Saturday, May 01, 2010

Mothering the New Mom -- Recipes to Bring New Mothers

Lately I feel like I’m in the middle of a baby boom with many friends and colleagues recent or expecting mothers. That made me think about my first weeks home with my sons and the support I received. While I valued the cards, visits, flowers and baby clothes, I think what I most appreciated were the gifts of healthy, prepared food that allowed me to just reheat and eat. (Marlene, thanks again for that turkey meatloaf!) As any new parent knows, there are days when shopping and cooking are not on your baby’s agenda.

If you are planning to bring food to a new mother, remember they need lots of fiber, iron, protein, folic acid and calcium. Nursing mothers need to introduce certain foods slowly to make sure their babies are unaffected. Whenever possible choose pesticide-free ingredients, and check with the new parents in case they have any special requests.

Below are some recipes I developed for my j. weekly column. (You can read the original here to see how these dishes connect to the Jewish tradition).

The first dish has chickpeas and spinach, both recommended for new moms, and a mild Middle Eastern flavor. Dried fruit is also recommended for new moms, and this versatile stewed compote can serve by itself as a starter or dessert. Or top oatmeal or yogurt with it for a breakfast or snack.

Chickpeas and Spinach with Yogurt Mint Sauce
Serves 4

This makes a mild dish. For a spicier one, double the garlic, black pepper and cumin and add a dash of ground cayenne red pepper.

1 cup plain yogurt
2 Tbs. minced fresh mint leaves
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. olive oil
½ medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
1-15 oz. can cooked chickpeas, rinsed well and drained (about 1 ¾ cups)
12 oz. fresh spinach leaves
1 cup vegetable broth
2½ cups cooked brown rice

Combine yogurt, mint and lemon juice in a bowl. Stir well and set aside for an hour. (Use non-dairy yogurt to make this dish vegan.)

Heat oil in large fry pan over medium high heat. Sauté onion until softened, add garlic, sauté until just brown. Add salt, pepper, cinnamon and cumin and sauté for a minute. Add chickpeas, stirring well. Place spinach leaves on top of chickpea mixture, packing down if necessary. Add vegetable broth. Cover. Cook until spinach is cooked, stirring occasionally so spinach and chickpeas are thoroughly mixed. Taste and correct seasonings. Serve on brown rice topped with yogurt sauce.

Stewed Fruit Compote
Serves 4

I used a combination of prunes, apricots, cherries and figs for my compote, but any selection of dried fruits will work.

1 lb. mixed dried and pitted fruits
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
½ cup water
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

In a small pot, mix fruit, lemon zest and water. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until just simmering. Cover. Put heat on low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes until fruit is soft and most of the liquid is evaporated. (Cooking times may vary depending on fruit.) Remove from heat, stir in juice. Serve warm, room temperature or cold.
About the photo: Not your grandmother's stewed prunes -- compote with prunes, apricots, cherries and figs.

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