The Importance of a High Protein Diet After Breast Reconstruction Surgery

By: Courtney Floyd

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high protein diet after breast reconstruction

We all know nutrition plays an important role in our health, but did you know it also plays a role in healing after surgery? There are many factors that can impact wound healing after surgery, and one of the biggest is nutrition.

One of the major healing aids in our diet is protein. Without an adequate amount of protein in our diet, our body has trouble forming collagen which is a main component for healing. For this reason, a high protein diet is essential for a quick and healthy recovery after surgery.

The best way to get enough protein is to eat a nutritious diet.  Here are some great and easy recipes to help get you started on your high protein recovery from some of our breast reconstruction patients:

Cottage Cheese Bowl

Ingredients

1 serving size of cottage cheese

1 avocado (or other fruit of your choice)

Instructions

Place all ingredients into a bowl, mix and enjoy.

Fruit, Veggie & Protein Powder Smoothie

Ingredients

1 cup water

Large handful of spinach

1 cup fresh fruits

I scoop of vanilla protein powder

Ice

Instructions

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth. Pour into your favorite cup and enjoy.

Nutritionist tip:

To take your smoothie up a notch add chia, hemp or flax seeds.

Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients

4 large peppers (green, red, yellow and orange)

1 pound of hot Italian sausage (or lean ground beef for more protein)

1/2 cup of chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 can (14 oz) of diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning

1 cup cooked rice (brown or multi-colored rice for extra nutritional value)

salt and fresh ground pepper

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

fresh basil for garnish

Instructions

Sauté meat, onion and garlic until browned.

Stir in tomatoes and Italian seasoning,

Simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in cooked rice and season with salt and pepper

Parboil the peppers (cook for 3 minutes in boiling water then rinse under cold) and drain well.

Stuff meat and rice mixture into hollowed out peppers.

Place inside lightly greased muffin pan and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and garnish with fresh basil

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until peppers are tender.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, diced

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 jalapenos, finely diced

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

One 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

One 14.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

2-3 cups of diced chicken from a cooked rotisserie chicken.

2 limes, juiced, plus wedges for garnish

Salt and fresh ground pepper

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

One 8-inch flour tortilla, cut into thin strips, baked at 325 for about 10-15 minutes or until crisp

1 avocado

1 cup shredded Monterrey cheese

Instructions

In a large saucepan heat the vegetable oil.

Add onions and cook for 2 minutes.

Once onions have softened add the garlic and jalapenos and cook for another minute. Pour the chicken broth, tomatoes and beans into the pot and bring to a boil.

Once at a boil lower heat to simmer and add the chicken.

Simmer slowly for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through.

Add lime juice and fresh cilantro to the pot.

In a serving bowl add a mound of shredded chicken. Ladle soup over chicken and top with a lime wedge, baked tortilla strips, avocado slices and cheese.

Nutritionist tip:

Instead of rotisserie chicken. Start with whole vegetarian-fed hormone free chicken. Cut it up, place in crock pot with veggies, fresh water (enough to cover chicken), and 2-3 bay leaves. Cook on low for 6-8 hours and come home to soup! Also triple the cilantro since it is a huge anticancer herb! Replace flour tortillas with chunks of new potatoes, sliced fennel bulb, rutabagas for added flavor, plus tons of vitamins & minerals from these amazing roots!

Ground Beef (or Turkey) Sweet Potato Skillet

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 lb extra-lean ground beef (or turkey)

1 garlic clove, minced

½ cup onions

½ cup red bell pepper

2 ½ cup sweet potato, diced

¼ cup beef broth or water

1 medium zucchini, quartered

3 cups cooked rice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/3 cup tomato passata (tomato sauce works too)

½ teaspoon of oregano

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat.

Add ground beef and garlic. Stir occasionally and cook for about 7 minutes. Set aside.

Add onions, red bell pepper to the same skillet, and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the onions are soft.

Add sweet potato and beef broth. Cook for 5-6 minutes. Put a lid on the skillet. The steam will help to cook faster the sweet potato. Stir occasionally.

Add the zucchini and cook for 3 minutes.

Add the ground beef to skillet again and mix everything together.

Add the Dijon, tomato passata, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper to taste. Cook for 1-2 minutes more.

Garnish with fresh parsley.

Avocado Caprese Chicken Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients

1 boneless skinless chicken breast

salt & pepper to season chicken

½ cup of halved fresh mozzarella balls

1 avocado, diced

6 oz. of fresh spring mix salad (about 3-4 cups)

½ cup of halved cherry tomatoes

¼ cup of fresh diced basil

Balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Instructions

Cook chicken

In small salad bowls, divide the spring mix, avocado, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella balls, and sliced grilled chicken.

Serve with balsamic vinaigrette

Spinach Tomato Quesadillas 

Ingredients

1 large tomato, sliced

1½ cups spinach

1 tbsp pesto

½ cup cheddar, sliced

1 cup mozzarella

2 whole grain tortillas

Instructions

Grab a tortilla and spread a layer of pesto over half of it.

Add a light layer of cheese slices (mixing the cheddar and mozzarella together).

Add the tomato slices, spinach, and top it with another layer of cheese.

Fold the second half of the tortilla on top and place in a pan.

Heat on medium for about 4 minutes. If you want, place a pot on top of the quesadilla so that it flattens nicely.

Flip and heat for another 4 minutes until the cheese has melted.

Nutritionist tip:

To cut back on the heavy use of cheese, experiment with home-made hummus! Then add to your palette: spices like Cumin, smoked paprika, garlic, toasted sesame oil or walnut oil…ideas are limitless!


A special thanks to registered dietitian and personal trainer Suzanne Parker of Powerhouse Bakery in San Antonio for contributing your nutritionist tips! Looking for more meal ideas? Check out their website today! 

What is your favorite high protein recipe? Share it with us in the comments below! 

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PRMA Plastic Surgery