Ah yeah, the first trimester, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times. It was also a time when I couldn’t really taste most of the food I was consuming much less enjoy it! Really though, I can’t complain too much other than a bit of nausea (no puking;) I had a pretty seamless first 84 days in comparison to the horror stories you hear.
For myself, there were a few go to snacks I found easier to consume and that were pretty important for organ and brain development. While eggs (pasture-raised) got me by earlier, after awhile I had to take a step back, since the smell drove me bonkers. Organic avocados are packed full of anti-inflammatory monosaturated fat in the form of omega 3, as well a heathy source of carbohydrates. Amoung other vital nutrients they contain the ever popular folate, for boosting growth and decreasing the risk of birth defects.
So my pick for what I thought was a nutritious-dense snack and that I was able to get down (especially for those with morning sickness), was this spiced applesauce with added sweet potato. I left the skin on the apples, which were red, (apparently contain the greatest amount of flavonoids), for a boost of antioxidants to support a fragile immune system. After pureéing it you can’t even tell the skin was left on! Just be sure to buy organic, apples are on the top of the list for highest containing pesticides!
At the end of the day, I looked at it as though if I weren’t putting this good stuff in my body for replenishment, the baby was going to take it from my stores anyhow! The nutritional deficencies of me would predict how healthy the babe will be. Eating for 2 isn’t exactly accurate in the sense that most believe, really most women only need an extra 300 calories. Increasing the quality was the importance I based it on, being concious of where I ate out at and if the meat served was not injected with hormones or gmo feed and only organic produce to avoid all those nasty chemical pesticides. Even if you’re not pregnant or trying to conceive, these are important factors to be aware of when purchasing your foods.
two 32oz jars
organic red apples, cored and chopped
sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
water or pure apple juice, enough to cover apples and potatoes
In a large stainless steel pot, add all the ingredients including the liquid and cover.
Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer for about an hour covered. Stirring occasionally until apples and potatoes are very soft.
Remove cinnamon sticks and with an immersion blender, pureé the applesauce until desired consistency.
The adjustments of becoming pregnant and starting a newish career/job has kept me away from this wonderful outlet of sharing all the good food, well-being and nutrition that inspires me to live a heathy life. This preggo thing wasn’t a planned venture, (though super pumped!) I have some ideas of how I think it did come as a surprise - as for some, I know it does not. I hope to provide a little insight I’ve learned along the way that you can apply to begin housing a little being.
As well, I’ve been busy in the kitchen coming up with specific nutrient-dense recipes whilst being in this prenatal phase (and preparing for the postnatal - that will be in another post!). Foods and beverages that have worked for me to maintain a healthy weight gain, but also supply the proper nutrients my growing babe needs before coming into this mad world!
Anyone who’s been pregnant knows how awkwardly uncomfortable this last stage is, 38+ weeks to be exact! Finding a comfortable position to even write this is challenging! But like my yoga teacher said this morning, it’s the perfect place for baby until it’s ready to make an appearance. So until then, I’m hanging in!
Here are a few of the practices and pointers I found to helped guide me through this amazing transition and time in both our lives…
The thing about detoxing is I think it can be taken to extremes, with crazy honey and lemon water only diets, fasting for days and those crazy kits you can buy (which I’ve done on numerous occasions). By detox, in this sense is in reference to what my natropath and other leading health professionals whom I follow taught me. There are many toxins in our environment that are out of our control, however the products and materials we use in our daily life are in our control.
While my intention was to soley rid our home of these toxic substances for our greater health and disease prevention, this can be a practice for those who are looking to release excess chemicals and endocrine disruptors that can adversley effect your chances of concieving. Here are a couple examples… all cosmetics or products you use on your skin that absorb into your blood stream, (this is a great site to help with these things) non-stick pans or aluminum and anything in plastic. I’ve always been a #hippyatheart so for me, I had already been using shampoos, deoderants, soaps and cosmetics with out all the junk for years. It was the plastic I found tricky to get around, mason jars are now my best friend!
Now onto the good stuff, the real meat of being pregnant. Now that you’ve detoxified your home and powder room, move on up to your fridge and cupboards for an overhaul. As a Natural Therapuetic Chef, I’m more than ever aware of the issues with our food system. Being mindful is the first step to good nutrition, avoiding processed and packaged goods loaded with harmful preservatives and excess sugars and poor salts is a great start. Then the rest is just about eating local and seasonal, supporting your community butcher and going to the market for your produce. Sticking with nutrient-dense foods like high quality meats, prepared vegetables with healthy fats like avocados, coconut oil and grass-fed butter and of course organic whenever possible!
For me, this is a must. I NEED to have a physical outlet for multiple reasons. But mainly as a meditative, stress and detoxification process it provides me with such a relief. In the first half of my pregnancy I ran in place of my practice of Bikram yoga, which was very difficult but for the health and growth of the wee one, I waited for the clearance from my midwife. Once I was, it felt great to be back stretching and sweating the toxins from my organs and tissues. It’s super important especially for an expecting mama like myself to properly hydrate in and out of the yoga room so tonnes of honey and lemon water or coconut water do the trick. Offsetting this more intense yoga with a prenatal form was a nice balance and a must for preparing my body for birth and quicker recovery.
That’s about it, I’m sure there’s more I could include but to keep within my scope of practice as a Natural Chef, I will continue in my next post with a couple of the recipes I think were great in each trimester. And if I don’t pop before too soon, I’ll try to squeeze in some of the post-natal recipes I’ve prepared for my recovery - super time-savers and packed with all a new mama (and papa) are in need of. Otherwise, I’ll see you on the flipside!
I thought, it’s been such awhile since my last post - forever ago, I would make something, very worthwhile! I’ve also been baking with gluten-free flours a lot lately since graduating from the Natural Chef program at Bauman College. After 450 hours of cooking, baking and culinary disease prevention and support, I’m now so ready to share and promote how to prepare simple, whole foods with a bit of healthful fun too! On to the cake!
Made with healthy organic butter, protein dense by 5 pasture-raised eggs and low-glycemic coconut sugar - a gluten-free but moist rich cake. So good!
two six inch cakes
Preheat oven to 325° F. Line 2 six inch round cake pans with parchment paper and grease the sides with a small par of the butter.
Sift together the coconut flour, cacao, salt, and soda.
Beat together the eggs, butter, sugar and vanilla in a stand mizer or hand mixer until combined.
Slowly add in the dry mixture and beat for about 2 minutes.
Pour batter into the greased pans and bake for about 35 minutes or until the top springs back and a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool cake completely before frosting with the butter cacoa icing (which is coming…!). I like to freeze the cake after the first layer of icing, then do a final coat on a harder surface to make it nice a smooth!
Thankfully, many years before my Grandmother passed away, I had the opportunity to watch her way of cooking this sweet, bright magenta soup first hand. Often cited as the Ukraine for it’s origin, (I think I’m bias ;) although it’s had it’s roots in most parts of eastern Europe. (no pun intended) Borscht, is slavic for borschevik or hogweed. What was originally used when making this hearty soup.
I commonly squished my face in disgust to this swampy looking vegetable soup as a child. This was before of course, I matured my palate and realized this stuff was pure goodness. 30 years of gathering with my Father’s large and ever-growing family on Christmas eve, at a dining room table (usually in an U or T shape to accommodate everyone). All this to enjoy and savor this once-a-year, 5-course Ukrainian meal. Two soups, a porridge, 2 varieties of cabbage rolls and perogies among other aperitifs and dessert treats. An experience to say the least, I think there’s butter in EVERY dish! A thick and fattening meal that leaves you wanting more while resenting what you already consumed!
The borscht soup I enjoyed cooking with my grandmother, is as authentic as she remembered learning from her mother - which I’m sure has been tweaked over the years. Her version contains a LOT of butter, oh and cream, lot’s of that as well! However, the authenticity and color of borscht is truly determined by the ingredients that go into making it. An true borscht recipe would ask for onions, beets, butter, carrots, beans, potatoes, dill, cream and lemon for balancing. Possibly cabbage and different varieties of meats are also commonly used.
Beets are a pure source of folic acid, fiber, iron, magnesium and potassium. Medicinally used for disorders of the liver - stimulating to the detoxification process. Betacyanin a cancer-flighting agent, gives them their bright pink pigment. (Murray,2005)
five 16 oz. mason jars (maybe more depending on how long you cook it for)
My Grandmother’s traditional borscht
Soak the dill weed by covering with the water and bring it to a boil before cooking.
bunch dill (plus more for garnish)
water for dill
onions, or 6 cups diced and divided
1 1/2 cups
unsalted butter or ghee, divided
sea salt, divided
large sweet potatoes, quartered
beets, cleaned, peeled and quartered
chili pepper, seeded and minced
carrots, peeled and diced small
green beans, chopped into 1” pieces (about 11/2 cups)
vegetable or chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
Add 1 cup of the butter, olive oil and 5 cups onions and 1 tsp salt to a large pot and sauté slowly on medium heat until clear 10 minutes. Turn down to medium-low for another 15 minutes, it will increase in liquid almost by half when finished - pour into a bowl and set aside.
Food process each separately, sweet potatoes, beets then remaining onions.
In another pot, add potatoes and cover with water by 1” - add 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, turn off heat strain and reserve water.
In the first large pot, add the remaining butter and the beets and salt and pepper. Stir to combine until the butter is melted.
Add the potatoes and reserved potato water (add more water if neccessary), dill liquid, beans, carrots, chili pepper, stock, lemon juice and 1 cup of the reserved butter and onions mixture. Bring to a boil, very slowly over medium heat.
Cover and turn down to a low simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occationally or until desired tenderness is reached on vegetables. They should be slightly squishy.
To serve, remove from heat and stir in creme fraîche to create a bright pink hue. Garnish with a sprig of dill.
Sources: (1) Murray, Michael T., Joseph E. Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: Atria, 2005. 164-65. Print.
In a lesson at cooking school a few weeks back, we made a stew with lamb - that’s a first for me! Since then I’ve been inspired to make more and more stews and experiment with different cuts of meat and vegetable combinations. They’re a hearty meal to prepare on the weekend, especially in these cooling months towards winter.
Stews require a little prep - but after it gets a good simmer on, with a variety of nutrient-dense, fibrous vegetables and grass-fed meats, soaking up spices like cumin, coriander and curry. Makes for one delicious Sunday evening dinner with the family - big or small! And this recipe is exactly that! I wanted some spice, warmth and definitely immune-building nutrition. I think I need more practice with spice and herb combining, to get just the right mix.
With this hearty stew, I served with it with a slice of gluten-free pumpernickel, herb butter and a cauliflower mash. Ultimate comfort foods with healthful additions makes for one wholesome meal.
Approximately 4 servings
1 hour 30 minutes
grass-fed and pasture-raised lamb
salt and pepper for seasoning
unsalted butter or ghee, divided
yellow onion, diced
celery stock, diced
medium sweet potato, diced
garlic cloves, minced
sea salt, plus more to taste
dry red wine
maple sugar or syrup
14 oz can
organic diced tomatoes
head organic cauliflower (food processed into small pea forms)
cloves garlic, minced
butter or ghee
Season the lamb pieces in salt and pepper. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 Tbsp of the butter. Brown each lamb piece, avoid crowding and then set aside.
Add the remaining butter and add onions, sauté until translucent. Add celery, sweet potato, garlic, ginger, spices and salt. Stirring constantly until well combined and you can smell the spices begin to cook, about 4 minutes.
With the red wine, deglaze the skillet, scraping bits off the bottom.
Add maple sugar, tomatoes and chicken stock. Add back in the meat and bring to a light boil. Immediately turn down to a simmer on medium-low heat for 35 minutes.
Remove lid and stir. Sauce should be slightly reduced and thicker. Continue to simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally to reduced liquid further.
While the lamb is stewing, add the cauliflower to a pot with the stock, salt and garlic. Cover and cook on medium heat, for about 15 minutes or until almost all the stock is gone.
Add the collards to the stew and stir to combine. Cook until greens are slightly wilted but still green about 10 minutes.
Turn the heat off on the cauliflower and add in butter, lemon juice, yogurt and shallot. With an immersion blender, pureé in pot until smooth like whipped potatoes! Serve with stew and a fresh slice of gluten-free bread.
My attempt to make pumpkin pancakes did not quite make it this time. Although, after a few test rounds, I ended up with a nice light batter, fluffy, filling and pumpkin-spiced. Pretty simple to make, now that I got the ingredients set! The millet gives them a sweet vanilla flavour, and is a source of magnesium and B vitamins. These are a great alternative compared to the traditional flapjacks that can be loaded with sugar and refinded white flour. I still have a full ziplock bag full of pumpkin wedges, pumpkin curry anyone?
2 servings (approximately 7-10 pancakes)
millet, ground into a flour
xantham powder (as a binder)
almond milk or other milk alternative
melted coconut oil, divided
egg, lightly beaten
organic apple, grated
organic maple syrup and butter or ghee (for serving)
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a small bowl.
Then in another bowl, mix all the wet ingredients, reserving 1 Tbs of the oil.
Pour the dry mixture into the wet bowl and whisk batter together lightly just until combined. Consistency should be thick but runny.
In a cast iron or heavy bottom pan on medium-low heat, melt a couple drops of oil to coat bottom.
With 1/3 measuring cup, pour batter in the center. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Repeat with remaining batter.
Serve with the butter or ghee, grated apple and maple syrup if desired.