RECIPE: Zuppa Toscana Low Carb

Soup Saturday Recipes Continue with Zuppa Toscana!

So in my last post,  I introduced you to, what we call in my family, Soup Saturday and shared my recipe for Beef Barley Vegetable Soup.  This week I have another easy soup to add to your collection of gestational diabetes friendly recipes…. Zuppa Toscana!  This soup is my one of my favorites and it satisfies my cravings for potato soup or traditional zuppa toscana on cold winter days!

Zuppa Toscana Low Carb

Zuppa Toscana

To make this recipe gestational diabetes friendly, I replace much of the potatoes with cauliflower.  The cauliflower takes on the role of the potato effortlessly!  Packed with protein, this is a satisfying and delicious dish!

Zuppa Toscana
One of my favorite soups on a cold winter day! Serve with a fresh green salad!
Serves: 12 servings
  • 1 pound Fresh Ground Pork, Extra Lean
  • 4 Slices Nitrate-Free Bacon, Cut into ½ inch, Cooked Crisp and 1 T of drippings
  • 1 Medium Onion, finely diced
  • 1 Large Carrot, Thinly Sliced
  • 2-3 tsp Fennel Seed
  • ½ to 1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
  • 2 T Garlic, minced
  • 7 c Chicken Stock
  • 2 Small (2”dia) Potatoes, diced in ½" cubed
  • ½ Head Cauliflower, Roughly chopped into ½" pieces
  • 3 c Spinach, Rough Chopped (or Kale- remove the hard stems)
  • 1 c Whole Milk
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  1. Brown the sausage with a pinch of salt and pepper in a stock pot until crumbly, brown and no longer pink. Drain, remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Cook the bacon in the same pot over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon and grease leaving a tablespoon of drippings in the pot. Stir in the onions, carrots, fennel and red pepper flakes; cook until onions are soft and translucent. Add garlic and sausage and sauté a couple minutes.
  3. Pour the chicken stock into the pot with the onion/carrot/sausage mixture; bring to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes, and simmer about 10 minutes. Add cauliflower and simmer an additional 10 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are fork tender.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the spinach and milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Please remember that the nutrition values are estimated off the brands and ingredients I have used and may differ to your ingredients
Nutrition Information
Calories: 184 Fat: 5.9 Carbohydrates: 14.5 Fiber: 1.9 Protein: 18.4

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RECIPE: Beef Barley Vegetable Soup

And Lunch for Everyday of the Week

So planning every breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks can become exhausting. One thing that saved my bacon was SOUP SATURDAY!

Chili in the front, Beef Barley Vegetable Soup in the Back

Chili in the front, Beef Barley Vegetable Soup in the Back

Every week, or every other, I make a batch (or two) of soup, store them in glass pyrex bowls (the 2 cup bowls are perfect for single servings and the 8 cup is perfect for my family), pop them in the deep freeze and pull them out as I need them.  This has become quite the tradition in my house.  I keep three to four varieties of soup in my freezer so I do not feel like I am eating the same thing EVERY day (and to make sure I am balancing my nutritional intake)!  Some days, I make Chicken Salad, make something specific, or eat leftovers from my dinner BUT I do not have to stress about making something for lunch (or even think about it.)   This habit was definitely a lifesaver when I was working… I always had lunch… ready to go!   Here is another great recipe to freeze!  Toscana Zuppa….

RECIPE: Beef Barley Vegetable Soup
Gestational Diabetes friendly, freezer worthy soup for lunches all month
Serves: 20 cups
  • 1 ½ lbs Ground Beef , browned
  • 1 Medium Onion, diced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 4 Large Carrots, sliced
  • 4 Celery Stalks, sliced
  • 2 quarts Whole Tomatoes
  • 2 T Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 c Pearl Barley, raw
  • 2 qt Beef Stock
  • 3 large Bay Leaves
  • 1 T Oregano
  • 1 T Parsley
  • 1 ½ tsp Thyme
  • 2 c Green Beans, Frozen
  • 3 c Cabbage, shredded
  • 1 ½ c Corn, Frozen
  • ½ c Green Peas, Frozen
  1. Brown Hamburger, Drain. Add Onion and sautéed until translucent. Add garlic, and celery, sauté a couple more minutes and then add carrots, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, barley, water, beef stock, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, and Parsley. Bring to a slow boil and simmer until carrots are tender, add Green Beans and Cabbage. Simmer until cabbage and green beans are tender and then add corn and peas. Simmer until corn and peas are heated through. Salt and Pepper to taste.
Please remember that the nutrition values are estimated off the brands and ingredients I have used and may differ to your ingredients
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup Calories: 145 Fat: 2 Carbohydrates: 24 Fiber: 4 Protein: 11.6

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Thanksgiving and Gestational Diabetes

Pumpkin Pie Custard Cup Recipe and other lower carb variations of Thanksgiving favorites!

Most traditional Thanksgiving meal are fully carb loaded, so much, that going to a Thanksgiving get-together can be very stressful and deflating when you feel like you  cannot- eat- a – thing.  So, how can you enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday, relish the time with your loved ones, savor delicious food, AND manage this gestational diabetes gig?


Pumpkin Pie Custard Cup

Pumpkin Pie Custard Cups… Only 10g carbs per! See Recipe Below!

#1 Change of Perspective

So tell me why Thanksgiving is focused on food anyways?  Instead of focusing the day on food, focus the day on giving thanks, relationships and fun.

Focus on how blessed you are to have a sweet sugar baby growing inside of you and all the blessings you have received throughout the year.

Plan a couple fun activities… after dinner, go play with the kiddos and get some exercise, play cards, do something to move your focus away from food and towards spending time with your loved ones.  Some ideas… (Apples to Apples, Phase Ten, Pit, Scattergories, Kizmet, Uno, Tapples, Poker, Hand and Foot, Euchre, Go on a Walk, Play Bean Bags, Throw football with the little ones, etc)

#2 So, HOW do I get through dinner?

Start with low carb favorites

  • Turkey… go easy on the gravy but protein load on Turkey!
  • Relish Tray… Cucumbers, Broccoli, Celery, etc
  • Nuts, Olives, and Cheeses
  • Lettuce and Spinach Salads (just watch the dressing!)  I will share one of my favorites next week!

Be Prepared

You will not know the EXACT carbohydrate count on every dish but use your best judgment…. Here is a guide for traditional preparations:

  • Turkey- 0 carbs
  • Gravy- 10-15 carbs/cup
  • Mashed Potatoes-30-40 grams of carbs/ cup
  • Candied Sweet Potato Casserole-30-90 grams of carbs/ serving ( 8-12 servings/casserole)
  • Cranberry Salad: 25-70 grams of Carbs/ serving  (3” by 3” by 1” cube)
  • Pumpkin Pie-25-50 grams of carbs/slice (1/8th of pie)
  • Pecan Pie: 50-80 grams of carbs/slice (1/8th of a pie)
  • Green Bean Casserole- 20-30 grams/serving (6-8 servings/ casserole)
  • Dressing- 20-25 grams/serving (1/2 cup moist)

Skip High Carb Foods that you do not LOVE… can you say Cranberry Salad 🙂  Sorry if you love it, I am not a fan!

Complete your Thanksgiving Meal! Make your contribution friendly to your diet and bring something that would make your Thanksgiving Dinner complete— like a portion controlled crust-less pumpkin pie custard cup (see recipe at the end of the post)

Enlist a friend… do you know who is bringing the green beans?  Confide in them and ask them to bring a lower carb version such as this one…  Smothered Green Beans from links to other lower carb versions of traditional favorites at the end of the post.)

Just a Taste… Wanting just a bite of mashed potatoes? Put one teaspoon on your plate, eat it slowly, and don’t go back for seconds (Let’s face it, for some dishes, there is no a lower carb version that will satisfy the masses and for my family, mashed potatoes is one of them- if I brought mashed cauliflower to Thanksgiving instead of potatoes, my family would be irate J.  Remember have a small teaspoon to satisfy your cravings but account for it in your carb calculations!

Don’t forget your Snacks!  Even though it is Thanksgiving, try your best to eat as close to your schedule as possible… it will help keep your blood sugar stabilized.  Save something you skipped over at lunch for your snack… want a dinner roll but did not want to totally eat up your carb allowance… save back a half roll and eat it with leftover Turkey for snack.

# 3 Give yourself some grace!

Last but not least, do not be too hard on yourself.  Remember that stress can start you on a blood sugar rollercoaster by releasing cortisol and epinephrine (AKA adrenaline) that increases your blood sugar levels.  You may have a high after dinner number but do the best you can, give yourself some grace, take a walk, and move on.


Enjoy your pregnancy, Enjoy Thanksgiving, Enjoy your family, and Enjoy the delicious food!

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Also, “Like” me on Facebook!   Next week, I will be posting links to more lower carb variations of traditional favorites on facebook… don’t miss it and don’t forget to take a look at the Pumpkin Pie Custard Cup Recipe below!


Alternatives to Traditional Preparations        

Original: Candied Sweet Potato Casserole

Baked Sweet Potatoes from …. I love prefer my sweet potatoes this way.  In order to bring to a holiday party, bake potatoes in oven until soft in the middle, cut in halves or fourths, put a little water, apple juice, or chicken broth in a crockpot to keep them moist.  In order to accommodate everyone, you can bring a variety of condiments such as salt, pepper, butter for you but also brown sugar, cinnamon, and marshmallows- your love ones can build their own sweet potato to their preference.

Original: Cranberry Salad

I already admitted… I am not a fan, so I would prefer to make a spinach salad with cranberries… I will share my favorite early next week.  In the meantime… here is Wilted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pinenuts from I Breathe I’m Hungry… but don’t forget if you are using soft cheeses, make sure that they have been pasteurized.

Original: Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie from with 27 grams of carbs/ serving… I have not tried this one yet… but it has FABULOUS ratings!  This could be a potentially good night snack paired with leftover turkey!

Original: Green Bean Casserole

Uncasserole it… Smothered Green Beans from Allrecipes.com4 NET Carbs/Serving.  This is my preferred green beans, GDM or no GDM, and has only 7 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber… 4 NET CARBS and is absolutely delicious… hence… fill your plate with these!

Original: Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie Custard Cups…. Adapted from Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe

1 can pumpkin puree                3 eggs

½ tsp salt                                  2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon                         ¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp cloves                              ½ tsp ginger

¼ c real maple syrup                 1 can evaporated milk

Preheat Oven to 350 F.  Spray a 12 serving cupcake pan with cooking spray.  Combine spices and salt in a small bowl.  In a mixing bowl beat eggs and vanilla¸ thoroughly mix in pumpkin puree and spices.  Once well mixed, slowly stir in the evaporated milk until combine.  Fill cupcake pan and bake for 35 minutes.  Cool completely and remove from pan.  Serve with Real Whipped Cream!

1 custard “cup” is approximately 90 calories, 3.2 g fat, 10.7 g Carbs, 1.3 g Fiber, 3.9 g Protein

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Farm Boys, Lunches and Wedding Showers


chicken salad

Cranberry-Pear Chicken Salad

So I have a super busy November planned, as I am sure many of you have as well;  We have my nephew’s wedding, my sister’s wedding shower and bachelorette party, an out of town wedding, harvest in full swing, my birthday, my daughter’s birthday, and Thanksgiving all this month!  That being said, I am trying to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, and for me, that generally means salads, soups, or sandwiches.

Convenience is something that goes by the wayside when you have gestational diabetes… most things that are convenient are loaded with carbs or filled with artificial “junk.”  Although it is important to not eat the same thing everyday… (can anyone say eggs and peanut butter?), it is also important to have some quick, easy, stress-free meals calculated and ready to go!  Today, I am sharing one of my go-to staples… Cranberry-Pear Chicken Salad.  I would make a big batch on Sunday night and pack it with a piece of fruit in my lunch a couple times a week.  I also paired it with a tortilla wrap, Triscuits, rolled-up in lettuce, or even just put it atop of a bed of lettuce.  Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!

So… yesterday…  for supper, I needed to have something fast and simple that I could send out to the fields for the men, feed my kiddos, and have leftovers to pack in my 6 year old’s lunchbox.  So I went for old reliable… Cranberry-Pear Chicken Salad.   I just LOVE this salad!   I used this as filling in a tortilla wrap last night for the men in the fields, but for myself and the kiddos, I filled a piece of lettuce and made a lettuce wrap!  SO SATISFYING AND I had leftovers to send in my son’s lunch today!   Enjoy!

(This is actually the recipe that I used at my baby shower and plan to use at my sister’s wedding shower next weekend.)

Cranberry-Pear Chicken Salad
Prep time
Total time
Quick, Easy and GDM compliant Chicken Salad; great for parties, packed lunches, and snacks
  • 2 ½ cups of diced chicken breast (you could use canned chicken)
  • 2 ¼ c. fresh pear- small diced (I have also used apples or grapes)
  • 1 c. celery- small diced
  • ¾ c mayonnaise
  • ½ c unsweetened dried cranberries (I have also used dried cherries)
  • 1 T lemon juice (I used fresh)
  • ¼ c chopped, toasted pecans (I sprinkled on top so they would not get soggy)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Based on the ingredients and brands I used… ½ cup was 180 calories, 11.5 g Fat, 8.8 g protein, 10 g Carbs, 2.3 g dietary fiber
Please remember the nutritional information is based on specific brands of ingredients. Please verify carb and fiber content based upon your ingredients
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ½ cup Calories: 180 Fat: 11.5 Carbohydrates: 10 Fiber: 2.3 Protein: 8.8

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Ready to Ride the Combine!

Ready to Ride the Combine!