand 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, drain well and rinse well.  This salting removes any bitterness the eggplant might contain.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a sprayed sauté pan, sauté eggplant, zucchini, spinach, red onion and garlic until they are softened. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Brown soy crumbles in the same sauté pan, adding the Greek spices and the reserved tomato juice and stir until the crumbles are fully defrosted and the liquid has evaporated.  Add the vegetables from the set aside bowl to the soy crumbles in the pan and mix with canned chickpeas, drained canned tomatoes and feta cheese (Alternatively, if your bowl is big enough, you can just reverse it and pour the soy crumbles over the vegetables and then add the chickpeas, tomatoes and feta cheese.  My bowl was too small.)

Transfer mixture to a sprayed 9x13 casserole dish.  Top with ½ cup mozzarella cheese. Bake casserole for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.


Note: I did not add salt to this mixture as the feta is very salty.  You can adjust that according to your taste buds.

Greek Spice Mix:
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic

Combine all ingredients and use amount as indicated in recipe above.  Store the rest in an airtight container for later use.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The OAC Convention 2013

In less than 10 days I will be attending the second annual Obesity Action Coalition's Convention. This year, it's being held in Phoenix, Arizona. I'm thrilled to be able to meet up with some old friends and meet some new friends. I'm especially excited about meeting Nikkie Massie, who is the blogger behind Bariatric Foodie which is one of the most influential blogs in my post-bariatric life!

I will be happy to post any interesting news or anything that I may learn while I am there. I know that I learned so much from last year's convention that I expect I will be learning even more this year.

For those of you who cannot attend the convention, you can use social media live streaming to "attend" some of the highlights. For more information about that, go to the OAC Special Alert Page.