Low Sugar Cranberry Sauce (in the crockpot!)

I’ll admit it. I’m not a huge fan of cranberry sauce. BUT. It’s Thanksgiving and what’s Thanksgiving without it? This recipe is especially amazing because you can free up a burner on your stove during the chaos and let it make itself in the crockpot!

Being a weight loss surgery patient, I’m constantly looking for alternative versions of my favorite foods, especially if it needs a protein boost, or a lower sugar content.

Behold. WLS-approved (or at least Kiwi approved) cranberry sauce.

I live in the cranberry capital of the US, practically. Carver/Plymouth/Wareham have more cranberry bogs and farmers markets than you can shake a stick at, so it was only a matter of choosing which farm to support to get fresh cranberries.

I mean.. I could have gone to Stop and Shop and picked up a bag of Ocean Spray (seeing how that’s around here, too) but I really wanted the “authentic” experience of farm fresh berries.

So here it is.

Makes 6 servings (or more if you only eat a spoonful at a time, like me)
Calories: 40 | Sugar: 5.2g


  • 14oz fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (I used the Trop50 because I don’t normally drink orange juice and it came in a small bottle)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup zero calorie sweetener (more or less depending on personal taste)
  • Optional add ins: splash of bourbon, red wine or vanilla, orange zest, ground ginger, cinnamon and cloves or some chopped walnuts.


Add all ingredients to slow cooker and stir to combine. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 7-8 hours or until the cranberries have started to pop open and the sauce gets all bubbly. You can mash some it up a bit as it cooks until you reach your desired consistency.. and remember the sauce will thicken as it cools!

Taste it before adding in your extra flavors and adjust the sweetness as needed. I think I’ll use some vanilla and cloves in this batch and see how it  turns out.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Pumpkin Protein Breakfast Cookies

I could seriously eat one (or two) of these every morning for breakfast.

Or lunch…

Or, you know. Whenever.

The consistency comes out more muffin-like than cookie, but if you’re a fan of soft cookies like I am, I think you’ll enjoy them.

I may start to play around with the ingredients (like subbing the pumpkin for banana or apple or something) to try and make variations on this recipe, simply because I love it so much!

I like to take two cookies and sandwich them together with some powdered peanut butter (or regular peanut butter if you’re not watching your calorie count) and eat them like one of those oatmeal cream cookies… only better for you. And at only only 40 calories per cookie, I don’t think you’ll feel too guilty about indulging in a a pair of these.

Makes 24-30 cookies
Calories: 40 | Protein: 5g | Sugar: 1g


  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed (I like to use my coffee grinder to do this)
  • 2tbs chia seeds
  • 1/2tbs ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs (whole)
  • 2tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup light almond milk (I  normally use unsweetened vanilla)
  • 1/4 cup zero calorie sweetener
  • 2 scoops of whey protein powder (I used Body Fortress vanilla)
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1-15oz can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)




  • preheat oven to 350F
  • add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix well
  • grease a baking sheet and drop a spoonful (about 3 tablespoons) onto the pan; you’ll need to spread them out a little to make them into a cookie shape
  • bake for about 10-12 minutes
  • let them cool off before removing from the pan and enjoy!

I would definitely store these in the fridge (or freezer if you can’t go through them quickly enough!)


Pumpkin Cheesecake Vanilla Protein Pudding

If you know me, you know I’m always looking for something sweet. Make it pumpkin and I’m yours.

Make it cheesecake, though? I’m yours forever.

When I found this recipe on Pintrest, I immediately knew I would have to make it at some point. And that some point is now.

It didn’t turn out as sweet as I has expected it to be, but it was still pretty tasty. I even layered one with some pumpkin protein brownies and another with a pumpkin breakfast protein cookie and cool whip for a super yummy trifle! I promise you, the pictures don’t do it any justice. I had put two together the night before Thanksgiving in an attempt to save some time in the morning and the result was runny cool whip and a deflated trifle.



Boo, you whore.

I’m sure it’ll be tasty just the same. Lesson learned? Don’t make these ahead of time.. and if you do, use tub cool whip and not from the can.

Makes 8 servings
Calories: 160 | Protein: 8.6g  | Sugar: <5g


  • 1 can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)
  • 1 container sugar free cool whip
  • 2 packages of fat-free, sugar-free cheesecake pudding mix (1oz each)
  • 1.5c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • 2tsp pumpkin pie spice


  • Combine all ingredients and whip together with a hand held or standing mixer.
  • Let it chill for a few hours and enjoy!

Pumpkin Protein Brownies

I totally stalk… I mean, follow Andrea’s Protein Cakery on Instagram and recently subscribed to her email newsletter specifically to get this recipe. I made some minor modifications to the original recipe so that I could use the ingredients I had on hand. The result was slightly different than hers (and I plan to try it again with different whey powders!) but they were still delicious! From what she suggested, because the Quest powder is a whey/casein blend, it baked differently. Feel free to modify as you see necessary!

I’m posting the original recipe (with my substitutions in bold)

Makes one 13×9″ pan (12 servings)
Calories: 120 | Protein: 9g | Sugar: 5g
Calories: 89 | Protein: 6g | Sugar: 5g

Brownie Batter

  • 1 cup natural apple sauce (222g)
  • 1/3 cup almond butter (80g) (Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter)
  • 1 cup natural chocolate whey powder (104g) (1 cup Quest chocolate milkshake powder)
  • 2tbs cocoa powder (11g)
  • 2tbs date sugar (18g) (2tbs sugar.. I could have used a substitute, but I didn’t.)
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt (0.6g)

Pumpkin Swirl

  • 1/2 can pumpkin (213g)
  • 1tsp pumpkin pie spice (2g)
  • 1/4tsp sea salt (1.5g)
  • 1/4 cup natural vanilla whey protein powder (26g) (1/4 cup Body Fortress vanilla whey protein powder)
  • 1/2 cup water (4oz or 120ml) (I omitted this ingredient per her suggestion in the newsletter)
  • 1 large egg (whole)


  • Preheat oven to 325F(163C)
  • Mix together apple sauce and almond (or peanut) butter
  • Add remaining brownie ingredients and mix until combined and then set aside
  • Combine the pumpkin swirl ingredients
  • Line a 13×9″ pan with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray (I did both)
  • Pour brownie batter into the pan (because of the Quest powder, it made my batter very stiff and hard to spread.. try experimenting with different powders to find a mix that works best for your tastes)
  • Spoon pumpkin mixture onto the brownie batter and swirl with a butter knife. (She has another recipe with her preferred technique here!)
  • Bake for about 15 minutes and check them often to make sure they don’t overcook!

Store in the fridge!

I personally loved cutting these up nice and small and putting them on top of some yoghurt or heating one up and adding a spoonful of ice cream.

My go-to though… cut them up into four bites, add a small blob of jelly/jam/preserves/whatever… and cover with a powdered peanut butter mixture… put em in the fridge to set and its like…. heaven. Seriously. I had to freeze half so I wouldn’t eat them all at once.

I’ll be using these with the Pumpkin Cheesecake Vanilla Protein Pudding in my Pumpkin Brownie Cheesecake Trifle, too.. so stay tuned!

For those of you who are interested:



Don’t forget to check out Andrea’s Protein Cakery for more amazing recipes!

Holiday Eating After WLS & Cooking for Two

So its less than a week before Thanksgiving and all most people can think about (or at least its all I can think about) is FOOD. I’ve been doing nothing lately but making lists about what I should be making and all the things that I’ll need for the small feast that Ryan and I have planned for our at-home Thanksgiving celebration. I’ll be talking later in this post about what I’ll be making for the two of us, which will no doubt still give us plenty of leftovers. (Another post perhaps?) Read More

A Brief Introduction; Scratching the Surface

Hi, there. I’m Karen.


Some of you might know me by my instagram handle @kiwithetattooedlady. Some of you might not know me at all. That’s OK, too. So for everyone… a genuine welcome. Forgive the lack of balloons and confetti.. I don’t want to clean that shit up.

A couple quick facts: (I promise, eventually you will know waaaaaay too much about me.)
I’m 30! (1 June in case you wanted to send me something nice)
I live in Portland, OR with my amazing husband!
I have two rescue dogs
I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy on 16 June, 2014
HW: ~280lbs SW: 266lbs LW: 134lbs GW: 150lbs CW: 174lbs
I’m a huge nerd and I love everything that has to do with Harry Potter, Doctor Who, tattoos, body modification, vintage fashion, weird music and deepening my yoga practice (that I’ve been slacking with…)
I sing and do stuff

Some personal, not too widely known, though sometimes vaguley mentioned tidbits:
I struggle with binge eating disorder (BED), depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
^^I do NOT let the above mentioned “disorders” define me.^^ They are only a small portion of the amazing grandness that is myself.

So now that’s out of the way…

I’ve decided to start my own blog to document my weight loss journey in an  attempt to help others on their own paths to wellness. However you may be finding it! Having such a huge community of people to share my story with has been a great part of my overall success and I think this blog-slash-journal-slash-whatever you want to call it will allow me to expand on my crazy insta-rants and maybe help to expand my reach… ::insert maniacal laughter here::

Don’t get crazy, I’m not looking to become some internet rockstar… or am I…? But seriously, you never know who you might be helping by starting up some cheesy blog and ranting or raving about some new recipe you’ve tried… or some outfit you just scored an epic deal on.. or some money saving gift idea… or just the random feeeeeels that this journey makes us have. And also meet cool people! Because I hate assholes!

OK, OK.. I hate everyone, but thats not the point.

Finding balance in your life is hard. I’m just trying to make sense of it all.

I plan to include lots of things on this page, aside from documenting my weight loss progress; healthy recipes that I’ve tried and love, tips for mindful (tr)eating, ootd braggings, DIY craft projects and other art/music projects and whatever else I feel like throwing at you that day. Its going to be great. I promise.



I am in no way, shape or form paid, sponsored, endorsed or otherwise compensated for any mention of ANY of the products, companies or services that I may use in my food/clothing/general craziness experiments (I mean, unless someone wanted to pay me to be crazy.. but then I would tell you otherwise!)