Thursday, October 20, 2011

DIY Food Adventure Menu: Lunch and Snack

Entering the Third Trimester

So now I am in my 29th week of pregnancy, just starting the third trimester.  I can understand how the second was the best (and third is the one with the hairy chest?  No, thankfully, no!) and now it starts to get a little more challenging to move around and do the things I am used to doing--like tying my shoes and sleeping :)  I am also a bit more tired and breathing hard easily, which often makes me laugh at the gym when 10 reps of even something light makes me pant.

But the little one is moving around like crazy and the movement is so much more interesting just in the last week.  I can see huge softball-sized pushes stretching out my belly and moving across and he taps, or seems to rhythmically softly kick or tap his hands too slow to be a heartbeat and too fast to be hiccups.  At least I think so.  He is still flipping around and squirming and loves to bop around in my belly whenever I am at rest and sometimes even when I am not, which feels really strange.  Imagine the entire contents of your belly flip-flopping while you walk.  There is nothing in the world quite like it...  He is quite the entertainment for me and my husband :)

I've been keeping active, although my gym workouts have been reduced to 3-4 days a week.  I love to take walks on West Cliff (pictured above) with my husband when he gets home from work and try to do something every day.  I definitely believe that diet and exercise are key to a healthy pregnancy.

I am still keeping up with the DIY Food Adventure through my gym: CrossFit Santa Cruz by making my own food for the majority of my meals and I don't plan on stopping.  It has been the best thing for me and my pregnancy.  My diet is the same, but I have been gaining weight pretty well after that initial slow period during the first to mid-second trimesters.  Now I have already gained 30lbs (!), but I am not eating significantly more and I have if anything tightened up my diet to include fewer weekend cheats on desserts.  I know they make me feel so crappy the next day that I have been trying to have some fruit instead, and the figs in season right now are my favorite.  I can't believe I waited so many years to have raw figs!  They are divine!

I've taken to having broth and a banana for breakfast, an egg scramble (with carnitas if I have some) or just eggs with grapes or apples for second breakfast/lunch, and then the lunches/snacks given below.  I make sure to get in some fresh veggies with at least one or more meals and to eat 3-4 meals a day.


One of my go-to lunches is basically pizza without the crust.  I broil heirloom tomato slices topped with cheese (whole milk mozzarella was a favorite, until my store switched over to part-skim :(--now I like the Farmer's cheese) and pepperoni (such as Applegate brand--a lesser of evils in the processed meat world) and then savor that ooey-gooey deliciousness.  I usually serve it alongside sliced bell peppers (I've found that the smaller they are, the sweeter, and the yellow seem to be sweeter than the red) and cucumbers (the smaller the better on these too).

I have also been known to indulge in Grain-free Biscuits from Food Renegade as sandwiches or open-faced sandwiches with Farmers cheese or an omelet.  I have it alongside loads of raw veg. and/or grapes or cinnamon apples cooked or microwaved with grassfed butter.  

As it gets chillier and cooler, wetter weather descends on Santa Cruz, I'll definitely be adding Heirloom Tomato Soup to my lunch repertoire.  


I often throw together something quick and take it on the road.  A roasted chicken leg and thigh, some home-roasted and salted cashews, and an apple is an easy meal-on-the-go.  This replaces that handy, delicious Perfect Foods bar I so often fell back on in the past.  Sometimes I'll switch this out with a couple hard-boiled eggs or leftover grassfed beef burger and sub carrots for the carb. 

Keeping hydrated is also something to think about, not just while pregnant.  Pregnancy dulled my love of teas, so I am down to water and this time of year, it can be tricky to guzzle enough cold water on cold days.

I used to like a can/bottle of coconut water post-workout as a great thirst-quencher addition to water with the added electrolytes, but I'll get over it.  I am not relying on even those probably minimally-processed, one-ingredient foods anymore.  Instead, I try to drink some lemon water with salty food or add a pinch of salt to lemon water to get electrolytes back.  I absolutely LOVE lemon water, but it does tend to make me thirsty for more--which is a good thing if I am dehydrated and just can't suck down enough plain, cold water.

Oh and while lemon seems acidic, it is actually a base to your body, so it can counteract some of the high acid load of meats and fruit as a base like veggies.  Founder of the Paleo Diet, Dr. Loren Cordain, has a wealth of information about the integral acid-base balance and how that super-acid diet is a recipe for metabolic disorder.  

For more on making your own sports drink for electrolyte replenishment, check out this post by Primal Girl in a Modern World: Easy Sports Drink Recipe (and skip the stevia--you don't need it). 

And a drink-snack:

When out and about on weekends or as a nice relaxing wind-down to the weekday, we make a trip to the local coffee shop Verve, which has become a destination for my husband and I.  Despite my love of their atmosphere, throughout my pregnancy I have had an aversion to coffee (which is fine since I shouldn't have caffeine anyway) and even my old favorite teas.  Instead of being lame and just sipping water there, I recently found a new love: the steamer--steamed organic milk with their homemade whip cream and a splash of sweetener (if any).  This is a fun indulgence for me at the coffee shop, and if you are in the Santa Cruz area and want the best coffee around, you HAVE to stop at Verve Coffee Roasters.  You won't be disappointed :)

Finally, check out your local meat market for some great ideas when you are stuck in a meat rut.  We have El Salchichero that specializes in grass-fed and pasture raised meats.  I absolutely love their chicherones (pork rinds) and have been known to indulge in their creative sausages as a change in the lunch/snack routine.  While not quite homemade, they are still local and use quality ingredients and I always cook the sausages, usually having them with eggs.  Quality meat definitely makes a difference!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

DIY Food Adventure Menu: Breakfast, Bone Broth, and Gestational Diabetes

My Pregnancy Journey

Pregnancy has been going well for me--really well.  I feel great and am enjoying the experience SO much.  I haven't felt sick and haven't had problematic issues, so I am grateful and try to keep it that way with good exercise, sleep, and real food.

The little one is kicking up a storm as I near the end of my second trimester.  I can feel him all the time twisting and turning, poking and doing his daily WOD.  It is amazing to feel the softness of my belly in some spots and how it gets firm in others and know that he is right there.  And the cutest thing: he wakes up to my husband's alarm every morning!  I can be silent and still and once that alarm goes off, I get a symphony of movement inside.  So incredible!

I am really just amazed with the whole process and seeing biological principles I have studied my whole life actually happen to me.  It is a fascinating adventure :)

Eating Real Food for Two

Of course I am not actually eating double the portions, but I am eating with the little one in mind.  My body needs more and asks for it through hunger and satiation cues.  While I know to eat meals with protein, fat, and carbohydrate, my body also likes fruit more than it ever did before and definitely likes some meats more than others--cold chicken is not one of the likes.

It is a really neat experience to listen and fuel my body and my growing son with real food: food I am making myself from quality ingredients.  I can definitely tell we both thrive on home-cooked food and feel the not-so-pleasant aftermath of restaurant food: digestive not-fun-ness, sleepless nights for us both, congestions, and crankiness and moodiness for me the day following.  I have even done the impossible and turned down ice cream on occasion because I am starting to get it that sugar before bed is a no-no for me.

Since I am 27 weeks pregnant (out of 40--no it doesn't really make sense as a month--is it 6 or 7?--except that I guess I have 3 calendar months to go), the fun of gestational diabetes testing has arisen.

I have read on author of The Paleo Solution Robb Wolf's site (especially this great article: Gestational Diabetes--What constitutes low blood sugar?) that many who forgo starches and complex carbohydrates like grains fail the standard Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (dosing you with 50g of carbohydrate in a sugary drink and seeing what happens in an hour--you pass if your insulin rises to the challenge and gets your blood sugar under control).  They fail because that is a HUGE metabolic catastrophe on a system that is honed for dealing with smaller surges.  It doesn't instantly mean you have gestational diabetes--it just means that your body is like WTF and it takes longer to figure out the mess you've made for it.  So instead of subjecting my system to that metabolic nightmare and then having to jump through multiple hoops after failing the test (like an even bigger dose for a 3-hour test!) I decided to try the glucose monitoring alternative and get to play diabetic for a few days every other week, testing my blood sugar at least four times a day.

It is a fun experiment, actually, but I do respect the pain in the ass it is for actual diabetics.  Through one week and a halfway through another I have learned that my body usually runs on the lower side of the spectrum (which is normal for lower carbers) and that stress and skipping meals is pretty awful for me: I hit a 54 (their normal low side is 70) one day when I let myself go five hours between meals.  I also noticed that the low low correlated with extreme hunger to the point of wanting to just wolf down whatever was in sight, irritability, nervousness and gitters.  Go figure!  So cut someone a little slack when they get cranky before a meal--it's just their body going into instinctual "need food NOW" mode.

I also hit a 146 (normal high they told me is 130) after taking my reading less than an hour after I finished my meal.  Yikes!  Since you are supposed to take it an hour after starting, I thought that would be sufficient, but I lingered eating, so when I took my blood sugar it was maybe a half an hour after finishing--not enough time to get that dessert of sliced figs out of my system).

But on the whole, everything has been normal and the gestational diabetes professionals okayed my results so far.  I just have to keep monitoring periodically to keep an eye on things over the danger period of the third trimester.  To me, it is a really neat experiment and shows that what I am eating is fine--I just need to be sure I don't skip or prolong meals.

The Menu

So what I have I been eating?  Well, it is pretty simple to write because I have been partaking in a photo log of my meals for the DIY Food Adventure through my gym: CrossFit Santa Cruz.  Let's start with breakfast and for the brevity of this post, we'll put the others in future posts.


Breakfasts for me are usually Everett Farm eggs and McClelland's Dairy grass-fed butter with a bunch of grapes.  If carnitas is in the house, I'll scramble that in with my eggs. creating one of my favorite foods ever.  OMG delicious!   Just remember to crisp it up in butter before adding the eggs for that extra yum factor and wear an apron unless you don't mind getting splattered :)

Since I have been monitoring my blood sugar, I have also thrown in a pre-breakfast snack (First Breakfast) of a mug of roasted chicken bone broth using the recipe below with a banana or a tiny 1/4c of nectar of the gods Everett Farm apple juice.

Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth from the recipe: The Food Lover's Primal Palate: Bone Broth 
(which also provides a version for turkey bones and beef bones--check it out!)

Here's how I make our version:

Prep Time: 5 minutes or less
Cooking Time: 24-48+ hours in the slow cooker

Our Ingredients:

  • 2-4 carcasses of roasted chickens (I use this recipe by Thomas Keller) [or as many as you can stuff in the pot] and these can be fresh or frozen (normally I freeze them until I have enough for a batch of broth) and can stick up out of the water, but you still need to be able to lid the slow cooker
  • filtered water to fill the slow cooker to about an inch shy of the top
  • 1T apple cider vinegar (find the one with the mother inside--the vinegar breaks down the bones to get their goodness and you'll notice they crumble once the broth is done)
  • 1T kosher salt
  • 15-20 grinds of black pepper
  • any other seasonings you desire: we've tried garlic powder, cayenne, and herbs and spices--but actually, I like the plain jane broth best by itself 
  • (and sure, you can add mirepoix and all sorts of fancy, but try the simple one first--it's delicious!)

Chicken carcasses go into the slow cooker pot.
Filtered water goes into the pot.
Apple cider vinegar goes into the pot.
Salt and pepper go into the pot...
"Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies..." sings the old fisherman from Jaws.

Now all you need to do is set that pot on LOW for its max time limit and just reset and reset and have some broth, add back in more water, reset and reset and basically you can have another family member for the better part of a week, bubbling away on your countertop and providing a feast to your senses.

The broth at first is thick and fatty deliciousness and thins as you take some out and replace with more water, diluting it.  Always stir it up before taking any out.  And you'll notice that you start to lose the consistency if you dilute it too much, so at that point: Turn off the pot.  Cool and strain your broth using cheesecloth or a nice wire strainer (or the recipe template uses a paint strainer--neat!).  Store in the refrigerator for the rest of the week or freeze for longer.  Heat again before enjoying.  Pretty nifty how easy and how delicious this simple recipe really is!  Thanks Food Lover's Primal Palate!

Serving Suggestions:
I love sipping this broth from a mug--it's as warm and comforting as a mug of hot tea or cocoa.  It is also a main dish when you add roasted chicken back in for the most amazing chicken soup ever.

Hope you enjoy it too and have fun with your own Do It Yourself Food Adventure!