I’m on my 5th day of recovery after having my gallbladder removed and things are progressing nicely. I’m still rather tired and need to take breaks from sitting up to lay down, but the pain is subsiding and I hardly take any pain medication anymore.
Eating, however, is still a challenge. I am voracious but can eat very little when I actually sit down to do so. I’m not sure if that has anything to do with the surgery or because I’ve always had a small appetite. But I’m craving everything – any food I see on the TV, on the internet, even food James is eating that I don’t usually care about I’ve been ogling with utmost longing. Pepperoni pizza, not something I’ve particularly cared about giving up, has climbed to the top of the list of things I crave – but not yet, not yet.
After gallbladder removal you need to stay on an extremely low-fat diet: the doctor’s instructions say for 3 weeks (which would be exactly when I leave for Chicago on vacation), but I’m going to ask about when I can start introducing more fat into my diet at my post-op appointment. Extremely low fat is defined as 3g of fat or less, which is a very small amount and really very difficult to find. Some chicken soups even have more than that, so I’m just trying to keep it in the ballpark.
In honor of this lowfat diet, I give you Roasted Chicken with Apples. For a while now, doctors and nutritionists have been telling us that vegetables and fruits should take up more room on our plate than meat and starch – a good goal is half the plate and better yet to eliminate the starch completely! Yet, I think most Americans find this hard to do: the meat + vegetable + starch formula for our dinner plates is hard-wired into our habits. This was all the rage after World Wars I & II, because our soldiers were fed “3 square meals” a day when overseas, which consisted of just this formula – intended to keep our soldiers full of calories for the extensive physical feats that were asked of them. When the soldiers came home, this is what they wanted to eat. And a tradition was born that you still see in restaurants and dinner tables across the country.
Don’t get me wrong, I love carbs – when I realized I couldn’t eat cheese, I declared that if you took bread from me, life would not be worth living. And I am a great advocate of fiber from carbs and not purchasing carby foods for my home that don’t contain a good amount of fiber. But I can also see the benefits of adding even more fruits and veggies to my diet and my dinner plate. So when I saw this recipe for mashed, roasted apples, in place of the rice or mashed potatoes on a more traditional plate, I thought that was a good first try: apples are still carby but with more complex nutrients than others. But I abandoned the recipe after a few tries. The mashed apples took too much time and never really produced a consistency that I desired.
When James and I were searching for some inspiration a few years ago, he found the recipe in an enormous binder I keep of recipes that I’ve saved over the years: most of which I found intriguing, but never actually made. When he attempted the recipe, he found the key: simply cut the apples into wedges, instead of small pieces, and season as usual. What results is a very easy recipe to make but with a complex and interesting end-product: there’s still crunch to the apples but they absorb all the seasonings to become something entirely new and exciting. Best of all, I mentioned low-fat: the recipe adds absolutely no fat whatsoever. It uses the power of the chicken juices from the breasts to flavor the apples.
(Although, if you used a fattier cut like thighs or even bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces, I’m sure that would also be delectable… Oh god, the hunger pains…)
Roasted Chicken with Apples
- 5 cups of apples, cut into wedges, about 1.5 pounds (easily found in a bag at the store for your convenience)
- 1 tsp. dried sage
- 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
- 1/4 tsp salt
- about 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (no thin-cut here, please. We tried it, but the chicken dries out before the apples have come to their truest roasting potential.)
- more salt and fresh ground pepper for chicken
Chop your garlic and add all seasonings for apples into a bowl.
Cut your apples into wedges. We love to use this apple corer, which makes life so much easier. I find that my apple corer does not slice cleanly through the other side of the apple skin, but applying some gentle pressure with my fingers releases each wedge. Be careful – the edges aren’t knife-sharp but they ain’t dull either.
Enjoy, and if you’re eating ice cream on these early days of summer, enjoy some for me! I’ll be here eating low-fat graham crackers. Sure would taste great in some s’mores ice cream. Sigh.