Sunday, March 25, 2012

Speed lunch - a race against time

I was talking to my sister on Skype the other day while she whipped up and ate a quick bowl of pasta before heading back to work (what a multi-tasker!) I mentioned that many of my lunches are made and eaten at this speed when trying to do a hundred things while at least one small boy is sleeping - clean the house, express the milk, sterilise the bottles, watch the Fashion Police etc etc. I realised there are probably a lot of people who try to do these 10-minute healthy meals for a variety of reasons (not just making time to watch Joan Rivers bitch about celebrities' lack of taste) and are probably as sick as I am of toasted sandwiches and tuna salads.

One of my recent discoveries has been how fast you can knock up a Japanese miso udon soup using only cupboard ingredients and this is one of my favourite ever lunches. As with some other recent recipes, I'm not sure that this one is a winner with kids as it's pretty messy eating but potentially worth a try as udon noodles seem to be pretty popular in our household in other recipes. This recipe is for one but can easily be increased to serve more noting that this makes a seriously large bowlful of noodle soup.

Eleanor's Miso Udon Soup

1 small packet vacuum packed udon noodles (approx 200 grams)
1 tablespoon white miso paste
500 mls water
1/2 teaspoon of dashi granules (optional)
1 tablespoon dried wakame or arame seaweed

Put seaweed in some warm water for a few minutes until hydrated then drain. Put 500mls water, miso paste and dashi granules in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir until the miso paste has dissolved. Add udon noodles and boil for around three minutes. Add seaweed and serve.

If you want to make a heartier and lunch add some silken tofu and vegetables at the end. I often throw in a few snow peas and some spring onions but any greens would work.

Serves one

* All of these ingredients are available at our local supermarket but you may need to try an Asian grocer. The miso paste and dashi granules can seem a bit expensive but they last forever and mean that you can make this soup whenever you like.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Is that a zucchini in your muffin?

...or are you just happy to eat me? Please ignore the very wrong connotations in this heading but I just discovered an excellent zucchini and choc chip muffin recipe. I made a few tweaks just due to what I've got in the house but they taste fabulous and include vegetables - what more could you ask?

Eleanor's zucchini and choc chip muffins (based on a recipe by Poh)

2 cups plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup of dark muscavado (or brown) sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup sour cream
85gms melted butter
1 egg lightly beaten
1 medium zucchini grated (to make around 1.5 cups)
Zest of one orange
1 cup semisweet or dark choc chips

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and choc chips in a large mixing bowl. Mix all other ingredients in a separate bowl before adding to the dry ingredients and mixing until just combined.

Spoon mixture into a greased 12-hole muffin tray or paper cupcake holders (patty pans). Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until cooked through. Cool on a wire tray and serve.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Booze and boobs - can I have a glass of wine now?

Drinking when pregnant and breastfeeding is one of the most confusing issues to get straight and partly this is because there aren't controlled experiments in this space (i.e. you can't ask a randomised group of women to chug beers while pregnant/nursing and see what happens). I should say up front that I have no strong views on this one - I really feel like this is every woman's choice about what they are going to do - especially considering that the science behind it is not clear cut. My interest really just stems from me trying to work out what I should do while I am continuing to express all the milk for baby number two.

After some recent reading, I realised that the periods of pregnancy and nursing are pretty different in terms of what gets passed on to the baby and finally got some answers on what you should consider when working out whether or not to have a drink when breastfeeding. So, thought I should share what I found.

It may seem obvious to some but I only just learnt that alcohol doesn't stay in breastmilk so if you wait long enough the booze won't even reach the baby. This is clearly different than pregnancy where whatever is in your blood stream is getting channeled straight through. Basically breast milk holds about the same amount of alcohol as your blood stream so if you think you could blow a 0.0 on a breathaliser, you probably don't have any alcohol in your milk either. This means, you're best to do your drinking well before feeding, i.e. directly after a feed/express is probably going to be the best time. The general rule seems to be that women clear 1 standard drink in about 2 hours.

There is some suggestion that you shouldn't drink at all until your baby is either one month or three months (I was admittedly a little surprised when one of the ladies in the hospital was encouraging me to have some wine two days after giving birth). This seems to be based on when the babies' liver has developed enough to process alcohol but surely this is less relevant if you generally aim to clear your milk of alcohol before feeding.

I've also read that alcohol both encourages and inhibits milk production so I think you can probably deduce that neither of these is based on strong science.

Basically everyone seems to agree that it is possible to have a drink or two while breastfeeding as long as you plan it right - I'm off to get a glass of red to celebrate!

If you want to read some more yourself - here are the articles I looked at: