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Look and FEEL Cool This Summer!

By Margaret Furtado, MS RD LDN CYT and Joseph Ewing, RD LDN


Chef Joe Ewing and I are delighted to bring you a couple of our favorite summer recipes, and can’t wait to have you try them out at your next summer gathering!


Our Mediterranean Orzo-Artichoke Salad with Feta Cheese is a real crowd-pleaser!   It contains orzo, rice-shaped pasta, also known as rosini.  Luckily, in my several years’ experience in bariatric surgery, this is a type of pasta that is typically very well-tolerated.   Another plus is that it is so versatile.   Here Joe and I team it up with yummy feta cheese and artichokes, both providing vitamins and minerals while pleasing your palate!  


Artichokes are a nutritional gold mine: they’re high in fiber, calcium, potassium, iron, and phosphorus, as well as other minerals, and they’re oh-so-tasty too!! 

Did you know that artichokes have been used for liver and gallbladder conditions as a “cleanser” for the blood, as well as the bladder?   They have also been suggested to possibly help with lowering blood cholesterol, since they contain a fiber called inulin, which is also believed to help with diabetes and blood sugar regulation.

Health Benefits of Feta Cheese: Weight Loss?

Research suggests that eating five servings a day of dairy products such as cheese may result in greater abdominal fat loss.   Recent studies have found that diets rich in calcium may actually help increase fat breakdown and decrease fat storage, a definite benefit when it comes to weight control.  One ounce of feta cheese has about 140 milligrams of calcium, which is important for healthy bones, especially after weight loss surgery. Feta cheese also contains conjugated linoleic acid (aka CLA) which studies show may help with abdominal fat loss.   However, calories count, so don’t forgo those workouts, and remember to keep the feta cheese and all dairy products low-fat!

Mediterranean Orzo-Artichoke Salad with Feta Cheese

This Mediterranean-style orzo artichoke salad has delicious crumbled feta cheese, baby spinach, red onions and kalamata olives.

Yield: 8 servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Serving size: 1/2 cup
Each serving has: 178 calories; 32 g carbohydrate; 2 g sugars; 6 g protein; 5 g fat; 2 g saturated fat; 415 mg sodium; 2 g fiber


1 cup           uncooked orzo pasta

2 cups          fresh baby spinach, chopped

1/2 cup         sun-dried tomatoes (dry), chopped

3 Tbsp.         chopped red onion

9                 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

1/2 tsp.        freshly cracked black pepper

2                 whole scallion, chopped

2                 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/4 tsp.        kosher salt

1 (6-oz.)       can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

8 Tbsp.         reduced-fat Greek dressing

1/2 cup         crumbled feta cheese

1. Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain, and rinse with cold water.

2. In a large bowl, combine orzo, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, red onion, kalamata olives, pepper, scallion, garlic, and salt.

3. Add artichoke hearts, Greek dressing, and 1/4 cup feta cheese to orzo, and toss gently to coat.

4. Divide salad among 8 serving plates, and sprinkle each serving with remaining feta cheese.


Next Chef Joe and I share our watermelon granite recipe.  What spells summer more than watermelon? And granitas are a tasty, cool way to get this flavorful fruit in and get extra fluid to boot!   You’ll also impress your guests at any get-together with this delicious, cool treat!!!  Remember, you want to aim to reach your fluid goals each day, especially right after surgery…and drink more if you are having signs and symptoms of dehydration.  Be sure to check in with your bariatric program’s dietitian to make sure you’re getting enough fluid, protein, and adequate nutrition.  Remember to find some time to relax and enjoy the summer, including sharing tasty, cool recipes with your friends and family!


Watermelon Granita

Sweet and summery, this watermelon shaved ice will be a welcome treat on warm days.

Yield: 8 servings

Prep time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Serving size: 1/2 cup

Each serving has: 15 calories; 4 g carbohydrate; 4 g sugars; .6 g protein; 0 g fat; 0 g saturated fat; 81 mg sodium; .3 g fiber


2 1/2 cups     seedless watermelon chunks (about 1 small watermelon)

1/2 cup         sparkling water

1/4 cup         Splenda

1 Tbsp.         pasteurized egg whites

1 Tbsp.         fresh lime juice

1/4 tsp.        salt


1. In a blender, combine watermelon, sparkling water, Splenda, egg whites, lime juice, and salt. Blend on high speed until smooth. 

2. Pour mixture mixture into a 9-inch square baking dish. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and freeze for about 45 minutes or until mixture is icy at the edges of the pan. Whisk to distribute frozen portions evenly. Cover and refreeze for about 45 minutes or until mixture is icy at the edges of the pan and overall texture is slushy. Whisk again to distribute frozen portions evenly. Cover and refreeze for about 3 hours or until frozen solid. Remove from the freezer.

3. Using a fork, scrape granita down the length of the pan, forming icy flakes. Return to the freezer for at least 1 hour. Granita can be made 1 day ahead and kept in the freezer.

Serving Suggestion: If you're serving this granita at a dinner party, try making it using one watermelon with red flesh and a separate batch with yellow-flesh watermelon. Your guests are almost guaranteed to ask for the recipe.