The Barefoot (and Pregnant) Contessa

With the weather getting colder and my belly getting bigger, there is no better time than the present to get back into the kitchen and refine my cooking skills.  I need to get into some sort of groove before this baby comes.  I can’t imagine quitting my job just days before this little one’s arrival and then trying to juggle an entire new life all at once!  So bring on the cook and un-cook books!

Now that this baby is kicking constantly, it is a constant reminder that I’m going to have my hands full in a few months.  I am starting to feel the pressure!

The house is spotless for the first time in a long time, and I’ve been experimenting with new recipes for the past week or so.  I’ve made carrot soup, mushroom soup, Moroccan chicken tajine, chicken mango chutney, chili, and a pumpkin/banana pie that we had to throw out so we wouldn’t eat it all!  I’ve taken pictures of most of them but I’ve lost the cord that connects my camera to the computer…so sad.

Here’s the latest and greatest that has come out of my kitchen!

Coconut Carrot Soup

2 lb carrots

2 yellow onions

3 cloves garlic

3 tbsp butter

1 tbsp fresh, grated ginger

1/4 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp pepper

pinch cayenne

900 ml Vegetable or Chicken Stock (1 container such as PC Blue Menu )

1/2 package Grace, Pure Creamed Coconut (or 1 can coconut milk)

2 tbsp lime juice

honey or maple syrup, to taste (I used about 2 tbsp of honey)

fresh cilantro for garnish

Directions:

Chop up the carrot, onion, and garlic, and place in a medium sized pot with the butter.  Cook on medium heat for approximately 10 minutes.

Add the ginger, cumin, curry, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and stir thoroughly for two minutes.  Then, add the stock.  Heat mixture until boiling and then simmer for 15 minutes, partially covered.

If you’re using creamed coconut, place half of the Grace Pure Creamed Coconut package in a bowl and ladle a cup of soup stock from the pot over top.  Mix well.  This will only take a minute and you will have some delicious coconut cream to add to your soup!

Add the coconut cream (or coconut milk) to the soup along with the lime juice.  Add honey to taste.  Simmer for another 5-10 minutes with the lid off.  If you use Grace’s coconut cream, be sure to add an extra cup of water or stock to the soup to make up for its lack of moisture.

Remove soup from its heat source and cool slightly before pouring it into a blender and smoothing it out.  Once the soup is smooth, you can return it to the pot or serve directly.  Garnish with cilantro and serve!

126 More Days.

There are only 126 more days; 18 weeks; or 4 months until this little baby is due.  Any way you look at it, there’s not a lot of time left!  And with time slowly closing in on the date, there is much to do!

And with Thanksgiving just around the corner, I am reminded of all the things that I am thankful for.  First of all, I am thankful that I am retiring from the world of waitressing in exactly 17 more days. Given, I’ve only been working 1-2 times a week, so I have already checked out for all intents and purposes.  There is nothing quite as relaxing as the care-free nature of checking out early.  I think it even makes me a better waitress.  You can yell at me just because you’re in a bad mood (and believe me, some people do) and I won’t give a shit.  So go ahead and try me.

Secondly, I am thankful that I will get to stay at home with our kids and raise them to be little mindful free-thinkers.  They won’t be babysat by someone’s television like I can remember, nor will they be chased around a basement and spanked for being too noisy during nap time. What was the point of relegating us to the basement if we couldn’t do anything whilst there? I am thankful that they won’t have memories of the babysitter scolding them for chewing the chicken in their chicken noodle soup. “You don’t need to chew the chicken.  Just swallow it!”  Are you kidding?  I was only 6 and I knew this woman was a wacko!  Please kids, chew your chicken.

Thirdly, I am thankful for pumpkin pie.  If you are a pie of the pumpkin variety and you get within eating distance of me, you should be afraid – very afraid.  The whipped cream is waiting, my friend.  So please, do stop by for a bite to eat.

After the pie, I am thankful that I have a boyfriend slash husband who values the same things I do in life. To be honest, he wouldn’t be my boyfriend slash husband if he didn’t!  We both want to escape the city and raise our kids somewhere where the air is clean, the lake is close, and the community is tight.  We’ll carry the kayaks to the water in the summer, and cross country ski and skate in the winter.  We’ll have a yard where we can grow a garden and the kids and dogs can play, and a driveway worthy of some good, competitive street hockey.

And although there are many more things I am grateful for, such as puppies, flip flops, Dexter’s return this weekend, maternity pants, and green juice, if I listed them all, you’d have to read a novel.  So, go bake yourself a pie, top it with real whipped cream, and think about all the things that make life grand!

Baby Kicks!

There is something just magical about those first baby movements.  It all becomes really…real.  You think it’s real when you hear the heart beat.  You think it’s real when you see the ultrasound image squiggling about, but it becomes startlingly real when you feel those first kicks.  There is a living thing growing inside me.  How very Sci-Fi.  Only 155 more days!

A Pregnant Woman’s Natural Cold Cure. It’s Your Cure too!

I am sick.  Not with morning sickness, but with a cold. The kind that sits in your throat, your nose, your head, and your ears.  The mucus is so thick and disgusting that I can barely breathe. And I can’t taste anything at all.

One of the toughest things about being pregnant is being sick.  Your immune system is slightly relaxed due to your little  angel of a parasite and little things can get you down.  In my case, I think I ate one too many toasted tomato sandwiches.  I’m sensitive to wheat, but I gave into the cravings anyway and now my body is rebelling.  Fear not body, I will be nice to you from here on in. Most of the time, anyway :).

Many people believe that whole grain bread is healthy, and while it’s better than white bread, if you’ve got a wheat sensitivity, it’s all the same.  It’s a heavily processed food, so it’s not something you should be eating every day like most North Americans do.  Toast or cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and pizza or pasta with garlic bread for dinner ring a bell?  And it’s not just wheat that can make you sick.  If you eat too many processed foods and not enough fresh foods, you will tip the balance in favour of sickness.  Sickness is your body’s way of saying “HEY!  Give me some respect please or I’ll MAKE you!”

Now, that being said, what do you do when you get hit with a freight-train-type cold? Here is my personal, natural cold remedy.  It is good for pregnant, and non-bun-in-the-ovens alike.  This is something that everyone should do when they come down with a cold.  You don’t need to run to your pharmacy and load your self up with unnecessary drugs.

The Plan:

1. Drink plenty of water. Water helps flush out your body, and keeping it well hydrated will allow your body to get things done.  Add a bit of lemon to help flush your liver.

2. Lay off the wheat and the dairy and other processed foods. Get rid of them completely if you can at least until you feel better.  Wheat and dairy are the most common allergens and since you’re body’s immune system is already compromised, consuming these foods only hinder it further.  These foods are acidic and therefore not health promoting in the slightest.  That being said, lay off the beer too!  If you are concerned about calcium, go get yourself some kale, broccoli, and swiss chard.  Some of the world’s biggest animals are solely leaf eaters.  There’s a reason they don’t drink milk.

3. Increase your anti-oxidants. Eat plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables in their raw state.  These foods hold the building blocks that will help you overcome any sickness and build a healthy body.

4. Exercise. I know it’s hard to exercise when you feel awful, and walking from the couch to get the remote knocks the wind out of you, but you’ve got to move.  The best exercise tool I know of for this situation is the rebounder.  Lightly jog on the spot on a rebounder to get the lymphatic system moving.  Put on your favourite music and dance while jogging.  15 minutes a day is a fantastic place to be.  Have three 5-minute sessions if it’s what you need.

5. Use a neti-pot. This delightful contraption can be used in conjunction with sea salt (less than 1/4 tsp) and warm water.  You tip the water into one nostril, and tilt your head so that the water runs out the other nostril.  Daily use of a neti-pot when you are in good health will keep your body’s first line of defense (your nasal passages) free and ready to defend your body!

6. Drink ginger tea. The easiest and best way to make ginger tea is by cutting up an inch cube of ginger into small pieces, and letting it steep in a french-press (traditionally used for steeping coffee).  Ginger is not only effective in relieving morning sickness, but it has many positive effects on the digestive system.  It is useful in the treatment of colds and flu because it is an anti-inflammatory and a natural pain killer.

For those of you who are NOT pregnant, I will add taking a few drops of oil of oregano each day and eating a clove of chopped up raw garlic each day to your regime.  These are potent disease killers, but are not recommended during pregnancy.

Well, it has been 24 hours since I started taking my own advice. I can breathe, my headache is gone, my ears have very minor to no pressure in them, and my throat is clear of mucus and doesn’t hurt anymore.  I can taste my food better and by tomorrow or tonight even, I should be tasting 100% of my food.  I used the neti-pot twice yesterday and had about a liter of ginger tea.  I used the neti-pot again this morning and rebounded for 15 minutes.  So far I have eaten a banana, an apple, 2 cups of spinach, 2 large tomatoes, and plenty of water with a bit of lemon today.  Things are looking up.  As soon as reinforcements arrive, I’ll be making a green smoothie with apples, banana, greens, ginger, lemon, and water.  Yummy!

Things to do and NOT to do When You’re Pregnant.

Alright, hopefully this is going to be funny, and not completely sad.  Here are a few things I have learned in the last few weeks about being pregnant:

1.  You may hike “but not on uneven terrain or at high altitude”…so you may NOT hike?  Confusing.

2.  Don’t leave the house without eating and/or packing a 5 course meal.  You will get sick.  Very, very sick.

3.  A waffle with ice cream is not an acceptable dinner for baby.  Baby will make you throw it up.  5 times.

4.  Drink plenty of water…like GALLONS of water…and eat tons of fruit and veg.  If you don’t, bad things will happen in the pooping department.  Trust me, bad things happen when you drink gallons of water AND eat tons of fruit an veg.  So you can imagine…

5.  Schedule naps or you’ll be at the will of narcolepsy.

6. Don’t jump up from a seated position.  Sudden movements will lay you flat on the floor until your vision comes to and the blood reaches your head.

7.  Don’t downhill ski, no matter how much you want to.  Only uphill skiing is acceptable behaviour at this point.

8.  Don’t jump or dive into pools due to the high risk of this behaviour.  Oops…

9.  No bicycling on wet pavement.  At least it doesn’t say anything about motorcycles.

And last but definitely not least,

10.  Don’t try on your skinny jeans.  You will cry.  For that matter, don’t even try on your fat jeans or you’ll cry harder.