Thursday, August 23, 2012

Low Fat Banana & Pumpkin Seed Muffins

Well, as you may have noticed I haven't posted in awhile.  I apologize for the delay.  It doesn't mean I haven't been cooking up a storm as usual what with CSA veggies pouring in!  It has been an extremely hot summer so that decreases cooking motivation for sure.  There were other factors at work though making my love and desire for cooking and baking take a turn for the worst.  a) we moved across town, b) it was hot and humid everyday and c) at 28 weeks I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Soon after posting the last batch of strawberry recipes, I found out I had gestational diabetes!  This came as a surprise to me--maybe not to you if you saw all the strawberry sweets I made :)  I couldn't believe it because I thought I ate healthily.  I learned so much during this process.  Basically, what I was eating didn't cause this to happen.  It happens to about 5% of pregnant women and is more common if you have risk factors like a history of family with Type 2 diabetes, such as mine.  The hormones of the placenta block my body from being able to make adequate insulin so therefore my glucose #s were out of whack.  The risk is the baby would get very overweight and make a natural delivery difficult if not impossible.  As soon as I have the baby, I should go back to normal, however, this *new* way of eating actually makes me feel better, gives me more energy, less bloating and very little (almost no swelling).  Also, I don't experience the hanger sensation quite as often because I am getting the right mix of foods.   Also, my health care providers tell me if I stick with my current eating, I will be much less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes later in life!  Hooray!

This all sounds so positive, but I assure you I didn't start out feeling like a super-lucky individual to get the diagnosis.  I was upset and felt like it was unfair.  I didn't want to eat weird sugar substitutes.  I felt like I had so many restrictions and rules to follow and everyone else could eat whatever they wanted.   I had to watch my carbohydrate intake, eliminate sugar, reduce fat and up my protein.  All I wanted was a giant bowl of ice cream and chocolate chip cookies and pizza, but I figured they would be impossible to have.  I had to check my blood sugar 4x/day and send the results to a diabetes nurse.  

Soon I became obsessive about my numbers trying to aim for perfect scores.  Thankfully, Nathan helped me to relax and let go the notion of being perfect.  Rather than thinking of numbers as good and bad, they simply just were numbers that were in my reading as a result of what I ate.

I desperately searched for blogs or helpful diet plans for women with gestational diabetes and couldn't really find anything.  So...I decided from this point on the Hangry Foodsaurus has a new mission!  To focus on posting recipes and meals that I created mindfully throughout the pregnancy and beyond.  Of course, it isn't any substitute for your own dietician and/or medical advice.  Just simply me having fun, being creative and doing the best I can for my body's needs.  It took me a few weeks to get the hang of it, but I think I've got it down for the most part.

The gestational diabetes plan is basically exercising (I'm good on that front) and watching carbs (not eliminating them, but making sure they are healthy sources like fruits and whole grains and having them in moderation), eating copious amounts of veggies (not a problem for me) and having lean sources of protein with every meal and snack.  I have to be more mindful of food pairings and timing of when I eat.  My pancreas isn't as active at night, so eating too much too late doesn't work for me.

I even learned that I don't have to eat weird sugar substitutes.  I can eat the occasional chocolate chip cookie, or low fat frozen yogurt or small amount of pizza as long as I make sure I front load with healthy foods or have it as a small snack knowing that I'll have to give up something else more nutritious.  It's all a balance and has made me a much more mindful eater.  The feelings of being deprived have grown less and less as I realized there is so much I can actually eat and enjoy and feel satisfied.  Letting go of the emotion attached to the food has really helped the process.

For example, here is a recipe I made today (the first thing I've baked in 10 weeks)!  It isn't totally sugar-free and definitely has carbs.  I managed to fit it in as a between breakfast and lunch snack with peanut butter (for more protein).  I loved the texture, moist and spongy and with the crunch of the pumpkin seeds it was awesome!  

Here's the extra tip:  Give away as many baked goods as possible!  My neighbors were moving today and they were my main motivation for baking.  Moving is always stressful and the last thing you think about on moving day is eating.  I wanted to give them something they could snack on while they worked that was healthy, tasty and would give them some sustenance.  The report came back that it was a winning recipe, so here's my version:

Adapted from make happy blog:

1 1/2 cups ripe, mashed bananas (about 3--I used two large and two mini bananas)!
1/2 cup Trader Joe's unsweetened applesauce
less than 1/2 cup brown sugar (can substitute a little honey or agave)
2 eggs
1/2 cup non fat Greek yogurt (Fage brand)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour (I thought about going all wheat but wasn't sure if they'd be too dry, I think you could use spelt or another grainy flour if you had it on hand because they were pretty moist)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Hangry Foodasaurus, 2012

1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds/Pepitas (or pecans or walnuts or any combo)
  • In a large bowl, mash the bananas.
  • Add applesauce, sugar (if desired), eggs and yogurt; combine thoroughly.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients; stir until just combined.
  • Gently stir in vanilla and pumpkin seeds.
  • Lightly grease a muffin tin tray or use papers for no added fat.
  • Bake at 350° for 12-18 minutes. Test with a toothpick inserted and if it comes out clean you're all set.
Hangry Foodasaurus, 2012

I plan to make these again and freeze them so when we need a little treat they'll be waiting for us.  Hoping next time I post it will be to share news of our baby's arrival!  I can't wait to have him helping me in the kitchen someday!

I also want to post some more meal ideas as the food pairings are the really important thing to focus on with a diabetic diet.  Let me know if you have any ideas or things you'd like to see.

Till next time...


  1. I'm going to make these as soon as I get home. I'm a huge fan of banana anything and these look delicious. I work with Emily Brenner - she left this blog open for me at work so I could peruse it during my shift...this is going to be a very long, painful and hangry shift. Thanks for posting :)

    1. Hi Stefanie! Thanks for your comment! Let me know how you like them.