… little bit of this, little bit of that, a whole lotta about the kids

Category Archives: Health & Weight Loss

I’m having a rough time of it.  Sleepless nights and colicky days.  Sleep deprivation the likes of which I’ve never known (and I’m insomnia queen!).  Post partum depression issues.   I’m on the edge of a major meltdown pretty much all the time. 

I was inspired to healthy action a bit when discovering that not only did I lose all the baby weight that I gained, but also dropped down below my starting weight — the weight where I was stuck for a year.  I keep thinking that maybe my body is ready to let me shed some pounds again.  It’s difficult to stay feeling inspired when you are exhausted and depressed though, much less do anything about it.  Even a trip to the store to stock up on good healthy food is a major undertaking with a newborn in tow.  And mustering the energy to get on the treadmill while subsisting on a couple of catnaps proves to be impossible. 

I’m working on getting enough water daily, while cutting out/back on sugary sodas and juices.  I seem to be able to handle at least that.

Do you eat jicama?  It’s that ugly, bulbous, brown “root vegetable” (it’s actually a legume).   They look a little like a squashed turnip in shape.  A few years back, in my “try something new a week” phase, I picked up a jicama and ate it in a simple form — peeled, cut into sticks and dipped into a low calorie dressing along with my celery, cucumber and cherry tomatoes.  (Jicama is high in fiber and water (it’s 90% water) and low in calories. In fact, a cup of jicama contains only 45 calories, so it makes a good choice for someone watching thier calories and trying to stay full on less.)  And I really like it.  It’s texture is similar to a raw potato, but the flavor is slightly sweet.  Since then, I always include it on my vegetable trays, and from the number of “What’s this thing?” questions that I get, not very many people DO eat jicama.  But they usually try it and then agree that its worth eating.

I’ve been looking to expand my culinary uses for jicama.  With my low iron count at my last OB visit, I’ve been refreshing myself on eating to promote iron uptake, and was reminded that vitamin C is one of those things that helps the body absorb the iron provided by other foods.  Orange juice isn’t a good idea right now with the glucose monitoring, so I’ve been looking to savory foods.  A half cup of jicama pieces provides almost as much vitC as 3/4 C. orange juice — and a lot more fiber.  (Non-green Bell Peppers and Broccoli are other good savory sources.)

I do like it as a dipper, or by itself in a little salad of matchstick pieces tossed with a little lemon or lime juice and some chile powder.  But sometimes I get bored!


Corn, Jicama and Pineapple Salsa


1/2 medium jicama, peeled and diced (about 1 C.)

1/2 C. diced fresh pineapple

1/2 C. corn kernels

1 serrano chili or habanero chili, seeded and minced

2 T. chopped fresh cilantro

2 T. fresh lime juice

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt to taste, optional

Freshly ground black pepper to taste, optional


Combine the jicama, pineapple, corn, serrano chili, cilantro, lime juice and garlic in a mixing bowl, season with salt and pepper if desired and toss. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend.   Serve as a relish with salmon.


Beef Tataki


8 oz. rib-eye steak

2 small jicama, peeled and julienned

2 red onions, julienned

2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and julienned

4 T. soy sauce

6 T. orange juice

4 T. hot pepper sauce

4 T. rice vinegar


Sear the rib-eye steak to medium rare. In a small bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients and mix well. Remove the meat from the pan, and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice the meat very thinly. To serve, plate the sliced steak and top with the salad mixture.



Chinese Spinach Toss


3 1/2 C. fresh bean sprouts

1/3 C. rice vinegar, or white wine vinegar

1/3 C. salad oil

1/3 C. honey

2 tsp. soy sauce

1 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger root

1 bunch spinach, washed and stems removed

1 C. diced jicama

1 C. crisp Chinese noodles


Toss bean sprouts lightly with vinegar, oil, honey, soy sauce and fresh ginger.  Chill at least 1 hour, tossing occasionally.  Just before serving, add spinach and jicama.  Toss gently to coat.  Top each serving with Chinese noodles. For a main dish, add 12 oz. of cooked chicken, tuna or shrimp, cut into chunks.


I saw the OB on Thursday; everything is going well aside from the checking blood sugar bits.  Honestly, my test results weren’t that bad.  In a normal, non-pregnant person a doctor wouldn’t even require the daily testing.  In fact, they are probably pretty much where they have always been at that “pre-diabetic” or insulin-resistant level.  (And actually, Unlike other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes is not caused by a lack of insulin, but by blocking effects of other hormones (such as estrogen, cortisol and others) on the insulin that is produced, which is what insulin resistance actually is, so in a way, I’ve had “gestational” diabetes for at least the five or six years that we’ve been monitorring it).  They set the bar lower (or higher I guess, depending on how you look at it) for pregnant women, to catch more potential diabetics.  Also, pregnancy puts a lot of strain on the pancreas, and as it progresses, its quite common for blood sugar issues to get worse.  Early monitoring can catch it before it gets to a dangerous level.

I understand that.  Although gestational diabetes isn’t correlated with birth defects (unlike regular diabetes, where flucuating glucose levels in the first trimester can cause issues), it often results in overly large babies, which of course makes the birth more difficult and increases the risks of birth injuries.  It can also result in the baby being born with low blood sugars requiring IV feedings of glucose immediately after birth, as well as potential respitory problems because too much insulin or too much glucose in a baby’s system may delay lung maturation (particularly a problem in premature babies of gestational diabetics).

Understanding the need doesn’t make it any easier though.  I still cringe every time I have to pop the button on my lancer thingamajiggie.

I’m afraid that my food journal and blood test results are going to be unhelpful at the follow up class next Wednesday.  I’ve had a cold since Thursday and my eating habits are abnormal.   I get hungry occasionally, but very little sounds good. All I really want is ginger ale – which I would be sipping all day long if I could.  I’m certainly not eating 6 meals a day, each at least 2 hours apart without any carbs in between those meals (thanks to the gingerale).  I’ve had only one reading in 12 that was really high (and not even high enough to be “quick call the doctor” high), and I’d been nursing my gingerale that entire two hours after the “meal”. 

The OB did call a referral over to the diabetes education center for one on one nutritional counseling though.  I put off calling yesterday because of my cold, but I’ll probably call Monday and see about scheduling it for later in the week.

I got a phone call Tuesday afternoon from a diabetes education center — apparently the results were back to my OB and he called over a refferal to them for me.   So altho I hadn’t received any results, the assumption is that I “failed” and came up with the diabetes.

Wednesday morning I went in for the first part of a 2 part class on gestational diabetes.  We were given our specific test results, some general information on food and diabetes (not much new information for me) and all the equipment needed to check our blood sugar four (!) times a day.  I have a few concerns about how they want me to eat — the amount of food is impossible for me, just impossible!  The amount of carbs they want per meal (6 times a day, pretty much how I eat now, only a bit more regimented) is probably double or triple what I take in a day – discounting the carbs that I had been drinking in juice and sodas.  The class was small and I was able to talk a little bit about how my lap-band will affect what she suggested, but I think I may need one on one adivce as well; I didn’t want to monopolize the class with issues that would only affect me.  I go back in a week with my blood sugar and food logs; so I will see how it goes.

So four times a day I have to lance a finger, squeeze it and milk it like a cows udder to get a good drop of blood and test with the meter.  I don’t see myself getting used to it anytime soon.  It doesn’t really hurt – just a quick sting that is rapidly gone.  It doesn’t even bleed much — I really have to work it to get enough for testing.  Even rationally recognizing this, I hate it.  I have to really focus on not flinching away every time.

Something has been going on with my site.  It keeps going down for short to long periods of time, but every time I talk to the hubby about it, things come up fine for him.  He FINALLY was at his computer at the same time as I saw the problem so he knows I am not crazy (in this respect anyway! ;)).  Since its an inconsistant problem, I’m not sure what (if anything) can be done, but we are aware.

Had the 3 hour glucose tolerance test yesterday.  By the time it was over, I’d been fasting for 16 hours and was ravenous!  I should find out the results at the next OB appointment (this Thursday), assuming they are available as quickly as the single test I did 2 weeks ago. 

I’ve done a not such a great job with cutting back on simple sugars and carbs while waiting to find out.  I’ve tried to figure out what I’m going to eat if it comes up positive, and I find that while I know a lot about nutrition, I’m already struggling to balance my physical ability to eat (lap band issues) with the caloric needs of pregnancy and my desire to maintain my weight instead of gaining.  Getting *extra* calories to make sure I am getting enough for the growing thing inside me has meant drinking calories (like juice) or eating something squishy and soft (like yogurt) — a source of calories that is almost exclusively carbs, and simple and/or refined ones. Something that will process through my altered top tummy quickly.

There are few lean protein sources that I can eat in any quantity (2-3 ounces of any meat is about all I can take at once) and vegetables are just as difficult.  Anything really solid or rough takes a ton of time and care to get down. I can’t take any more protein drinks.  The last time I whipped one up I literally could not gag it down.  Unless its more fruit/yogurt than protein powder in which case it seems like it’s little better than a glass of juice for controlling blood sugar.

Throw in the needs of a diabetic diet (and that’s not my strong suit, but seems like my “ideal” food plan works there ok) on top of what I am already balancing in my daily caloric intake and I feel a bit lost.  If the results come back positive, I may ask for a referral to a nutritionist/dietician to get some advice.  Sigh.  My last encounter with one (aside from the lap band dietician who was advising me on a new way of eating to fit in with my post surgery needs) left me feeling like I could teach HER.

While doing some random browsing (probably looking for recipes ;)), I came across a really neat tip for peeling a kiwi.  Personally, if I’m going to eat one I just slice it in half and scoop it out with a spoon.  But that’s no good for a frut salad, plus the kiddo has trouble with that and prefers them peeled and sliced. 

There is a quick and simple way to peel kiwifruit with a teaspoon. This method works best with fruit that is ripe but not too soft. First, cut off both ends of a kiwi. Then slip a teaspoon just under the skin, matching the spoon’s curve to the curve of the fruit. Now slide the spoon around the kiwi to separate the fruit from the skin, being careful not to dig the spoon into the flesh. Once the spoon has been completely run around the fruit, it will easily slip out of the skin in one smooth piece!

It actually works better if you do that twice, going only about halfway down the kiwi on each side.  There are pictures and even a video demonstration (although the kiwi trick comes after some other bits in the video) over on SteamyKitchen. 

I’ve tried it several times this week as we got a got deal on some kiwi and the kidlet really likes it (possibly his favorite fruit after blueberries) and while mine didn’t come out quite as nicely as hers (I kept breaking the skin and had to move over a little to go again), it worked very well.  It was much faster than peeling with a knife and resulted in a lot less flesh lost.

So, not everything was good news at the OB yesterday.  I’d gone in for a glucose tolerance test on Tuesday, and the results from that were back in.  I expected to be high.  I’ve been diagnosed as “Insulin Resistant” (what used to be called “borderline diabetic”) for years.  However, the initial results were really high — what you’d have to call diabetic level.  Because the test is more a screening test than truly diagnostic though, I’ll have to go in for another test.  This one is a three hour visit in the lab.  They test my fasting blood sugar, feed me a glucose solution, then test my blood every hour to see how well my body is breaking down the sugars.

My iron was also down a bit.  Not low enough to be anemic or even low enough to justify adding an iron supplement to my prenatal, but lower than it has been, and so I need to make an effort to get more iron rich foods in my diet right now.

I’d also put on a lot of weight in just one month.  For that first 5 months I’d manage to maintain my weight, but in the last 4 weeks I jumped up 7 pounds. The doc isn’t worried yet — he’d wanted me to keep my gain around 15 pounds total for the whole pregnancy and I’m still a ways from that — but I’m less than happy about it.  I haven’t really changed my eating or exercise habits, but I really don’t care to keep gaining at this rate, and I could use more exercise anyway (gotta prep those core muscles for upcoming work! ;)) so hopefully I can keep the scale from spiraling out of control.

From over at Bloomacious (which I don’t normally read, but followed a link from Tastespotting for the recipe.  I’ve never tried a fruit salad with carrot, but I do like fruit salads, and this one is a great combo of super nutritious produce.

Happy – Sexy 2009 Fruit Salad


1 Kiwi sliced

1 average sized Orange peeled and sliced, 1/4 sized section save for juice

1 Carrot slivered or grated

2 Dried Apricots chopped

1 Banana sliced

1/2 Mango cubed


Place Kiwi, Orange Slices, Apricots, Banana, and Mango in brightly colored bowl, layering in Carrot and finishing with lovely garnish on top.  Squeeze remaining Orange section over top.  Think happy thoughts!


The payoff according to David Grotto, author of 101 Foods that Could Save Your Life:


Kiwi ~ the most nutrient dense of the 27 most commonly eaten fruits – has more Vitamin C than any other fruit – also high in Fiber, Potassium, Lutein, and Vitamin E.


Orange ~ provides 137% of the RDA for Vitamin C per orange.  Also high in Vitamin B Folate, and Flavanones.


Carrot~ excellent source of carotenes – one cup of diced carrots provides 686.3 % of the RDA for Vitamin A.  Also high in Fiber, Manganese, Niacin, Potassium, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin C. 


Apricots ~ In their dried form one of the best sources of Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene ~ can reach over 16,000 micrograms of carotenoids in just 3 apricots.  Also contain Potassium, Vitamin C, Fiber, Phytochemicals D-glucaric acid, Chlorogenic Acid, Queretin, and Lycopene.


Banana ~ good source of Vitamin C, B6, and Fiber.


Mango- excellent source of Vitamins A, C, Potassium, and Carotenes.

I love Brussels Sprouts.  It’s possible that I may be the only person on the planet that would say that.  It’s part of our media history consciousness — what is that pungent little cabbage the sneaky kid feeds to his dog under the table?  Yep, its the brussels sprout!  In fact, according to some surverys, the only vegetable that people dislike more than this healthy cruciferous ball is the eggplant (and someone else will have to argue the eggplants case, its not my favorite by far!).

Aside from the fact that they are delicious (which many would argue, I know!) they are amazingly good for us.  Unlike most vegetables, Brussels sprouts are rather high in protein, accounting for more than a quarter of their calories. Although the protein is incomplete — it doesn’t provide the full spectrum of essential amino acids — it can be made complete with whole grains. This means you can skip a higher-calorie source of protein, like high-fat meat, and occasionally rely on a meal of Brussels sprouts and grains.

Brussels sprouts are very high in fiber; they have 3-5 grams of fiber per cup and at 25 calories per 1/2 cup cooked, they give us a reason to eat them more often. Brussels sprouts are one of those foods that will fill you up, without filling you out.  They also belong to the disease-fighting cabbage family. Like broccoli and cabbage — fellow cruciferous vegetables — Brussels sprouts may protect against cancer with their indole, a phytochemical. Brussels sprouts are loaded with vitamin A, folacin, potassium, calcium Brussels sprouts are also particularly rich in vitamin C, another anti-cancer agent.


Of course, the health argument does little to sway a five year old, nor the 38 year old daddy with the taste buds of a five year old.

Personally, I love them plain, just steamed until nicely soft or roasted with just a touch of olive oil and pepper, but after a number of tries to get both the hubby and the kidlet to tear in with some enthusiasm, it’s time to turn to my recipe cache.  If healthiness won’t win them over, maybe I can find a way of cooking them to raise thier appeal.  One the docket this week:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar 


Fresh Brussels Sprouts

Good Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Sea Salt (I actually omit the salt, sorry foodies.)

Fresh Cracked Pepper

Preheat oven to roast at 375°F.  Peel the outer, beat-up layers of the Brussels sprouts off.  Trim the end, and then cut Brussels sprouts in half.  Toss in a bowl with enough olive oil to coat evenly, then add balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.  Lightly oil a sheet pan, and then spread out Brussels sprouts, cut side down. Roast in oven for 15 minutes.

Prime Brussels Sprout season is over (September – February) so hopefully there’ll still be some nice looking fresh ones in the produce section this week, otherwise I may have to find a recipe that uses frozen ones.

I’ve been struggling with my stomach again, having trouble keeping things down.  It seems to go in cycles.  I eat something that really bothers it, and screw up my stomach;  then for several days, even things that shouldn’t aggrivate anything cause all kinds of problems and I can’t seem to get anything to stay put.  I must admit, its annoying to have to deal with the touchy lap-band stomach when 1. it wasn’t really helping before the pregnancy and 2. I can’t really diet right now anyway and try to make it work because of the pregnancy.

Monday I go in for an ultrasound, cross your fingers for me that everything still looks healthy and right — and that we get a gander at the gender!