Thursday, July 26, 2012

The snack machine

They say the best way to eat when you are pregnant is to have 5 or 6 (or 8 if it's twins) small meals a day, rather than your typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This way of eating helps to maintain even blood glucose levels, crucial in preventing gestational diabetes.
Eating frequent, small meals also helps to stave off nausea in the first trimester by preventing you from getting too full or too hungry: At nearly 11 weeks now, I am never hungry. If I start to get nauseous, I know it's time to eat. I have become a snacking machine.
The healthier the snack, the better I feel. I do crave milkshakes and pizza rolls, of course, but I usually don't feel as good afterwards as when I eat apple slices with peanut butter, or whole wheat crackers with low-fat cheese. When I get that insatiable sweet tooth, I try to have something that has some nutritional value, instead of just empty calories. These easy, no-bake cereal bars fit the bill. With whole grain, fruit, and protein packed peanut butter and nuts, I can occasionally indulge in a decadent treat without alarming my over-active nutrient conscience.

Peanut Butter Cereal Bars

3 cups organic or all-natural whole grain cereal (I used Mom's Best naturals honey nut toasty o's)
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts (or any nut you like)
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used dried blueberries)

Grease a 9x9 or 8x8 baking pan.
In a large pot, bring the honey and brown sugar to a boil. While stirring, allow to boil 1 minute.
Stir in the peanut butter until it is melted and evenly distributed. Remove from heat.
Add cereal, nuts and fruit and stir to coat.
Carefully (it's hot!) press mixture into the greased pan with a piece of waxed paper and allow to cool completely.
Run a knife around the edge of the pan and unmold onto a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to cut into squares.
Store in a tightly covered container, up to 3 days, or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, frozen for up to one month.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The breakfast blues

I recently, out of nowhere, discovered that I hate eggs. I didn't hate eggs last week. I might not hate eggs in a month. But right now the look, the smell...just the thought of eggs sends me into full-on nose-scrunching queasiness. This is unfortunate, as eggs are protein dense and nutrient rich in addition to being a pretty darn easy breakfast. If you're pregnant and you don't have an aversion, they're pretty much a miracle food.

But back to me...I hate eggs. So what can I eat for breakfast that's wholesome, hearty, easy to prepare, and won't offend my delicate stomach?
Not the creepy pre-chewed kind with all kinds of additives that comes in the brown paper packets...real, whole grain Oatmeal. Depending on what you're craving, and what you can stomach, there are tons of great add-ins to make your whole grain breakfast, already chock-a-block with fiber, protein, and iron even better.

The basic recipe is per serving:
1/2 cup oats
1 cup water or milk
pinch of salt

Bring the water or milk to a boil (stirring and watching carefully if you're using milk, so as not to boil over or scorch the bottom.)
Throw in a pinch of salt (this may not seem important, and may even seem strange to you, but trust makes a difference, and it's better this way.)
Stir in the oats and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes or until it's as thick as you like it.
Garnish and serve hot.

I like mine with milk, a little brown sugar and blueberries--which are fantastically rich in antioxidants. When I need something crunchy, (I'm sure I'm not the only one with a texture fetish) I throw in a handful of chopped toasted walnuts--high in Omega 3s. You can't go wrong adding any kind of fresh or dried fruit--bananas, strawberries, chopped apple, raisins, dried cranberries... you could even go nuts (pun intended) and sprinkle on some slivered toasted almonds or pecans.

There's a reason why Wilford Brimley was always talking about oatmeal and Diabetes. Since oatmeal is full of soluble fiber, it slows the absorption of glucose in the stomach, thereby reducing one's risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes--and more importantly for us Preggos, Gestational Diabetes. By the by, this benefit is not apparent in the instant variety, so go on and take ten minutes to make yourself a powerhouse breakfast.

One of these days, I'll be able to embrace the egg again, but until I'm ready to chance a whiff of the scrambled stuff, I'll be breakfasting ala Brimley.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Oh, baby.

After several weeks of basically freaking out, I've come to the conclusion that I can't be the only one.

That is: the only neurotic, obsessive, control-freak of a mother-to-be who has been writing down every morsel of food ingested since peeing a plus sign; compiling lists of the recommended intake for every nutrient and scouring the Internet for the best sources of calcium and riboflavin (yogurt and liver, respectively--though yogurt is high on the riboflavin list, as well.) I can't be the only one feeling perilously queasy and staring down a bowl of spinach at 10 pm because I have to fulfill my Folate, Iron and Vitamin E quota--not to mention one of four of my daily recommended servings of vegetables (several sources suggest a staggering 9 servings of whole grain...who can possibly eat this much?)

Quite the demanding little peanut...
So, being that there have to be other Preggos out there who are almost as insane as I am, I figured I might as well write about it. I'll include recipes (which at this point, for me, will be all about avoiding nausea,) tips on obtaining proper nutrition (and maybe not obsessing over it so much) and of course anecdotes of all the hilarious, horrifying, and inappropriate happenings of pregnancy, as recorded by me: first time Preggo, long time food enthusiast who is optimistic that she will one day like food again, and yearns nostalgically for a nice Belgian ale. 

Tip #1: Watermelon

High in Potassium and Vitamin C, this refreshing treat also contains more cancer-preventing lycopene per serving than tomatoes!

I've been eating a ton of it. Really, a ton. It's hot in Durham in July. As in, 100 degrees hot. When I don't want to eat anything hot or even warm, or anything at all, Watermelon does the trick. It's got plenty of water too, to keep your body hydrated while you produce all that extra blood (30-50% more by the end of pregnancy.) If you can't even be bothered to chew, and really, sometimes I can't, you can throw hunks of seedless watermelon in the blender and make yourself a tasty beverage--if you find it's too sweet for your taste, add a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice...perfection!

Though I like to buy organic fruits and veggies, Watermelon is rated as one of the 'cleanest' non-organic fruits if you just can't spring for that $8 melon at the natural food store.