Keep mealtimes exciting while you keep your sugar in check.
At 28 weeks pregnant, most of us have to take the dreaded glucose test to rule out the risks of gestational diabetes. It is not known how and why perfectly active and healthy individuals who have no family history of diabetes could exceed the normal glucose mark. Pregnancy hormones throw everything off balance and as my dietitian at Central Health Clinic, Justine Quintano, explained to me it’s often just pure luck. In general, blood sugar below 7.8mmol/L is considered normal on a glucose test, and my readings tipped just 0.2 over the mark. Hong Kong takes gestational diabetes seriously and I was immediately sent to a nutritionist cum dietitian to make adjustments to my diet.
Dietitian Advice For Gestational Diabetes
The basic rule of thumb is to eliminate all refined sugars (cakes, sodas, cookies etc.), switch out the simple carbs for complex carbs (brown rice, cauliflower rice, quinoa, spelt, durum pasta, multigrain brown bread, etc.), eat smaller more regular meals throughout the day and increase your ratio of protein and fibre intake which helps you stay full for longer periods.
My dietitian’s advice was to supplement meals and snacks with avocado, cheese, eggs, nuts, seeds to assist with satiation. I was told to slightly increase my complex carb intake again by 1/2 if I was still ravenously hungry because the aim is not to feel like I am starving.
I’m fortunate to have the time to make my daily meals to stay on top of my caloric intake. Here are five of my go-to recipes in my second and third trimester. These can be used not only by mums but also others in the family with pre-diabetic or diabetic conditions. And they are delicious enough to be enjoyed by everyone in the family. I’ve divided them into breakfast ideas and ideas for lunch/dinner. Bon appetit!
Gestational Diabetes Recipe Ideas For Breakfast
To reduce my regular carbs and increase protein, I switched out my routine of having morning toast for eating two scrambled eggs instead, with cheese and tomatoes and a side of avocado. On alternate days, I would have steel-cut oats served with berries for breakfast.
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup mixed nuts and seeds
½ cup almond or oat milk
- Soak oats overnight in the refrigerator.
- In the morning top with nuts and seeds and serve cold. You can always add some cranberries, raspberries, blueberries for an extra boost!
Gestational Diabetes Recipe Ideas For Lunch
Miso Glazed Pork Chops With Nectarines Or Peaches
This is ideal for when it is summer and stone fruits are in season. I was inspired by adapting an FT Weekend recipe. This recipe serves two and is easy to put together for a quick meal with a friend who drops in unexpectedly.
2 large pork chops, each about 200g
2 peaches or nectarines, cut into quarters
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 sprigs of rosemary
Mix all together to marinate for about 30 minutes.
For the Miso glaze:
60g white miso paste
1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp of soy sauce
1 peach/nectarine peeled and smashed
- Mix together ingredients for Miso glaze and set aside.
- Combine all other ingredients and marinate for around 30 minutes.
- Heat your pan or skillet. Place the rosemary in the pan and then the peaches/nectarines to char them a little. Remove them onto a plate, leaving the rosemary.
- Place pork chops in the pan to cook. Spoon the miso glaze over and flip the chops – about 3 minutes each side. Repeat the miso glaze on either size.
- Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes and add the charred peaches/nectarines back in the pan.
- Cover in a foil and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Baked Squash With Minced Turkey And Mixed Vegetables
This simple recipe packs in protein, vitamins and fibre and keeps you satiated, with an hour of preparation time. This particular recipe serves one, so it’s ideal for when you are home alone and want to pamper yourself with a good meal.
Half a medium-size squash
250g minced turkey
80g mixed frozen vegetables
Salt and pepper
Mozzarella cheese (grated)
Sprigs of coriander and parsley for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 200ºC.
- Hollow out half a squash.
- Dice the shallot and squash (small cubes) and lightly stir fry with olive oil.
- Add in the minced turkey and frozen vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon the mixture into the hollow squash, sprinkle on top some mozzarella cheese before popping into the oven to bake for 15 minutes at 200ºC.
- Garnish with coriander and parsley if you wish and it’s ready to serve.
Gestational Diabetes Recipe Ideas For Dinner
Cauliflower Base Pizza
If you manage to find frozen cauliflower rice, it saves you the tedious preparation work, otherwise here’s how to make the cauliflower pizza base from scratch. You can make batches and freeze the sheets. Cauliflower is a great substitute for rice and flour if you’re on a low carb diet or there’s anyone at home with pre-diabetic conditions. You can expect to be making this fairly regularly as it will quickly become a family favourite. After all, who doesn’t love pizza?
1 head of cauliflower
50g goat cheese
- Preheat oven to 200ºC.
- Cut cauliflower into small florets and steam. Then cook in the oven for 35 minutes. It should dehydrate until soft and crisp on the top.
- Blend, and use a cheesecloth to wring out any remaining moisture.
- In a mixing bowl, add the egg, 50g of soft goat cheese (any type, I used Le Mothais Sur Feuille By Janier) and a pinch of sea salt to the cauliflower pulp. Mix well and lay it out on a baking tray sheet for the pizza base.
- Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes at 200ºC and flip it to the other side, bake for another 15 minutes. You should get a golden brown crispy consistency.
Make Your Pizza!
Now that you have your bases you are ready to assemble your pizza! Spread tomato base (any pasta sauce will do) and add your toppings. I like adding a few different types of cheeses (pregnancy craving tip: this is a great way to eat unpasteurised cheese!) and some sliced mushrooms. Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes at 200ºC.
Baked Chicken With Sweet Potatoes
I’ve been advised to eat root vegetables in moderation and I found that sweet potatoes are a great complex carbohydrate alternative to potatoes. These are also richer in vitamins and nutrients that are beneficial during pregnancy. This simple one-pan bake is a quick and hassle-free recipe to prepare. The original recipe calls for potatoes that I swapped for a healthier option.
1 chicken breast
1 medium-size sweet potato
2 to 4 sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 220ºC.
- Remove the sweet potato skin, and dice into small cubes.
- Place in a baking tray, drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Put the chicken breast on the bed of sweet potatoes along with the sprigs of thyme. Drizzle olive oil generously all over.
- Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove the tray and cover it with aluminium foil for 10 minutes to let it rest. Ready to serve!