What exactly is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein composite found in many processed foods such as wheat, grains, barley, oats and rye. It can also be found in hair products (my shampoo actually says ‘Gluten Free‘ on the bottle), take a look next time you wash your hair, make-up, salad dressings and even synthetic vitamins.
If you have Celiac disease, it is a serious autoimmune disease that occurs genetically and is basically where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine and there is an estimated 1 in 100 people worldwide living with the disease.
When people with celiac disease eat gluten their body goes on the defensive with an immune response that attacks the small intestine. When these attacks happen the body cannot absorb nutrients properly. The body then becomes depleted of those vital nutrients and that can lead to stomach upsets, tiredness, bloating and anaemia, although some people may not get any symptoms.
Celiac disease is hereditary, meaning that it runs in families. My husband has celiac disease on his side of the family and has been tested multiple times.
My mother in law and her sisters all have the disease and so for the past ten years I have become more familiar with the disease and baking cakes and hosting dinners with gluten free options has just become part of the norm.
But isn’t Gluten “evil”?
A few years back I noticed a huge increase in the amount of people that were opting to go ‘gluten free’ despite never having been tested or having celiac disease confirmed. Like many things that do the rounds in the good v bad food merry-go- round, gluten became the new ‘evil’. I love pasta, bread and many wheat containing foods, my personal opinion is that unless you have a serious autoimmune disease that states you can’t tolerate gluten, there’s no real benefit to cutting it out of your food. There are some people that have an intolerance to wheat and I am aware from personal experience that if I go on a carb binge and eat a load of bread and pasta I’ll get bloaty and gassy but this is only down to holding onto more water when we eat a lot of carbs, its not reason to cut them out of your diet completely.
Although the below are not plant based recipes; they’re useful of anyone that has found themselves on this site looking for tasty gluten free recipes to enjoy during pregnancy.
Chicken and Orange Stir-fry
Fancy something quick and healthy during the week? This stir-fry is perfect to whip up and the whole family will love it. Its packed full of goodness!! During pregnancy our body needs more iron and adding lean chicken to your meals will provide you with these additional iron needs. Iron from chicken is absorbed into the body easier than plant based sources and by using brown rice you’ll give your body that extra dose of insoluble fibre if you’re struggling with a sluggish digestive system.
Chinese Pork Stir Fry with Pineapple
Another favourite dinner for the middle of the week. Swap out the basmati rice for brown rice if you prefer. Pork is a great source of protein, as well as offering many crucial vitamins and minerals including thiamin, selenium, niacin and vitamin B6, it’s a good source of zinc and potassium. Adding pineapple chunks to the stir-fry works really well ( better than pineapple on a pizza ) Pineapple contains Bromelain which aids in the digestion of proteins so the combo of these two work really well together.
Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Salad
You’ll see a theme throughout this site – I LOVE Spinach. I add it to everything, from smoothies, breakfast meals and wherever I can – dinner. Spinach is an amazing source of Folate which is a B Vitamin. All B vitamins work in conjunction with each other aiding in healthy growth of tissue repair and maintaining healthy brain function. Folate or B9 is crucial in pregnancy and assists in fetal development.
During pregnancy you’ll be advised to take Folic Acid Supplements from the minute you discover you’re pregnant. Folic Acid is basically the synthetic version of Folate which you’ll find in your vitamins and is also added to fortified foods.
Blueberry Protein Pancakes
These pancakes are probably up there in my TOP 3 Breakfasts you can add any type of berry to these and finish with your fave topping ( Bananas, nuts, maple syrup ) Blueberries may be small, but they pack a real punch when it comes to nutritional value. They’re a great source of Vitamin and offer a good supply of potassium and calcium. The phytonutrients which give them their rich colour and that are found in the skin are excellent at balancing out the harmful bacteria in our gut and work in keeping the gut healthy.
Salmon and Peach Salad
Omega-3s are essential for our brain growth and for the development in infants too.. ⠀⠀
DHA which is the Omega 3 found in oily fish accounts for 40% of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in your brain and ensuring you get enough DHA Omega 3 in your diet during pregnancy has been shown to prevent prevent preterm labour and may possibly increase the birth weight of our babies too. There’s also reports to link a deficiency in omega 3 with an increase in depression. ⠀It may look like a weird combo but the peach in this salad really compliments the salmon. Peaches have a great supply of Vitamin A as well as minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron and sulphur. They’ve also been shown to help cleanse the intestines and stimulate bowel movements.
Told you I love spinach. This is a great dish for putting together on lazy weekend morning. Eggs are so unbelievably versatile and are an excellent source of protein providing the amino acids you and your baby need. Eggs contain more than a plenty of vitamins and minerals, as well as Choline which is needed for the development of brain development in your baby. Just make sure you don’t eat eggs that are under-cooked and ensure they’re pasteurised and free range or organic if you can.
Summer smoothie protein bowl
What’s your fave topping?
A bowl of Greek Yogurt is for me one of the most versatile healthy breakfasts out there. I love mine stirred up with some delicious homemade granola.
I was never able to get on board with the natural yogurt years ago, but over the years my taste buds have adjusted to enjoying unsweetened unflavoured yogurt and now I love it and can’t get enough!
If you prefer it a little sweeter, a drizzle of honey or maple syrup stirred in will do the trick. ⠀⠀
The good news is that natural yogurt is listed in the “superfood” category to eat when pregnant. ⠀⠀
Greek yogurt, is particularly beneficial for pregnant women as it contains more calcium than most other dairy products and some varieties even contain probiotic bacteria, which supports our digestive health. ⠀⠀
It’s thicker and creamier because the liquid whey is strained out and its lower in lactose and has twice the protein content of regular yogurt. ⠀