CiCi’s Pizza Gastric Bypass Restaurant Review

CiCi’s Pizza, for those unfamiliar with the place, is a pizza buffet restaurant.  For a set price – around $6 or $7, depending on the CiCi’s you go to – you can eat as much as you want of their many varieties of pizza, macaroni with a red gravy or an alfredo sauce, and two or three kinds of pasta.  They also have a small selection of desserts – a dessert pizza, that is kind of like an apple pie on a pizza crust; cinnamon buns; and chocolate brownies. 

In terms of the gastric bypass patient, CiCi’s might not be your first choice.  Pizza is high in fat, after all, and fat is one of those foods we should avoid.  Pizza rests on pizza crust, and that is another thing that for many gastric bypass patients is not a safe food.  But I say go, my fellow WLS buddies!  Enjoy the pizza, have some salad, skip the pasta, and you’ll come away happy.

The pizza at CiCi’s is mostly thin crusted (although you will see one or two Sicilian varieties), and if you don’t eat the back of the crust, you really shouldn’t have any trouble at all with the bread part of the pizza.  You can skip the pizza with tomato sauce (although I do not know if CiCi’s uses sugar in their sauce, I always assume that any place that serves red sauce uses sugar), because you will find many options without red sauce.  But even the pizza with the red sauce doesn’t overload the crust with the sauce, and for most of you, it should still be a safe bet.

The cheese, as we all know, is chock full of protein, and some of the CiCi’s toppings are added protein.  There is a ham and cheddar, chicken, BBQ chicken, as well as the more traditional pepperoni, sausage, beef, and ham and pineapple pizzas.  You can make a good choice even at the pizza buffet, and they are really very accomodating, so if you want them to make you something, they will. 

The salad bar varies from restaurant to restaurant.  Some of them have two or three pre-made, pre-dressed salads, usually including a pasta salad, a caesar salad, and a mixed green salad.  Other CiCi’s have a regular salad bar.  This one we went to had the pre-made, pre-dressed salads, and I stuck with the mixed green salad with an Italian type dressing.  You can certainly skip the salad if you fear the fat content in the pre-dressed salads, but I had no trouble with it.  I even had a little bit of a bacon ranch salad that was offered – a mixed green vegetable salad with bacon, a little cheese, and ranch dressing.  It tasted good and I didn’t dump, so I was pleased with that.

If you’re craving dessert, this is not the place to find happiness.  Your options on the dessert buffet are limited to ooey gooey chocolately delicious looking brownies; ooey gooey sticky sweet cinnamon buns; and ooey gooey caramely delicious apple pie type pizza.  I would guess that the sugar content in any of the desserts is enough to send you into some kind of serious, laying on the floor, begging for mercy dumping situation, and if the sugar doesn’t bother you, the fat likely will.  But if you are the kind of WLS patient that can handle that stuff, they do cut the brownie pieces into small squares, and the apple pie pizza thing into thin slices, so you may be able to get away with a taste of either of those.  The cinnamon buns are much smaller than those you would get at the mall Cinna-Bon store, but they are the most generously sized dessert, so you might want to skip those.

You can add whatever kind of drink you want to the buffet, and they do have water at no additional cost.  I stick with unsweetened iced tea.

CiCi’s is certainly not gourmet pizza, but it is good tasting pizza, and it’s a great restaurant to take a family with kids.  For those of you who hesitate to go to a buffet with your family because you know you can no longer eat your money’s worth, CiCi’s is a reasonably priced enough option that even if you can only eat one or two slices and a bit of salad, you won’t feel you’ve wasted money. 

I highly recommend CiCi’s pizza to those of you who have had Gastric Bypass surgery – and to those who haven’t.  It’s enjoyable for the whole family.

Jolly Holidays, Saturday

So, we sleep a little bit later than usual this morning, and no one is really anxious to get up and moving, since we were up so late last night. Grace bounced from bed to bed until Jim finally put her down, asleep, with Eilis on the fold out sofa.  Jim’s mom has to work later today at a holiday function in their community, so we don’t make any real plans to go anywhere or do anything, other than run out for coffee.  We spend quite a bit of time on the phone and online with British Airways, but the end result – all of our travel reservations for next summer are made!  We got a pretty good deal by booking with the British Airways credit card.  We had to buy upgraded seats (not REAL upgrades, like first class, but upgrades like two across instead of 3), but it was a buy one ticket, get a companion ticket for free deal, so it worked out to be the same price – a few dollars less – than paying for all 7 of us.  We were able to book the odd ticket as a regular coach fare, but then with the frequent flier miles we got from booking the rest of the tickets, we got a free upgrade on the 7th seat, so we’re all together.  London won’t know what hit them when this crew arrives!!

We had a delicious dinner of roast beef, and then after dinner, Russell took us all out on the golf cart to see the holiday lights.  I was surprised how many people were really decked out for Christmas.  I had figured that since it was an over 55 community, there would be a percentage of people not even home over the holidays, since they were traveling to visit their children or grandchildren; and then I figured there is a percentage of homes not occupied for whatever reason.  Add into that however many people don’t celebrate Christmas or might be too old or not up to decorating, and I really assumed there would be way more un-decorated houses.  And some of the people really go all out!  Dot and Russ had one of the best decorated – the kids could have stood outside for hours watching all the things they have outside!

I headed to bed early – around 10 PM – and left Jim out with the girls.  I don’t think they stayed up much later though – they were just as tired as I was. 

Jolly Holidays, 2007 Arrival in Orlando

After a flight where Granuaile has kicked the hell out of the seat in front of her enough times that the person sitting in it has relocated; my bag took a tumble, spilling all of the important contents out onto the floor, which then slid down to the back of the plane; and losing the SeaWorld passes when a flight attendant finds then, assumes they are trash, and tosses them, we have arrived safely in Orlando, very late at night. We are supposed to be in at around 11:30, we make it in around 11:50, so not too bad considering the weather across the country is reported to be terrible.

We head to the car rental counter after collecting our bags, and we get the keys to our shiny new car that won’t hold the four of us, let alone all of the luggage we’ve brought. Okay, back to the counter. Keys to a new car in hand, we set out to find it. And there, in the far end of the parking garage, is the shiny new Lincoln MKZ car that won’t hold all the luggage we’ve brought. I’m going to stay here at the car, Grace straped into her seat, Eilis waiting to doze off, bags scattered all over, while Jim walks back to the counter to exchange the car again. Finally, he pulls up with a Jeep Liberty – a car that will barely and uncomfortably hold the four of us and all of the luggage we’ve brought!

The kids are transferred to the new car, we are packed in like sardines in a can, and we are headed to Poinciana to Jim’s mother’s for the weekend. We get on the road, hopefully headed the right way, when we hear, “I wanna burger. Eilis, do you wanna burger?” Eilis says no. “Come on, Eilis, you wanna burger. You wanna chock-it milk? I wanna chock-it milk.” And there we are, at nearly 1 AM, trying to find a burger and chock-it milk for Granuaile.

After a pit stop at Burger King, sorting out the order, opening the happy meal toys, passing out the drinks, we are back on the road to Poinciana. I tell Jim he should call his mother and explain why we’re running so late. He doesn’t have the phone number. I don’t have the phone number. Brighid has the phone number programmed into her cell phone. Brighid is in New Jersey, sleeping soundly in her bed. Jim calls the cell. No answer. He calls the home phone. No answer. I tell him Ann is probably sound asleep and has no idea in the middle of the night where the phone is. He calls it again. I was right. Ann answers and finds Brighid, who is going to call her grandparents and tell them where we are.

Finally, sometime around 2 AM, we are there, the bags are in, and we are fighting with Granuaile to go to sleep. I fall asleep around 3, and Jim sometime after that. The first day of our vacation promises to be a drowsy one tomorrow.

Jolly Holidays 2007 – Day 1 airport fun

Arriving at the airport shortly before 5:30, we check our bags curbside, put the baby in the stroller, and we head inside. I check Jim’s flight schedule and see that he’s delayed, and instead of arriving at 6:45, he won’t be here until 7:30. I can’t wait that long to feed the kids, so we go to the really nice food court area and get them a hot dog. As we grab our dinner, the girls see Santa. Yep, the man himself has a nice throne set up at Philly International, and a friendly – although disorganized – helper is taking complimentary Polaroid pictures of anyone interested. I figure Granuaile will never get closer than a football field length to the man, but Eilis might want to go see him. I start walking over in that direction, and Gracie BOLTS – like she has been shot out of a cannon – into Santa’s unsuspecting legs and clings on for dear life. Her happy little eyes plead with him to forgive the entire year of transgressions and focus only on her adorable little self, hugging his legs as if her very life depended on it. The “helper” is ooohhhhing and aaaahhhing over how adorable this is and how cute this is and oh my gosh Santa, don’t you think this is the sweetest thing ever?? Santa has apparently NOT been doing a bustling business here at the airport, and they are really hoping my kids agree to get their pictures taken – as if there’s any way NOT to take their pictures at this point. So we get a quick picture, and we go back to the food court to eat the dinner and wait for the picture to develop.

Following dinner, we find me a latte (ewwww – Java and Jazz, skip it next time), and head out to the gate to wait for Jim and our flight. No. We’d better not. It’s way too early. We browse the mall, turning Eilis down at every store for all of the things she claims we need, want, and gotta have. After 30 minutes or so of telling them “no” every 23 seconds, we are going to the gate. I will not suffer this torture alone – let them bother the other passengers waiting for a nice, peaceful vacation in Orlando.

We head over to the gate, and the girls are excitedly watching the planes come in and out. Granuaile, who has never been here before, claims every plane as her own, and shouts, “I SEE IT!!” every time red, yellow, green, blue, or any other color lights go by, followed by “I READY!” It’s so cute. 14,296 times. So cute. Really. It must be, because I’m noticing people moving away from us, and I imagine the cuteness must just be too much for them. Especially when she starts going right up to people, as they are reading, talking on their cell phones, and working on their computers, bending her head so that her face is right in their face, to tell them that she is going on the plane see it there it is outside that’s her plane and she’s ready to go are you ready to go are you going on plane to Disney World and see Mickey Mouse and Goopy (that’s how she says it) and stay in the hotel…I check my watch. Where the heck is Jim??

So then they make an announcement that they have to change our gate because there is a flight leaving to Tampa at the same time ours is leaving to Orlando, and the Tampa flight has arrived early, and ours has not arrived. We now move from gate B15 to C27 – a long walk. Eilis is complaining because her feet hurt. She elected not to wear socks with her boots, and I give her a thick pair of mine (all I had handy), and they are bunched up in the boots. We get to the other gate, and now I am praying for Jim to arrive. There are no TV screens here to tell me his flight status, so I ask the guy at the podium, who tells me there are no flights coming in from Milwaukee. Oh. This can’t be good. I’m getting a little freaked out, wondering if I should get on the plane or not, and quickly decide that I’d better just get on the plane and hope for the best. I take the kids to the bathroom, change the baby, and as I’m heading back, Jim calls.  WHEW.  He has landed and just has to wait for the shuttle to our terminal.  Thank goodness!  In no time, he is meeting us at the gate we have been moved to, and we are boarding the plane.

I Ready!!

Jolly Holidays 2007 – Our Christmas Trip to Disney Day 1, getting there

In true Skamarakas fashion, the details of this trip take on a life of their own. I am getting better at not planning things, because you just don’t know what’s going to happen. The semi, not set in stone plan is to leave at oh dark thirty Sunday morning and drive straight through to our 2 bedroom villa at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Then we start planning our summer trip – a 3 week trip to Europe, which includes a 13 day cruise to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It is during this planning that Jim realizes we have oh so many frequent flyer miles, none of which can be used on British Airways for our trip to Europe next summer, so we might as well use them to fly to Florida for our Christmas trip. Alrighty then.

Jim works in Milwaukee all week long, and flies home to Jersey on the weekend. His plan is to just fly from Milwaukee to Orlando and I’ll fly with Eilis and Granuaile from Philly to Orlando, and I’ll try to coordinate our flight times so that neither of us has to wait too long for the other one when we arrive in Florida, and we can all ride to Jim’s mother’s together in a rental car. As it turns out, I have to go to Eilis’ mid-year conference at school, and we have tickets to see A Christmas Carol at the Walnut Street theater, so I can’t leave until late in the day. When I start looking to coordinate flights, I see that there is one from Milwaukee that arrives in Orlando at 11:30, and one from Philly that arrives at 11:30 – oh my goodness – the Milwaukee flight connects in Philly!! How cool that this is going to make it possible for Jim to get to fly with the baby on her first airplane ride! I know they will both be excited!! We book the flights – and for $15, me and the two youngest children will be in Orlando in 2 hours instead of 20 hours! I’m so excited!

So, Jim goes to Milwaukee for work a week before the trip, and I send with him a huge suitcase of all of our clothes so that it’s easier for me to take myself and the two kids. The day of, I am still frantically throwing things into a suitcase to take with me that I forgot to pack in Jim’s, and then I realize I have Christmas presents to take with me, too. I bring out another suitcase and fill that one with holiday gifts and some sugar free snacks I picked up for my MIL, who was recently diagnosed with diabetes. I go to the conference, we go to the show, and we come home and start putting stuff in order for Brighid to stay here with Nannie for the week. The window on my Navigator broke yesterday – in 18 degree, snowy weather – and my stepfather has offered to come early and take me to pick it up. We agree that he’ll come at 4 to avoid the traffic down to the car dealer, and we’ll leave for the airport at 6, so I’ll be there in plenty of time for my 8:45 flight.

Okay, so at 3, my stepfather shows up. We go down to get the car, and when we get back, he’s anxious to do something, so he loads the bags in the trunk. Then he starts asking what time I want to leave. Then it starts snowing. I figure he’s getting nervous about driving in the dark and in the snow, so I tell him whenever they want to go is fine with me. We are on our way to the airport at about 5 o’clock. Oh man, I’m going to be early.

EPCOT Candlelight Processional

If you are spending any part of your holiday season in Disney World, this is a not to be missed event that will have you wishing you could come back to Disney every year at Christmas time.  This is a very popular, celebrity hosted event, and there are two ways to get in to see it.  Anyone who purchases a ticket (any ticket – annual pass, seasonal pass, park hopper, single day ticket) into EPCOT center, can go to see one of the three nightly performances that takes place from the day after Thanksgiving up until the day before New Year’s Eve.  There is no extra charge to go and see this spectacular holiday event.  HOWEVER…

Disney sells what are called Candlelight Processional Dining Packages.  These packages include your dinner at one of the participating restaurants and reserved general seating for one of the three shows.  The packages are sold at three different price levels, depending on the restaurant you choose.  For example, Tier I is about $30 per adult (not including tax or gratuity), and you are limited to the Garden Grill restaurant or the Biergarten.  Tier II is about $39, and includes restaurants like the San Angel Inn and the Rose and Crown Pub.  Tier III, the most expensive at about $46 per adult, includes the most restaurants.  With that package, you can dine at Chefs de France, the Coral Reef, and Le Cellier, and a few others.  The meal includes an appetizer, an entree and a dessert.  Alcoholic beverages are not included, and park admission is still required – this price does not include your admission to EPCOT. 

With the package, you will be able to enter the American Gardens theater, and everyone who has purchased a package is escorted in first.  There are no reserved seats, just the guarantee that you will have a seat in the theater.  As the line of package purchasers begins to dwindle, they then allow those people who have not purchased packages to file in to the theater.  People line up at least 30 minutes prior to the start of each show to get standby seating, and closer to Christmas, I have seen people waiting an hour or more.  You are NOT guaranteed a seat if you do not purchase the dinner package.  If you have your heart set on seeing a particular celebrity perform this event, I HIGHLY recommend the package.

The show itself is a 150 member choir, providing the music that weaves together a retelling of the story of Christmas.  The story is told by a celebrity narrator, and in the past, the narrators have included Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump, CSI:NY); James Caviezel (Passion of the Christ); Rita Moreno (Broadway); and other stars of stage, screen, TV and music.  The music is beautiful, the story is, of course, beautiful, and the experience is one of the best for your money at Disney World. 

If you plan on doing a dinner package, book it as soon as possible once the packages are available.  They do sell out, as the restaurants book up quickly.  You DO need to make an advanced dining reservation when you purchase the package.

And look for the CD of the Candlelight Processional when you leave.  We find ourselves listening to it at all times of the year!