Monday, February 14, 2011

Dealin' with "the sugah"

So I failed my glucose screening, last week, and have been ordered to undergo the big 3-hour glucose test that will determine if I have gestational diabetes. I don't underestimate the seriousness of such a condition, but I'm okay with the idea that I'll have to eat higher protein/lower carb meals, drink even more water than I already do, and walk for exercise every day. I don't believe that my current diet is unhealthy, but I definitely kept a tighter reign on what I ate before I got pregnant. Since I got the news that I failed the screening, I've implemented a higher protein regimen, and I've also been trying to get some extra calcium and folic acid, since both of those nutrients are increasingly important now as my boy grows strong bones and a healthy nervous system.

From what I've read, GD meals don't have to be NO carb, but there does need to be a good dose of protein to balance it out. A couple weeks ago, I attempted to make an asian soup with buckwheat noodles and these delicious all natural chicken and cilantro wontons from Costco, but it came out sort of bland. The broth needed some additions and there needed to be more of a variety of ingredients than just the wontons and the noodles. So I tried again tonight, with the idea of adding protein and folic acid to the meal to make it GD and baby growth friendly. I started off again with chicken stock, but this time I added garlic and onion powders, soy sauce, and a touch of sesame oil. The resulting flavor was lovely and smelled great. As the broth came to a boil, I dropped in a couple eggs and quickly broke them up, egg-drop-soup-style. I broiled some lean pork chops from the freezer and chopped them up to add them to the soup, so between that and the eggs, the protein element was complete. I added a few wontons (but less than last time), some organic soba noodles, and the final touch - a bunch of frozen spinach. I threw a sprinkle of chopped scallion on each bowl after serving.

The result was a vast improvement over the first attempt. M added sriracha which was probably a nice touch. Next time, I might experiment a little more with the broth, but for the most part, I'd say tonight was a GD/folic acid success! (Plus it took a total of 30 minutes to make from start to finish.)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Today's dinner was so good that I forgot to take a picture of it.

I had the main idea for dinner already formulated as I scrolled through my Google Reader, this morning. When I saw this biscuit recipe I knew it would be a great way to use up some of the FireFly Farms Chevre that we got in a previous CSA share. The bottoms got a little more crispy than I would have liked but they were still delicious.

Between the biscuits and two ingredients for the main course, I had to figure out ahead of time how to juggle things in and out of the oven. Timing for cooking of different portions of a meal has always been a weakness for me. I preheated the oven to 500 degrees and made the biscuit dough while it warmed up. Sliced CSA pears, tossed in a bit of sugar and melted butter, and two chicken cutlets went into the oven together to bake. I put the skillet for the biscuits in with the pears and the chicken to heat up as per the recipe. When the peaches and chix were done, I reduced the temp of the oven, buttered the skillet, scooped the biscuits into it, and put it in to bake. The recipe suggested a five minute cool-down for the biscuits, so I turned the oven off but put the pears and chicken back in to warm up a bit. Those two items were layered on top of CSA arugula, chopped walnuts and a sprinkle of parmesan. I threw on a simple dressing of olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and the meal was complete.

I think that arugula is officially my favorite green. I tend to be picky about greens, but the peppery tang of arugula is a no-fail option for me. Another one of my favorite arugula salad recipes is this Real Simple ditty, which includes shredded rotisserie chicken, potato, and a delectable dijon dressing. With both salads, there were already great flavors to compliment each other but the arugula adds that special element that leaves me practically licking the plate clean.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A night without recipes...

Tonight's dinner was a good dark days meal. This week's CSA included chicken apple sausages from Griggstown Quail Farm and our choice of a variety of cheeses from Calkins Creamery. I selected a hunk of the Old Man Highlander, an aged natural-rind gouda. We had an onion left over from a previous CSA pickup, so that got carmelized over low heat and then I cooked up the sausages. One half of the bread was lightly buttered and the other was spread with whole grain mustard. And then the sandwich was built with the onion, slices of the Old Man, and halves of the sausage. It sure was tasty!

For dessert, I called up a memory of a sweet treat that my mother used to make when I was a kid: baked apples. Her method was simple - cut the core out, pack it with brown sugar, top with a dollop of butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until the apples are slightly soft and the sugar has carmelized. We topped ours with a little bit of vanilla ice cream and it was delightful.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Countdown to sushi

I agree!
Photo credit: Bryan Jones

If you have never been pregnant, you might not know about the exhaustive list of foods that are forbidden during those special 40 weeks. I've been good about caffeine by indulging only occasionally in a half-caf or london fog. While I'm not really a drinker, I do love craft beer, but I've also sacrificed that indulgence for the little guy. And I've cut out canned tuna and most of the high-mercury fishes. I've admittedly half-assed it with some of the rules. There have been a few cold cut sandwiches, albeit only from places that I trust to store the stuff properly. I've eaten cheeses that were probably unpasteurized. And even though they were cooked, some mushrooms have snuck into my diet.

The one food that I've cut out entirely, mostly out of fear of food poisoning but also because of the mercury issue, is sushi. I've been a fan of sushi for a good many years, now, but it's just one of many foods that I like to eat. Inexplicably, though, I have been missing and craving it daily since finding out I was pregnant. I constantly miss the heat of a spicy tuna roll, the tang of good yellowtail, the smoke of a philly roll. I even miss my personal ritual of eating sushi: open chopsticks, rub them together (to smoothe them), pour the soy, put the wasabi in it, mix it up, put the ginger in the soy to soak, place one piece of ginger atop each piece of sushi and dig in. So precise. So tasty.

It's gotten to the point where I am keeping two time lines: how far along I am in the pregnancy and how much longer I have until I can eat sushi. I'm 29 weeks pregnant which means sushi shall be mine in about 11 weeks. Do you think I could just have a few rolls delivered to the recovery room in labor & delivery?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Catching up

I sort of expected this, but we fell off the wagon a bit over the weekend. It started on Friday when, after a particularly horrific day at work, I refused to cook and demanded that we eat at our around-the-corner favorite, The Memphis Taproom. I assumed that a few meals over the weekend would not be made at home, either, but we did have a breakfast and a lunch from our own kitchen so I consider it a small victory.

We've been back on the wagon this week. Breakfasts and lunches have all been made and taken to work with us. Last night was an ultimate dark days meal as I made this with farmers market smoked sausage, CSA apples and onions, and the rest of my gigantic head of cabbage. It turned out to be a deliciously comforting dish that tasted even better today as leftovers for lunch.

Dinner tonight was laborious but resulted in the aromatic and pretty item that is pictured above. It used some CSA winter squash that we've had since the end of the summer CSA, which I baked last night while the sausage dish was cooking, to save a step tonight. I used this recipe and followed it to a tee, but if I made it again, I would use more squash, chard, and mushrooms so that there could be one extra layer to the lasagna and a little more girth to all of the layers. The recipe called for one bunch of chard but I think I've been spoiled by all the big-leafed healthy chard that we got through our summer CSA. The chard I picked up at the grocery store was a small-leafed disappointment and added a gritty quality to the lasagna despite the fact that I washed it before chopping it up.

In other news, we got another view of our little guy at yesterday's ultrasound. His head is a bit bigger than normal but still in the normal "range." We've been making fathead jokes ever since. Perhaps we should be spending our time saving money for the therapy he's going to need as a result of our sense of humor instead of cooking!