Wednesday, 31 March 2010

PREGNANCY RECIPE: berry blister smoothie

I woke up this morning feeling a bit moody and jaded. Was it worry about my impending labour? Angst that I haven't grouted the blackening bathroom tiles? Regrets about the colour of our Bugaboo covers? Eh, no, none of the above. The simple reason was, I was hungry.

Since becoming pregnant, I've noticed that my needs have been similar to that of a child - for food, rest and warmth. Invariably if I've been moody over the past nine and half months, it's because I'm hungry, tired or cold, simple as that. And of those three, hunger has been the biggest issue.

During my first trimester, I'd wake up ravenous, with my blood sugar level in my slippers. Toast was good, cereal was okay but repetitive (as this was only a pre-shower snack, I'd eat cereal again at work) so a smoothie seemed the best solution.

After trial and error, I came up with this berry blister or feed-me-now smoothie that takes only minutes to make. As well as milk, berries and banana, I added some linseeds (to, erhem, keep me regular), wheatgerm (for folic acid), grated fresh ginger (for immunity and nausea) and Manuka honey (for good digestion).

And sure enough, after a few gulps this morning, I was back on top pregnancy form. Hope it works for you...

Berry blister / feed-me-now smoothie

Vary the ingredients according to your taste and what you have in the fridge/freezer. Soya milk and yogurt both work well. I keep a large piece of peeled root ginger in the freezer and grate straight into the mixing jug.

Makes 1 highball glass

1 large handful frozen berries
1/2 glass milk
1 small banana or half a large banana, sliced
1 tbsp linseed and wheatgerm (I mix the two in a tupperware tub and use for smoothies and to top cereal)
2cm grated ginger
1 tsp honey

1. Put all the ingredients in a food processor jug and blitz until smooth. Pour into a glass and drink up.

rosie eats tip

A quick way to peel knobbly root ginger is with the back of a teaspoon.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


What does my bump have to do with soup? Not a lot. This is the gratitutous bump shot because at some point in the next few weeks this bump is going to become a baby and equally importantly I want to show off my gorgeous new apron (the print is called 'Utility Rose' from the V&A online shop). And I've just started maternity leave and I own a tripod.

So I've basically spent ages setting up the bump shot and not much time making lunch. I prepared a cheese and fennel sandwich and quickly discovered why that combination hasn't made it into Pret yet - it doesn't work. So I've made a quick soup. And when I say quick, I mean rapido, vite, express, speedy gonzalez. I pared back the process to the utter basics - chopped veg, cooked in stock, blitzed in a puree then eaten in a bowl. Wham, bam, thank you mam. Sweated onion? Sorry no time. Minced garlic? Forget it, I'm hungry now.

But don't get me wrong - I don't want to sacrifice flavour just to have a quick lunch, so I added chilli flakes for a kick and served the soup with a good dollop of yogurt (the calcium nod) and some toasted seeds (more flavour and a bit of protein). And don't worry about precise measurements, just make sure your chosen veg are covered by good flavoured stock.

Quick soup: carrot and butternut squash
A back to basics method that works well for most root veg. Heston, look away now...
Makes 2-3 bowlfuls
1 small butternut squash
2 carrots
Pinch chilli flakes
Chicken stock
Plain yogurt
Sunflower seeds, toasted
1 chappati

1. Peel and chop the veg into evenly-sized pieces. Make enough chicken stock so the veg is covered. Add the chilli flakes then leave to simmer for 20 mins or until the veg is cooked through.

2. Transfer to a food blender and blitz until smooth. Pour back into the pan adding a little more chicken stock if it's too thick and warm through.

3. Heat a non-stick frying pan with no oil. Add the chappati and cook for 2-3 mins on each side.

4. Serve the soup with toasted seeds, yogurt and halved chappatis.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

PREGNANCY RECIPE: mushroom pâté

My friend Anna says I should eat more protein. She's training to be a pregnancy nutritionist so I'm happy to take her word for it. And she's right - I find myself chowing down on carbs at most meal times but the carb-high or carb-coma depending on which way it takes me doesn't last. Protein is the key to feeling fuller for longer and helping your baby build essential tissues (am I becoming a protein-bore? I seem to talk about it in every posting).

The biggest protein dilemma is at lunchtimes. Yes, I could cook off chicken breasts or salmon steaks and take them to the office but I never seem to get round to it. And certainly, I could take in last-night's leftovers, but I'm a sandwich girl at heart. So the solution to my protein problems appeared to lay in a sandwich filling and seeing as I had a load of mushrooms in my veg box, a mushroom pâté seemed the answer. 

Having done a bit of research on the pregnancy health benefits of mushrooms, I discovered that they're a good source of folate (the naturally occuring form of folic acid) as well as my heart throb, protein. Put together with soft cheese (the low-fat tub I bought oddly had more protein than the full-fat stuff) and a bit of tarragon for extra flavour and you've got a sandwich spread to make your lunchbox sing. I hope it hits your p-spot.

Mushroom and tarragon pâté
Serve with brown bread doorsteps and a bit of green for iron – lamb’s lettuce, pea shoots or spinach all work well

Makes 6-8 servings
10g unsalted butter
Good dash EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 portobello mushrooms, sliced
150g low fat soft cheese
1 sprig fresh tarragon

1. Gently heat the butter and EVOO in a frying pan then add the mushrooms. Season well with sea salt and black pepper. Allow the mushrooms to sweat for 10-15 minutes until softened but without browning. Remove from the heat, pour off a little liquid then allow them to cool.

2. Remove the leaves from a sprig of tarragon and finely chop. When the mushrooms have cooled, put them in a blender with the soft cheese and tarragon and blitz until smooth. Taste and season again if needed. 

Friday, 5 March 2010

PREGNANCY RECIPE: fish fingers, chips and peas

If it's true about tastes being passed from mother to baby, then our Rosebud is going to be a huge fan of ham and cheese sandwiches, peas and chocolate (not in the same mouthful, I should add, no bonkers cravings going on here). Yes, I've exposed her to plenty of flavours - vegetables and fruits through the seasons, fish, game and spices - but childhood flavours seem to come up time and again. So, only fitting on a Friday to recreate that teatime favourite, fish fingers, chips and peas but in a slightly more foodie form. A word of warning - the butternut squash doesn't crisp up like your usual spud so swap for a good starchy potato like Maris Piper or King Edward if you want something closer to the real thing.

Fish fingers, chips and peas

You can use lots of other fish for the fingers such as cod, coley or salmon.
Serves 2
Prep: 5-10 mins
Cook: 30 mins

2 haddock loins, cut in half
3 tbsp stale breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and sliced into chips
250g frozen peas
1 tbsp capers
2 tbsp mayonnaise

1. Preheat your oven to 200c/180c fan/Gas 6. 

2. Peel the butternut squash then cut in half. Scoop out the seeds then slice into evenly sized chips. Put some olive oil in a roasting tray then put in the oven to heat for a few minutes. When the oil is hot, add the chips, making sure they’re spread out so they can crisp up on the metal surface. Season then put in the oven. 

3. Meanwhile, cut the haddock loins in half. Dip the fingers into the egg then into the breadcrumbs. An easy way to coat them is to put the breadcrumbs in a freezer bag, add the fish then shake the bag. Repeat for all 4 fish fingers then put onto an oiled baking sheet. Put in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes until crisp, golden and cooked through.

4. Make the pea puree by cooking the frozen peas in a pan of boiling water for 2 mins. Drain and mix with the capers and mayonnaise. Blitz in a food processor until roughly mashed.

5. Serve with lemon wedges and vinegar. Yummm.