What we eat and what we cook

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I’ve been asked to post our usual meals multiple times. There are quite a few reasons why it took me this long to get around to it, and why this post is far from what I imagined to be.

  1. Up until recently I hate food with all my soul ( thank you 1st trimester) and the prospect of thinking about food, let alone writing about it would send me into gagging spells.
  2. I hate photographing food. First of all, it’s BORING! Secondly, when I’m in the midst of my craziness where I try to cook, cut, saute, bake and prep 3 different meals at the time (multitasker+perfectionist=crazy person), the last thing I want to do is bring down my DSLR and attempt to get good photos of every step. NOT. GOING.TO.HAPPEN.
  3. Since I can’t get around to photographing food, I resort to quickly snapping some pictures with my iphone. And those photos offend my sense of beauty. Yuck!
  4. Most of the time, our meals are simply things I come up with or throw together out of whatever available vegetables/whole grains we have. So there are  no real recipes for what we do. We just come up with it on the go. I can remember only 1 or 2 occasions where I actually managed to PLAN for a meal (i.e. buy ingredients and actually make it before said ingredients went bad in our Florida humidity)
  5. If I didn’t take a picture, I don’t see the point in posting a recipe- how on earth would you know what you’re cooking.

That being said, I have put together a tiny example of SOME meals we’ve made that I managed to take a picture of.

Before pregnancy, I was a vegetarian who on occasion had smoked salmon (my weakness), almost no diary and eggs. So basically, I was almost a vegan. With pregnancy that had to change to make sure I get an adequate amount of protein, so I went back to drinking milk, eating cheese and eggs, and making an exception for 1 fish for its nutritional value and almost complete lack of dioxins and mercury (sardines). My husband is a vegan and has been that way since October 2010. So basically whenever we cook for both of us, it’s always vegan, and then I add whatever I need to for myself ( cheese, sardines,etc).

Just for the sake of full disclosure, I really think cheese is “evil” and I will be happy to drop it again once I don’t need as much protein, but for now, I need its evilness for the calories and protein punch.

THE ONLY 1 RULE I have while cooking is IT HAS TO BE HEALTHY AND MAKE SENSE NUTRITIONALLY. If I am cooking something relatively “empty” in nutrition, I always add extra vegetables or greens.

Let’s start with SPICY KALE STEW

I found the recipe on Epicurious a long time ago and we would make this stew ALL THE FREAKING TIME. It’s not bland at all and it goes great with rice or stand alone.

This was before I was pregnant, and since then we switched to cooking on stainless steel only. We bought this stainless steel cookware set to compliment what we already have. I really recommend it if you’re looking to switch from Teflon ( which can become very dangerous as it gets old) to stainless steel. It was on a huge sale on MYHABIT, so we managed to grab it for $275.

NEXT: Vegetarian/Vegan Lasagna

I couldn’t find  whole grain lasagna squares, but I wanted to try making a vegetarian lasagna, so I settled with traditional white lasagna. Also, I’d suggest getting pre-cooked ones, instead.
It’s really pretty easy- you can layer the lasagna with whatever your heart desires. I chose spinach and pesto for one stripe of lasagna; spinach, pesto and black beans for another  and finally choped and sauteed garlic and mushrooms for the third. You can read the recipe for a lasagna here and adjust it any way you’d like.


This recipe isn’t for everyone. If you’re squirmy about fish and smells, you might not enjoy cooking it. I find sardines are a tastier and much healthier version of tuna fish. So if you think of it that way, this will be a staple.
The recipe is here
This ROCKS as leftovers the next day! I always use any type of whole grain pasta I have at the house and this ends up being one of my go-to meals if I am lacking calories or nutrition for the day.
Sauce/Vegetable side.

This is one of these meals where I just throw a bunch of things together and hope they stick. This one stuck!
Almost all our meals start with garlic, sauteed until it’s fragrant. Aside from the fact that garlic is good for you, it flavors vegetarian meals to a point where even an omnivore won’t miss meat.  It takes vegetables and pasta from bland to super tasty.

So we saute garlic in hot oil for about 2 minutes, then add chopped tomatoes and cook on low heat, preferably covered to contain the moisture in. I usually add whatever nutritious greens I can find in the fridge, like spinach, kale , collard greens. In this case it’s chopped spinach, since cooked spinach (and tomatoes for that matter) beats its uncooked counterpart in nutrition (read here).

After a bit of sauteing on low heat covered, until the mixture gets thickened, you add it to whatever it is you were making it for: whole grain pasta, brown rice, beans, etc.

Vegetable shrimp burrito
When I am really low on protein for the day and don’t want any more cheese or milk or eggs, I go to shrimp. I saute it really well in part oil, part water (you only need to get it to opaque, but since I am pregnant, I usually cook the shit out of it). So for this meal, I needed something fast. I had left overs from the mix of vegetables I made the other day (eggplant,mushrooms, tomatoes, olives), so I added them to the shrimp in a whole wheat tortilla, cut some scallions for taste. And done.
Some other miscellaneous stuff:
Vegetable kabobs
Roasted potatoes with dill and olive oil {when i am too lazy to think of anything, this is the easier meal ever and super tasty}
A mix of everything on the planet {this would probably represents all the nutrition a person needs}: Whole grain couscous, black and kidney beans sauteed with tomatoes, roasted potatoes, pickles, sauteed zucchini, spinach and mushrooms, whole grain tortilla chips and green olives. A great example of throwing things together.
And a ton of salads of course

I love my ceasar salads. I make my own dressing ( Parmesan, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, mustard, organic mayo, garlic and anchovies )
This salad saved my buck when I was sick. It’s nothing more than cucumbers and tomatoes in canola oil with salt. But it’s so fresh that it was the only thing I could eat without gagging.
Romaine, cherry tomatoes, green olives, dill and garlic dressing.
Another smorgasbord of things: cucumbers, avocado, olives, tomatoes, canola oil.
We always have a salad for lunch, so I just throw together whatever is in the refrigerator and is healthy.
Again, sorry for such horrible pictures and see you on Thursday or Friday for the 21st week update.

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  • Reply
    September 14, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    Excellent post, I love fresh and easy recipes 🙂 Besides, what you eat is actual REAL food, not some prepackaged, sliced and frozen crap. I DO NOT understand how can anyone eat fake stuff and seriously consider it being nutritional, just because it says on the label how many carbs, proteins and fats it has in it. That kind of nutritional info is laughable.

    • Reply
      Elena @ Art of Making a Baby
      September 15, 2011 at 4:29 PM

      There was a time when we ate that way too. it was a matter of convenience and lack of knowledge. I would not be able to eat any other way right now. I can’t look at processed foods and be ok with putting that in my body, especially during pregnancy. Of course, we’re not completely excluding anything, meaning if we have to eat meat, or processed foods once every few months, we’ll do it. But if it’s up to us, we always go for fresh and organic

  • Reply
    September 14, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    All of that looks so good, and now I’m hungry! ; )

  • Reply
    September 14, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    looks lovely. I really want to start eating and cooking healthier! This looks really yummy! I really need to work on being a better cook!

    • Reply
      Elena @ Art of Making a Baby
      September 15, 2011 at 4:32 PM

      For me it started with education. With learning about how bad the foods I was eating were and how good whole foods are. After that, it was simply not an option not to cook- that’s the only way to eat healthy. Also,with that came the understanding that food is not there for our pleasure necessarily, but to sustain our life. Good luck, Tara!

  • Reply
    September 14, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    Have I told you I love you??? I DO! Thanks for writing this sweeeeet post :] brings tears to my eyes hahaha. These are recipes I MUST try :]

  • Reply
    The Good Wife
    September 15, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    Since you are pregnant, I would try to avoid BPA, which is in canned tomatoes. Exposure to BPA messes with the endocrine system and floods the body with fake estrogen. This is partly a factor why girls are reaching puberty younger and younger these days. You can find BPA free canned tomatoes (canned beans are also really high in BPA) but not by Hunts. You can also get tomatoes in glass jars, just to be safe.

    Just thought you would like to know.

    • Reply
      Elena @ Art of Making a Baby
      September 15, 2011 at 12:30 PM

      That is good to know! But since I got pregnant I stopped using canned tomatoes ( the pictures were taken before pregnancy). I only use fresh. We’ve made a lot of changes to avoid BPA, and not using most canned products are some of them.

  • Reply
    September 15, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    I’d be interested to know what you do if you are in a hurry or too tired to cook. What are some fast, easy meal ideas or foods that you can throw together quickly? Things that you listed or something even faster.

    • Reply
      Elena @ Art of Making a Baby
      September 15, 2011 at 4:42 PM

      If I am in a SUPER hurry, I just grab 2-3 diffrerent fruits ( since we have fruits around at all times).

      Also, veggie burgers are really easy to make from the organic precooked frozen ones you can buy in Whole Foods or any organic section of super market. it takes literally 5 minutes to assemble a burger.

      And any salad with romaine will work as a fast meal. I’m in love with homemade ceasar dressing ( you can look up a recipe online. I use one that doesn’t call for eggs). So I make a bunch of that and refridgerate it, so all I have to do the next day is cut up Romaine, throw some olives in there and add dressing. Since it’s homemade, it has less calories, less oil (almost none), and all healthy(ier) ingredients (except for mayo, I guess), and Romaine is SUPER nutritious. Plus if I have extra 15 minutes, I cut up some white bread and throw it in the oven for homemade croutons.

      • Reply
        September 15, 2011 at 4:45 PM

        Thanks! It seems like I’m always looking for quick snack ideas when Garrett is napping. Lettuce doesn’t normally sound too good when I’m pregnant but definitely for after the baby comes. Do you eat spinach at all or do you just perfer romaine?

        • Reply
          Elena @ Art of Making a Baby
          September 15, 2011 at 5:03 PM

          Lettuce itself doesn’t sound good during pregnancy, I agree, but lettuce COVERED with ceasar dressing is super good.

          I ate spinach regularly before pregnancy, now I don’t like it, so I try to sneak it in in a cooked form into pizzas we make or sauteed vegetables where you can’t really taste it much. Besides, romaine is a lot more nutritious than spinach when they are raw, so I feel if I’m gonna make myself eat greens, it will might as well be a really nutritious one.

          • Verna
            September 15, 2011 at 5:05 PM

            Good to know. Thanks!

  • Reply
    September 22, 2011 at 9:58 PM

    you call yourself vegan and you eat fish?????

    • Reply
      Elena @ Art of Making a Baby
      September 22, 2011 at 10:21 PM

      I am not vegan, my husband is.
      And I am only eating 1 type of fish for its nutrition and protein which I need during pregnancy (I believe that was explained in the post)

  • Reply
    January 8, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    Great post. Btw it’s spelled dairy, not diary 🙂

  • Reply
    Jessica Lewis
    March 6, 2012 at 12:49 AM

    Have you thought about making a lasagna with strips of eggplant instead of pasta? That’s how I generally make mine, since I hate the taste/texture of pasta. I cut a good sized eggplant lengthwise into thin strips, brush with olive oil and lightly season with garlic salt and pepper, then grill til tender (or you can bake til tender–it’s good both ways). Then they’re ready to layer in your lasagna and be baked. Of course, the number of eggplants you’ll need depends on how big/deep your lasagna is–I use 2 large ones (just feeding hubby and I, but with lots of leftovers), and we usually have some eggplant leftover to grill or use in other meals. It lends itself very nicely to vegetarian lasagnas, and as it happens, to non-vegetarian ones, too!

  • Reply
    November 5, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    The link to the stainless steel cookware doesn’t work. Can you post it again and say how you are liking it? Have you tried any ceramic pans?

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