Full Belly Sisters: January 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

We got a Versatile Blogger Award!

Many thanks to Ann from Sumptuous Spoonfuls for giving us The Versatile Blogger award! What is this, you may ask? I wasn't totally sure myself. But after some online investigation, I've learned that it's a way for bloggers to give props to peers whose work we follow and admire. 

There are also some rules with which nominees must comply. One is to share seven things about myself that you might not know. So, here goes:
  1. I found out i was pregnant on my 35th birthday.  My husband was on his way out of town when i told him the news; he was at the airport, in line behind Taylor Hicks from American Idol.
  2. I love eating gazpacho for breakfast in the summertime.
  3. I think the glove scene in "Age of Innocence" is ridiculously sexy. 
  4. I thought I hated country music, until I lived in Nashville and sat in on Writers' Nights. Hearing songwriters perform their own songs (sometimes badly) was often amazing. 
  5. I cannot deal with movies about how all women love shopping. I hate shopping. And I don't think I'm the only woman who feels that way. 
  6. I am crazy buoyant and can swim while in lotus position. 
  7. When I was in elementary school, I read and re-read all the Nancy Drew books until my mom had to take them away from me so that I would read other stuff. That's when I discovered I loved Agatha Christie! I still love mysteries. 
The second responsibility of those who receive the Versatile Blogger Award is to recognize 15 peers. Here are just some of the blogs that I learn from and enjoy reading. As our blog is a curious mix of recipes and pregnancy/breastfeeding/parenting info, I'm attracted to blogs about all those different topics. Here is my list (in no particular order):

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Glass Noodle Soup with Watercress and Peas - Real Convenience Food

What is comfort food to you? Is it a greasy burger? Or a huge plate of meat and potatoes? Or a dish that reminds you of someone you love? To me, comfort food is different things at different times. During cold winter days, soups are often my comfort food. Warm and salty, soups instantly make me feel cozier and, well, comforted.

Know what else makes me feel good? Dishes that take just minutes to throw together. This is one of those. It features glass noodles (a.k.a. cellophane noodles, bean threads, Chinese vermicelli, etc.) that are gluten-free and cook quickly right in the soup. Hopefully, you have some stock on hand—it's a good idea to make big batches and keep containers handy in the freezer. If you don't have the homemade stuff, you can use a box of low-sodium, organic stock; I used a mushroom broth, but you can use any kind you like, whether it's chicken, beef, or vegetarian.

You might be surprised to see watercress in a soup, since it's usually associated with salads or those precious, crustless sandwiches. However, the peppery green is a great balance to the sweet peas in this soup. The watercress is also a nutritional powerhouse: a cup of it provides over 100% of your daily Vitamin K, as well as loads of vitamins A and C and even some calcium and omega-3s. That same cup is only four calories. FOUR CALORIES. This is why it's a great idea to add more greens to your diet: they are low in calories, fill your belly, and are extremely nutrient-dense.

Watercress is delicate, so try to use it the same day you buy it.

makes 2 large or 4 small bowls (I like to make it as two large portions)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 scallions, chopped; green and white pieces divided
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced or chopped
  • 4 cups of broth or stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 5 oz (or thereabouts) package of glass noodles 
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 bunch watercress, roots and lower stems removed (about 2 cups)
  • sriracha or red pepper flakes to taste, optional

Heat sesame and extra virgin olive oils in a three-quart pot over a medium-low flame; add garlic and the whites of the scallions. After a couple of minutes, add the stock or broth and the soy sauce; bring to a boil. Place the noodles in the pot and reduce to a simmer.

Meanwhile, divide peas among soup bowls; when the hot soup hits them, they will immediately thaw.

Once the noodles are soft (it should only take a few minutes), ladle the noodles and soup into each bowl over the peas. Top with the chopped green scallions.

Divide the watercress among each of the bowls. I like to serve it like this, letting each person stir the greens into their respective bowls, the heat of the soup lightly wilting the cress:

This is definitely the kind of soup you need to eat with chopsticks or a fork (if your chopstick skills, like mine, are seriously lacking). Get ready to slurp those noodles! 

What kind of foods scream "comfort" to you?

Avocado Cheddar Sandwich: Who Needs a Deli When You Can Have This?

Most of us know that deli meats are a big no-no during pregnancy: they carry a rare but real risk of listeria, which can lead to miscarriage or may cross the placenta and infect your baby (leading to potentially life-threatening infection or blood poisoning). Also, processed meats are just not really good for anyone, pregnant or not. 

But there's something about being told you can't have something that makes you totally want it more than anything else on earth! So, throughout my pregnancy I thought a lot (an awful lot, truth be told) about having a turkey sandwich from a deli, with all the fixin's. I didn't.

Instead I made a sandwich that was super healthful and super satisfying. Yes, it gave me a few servings of fruits and veggies in one easy meal and—almost as importantly—it fulfilled that craving for a big, salty, kind of gooey, mile-high Dagwood-style sandwich. Sometimes the best way to defeat a craving is to give in, even if it's a slight variation.

This was my favorite sandwich when I was pregnant and continues to be a go-to when I've gotta have something easy and yummy and filling! The centerpiece of this sammie is the avocado; we've discussed before that this is one of the most perfect foods around and is especially great for pregnant and breastfeeding moms. The other ingredients are no nutritional slouches, either. This lunch will provide you with omega-3s, fiber, protein, calcium, lycopene, and  folate—all vital for good health!

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread, preferably sprouted
  • 1/2 avocado
  • thinly-sliced red onion
  • a slice or two (about an ounce) of extra sharp cheddar*
  • couple of slices of tomato
  • romaine lettuce, about 3 large leaves
  • honey mustard
  • salt and pepper
*Don't eat dairy? Try sprinkling on some nutritional yeast.

Toast the bread and slather on some honey mustard. Top with avocado. I like to slice my avocado and then just mash it slightly, so it adheres to the bread a bit. Sprinkle on a little sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.

Add onions...

...and the cheese, tomatoes, plus all that lettuce!

Get ready for a mouthful of deliciousness!


What did you crave during your pregnancy?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Leftover Fried Rice? Put an Egg On it!

Look at how big and bright and almost orange my pastured egg yolk is! 

Gōng Xǐ Fā Cái! That means "congratulations and prosperity" in Mandarin and is a common greeting during the celebration of the Chinese New Year, which starts today. I went to elementary school in New York City's Chinatown, and the new year's celebration was so fun! Dancing dragons, long noodles, and—perhaps best of all—a red envelope with a quarter inside. (This was the 70's and a quarter could go pretty far at the candy store!) 

Whether you're making our Cauliflower Fried Rice or just picking up take-out, you may end up with leftovers. And one of the yummiest ways to enjoy leftover fried rice is to put an egg on it! I like to re-heat the rice in a frying pan to crisp up and warm through; then I remove it and fry the egg in the same pan (less clean-up). Place the egg on top, break the yolk and you've got a delicious "sauce" for your rice. I also sprinkle on some more chopped scallions and a bit of salt and pepper.

Note: It is recommended that only fully-cooked eggs be consumed during pregnancy, but you can certainly add a scrambled egg to the dish. If you're already at the breastfeeding stage, enjoy these runny eggs!

Did I mention how much nutrition an egg adds? Eggs are a great source of protein, of course. And pregnant ladies, take note: egg yolks are a fantastic source of choline, essential for healthy fetal brain development and preventing birth defects. Yolks also provide Vitamin D, so vital to both mother and baby, especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding. If you have access to pastured eggs, from a local farm or farmer's market, I highly recommend them; I get mine from the fabulous Stone Barns, just a few minutes from my home.

Don't forget to have an orange or tangerine for dessert: their sweetness symbolizes wealth and luck! 

Have a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cauliflower Fried Rice: More Veggies Than Rice (But Your Kids Won't Notice)

"Mama, I want pasta for dinner."
"Well, we're having rice with peas and veggies..."
"Hoorah! Can you make it every night?"

Phew. It's always a relief to figure out a veggie-packed meal that my son will actually get excited about. This dish is the latest hit in my house (we had it twice just in the last week).

Being kid-friendly is not the dish's only good attribute. It is lower-carb and lower-calorie than many fried rice dishes because a good portion of the rice is "crowded out" by cauliflower rice. Now, if you're on a low-carb or paleo diet, you probably know all about this neat cruciferous vegetable trick. If you don't know about it, then prepare to have your mind blown, my friend. 

This satisfying dish is packed with nutrients. It is vegetarian but provides complete protein because it pairs rice with peas and sesame seeds; adding legumes and/or seeds to grains means you get the same essential amino acids that animal protein would provide. This meal has loads of Vitamin K, folate, Vitamin C, iron, calcium and fiber. So, it's not just good for your children, it's good for pregnant and breastfeeding gals, and parents who just feel like they could use more nutrient-dense—and simple to make—meals. 

One more benefit: this recipe is great when you're looking to clear leftovers from your fridge before they go bad. It uses cooked rice (I used basmati brown rice - it has a mild, popcorn-y flavor) and, although I used broccoli and peas, you can utilize whatever leftover or frozen vegetables you have on hand. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does!

yield: about 8 cups
  • 1 + 1 T grapeseed oil
  • 1 + 1 T coconut oil or butter
  • 7 scallions, chopped (keep white/light green ends separate from dark green tops)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • head of cauliflower, raw
  • 3 cups of cooked brown rice, cold
  • 2 cups cooked broccoli, chopped small
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3T reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2t toasted sesame oil
  • toasted sesame seeds, optional
  • additional chopped scallion tops for garnish
  • salt, to taste
Remove the cauliflower's tough stem and reserve for another use. Using a food processor, pulse cauliflower florets until they resemble rice or couscous. You should end up with around four cups of "cauliflower rice."

This is raw cauliflower - would you ever have guessed it?

Heat 1T butter and 1T oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and the white and light green pieces of scallion. Sauté about a minute.

Add the cauliflower to the pan. Stir to coat with oil, then spread out in pan and let sit; you want it cook a bit and to caramelize (get a bit brown), which will bring out the sweetness. After a couple of minutes, stir and spread out again.

Add cold rice (it separates easily, so it won't clump up during cooking), plus the additional grapeseed and coconut oil or butter. Raise heat to medium-high. Toss everything together and, again, spread the mixture out over the whole pan and press a bit into the bottom. Let it sit for about two minutes—so the rice can get toasted and a little crispy. Add the peas and broccoli and stir again. Drizzle soy sauce and toasted sesame oil over rice.

The frozen peas will thaw when they're tossed with the steaming hot rice.
You can use cooked broccoli or thawed frozen broccoli.

Cook for another minute or so and turn off heat. Add chopped scallion tops and toss.

I like to toast some sesame seeds in a dry pan; I sprinkle these and some more raw, chopped scallion over the top of the rice for added flavor and crunch.

Season to taste with salt and, if you'd like, more soy sauce. Keep in mind that if you're serving this with something salty and saucy (ie. teriyaki chicken) you may want to hold off on adding too much salt to the fried rice.

Dig in, knowing that more than half of your serving of fried rice is actually veggies!

Can you tell where the brown rice ends and the cauliflower begins? Me, neither.

If you end up with leftovers (we usually don't) try this: Leftover Fried Rice? Put an Egg On It!

If you try this recipe out on your family, let us know what they (and you) think!

UPDATE: The Fountain Avenue Kitchen tried this recipe, loved it and wrote a whole blogpost about it! We're so grateful. 

UPDATE: Awesome photographer/cook/mom Annemie of Megapixie also tried this recipe and blogged about it. Her sons even gave it two thumbs up (there are pictures to prove it!)

UPDATE: Cupcakes & Kale Chips made a version with shrimp and pork that looks lovely.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Year, New Plans for the Full Belly Sisters

The Full Belly Sisters are positively giddy about the new year!
I know, I know, we're already over a week into the new year. But it's not too late to write about resolutions or goals, is it? I hope not, because I want to share some of mine with you. 

Launch FBS Website
My sister and I started this blog just about a year ago. We thought we just needed to put ourselves and our business "out there," even though our website was still in the works. Well, the blog is up and running and the website is still...in the works. I do have a site through my nutrition school, but it really doesn't capture everything that FBS does, just our nutrition services (it's kind of a boring site, to boot). The Full Belly Sisters will make our website a priority this year, so our readers can learn more about what we do, the services we provide, and how we can help YOU.

Offer Online Education
I get lots of questions from readers about everything from meal planning to grocery shopping to boosting milk supply to finding time for self-care. These are all topics I address when I'm working one-on-one with clients. But I would love to offer my expertise to a wider audience, so stay tuned for online classes! The e-courses will be less expensive than personal sessions with me, but will still provide loads of helpful information and recipes you won't find on our blog.

Take Photography Class
I love taking pictures. I think I have a good eye, but I could use some guidance on how best to utilize my camera. The last time I took a photography class was in high school; I think it's high time I take another one. It's going to be such a treat, I can't wait!

Invite Guest Bloggers
We totally welcome guest blogposts! If you write a blog on topics that would be a good fit for our audience (think: real foods, breastfeeding, pregnancy, parenting) drop us a line and let us know what you might like to write for us! You can email us at fullbellysisters@gmail.com. We might do the occasional linky party, too, if we find there's interest in that kind of thing.

Provide Contests
Lots of blogs offer contests on a regular basis; we haven't done one yet. (Maybe when we hit 1,000 fans on Facebook?) I think part of the reason is that we have such a wide variety of readers: some of you are here for breastfeeding tips, others are here to learn about nutrition while pregnant or lactating, others are just foodies who like to try new recipes! So, it's hard to think about what kinds of prizes would be appealing to such a diverse group. If you have any suggestions—or if you are a business that would like to sponsor a giveaway by providing a prize—please email us or just write in the comments below. 

Take Requests
We've posted here (and on Facebook and Twitter) that we're always open to suggestions and questions. It's true! What kinds of recipes would you most like to see? What kinds of breastfeeding or pregnancy tips? Let us know—either general topics, or specifics (more broccoli recipes, please! )—and we'll do our best to oblige. Feel free to make your suggestions in the comments section below.

Of course, all of these things take a lot of time and energy. As a full-time, stay-at-home mom—and part-time Certified Health Coach and blogger—it's sometimes difficult to find that time and energy. You know what energizes me? Your feedback on our posts. I love knowing that someone out there is actually reading what I wrote! So, please never hesitate to leave a comment.

And, yes, we've been doing this blog for a year but we are still always learning, always trying to improve and grow. We hope you will stick around and learn and grow with us! 

Happy New Year! What are your goals for this year? And what would you like to see more of on our blog?

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