March 28, 2014

High Calorie Low Protein Food Options

Anyone who has ever tried to gain weight, or any pregnant woman who has tried to keep up calorically with a growing fetus in the last trimester knows it can be difficult with the PKU diet. Here are some ideas of how to get more calories from foods that are low in protein. First some suggestions, then some nutrition facts.

  • Oil, mayo, heavy whipping cream can be stirred into mashed potatoes, pasta salad, soup, marinara sauce
  • Salad dressing, mayo, avocado can be used as dip for chips, vegetables
  • Top crackers or bread with jelly, honey, cream cheese, mayo and avocado
  • Honey, chocolate syrup, heavy whipping cream can be added to formula, pudding, and used as fruit dip
  • Snack pack lemon pudding
  • Biscoff spread

ganze und halbe avocado isoliert auf weiss

From the Children’s Memorial Hospital Department of Clinical Nutrition:

  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil (120 calories, 0 g protein)
  • 1 Tablespoon mayonnaise (100 calories, 0.1 g protein)
  • 1 Tablespoon Miracle Whip (70 calories, 0.1 g protein)
  • 1 Tablespoon heavy whipping cream (52 calories, 0.3 g protein)
  • 1 Tablespoon pancake syrup (55 calories, 0 g protein)
  • 2 Tablespoons sweet & sour sauce (40 calories, 0 g protein)
  • 1 Tablespoon jelly (50 calories, 0 g protein)
  • 1 Tablespoon French dressing (60 calories, 0 g protein)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter/margarine (102 calories, 0.1 g protein)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey (65 calories, 0 g protein)
  • 1 Tablespoon cream cheese (50 calories 1 g protein)
  • 1 Tablespoon chocolate syrup (52 calories, 0.4 g protein)
  • 2 Tablespoons raisins (54 calories, 0.6 g protein)
  • 2 Tablespoons BBQ sauce (50 calories, 0.2 g protein)
  • 1 Tablespoon Ranch dressing (85 calories, 0.2 g protein)
  • 2 Tablespoons avocado (40 calories, 0.4 g protein)
March 21, 2014

Potato Soup

This is a great low-Phe version of sausage and potato soup. That’s what I made for my husband and some guests last night, and this attempt of the low-protein version turned out really tasty so I thought I’d share it. It was so good I didn’t remember to take a picture until I had finished my firsts and was dishing up the leftovers to put in the fridge.


Here’s my best stab at a recipe:


  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 2 tsp Better Than Bullion Chicken flavor
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 cups frozen hash browns
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup cream of corn
  • 1/8 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1 Tb cream cheese
  • pepper
  • paprika


  1. Sautee onion in olive oil over medium heat for 2 minutes, or until onions are transparent
  2. Add water and bring to a boil. Add chicken flavor and garlic.
  3. When that dissolves add hash browns, peas, cream of corn, and green onion. Reduce heat to medium low
  4. Let simmer for a half hour or longer
  5. Before serving stir in cream cheese and add pepper and paprika to taste
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March 19, 2014

Chow Mein and Oriental Salad

I didn’t actually make these on the same night, but I thought they would go well together. The chow mein was something I had never made before and it turned out really well the first time! It’s a simple recipe. The oriental salad is something I’ve done many times. It is great when you’re craving something fresh and crisp.

Panda Express Chow Mein: RECIPE


I followed the above recipe except I left out the celery. Here are some pictures of the process.


Sauteing the onionsImage

Making the sauce

Chopping the cabbage

I used the yaki soba noodles the recipe calls for. But I thought for someone with a lower Phe tolerance these noodles would work really well:


0 g of protein


Oriental Salad

Ok as you know, recipes are not my strength, so I’ll do my best to write down how I make this for you. The spinach is just to make it healthy.


  • 1 head cabbage, chopped
  • 6 oz bag of baby spinach
  • 3 cans mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 1/2 cups crunchy chow mein noodles
  • 3 green onions
  • Oriental salad dressing (i.e. Ken’s Sesame Ginger, Kraft Asian Sesame)

The directions are pretty self- explanatory. You just put it all together. But if you will not being finishing the whole salad in one sitting I recommend adding the chow mein noodles, oranges, and dressing to your portion only, because in the fridge it all gets soggy.

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March 12, 2014

Little Pizzas

Hopefully you know that anything I post can be adapted to meet your (or your child’s) low-phe needs. I post recipes to serve as inspiration for you. Growing up I always had low-protein pizza dough. Now that I can eat a little more protein I sometimes use french bread leftover from a different meal. Since they don’t need to cook I just warm them in the oven at  350 degrees for 6-8 minutes.

Here are some different pizzas I’ve made lately:


Marinera sause, spinach, red onions and pineapple


Marinera sauce, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, red onions, and of course, my childhood favorite of corn.

Other ideas for toppings:

  • Olives
  • Bell peppers
  • Brocoli
  • Asparagus
March 7, 2014

The Formula Mindset

Is my formula medicine or food?

I recently got an email asking for help with motivation to drink the formula, when you don’t “feel the effects.” This caused me to stop and think — how should we be thinking about our formula? Is it like a medicine that makes you feel better like ibuprofin when you have a headache, or SRIs for depression?

I suggest that instead of thinking of formula as medicine, think of it more as a food. The National PKU Alliance says with regard to formula, “A synthetic, Phe free formula is used as a nutritional substitute for the eliminated foods.” While medicine may be fast-acting in response to pain or illness, formula is a daily need, just like eating food. However, for a person with PKU, this is a medically necessary food. And it’s not just something to drink when you feel like you need an extra boost, this should be an integrated part of your daily life.


Do you sometimes struggle to motivate yourself to drink your formula? Maybe a change in the way you think about it could help.

Here are 5 Ways to help you embrace the Formula Mindset:

1. Think Nutrition:

Let’s think about the big picture: we all need nutrients, including protein, to live. But in order for a person with PKU to be healthy, we must eliminate most protein from our diets. But our body and brain still need protein. This is why we have formula. It provides protein (with low levels of phenylalanine), calories, vitamins, and other minerals we need but are missing in our diet. Keep in mind, nutrition does affect mental health. So while formula is not a medicine, it does help with neurotransmitter function and other brain processes.

Think of formula as food that you need ever day to survive.

2. Satiety

Satiety is a fancy word for “feeling full.” A diet as restrictive as the PKU diet could easily leave a person feeling very hungry. One of the blessings of having the formula is that it fills you up. It gives you the calories you need. I’ve calculated that my formula dose gives me about 1000 calories a day. That is almost half of the daily recommended calories for an active adult. This not just a medicine, this is a huge part of my daily energy intake! This is why it makes sense to me to think of formula as more of a food.

Try to be mindful of how full you feel when you drink formula. This will help you appreciate it for what it is doing.

3. Crowding Effect

In nutrition people sometimes talk about crowding out unhealthy foods with healthy ones. In other words, to eliminate unhealthy foods from your diet, you eat more nutritious foods and thus aren’t as hungry for the unhealthy ones. I think the PKU formula does this in a big way. Seeing as it’s so filling, it helps you feel satisfied and less likely to eat too much protein for the sake of hunger.

Notice how drinking the formula consistently helps you manage your diet.

4. Gratitude

Do you ever stop to think how blessed you are to have a diagnosed, treatable disease, and to have such a life-saving formula available to you? Each morning as I prepare to mix my formula I often say a little prayer of gratitude in mind. “I am SO grateful to have this formula.” This sets the tone for my relationship with my formula.

Find a ritualistic way you can cultivate gratitude for this wonderful gift.

5. Routine

Something as important as this requires a high level of commitment. For me the best way to be consistent is to have a routine. That way it’s not something I have to think about, or deliberate with each day. It’s simply part of my life. I have written about the power of routine here.

Find the formula, container, storage method, and drinking schedule, that works for you and stick to it!

My formula-making equipment

My formula-making equipment

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February 9, 2014

Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower

This is easy and yummy!

  • Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F
  • Chop cauliflower into small pieces
  • Slice brussel sprouts in half
  • In a bowl or ziplic bag cover the veggies in olive oil
  • Spread veggies onto a baking sheet
  • Sprinkle salt over veggies
  • Cook for 20 minutes


January 31, 2014

Pasta and Creamy Tomato Sauce

First I sauteed diced onions. Meanwhile I sliced cherry tomatoes in half. Then added those and some garlic to the pan. I sprinkled lots of basil and a little salt and oregano on the tomatoes. I let those simmer on medium low heat for a while. Then I added some marinara sauce with about a tablespoon of cream cheese.


Served over low-profin spaghetti noodles. That’s garlic bread on the side.

Pasta and Sauce

January 25, 2014

Biscoff uses

Got my first jar of Biscoff cookie spread this week. I had heard about it both from my non-PKU sister, and from other PKUers on facebook.

Serving size 2 Tb

1 g protein per serving

And despite being used as a peanut butter replacement, it is what it says: cookie spread. It is tasty, it is addicting, and it has 11 g of fat and 11 g of sugar per serving!


I asked on facebook what people use it for. So far I have only tried it on crackers and apples. These are the responses I got:


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January 24, 2014

Video: PKU and Living Successfully With It

This is great! This young woman gives a great description of PKU, a condition she has lived with since birth. She asks her mother what it was like to raise two children with PKU.

What they described is exactly how I feel — Having PKU has its challenges, but if you follow the prescribed treatment you will have a normal, wonderful life!

January 21, 2014

Stuffed Peppers

Tonight I made these stuffed peppers.


Here they are next to my husband’s turkey ones. Just thought I would include that because I’m sure a lot of you cook for more than just a PKUer like my mom did. :)



I made mine with a pre-packaged Spanish rice plus frozen corn. I blanched the peppers beforehand.

In the future I might try Italian flavored instead. I bet this would work really well with low-protein rice. Most recipes, like this one, call for tomato sauce, a little bit of Worcestershire sauce and Italian seasonings. One I saw had sauteed zucchini in it as well, I thought that sounded good.

Try it some time!


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