I still remember that day. Bright sunny day in August. It was half past ten in the morning. The telephone rang and the call was from my OB/GYN’s office. I guessed the reason behind the call even before I picked up phone. I stayed motionless in my couch. The phone continued to ring and moments later the call went to voicemail and I heard what I didn’t want to hear.
“Hey V! This is the medical assistant from doctor’s office. We got your sugar test result today and I am sorry you failed the test. You have gestational diabetes”. That was the last thing I wanted to hear during my pregnancy. I was 24 weeks then and my husband was away on a four weeks business trip to Israel. I was shocked. depressed. scared. Tears rolled down my cheek and the silence in the room were broken by my loud cry. I felt lonely. I called up my good friend from middle school and shared the news with her. She was reassuring and kind. But I wasn’t convinced. Since I was warned by the doctor from the the beginning of my pregnancy about this, I had been extra cautious and was praying to God each day to escape from this gestational diabetes struggle. I don’t know for some reason I really couldn’t take up the fact that I failed the blood test.
Couple of days later, I went to the doctor’s office for the monthly check up and they enrolled me on a program with a medical team (a dietician and a nurse) to counsel me about right eating. I was with them until my delivery date. Gosh! That was the most depressing phase of my pregnancy. I couldn’t eat what I craved for. I was left to drink oatmeal (just 1/2 cup dry) with no milk as the first thing in the morning followed by tons of veggies and calculated portions of fruits or 8oz milk for mid morning snack, 1/2 cup cooked rice with tons of vegetable stir fries or soups or eggs or meat for lunch followed by some nuts for snack and similar menu for dinner and the day ends with 8oz milk for dessert. The morning fasting sugar level were always spiked up, so I was on little insulin too. Slowly days went by, I regained my usual self and came in touch with the reality. I became more composed and sensible over the days. I read a lot online and slowly I began to explore with whole grains like quinoa, buckwheat, millet.
Quinoa (pronounced as keen-wah) was the first grain I laid my hands on and it is believed to be a holy grain. It looks like minute grains, smaller than rice and it has a hard exterior which is coated with saponins. They are bitter when cooked and needs to be removed before you cook. It is good to wash them thoroughly in running water. Once cooked, the seeds become soft, chewy and a cute spiral tail pops out. Quinoa is low in cholesterol and sodium and is also a good source of magnesium, phosphorous and manganese. It has good carbs too, since it’s a whole grain, they will break down into sugar much slower in your body and that way your blood sugar will not spike drastically. That’s the kind of foods one must be eating during gestational diabetes. “You need carbohydrates for your baby. Carbs help in their brain development” my dietician would keep insisting to me on every meeting. So please don’t skip your carb and remember to eat the right carb.
I went to a safeway store closeby and hunted for a quinoa packet in every aisle but couldn’t locate one. I reached out to a sales assistant for help. I asked ” Does safeway carry quinoa?” . He stared back at my pregnant tummy and wondered what this lady was saying. Most of the sales guy in that store didn’t even know that there existed a grain like that. I wasn’t ready for a no that day and I asked the manager to help me with the search. He just took couple of minutes to locate it and he said that they place quinoa in international food section. “What ever” was my reaction. I bought one red inca quinoa and reached back home to read more about its cooking options. The first thing I did was to taste it raw, it tasted muddy and gritty. I decided to cook it like how I would cook my rice.Tired to explore other options, I told to myself “Pressure cook it”. For dinner, I ate it with lentil curry (recipe here). It tasted different but definitely not exciting enough to satisfy the taste-craving, flavor-craving tongue of a pregnant women. I cried in the bed that night and went to sleep crying. And my husband was still in Israel.
Next day, I found few salad recipes with quinoa online. I ate that for a day and even that wasn’t what I was looking for and since I had terrible cravings for Indian foods, I recreated some of the recipes using quinoa and lentils or legumes with tons of vegetables or chicken. They turned out pretty delicious and I was hooked on exploring different dishes with it and my journey with whole grains continues even after my son was born. Even he eats quinoa once a while, he seems to love this patty which I made with salmon and quinoa. For the patties I toasted quinoa and I pulsed them in the processor to a coarse powder, that gave it a crunchy coating on the outside and the addition of cilantro, onions, ginger and garlic boasted the flavors further.
SALMON QUINOA PATTIES
Yields – 10 small size patties
- 1 cup olive oil for shallow frying
- 1 – 5oz salmon tin
- 1 cup raw organic quinoa
- 1 medium size onions – chopped
- 1 inch ginger – minced
- 3 large garlic cloves – minced
- 1/4 cup cilantro – chopped
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder (use more or less as per your spice level)
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- Salt to taste
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 large egg – beaten
- Dry roast the quinoa in a clean pan. Saute for 3-5minutes until they get roasty. Remove, cool and grind to a coarse powder. Set aside.
- Open the tin and transfer the salmon to a strainer and wash in running water to get rid of excess salt and squeeze the excess water and crumble them into smaller bits and add them to the fresh bowl.
- Then mix in the onions, ginger, garlic, cilantro, chili flakes, chili and coriander powder and garam masala. Mix well to combine with hand. Then add the salt and lemon juice. Stir.
- Add the egg and stir. Finally add the quinoa, starting with 2 tablespoon at a time. Keeping mixing it until you feel that the mixture rolls into a neat ball. I used about 8 tablespoon to get that consistency.
- Divide the mixture to 10 balls and let it chill for 30minutes.
- Heat a saucepan on medium flame for 5 minutes. Once they are hot, drizzle few drops of olive oil and spread them on the surface with a kitchen tissue.
- In the meanwhile, remove the balls from the fridge. With wet hands flatten them into a small patty and slide them into your saucepan. Spoon out a tablespoon of oil along its edges and let it cook for 6-7 minutes on each side. Add oil if you feel its drying out. I tried to use minimum amount of oil.
- Serve hot with Virginia mango chutney by its side.
- Salmon quinoa patties can be served to kids too. My son loves it with mango chutney/mint chutney. You can also replace quinoa with meat or shrimp or even with mashed sweet potato or potatoes or any veggies.
- If you are a vegetarian, omit the eggs and instead add little (about 1 tablespoon) all purpose flour and this would help to hold the mixture together and you can easily work with them.
- Ideal for dieters as per serving (2 small patties) will have less than 300 calories and even if you had deep fried them, don’t worry extra few minutes in the gym will sort the problem.
- Women with gestational diabetes, look for more recipes here. Do send me an email if you want to know more about my eating schedules. I am not an expert but I will be more than glad to share my experience. You need to consult your OB/GYN or dietician before changing your diet.