So it’s been a while. That’s a cheesy introduction isn’t it? There is so much that I want to tell you, my fingers are furiously typing and unable to keep up with my baby-brain. (Seriously, I have been wearing clothes inside-out and even walked out of baby classes without my shoes on, in the rain).
There is a lot of post-partum food related stuff I want to rant about, but I can’t pack it into one post. I fear that the next few posts may become part of the rant-chronicles. Please bear with me. As with life, there is a lot that I have learned through eating my way post-partum and there is a lot I want to share with you.
When my baby boy was born he filled my life and my heart with more love than I can ever imagine. My heart swells and overflows like nature intended. Funnily enough, I had always heard people tell me how hard it is…why do people do that? What is ‘easy’ in life…besides of course lying on a beach on holiday blah blah…Anyway, for the first 3.5months I kept pinching myself…could it really be this perfect? I was joyfully singing baby rhymes in the shower and swinging from one sensory/music/dah-dah class to the next mums-and-baby lunch.
After the 3.5 months…no it’s not what you may be guessing. Nothing to do with my little bubba suddenly becoming a brat. He is still utterly and deliciously lovely (albeit a wee bit naughty). No. I was exhausted despite my baby being a good sleeper. I had headaches, nausea, dizziness…all of that. I started to look unwell and feel it even more so. I went to the doctor five times. Five. The response always traced back to something to do with breast-feeding. Fobbed off?
It’s at that point that I started to analyse my food intake after having had my baby and I have a few opinions. I will keep them flowing over the posts…
So, I followed this Indian post-baby diet thing. In the days after I had my boyI adhered to it. Of course when people tell you that it’s best for the baby, you do it. It’s been proven over generations hasn’t it? Certain parts of it make sense, some of it makes me angry till now, and parts of just perplex me.
I ate loads of fenugreek. That makes sense; apparently it encourages the milk come in and flow. Actually if you take it within the first two weeks it has most benefit. I ate loads of aubergines. As a vegetarian I often get served aubergines. I don’t get the aubergine thing. Maybe because it’s a neutral, non-offensive vegetable insofar as its ability to cause tummy upsets or reflux is concerned. I was given more than enough of those and I don’t want to eat them for quite a long time now!
Unlike the villainous broccoli, cauliflower, potato, tomatoes I had to give up. Oh and cabbage…anything that’s ‘windy’. Even my beloved lentils and pulses, my darling proteins, went into hibernation. I gave up citrus and chillies. And even milk. Most people gain a lot of their dietary Iron from breakfast cereals, so this didn’t do me any favours when I later learned about my very low iron levels.
I didn’t even eat chapatti; I ate millet flour bread, which I don’t like. But apparently, even bread is a source of Iron?
I ate ghee and jaggery. When do I ever eat that? I think this stuff has got to suit your body. This one I find remarkable, given that so many Indian people have a family history of diabetes.
I drank oceans of dill water. Now that one is thought-provoking, because when I smelt gripe water, that’s what it smelt like because the main ingredient is dill water (and sugar I think). It clears the baby’s tummy. Well. So, by drinking it myself, I was keeping my baby’s tummy clear. Clever.
I ate mountains of spinach, but in a curry. Apparently, spinach has something in it that makes it harder for the body to process the iron. Also, I ate it in a cooked down curry and you know that depletes the level of iron I get from it.
The thing is, I didn’t maintain a balanced diet. There was no orange juice in my diet (the logic was to avoid exacerbating the baby’s reflux problems) so that didn’t help the iron being absorbed. What happened to salads or watercress (high in iron), beetroot, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots and beanshoots?…The rainbow in my diet had disappeared. Now, I am bringing back the rainbow and I will be sharing some more balanced recipes with you. In the meantime, here’s a finger up at those ingredients that temporarily repulsed me (but a tastier take on them). I am sticking my tongue out as I post this…no actually let me blow a raspberry; I am good at that now.
Spinach, Sliced Aubergine and Spiced Tofu Filo Logs
12 sheets of filo pastry
400g of firm tofu
2 tbsp. vegetable oil for stir frying and some more for drizzling over the aubergine slices
1 medium sized aubergine, sliced into 1 cm rounds
6-7 curry leaves
200g spinach, wilted
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
2-3 green chillies, coarsely chopped
The spices; ½ tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. cumin seeds, ½ tsp. fenugreek seeds, salt to taste, ½ tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. paprika, ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
1. Firstly sweat the aubergines by salting them and leaving them to stand for about ten minutes. Dab them gently to remove the excess water before roasting them (coated lightly in oil) for about 8-10 minutes on 180 degrees.
2. Whilst the aubergines are roasting, bring the tofu to life. To do this, start by heating a non-stick pan and adding the oil. When it’s hot, sprinkle in the asafoetida, turmeric, chillies, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and cumin seeds and watch it sizzle, when the mustard seeds pop, add in the curry leaves, shallots, salt and garlic and then sauté until the onions have softened and lightly browned.
3. Crumble in the tofu with your hands, to a scrambled eggs texture. Then sprinkle in the paprika and black pepper and give it a good stir. Cook for 4-5 minutes before turning off the heat
4. Wilt the spinach by stirring it into boiling hot water for a couple of minutes. Drain and remove the water, give it a good squeeze and sprinkle in the nutmeg.
5. To make the rolls, spoon in equally divided amounts of tofu, aubergine onto the near-end of the pastry sheet. Roll along twice and tuck in the sides, so the mixture doesn’t escape. Stuff in the spinach and keep rolling to form a log, with the sides tucked in.
6. Bake in the oven on 180 degrees, for approximately ten minutes, or until the filo logs are golden and crisp, but not overly browned (you brown them too much you’ll taste a lot of bitterness). Make sure you serve them before they soften and wilt. Perky and crisp is a much better look (and taste, of course).