Learning to Cook the Foods you Love—Guest Blog and Recipe from Denise Roden

Friday, January 31, 2020
Portobella Pizza Crust with Low-Carb and Bariatric-friendly Ingredients...Served Up on Livliga's Celebrate Plate!
Portobella Pizza Crust with Low-Carb and Bariatric-friendly Ingredients...Served Up on Livliga's Celebrate Plate!

Soon after my bariatric bypass surgery, I realized I must find a way to enjoy the foods I love!  My favorite foods are Italian: lasagna, pizza, spaghetti and meatballs; and any food that contains pasta, sauce, meat and cheese. Unfortunately, these dishes are also my “trigger foods.” “Trigger ” are foods, or occasions, that cause you to completely fall off the wagon. Understanding this dilemma, I started my quest to satisfy my cravings with healthy ingredients.

The biggest challenge was eliminating refined wheat, often found in pizza dough or pasta. I experimented with many keto and paleo recipes, without success. I knew I had to feel satisfied or I would scramble back to the kitchen for unhealthy choices.

One day, while shopping, I noticed huge portabella mushroom caps. They usually come 3 or 4 to a pack and they are a vegetable—right? Also, mushrooms are a perfect complement to my other ingredients. I thought of turning them upside down, removing the stems and scraping the gills.  That makes a nice space for all of my ingredients. I use my own tomato sauce, made from local tomatoes in the summer, with no added sugar. However, Rao’s Pizza Sauce contains only 2 grams of sugar per ¼ cup and is available at most supermarkets. Next, assemble your toppings. Use any protein! Most meats and cheeses are low in carbohydrates. I like to use mild Italian sausage and shredded mozzarella. Feel free to add any veggie you like. Vegetables contain carbs, but they’re the “good carbs.” Pop these pizzas in the oven and get ready to savor.

Portobella Pizza Crust with Low-Carb and Bariatric-friendly Ingredients...Served Up on Livliga's Celebrate Plate!


  • 3 Portobello mushrooms caps 
  • 8 oz of mild Italian sausage 
  • ½ cup Rao’s Pizza Sauce 
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Wash the mushroom caps and remove the stem and gills.
  2. Turn your oven on broil and broil gill side up for 5 minutes then flip and broil the other side for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the mushroom caps and start assembling your pizza. I divided the ingredients listed above among the 3 caps starting with the sauce, meat then cheese
  4. Put the mushroom caps back in the oven and heat until the cheese is melted. Usually 2 to 3 minutes.

Nutritional Information
Serves: 3. Calories: 270; Total Fat 19g; Saturated Fat 3.6g; Total Carbohydrate 5g; Dietary Fiber 1g; Protein 16g.

To view a short video on Portobello Mushrooms Pizza’s please visit my Facebook page Bariatric Center for Success.

Portobella Pizza Crust with Low-Carb and Bariatric-friendly Ingredients...Served Up on Livliga's Celebrate Plate!

Guest Blogger Bio

Denise Roden is a successful Roux-en Y Gastric Bypass patient since 2004.  Denise is committed to providing quality education & coaching services to the bariatric community. She is credentialed as a Bariatric Support Group Leader, a Success Habits Trainer, a Back On Track Trainer, and a Bariatric Health Coach.

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Monday Motivational Meals

Monday, January 27, 2020

Ever heard of the DASH Diet? This recipe of Lamb Tagine qualifies! We served ours up in a Halsa Bowl. Come find out how to make this delicious, aromatic meal and stay in the groove of health tomorrow night at 5:30 PM MT live on Facebook. We can't wait to see you there!

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Want to try this recipe? Check out the recipe here.

Cooking Healthy on a Budget

Friday, January 24, 2020
Livliga Cooking Healthy on a Budget

Recently I followed a thread on twitter about the struggles people have eating healthy within a budget, especially after bariatric surgery. There was a time for me as well where cooking needed to be on a budget. Many decades ago when my husband and I were a young couple with three kids, one with special needs, his company went bankrupt. There were many changes required to make ends meet from the kids going to new schools to me going back to work full time. I also needed to plan healthy, satisfying meals on a budget. It was then that I learned it really is possible to eat healthy on a budget and enjoy what you are eating.

Livliga Free Meal Planner

There are some strategies to use, however, that help make low cost meals on a budget doable. Here are some ideas to help all of us stretch our dollars and be mindful of making the most of our grocery store purchases:

  • cook seasonally—even canned goods and frozen items can be cheaper seasonally in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables
  • avoid pre-packaged and highly processed foods because they tend to be more expensive for a lot less product
  • stock up when there are sales, especially for non-perishables
  • buy in bulk when possible, especially for your staples
  • use canned and frozen items in addition to fresh; research shows they have the same nutrients and benefits as their fresh counterparts
  • consider soups a staple. They are filling and provide for many meals
  • cook at home as much as possible and prepare lunches to take to work and school
  • need to have a freezer and a storage area for non-perishables
  • plan multiple meals that can use the same product so none of it is wasted or goes bad. Here's an example from one roasted chicken: roasted chicken, pesto pasta with chicken, chicken salad sandwich, cobb salad with chicken
  • plan your meals to cut down on wasted food
  • consider having a backyard vegetable garden during the summer or join a community garden to grow your own fresh foods

Livliga Budget Friendly Veggie Burger on Halsa
Budget Friendly Frozen Veggie Burger Dinner Served up on Livliga

Many of the recipes I have developed and my family enjoys are ones I created when I needed to count my pennies everyday. I thought I would provide links to a few of those recipes here:

Frozen Veggie Burger Dinner

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Best Chicken Soup Ever

Super Simple Shrimp Tacos

Currently I am developing new recipes, like a vegetable beef soup that uses frozen mixed vegetables, that I will add to Livliga’s list of Budget-Friendly Meals. Sign up to receive notice of our blogs so you don’t miss out on more delicious and healthy meals from Livliga!


Monday Motivational Meal

Monday, January 20, 2020

Mediterranean food has been proven to be the healthiest. We tried this Chickpea Patty in Pita for a Meatless Monday Meal. It was so good we had to serve it up on Celebrate! Enjoy what you eat and make sure to nourish your heart with right-sized, healthy foods! 

Get Your Own Celebrate  Portion Control Dinnerware

We found this recipe in the 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. Find the book here


Book Review—30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook

Friday, January 17, 2020
At the beginning of the New Year it is the time we tend to give ourselves a fresh start. We look for new and better ways of living a healthy lifestyle. We check out new tools and resources that can help us a long the way.

My favorite thing to do is to check out new cookbooks that focus on healthy foods and healthier ways of cooking. We have found that no matter the healthy eating lifestyle you choose to follow, it works with Livliga. I was given a copy of a cookbook called 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook by Serena Ball, MS, RDN & Deanna Segrave-Daly, RDN at a conference. As the New Year approached I thought it was time to check it out.  What immediately appealed to me about this cookbook was that the authors explain that they don’t like the work “Diet” and instead prefer the term “Mediterranean eating lifestyle”. The authors also point out that this form of eating has been proven and tested for centuries. We know it works.

A little about the authors of this cookbook.  Serena Ball, MS, RDN & Deanna Segrave-Daly, RDN have over 20 years of food, nutrition and culinary communications experience between them. As they describe it, they’ve dedicated their careers to helping people get delicious and nutritious meals on the table. The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook is their first cookbook.

What this cookbook offers.  In this book you get great information about the Mediterranean eating lifestyle and how to practically incorporate it into your daily life. Specifically here is what is provided:

  • Guidelines for eating the Mediterranean way, as well as tips for navigating your supermarket
  • Recipes that follow the Mediterranean eating lifestyle that have been developed to be less complicated and take less time
  • Use of healthier ingredients that are available in your local grocery store
  • Meals and recipes that focus on whole foods showing how it is not only healthier but very possible to avoid highly processed or pre-packaged food items in preparing meals
  • Mediterranean-style recipes that can be tailored for specific dietary needs, i.e., gluten free, dairy free, nut free, Vegetarian or Vegan
  • Prep tips and ingredient tips
  • Nutritional information with each recipe

Chickpea Patties in Pita Served Up on Livliga

My experience with the recipes in the cookbook. One of the first recipes I did was the Chickpea Patties in Pita on page 74. True to the cookbook’s promise, the recipe was quick and easy to prepare, even with the added steps to prepare the hummus recipe to provide one of the ingredients called for in the chickpea patty.

It was visually appealing and had tasty textures to enjoy. The feedback I got from the family, which was similar to some of the reviews I found on Amazon, was that it was a little chalky and bland. Next time I plan on adding some sweet paprika and plain yogurt to the patty to address the blandness and chalkiness. Everyone liked the idea of the recipe and the ingredients. Taste is in the mouth of the eater in reality so adding spices and other tweaks to a recipe is the way to make it just the way you like it… just so long as you keep it healthy!

Overall impression of the cookbook. It is a well-constructed cookbook packed with helpful and informative content. The recipes are creative and in keeping with a Mediterranean eating lifestyle. Hopefully, in the next edition they will add photos of the recipes, which will greatly benefit those using the cookbook.

Download Your Free Copy of The Get Started Guide

Monday Motivational Meal

Monday, January 13, 2020

Getting back on track? Try this delicious #WeightWatchers Chicken Sambal Stir Fry to perk up your pallette with health! We served ours up on Vivente...just because...Happy Healthy New Year!

Explore the Vivente Dinnerware Line

Try this yummy recipe here .

Moroccan Lamb Tagine—DASH Diet friendly

Friday, January 10, 2020

There are many popular diets available to choose from when we want to jumpstart our healthy habits and get back on track. Among the most popular for improving our health while also easy to follow is the DASH Diet. According to dashdiet.org: The healthy DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet plan was developed to lower blood pressure without medication. Original research showed that DASH could lower blood pressure. Since then, numerous studies have shown that the DASH diet reduces the risk of many diseases, including some kinds of cancer, stroke, heart disease, heart failure, kidney stones, and diabetes. It has been proven to be an effective way to lose weight and become healthier at the same time. It is full of fabulous, delicious, real foods. All of these benefits led to the #1 diet ranking by US News & World Report each year from 2011 - 2018.

There are many elements of the DASH Diet that lend itself to being similar to the Mediterranean Diet. You can’t beat using fresh, unprocessed foods combined with spices to provide a taste and healthy meal. This Moroccan Lamb Tagine originally came from The Diabetic Living Magazine.

Last year my husband and I had the opportunity to go to Morocco. While there we went to a cooking class in Marrakesh to learn how to prepare various tagines. The place where we took the class was a special nonprofit and school where disadvantaged women are taught the skills they need to find a job and become financially independent. It is called Amal Restaurant and Training Center for Women (amalnonprofit.org). It was some of these very women who taught our class. It was a hands on class where we learned how to prepare the tagine and cook it in a traditional tagine pot. As our food cooked we sat on beautiful Moroccan rugs, enjoyed a traditional tea ceremony and learned more about the training center while our tagine cooked. It was a wonderful experience and our tagine was pretty good too!

This Moroccan Lamb Tagine is easy to assemble and cook in a slow cooker.  It incorporates the spices and their complexity of flavors that embody the food from this part of the world. This is the wonder of eating healthy. It truly is possible to eat interesting, flavorful foods that promote our health and support our desire to live life as our healthiest selves.


  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1½ pounds boneless lamb shoulder or lamb stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces 
  • 1½ cups coarsely chopped, peeled sweet potato
  • 1 medium plum tomato, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped 
  • ¼ cup pitted dates, quartered 
  • ¼ cup green olives, halved 
  • 2 tablespoons finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice 
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can reduced- sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups hot, cooked pearled couscous
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted 


  1. In a large bowl, combine ginger, cumin, salt, turmeric and cinnamon. Add lamb to bowl; toss to coat in spices. 
  2. In a 4-quart slow cooker, place lamb, sweet potato, tomato, carrots, onion, dates, olives, tapioca, lemon peel, lemon juice, honey and garlic. Pour broth over all. 
  3. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours. 
  4. Serve over couscous and top with almonds.

Nutritional Information:
Serves 8. Serving size: 1½ cups; ½ cup couscous and 1 cup lamb tagine. Calories: 425. Total Fat 16.9g; Saturated Fat 3.6g; Sodium 455mg; Total Carbohydrate 38.7g; Dietary Fiber 5.3g; Total Sugars 10g; Protein 30g.

Note: this recipe was featured in an episode of  Livliga’s Facebook Live: Healthy Recipes Served Up On Livliga. To enjoy this episode and others go to our LivligaHome YouTube channel and explore!


Monday Motivation Meal - Sweet and Spicy Chicken Thighs

Monday, January 6, 2020
 Sweet and Spicy Chicken Thighs

Ready to get started!? Try this Sweet and Spicy Chicken Thigh meal right out of our new and improved Get Started Guide! We served this family favorite up on Halsa. To your health!

Want to try this recipe? Find it in our free and downloadable eBook, Get Started Guide.

NEW & Improved Get Started Guide available now for FREE!

Thursday, January 2, 2020
It is here! Our new and improved Get Started Guide to start the New Year off supporting you on your healthy lifestyle journey in 2020!
This ebook is packed full of easy steps you can take to set yourself up for success when it comes to eating right in the New Year. There are some easy healthy recipes and menus. We even have a daily menu planner you can use! All for FREE!

Download your free copy now! And pass this email along to those you know would like to have their very own copy too!

Download Your Free Copy of The Get Started Guide

Happy New Year! Many it be your healthiest yet!