Home ยป Just…breathe.


It has soooo been one of those weeks. One of those weeks where you just can’t seem to catch a break. I’m exhausted when I wake-up. My neck hurts. Both my 4 1/2 and 3 miler were no fun. I’ve been working insane hours with no time to relax or catch up with you all. And my precious Lily dog is walking with a limp. We are praying this is not hip dysplasia. 🙁 I about cried yesterday when I threw a quarter into a toll basket and it hit the ground and the car behind me blared his horn. You know, one of those weeks. Anyways, pray for Lily’s speedy recovery, please.

Tonight I am leading a weight loss surgery support group. This is the first meeting of many, as I am officially organizing and leading weight loss surgery support groups for all the Lap-Band® patients I see on a bi-weekly basis in 3 of our network’s clinics. It’s been a huge learning experience, but I do feel that weight loss surgery has its place and can be a really useful tool for the right candidate. As these patient’s dietitian, I am giving this program my all especially because bariatric surgery patients risk regaining their weight if lifelong behavior changes are not adopted. I’m really hoping to resonate some heart-felt, important messages tonight…so wish me luck! 😀

For anyone interested (not for the queasy-at-the-sight-of-blood-viewer), here is a Lap-Band® procedure being performed. Amazing that this procedure is done laparoscopically and patients are usually discharged the same day.


In my rut of a week, I did insist on making a dinner to tickle my fancy this week…

Eggplant and Tofu in Spicy Garlic Sauce adapted from Eats Well with Others
Serves 5

1 lb pasta (I used 12 ounces of vegetable corkscrew pasta made with semolina)
1 box extra firm tofu (I used 1 1/2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 1/2 lb eggplant, peeled and sliced into strips
1/3 cup water
8 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
3 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 Tbsp dark sesame oil
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp sriracha (hot chili sauce)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tomato, chopped
4 Tbsp sunflower seeds (garnish)


Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch slices and press them lightly between towels to get some of the moisture out. Combine the 3 tbsp. soy sauce with the 2 tbsp. water and 1/2 tsp. sesame oil. Dip each slice of tofu into the mixture and set on a plate.


Marinade protein (chicken, beef, pork) in the soy. water, and sesame oil overnight.

Set up a pot of water for the pasta. When boiling, cook the pasta per the package’s instructions. In the meantime.

Heat an oiled, non-stick skillet until hot. Place the tofu slices in the skillet and cook until browned. Turn over and brown the other sides. When the tofu is completely browned on both sides, remove it from the skillet and place it on a cutting board. Cut each slice into 8-10 cubes. If using other meat protein, pre-cut and heat til cooked through. Set aside.

Heat an oiled, non-stick wok and add the eggplant and 1/3 cup water. Cover and cook, stirring often, until eggplant begins to brown. Uncover and add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 more minutes.

Add all remaining ingredients except the tomato, sunflower seeds, and tofu/protein. Simmer uncovered until all the eggplant slices are completely cooked–they will be very soft and start to fall apart. Add the protein and tomato and cook until heated through.

Dish the pasta out into five bowls. Cover it with the eggplant mixture. Sprinkle with seeds.

Nutrition Information (per serving made with 12 ounces of pasta and 1 1/2 # chicken): 508 calories; 9.4 g. fat; 102 mg. cholesterol; 567 mg. sodium; 66.2 g. carbohydrate; 4.2 g. fiber; 40.6 g. protein

Feedback: This was reeeally yummy! Mr. Prevention was very apprehensive going in. I’m pretty sure he’d convinced himself he wouldn’t enjoy it. But, he admitted defeat. A thumbs up from the peanut gallery!!

Question: How do you relax? What’s something you do just for you? How often do you take a sliver out of your day to do something for you?

I’m finding the work-life-and all else balance a bit off this week, and I’ll admit, it has me on edge. I’m not a nice person when I’m stressed! I am looking forward to my “vacation” next week — a trip to San Jose for a diabetes conference!

Almost Friday,

Share With Your Friends!


  1. April 15, 2010 / 5:44 am

    I’m so sorry this has been a horrible week for you ๐Ÿ™ When everything you do is a struggle, it’s hard to push yourself through the days. And what is WRONG with that man who was behind you at the tollbooth??

    I’ll pray for Lily’s recovery. Please keep us updated on how she’s doing.

    Thanks also for sharing the video – I’ve never actually seen a lap bad being performed. I admit I feel a bit of conflict about weight loss surgeries, mostly around the idea that some people view this as a quick fix and not a lifestyle change … so you are doing some wonderful things in your support groups, my dear ๐Ÿ™‚

    I hope the end of this week and this weekend are much better for you xoxo

  2. lessonstolearn
    April 15, 2010 / 5:50 am

    What a week! I’m so sorry there is so much stress for you. And poor Lily! I hope she gets some relief quickly. I completely understand the tollbooth emotions. That’s what happens to me when my stress gets to a certain point.

    I am impressed with how often you can blog with such a crazy schedule. I have had a busy week and that was the first thing to go. I ham so behind on what everyone has written! I have been shutting down the computer at night to relax with my husband. He’s been stressed too, so we decompress together.

    Hang in there. The weekend is coming!

  3. April 15, 2010 / 5:54 am

    Get well soon Lily and good luck tonight Nicole.

    To relax I like to golf(although it doesn’t always work when I suck) and also I’ll do nothing unplugging from the world at the same time.

  4. April 15, 2010 / 7:59 am

    Poor Lily! I will say a pray for her! I hate when I see my dog in pain. I wish they could talk to me so I could help them more efficiently haha!
    Anyway, the recipe looks great. I am not a big fan of tofu, but need to try and expand on that!
    My favorite way to relax lately is with a book outside in the nice weather. Its hard to find time for yourself and believe me, I am the same way you are….so crabby when I am having a bad day!
    Thanks for the job advice too Nicole! I really appreciate it! It’s so frustrating at times. I’m just going to keep plugging away as I am sure something great will come my way!

  5. April 15, 2010 / 8:03 am

    Aw I’m sorry to hear about your stressful week. I know how you feel. I am getting to the end of this school semester and I am just so ready to have exams and papers off my brian. As for Lily I hope she’ll be okay! If it makes you feel any better, about a week ago Bella started limping on her right back leg. I freaked out! She would not put any pressure on it and I was so scared that I had made her do to much on our last walk because we did a little jog at the end. So I let her rest for the next few days and then her limp went away. Then a few nights ago she was laying down sleeping and had her right leg tucked under her. She woke up and was limping again. But a few hours later the limp stopped. My husband is positive that it’s just because she sleeps on top of it and her leg is basically going to sleep. She hasn’t limped in days. Let me know how Lily is doing.

  6. April 15, 2010 / 9:50 am

    Sorry about the crummy week girl, I’ll be thinking about lily. Hope everythings well with her soon.

    Exercising is my time. It’s when I can just get out of my brain and focus on something else, especially running.

  7. April 15, 2010 / 10:22 am

    Koosh I hope Lily is okay! that just made me tear….please keep us updated…and breathe honey =)

  8. April 15, 2010 / 10:24 am

    I’m having one of those weeks, too–long, long hours at work and a feeling of playing catch-up when I get home. I wish I had an answer to your “how do you relax” question, but nope, still wondering. The fact that tomorrow is Friday is keeping me going!

  9. April 15, 2010 / 10:25 am

    I hope your week turns around, girl. Thinking of you! Remember that it will pass!

  10. April 15, 2010 / 10:28 am

    Lilly will definitely be in my prayers… Please keep us posted on how she’s doing… Sending big hugs to you and Lilly both!

    I hope your weekend brightens your week… You deserve it! Your lap patients are SO lucky to have you in their lives – you’re truly changing lives for the better, girl! (on a side note, laparoscopic surgery is fabulously cool… ๐Ÿ™‚ I work in an OR, so I’m all into such awesomeness. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have an eggplant in the fridge just longing to be turned into your gorgeous eggplant recipe – thank you so much for the great idea!

  11. April 15, 2010 / 10:47 am

    Sorry you are having one of those weeks… I totally understand. I try to take time out for myself when I can, but it is a lot harder than it sounds! I think that is what I get when I work out each morning… I’m doing it for me, it makes me feel good.
    Keep your chin up and know that eventually you will get up out of your rut! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. April 15, 2010 / 11:02 am

    Good luck tonight! It sounds like an really cool opportunity to work with these patients–by helping them you are really saving lives!

    I am sorry about your dog–I hope and pray she gets better. Its really hard when animals get sick/injured because they can’t talk (obviously) and so its hard to really understand how to help them best.

    I know how you feel about having one of those weeks–its hard to unwind when you have so many projects and responsibilities. Sometimes I will just go for a walk, go get a pedicure or enjoy a glass of wine in front of the tube to unwind.

  13. April 15, 2010 / 11:08 am

    I find that taking a leisure walk really helps. Just taking in the fresh air and allowing my mind to wander freely without worrying about my fully-loaded to-do list really helps me to de-stress and rejuvenate myself!

    Focus on the positives and hope your day gets better! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. April 15, 2010 / 11:24 am

    Im not even going to lie about it, everything I do is for me. I may be a little selfish.
    I should probably work on that.

  15. April 15, 2010 / 11:33 am

    I’m sorry you’ve been so stressed! When I am stressed I always give myself a time-out — I don’t have to think about or do anything except what I want to do, whether it is watching a TV show, taking a walk, reading a book, or eating a treat. Sometimes just 15 minutes is all I need to recollect myself!

  16. April 15, 2010 / 11:47 am

    Poor Lily! And poor you. I hope you trip makes you feel relaxed. I have weeks like this all the time and I don’t know how to make them better ๐Ÿ™

  17. April 15, 2010 / 12:26 pm

    I HATE those weeks ๐Ÿ™ lots of positive thoughts for Lily, my mutt has really bad hips, the lab ironically is just fine…

    Dinner still looks awesome, I hope your week starts to get better.

  18. April 15, 2010 / 12:47 pm

    Praying for Lily! And for you, too, Nicole. You will get through this week! ๐Ÿ™‚

    When I have a week like that, I try to take some time and do just what your post title says – BREATHE. I have a bunch of breathing exercises/meditations that I do that are really helpful. But I’ve found that I get the most out of them when I do them consistently, every day, not just on days/weeks when I’m really stressed.

  19. April 15, 2010 / 1:01 pm

    I hope your week settles out and things with Lily work out alright! I feel like this is a busy time of year. I use time set aside for cooking and yoga as my stress relievers. Deep breathing and just taking my mind off of things is really helpful. Yoga in particular can be rejuvenating when utilized in a gentle way.

  20. April 15, 2010 / 1:40 pm

    Sorry about your week, stress can be so hard to deal with and I hope Lily is ok. There are days when I don’t have time to do anything for myself and it can wear on you after a while. If I’m really feeling stressed I make it a point to make time for quiet time, where it’s just me and my thoughts. It usually does the trick. Sometimes other things can wait, and I have to remind myself of that often.

    Hope your week looks up!

  21. April 15, 2010 / 1:54 pm

    Wow, I hope your week finishes on a high note. Very cool to work with lap band patients. I did that too in Vegas for patients seen in CA because there were limited options in Vegas. It can be rewarding when they really understand the commitment, and yes, this is not the right choice for some people, but for many people this is the only remaining option and it will really benefit their health long term.

  22. April 15, 2010 / 1:54 pm

    I totally forgot to say that the eggplant and tofu dish looks so good.

  23. April 15, 2010 / 3:06 pm

    Awwww, girl, I’m sending good vibes towards you and your sweet pooch ๐Ÿ™

  24. April 15, 2010 / 3:10 pm

    Sorry you are having one of those types of weeks. ๐Ÿ™ I hope your Friday will be better.

    And I always have to have my morning prayer/Bible reading time to start my day off right. Then, I like to read to unwind and destress as often as possible. It needs to happen more though!

  25. April 15, 2010 / 3:13 pm

    I’m so sorry you’re stressed! I try to just carve out some time before bed to read or just relax. Also, making a list helps me get everything out of my head and onto paper!

  26. April 15, 2010 / 3:17 pm

    ๐Ÿ™ I’m so sorry you’re having one of those weeks. I hope it gets better soon. I always reserve the mornings for me time. I keep the radio turned off on the way to work and pray/reflect on what I have to be thankful for in my life. That helps me set the tone for a good day. Hang in there sweet girl!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. April 15, 2010 / 4:58 pm

    If it’s any consolation, the week is almost over. I’m sure that next week will be better and brighter.

    I actually relax by exercising. Also, I finding reading a book or a magazine and drinking some coffee supremely relaxing and the ultimate relaxer is reading a book on the beach — when I can get away…

  28. April 15, 2010 / 5:50 pm

    Yuck, I’m so sorry you’ve had a bad week. ๐Ÿ™ At least tomorrow is Friday? I think it’s so hard in our world today because everyone is “go go go,” and it’s really hard to take time for ourselves. Some (most?) even feel GUILTY for it. Not advocating this, but I called in “sick” (cough cough!) yesterday and today from work and I feel SO much better about things. It’s truly amazing what a day or two off for yourself can do. I hope you can get some time to yourself soon! Maybe another massage? ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. April 15, 2010 / 6:05 pm

    Man, busy busy weeks are really no fun! Particularly when you have zero time to yourself and even squeezing in gym time feels like torture. You really are doing a fabulous job though nicole, I hope you know that and you’re giving yourself plenty of credit for it.

    Now…that gory video just seems like a little bit of a contrast beside your tasty dish…hahaha

  30. April 15, 2010 / 7:46 pm

    I’m so sorry it’s been one of those weeks! People (like the guy who blared on the horn) can be so rude…especially when they drive. I’ll keep Lily in my prayers!

    I love eggplant and your dinner looks delicious!

  31. April 15, 2010 / 10:47 pm

    Hi Nicole, i ll surely pray for lily’s recovery, and dont stress your self too much, take good rest too….and take care…..tofu in garlic sauce looks yum…will surely try this one

  32. April 15, 2010 / 11:32 pm

    Keep your chin up and feel better lady. I am so sorry you are not 100%. So glad that Mr. Prevention liked your dish in the end!

  33. April 15, 2010 / 11:32 pm

    Nicole, I’m so sorry to hear about your dog! I’ll be praying for both of you!

    Stressful weeks are the pits, but they also make us appreciate and enjoy the times that aren’t so crazy. Hang in there!

    I’m new to the blogworld, but have been reading your blog for a few weeks. I’m planning on going back to school next year to become a RD and get an MPH in nutrition, so reading about your job and your health advice is really insightful!

    • Nicole
      April 16, 2010 / 7:19 am

      Hi Sara! Thank you! I love hearing from others in the nutrition field and going into the nutrition field! So exciting! You will be very pleased with your decision, I am sure ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. April 16, 2010 / 7:08 am

    Sorry to hear your week has been less than stellar. Mine seems like one of those too–so many tests, prepping for finals, etc. But it always seems like a good meal can help alleviate some stress! ๐Ÿ™‚ I always head to the kitchen when I need some “me” time! Hope things get better!

  35. April 16, 2010 / 11:15 pm

    What a tasty and healthy dinner! Glad your week has gotten better!

  36. April 18, 2010 / 7:20 am

    Oh no! I do hope little Lily is ok.

    I usually relax by catching up on my tv shows and watching my Netflix movies.

  37. April 18, 2010 / 10:31 am

    I hope your weekend has brought you some better times.
    This recipe looks perfect! I have more of your posts marked unread than any other because I always want to make sure to take note of the recipes you include.

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