Power to the Potato

We’re back in Boston after a wonderful warm week away in Florida. Seriously, that trip couldn’t have come at a better time. This winter has been brutal, particularly since Finn and I are both getting major cabin fever! But spring is just around the corner, so I’m trying to think about my favorite foods of the colder months and look on the (snowy) bright side. Something I haven’t made all winter: BAKED POTATO. Why not? I guess when I think about making potatoes, I usually jump to sweet potatoes and roast them up with some fish. I also associate baked potatoes with long cooking times (which is true – they take about an hour in the oven) but it’s not like it’s a labor-intensive hour. You poke a few holes in them, throw them in the oven, and leave them alone. My son can’t be left alone to play longer than 10 minutes, so you might say a baked potato is easier than a 7-month-old. But that would be a pretty weak analogy.

fried egg baked potato

But anyway.

It’s pretty easy to make a meal out of a baked potato. In England, “jacket potatoes” are a familiar vehicle for all manner of toppings that make a tasty and filling lunch. It’s not just sour cream and chives over there. Baked beans and cheese, for example. Or tuna and cottage cheese (woof).

Last night, as Phil and I embraced the fact that winter isn’t over, we settled in for a really satisfying and comforting dinner: baked potatoes with tomato sauce, cheese, and spinach, topped with a fried egg. Sounds simple? That’s because it is. And I’m totally having it again for dinner before the warm weather sets in (so hopefully not more than once…?)

The following recipe is loosely based on an article from the always fabulous, always miniature, Everyday Food magazine.

 

Fried Egg Baked Potato

by The Particular Kitchen

Prep Time: 5 mins

Cook Time: 1 hour

 

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 baking potatoes
  • 2 tbsp butter or Earth Balance spread
  • 4 tbsp tomato sauce (we used a simple jarred pizza sauce that we had in the fridge already)
  • handful of organic baby spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup grated manchego cheese
  • 2 organic eggs, gently fried
  • ground black pepper

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425F. Poke the potatoes a couple of times each with a sharp knife and rub the skins with olive oil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the oven for about an hour, or until you can easily pierce the potatoes with a fork.

Everything else can be prepared when the potatoes are about 5 minutes from being done.

Once cooked, place the potatoes on 2 plates and slice open down the middle. Let the butter melt inside before sprinkling on the cheese, spooning on some sauce, stuffing in the spinach, and topping with the fried egg and some grated black pepper.

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Magical Spread

I’ve got a pretty incredible spread to share with you. It’s as tasty as it is nutritious, a combination I strive for with every meal. It takes about 2 seconds to make and only involves 2 ingredients. In fact, I could barely call this recipe, but wanted to share it nonetheless.

tahini molasses spread

As a pregnant lady, I’m especially interested in finding healthful recipes that will also give me some much needed nutrient boosters. Two nutrients in particular that expectant moms need are iron and calcium. “So pop a couple of vitamins and drink some milk!” I hear the average doctor recommend. Well… not so fast.

Iron

Iron is an essential mineral, carrying oxygen in the blood, which is especially important for women. Many women are iron-deficient, resulting in anemia, a condition that leaves you feeling tired, weak, irritable, nauseous, and constipated. Iron supplements are usually prescribed to correct this imbalance. However, they are hard for the body to assimilate and shouldn’t take the place of consuming plenty of food-based iron sources. Vitamin C can also help your body to absorb iron, so taking about 500mg of C along with your daily dose of iron (whether in supplement or food form) can make a world of difference. Dairy and caffeine tend to inhibit iron absorption as well, so if you are anemic be aware of your dairy and caffeine consumption, taking them at separate times of day or decreasing them altogether. If you do decide to take an iron supplement, ensure that it is a chelated form, and pay attention to its effects on your body – if you experience nausea or constipation, stop taking them and stick to food and herb sources of iron, as below.

Iron-rich foods:

  • Dark leafy green vegetables
  • Dried fruits (raisins, apricots, figs, prunes, currants, cherries)
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Sea vegetables
  • Beans & Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Eggs
  • Red meat
  • Liver
  • Herbs (nettle, dandelion, yellow dock, alfalfa, fennel)

 

Calcium

Forget everything you think you know about calcium. Drinking milk all day long will not make you the calcium queen. Milk is difficult to digest for the majority of the world, so the calcium absorption the body receives is minimal. However, this mineral is crucial to good health, not just in pregnancy. Not only is it essential for the health of your bones, it can also help to reduce incidences of anxiety and insomnia. As with iron, caffeine inhibits calcium absorption, so if you know you are deficient, try reducing your caffeine intake.

Calcium-rich foods:

  • Hard cheeses
  • Unhulled sesame seeds
  • Yogurt
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Almonds
  • Sea vegetables
  • Salmon
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Herbs (alfalfa, red raspberry leaf, nettle, chamomile, dandelion)

 

My great friend Gabriela told me about this concoction when I first told her about my pregnancy. She is so passionate about health and motherhood, I just knew she’d have some wonderful advice to share. This spread is quick and easy, satisfying some much needed sweetness and creaminess cravings on toast, banana bread, cornbread… whatever your heart desires!

Tahini Molasses Spread

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp unsulphured blackstrap molasses

Stir up the tahini well before mixing with the molasses in a small dish. Stir it up good! Then spread it wherever you’d normally have nut butter or jam… I’m partial to gluten-free toast these days.


Your Healthiest Super Bowl Party Ever

I personally can’t wait for this Sunday’s main event – watching all the overpriced commercials and picking my favorite. Oh and the football game too.

In the last few years, however, since I was living in London and they show the game live, which means it goes on far too late for me and my sleepy head, I’ve been more excited about having people over for chili and cornbread. It’s a great excuse to invite friends over and share a casual meal – something that requires very little effort on your part and produces tasty results.

I’ve posted about Superbowl parties I’ve had before, but decided to re-post the recipes here with some tweaks I’ve made over the years and will be using this Sunday.

Have a fabulous Super Bowl Sunday everyone and enjoy the day!

Gluten-Free Vegan Cornbread

Adapted from Veganomicon

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups coconut or almond milk
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour mix (like Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar or honey
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Either use a cast-iron skillet or a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
  2. Combine the milk and vinegar in a jug and set aside to curdle.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the milk mixture and oil. Use a wooden spoon to mix together until just combined. Some lumps are okay.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet or pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a knife inserted through the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool before serving.

 

cocoa coconut chili

Cocoa-Coconut Chili

Adapted from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp hot chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 15-oz cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • tabasco, to taste
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • lime wedges, to serve
  1. In a large pot, add oil, onion, celery, pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, and allspice, and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 7-9 minutes, stirring occasionally; reduce heat if onions or garlic starts to burn.
  2. When onions start to soften, add cocoa powder and stir for 1-2 minutes, then add tomatoes, beans, coconut milk, and coconut, and stir to combine. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in corn kernels and cook another 5 minutes to heat through. Remove cover to let liquid reduce if desired. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze on generous amounts of juice.

Salt & Vinegar

My favorite flavor of potato chip was always salt and vinegar. Something about the harsh tang and the sour factor really suited my palette! And now that I’m pregnant, this craving has come back with a vengeance. I can’t get enough of the sour stuff, especially if it is accompanied by a crunchy consistency.

A huge nutrition focus in pregnancy, however, is protein. Getting adequate protein throughout the day is essential. Chips, as you may have guessed, are pretty devoid of nutrients, particularly protein!

That’s why crunchy roasted chickpeas are a genius snack.

Crunchy salt and vinegar chickpeas

By roasting the chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), you change the texture of them entirely. Some are crispy crunchy, some are chewy, but they become a portable and healthy snack for any time of day.

They also hold up well (and benefit from) strong flavors. These salt and vinegar chickpeas are just what I’ve been craving. Equally delicious, however, is a combination of cinnamon and maple syrup. Give them a try if you’re looking for an alternative to salty chips or nuts as a snack. You can also easily double the recipe if you’re expecting company (or if you’re not!)

Crunchy Salt & Vinegar Chickpeas

by The Particular Kitchen

Prep Time: 20 mins

Cook Time: 30 mins

Keywords: roast snack gluten-free nut-free vegan vegetarian wheat free sugar-free soy-free

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Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • olive oil

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Bring the chickpeas and vinegar to a boil with half the salt. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 20 minutes.

Drain and place in a bowl. Toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and the rest of the sea salt.

Spread on the baking sheet evenly and place in the oven, roasting for 35-45 minutes. Toss and rotate the pan halfway through. Check after 35 minutes to make sure there are no burnt chickpeas!

Remove from the oven once golden brown and leave to cool slightly before placing a bowl and digging in!

These are best (and crunchiest) right after cooking. However, you can keep them in an airtight container for a couple of days after, but they will be more chewy.

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Natural Nausea Relief for Everyone

Nausea is not fun, but is a reality for most pregnant women, in varying degrees during the first and sometimes second trimesters. However, this post is not just for the moms-to-be. This is for anyone who finds themselves suffering from occasional nauseous moments, whether its travel sickness, a hangover, or a nervous stomach.

Back in the day, if I felt nauseous, I’d pop a couple of chewable Pepto and be done with it.

[image source]

Nowadays, as you might imagine, I’m more interested in the natural options that are available to me. The thing about pregnancy nausea is that it feels slightly different from day to day. Therefore, the relief you need won’t always be the same each time. This is also the case for non-pregnancy nausea.

Below, a list of some great natural options to relieve mild to moderate nausea. In severe cases, or in the event that you’re unable to keep anything down, by all means try these, but the most important thing is to stay hydrated and talk to your health care provider.

Natural Nausea Relief

 

  1. GINGER. You’ve no doubt heard of this one before. It seems to be the go-to recommendation for morning sickness relief. It’s unknown what exactly causes the excellent digestive soothing that ginger provides, other than some special chemical compound found in the root’s flesh. My favorite forms have been spicy ginger beer (not ginger ale – there’s barely any ginger in it) or ginger candy from Reed’s or The Ginger People. This works when you need a strong flavor to overcome your nausea, but it does leave a warm sensation in your mouth which may sometimes feel or taste unpleasant. You can also grate or slice some fresh peeled ginger into hot water for a potent tea.
  2. EAT! Sometimes this sounds like the last thing you’d want to do, but an empty stomach can make nausea much much worse. My worst episodes occurred after a long night’s sleep, where it had been about 12 hours since the last time I ate. Eating some bland foods and keeping nourishing snacks handy throughout the day will help to combat this. My favorites are brown rice crackers, roasted unsalted almonds, Larabars, and Kelp Krunch bars, all very portable!
  3. PEPPERMINT. Not only is peppermint a natural stomach soother, it also gives your mouth a nice cool, clean feeling, something that can provide instant nausea relief. Try fresh mint leaf tea, natural mints (VerMints are great), or take a sniff of some peppermint aromatherapy oil.
  4. LEMON. Just smelling some fresh lemon can make a huge difference. If you find it helps you, carry around a slice or two of fresh lemon in a baggie and sniff it if you ever get a nausea wave. This is particularly helpful if you find yourself somewhere with strong and unpleasant smells (like a bus/train)!
  5. HORSE EXHALES. This might sound (and look) ridiculous, but it helps! Try a deep inhale through the nose, and then exhaling through your mouth, letting your lips audibly vibrate against each other, like a horse. Does that make sense? I tried to find something on YouTube that might explain it but with no luck. Anyway, this is a quick and easy way to relax your whole body – which can often be just the ticket to relieve nausea.
  6. SOUR TASTES. Some days, if I’m feeling sick to my stomach, the only things that sound good are sour. It’s that sharp bite that takes the full, uncomfortable, sick feeling away. Foods that have helped me: citrus fruits, pickles, Granny Smith apples, and cold green grapes.
  7. COLD TASTES. Sometimes, nausea relief is as simple as an ice cube. The cold factor can be a wonderful thing to cut through a sickly feeling. Try chewing on ice, natural fruit popsicles, ice cold water or fresh juice, or frozen grapes.
  8. ACUPRESSURE.¬†There is a specific point on the inner wrist that is thought to be connected to the stomach, and when pressed on hard, can alleviate discomfort and nausea. Measure two thumb widths down from the crease of your wrist on your inner arm. The point lies there, between the two tendons (which become more obvious when you make a claw with your fingers). Press there sharply until you feel a “pleasant pain” and you should start to feel relief. It could take a few minutes but is a great thing to try. It’s also nice for someone else to do for you, which can help you to relax. (If you don’t believe in the powers of acupressure or acupuncture, then just think of it as a distraction pain – you’ll focus on your wrist rather than the nausea!)

So there’s your nausea relief toolbox. Give them a try next time you’re feeling queasy. And please share your tried-and-true remedies!