Are you one of those people asking “what can I do to add variety to my same ‘ole same ‘ole chicken and fish?” If so you are not alone! Patients of weight loss surgery following a high protein diet quickly become bored with routine protein dishes but fear taking too many culinary liberties will take them off track from weight loss and weight maintenance. As a general rule people who undergo gastric bypass, gastric lap-band, and gastric sleeve procedures are told the first rule of weight loss surgery is to eat “Protein First”. But nothing in the rule says it has to be boring.
I remember spending my first three years following gastric bypass eating chicken breast, canned tuna, shrimp and hard-cooked eggs day in and day out. Blah! A good friend put me on to her secret weapon that kept her palate pleased and honored her nutritional needs. Her weapon? Condiments! And I’m not talking your everyday ketchup, mustard, mayo. I’m talking salsa and balsamic vinegar and relish and fruit compote. Its all good. Great ready-made condiments are easy to find these day and they are a winner in the budget lottery, too. At first it may seem expensive to pay $5 for a jar of Bruschetta sauce, but considering that jar stretches to 20 servings you have quite a bang for your buck at just about one quarter per serving.
Here are a few of the best hints for putting some pop in your protein:
Salsa: use on eggs, cooked chicken, fish and beans. Stir into soups and stews for added flavor without the cost of expensive out-of-season tomatoes and peppers. Mix with plain yogurt for a delicious vegetable dip (not chips).
Balsamic Vinegar: Sprinkle on pan-seared chicken or fish as it cooks to add a deep acidity to the protein. Remove protein from pan, add a bit more balsamic vinegar to drippings, scrape and serve atop chicken for an easy and elegant sauce. Lightly douse fresh strawberries with balsamic vinegar and let macerate 30 minutes. Serve at room temperature for a delicious treat. Whisk together balsamic vinegar and olive oil for a quick and healthy salad or vegetable dressing.
Relish: Don’t save this just for hot dogs. Use regular or sweet pickle relish to flavor tuna salad, chicken salad or egg salad. Stir a tablespoon of relish with yogurt or light mayonnaise for a quick and inexpensive tarter sauce for fish.
Fruit Compote: Fruit compotes are generally a blend of sweet and sour ingredients that enhance the flavor of protein while adding moisture to the dish. They are sometimes called fruit salsa. Look for specialty blends at the farmers market or whole food stores. Serve compote with grilled or broiled protein simply by spooning a small amount when serving. Or glaze meat with the compote in the final five minutes of grilling.