I learned soon after surgery that I needed things to replace food. I'd used food when I was bored, needed comfort, wanted to celebrate...etc etc. Every emotion seemed to be a trigger to eat. Once I decided that I wanted more out of life, I realized that I needed activities to replace all of that emotional eating. Origami was something that I found could use as a distraction when I had those feelings to eat out of boredom or anxiety. It was complicated enough that it kept my brain occupied, but left me with a sense of well being when I finally figured out a particularly difficult pattern. The panther above was one that I tried multiple times before figuring out the way it all came together. Seeing the final product gave me a sense of satisfaction that no piece of fatty, sugary cake ever did.
That's not to say I gave up loving to cook. Once again, "necessity is the mother of invention" and I needed to invent. When I really was hungry, I still wanted things from my old life from time to time. But much like origami distracted me from eating when I didn't really need food, playing kitchen scientist brought me creations that distracted me from going for their less healthy counterparts. Case and point: Pancakes. I love pancakes. But when you think about what's in the average pancake (flour, sugar, eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, butter...) there isn't really much in the way of good nutrition. Add to that the fact that RNY patients are required to eat AT LEAST 50 grams of protein a day, and I couldn't really afford to waste the little bit of food I could eat at each meal on something carbohydrate laden. It was when a fellow patient mentioned that she had made pancakes using cottage cheese that I got thinking. Thus, the ricotta-cake was born!
Light, fluffy, and a completely suitable meal for anyone. If I had never explored, I never would have known that a pancake with only 2 tbsp. flour could taste so wonderful.
1/2 cup light ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour or almond flour (multi-grain pancake mix works too)
teaspoon or two of oatmeal if you want some more texture
1 tsp. vanilla
Flavorings/toppings of your choice: fresh fruit, cinnamon, other extracts, sugar-free flavored syrups, peanut butter, cocoa powder...etc.
Cook them as you'd cook regular pancakes. They're a little more difficult to flip, so keep them small and you'll have an easier time. The above recipe makes a serving of 3-4 small pancakes, but it is certainly filling and full of protein. I personally like a little bit of peanut butter and banana with mine.
The ricotta pancakes were one of my first experiments after surgery. Cooking it and variations on it made me realize that I didn't have to give anything in my life up, I simply had to reinvent things and improve the nutrition. A lesson and a distraction all in one.