Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An invaluable lesson

Its two post Tuesday! I have another thing I wanted to mention, and it certainly does not belong with the recipe post, so I thought I'd just do another post.

This morning I was roused from my sleep by my husband with breakfast in hand. (yes, this is how I always wake up) I sat up, took one sip of my juice and promptly puked all over myself. Now, why am I sharing the gory details? There is a lesson to be learned! The reason that my stomach rejected even the smallest amounts of nutrients was because it was hollow. Totally empty. Cavernous. I usually eat a snack before bed, but I thought my 1/2 a bannana and Peanut Butter at 8:30pm would hold me over. I was wrong. If you're in early pregnancy (and probably all throughout pregnancy but I can't speak for those terms yet) it is imperative to never let your stomach get empty.

I had a friend that told me towards the end of her 1st trimester she got to the point that she would wake up, puke, then go on with her day. I'm tellin you, this is preventable! If you find yourself waking up severely nauseous it is probably because you're hungry! My friend Amiee, on the other hand used to get up in the middle of the night to eat. I HATE getting up in the middle of the night, but this is actually a really good plan because I bet she never woke up and puked. (If you read this Amiee, please confirm). Like I said, I usually have a snack right before I sleep and that works fine for me. I'm talking, eat in bed right before I turn out the light. It should be substantial, i.e. a bowl of cereal, pb and banana, pb toast, something with some protein. A handful of dry cheerios may not cut it because this has to last the 8 hours that you are asleep.

So, lesson learned.

Tasty Tuesday - Stir Fry

We eat stir fry almost on a weekly basis since its quick, easy, and provides a ton of vegetables. Stir fry is also a really good way to get rid of any leftover veggies you might have in the fridge that may be starting to go bad. I will provide my favorite stir fry sauce recipe with some suggestions of what to stick in it. But ANYTHING GOES!

Buckley Stir Fry

1 can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
sesame oil
1/2 onion, sliced
an array of vegetables, many colors (i.e., squash, spinach, bok choy, asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, bell peppers, carrots etc, etc)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
zest and juice of one lime
2 tbspns hoisin sauce
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
1 tbspn grated ginger
a handful of toasted, chopped cashews
you can also add tofu*

Have all your ingredients prepped and within arms reach of the stove. Heat a splash of sesame oil in a large pan, or wok over medium high heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook until they start to soften. Add the chickpeas. It is important to dry your chickpeas after you rinse them because they will get nice and brown and crusty. Cook chickpeas, stirring occasionally until they start to brown and crust. Throw in all your vegetables, ginger, and garlic. Cook for just a minute or two, until the veggies are bright colors. Do not overcook! Then add the red pepper, cashews, lime zest, lime juice, and hoisin sauce. Cook for 20 or 30 more seconds stirring constantly.

This should yield a giant pan full of bright crisp hot vegetables.

*If you add tofu, you are going to want to use firm tofu, pressed, and add it to the pan first. When it starts to brown (see caramelized tofu recipe on how to cook firm tofu) then add the onions and chickpeas.

Nutrition: Chickpeas are an excellent source of folate, which we all know how important that is. Along with the cashews, they also supply the protein. The rest of the nutrition depends upon what vegetables you use, but trust you will be getting a nice array of all vitamins and minerals!

For my meat eating friends - I'm sure this would be good with chicken too, if you cook the chicken first in the pan and then follow the rest of the recipe.

Monday, January 25, 2010

My First Appointment!

So I was lazy and didn't post about my first appointment this weekend. I didn't get on the computer at all, actually. But I am no less excited to talk about my appointment; it was awesome!

We heard the heartbeat!! Towards the end of my appointment we wanted to try to listen for the little pitter patter. Mary Anne said that it might take a minute to find, and told me we would probably hear me first. She set the monitor on my belly, turned it on and there it was! The very first thing we heard! It was strong and still woosh woosh woosh, which she said it good at 11 weeks. I got so excited I giggled which moved the monitor off and then it did take her a minute to find it again. It was a really rewarding and precious moment.

The rest of my appointment, we talked a lot, and she asked me everything about my medical history, myself, and how I'm doing. My blood work was good, and she said I had some of the highest hemoglobin count she's seen for a vegetarian.. go me!!

ALSO! GAS UPDATE: I learned natural remedies for my gas! Very VERY exciting. She said that I could prevent gas by eating papaya. By which I responded with "Where am I going to get papaya in January??" But she was more talking about papaya tablets. There are tablets that capture papaya's natural digestive enzymes that will help to keep things moving as my digestive track gets more and more smooshed as the baby grows. This also helps to avoid trapped gas. But if I do get gas, she told me to get down on the floor and basically put your face and knees on the floor, with your butt way up in the air. This gets the gas to travel, then to sit on the potty and usually it will expell. She gave me some tablets while I was there, and I've felt great since!

I really had a good time, and my next appointment is Feb 20 - which yes - is a SATURDAY! So that helps even more with having to drive to Nashville.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Appointment Tonight!

I've been at a conference this week, which is why I have neglected my blog. I know you were all itching for a new recipe. :)

The conference was fine, I felt well most of the time except during our banquet when I had horrible tummy pains (yes, the gas) and had to excuse myself halfway through. But anyway, am doing well today, and I'm hopefully on the upside! I'm 11 weeks and I have my first appointment this evening!! I'm sooooo excited! I'm ready to get the ball rolling and I just really want someone else to say "Yep, you're pregnant." I hope we get to hear the heartbeat today too! So I'll let everyone know what a first appointment with a midwife is like. I did my blood work last week at a lab here in town, and Mary Anne (my midwife) told me yesterday when she called to confirm that everything "looked good" with that, so hopefully she'll go over the results today, since I don't even know what blood type I am.

I don't have anything weird going on. I'm not an emotional basketcase, I'm not really all that exhausted, and I don't have strange symptoms like tasting metal in my mouth. In fact, if I didn't have the dry nausea, the occasional horrible gas, or these awesome boobs, I wouldn't know that I was even pregnant. I think thats a good thing, because I'm hoping that once I hit my second trimester I will be feeling great!

So, I will post about my first appointment this weekend. And I will briefly brag about how awesome it is to have a midwife. I have to drive to Tennessee because Alabama is stupid and CPM's are not recognized in the state, but because we have to drive about an hour and a half, my appointments are on my schedule. So we have appointments at 6pm so we can work a full day and then get to Franklin, TN. Also, my first appointment will be anywhere from an hour to two hours depending on how much I want to talk, with all other appointments lasting at least an hour. I LOVE that I will have such a personal and intimate relationship by the time of the birth. I just think that beats the doctor's office no contest!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Oh, my, pardon me..

Besides the near constant state of mild queasiness, my number one pregnancy complaint is... GAS! Let's be honest. People tell you ahead of time how you may puke morning, noon, and night, but they never tell you you might poot morning, noon, and night. Or worse.. wish you could poot morning, noon, and night. We're talking the kind of gas that wells up and makes you wish you could just release a valve.. just one giant pffffffffffffffffffft. The kind that makes me wish I would just go out and buy a giant box of gas-ex.

Really, my gas has gotten much better. (Did you really want to know this much about me? But I say, why not?? Why must we keep our bodily functions so secret?.. and this is one secret that is hard to keep anyway.) Right at my 5th week, in the evenings, the gas hit and was so intense that it was hard to walk upright. The only things that really helped was a good tub, or a cup of hot lemon water. The tub relieved the pressure when in the tub, and the hot lemon water relieved the gas while I was drinking it.. but neither method lasted. I just had to go to bed bloated, and I'd generally wake up fine, just for it to hit again the next night. This continued until my 6th week, and has been much better since. But once a week maybe.. here it comes again. I haven't been able to trace it to a particular food, and I'm not.. uh-hem.. backed up.. so I'm not real sure what is the cause. Hopefully.. this, like the other ailments will come to an end with the end of the first trimester; which I'm 10 weeks.. so a few more weeks to go!

Has anyone found a good natural relief for kick-you-in-the-tummy-wish-i-could-pop-myself-gas??

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Red Raspberry

I'm pretty excited about Red Raspberry Leaf, and after you read the following excerpt from Jack Ritchason's herb book, maybe you will be too. Red Raspberry has been used for centuries to aid in quicker and less painful childbirths. I drink a cup of tea a day now, and will probably increase to two or three cups as my pregnancy progresses. I started drinking the tea in the summer, when I first learned about it, as it is a uterine toner and is excellent for all women, in any stage of life, to keep your uterus healthy.

Red Raspberry

Red Raspberry, where mothers and babies are concerned, is an herb made in heaven. It can be taken throughout pregnancy with good results. It builds tissue to the extent that it prevents tearing of the cervix of the uterus during birth. During childbirth, hemorrhaging is prevented, the contractions of the uterine muscles are regulated during delivery, and it also reduces false labor pains prior to birth.

Red Raspberry leaves are high in iron and enrich early colostrums found in mother’s milk. It also cleanses and prepares breasts for a pure milk supply for the nursing infant by cleansing and purifying the blood.

Red Raspberry can be used for children’s stomachaches, diarrhea, dysentery, bleeding gums mouth sores, as a sore throat gargle, and as an astringent for the flu and vomiting.

For centuries, crude raspberry leaves have been used to aid in morning sickness, and to ease many menstrual problems.

-Raspberry helps promote painless and bloodless childbirth. It helps quiet nausea and acts to stop diarrhea, especially in children.
-Raspberry leaf can be taken throughout pregnancy.
-Red Raspberry leaves have a manganese content double that of any other herb that would make it one of the riches sources of herbal manganese.
-Raspberry strengthens the walls of the uterus and the entire female reproductive system.
-Raspberry decreases profuse menstrual flow.
-Drinking Raspberry leaf tea helps relieve painful menstruation and regulates the flow.
-Raspberry leaf is a preventative for hemorrhaging during labor. It reduces false labor pains, makes delivery easier and relieves after-pains.
-Raspberry leaf tea increases and enriches milk for lactation.
-Raspberry leaf is an excellent herb for children to use for cleansing colds, slowing diarrhea, easing colic and fevers.

Raspberry leaf tea is available in most every health food store and some health food sections of regular grocery stores. I get Traditional Medicinals brand in the health food section at Kroger.

Ritchason, Jack. The Little Herb Encyclopedia: The Handbook of Nature’s Remedies for a Healthier Life. Woodland Health Books, 1995. pp 195-196.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tasty Tuesday - Caramelized Tofu

This is one of my very favorite tofu recipes from www.101cookbooks.com. The author of the website is Heidi Swanson, who has several natural foods cookbooks, and 101cookbooks is her recipe journal. This is my very favorite recipe website.

Before I post the recipe, I'd like to talk about tofu. Soy is touted as one of the healthiest foods you can eat, which is only sorta true. It is a great source of vegetarian protein, low fat, and high in fiber. It practically saved American farming after the dust bowl, when they found that soy could grow in just about any environment. But that is the very reason it is touted so much. A very high percentage of American farming is soy, so, they want you to eat it. Lots of it. The reason why I caution against eating tons of tofu and soy in general, is because it is very high in phytoestrogens, which is a plant based estrogen. Our environment is stuffed full of estrogens, whether from foods (i.e. dairy and soy) or from xenoestrogens, which is a chemical estrogen found in almost anything from pesticides, to nail polish, to household cleaners. Because our environment is chocked full of estrogens, it is wise to avoid the ones that you can avoid. The overexposure to estrogens is causing early puberty, more difficult menopause, infertility, and not to mention poochy guts. Asian cultures which consume soy, and are much healthier than Americans, consume fermented soy (and a ton of fish). Fermentation breaks down isoflavone phytoestrogens, so it is a much different product than raw soy. Fermented soy would be miso or tempeh. I did my best to avoid all estrogens while we were trying to conceive, which included no soy and no dairy - this goes for men too!* OK.. now that I've totally turned you off.. here's a great tofu recipe! Just practice good moderation, like all things in life.

Caramelized Tofu

1 block of extra-firm tofu**, pressed for at least 30 minutes, and cut into 1 inch slices
A few pinches of salt
A splash of olive or peanut oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup of pecans, toasted and chopped
3 tablespoons of fine grain natural sugar or brown sugar
1/4 cup of cilantro, chopped
1/2 lb of Brussels sprouts***, washed and cut into ribbons

Cook the tofu strips in large hot skillet (or pot) with a bit of salt and a splash of oil. Saute until golden, do not stir often. Add the garlic and pecans, and cook for another minute. Stir in sugar. Cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Scrape the tofu out onto a plate and set aside while you cook the Brussels sprouts.
In the same pan (no need to wash), add a touch more oil, another pinch of salt, and dial the heat up to medium-high. When the pan is nice and hot stir in the shredded Brussels sprouts. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring a couple times (but not too often) until you get some golden bits, and the rest of the sprouts are bright and delicious.

Nutrition: A ton of Vitamin C and K, Vitamins A, B6, Iron, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Folate, Thiamin, Protein, Fiber, Monounsaturated Fat, Omega-3, and Omega-6

*My informational source on estrogens is my herbalist, Linda Lucas.

**In case you don't often work with tofu, firm tofu must be pressed before added to your recipes. We cut it into rectangles and place flat on a tea towel and wrap it completely. Put something heavy on top of it, and literally press the water out of it. We often press it in the morning and let it press in the fridge all day until dinner time. You can change out the towel when the first gets saturated. This yields the firmest, yummiest, tofu. Especially if you think you have a problem with its consistency, long pressing is a must!

***Brussels Sprouts get a bad rap, but are insanely delicious cooked this way. I hate steamed Brussels sprouts as much as the next American child, but when they are sauteed, and not stirred often, they get little caramelized golden bits that are fabulous, and if they are not overcooked, they should be bright green and still crunchy. This is a truly delicious vegetable, and a great side dish on its own. And they are in season now! So they'll not only be tasty but inexpensive!

Saturday, January 9, 2010


The Husband. He doesn't wear a cowboy hat, but he is silly a lot of the time, so I thought this might capture his personality. Patrick is currently working on his PhD in Atmospheric Chemistry, and he has about a year and a half left, which is the reason we are in Alabama. I came here for grad school in 2003, and was finishing in 2007 when I met Patrick, we were married about 9 months later.. and now we're having a baby! He is super excited about being a dad, and he's EXTREMELY helpful. I haven't felt like cooking, or cleaning, or doing much of anything since about my 5th week, so Patrick has done it all. I'm not even sure what our kitchen looks like anymore. I think he would even go to the bathroom for me if he could. So, needless to say, he's amazing.. and he loves me SO much!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tasty Tuesday

Each Tuesday I plan to share a recipe. These recipes will be vegetarian, and more than likely not my own because I'm just a cook, not a chef. If I know the source of the recipe I will give credit, and if I don't, then I don't. If you happen to own any of the recipes I post and do not want me to post them, please send me a message and I will happily remove it.

My first recipe is slightly odd, but delicious all the same. It features ingredients you probably wouldn't normally mix, with an Indian spice flare. I love, love, love, (love, love) sweet potatoes and chickpeas, and I just happened to have found a recipe that combines the two! My husband and I both love this dish, and its easy!

Sweet Potato Chickpea Curry
1/2 a large onion
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp cinnamon
10 oz fresh spinach, chopped
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
1/4 c fresh cilantro

Bake sweet potatoes in oven until not quite done.
Meanwhile saute onions in oil over medium heat until they soften and caramelize a bit. Add all the spices to the onions, stir until fragrant. Add tomatoes with their juice and the chickpeas. Add 1/2 c of water, mix well, and bring to a simmer for a few minutes. Add sweet potatoes and spinach, cover until spinach is wilted and sweet potatoes are entirely tender. (You can taste here, and add any more spices if you want, I like mine very curry). Transfer to a serving dish and toss with Cilantro.
Serve over brown rice.

Nutrition: A ton of vitamin A, vitamins B6, C, K, Calcium, Iron, Folate, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Protein, and Fiber

Monday, January 4, 2010

Water Logged

The earth is 71% water.
Our bodies are 60% water, with our brain 70% water, and our lungs 90% water. Even our blood is 83% water.
We all know by now that water is essential to every living thing on this earth. We can't live longer than a few days without water. We generally understand that we need more water during pregnancy because our developing baby takes a lot of it, leaving our own bodies without enough water to stay regular. But water seems to have a huge role in how we feel. Not only to stay constipation-free, but to prevent morning sickness.. yay!

During the first weeks of pregnancy, when morning sickness really seems to kick in, an expectant mom's body is extremely busy. Making a heart, brain, and every other tiny organ is hard work. Our bodies are also generating copious amounts of fluid to build up the amniotic sac. In his book, Your Body's Many Cries for Water, Dr. Batmanghelidj states "During the intrauterine stage of cell expansion, water for cell growth of the child has to be provided by the mother. However, the transmitter system for water intake seems to be produced by the fetal tissue, but registers its effect on the mother. The very first indicator for water needs of the fetus and the mother seems to be morning sickness during the early phases of pregnancy. Morning sickness of the mother is a thirst signal of both the fetus and the mother."

Now, I did drink tons of water, and still managed to get queasy. I'm sure water isn't the ONLY reason for morning sickness, but it makes complete sense that it is at least a reason. I know personally, that days after I don't drink as much water as I should I feel MUCH worse than days when I hydrate completely. I don't know how many glasses of water is the magic number, but I know how much I'm drinking by how much I have to pee. I aim for a good potty break once an hour or hour and a half.

This is another amazing fact that doctors don't seem to tell us. Next time you feel nauseated, it would probably be a good idea to reach for a big fat glass of water instead of the Zofran.


F. Batmanghelidj, M.D.. Your Body's Many Cries for Water; You're not sick, you're thirsty! Global Health Solutions, Inc., 1997.