Chia Seeds

Remember those silly commercials for Chia Pets? The awful terracotta, simply add water-and-watch-it-grow ridiculousness that somehow we all had at one time? Yeah, I had a Garfield Chia Pet that I loved.

Did you know that you can eat the chia seeds? Did you know that they are amazingly good for you? Originally the seed comes from Mexico and Central America. They were consumed as a main staple because of their amazing benefits. So why have we forgotten about them?

A Tablespoon of chia seeds contain about 40 calories, but those calories carry an important nutritional punch. They contain fiber, protein and omega-3’s. You can use them in so many different ways, from adding it to baked goods, smoothies to soups and stews. They quickly absorb water and swell, they are fun in your mouth (almost like tomato seeds) and they fill your belly so you don’t have to eat as often.

Chia seeds also might be beneficial for a PCOS diet because it offers so many good things in such a little package. Of course consult with your dr to decide if it is a good addition to your diet.

Chocolate Chia Seed Energy Bars

These bars are wonderful in so many ways because they contain lots of proteins, fibers and healthy fats. In addition they are perfect for simple take along snacks, and can satisfy that sweet tooth without refined sugar.

Soak the dates ahead of time to help ease the load on your food processor.

Ingredients
1½ cups pitted dates
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup whole chia seeds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup slivered almonds (unsalted)
1/2 cup coconut (unsweetened you can find these at health food stores)
optional: sprinkle of salt

Instructions

Purée dates in food processor until a thick paste forms. Add cocoa powder, chia seeds, vanilla and almond extracts. Pulse until all ingredients are combined. Add the almonds and coconut; pulse until nuts are well incorporated into date mixture.

Spread large sheet of wax paper on work surface. Transfer date mixture to wax paper, and press mixture into 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. If desired, you can even out the edges by trimming them with a knife. Wrap tightly in wax paper, and chill overnight.

Unwrap block, and cut into 8 bars. Sprinkle with a bit of salt (if using). Re-wrap each bar in wax paper and refrigerate leftovers in an air-tight container.

A little rant:

As a pregnant woman who knows that my body does not effectively process sugars and carbs I try to make sure that what I put in my body is good for me and good for my baby. I occasionally have a soda, or fast food chinese or a piece of cake. I do, I have and I will again. I am not a saint. But I am keenly aware that I have a better chance of developing gestational diabetes. I have chosen not to take the glucose test, as I do not believe that dumping all of that sugar into my body at one time is healthy. I would never put my body or baby through that. My dr. and I have agreed that I will have my glucose monitored for the rest of the pregnancy. The mothers group that I am part of is currently going through their glucose tests, and failing. Which in turn brings my palm to face. Seriously? If you know that you have a greater chance for developing gestational diabetes, why wouldn’t you do everything in your power to avoid that? Fast food, sweets and pasta are not good for you and not good for your baby. Stop eating that shit. Now. I started this blog because I wanted to document my struggle to eat right and deal with my body as it pertains to food, weight and PCOS. It has gone the way of a surprising PCOS fertility success story. I started overweight, I admit this and own it. I was 20 pounds over weight, and during this pregnancy (I am 28 weeks now) I have gained a total of 9 pounds, that’s it. I do not use pregnancy to eat whatever I want when I want it, I do not use pregnancy as an excuse. If you are currently a pregnant woman with a history of PCOS and find yourself failing your glucose test, please take responsibility for what food goes into your mouth and the decisions you make.

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World Traveler….. Beef Guinness Pie and Mole Verde

I probably shouldn’t have started a blog if I wasn’t going to update it. But I didn’t know I was going to get pregnant, and I didn’t know that I would be traveling around the world pregnant and the toll that would take on my body.

So where have  I been and what have I brought back? (other than a nasty strain of some sort of bacterial yuckiness)

I started my summer in Ireland!

Ireland is lovely, with the kindest and most hospitable people I have encountered. We ate a lot of pub food and it was great! I asked the barkeep what pregnant women drank in the pub, he laughed and said, “Guinness of course!” Here is a recipe for Guinness Beef Pie. Granted, this is usually made with pie crust or potatoes. For PCOS eliminate the crust/potatoes and eat as a nice stew.

Beef and Guinness Pie (from Gourmet)

  • 2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup Guinness or other Irish stout
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons drained brined green peppercorns, coarsely chopped
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Instructions:

    Pat beef dry. Stir together flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Add beef, turning to coat, then shake off excess and transfer to a plate. Heat oil in a wide 5- to 6-quart ovenproof heavy pot over moderately high heat until just smoking, then brown meat in 3 batches, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes per batch, transferring to a bowl.

    Add onion, garlic, and water to pot and cook, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pot and stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef with any juices accumulated in bowl, broth, beer, Worcestershire sauce, peppercorns, and thyme and bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer to oven. Braise until beef is very tender and sauce is thickened, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Discard thyme and enjoy!

    Ok, so I returned for 5 days, in which I helped plan a bridal shower and then jetted off to Mexico! This is my 5th time in this area so it wasn’t much of a new adventure. My sister was getting married and we stayed at a resort, which doesn’t count much for traveling….
    “Toursits don’t know where they have been and Travelers don’t know where they are going.” Paul Theroux-
    I figure I am in the Travelers category.
    My favorite little known Mexican recipe is for Mole Verde. Give yourself plenty of time to make this, and don’t be surprised if you eat the whole thing in one sitting.
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    Mole Verde (from Rick Bayless)

    1 large white onion, sliced
    4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
    1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
    Salt, about 1 1/2 teaspoons
    1 good-size (3-pound) chicken, cut into quarters
    2 bay leaves
    1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
    1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
    A generous 1 cup (about 4 1/2 ounces) hulled raw pumpkinseeds (pepitas)
    12 large sprigs cilantro, roughly chopped, plus a few extra sprigs for garnish
    3 small romaine leaves, roughly chopped
    Hot green chilies to taste (roughly 3 serranos or 2 small jalapeños), stemmed and roughly chopped
    1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil

    Instructions:

    1. The chicken: In a large (6-quart) pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Add half of the onion and garlic, all the carrot, 1 teaspoon of the salt and the chicken back (if you’re lucky enough to have a separated one), neck, heart and giblets. Skim off any foam that rises after a minute or two, partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Add the dark meat quarters, skim again after a couple of minutes, then add the bay, thyme and marjoram, partially cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the breast quarters, skim when the liquid returns to the simmer, partially cover and cook 13 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let the chicken cool for a few minutes in the broth. Remove the breast and leg quarters from the broth and set aside. Strain the broth, discarding the solids, and spoon off any fat that rises to the top.

    2. The pumpkin seeds: In a large (10-to 12-inch), heavy skillet set over medium heat, spread out the pumpkinseeds and toast, stirring regularly, until all have popped (from flat to rounded) and turned golden (no darker); once they start popping, the whole process shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes. Spread out on a plate to cool; reserve a couple of tablespoons for garnish.

    3. The sauce: In a blender, combine the cooled pumpkinseeds with the remaining half of the onion and garlic, the cilantro, romaine,
    and green chiles. Add 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth and blend to a smooth puree. Heat the oil in a large (4-quart), heavy saucepan over medium. Add the puree and stir constantly until very thick, about 10 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of the broth (you’ll have about 4 cups broth left over for soup or another sauce), partially cover and simmer 20 minutes; the sauce will look coarse at this point.

    4. Scrape the sauce into a blender, loosely cover and blend to a smooth puree; if necessary add a little extra broth (or water) to give the sauce a medium consistency. Rinse your saucepan, return the blended sauce to it, taste and season with salt, usually a 1/2 teaspoon. Add the chicken and warm (but don’t bring to a simmer) over medium-low heat, about 10 minutes.

    5. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a warm serving platter, then ladle the sauce over and around it, decorate with the reserved pumpkinseeds and cilantro sprigs, and it’s ready to serve.

    After returning, I had a stomach virus and a head cold. I blame it on the airplane flight. It has been 2 weeks since I have returned and I still need to be close to a bathroom. Hoping to one day eat normal again!

To Drug or Not to Drug…..

I went for a follow up appointment today. Just your run of the mill, here is the medications you can take, here are some pamphlets and magazine articles to read, to do’s, don’t do’s and on and on. At one point the lpn  started to explain that at some point in the future I will need to take a glucose test. To which I think I might have audibly snorted. Glucose? I can already tell you that my body does a shit job of glucose management. So I asked her if there was anything that I should be doing to control my pcos…she scrunched her nose and said she didn’t know but she would go ask the ob/gyn. She returned a moment later with a smile and told me that no, there was nothing that I should be doing. I know in my heart that I need to do my own research, but sometimes it is just easier to listen to what the professionals say. So I relaxed a little bit. Maybe 15 minutes later on my way home the phone rings from the dr’s office. The lpn calls me to tell me that she realized I had been on Metformin and was going to encourage me to go back on it, at least until the 12 week (which is 3 weeks away).

 

So now I face the dilemma. Do I go back on Metformin? This means being sick because of the meds and being sick from pregnancy. It means dumping chemicals into my blood stream and into the blood of my forming baby. The effects to the baby have not been studied fully, some drs’ say stop as soon as you figure out you are pregnant, some say take it until you are 12 weeks and some encourage women to continue to take it throughout the whole pregnancy. What will happen if I start taking it again after being off for 3 weeks, will the change in blood sugars disrupt the fetus?

 

And if I don’t go back on to Metformin, will there be a higher chance for miscarriage? I already feel in these past few weeks I have lived a life-time with this little bean. And if I do lose it, I will always wonder….what if I had just taken the drug?  I can’t imagine losing it, I have already devoted enough ill feeling, low energy days to the cause. Will I develop gestational diabetes and need to take insulin?

 

Anyone with any advice is welcome to chime in, in as far as I have read it seems the general consensus is to take the metformin as the benefits outweight the risks. But we live in a drug crazy society, where the answer to everything is to take a pill, and I just can’t get behind that philosophy. I am sure that diet has a lot to do with it, and lately being unable to eat anything but high carbohydrates I have certainly fallen off the plan.

 

My intuition tells me to not take the drug and modify with a healthy diet. My dr. says otherwise.

Mulligatawny

Just what is Mulligatawny?

Well from what I can tell from my little bits of research:

Mulligatawny is an Anglo-Indian recipe. In Indian cuisine, soup does not play a large part. So the Anglos developed a soup with Indian flavors. It can be made in many different ways, and with different ingredients. Ranging from the addition of bananas and apples to a lightly flavored vegetable soup.

I have never had Mulligatawny from anywhere, not a can, not a recipe, but I threw together some ingredients and what I thought a good Mulligatawny would be, and the results were spicy and fabulous.

Make this soup for those chilly evenings. Fast and Delicious.

Turmeric is a major component of this soup. Turmeric has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory. If you are not already taking turmeric as a supplement, try making this soup and see how you feel. Also if you are feeling a cold coming on, or are congested this is the perfect remedy!

 

Mulligatawny Soup with Lamb

Ingredients

Dice:

1 onion
2 stalks celery
1 large carrot
1 sweet potato
1/2 bell pepper
1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut

Cut into small bit size pieces:

Lamb (chops, stew meat etc)

Heat oil in bottom of large dutch oven.
Add vegetables and lamb.
Cook until lamb releases juices and vegetables soften

Add:

finely grated ginger
2 cloves of garlic
Tablespoon or more of spicy curry (I recommend Madras Tamarind)
2 tsps tumeric
a touch of cumin
and a pinch of garam masala

Stir well for 2 minutes.

Add one can Coconut Milk (not the sweet kind, the kind you find in the Asian part of your market)
2 cups of chicken stock
salt
pepper
1 tsp sugar

Bring to a boil and let simmer until potatoes are cooked through and flavors have mellowed.

Serve with fresh cilantro leaves.

Thai Green Curry Coconut Soup

If you haven’t noticed. We eat all sorts of varieties of food at our house. We are so lucky to have the opportunity to try and to make different foods from around the world. Last night I made a quick and easy Thai Chicken soup. I am including a picture of the curry that I use. Inside the tub is the most beautiful green curry paste, and all of the ingredients are whole, no chemicals.

Easy Thai Green Curry Coconut Soup

Ingredients

5 chicken thighs (or whatever you have in the refrigerator)
1 onion diced
1 tbs coconut oil
1 can of coconut milk (which is different than creme of coconut, don’t make that mistake)
2-3 Tbs of Green Curry Paste (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 sweet potato diced
1 tbs of fish sauce (not optional, go buy it now)
salt and pepper and a sprinkle of sugar

optional ingredients:

carrots, mushrooms, green beans, broccoli, sugar snap peas, zucchini, tomatoes, really whatever is left in the refrigerator that you need to get rid of….)

Instructions:

1. Heat oil in a dutch oven or deep pan. Add onions and cook until about translucent. Add chicken skin side down and cook until skin is brown and crisp. Flip over chicken. Add curry paste and mix with the onions until fragrant, 30 seconds.  Add half  of the can of coconut milk, and enough water to cover the chicken. Add in the sweet potatoes and any other vegetables you would like to add. (be careful not to add any vegetable that might get mushy from over cooking….peas, broccoli, zucchini etc.)

2. Place a well fitting lid over the top, and let simmer until chicken is cooked through. 30 minutes or so.

3. Uncover and add the rest of the can of coconut milk, and the fish sauce. Adjust the salt and pepper to your liking and add just a dash of sugar.

4. Serve in bowls

Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)

As a carefree and youthful recent college graduate, I packed a suitcase and lived in Mexico for two months. It was a wonderful experience and the memories I have of that time are vivd and intense. I chose to live in Merida in the Yucatan. Merida is not at all like  Mexico City, nor is it anything like its 4 hour-by-bus neighbor Cancun or Playa Del Carmen. It is a thriving city of about one million. It is a wonderful mixture or European, Mexican, Mayan and Arab influences. Part of my soul resides in Merida and with its people.

You can go to the most fabulous restaurants, but sometimes the best food is found on the street carts. Mexican cuisine is so much more  than the tex-mex you find at your local strip mall. Yucatecan food is earthy and complex, with a host of spices, possibly one of the most beautiful and interesting cuisines in the world. There was a cart near the central plaza that sold carnitas. Carnitas is braised pork that is served with its confit. Usually it is served in a bowl with an accompaniment of corn tortillas, cabbage, avocado or salsa.  Avocado trees grow in every back yard, so they are cheap and plentiful. The next time you feel like having Mexican, skip the overly sauced and cheesy food they serve around the corner and make a big batch of Carnitas. $15 will feed you for over 8 meals. This recipe should be made when you have the time, as it usually takes 3 hours start to finish.

Carnitas (adapted from Cook Illustrated)

  • Pork
  • 1(3 1/2-to 4-pound) boneless pork butt , fat cap trimmed to 1/8 inch thick, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 small onion , peeled and halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lime
  • 2 cups water (or enough water to cover the pork
  • 2 hatch chiles, seeded and peeled (this is optional, I bought roasted chiles at the farmers market and they give another dimension)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (a must)
  • 1 medium orange , halved

Tortillas and Garnishes

  • 18(6-inch) corn tortillas , warmed (if you are going to use tortillas…look at the ingredients and choose the ones with the least amount of additives, or if you have a mexican market go get fresh ones)
  • Lime wedges
  • Minced white or red onion
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Thinly sliced cabbage
  • Sour cream
  • Avocado

INSTRUCTIONS

  1.  Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine pork, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, cumin, onion, bay leaves, oregano, lime juice, and water in large Dutch oven (liquid should just barely cover meat). Juice orange into medium bowl and remove any seeds (you should have about 1/3 cup juice). Add juice and spent orange halves to pot. Bring mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and transfer to oven; cook until meat is soft and falls apart when prodded with fork, about 2 hours, flipping pieces of meat once during cooking.
  2. Remove pot from oven and turn oven to broil. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to bowl; remove orange halves, onion, and bay leaves from cooking liquid and discard (do not skim fat from liquid). Place pot over high heat (use caution, as handles will be very hot) and simmer liquid, stirring frequently, until thick and syrupy (heatsafe spatula should leave wide trail when dragged through glaze), 8 to 12 minutes. You should have about 1 cup reduced liquid. Add sugar.
  3. Using 2 forks, pull each piece of pork in half. Fold in reduced liquid; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread pork in even layer on wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet or on broiler pan (meat should cover almost entire surface of rack or broiler pan). Place baking sheet on lower-middle rack and broil until top of meat is well browned (but not charred) and edges are slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Using wide metal spatula, flip pieces of meat and continue to broil until top is well browned and edges are slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes longer. Serve immediately with warm tortillas and garnishes.

Snacks: Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese

Is there a better combo? I doubt it. In my previous post I mentioned my well-intentioned aunt  gave a thoughtful but in-a-way-missed-the-mark gift….my guess it was a case of sibling rivalry. You see my other aunt (her sister) lives on an island off of Seattle, and has her own boat, and a boyfriend that loves fishing as much as she does. So the two of them catch huge amounts of wild salmon. For christmas last year during our gift exchange my aunt sent me 50 pounds….50 pounds of fresh, wild caught salmon, boned and filleted, along with a few packages of salmon she had smoked at her house. best christmas gift ever. So, I don’t  really recommend having this snack at work, as the smell might be off-putting to co-workers. But if you are struggling to find a quick snack that will satisfy your hunger without breaking into a carb-induced coma. Try a bit of smoked salmon, cream cheese and substitute your cracker/bagel for a fresh cucumber. (I sprinkled a little dill on top of mine)