Cooking 101: Necessary nourishment for new moms

Forget the cute pink onesies, the soft blue receiving blankets, the cuddly stuffed bears.

The gift registry for a baby shower ought to look like a weekly menu planner.

Each guest signs up for breakfast, lunch or dinner, promises to deliver the goods and, if they are really good friends, hang around quietly while the proud new mom pops in ear plugs and takes a nap, dreaming that maybe the laundry will get done while she snoozes.

A bonus would be the giant economy size of a healthy meal that could be carved into several servings and tucked aside for when hunger trumps time: mini-turkey meat loaves made in muffin cups, a beef and bean taco filling, a nice veggie quiche.

Solid, healthy foods – proteins, dairy products, fruits and veggies – replenish what your body lacks and give you the energy for those all-nighters you thought you gave up after the college years.

Or maybe even a snack-attack kit, a tray of healthy somethings that can be eaten on the fly, perhaps one-handed while comforting a cranky child: Tupperware containers filled with fresh, peeled and cut-up fruit – pineapples, oranges, mangoes, berries – and a large carton of Greek yogurt. Topped with granola, it’s a breakfast parfait. Ladled over ice cream with a little honey and cinnamon, it’s dessert.

This is not the time to shovel in cookies or those orange peanut-butter crackers just because you are starving and can’t even think about cooking.

No, this is the time to eat healthy, rebuild that battered body and get ready for the tough years ahead, the terrible 2s, the teenage years. Wait, let’s not think of that when you may already be feeling those post-partum blues. Let’s be positive. Let’s focus on those sleep-deprived, emotionally turbulent moods that come home from the hospital with you and hang around like an unwelcome houseguest.

You need energy. And, if you are breastfeeding, you have to remember that your little bundle of joy is literally sucking nutrients and vitamins from your body into theirs, so you need to put extra fuel in your tank to cover you both.

Think about the so-called “Desired Dozen” foods recommended for Mommy and Me: dairy, eggs and yogurt for calcium and bone building, lean beef for protein, black beans for iron, whole wheat bread for folic acid and fiber, blueberries, oranges, leafy greens, salmon, brown rice, whole grain cereals and oatmeal. Good stuff.

Try to eat five smaller meals a day. They will help sustain your embattled energy levels. Besides, it’s quicker than three big sit-down meals you probably won’t get to finish unless you can actually stay up longer than your baby.

There are some quick, simple, healthy, delicious meals you can actually fix and eat between diaper changes. And don’t be shy when friends offer to help. Hand them a recipe card and ask them to make a double batch!

PEG’S MEATLOAF MUFFINS

Protein, veggies, oats in a single serving size. Good for 12 snacks or several small meals.

1 egg

1?2 cup mango or pineapple chutney

1-1 1?2 pounds ground turkey (or a mix of turkey and beef)

1 cup each shredded carrots and zucchini

1/3 cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon each ground mustard and onion powder

1?2 teaspoon each salt and pepper

In large bowl, whisk together egg and most of the chutney, reserving 1 tablespoon. Add turkey, oats, shredded veggies and spices, mixing with hands. Spoon into 12 muffin cups that have been sprayed with cooking oil. Thin chutney with a little water and lightly brush tops of “muffins.” Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Meatloaf muffins can be wrapped individually when cool and frozen for a quick meal anytime.

BEEF AND BEAN TACO MIX

Almost half of the “Desired Dozen” in a tasty dinner or snack.

1 pound lean ground beef

1 onion, diced

1?2 pepper, diced

3 cloves of garlic, sliced

1 can black beans, rinsed

1 cup brown rice, cooked

1 teaspoon chili powder

Olive oil

1 teaspoon mango lime or other citrus grill seasoning

Assorted toppings: diced avocado, baby spinach, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese

Taco shells or whole wheat “scoops” chips

In a large pan, saute? beef, onion, pepper and garlic in olive oil until meat is cooked through. Add beans, rice and seasoning, stir well to combine and heat through. For tacos: Stuff meat into taco shells and eat immediately with assorted toppings. For dip, add toppings to meat mixture and serve with “scoops” chips. Store any leftovers in fridge for a quick snack.

THE BEST QUICHE

Eggs, dairy, cheese. Serve with a side of sliced oranges and fresh blueberries and rack up those Healthy Mom points.

4 tablespoons butter

3 leeks, cleaned and diced

1 cup wild mushrooms, diced

1 cup baby spinach

4 eggs

1 cup cream

1 cup milk, soy or almond milk

1?2 teaspoon each salt, lemon pepper, nutmeg

2/3 cup gruyere cheese or Havarti cheese

1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Fresh dill (optional)

1 deep-dish pie crust

Melt butter and saute? leeks. Add mushrooms and stir fry quickly. Whisk eggs, cream and spices until well-blended. Stir in spinach. Prick bottom of pie crust with fork. Brush lightly with beaten egg mix to “set” the bottom crust and sprinkle lightly with fresh ground black pepper.

Spoon leek/mushroom mix on crust. Top with gruyere cheese. Gently pour egg mix over veggies. Top with fresh dill if using and grated parmesan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes until set (knife comes out of batter clean). Cover crust if it browns too quickly.

Cut into 6-8 slices. A healthy breakfast for a whole week.

OPEN FACED GRILLED CHEESE

You can handle this without help. But if a friend offers to bake you a loaf of whole wheat bread, say yes.

My Mom used to make this on school mornings, leave it on the kitchen table and go back to bed. It’s that easy. And, if Mom made it, it had to be good for you, right? And, no dirty dishes!

Two slices whole wheat bread, lightly toasted

Two slices of your favorite cheese

Your favorite fillings – tomatoes, bacon, ham, veggies

Place fillings on lightly toasted bread. Top with cheese. Place under broiler until cheese is bubbly.

AWESOME OATMEAL

You can use quick oats or cook up a big batch of steel cut and stash in fridge. Reheat a bowl at a time when nourishment is needed quickly. You can also have your dried fruit toppings cut and ready to go the minute that baby of yours closes its eyes. It’s so quick, you might have time to catch a nap, too.

Oatmeal, cooked in milk instead of water for added calcium

Diced dried apricots, dates, figs, cranberries

Brown sugar or honey

Cinnamon

Ginger

Fresh blueberries or bananas

Zap your oatmeal in microwave, thinning with milk.

Stir in sweetener. Top with dried fruit, fresh berries and bananas.

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