Welcome to our new blog series, “Life after WLS”! We are happy to have you here! This series is going to focus on what life is like after bariatric surgery, from the time you come home until years out!

This weeks topic:
Surviving the Liquid and Pureed Phase

When you come home from the hospital it is likely that you will be put on a full liquid or pureed diet. Depending on your doctor, these may be one in the same or they may be different phases. Generally the difference will be that purees will have a little more texture than full liquids.

These two (or one) phases can be the most challenging, the most daunting and the most BORING. Let’s face it … there are only so many flavors of protein shakes and only so many ways that you can doctor them up to be palatable. And they are always so sweet! I like to attribute this phase to breaking me of loving sweets so much. I just got completely sick of them!

But these phases don’t HAVE to be boring. On the contrary, they can be a lot of fun, very nourishing, and quite flavorful if you know some tricks of the trade to help you through.

Here are some things that we’ve learned over the years that are great ways to jazz up these phases so they are more tasteful!

Equipment:

Some of the things we’re going to talk about can be a bit of an investment, but trust us they are SO worth it!!

Blender Bottle: This thing has been invaluable to me. I can mix up my shake quickly and easily and add it to something else for a recipe or pour it over ice and drink it chilled.

Extraction Blender: You will know these as a Ninja, Nutribullet, or the Vitamix. These are wonderful for many applications. Not only can you puree soups and stews in them, but you can also put fruits and vegetables in them (cut up) – seeds, skins, and all – and add water, coconut milk, or almond milk and extract all the nutrients from them. This is a great way to make your protein shake in the morning a more complete meal, adding more vitamins, nutrients, and fiber in. This can be especially helpful for those that are having a hard time with vitamin supplements!

Crock Pot/Slow Cooker: We have them in several sizes from tiny to huge! We use the smaller ones to make smaller portions of soups or chilis, or to make slow-cooked chicken breast or sauces. The larger ones we use for batch-cooking anything and everything.

Sieve/Wire strainer. Especially on full liquids, you will need to strain your meals to be sure there are no solids. These work great for that!

Food Items:

A GOOD protein powder. By good we mean the most nutritionally sound powder that you can afford. We recommend buying at least one container of unflavored to add to savory dishes and one vanilla that you can add flavors to. That being said, if you find a flavored one that you absolutely love, definitely use it!! Our favorites are Unjury (whey), Syntrax Nectar (whey), Jay Robb (egg white protein), and Plant Fusion (Vegan).

Ground beef, ground turkey, ground chicken … Basically any ground meat. Ground meats work better when you are planning on pureeing a soup or stew. The texture is much better and the flavor is spot on.

Leafy Greens, especially spinach and kale. Add a handful or two to your soups as you are cooking them. They will add a TON of vitamins, antioxidents, and fiber.

Low-Sugar Fruits. These are great to add to your morning shake/smoothie. We love berries, apples, and citrus fruits especially during the first few weeks. **NOTE** Omit these if your doctor or nutritionist has you on a low-carb diet!! At least until they allow you to add them back in.

Canned Pumpkin. You can add it to EVERYTHING. Bonus, it (like the kale and spinach) adds a TON of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidents.

Canned Broth. Cooking your meats and veggies in low-sodium canned broths is a huge time saver and flavor booster. Be sure to add some of the broth to your foods as you are pureeing/ blending them up.

Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, or Other Milk/Milk alternative. We specifically say almond and coconut milks because so many of us end up lactose intolerent after WLS. Mix these with your protein powder for a shake or use it in place of water to blend up some yummy fruits in your extraction blender.

Recipes:

Of course you can find a ton of recipes here on our blog! But here are a couple of bonus recipes for you that we hope help you during this phase!

Green Protein Smoothie
This packs a nutritional punch. As a bonus, it will keep for a day in the fridge so you can drink some now and drink the rest later (just stir it well before you drink it!)

1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 green apple (roughly cut up)
7-10 Green grapes
handful baby spinach (about 1/2 C)
1/4 avocado
1/2 lime (cut into wedges)
8-10 oz almond milk (start with 8 oz and add more as needed to reach desired consistency)

Layer all ingredients into your extraction blender. Puree for 30-60 seconds, shaking gently every so often to ensure uniform blending. Strain if on full liquids and serve chilled. (TIP- freeze your grapes, apple, and spinach for a nicely chilled shake straight out of the blender).

Very Berry Protein Shake

1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 c frozen mixed berries of choice (my favorite are blueberries and strawberries)
handful baby spinach (about 1/2 C)
8-10 oz almond milk

Layer all ingredients into your extraction blender. Puree for 30-60 seconds, shaking gently every so often to ensure uniform blending. Strain if on full liquids and serve chilled.

Simple Vegetable Beef Soup
This uses pre-prepped ingredients you can find in your freezer or produce aisle to make it simple. To make it even easier, it’s made in the crock pot so you can set it and go! This is actually Mom’s recipe that she made when we were growing up, without the peas and corn 🙂

1 lb extra lean ground beef, cooked
1 1/2 C chopped onion, carrot, celery and bell pepper (I have found this mix in the freezer section of my supermarket. If you can’t find this, then use about 1/2 c chopped onion and 1/4 cup each of the rest of the veggies)
2 tsp pre-minced garlic
1 can low-sodium green beans (I use canned because I prefer them. You may substitute frozen or fresh if you prefer!)
1 can low-sodium chopped tomatoes (for extra flavor use the fire-roasted variety! YUM!)
2 T worcestershire sauce
1 box beef broth
(This is the hard part)
Throw everything into your slow cooker.
Stir.
Cook on low up to 10 hours.
Cook on high up to 8 hours.

To puree:
Ladel about a cup and a half into your blender or extractor blender. Puree until smooth. If you are on full liquids, strain before serving.

Green Chili Chicken Stew

1 lbs ground chicken, cooked
1 can mild green chilis
1 1/2 C chopped onion, carrot, celery and bell pepper (I have found this mix in the freezer section of my supermarket. If you can’t find this, then use about 1/2 c chopped onion and 1/4 cup each of the rest of the veggies)
2 tsp pre-minced garlic
1 can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
2 C chopped kale (I used frozen!)
1 box chicken broth

(This is the hard part)
Throw everything into your slow cooker.
Stir.
Cook on low up to 10 hours.
Cook on high up to 8 hours.

To puree:
Ladel about a cup and a half into your blender or extractor blender. Puree until smooth. If you are on full liquids, strain before serving.

Encouragement:
Remember that this phase will be over soon. There is a reason that your doctor has put you on these stages. Our tummies need time to adjust to food and each stage gives us time to do just that. Remember Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through He who strengthens me!” You can do this!