This time around I started with my GD diet early on in the pregnancy. Okay...I tried to start it during the first trimester...but morning sickness and complete and total exhaustion made it really hard. By the second trimester though I was pretty dedicated to making the GD diet work for me. Blood work came back showing some other endocrine issues though and after meeting with my wonderful doctor and doing some research I decided that I also needed to go gluten-free. This was a huge step for me. I come from a family culture where gluten and wheat (and grains in general) are considered to be of the utmost importance and I really had to break with that type of thinking.
I soon learned though that gluten-free wasn't going to be enough. Anything with rice flour spiked my blood sugar noticeably and made me not feel particularly well. I also felt like everything just tasted like white bread and it was hard for me to adjust to that. In time I started finding some good recipes that call for either almond or coconut flour or a mixture of the two. I started baking again. I fell in love with baking again. Especially with the almond flour I can eat pancakes, bread, muffins etc and my blood sugar doesn't spike. I feel like I am eating normal and healthy food and I am satisfied with it. I feel wonderful and my energy is so much higher than it has been in a really long time...probably a few years. I still get tired...I am pregnant after all, but it's not that same exhaustion I did have.
Recently I've been trying to prepare myself for birth in many ways...and of course one of the things I've been thinking of is food. After W was born I was given a little frozen dinner in the hospital and it was awful. I was starving....my labor with him had been really long and hard and while I did have my support people sneak a little food to me here or there, by 12 or so hours in, I really wasn't interested in trying to eat anymore. This time, I'm planning on being at home, and I'm planning to have some good food once this baby is here! I've decided to make myself a nice nourishing beef stew with home made bone broth in the crock pot once I'm in early labor. I'll actually probably prep and freeze most of this ahead and then just dump it all together in when the time comes.
I've also really wanted to make a groaning cake for this labor (since way before I even got pregnant). I have several friends and acquaintances who have either made one or had their spouse or other support folks make one while they were in labor. I love the idea. It's a dense, nourishing cake with molasses and eggs to help boost the mother's iron and protein levels.
I had one major obstacle to this though. I could not find a gluten free, much less grain free version of this cake recipe. Not to be deterred however, I decided to go through recipes and see what I could come up with. I used this carrot cake recipe from Elana's Pantry as my base recipe and added/substituted elements from the two groaning cake recipes I found online here and here (there are some lovely traditions and history of this cake that are shared on these links). I also substituted dried cranberries for the raisins as we have sulfite allergies at our house and while all/most raisins contain sulfites, we are usually okay with the dried cranberries. I decided since this was pretty different from any of the recipes I had consulted that I had better do a test run before I went into labor. So, when my midwife had to cancel our appointment as she had to attend another birth, I decided to make my cake.
Grain-free Groaning cake
· ½ teaspoon real salt
· 3 cups blanched almond flour
· 1 teaspoon baking soda
· 1 tablespoon cinnamon
· 1/2 teaspoon cloves
· 5 eggs
· 1 teaspoon almond extract
· ¼ cup molasses
· 2 Tablespoon honey
· 1.5 teaspoon stevia
· ¼ cup melted coconut oil
· 1 Tablespoon orange juice
· Zest of one orange
· 3 cups apple, peeled and grated
· 1 cup dried cranberries
· 1 cup walnuts
1. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves
2. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, honey, molasses, stevia, orange juice, orange zest, almond extract and oil
3. Stir apples, dried cranberries and walnuts into wet ingredients
4. Stir wet ingredients into dry
5. Place batter into 2 very well greased loaf pans or lined muffin tins.
6. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes to an hour. Tent with foil to prevent burning if necessary. A skewer should come out mostly clean, though this is a really moist cake. Cupcakes take about 15-20 minutes to bake.
For my trial run, I made one loaf and some cupcakes. It's really important if you make this into cupcakes to use liners in their pans. The loaf came out fine, but the cupcakes stuck terribly and I couldn't get most of them out in one piece. Luckily W and DH didn't mind too much.
The results were actually really good. It's dark, dense and very moist. Both of my guys and I really enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to trying to make it again once I'm in labor. I found that I especially like it with a bit of Swiss cheese. It's still has more sugar than almost anything I've been eating during this pregnancy so I really feel like I can only have it if I have the extra added protein. The nuttiness of the cheese is a nice contrast to the rich sweetness of the cake. I will say this was a tad bit work intensive and I am slightly concerned about trying to make it while I'm in labor. i think I will try to have my dry ingredients mixed and freeze some orange juice and orange zest ahead. I'll also try to use the food processor to grate the apples since that took forever by hand.