Monday, January 31, 2011

Cranberry Lassi: Think Pink for Valentine's Day


Pregnant women are especially prone to urinary tract infections (UTI), particularly during weeks 6-24, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Cranberries are a natural way to avoid these painful bladder infections: the fruit contains a substance that helps stop bacteria from sticking to the walls of your bladder.


I thought it would be fun to incorporate cranberries in a twist on the lassi, a tangy, delicious Indian drink. It's a bit thinner than a smoothie, but just as satisfying:


Cranberry Lassi

  • 1 cup plain kefir (or yogurt)
  • 1 cup frozen cranberries, partially thawed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 tsp honey or agave nectar (to taste)
  • 1-2 Tbs cranberry juice concentrate (available at health food stores)

Blend until smooth and frothy, like this:
This yields about 16 ounces; my husband and I split it and each had a glass for breakfast. It's a bit tart and very refreshing. 


Of course, this drink is not only good for your urinary tract, but your digestive tract. Whether you use kefir or yogurt, you'll be getting lots of beneficial bacteria for your tummy!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Avocado: Mom's Best Friend

Easy and nutritious: drizzled with balsamic vinegar and topped with freshly-ground pink sea salt and pepper.

Avocados are one of those foods that many people try to avoid when they're watching what they eat. "Too many calories!" or "too much fat!" they say. But avocados are actually a great choice for everyone to consume; they are packed with heart-healthy fats, fiber, Vitamin E, and B-vitamins. They even help your body's ability to absorb nutrients from other foods. For instance, adding avocado to your salsa means your body will get a bigger boost of lycopene and beta-carotene.


This fruit - yeah, it's one of those fruits-that-seems-like-a-veggie - is particularly great for pregnant women because it provides potassium and folate. Folate is a vital prenatal nutrient that helps a baby's neural tube develop properly; this helps prevent birth defects of the spine and the skull. And potassium is crucial for both pregnant and breastfeeding women. It helps maintain your fluid and electrolyte balance, stabilizes your blood pressure, and helps reduce swelling. A lack of potassium can cause leg cramps (which are a problem for many pregnant women).
So when you're wondering how to utilize those extra calories you get when you're pregnant or breastfeeding, eat a nutrient-dense avocado. Make some guacamole; top chili with diced avocado; add sliced avocado to a sandwich or salad; make frozen yogurt; or just halve the fruit, drizzle some lemon juice or vinegar on top, and scoop it right out of the skin - it's the perfect serving bowl for the perfect food.


Oh, and everything that makes avocados great for us also makes them great for kids. In fact, avocado was my son's first solid food.
What's your favorite way to eat avocados?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cara Cara? Here Here! Yum Yum!

You locavores won't be into this post, unless you live in California. But I was thrilled to see Cara Cara pink navel oranges (grown in Cali) at Whole Foods the other day. I bought a bunch and have been having at least one a day. They are at their peak right now, sporting bright orange peels and pink flesh that is as sweet as candy.


Of course, they're much healthier than candy. They are loaded with fiber, Vitamin C and Vitamin A, as well as the antioxidant lycopene. Cara Caras also provide a good amount of folate and potassium - both vital to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. As an added bonus, they are low in acid; this might make them an appealing snack choice for young kids or for those who are pregnant and experiencing acid reflux.
They are easy to peel, but even easier to slice in wedges and shove in my mouth immediately. I thought my toddler would get a kick out of my orange peel smile, but he just looked concerned and said, "I no like! Take orange out of your mouth!" He'll think it's amusing when he's older, right?
Interesting tidbit, via Sunkist's website: Because Cara Cara Oranges are seedless, and therefore sterile, the only means available to cultivate more is to graft cuttings onto other varieties of citrus tree—so, cara caras of today have exactly the same genetic makeup as the original cara cara navel orange tree first grown in 1820.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Eat Your Veggies (And Know It)!

FBS is excited to welcome our friend Nancy Cavillones - home cook and mom extraordinaire - as a Contributing Editor to this blog. Nancy will focus on whole food recipes that are nutritious and easy on the wallet. If you have any particular questions or ideas for her, please let us know!

This week, Nancy has come up with a wonderful stew featuring chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). These legumes are tasty, easy to work with, budget-friendly and amazingly healthful. They are rich in fiber, protein and folate; they're also a good source of calcium, iron and magnesium. Chickpeas are a great addition to your diet if you are pregnant or breastfeeding; kids tend to love beans and legumes, so they're great for family meals, too. 

Check out Nancy's post:

Oh, you know, this was supposed to be a blog post about feeding your family healthful, whole foods on a budget but I've got other things on my mind. Like what is all this business about "hiding vegetables" and "sneaking vegetables into your kid's food"? 

Make no bones about it. My two-year-old is just as picky as the next kid. She doesn't always eat her vegetables, or anything else for that matter. She has her favorites that she'll always go for, and then there are other vegetables with which she has a fair-weather friendship. 

But tricking your kid into eating vegetables seems counterintuitive to me. I want my kid to LOVE vegetables, I want her to identify vegetables and know what they taste like. If she doesn't like this vegetable or that, whatever. I'm amazed at all the vegetables I enjoy now that I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole when I was a kid. 

When it comes to vegetable love, it's important to start early and often. Since we practice baby-led weaning in our house, my kids have always enjoyed their vegetables whole, not pureed or mashed (except for potatoes, you know!). Nearly every dish I offer to my family has a vegetable or vegetables in it. They aren't hidden, even if they are hard to see. It's just part of the dish. 

Here is one of my favorite recipes that make it really easy to include vegetables. They are versatile and you can use whatever it is in season or on sale. If the vegetable you want is not in season locally, go for the frozen version instead of the imported "fresh" version. The frozen ones will be fresher. 

Chickpea Stew
(Feeds two hungry adults, one picky toddler and an experimenting 9-month-old)

Ingredients: 
  • Medium onion, chopped. 
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced. 
  • 2 carrots, chopped small. 
  • 2 small potatoes (or one big one), chopped small. 
  • Any other veggie you like. (I often add frozen peas or spinach.)
  • Ginger, curry powder, cumin. Amounts vary to personal taste but about a teaspoon of each spice. (Feel free to omit the ginger and/or cumin but the curry powder makes the dish!)
  • 15 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed. 
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce. 
  • 1-2 cups of water (Depending on the depth of your pan-- you want your stew to be just covered with water.)
  • Half a lemon. 
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil.
  • Salt and pepper. 

1. In a large pan over medium-low heat,  heat the olive oil. 
2. Add the onions and saute until softened, then add the garlic. 
3. When the garlic is fragrant, add the potatoes and carrots. Stir to coat. 
4. Add the spices and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 
5. Add the chickpeas and stir to combine, then add the sauce, stirring again.
6. Add salt and pepper. Squeeze the lemon over it. Stir. 
7. Add the water, stir and cover. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes. 
8. Uncover and cook for 5 minutes more, to reduce and thicken the liquid in the pan. If you find the stew is already thick, skip this step. 

Serve with rice or pita bread, sour cream or greek yogurt. 



Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tomato, Tomahto... either way, they're nutritious and delicious

Tomatoes are arguably one of the healthiest foods on earth. They are chock full of vitamins C, K and A, as well as potassium. They are also a great source of lycopene, a carotenoid with many documented health benefits. Even better, they taste amazing. Especially heirloom tomatoes, so named because they are grown from seeds that are at least 50 years old and are passed down through generations like an heirloom.

Heirlooms can be huge, bumpy, gnarly; they may be green, striped, yellow, or even orange. They don't look like the genetically modified tomatoes you'll find in most supermarkets: perfectly round and red and, often, pretty bland.

I recently saw Bobby Flay make a lovely sandwich featuring heirloom tomatoes. I had to make it - or my version of it - immediately. We swapped the poached eggs from the original recipe for fried eggs because they're more foolproof. My take on the sandwich also left out Bobby's chervil, arugula, and vinaigrette; i used chives because, well, everything is better with chives.


I got a nice organic French baguette, split it horizontally and toasted it. I spread the goat cheese liberally on the toasted bread, then topped it with chopped chives and alternating-colored slices of those delish heirloom tomatoes, plus a sprinkle of salt. Then we placed the fried eggs atop the sandwich, with more chives, salt and freshly-ground pepper.

Break the yolk and nomnomnom. So good. A lovely, delicious, healthful meal. It was certainly elegant enough to serve at a fancy brunch but be forewarned: it is gooey and messy and probably best enjoyed with good friends and family.


Note: It is recommended that only fully-cooked eggs be consumed during pregnancy. If you're already at the breastfeeding stage, enjoy these runny eggs!
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