08 November 2009

being pregnant and being a foodie

I have a fairly decent excuse for not updating this blog in goodness knows how long. In late August we found out that our family of 2 (plus puggle) will soon be a family of 3 (plus puggle). For various reasons, this just became public (that is, Facebook) knowledge, though the new grandparents to be certainly helped share the information for us as well as a status update could ever do.

There are so many things to discuss about being with child...and so many have already been discussed ad nauseum (sp? blogger's spell check can't get this one either) on blogs, in books, on sites devoted to every little thing pregnancy-related.

So, I figured I would discuss the one thing that I have not found a good source of information for: being a foodie while eating for two.

What is a foodie? My husband hates the term, though he falls into the category to some extent. Its someone who loves, adores, and will go great distances for really great food. A foodie is not scared by foods that are raw, items that they have never heard of, or cuisines from many time zones away. A foodie understands that Asian food is not the Chinese delights that are delivered to your house, and that Italian meals --- real Italian meals --- do not include melted mozzerella cheese. Foodies' concept of Ceasar dressing involves raw egg yolk and can't be purchased in a bottle. I have heard the following term describe my eating habit: "food snob". So call a foodie a food snob. It describes someone who loves unusual foods and unusually delicious foods, which could be as simple as a homegrown heirloom tomato with basil and a good extra virgin olive oil.

The following information is taken from my appointment with a pregnancy nutritionist and various reading materials. Please, please refer to a doctor with any questions about your own diet!!!!

Enter the restructions of pregnancy:
The biggest fear placed in the hearts of pregnant women is the fear of listeria. That's a lovely bacteria that lives in undercooked foods and unpasteurized cheeses. It can make a "normal" person have an unfortunate night of intestional issues and lose a pound or two the easy way. It can be utter disaster for the pregnant woman's unborn baby.
What this means for "normal" eaters --- hot dogs have to be thoroughly steaming (I love a good hotdog too!), no cold cuts that are not pre-roasted meat (bologna, etc.), all other cold cuts (turkey, roast beef, etc.) have to be toasted until steaming. Meat has to be cooked to well done.
No raw anything.
Only pasteurized cow's milk cheese.

What this means to me and my foodie friends --- No more proscuitto e melone. No more salumi, or charcuterie plates. No more smoked salmon, smoked duck breast, or other smoky delightful cold meat treats. No more pate, or terrain de pate. (Whoops. No one told me that prior to my birthday dinner. Sorry, little baby.) No more lamb chops, or any other lamb dish that is best served rare. (Apparently lamb runs the biggest risk of them all.) No more filet mignon, because there is no point in eating it cooked beyond a rare. (whoops again, didn't even know I was to be pregnant when I chose the filet at a wedding and didn't know the "at least medium well" rule when at said wedding) No more carpaccio. No more anything with crudo for that matter.
No more sushi or sashimi or salmon tartare. No more quail egg upon said sushi. No more maki with roe.
Adios to the delicious, non-cow's milk cheeses of Spain. No chevre, manchego, drunken goat. No more brie, either. Or feta. Or bleu cheeses, stilton or gorgonzolas.

Another great risk to the baby is mercury consumption. To this point, tuna is out. As is swordfish, steak, tilefish, and all other large fish. Granted, the only way to really enjoy tuna is raw anyhow...making one of my absolute FAVORITES a double whammy no. Back to my list of favorites that are off limits for being raw: oysters on the half shell. For my Dad's sake, I will mention that I am also no longer allowed cherrystones, though I can't really say I ever liked those anyhow.

So, where does this leave a pregnant foodie? Probably not even interested in half the foods she can eat. I lost my taste for any kind of meat that is not totally obscured by mincing and seasoning. Pork in a Peking Ravioli or steamed bun? bring it on. Pork chops...just typing the words are making me nauseous. Chicken in any way is not doing it for me these days. Oddly, the only 2 ways that I can get down beef is in a McDonald's cheeseburger (go ahead, call me a food snob) with tons of pickles, or in a meatball grinder.
On the other hand, tofu has become a craveworthy feast to me. And vegetables and fruits in any form. Pumpkin curry soup is a food of the gods right now. I almost tackled a student to the ground for a late season plum. Pomegrantes are a daily snack.

Here are a list of nutritionist approved foods to sate the foodie's hunger and keep baby happy:
maki - sushi rolls with cooked fish and/or vegetables. Some of my favorites include cucumber, unago (eel) and unavo (eel with avocado). Spider rolls may not be too great as soft shell crab is not in season, but they are a good cooked choice as well. In fact, I was told that cooked rolls are one of the best foods to eat: they are low-fat, nutritious, and the ginger settles the stomach. Add some edamame and miso soup and you have a very filling and healthy meal. PS- green tea is off limits. This is because it prohibits absorbtion of folic acid. Of everything I have had to give up, this one is probably the hardest.

prosciutto and fig - on pizza, in a pasta meal. As long as proscuitto is thoroughly cooked, and eaten sparingly, its OK.

cheeses - hard, cow's milk cheeses are also OK. I adore parmiggiano with some balsalmic drizzled on it. Melt a little into a crisp and you have an absolutely amazing snack. This is a good time to try some artisan cheddars, swisses or other hard, cows milk cheese. A word of warning on artisan cheeses: be sure they are pasteurized.

lamb - for me, its one of 2 ways these days: well roasted leg of lamb with a good minty jelly or in kibbe, a thoroughly cooked lebanese meatloaf.

salmon - this fish is ok 1 time per week if farmed, 2 times per week if wild. My favorite way to prepare it (besides in sushi or tartare) is baked with a sour cream and dill sauce. Try to find this delicious recipe by James Beard. You never go wrong with any of his suggestions.

Other foods that have been elevated in status in my mind lately include olives (I can not get enough), and ceasar salads (just be sure that you have "egg beaters" in the dressing, as opposed to real egg yolk. In CT, the law provides that restaurants have to use this egg yolk substitute. In MA, it could be the same and the last restaurant where I asked missed this caveat, or it could be legal to use the raw egg with warning. If you ask, the kitchen should be able to tell you. From my days of waitressing, believe me it is asked at least once a day at any restaurant serving this salad.)
There are select Chinese restaurants that make some absolutely delicious tofu meals, including one in Farmington, CT that makes a "vegetarian duck" and "vegetarian goose meat" from minced mushrooms and tofu sheets that is so good, I ask my parents to drive it up from home for me when they visit. I also love a good Sesame Tofu if it shows up on a menu.
Another great choice is Vietnamese bun with tofu or shrimp. ( I lost my love of shrimp with pregnancy.) Its light, tasty, and fresh. Great for my picky tummy.
Thai foods also offer lots of tasty, cooked choices and plenty of vegetarian selections.

Happy eating, friends. Even if you are not pregnant, maybe some of these foods are new to you...try seeking them out. They aren't too hard to find, if I managed here in Central Mass. Maybe you have some suggestions for me? I would love to hear them!

Meanwhile, I will continue to look forward to my anniversary celebration. Baby D is due 4 days before our 4th anniversary. My gift this year? A platter of sushi, a gallon of iced green tea and a magnum of Vuvet Cliquot, please. :-)

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