Protein and Pregnancy

There are so many great food blogs, and Mom Appetit’s covered the pregnant food aspect so well, but I wanted to test the waters with a short note on cooking.

Both S and I like to cook a lot, and have been doing even more of it since she’s gotten pregnant. Eating out, unless it’s at the right place, gives her heartburn, or lies heavy, or just doesn’t make her feel well. There’s no better way to monitor what goes in than to eat at home, and of course for the recession-panicked (and parents-to-be) it saves money too.

The biggest change the pregnancy’s brought to our diet has been the addition of more protein. (We love our carbs and veggies – no problems there.) On Saturday we had friends over for dinner and S made Moussaka, which is protein packed. There’s the mash of black beans, tomatoes and spices, and then the egg/yogurt/cheese mixture that forms a spongy crust on top. Layers of roasted eggplant provide extra texture and pick up the cinnamon and nutmeg notes in the beans. It went great with spiced couscous and a lemony mescaline salad our guests made. This dish has special significance for me, because the first time I had it was at Oberlin College, when S made it for a dinner party. You know how there’s those flavors that you associate with a certain person, or a particular moment in time? This is one of my favorites. (She bases her recipe on the one in Rose Elliot.)

Moussaka, fresh from the oven

Moussaka, fresh from the oven

Spiced Couscous with raisins and shallots

Spiced Couscous with raisins

Besides beans, we’ve been amping up our meat intake as well. Some years ago, S was a vegetarian and I rarely ate meat, but we both feel better with a certain amount of animal flesh in our diet. (I especially find this true on days when I run). I know a lot of people say cooking meat’s so easy, but I still don’t feel quite comfortable with it. Maybe because I naturally recoil from the “ugha ugha, fire good, steak bloody” aspect of cooking carnivore. I’ve also heard that you’re supposed to just throw meat on the flame and then leave it alone, which is also a problem for me. I’m the neurotic gourmet – I like to prod and pick and stir, high heat sometimes makes me nervous, and I hate when rendering fat spits at me. But I’m trying, and S’s pretty good now too. “I make woman cook burger, ugha ugha!”

On Sundays I usually crave Italian after watching Lidia on PBS, so this week decided to try a pork ragu. I picked up a honking big rack of ribs from the farmer’s market – it was so long, it didn’t sit all the way down in the sauce, which prompted some safety concerns about uncooked pork. I kept adding dry, white wine to keep it submerged, and I simmered it all day until the meat flaked off the bone and formed almost a slurry in the sauce. All the vino made the ragu a bit acidic, but a touch of whole milk at the end balanced it out perfectly. (I was inspired by a Bolognese recipe.) We served it over homemade parpadelle, with sautéed spinach and portabella chunks on the side and with a glass of Cab-Sav for me (and a few sips and smells for S) it was heavenly.

Pork Ragu over Parpadelle

Pork Ragu over Parpadelle


2 Responses to “Protein and Pregnancy”

  1. 1 cindy January 13, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    Love it! Love it all. Esp Ugha Ugha. I wonder if there is already a Neurotic Gourmet food blog out there? Probably.

    Although I really hope you weren’t eating a mescaline salad. I don’t know much about pregnancy dietary restrictions, but unless you’re Hopi or something, you should probably cut back on the mescaline until the post-partum celebration. 😉

  2. 2 Erika January 14, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Mmmm–this is the post for me.

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