Arbonne Protein Bars & GD Diabetes

This pregnancy I’m being monitored for gestational diabetes. I’ve handled this a lot more calmly than last pregnancy, when I was only borderline with Liam and cried inconsolably every time I thought about how I “ruined” my baby. With Liam I ended up getting the all clear after the 3 hour fasting test so I didn’t watch my diet at all because I didn’t have to. I felt pretty dizzy and low on energy that entire pregnancy and Liam ended up being 9 lbs. 3 oz., so maybe I should have followed a gestational diabetes food plan.

I am pretty bummed about the kibosh on all of the delicious baking I’ve been doing, but in the long run I feel healthier this pregnancy and I think the baby will be smaller. I’ve discussed this with one of the midwives and she agrees that the baby will probably be smaller, although I shouldn’t hope for a 6 pounder. She said to think about a 9 pounder or  maybe somewhere in the 8s. Sounds delightful to me!

I’ve also had to prick my finger and take my blood sugar levels 4 times a day. The first time I was left to my own device with this it probably took 10 blood strips and pricking every single finger on my person, sometimes twice. I had to learn a few tricks, like warming up my hands and literally pushing up the blood from the bottom of my finger to the tip, where I had pricked myself.

The manageable part is that there is a certain number of carbs you need to stay within every day and how you split them up per meal/snack is up to you and perhaps your diabetes nutritionist. I have to stay within about 180 grams of carbs per day. Most of my meals are about 30 g of carbs, most of my snacks are about 15 g.

The bizarre part about gestational diabetes is that after you give birth no one has diabetes. It disappears. However, you stick to this diet because your placenta isn’t able to process the insulin from the carbs you eat which results in wearing it out. This is where possible complications come in at the end of the pregnancy. If the placenta is worn out and isn’t working correctly at the end of your pregnancy then it’s possible to need an induction. As I will be avoiding all medical interventions again this is something I’m really hoping we will not come to. Yet, that means that I may need to cross my fingers for the baby to come a little early or on time. Early doesn’t really work with my maternity leave and graduate class schedule, so I’d prefer a healthy, natural birth right on schedule…please?

For those a little more curious about gestational diabetes, I also learned that if the mother doesn’t control her diet and limit the carb intake then the baby can go into shock after birth because it is suddenly cut off from the constant supply of sugar charging through the placenta. So, even though the diabetes nutritionist showed me that I could sneak in a bit of sweet dessert every now and then, as long as it’s within my carb intake, I’m trying to be mindful.

Mindful without completely making myself miserable. So, tonight I made one of my favorite treats so that I could add a little pep to boring day of proteins and vegetables. (Actually, I was told that research also shows that women who cut out ALL carbs during pregnancy are likely to have babies with birth defects! So, don’t go all Atkins or South Beach if you have GD.) I have a recipe for homemade protein bars using Arbonne’s chocolate protein shake powder. Arbonne is a company I’ve been a consultant with for years. They’re a vegan, botanically-based, Swiss formulated beauty/health/wellness company. So, the protein powder is vegan and botanically-based as well. It’s as natural of a protein powder that you can find.

The bars taste exactly like those delicious chocolate no-bake cookies that you maybe haven’t eaten since your childhood. However, these ingredients are nothing like those ingredients. I’m going to give you the recipe, and if you use another kind of chocolate protein powder I do not guarantee what they will taste like as I’ve never tried another brand. The Arbonne brand makes a delicious treat, though. (If you click on any of the “Arbonne” links it will take you to my Arbonne website, where you can order some of this delicious protein shake!)

Normally I follow this recipe and spread it into the recommended 9×13 pan and then cut it into bars. Tonight I thought I’d use my cookie scoop and mini muffin tins with mini muffin papers instead. I thought this might keep me more disciplined with eating one measured bar at a time as my cutting has sometimes been erratic in the past and several bars can swiftly be consumed at once. The serving size is probably still the same (each scoop is probably about 1 Tbsp, and I was able to make 24, and the recipe says that you can cut 24 bars from the 9×13 pan) but the separation of the individual deliciousness if what is exciting me. And they look cute this way.

Here’s a printable PDF of the recipe: Protein Shake Mix Bar Recipe

Just What Every Body Needs

Protein Shake Mix Bar recipe

ingredients:

• 2 cups organic peanut butter • 1 3⁄4 cups honey or agave nectar • 2 1⁄4 cups arbonne essentialsTM Protein shake Mix powder* • 3 cups rolled oats

instructions:

1. Mix peanut butter and honey in a microwaveable bowl.

2. heat for 60–90 seconds. Mix well.

3. add Protein shake Mix powder and mix well.

4. add rolled oats and mix gently.

5. spread in a 9×13 pan. 6. Refrigerate 1 hour. 7. Cut into 24 squares.

*Consultants recommend using 1⁄2 chocolate and 1⁄2 vanilla.

2011R01 01 | ©2011 Arbonne International, LLC All Rights Reserved. | arbonne.com

Here’s some pics of the ingredients and my cutesy individual treats:

All of the ingredients

As you can probably tell, I chose Whole Foods’ 365 brand for everything else besides the Arbonne protein powder.

24 little pieces of heaven

About to go chill in the fridge

I’m used to reading Nutrition Fact labels and can easily check the carbs per serving size of anything I eat, but with a homemade recipe I had to add it all up. I have no idea if I did this right for the bars, but by my calculations, each individual protein ball should have about 34-35 grams of carbs. This is a little higher than what I would call a snack, but I do have my last “meal” of the day as being a snack-type item, but more carb-y. This would be perfect. I may have completely done the math wrong, as well…so don’t write that down in stone.

***I DID do the math wrong!! And in my favor too! I’m surprised no one commented and called me out on it from the pictures. I didn’t make 24 individual balls, I made 48! I had two trays of 24. So each protein ball is half of what I originally thought, making them around 17 grams of carbs each–totally reasonable for a snack. Hooray for late night math mistakes!

And, please, grant me the willpower to eat only one.

What We’re Eating: Pork Medallions/Cranberry Chutney/Sweet, Sweet Potatoes

Dinner tonight was one of the fastest, easiest, and overall healthiest meals I’ve made in awhile! I feel so good about how I feel full, but not over-full, that I’m gonna go ahead and finish off the locally made mint chocolate chip gelato in the freezer now. (Aahh, pregnancy. Oh crap…glucose screening is tomorrow. Rethink gelato.)

So, I bet you’re never going to guess where I found the main part of this recipe. Pinterest, you say? Ok, you guessed right. If you’re on pinterest, feel free to check out my “Yum” board for this and other recipes I’ve found. Specifically, though, the pin led me to Better Home & Gardens’ website and a list of their 20 Helathy Dinner Recipes for Under $3. I honestly don’t know how they made this meal for under $3. It wasn’t too expensive, but it was not under $3. My pork loin alone was $6.92. But I buy meat that’s as natural and unprocessed as possible so maybe if you buy meat jacked up with preservatives and hormones you can save a couple bucks. Now, on that appetizing note, here’s what we ate:

The pork medallions and cranberry chutney were so simple. For the chutney, you dump the ingredients into a small saucepan (cranberries, apple juice, brown sugar, rosemary, salt, pepper…), bring to a boil and then let simmer for about 5 minutes.

I added homemade roasted sweet potatoes as a side for our meal, which I put into the oven just before starting the chutney. I only used 1 large sweet potato for Husband and myself. There was even a few left for Liam to try, but we constantly end up eating after he goes to bed. Tonight especially, as we were watching the end of the Patriots championship game! Anyhooo… Sweet, Sweet Potatoes:

1 (or more) sweet potato, cut up into cubes. I eyeball around 1- 1 1/2 inces pieces.

agave nectar

olive oil

salt/pepper

paprika

Put potato cubes into small bowl. Squirt agave nectar on until you feel they are sufficiently coated. I went slightly overboard tonight, but they just came out extra sweet, almost a little candied on some. I tossed the potato with a little olive oil too. Then I tossed in some salt, pepper and paprika. I always put paprika on my potatoes! And I always eyeball the seasonings. Sorry, see, this is why I don’t actually have a cooking blog.

Roast the potatoes on aluminum foil-covered sheet at 425 degrees. I start at 20 minutes, add another 5 if they’re not crispy enough, and if they’re still not crispy enough for me at 25 minutes I broil for a minute or 2. Tonight I took them out at 25 minutes.

While the sweet potatoes were roasting and the chutney finishing its quick simmer, I prepared the pork. I had my pork loin that I had justified as small enough for my family and followed the recipe, cutting it into 1 inch thick circles. I pounded them a couple of times to get similar consistency and then seasoned them with salt and pepper. The recipe called for pork seasoning and I hadn’t gone to the trouble to look for any, but I did have “poultry seasoning” on my spice rack, so I sparingly sprinkled that over as well. I also sent a little prayer up to the kitchen gods that I wasn’t completely ruining the pork with my naive cooking confidence.

You throw the pork medallions into a skillet. Let them cook a few minutes on each side. Voila!! You had taken the chutney off the burner and set aside, your potatoes are just about to come out of the oven, and your meat is done!

For our vegetable, I was going to make a roasted broccoli recipe that I will probably share later, but I had some spinach that needed to be used up. I am absolutely famous [in my house] for the Lazy Woman’s Salad. I take about 2-3 ingredients, throw them on top of each other, and call it a salad. Tonight I put a pile of raw spinach on the plate (because I prefer raw veggies, otherwise I would suggest throwing the leaves quickly in your still-hot pork pan to wilt them a little with all of the browned pork flavor), and put a dollop of the chutney on top. Simple, quick, easy…all words I like to cook by.

Here, my friends, is the finished product:

Pretty, n’est pas? And tasty. Husband’s favorite part was the Sweet, Sweet Potatoes.

 

What We’re Eating: Agave Nectar Brownies

I have a sweet tooth. And while pregnant I have sweet teeth. I try…okay, not really…but I’m conscious about the fact that my sugar intake is way too high. One way to sweeten without spiking your blood sugar level is by using agave nectar, a natural, low-glycemic sweetener that is the nectar from an agave plant. It’s easy to substitute agave for recipes that call for honey, because the consistency remains the same, but the subbing gets a little less easy when you go from a dry sweetener, like sugar, to a nectar. I consistently use agave in my pancake recipe that is a big hit in our house (pnn-cack? pnn-cack? Liam asks.). I also always use it to toast nuts if I’m adding them to a salad. Beyond that I’ve stuck to the recipes in the following book.

I’m sharing this brownie recipe by request. I’ve been flaunting my agave baking all over Twitter and the masses (okay, like 2 people) have asked for this is a recipe. It comes from a book called Baking with Agave Nectar by Ania Catalano.

 

Ultimate Fudgy Brownies (Makes 24 2-inch bars)

6 oz. unsweetened chocolate

1 cup unsalted butter or nonhydrogenated butter substitute

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups light agave nectar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup sprouted spelt flour (I’ve decided this is not my favorite flavor so I’ve done 1/2 spelt and 1/2 unbleached all-purpose flour and also all of it with all-purpose flour.)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9×13 inch baking pan with canola oil spray.

In a glass bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. Microwave on high settings for 2 minutes. Immediately remove from the microwave and stir until the chocolate is completely melted. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a wire whisk. Add the agave nectar and vanilla extract. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt over the chocolate mixture. Gently fold the ingredients, just until the flour is incorporated. Gently fold in the pecans. Be sure not to overmix; the mixture will be lumpy.

Pour into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until just set. Do not overbake, or the brownies will lose their fudginess. Let cool in the pan before cutting into bars.

Fresh from the oven

Ready to serve

They came out delicious and so moist. I might have over-mixed them according to the recipe, but I’m not sure what the difference would be. As far as comparing them to your average brownie mix…I have to work on tweaking the recipe and baking time, I think. I like my brownies practically raw and really gooey. These ones were more fudgey/cakey (but not dry!).

Good luck with your agave baking! Share if you use or substitute agave and have liked the change.

What We’re Eating: Lemon & Parsley Quinoa Cakes

This one’s a definite keeper. YUM. Aaannddd it’s a healthy, Meatless Monday recipe. It’s also delicious on Tuesday. I intended to make it yesterday but ran out of time before heading to my fabulous Mothering Sons class at Birth Roots. Which is what I should really be blogging about…except that we’ve decided “What happens in Mothering Sons, stays in Mothering Sons.”

Anyhoo… dinner tonight. Through pinterest, I found this Lemon, Olive, and Parsely Quinoa Cakes from Joy the Baker’s blog. I did make the quinoa last night, which worked out really well for me today. In fact, I recommend making the quinoa ahead of time for everyone. The recipe asks you wait for it to cool to room temperature anyway, so it doesn’t matter if you pack it away in the fridge.

You make small patties of a quinoa mixture also consisting of panko, parmesan, onion, garlic, lemon zest and parsley. The recipe calls for olives as well, which I’m sure is delicious, except I reeaallly don’t like olives, so I left them out.

Mix up the dry ingredients with egg and a little water.

After you mix together your ingredients you pack together some small patties. The mixture made so many small patties…I think around twenty or so, and I could only fit 4-5 in the frying pan at a time, so of everything the frying up of all the patties made the most time-consuming part.  I put some wax paper on a small cookie sheet (love the easy clean-up) and made up patties to fill the sheet, fried them up, re-filled sheet with raw patties while the others were frying, and repeat!  The finished patties were oily so I put them on a plate with a paper towel and stacked layers of paper towels and finished patties. I think it helped to keep them warm, too. **Note, I used olive oil for frying the quinoa patties, but I think I’ll try coconut oil next time, as an even healthier option.

Raw patties awaiting the pan.

Sizzle, sizzle, pop!

For the final product I put some mixed greens on a plate and added a couple of personal

Favorite dressing!

touches.  I have a favorite rosemary balsamic vinigarette that I drizzled onto the greens:

I also made a cilantro and lime sour cream from For the Love of Cooking’s blog. I had a hunch it might taste good with the quinoa cakes…and I was so right.

Plating the masterpiece...

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon & Parsley Quinoa Cakes

My husband, the meat-n-potatoes type, said between bites, “So, this is completely vegetarian??” Yes, I said, happy to admit this now that I knew it was going over well. “This is one of your best, keep this recipe out!” So, there you have it, folks. If that is not a resounding testimonial I’m not sure what is.

Liam was already in bed by the time I finished these little tasties, so he hasn’t had a chance to try them yet. There are plenty left over, though, so I know what to pack in his lunch tomorrow!

What We’re Eating: Cheesy Chicken Pot Pie Cups

Even more exciting than how absolutely delicious this recipe is, was the fact that Liam ATE some!  Have we discussed the fact that he only eats hummus, grapes and veggie sticks?  Oh no, I’m not talking about veggie sticks as in carrots and celery. I mean the potato stick kind that let you live in denial about the fact you give your kid chips because it says there’s spinach (powder) and tomato (puree) in them.  Liam’s immature palate is less frustrating than the fact that I’ll give him something to try and he won’t even put it in his mouth. He winds up and throws it with a satisfying splat onto the floor. How does he even know he doesn’t like strawberries or peanut butter crackers??

So I made these delectable Cheesy Chicken Pot Pie Cups via the Between 3 Sisters’ blog. (Also pinned on my “YUM” pinterest board.)  They were SO easy. And it helped that I had leftover chicken breast already cooked from the night before, because that would have been the only time-consumer. I used Trader Joe’s biscuits and the other ingredients were all organic or natural. The blog gives you ways to cut some calories and fat by using reduced-fat cheese and biscuits, etc., but I chose to use full-fat ingredients this time.  It’s more difficult to find organic/natural products that are “reduced-fat.” Whatever. I’m pregnant. Who cares??

Besides the biscuits you need a cup of diced, cooked chicken breast, a cup of frozen mixed veggies, a can of cream of chicken soup (I used an organic brand and couldn’t find a reduced-fat version), 2/3 cup cheddar cheese, dried parsely, onion powder, black pepper. Cooks for about 12 minutes and VOILA! your chicken pot pie morsels are bubbling and golden brown.

Oh, and I happened to have 2 cans of 8-count biscuits and the mixture that I made was enough to fill all 16 biscuits instead of the 10-count biscuits that the recipe calls for.  They might have made the biscuit part thinner though and I’m happy with the thick amount of biscuit that I had.

I have a thought for Liam and other young eaters. While he did eat some he mostly ate biscuit. I think he has a texture thing for chunky food items.  I think next time I will take some of the chicken mixture and blend it up.  Then I can also put it into miniature sized muffin tins as well (cutting the biscuits smaller to fit the mini cups) and sneakily get those blended veggies in there.

Tomorrow I am bringing leftovers for lunch and we will see if this recipe will go with the golden few that save well when re-heated!  I hope so because this was so easy and made so many.

What We’re Eating: Roasted Garlic-Potato Soup & Cheesy Bread

I haven’t posted a “What We’re Eating” recipe in a while. Oh, wait, that’s because I haven’t been cooking. Had to get through that 1st trimester vomiting and going to bed at 7 pm.

Even though the weather has been pretty mild this week–in the 60s during the day– it’s cooled down to freezing temps at night. So, it’s time to break out those hearty recipes. Time to stick more to my ribs than a baby.

I am no chef. I am good at following directions though, so sticking to the recipe works for me. Sometimes I’ll veer from it if I’ve made it quite a few times and my confidence is strong. These two recipes were both new to me, though. Maiden voyages tonight.  And as with most of my recipes these days, I found it on pinterest and have it pinned on my “YUM” board (for those of you who follow me on pinterest). One of these recipes is from a cooking recipe website and the other is from a cooking blog, which my blog definitely is not.  Those food blog folks actually make magic with recipes and their pictures of the steps along the way always look so perfect!

The Roasted Garlic-Potato Soup was so delicious and the most perfect texture. It has bacon in it, diced potatoes AND mashed potato as well as carrot, onion and a LOT of garlic. I’d say the most tedious part, the part that almost made me not want to make it again, was that you roast 5 heads of garlic and then peel apart the roasted cloves and squeeze it into a pureed juice. Roasted garlic is the absolute stickiest substance I’ve ever touched. I think all sticky analogies (molasses, honey, peanut butter) should be substituted with roasted garlic from here out.  However, the soup was worth it. Every sticky second of garlicness. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Plus, garlic helps boost your immune system and I want all the garlic I can get because I’m going to visit a brand new baby (and his mama) this week and we can’t compromise our visit…or the baby’s health of course.

Then, in my usual OCD fashion, I spent too long obsessing over the details of the recipes and making sure that I dice not chop, and totally underestimated the time it would take for the bread dough I was making to rise. This was also my first time ever making bread from scratch, so I guess I wouldn’t know much about bread rising.  Now that it’s done, at 10:00 pm, it looks amaaazing! Luckily there is plenty of soup left over to have with the bread for lunch tomorrow. Here’s a link to the blog A Little Bit of Everything, and her recipe for Cheesy Herb Pull-Apart Bread.

How fancy am I?? I made bread that you can pull-apart and has pockets of oozing, gooey cheddar, dill, and parsley all through it! I think I’ll collapse into bed now, after feeling pretty damn good about my mad kitchen skills.

P.S. Why does that good food accomplishment feeling always get drowned by the sink full of dishes? Stupid dishes.

Real Good Food

While healthy is an optimal goal when it comes to food, I have one higher priority. I want the food that my family eats to be real.  Real food means that it’s prepared by you with only ingredients that are unmodified or unchanged by humans.  I’ll take some fat and calories if I can leave out the preservatives, chemicals and toxins.  I try to stay away from packaged foods that have ingredients that involve enriched products, high fructose corn syrup, or too many words that look like they came from a science textbook.  It really pleases me to find packaged food that only has a few ingredients like peanut butter, salt, oil, for example.

Liam’s learning how to eat different solid textures.  It appears the child has a hankering for the carbs and sweets. I don’t exactly let him eat sweets but when he has had a sampling of ice cream or some other tasty treat he doesn’t want to stop and has been known to throw a tantrum when I take it away.  Fruits and veggies, however, he’ll have none of it.  I’m hoping that it’s just a texture thing.  Meanwhile, I’ll have to continue sneaking them in by mixing them into other foods.

In my quest to make REAL FOOD I’ve searched my newest addiction Pinterest for food blogs that have great examples of such recipes.  I’m going to let you find the recipe for Homemade Cheez-Its on this blog called Ready Made.  It is not a low-fat snack.  But I used local and organic products, and besides water there are only three other ingredients…so we’ll just try to snack on them in moderation.

Here’s some of the prep:

Cutting the dough into classic Cheez-It shapes

Use a chopstick to make the center dot

They puff up in the oven!

I need to get cooling racks with smaller mesh wire

And, voila! While camping last weekend we were snacking on delicious, homemade cheesey crackers.  For my first time baking them, I would say that I have to figure out how to get them to stay in and crisp up for about 5 more minutes without burning the bottoms of them.  They were still delcious, but mine came out a little more like delicious, cheesey bread morsels than crackers, but I had taken them out 5 minutes early because it looked like the bottoms were getting too toasty.  I didn’t really mind this unexpected outcome, though!

Enjoy Ready Made’s recipe and please share any recipes or Real Food ideas with me!