Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Foodie Fears After Surgery -- Roasted Beet Quiona Salad

Housekeeping Update: I FINALLY bought a domain name! From now on, the address to this blog is! Took me over a year, but when I realized how cheap it was I kicked myself for not doing it sooner. Also, if you haven't Liked Me On Facebook, I would really appreciate a Like! I've had the goal of getting to 100 fans for a while, and it's slow goings. Thanks!

So. I'm going to be honest with you guys. And it might be just a little TMI so I'll try to be as polite about it as possible. And, wow, this turned out to be a long ranty post, hah. You have been warned...

This gallbladder thing is freaking. me. out.

For those who don't know: the gallbladder regulates (and I think also produces) bile to the stomach, to break down fat. The liver creates bile too, so the gallbladder isn't absolutely necessary for existence and when inflamed (like mine was) it's often removed, like an appendix or tonsils. However, without a gallbladder to store and distribute the bile when needed, the liver just kind of haphazardly tosses the bile into the stomach and intestines to do its stuff.

Meaning, whenever I eat something with fat, I'm playing russian roulette with my stomach. At any given time, my stomach may or may not have enough bile in it to break down any fat I'm eating. So before each bite I'm questioning: Will I digest this comfortably? Or will this be painful or uncomfortable or, eep!, embarrassing for me? And then the bigger questions: What is my body DOING with this fat it can't break down? Will I lose weight? Will I lose TOO MUCH weight? Will I GAIN weight? Will I ever be able to sit down and enjoy a burger and fries with my friends without having to be terrified I can't handle the grease anymore?

I might have to deal with this forever.

Upon leaving the hospital, I was given little direction as to what I can and can't eat. The surgeon seemed to imply I could go back to eating normally in a week or so, but that I may find some foods off-limits for a while. The internet is no help, as I keep getting conflicting advice everywhere I look. Basically, every person is different and there is no set of "rules" for what you can eat sans-gallbladder. Some people go back to a normal diet after a month or two, some are forced to go on strict diets of incredibly bland food or face the digestive consequences. The majority of comments on forums about gallbladder removal are all people upset at their intense change of diet upon getting this stupid little organ removed. What can I do to help my situation?--Eat all organic! Take this supplement! No fat! Low fat! Good fats!  Veggies are good! Veggies are bad! Dairy is okay! Dairy is terrible! Don't ever be more than three feet from a restroom! Only three grams of fat a day! Only three grams of fat per meal! Ten grams of fat! One hundred! Six meals a day! Four meals a day! Three meals a day! NO FRENCH FRIES NOT EVER AGAIN! Okay maybe you can have french fries but only on the seventh tuesday of the month if the weather is exactly 75.2 degrees...??

Freaking. Me. Out.

I was just starting to be a foodie! And a novice cook or chef or whatever you call someone who likes to make food as a hobby! UGH! I mean, yes, this is absolutely nothing compared to the pain I would be in if I hadn't gotten surgery, and there are certainly worse things that could have happened to me, but the more I read the more I just want to cry in frustration. WHY CAN'T YOU GIVE ME THE ANSWERS I NEED, OH INTERNET!

And yes, I'm still recovering. It's entirely possible I'll be just fine in a few weeks. It's also possible I'll have to be very careful about what I eat from now on. But I need to realize there really is nothing I can do about that. I need to just chill out, STOP Googling about it, and listen to my body.

I'll figure out what I can and can't eat, what works and what doesn't work, and I'll have to adjust my diet accordingly. And, if one day I'm craving French Fries more than anything else in the entire world, I am sure it won't kill me to indulge... as long as I make sure the necessary resources are nearby if need be. Eventually I'll be able to gauge if the pain I'll feel after is tolerable and worth the indulgence.

It'll be a long road, folks, and I won't pretend I'm not a complainer. But on the bright side, I'm sure I'll finagle some interesting recipes out of it all!

About this quiona: It was my first attempt at any sort of quiona recipe, and honestly I'm not 100% sold yet. This grain (seed? what ARE you, quiona?) is all over the blogosphere for its many health benefits and versitility. I finally bought a box and decided to make it into a cold salad instead of a stand-in for a hot pasta dish or binder for a patty of some sort as I've been seeing on other blogs. And though I thought I came up with this combo all on my own, it is quite similar to a recipe I realized I'd bookmarked from 5 Star Foodie, so perhaps I subconsciously was inspired. The flavors in this are bright and blend well, even if I'm not totally into the quiona texture just yet. Next time I think I'll add a splash of balsamic vinegar, just to get more of a salty/sweet thing going on with the orange. And, it's pretty low fat, so I'll keep this on hand for when I want a safe lunch.

Roasted Beet Quiona Salad
  • 2 cups quiona
  • 1 bunch beets
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 2 stalks green onions, diced
  • 2 oranges
  • 1/2 cucumber, cubed
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Goat Cheese (for garnish)

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and scrub beets and trim off greens, then poke holes all over and put in aluminum foil pouch and place in oven. Bake until soft, about 40 minutes (this ALWAYS takes longer than I think it will) then peel and cube. Wash and trim asparagus and cut into bite size chunks. Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper and bake (can be done at the same time as beets) until tender and some blisters form. When both are done, let cool.

-Cook quiona according to package. You're really going to have to check the package because I can't for the life of me remember. It's kind of like cooking rice. After quiona is tender and the little tendrils are visible, set aside to let cool.

-Toss the veggies, including cucumber and green onion, with the quiona. Squeeze the juice of one orange into the salad, and peel the other orange and cut into pieces. Add orange pieces to quiona mix and toss. Chill in fridge until ready to serve. Garnish with goat cheese.


  1. It's quite scary about the gallbladder. I have gallstones and have been trying to eat carefully so I don't have to get my gallbladder removed, so far so good, but I know I will have to do that at some point. That's cool how great minds think alike :) The quinoa salad is delicious and healthy!

    1. Hehe yeah! I just was thinking of all the things I love in a salad--roasted beets and asparagus and goat cheese top that list!

      I heard there really is little you can do to prevent gallstones, though fat content in the diet might be a factor. It's really not that bad of a procedure, I was out of the hospital within 24 hours and was able to get out of bed after a day or two. It's the post-surgery that's giving me trouble.

  2. Like I've mentioned before, I've had quite a few friends with gall bladder issues and they all had to deal with post-surgery life differently. It sounds like it is trial and error...I hope it all works out!

    1. Yeah, one of my good friends got hers removed a few months ago and she's been good about giving me advice. With her, she says it doesn't really effect her diet, she just needs to always be near a bathroom. Not fun! Basically all I can take from my research is that every case is different and it will be a lot of trial and error. Scary, but I've overcome worse, I just need to chill out about it, haha.

  3. I think that's a good decision to decide to just listen to your body and work out what will work for you. It's probably not as bad as most people on the internet will write about, mostly because they wouldn't be writing unless it was bad for them. Hopefully you'll be able to find a way to eat the foods you love and still feel good. It looks like this quinoa salad is a good start toward eating healthy food. I love quinoa and how fluffy it is.

  4. I'm sorry you're going through all this! Hope you can get back to eating normally without any major problems. Your quinoa looks delish! I just started eating it a few months ago and love it. Hope you're feeling better!

  5. Gah. I'd be freaking out too if I were you. But really, what I would do is introduce foods one at a time, little by little, so you can really tell how you're reacting to each one and that way you'll know for sure what to avoid and waht not to avoid. And then repeat in 6 months when your body has had more time to get used to life without a gall bladder. And in the meantime...quinoa salad. Delicious!

    1. Yeah... I've never been a patient person, so that's an issue for me, haha. But I know it's what I have to do. I think I'm going to start a food journal and carry it around or something. Last night actually I had a burger, and was surprisingly okay. I'll have to keep experimenting though, because I could have just had enough bile to handle it that time, but next time my body might spaz out. We'll see I guess!

  6. A good dish always has lots of colors!
    I love it!

  7. Looks very lovely. I'm going to go add your page to my blog's FB page right now!

  8. Hope the recovery is smooth. I'm not completely sold on quinoa yet, but have been getting pretty busy with all sorts of other pulses lately in an effort to escape the crutch of white carbs....

    1. I know I'll never totally cut out those crazy white carbs (I have an eggsalad sandwich on Wonderbread for lunch today) but I certainly cut down on them. I think I'll try a more flavorful quiona dish next, and have it be warm instead of cold. Good luck with your escape!