Cooking when you’ve just had a baby sometimes feels like the very last thing you want to think about. And here I am, with a 7-month-old baby, and still struggling to get dinner on the table most nights! So Phil and I stick with the dinners we feel comfortable making, week in and week out. Eventually there will be room for creativity in the kitchen once again. But for right now, we’ve found what works for us. It’s funny, but the idea of dishes you make over and over again, recipes you know by heart, is something I always envisioned I’d do when I became a Mom. It might be a far cry from the way I cooked before, but hey – most things change when you have a kid!
One such dinner we’ve got memorized is a delicious Peanut Sesame Noodle Salad that is slightly adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Enchanted Broccoli Forest. We have probably made this for dinner once a week for the past 4 months. It’s that good. And that EASY.
And its ease is precisely why it’s the perfect dinner for new parents. It only requires a few ingredients, takes about 15-20 minutes to make, and gives you plenty for dinner and leftovers for lunch the next day (which we always enjoy).
The adaptations we made to Mollie’s original recipe:
- Added grated ginger to the sauce
- Used wide rice noodles rather than vermicelli-style
- Added red bell pepper
- Cooked tofu
Are there any go-to dinners you make every week?
Peanut Sesame Noodle Salad
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
Keywords: saute boil salad entree gluten-free vegan vegetarian wheat free
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 1 cup organic peanut butter (smooth or chunky, your choice)
- 1 cup boiling water
- 4 tbsp brown rice vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 inch ginger, grated
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp tamari or Bragg’s liquid aminos
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 4 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 14 oz extra firm tofu, cut into bitesize blocks
- 1 lb wide rice noodles
- 1 cucumber, cut into thin strips
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
- 6 scallions, finely sliced
- 3/4 cup peanuts, roughly chopped
- handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Cook the rice noodles according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
Make the sauce: combine the peanut butter, boiling water, vinegar, garlic, ginger, honey, tamari/braggs, crushed red pepper flakes and sesame oil in a small bowl. Whisk well and pour over the noodles.
Toss the cucumber, pepper, and scallions in with the noodles and sauce.
In a large frying pan, heat some coconut or sesame oil and cook the tofu for a few minutes until lightly browned.
Serve the noodles with a few cubes of tofu and a generous sprinkle of peanuts and cilantro.
Keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days.
I can’t believe it has been 5 months since I last posted anything here. Finn is a strong, chatty, toothy, giggly little man now. He’s starting to eat solids. He’s rolling over and over. He’s proving to us that he’s going to be one talkative little kid. And he leaves his mama very little time to do anything besides play with him, feed him, and then watch him napping on the monitor (mostly because he’s a tummy sleeper these days and he sticks his butt in the air, which is just too damn cute not to stare at).
So my apologies for the lack of posts since last summer. Things certainly have changed since my last update.
And they will continue to change. Not just for Finn, but for me too. I’ve got some exciting new ventures coming soon that I’ll be working on in between changing diapers and getting smeared with avocado.
In the meantime, stare at that face with me and try to get ANYTHING done!
I’ll be back soon – promise
Well, it finally happened! Say hello to Finnegan Charles:
He was born on July 11th (I can’t believe he’s 6 weeks old already…) at 1:15AM, wide-eyed and interested in what this big world has to offer him. Apart from the lack of sleep, we are in love with our little man and so glad he’s here.
I’d rather not share my birth story here. Maybe that will change in the future, but for now I’d like to keep it off the internet.
One thing about bringing Finn into this world that I will share, however, is the fact that I struggled hard with breastfeeding during the first week. My milk didn’t come in as quickly as the baby would have liked, so we were forced to supplement with donor breast milk (bless those women who donated!) through a tube and syringe. I was also pumping like a mad-woman, making sure our little one got what he needed.
Everything is going much more smoothly now, and he’s gaining weight and feeding like a champ, but those first days with him were a real challenge.
And then I learned about the Nursing Mama’s Breakfast!
We met with the most wonderful lactation consultant, Jessica, who visited us at home twice to make sure Finn was progressing and feeding properly. But my favorite thing she passed along to me was a list of recipes with ingredients thought to promote lactation. I can eat my way to better breastfeeding? Awesome!
The three magic ingredients are:
- Oats – Full of fiber, protein, and iron! Not to mention the calories they provide – crucial for allowing your body to do its (very hard and tiring) work!
- Flax – The omega-3 content is what counts here. It passes through the breastmilk to your baby, nourishing their growing brains and bodies, as well as supporting yours.
- Brewer’s Yeast (aka nutritional yeast) – this is NOT the same thing as the yeast you use for baking. Instead, brewer’s yeast is rich in B vitamins and a whole host of essential minerals, especially iron. All things a new mama needs for energy and lactation support. Or you could just drink a beer – no don’t.
Of course, you could very easily enjoy this breakfast whether you’re a nursing mama or not! It’s healthy and a wonderful on-the-go breakfast or snack – making all of our lives a little easier
Baked Oatmeal for Nursing Mamas
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Keywords: bake breakfast snack gluten-free nut-free soy-free vegetarian wheat free
Ingredients (16 servings)
- 6 cups rolled oats (can be gluten-free if required)
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups almond milk
- 1 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1⁄2 tsp nutmeg
- 4 Tbs flax meal
- 2 Tbs Brewers yeast
Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease a 9×13 pan with coconut oil.
Mix all ingredients together and bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
Keeps well for a week in an airtight container. A perfect quick breakfast or snack to munch on while you’re taking care of your little one!
Yep, I’m still pregnant. I really really hope I don’t have to say this for too much longer! For now, though, the little one is staying put. We were sort of hoping Phil could celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday as a new dad, but junior has other plans.
So, to distract ourselves from the waiting and watching and wondering, we baked a delicious dessert using beautiful fruit from the weekend farmer’s market.
I’ve used strawberry and rhubarb before to make a truly delicious raw dessert. This, however, is something different, but with very similar flavors. It’s best enjoyed with a dollop of something creamy. Yogurt? Ice cream? (Speaking of ice cream, I cannot wait to try this vegan ice cream place in Boston! A pregnant friend of mine has been raving about it!)
Anyway, here’s a tasty crumble to tide you over, whether like me you’re waiting for an imminent arrival, or you’re just in the mood for something summery and sweet.
Gluten-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Keywords: bake dessert gluten-free soy-free vegan vegetarian wheat free summer
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
For the Filling:
- 3-4 stalks rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped into bite-size pieces
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
- 1/4 cup corn starch or arrowroot starch
For the Topping:
- 1 cup ground almonds
- 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Combine all filling ingredients and spread out in a baking dish.
Combine all topping ingredients and mix until coated in coconut oil. Sprinkle over the fruit filling in the baking dish.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until fruit is bubbling and topping is browned slightly.
Serve warm with a dollop of yogurt or ice cream. Or leave to cool and keep in the fridge for a cool sweet treat!
As my baby’s due date approaches, I’ve become inundated with advice for the days and weeks immediately following the birth. One I come across time and time again is to make and freeze some meals for Phil and I to enjoy while we’re adjusting to life with a newborn. I’ve never been one to do this normally (cook meals ahead of time and store them in the freezer) except for vegetable stock (which definitely isn’t a meal) but I think it will come in really handy for us.
I looked up a few freezer-friendly dinner recipes and tweaked them a little. And today was my cooking day since the rain is relentless and certainly doesn’t make it feel much like Memorial Day weekend!
The first recipe actually makes a double batch (I decided to freeze both, but you could always cook these before dinner – serve one that night and freeze one for later). Here’s my Garden Baked Penne:
Garden Baked Penne
Prep Time: 35 mins
Cook Time: up to 2 hours
Keywords: bake simmer saute entree gluten-free wheat free vegetarian soy-free Italian
Ingredients (serves 8)
- 1 pound brown rice penne
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese
- 2 small zucchini, grated
- 1 cup goat or buffalo Mozzarella, broken into small chunks
- ground black pepper to taste
This recipe makes 2 separate batches. If you’re serving one for dinner tonight, preheat the oven to 375F. If not, start at the next step.
Line a baking or casserole dish with foil with excess folded over the sides.
Cook the pasta according to package instructions, draining 1-2 minutes before completely cooked.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat and add the onion and red pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes, then add the garlic, herbs, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Then pour in the crushed tomatoes and water, along with a teaspoon of sea salt. Simmer for 20 minutes uncovered.
Add the sauce to the cooked pasta, along with the spinach, pecorino, zucchini, and a pinch more black pepper. Stir to combine.
Divide between the two dishes and top with the mozzarella.
IF COOKING NOW: bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is lightly golden.
IF FREEZING NOW: leave to cool completely, then cover with foil and freeze for up to 3 months. (Once the dish is frozen after 24 hours, you can remove the foil wrapped meal from the baking dish to be used in the meantime. Place the foil wrapped meal back in the freezer by itself). To cook, transfer the covered meal back into the original pan you used and place directly in a 375F oven for 90 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes until golden.
That’s plenty of food for us as we get into the rhythm of parenthood!