Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Local Eating during Pregnancy: Part One

I'm finishing up the excellent book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver, who is one of my favorite authors. And I'm finishing up my year of garden work: picking my winter squash and orange pumpkins, the last peppers and eggplant, and putting cold frames over the less-hardy greens. Three days of rainy weather approaching has made the task more urgent - I don't want my peppers and winter squash to get moldy! During the rain, I think we'll be inside peeling apples from our local orchard for applesauce and husking/blanching/freezing corn from a farm just up the road.

There are many advantages to buying & eating more foods locally and seasonally. Some help others most directly, but certainly affect us in the long-term: economic benefits for the local area and local farmers; less dependence on gasoline to bring the food to you; small farms often farm more sustainably and/or organically (even if they don't go through the process to be certified organic). There are other benefits that are just for the local eater her/himself: eating food that was grown for taste, not portability/storage (YUM!) as well as the additional nutrition offered by eating locally and seasonally.

For many women, pregnancy is a time when they are more motivated to learn about nutrition, and to make food choices based on what they learn. It's also a time when there is a more obvious link to other mothers - mothers past, animal mothers, our mothers, future mothers. One of my favorite books to read during pregnancy was a memoir-ish book called Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood. The author, Sandra Steingraber, discusses her journey month-by-month through pregnancy, giving each chapter a moon name, from "Old Moon" to "Harvest Moon". She writes in the preface that "When I became pregnant at the age of thirty-eight, I realized, with amazement, that I myself had become a habitat. My womb was an inland ocean with a population of one" (ix).

So, in honor of the coming harvest, and for all of you mamas growing your babies in the "inland ocean", here are a few recipes I'll be using to take advantage of this beautiful (and delicious!) season...


This recipe, Dino Kale Saute, is my favorite ways to use kale - everyone I've made it for as always loved it. Kale is an excellent source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin K and has calcium and protein in it (!!).

Dino Kale Saute

12 ounces dinosaur kale or regular kale, cut or torn into 1- to 2-inch pieces (about 12 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup soft sourdough or French loaf bread crumbs
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon white wine Worcestershire sauce
Lemon wedges (optional)

1. Rinse kale leaves thoroughly under cold running water. Drain well; set aside.

2. In a small skillet heat 2 teaspoons of the oil. Cook bread crumbs in the hot oil for 1 to 2 minutes or until browned. Season with pepper; set aside.

3. In a large, nonstick skillet heat the remaining 4 teaspoons oil. Add kale. Cook the kale, covered, for 1 minute. Uncover. Cook and stir for 1 minute more or until just wilted. Transfer kale to serving dish. Drizzle with Worcestershire sauce. Sprinkle with the browned bread crumbs. Squeeze lemon wedges over all. Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4 servings
Calories 89, Total Fat (g) 5, Saturated Fat (g) 1, Cholesterol (mg) 0, Sodium (mg) 53, Carbohydrate (g) 9, Fiber (g) 4, Protein (g) 3, Vitamin C (DV%) 94, Calcium (DV%) 8, Iron (DV%) 8, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet


Apples are delicious this time of year and there are so many kinds to choose from. Apples have some Vitamin C and are a good source of fiber.

Rustic Apple Sauce

4 cups cubed peeled Braeburn or Pink Lady apple
4 cups cubed peeled Granny Smith apple
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt
2 tablespoons crème fraîche (or full-fat yogurt or sour cream)

Combine first 8 ingredients in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook 25 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat; mash to desired consistency with a fork or potato masher. Stir in crème fraîche. Serve warm or chilled.

Nutritional Information
Calories:140 (12% from fat)
Fat:1.8g (sat 1g,mono 0.5g,poly 0.2g) Protein:0.3g Carbohydrate:32.5g Fiber:2.3g
Cholesterol:3mg Iron:0.5mg Sodium:30mg Calcium:31mg

One of my favorite recipes comes from the mother of my best friend growing up. It's not really a recipe, actually: chop up an apple and a small handful of walnuts; add a couple of spoonfuls of ricotta cheese and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Yum!


Pears are also in season in the fall. They have some Vitamin C and are a very good source of fiber.

Pear Clafouti

Cooking spray
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
2 cups cubed peeled pear
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups 1% low-fat milk, divided
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375°.

Coat a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate with cooking spray, and dust plate with 1 teaspoon flour. Arrange the pear cubes in the bottom of prepared dish, and set aside.

Combine 3/4 cup flour, salt, and nutmeg in a bowl. Gradually add 1 cup milk, stirring with a whisk until well-blended. Add 1 cup milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract, stirring until smooth. Pour batter over pear cubes. Bake mixture at 375° for 35 minutes or until set.

Nutritional Information
Calories:230 (15% from fat)
Fat:3.9g (sat 1.3g,mono 1g,poly 0.5g) Protein:7.7g Carbohydrate:41.1g Fiber:1.8g
Cholesterol:113mg Iron:1.3mg Sodium:171mg Calcium:121mg


I think pears and apples are both excellent addition to spinach or lettuce salads. A salad with spinach or mixed greens, apples or pears, a sprinkle of sunflower seeds and some chopped cooked chicken or hard-boiled egg is an excellent lunch or dinner. Paul Newman's raspberry walnut salad dressing is a good one to try on this type of salad if you don't want to make your own balsamic vinaigrette. A sprinkle of (pastuerized!) blue cheese or goat cheese, or cheddar, can be nice too.

Pears and apples are also good served with this dip:

Cottage Cheese and Apple Snacks

1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon or apple pie spice
1 to 2 teaspoons skim milk
3 medium apples or pears, cored and sliced

For dip, in blender container or food processor bowl place the cottage cheese, peanut butter, and cinnamon or apple pie spice. Cover and blend or process until smooth. If necessary, stir in enough milk to make dip of desired consistency.

Serve the dip immediately or cover and chill it for up to 24 hours. Serve dip with the apple or pear slices. Makes 6 (2-tablespoon) servings.

Nutrition Facts
Calories 106, Total Fat (g) 4, Cholesterol (mg) 3, Sodium (mg) 178, Carbohydrate (g) 13, Protein (g) 7, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Next week, I'll include more seasonal recipes for spinach, winter squash, pumpkin and more.

In the meantime, to learn more about eating locally, I recommend Kingsolver's book (of course) - as well as the Animal, Vegetable, Miracle website, which offers tons of online resources to learn more about the benefits of eating locally/seasonally and how to incorporate more seasonal/local food into your diet. There is also information on how to find local foods, and the recipes from her book (which I can't wait to try!).

For us Mainers, I also recommend the Get Real Get Maine website, which has searches for specific food items, listed by county; pick your own farms; farmers markets; CSAs (community sustained agriculture farms that sell "shares" of their produce) and more.

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine

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July 15, 2013 at 2:25 AM  

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