What to eat when it eat feels like you can't eat anything.
If you've been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, chances are feeling scared. Not only is the diagnosis itself a tough one to receive, there's also the matter of making those lifestyle modifications that will help you manage the condition for the duration of your pregnancy.
But rest assured, mama: Mothers everywhere can (and do!) lead healthy pregnancies that produce very healthy babies after a gestational diabetes diagnosis. The key is management—and much of that happens through what you eat.
"In general, you want to avoid foods that have a high glycemic index such as white rice, white potatoes, white pasta, juice and soda. These can cause really high elevations in your blood sugar one hour after consumption," says Brittany Robles, MD, an OB-GYN. "You will have to experiment with the types of food your body can tolerate, but you should eat whole grains like brown rice, farro, quinoa, whole wheat bread, lean meats like chicken and turkey, leafy green vegetables [and] nuts."
Of course, changing up your diet is never easy, especially when you're pregnant. Cravings are real. So are food aversions. And while it may be tempting to eschew the stuff that makes your tummy turn (like broccoli and chicken) in favor of those that sound even more amazing than usual (ice cream, ice cream and more ice cream!), eating a protein-rich, fiber-fueled diet that's low in sugar is so important.
The good news? We've rounded up some delicious, healthy gestational diabetes recipes:
Spicy tomato parmesan stuffed spaghetti squash
Total time: 55 minutes
- 2 medium spaghetti squash, halved and seeds removed
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 can (14 oz) san marzano tomatoes
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup basil pesto, homemade or store bought
- 8 oz mozzarella, torn
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs (optional)
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Place the squash on a plate and microwave 3 minutes. Let cool slightly, then cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and discard.
- Place the squash in a baking dish and rub the cut sides with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Place one garlic clove in the center of each squash. Transfer to the oven and bake 30-40 minutes, until the squash is tender and the garlic roasted.
- In a blender or food processor, combine the roasted garlic cloves, tomatoes, paprika, oregano, crushed red pepper, fennel and onion powder. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse until combined, about 1 minute. Stir in the basil and pesto.
- Spoon the tomato sauce evenly into each spaghetti squash half. Top with mozzarella, bread crumbs, if using, and parmesan. Return to the oven and roast another 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
- Let the squash sit 5 minutes, then use a fork to scrape the squash into strands, mixing the cheese with the squash. Serve topped with fresh basil.
Recipe and photo by Half Baked Harvest
Low-carb cacio e pepe brussels sprouts
Total time: 25 minutes
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 11/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- 14 oz shredded Brussels sprouts, see Note
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts or pecans, roughly chopped
- In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the olive oil, pepper, and red pepper flakes together until toasted, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Add the brussels sprouts and cook, without stirring, until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes.
- Season with the salt, and cook until the brussels sprouts just begin to char, about 2 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and add the parmesan, lemon zest, and hazelnuts.
- Serve warm, topped with more fresh parmesan, if desired.
Pasta-free pizza casserole
Total time: 40 minutes
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 large red onion
- 1 large yellow squash
- 1 large zucchini
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 11/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 12 oz ground Italian sausage (I used Johnsonville mild)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 13/4 cup marinara sauce (jarred)
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 11/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and place a rack on the middle settings in the oven.
- Chop the eggplant, onion, squash, zucchini and bell pepper into 1 to 11/2-inch pieces. Place them into a large bowl and pour in the olive oil. Stir the vegetables until they're coated in the oil and transfer them to the casserole dish or baking pan, laying evenly in one layer. Place the pan in the middle of the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium to large skillet on medium-low heat, cook the sausage on the stove. It's best no to break the sausage all the way down; instead, as the sausage cooks, cut it into 1-inch thick chunks.
- Mix the ricotta and 1 cup of the marinara sauce together in bowl and set aside.
- Remove the vegetables from the oven and add the sausage evenly throughout the vegetables.Pour the marinara mixture into the casserole, then pour the remaining marinara into the gaps where there's no marinara mixture.Sprinkle the Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses evenly on top.
- Place the pan back in the oven on the middle rack for 5 to 10 minutes, until the cheese is fully melted. Broil on high for the last 5 minutes to make the cheese brown and bubbly.
Cauliflower fried rice
Total time: 30 minutes
- Vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup chopped scallions, light and green parts separated (you'll need 5-6 scallions)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger, from a 1-inch knob
- 1 head of cauliflower (or 2 pounds ready to cook' cauliflower)
- 4-5 tbsp soy sauce (use gluten-free if needed)
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 cup frozen peas and carrots
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp Asian/toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 cup chopped cashews or peanuts (optional)
- Grate the cauliflower in a food processor fitted with the grating disc. Alternatively, grate on the large holes of a box or hand-held grater. Set aside. Skip this step if using 'ready to cook' cauliflower rice.
- Heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a large (10 or 12-inch) nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the eggs and a pinch of salt and scramble until the eggs are cooked. Transfer to a small plate and set aside. Wipe the pan clean.
- Add 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the pan and set over medium heat. Add the light scallions, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the grated cauliflower, 4 tablespoons of the soy sauce, red pepper flakes, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes. Add the peas and carrots and continue cooking until the cauliflower "rice" is tender-crisp and the vegetables are warmed through, a few minutes. Stir in the rice vinegar, sesame oil, dark green scallions, nuts (if using) and eggs. Taste and adjust seasoning (adding the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce if necessary). Serve hot.
Photo and recipe by: Once Upon a Chef
No bake peanut butter nuggets
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
- 1/2cup natural peanut butter
- 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
- 1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
- 1/3 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup wheat germ
- 1/4 cup unsweetened apple juice concentrate, thawed
- Combine peanut butter, milk powder and coconut in a large mixing bowl. Stir in oats, ground cinnamon, wheat germ, and apple juice concentrate until thoroughly combined.
- Shape the mixture into 1 inch balls. Chill thoroughly before serving; store remaining nuggets in the refrigerator.
Flourless banana nut pancakes
Total time: 15 minutes
- 1 medium ripe banana, the riper the better
- 2 tbsp quick oats*
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 tbsp chopped pecans
- Mash bananas with a fork in a medium bowl until smooth. Add egg and oats and mix well.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, pour the batter to make 3 pancakes. Top with pecans, and cook about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until golden.
- Top with 1 teaspoon of your favorite syrup or honey if desired.
Southwestern-style sweet potatoes
Total time: 30 minutes
- 3 small tomatillos, husks removed
- 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 1 small jalapeño (about 1 1/2 oz)
- 1 (15 oz) can unsalted black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 4 (8 oz) sweet potatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped white onion
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 ounce Cotija cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 tsp hot sauce
- Fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
- Thinly sliced white onion (optional)
- Preheat broiler to low with oven rack 6 inches from heat. Place tomatillos, garlic, and jalapeño on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until well browned, 15 to 18 minutes, flipping vegetables halfway through broiling. Let cool 5 minutes. Remove and discard jalapeño stem and garlic skins.
- Stir together beans, quinoa, lime juice, oregano, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
- Prick potatoes all over with a fork. Place on a microwave-safe plate and microwave at high until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Pulse broiled tomatillo, garlic, and jalapeño in a food processor 4 times. Transfer to a bowl; stir in chopped onion, chopped cilantro, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.
- Stir together yogurt and cheese in a bowl. Split potatoes lengthwise; fluff flesh with a fork. Top evenly with bean mixture, tomatillo salsa, and yogurt mixture. Drizzle evenly with hot sauce. Top with cilantro leaves and onion slices, if desired.
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