Happy Holidays to all! Wishing you a lovely day with loved ones. To those who might be having a tough time for whatever reason, sending you a cyber hug, you are not alone. A couple of Christmases ago I had some drama and it was definitely not a jolly time in my world. I understand the internal battle between “faking it till you make it” and collapsing in a heap. I think the answer is something in-between.
Special note for my fellow post-bariatric surgery pals: it’s not part of the glossy post-op life brochures but the truth is there is a slight increase in both alcoholism and suicide rates of post-op bariatric patients. I am not saying this to scare people but as a PSA public service announcement and something to be aware of. So if you or someone you love is struggling reach out for help. Emergency help: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) offers free, confidential crisis counseling 24/7. If you prefer text the Crisis Text Line is the free, nationwide, 24/7 text message service for people in crisis. Text HOME to 741741 in the US. Psychologists or psychiatrists are among the many healthcare professionals you can find (search by zip code) on obesitycareproviders.com and I encourage you to find a supportive community: check out the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) Community.
One thing that especially helps me is helping others… making blessing bags, answering fellow post-op bariatric pals questions on the OAC Community forum, or getting involved in advocacy by visiting the OAC Action Center and taking action to try and make a small difference in the world. I’d love for you to join me in any of those.
I’ll also share a few joyful holiday scenes from my world. Our Tree…
I love my little Christmas tree of memories. Every ornament tells a story. It’s like old pals visiting each year when I open the boxes. Speaking of ornaments… does anyone else have a spider ornament on their tree? When people see ours I am always asked about it. Did I forget to put away some Halloween ornament or something? It’s actually based on a Ukrainian folk story of where tinsel originated. I’m 1/2 Brit and 1/2 Sicilian but I love stuff like this… basically, the story goes… a family had no money for decorations for their Christmas tree and while the children were sleeping, all the spiders in the house spun webs of silver around its branches. When the family awoke Christmas morning, the tree was sparkling with silver webs. A magical gift! So that’s why I have a spider ornament.
I seem to add one ornament a year but I have to say this might be the last year I do that or I might have to move up a tree size. This year, I added a globe because I spent a lot of the last 2 years traveling on behalf of the OAC as I served as chair of the National Board of Directors and meeting new friends and fellow patient advocates around the world. I will always remember this time, new friends and those trips when I hang it each year.
I also cooked a bit (this is a cooking blog after all.) I made a batch of Christmasy Italian Ricotta Cookies. These are sugar-free so my fellow bariatric pals should give them a try.
1 cup Almond Flour (blanched, not meal)
2 Tablespoons Coconut Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/8 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 cup Butter, softened
1/4 cup Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese, drained
1/4 cup Swerve, Granular (erythritol)
1 Large Egg, beaten
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
The night before: drain the ricotta cheese. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a small bowl, add the ricotta, spread the ricotta into an even layer. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator. Let the ricotta cheese strain at least 6-8 hours. Discard the liquid that drains.
Preheat oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix together the almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, and salt. Cream softened butter and the drained ricotta with the Swerve until well combined. Mix in the egg and vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients and mix until the dough comes together.
Roll the dough into 1 to 1-1/2 inch balls and place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Press the balls down with the palm of your hand to about 1/2 inch thick.
They puff a bit but don’t spread much. Bake 25 minutes, until just barely beginning to firm up and are lightly golden on the bottom. Look for golden edges. Remove and let cool on the pan. They are too soft to handle when they first come out of the oven but will firm more as they cool. Makes 16-20 cookies. They are great plain but you could drizzle them with melted sugar-free chocolate or the traditional lemon glaze and sprinkle with nonpareils.
3 Tablespoons Swerve, Confectioners
1 Tablespoon Milk, any
1/8 teaspoon Lemon Extract
Holiday Nonpareils (optional)
Cooks Notes: That drained Ricotta Cheese is also super yummy as a savory spread on cucumber slices with a sprinkle of Bagel Spice or Italian Seasoning. So make a little extra. This cookie recipe is sweetened with erythritol (the brand I used is Swerve) which tastes sweet and acts similar to sugar in recipes, no calories or net carbs and works in my plan. You could use sugar but watch the cooking time as the real deal browns quicker.
It’s raining here… so we’re staying close to home, we have some holiday movies to watch and tidbits (cheeses, meats, dips, etc) to eat. Yesterday, we had a great seafood feast as part of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a Sicilian Christmas Eve tradition. We had 4 fishes, not 7 this year but they were delicious and very bariatric surgery friendly: Grilled Scallops, Shrimp Scampi, Red & Green Shrimp Cocktail, and a new stuffed mushroom recipe with Crab. It was soooo good. I’ll be sure to share it soon on the blog.
I hope everyone has a great day and the year ahead is filled with many joyful moments.