Thursday, May 29, 2014

Skinny Recovery: How to Stay Skinny While on the Mend

Grilled Swordfish with Broccoli, Tomatoes and Garlic

I'm on Day 9 of recovery from back surgery.  As you've seen on my previous post, I had a micro-discectomy last week - on Tuesday May 20th.  The surgeon cut away the materials that were herniating the disc.  There was also bone matter and a cyst to clean up.  I misunderstood when my surgeon said the operation would be "minimally invasive."  I thought that meant arthroscopic surgery - as I had with my shoulder surgery.  The scars looked like tiny mosquito bites.  Minimally invasive is still invasive.  While other friends who have had the surgery have scars that are about an inch long - mine scar is a good 4 inches.

On the cosmetic front, I really don't care about a large scar on my back.  But as far as recovery goes, the larger the scar the longer the recovery.  At least in my experience.  I will say that the pain in my left leg and foot has diminished significantly  It hurt 24/7 prior to the surgery.  Now, the leg and foot pain comes and goes.  But my lower back region is really throbbing.  It's hard to find a comfortable position.  Walking is really difficult.  I can go about a block before having to rest and turn around and head back home.

The trick is to steam the broccoli 
before sauteing with tomatoes and garlic

But not being able to walk or exercise is a recipe for packing on the pounds while I recover.  For the first week after surgery, I lost my appetite for healthy food.  My usual favorite fish dishes held no appeal.  It might have had something to do with the after effects of the anesthesia.  But, today I'm feeling better and will have one of my favorites for dinner: Grilled Swordfish and Broccoli.  If I stick to the Skinny Gourmet Guy template, I can get through this and keep my weight consistently skinny.  I have to skip some of the guilty pleasures I allowed when I was taking 11 classes a week - things like potato chips, ice cream, cookies . . . and in future posts I'll tell you about the skinny substitutes I'm using.

Here's the skinny recipe:

For the Swordfish


1/2 lb swordfish per person
1 tbspn Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tspn Sea Salt
1/4 tspn ground pepper

Pre-heat table top grill (I use the Cuisinart Griddler) at top heat for five minutes
Marinate the swordfish in the oil, salt & pepper
Grill on one side for 3 minutes with the top open
Grill on the second side for 1 - 2 minutes with the grill shut
Let rest on covered plate for 5 minutes

for the Broccoli:

1 bunch broccoli
2 - 3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1/4 tspn sea salt
1/4 tspn ground pepper

Cut broccoli into fleurettes
Steam for 3 - 5 minutes
Shock the fleurettes by fishing broccoli out with a spider and dropping in a bowl of iced water
Meanwhile, heat a non-stick skillet with olive oil
Pound garlic cloves and slice
Cut tomatoes in half
Saute the garlic for 30 seconds - remove from heat and keep on a plate
Add sliced tomatoes and cook until tender - about a minute stirring constantly
Add the broccoli fluerettes
Add back the garlic - stir with wooden spoon

Serve and enjoy!

Sauted Swordfish is also good with Grilled Eggplant!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Skinny Surgery: Oh My Aching Back!

As we approach the third anniversary of my Skinny Gourmet blog, I am preparing to have back surgery tomorrow.  I have a herniated disc on my L-5, S-1 Lumber Spine.  This is the very bottom vertebrae.  Besides the herniation, I also have a benign cyst and bone fragments.  All of this is pinching off my sciatic nerve.  The pain is unbearable. A colleague said it's only second to childbirth and I believe it!

This all started about a year ago.  I remember it was the weekend of the Tony Awards and while on the way home from the gym it hit me.  A blinding, stabbing pain in the back that radiates down through the leg.  First it was the right leg - with the right foot numb and tingling.  Over time it shifted to the left side.  I've tried everything to avoid surgery: acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic and just plain old waiting for it to heal itself.  Most everyone advised not to have surgery under any circumstances but I don't see any alternatives.

I'm having a microdiscectomy.  This is the surgical removal of herniated disc material that is impinging the sciatic nerve.  The procedure will take 45 minutes and I'll spend the night in the hospital (I'm having it done at the Hospital for Special Surgery).  The doctor said recover is about 2 - 3 weeks.  My surgeon is Dr. Federico Girardi.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Skinny Health - My Cholesterol Results

I came down with my annual cold last week.  Just to be sure it wasn't the flu I went to my GP - his name is Dr. Christopher Schultz of the Cornell Medical Group - here's a copy of his email

Hi Christopher,

Here are the results from your last set of labs.

Your blood count was normal, with no signs of anemia, infection or low platelets. Your blood chemistry and electrolytes were normal, and there were no signs of problems with kidney or liver function.

Your cholesterol numbers were good, specifically your LDL cholesterol was 89 and for your set of cardiac risk factors, your goal should be below 130. Your HDL was 85 and the goal is above 40, optimally above 60. LDL is the cholesterol that promotes heart disease and HDL is the cholesterol that helps protect from heart disease. Your HDL is amazing. And so is your LDL for that matter.

Your cholesterol numbers are already great, and you can maintain these numbers by continuing to get regular exercise and by eating a healthy diet. Try to minimize saturated fats and eat more lean protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Saturated fats are found in high-fat dairy products (butter, cheese, etc) and in red meat. Cardiovascular exercise most days of the week (4+ days per week) with a goal heart rate from 120-130 best promotes heart health.Typically this can be achieved by exercising to the point you are slightly short of breath but you could still maintain a conversation with someone next to you. If you want more information, click on Health Information and search for "cholesterol".

It's CW again - these great results prove that a Mediterranean diet is the way to go for a healthy lifestyle - of course regular exercise is important as well.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Skinny Showbiz - The Sound of Music Live!

Carrie Underwood has been vilified for her
performance in The Sound of Music Live!
Say what you will about Carrie Underwood in The Sound of Music Live!  She delivered an audience of close to 20 million viewers and is ushering in a new era of traditional Broadway musicals being broadcast live during upcoming holiday seasons.  I, for one, think this is cause for celebration. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the producers of SOM Live, have committed to doing it again next year with another family friendly property.
Underwood delivered the audience
Not since the live Broadcast of Peter Pan in March of 1955, starring Mary Martin as Peter and my upstairs neighbor Sondra Lee as Tiger Lily, has such an undertaking been attempted.  I haven't seen the DVD of that broadcast in years (and, no, I didn't watch it live as I wasn't born yet.  (Haters need Jesus!!! to quote CU)
The incomparable Audra McDonald
While the cast was packed with Broadway stalwarts, including Tony winners Audra McDonald and Christian Borle.  McDonald really hit Climb Every Mountain out of the park.  I rewound it and watched it three times in a row (does that mean I'm a theater queen?)  But without Underwood's star power the project wouldn't have gotten off the ground.  And I understand it took 10 months of rehearsals and planning to put this show on the air. It really was an act of love.   Remember Smash?   There was oodles of Broadway talent on display, but theater queens alone couldn't keep the show on the air - you need a major star to bring in the heavy duty ratings.  (Sorry Angelica Huston.)
If the show were that much of a dog the ratings wouldn't have been consistent throughout the 3 hour broadcast.  Jay Leno had blockbuster numbers even though it was a re-run.  In fact, NBC announced today that it will re-air the program this Saturday, December 14th at 8 PM.  (Sorry about that It's a Wonderful Life - you've been bounced to Friday.)
People are so mean!!!!
So, thank you Carrie Underwood.  I'm grateful to you and I can't wait to see what they'll do next year - and who will be brave enough to brave the Tweeters out there who denounced The Sound of Music Live before it was even over.

What could have been!


Friday, December 6, 2013

Skinny Snacks - Have Your Sweets and Eat Them Too!

I try to stave off my late afternoon sweet tooth by eating a late lunch.  But eventually I just need a something sweet no matter how late I had my soup and salad.  Rather than having a giant cookie or candy bar, I have a two-pronged approach to having my snack and eating it too! 

First, I always have a box of Teddy Grahams on my desk.  I have as many of them as I want - 24 pieces are only 130 calories with 35 coming from fat. I might have 12 pieces if I'm really hungry.  They satisfy my craving but so I don't feel totally bereft I mix in a little bit of chocolate.

Frans Chocolates
I usually buy a bar of high quality dark chocolate.  The flavors are so intense that one square is all I need.  But every so often someone will send chocolate as a gift.  Recently Camilla, a colleague from our Bevery Hills office, sent me Frans chocolates.  They are the perfect size and sprinkled with sea salt.  Between the two along with a cup of coffee (with Splenda) my snack attack is defeated. 
So, next time you want something sweet try combining low cal with a little bit of decadence!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Skinny Cautionary Tale?

Ready for my close-up?
At this time three weeks ago today, I was waking up in the recovery room at the Hospital for Special Surgery.  I had a very large tear in my right shoulder rotator cuff.  You have four tendons attached to your rotator cuff.  Pictures from the surgery showed that three of mine had torn completely away from the bone with just one hanging by a thread.  Dr. Lawrence Gulotta anchored the tendons back in place.  I also had a torn bicep tendon which he couldn't repair.  He told me that he's operated on Yankee team members who also had torn bicep tendons that couldn't be repaired and they're still playing.  So, hopefully I'll be back on the Yankee roster next year!  It's frustrating not being able to use my right arm.  I've even grown my hair back in (what's left of it) because I don't have the dexterity to shave my head.
I've had quite a summer.  I had my varicose veins fixed in May - three sessions of very painful shots.  At least they're healing nicely and I should have great gams soon!  In early June I was diagnosed with a herniated disc (L5 S1).  I had a series of steroid injections, accupuncture and physical therapy.  I am slowly getting better.  And the pain associated with the herniated disc far surpassed the pain in the shoulder.  However, I have been getting injections in my shoulder since 2010.  The shots worked like magic.  I instantly felt better (not so with the shots for the back).  But I think the combination of steroids and pain killer in the injections just masked the problem as it got worse.
Was too much exercise the culprit?
Besides reminding me that I'm getting old, a lot of people say my exercise regime may be to blame.  (And if one more person says I'm old they will pay the consequences!)  I'm torn (pun intended).  I have never felt better, and had a sense of accomplishment, when I finished taking boot camp, Pilates, yoga and spin. When I leave the West Side Y after a workout, I feel like a million bucks.
I have a long road of physical therapy ahead and I'll work with the therapist on setting up an exercise plan where I can stay in shape without enduring another health crisis.  Fortunately, my Skinny Gourmet Guy diet is keeping me trim.  I've actually lost 10 pounds since June (as I've posted before).  Admittedly, I don't have much of an appetite, but it's returning slowly but surely.  I'll post about my progess in the coming months.
Happier times - with my friend Hank Swank
on Fire Island last summer

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Skinny Scallops!

Simple, delicious and skinny!
My gameplan to stay skinny while I'm recovering from my back injury is to keep everything low fat, to avoid carbs and make preparation quick and easy.   And by avoiding fat, I even mean to limit the "good" fats like olive oil. 

I dust the scallops in flour to help them brown on the grill
Extra virgin olive oil is good for you, but I have a few tablespoons on my salad at lunch (along with balsamic vinegar) so I'm already getting a good daily dosage.  The George Foreman Grill has a non-stick surface so I don't need oil on the grill when cooking scallops.  If you don't have a George Foreman Grill you can use a cooking spray like Pam.  The instructions on my grill says not to use Pam on this surface - but if you're using a regular frying pan Pam, spray away!  There's no calories or fat.

Food Network star Anne Burrell says when you flour food before grilling you should only do it for a few seconds before cooking.  Don't leave your scallops in the flour for longer than that.  It will cake up.  Grill the scallops until golden brown  - about 80 seconds on each side. When they're just about done, drizzle champagne vinegar over them.  I was out of champagne vinegar last night and substituted balsamic - it worked like a charm.

Served with grilled asparagus, grape tomatoes,
lemon and garlic - recipe to follow!
Scallops are low in fat and calories.  They make for a delicious star of your main course and are quick and easy to cook.  The asparagus, tomato and garlic side dish takes longer to cook.  Here are the nutritional facts on scallops:
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1unit 2 large or 5 small (30 g)
Per Serving % Daily Value*
Calories from Fat 2
Total Fat 0.2g 0%
Saturated Fat 0.0g 0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 48mg 2%
Carbohydrates 0.7g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0.0g 0%
Sugars 0.0g
Protein 5.0g
Vitamin A 0% · Vitamin C 2%
Calcium 1% · Iron 0%

A delicious, easy to prepare and skinny dinner!

5 - 6 sea scallops per person
1/4 - 1/2 cup flour
2 tbspns champagne vinegar (or your favorite kind)
Lemons to taste
Herbs de Provence or parsley to garnish
Pre-heat grill to medium/high heat
Dredge scallops through flour when about to cook, shake off excess
Cook until golden brown - about 80 seconds per side - but eyeball it
After you've flipped scallops drizzle with vinegar for the final 20 - 30 seconds
Close lid of grill
I cut a lemon in half and put on grill after transferring scallops to plate
Sprinkle with Herbs de Provence or chopped parsley
Serve and enjoy!