Meal Prep · parenting · postpartum · Recipes

With Love from my Kitchen – healthy Postpartum Meal Plan

In my last blog post on the first week post-partum, I introduced a meal plan (shown below). This isn’t necessarily low-calorie (depending on your calorie needs and your serving sizes) since I am exclusively breast-feeding and need to keep calories up to ensure supply, but it is a healthy, balanced meal plan. Based on Myfitness pal logging (love that app) I was consuming between 1400-1700 calories each day. A given as part of the meal plan is water. Hydration is SO important for breast-feeding mamas, and as part of a healthy lifestyle in general. I was getting in around 80oz a day.

After I laid out my plan and completed my shopping, we received a wonderful surprise, my mother delivered a huge pot of Beef Bourguignon, complete with mashed potatoes and buttery carrots! This is one of my mother’s specialties (a Julia Child recipe I will supply below) and one of our absolute favorites, so my meal-plan had to modify a little to accommodate, which I was happy to do! I dropped the freezer meal, that’s easy to save for next week.

My new meal plan became:

Meatless Monday

Low-Carb Waffles

Completed as part of freezer meal prep or as detailed below. Adapted from All the Nourishing Things.

  1. Cover 3/4 cup raw cashews in water and soak overnight (or 8 hrs)
  2. Drain and rinse the soaked cashews, then add them to a high-powered blender
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, in the order listed, to the blender:
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 3 eggs
    • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
    • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
    • 3 tablespoons Sugar (or leave out for savory waffles)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or leave out for savory waffles)
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • pinch salt
  4. Start by blending on low speed, then increase the speed to medium-high, then back down to low.
  5. Blend until completely smooth.
  6. Pour into your waffle maker, and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Everyone told me I’d never use my waffle maker when I registered for it before getting married, but I use it all the time – waffle junkie!)
  7. Add cooled waffles to freezer bag – to reheat, just pop in toaster oven (or actual oven) until warm and crispy!

A simple garden salad and whole wheat english muffin grilled cheese for lunch, with a side of red grapes.

Mushroom and Artichoke Fettuccine

Made the Mushroom & Artichoke Fettuccine from DamnDelicious for dinner. This was easy, hearty and well, damn delicious.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 ounces fettuccine
  • 1 (14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium high heat, combine fettuccine, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, onion, garlic, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes and 4 1/2 cups water; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until pasta is cooked through and liquid has reduced, about 12-15 minutes.
  3. Stir in spinach, Parmesan and butter until the spinach has wilted, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Serve immediately.

Tuesday

Lactation Smoothie

Completed as part of Freezer Meal Prep (be sure to thaw in the fridge overnight to be able to blend in the AM) or as detailed below.

  1. Add 1 banana, 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, 1/4 cup old fashioned oats, 1 tbsp peanut butter, and 1 cup almond milk to blender.
  2. Sprinkle in flax seeds.

Asian Style Chicken Salad

I can’t really explain why this is call ‘Asian-style’ as there aren’t too many ingredients that I would normally associate with an asian dish. However it is really tasty and a perfect lunch. The chicken and dressing should be prepped ahead and then its a quick and easy assembly each time you’re ready to eat it. This dressing recipe makes a large batch, so you can expect to have some leftover.

INGREDIENTS

  1. 2 heads iceberg lettuce (or mix in some darker greens for added nutrition, but the iceberg has a nice crunch)
  2. 4 chicken breasts – par boil slowly
  3. 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  4. 1-3/4 cups slivered almonds
  5. 3 scallions – finely chopped
  6. Chow mein noodles

Dressing

  1. 12 tsp red wine vinegar
  2. 1-1/2 cup salad oil
  3. 3/4 tsp pepper
  4. 3 tsp salt
  5. 6 tsp sugar

Dressing should be refrigerated overnight before serving.

Beef Bourguignon

When I got married, my mother had assembled some of her best recipes, some of my childhood favorites, and some Holiday recipes into a book – I use it often, and Beef Bourguignon is included there – of course! Given that I am breastfeeding, and you might be too, the first thing you might notice is that there’s a fair amount of booze in this recipe! Yes there is, but it cooks for a long enough time that all the alcohol burns off, so it is nursing friendly. I wouldn’t neccessarily recommend making this yourself if you have a newborn though, it may be a little too involved. File it away for later or see if you can get someone to make it for you, hehe! All the other recipes I have been choosing are super quick and simple, because I don’t want to take on too much – the babe is the main priority…

Wednesday

Spinach and Cheese Omelette

  1. Mix together 1 cup of chopped spinach, 1/4cup shredded cheddar cheese, and two eggs in a same bowl, season with salt and pepper. (This is 1 serving)
  2. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat until hot, spray with EVOO and pour in egg mixture.
  3. Gently tilt pan and push cooked portions from the edges until the full omelette is cooked. Serve immediately.

Lemon Garlic Salmon

This time I cooked in a foil packet on my inside grill, but you can bake the salmon as well and it will be delicious.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound wild salmon fillet
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or avocado oil)
  • 1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence, dill, or Italian Seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 large lemon sliced into rounds

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high
  2. Place the salmon on one large sheet of foil
  3. Mix the lemon zest with oil in a small bowl
  4. Drizzle fish with oil mixture and coat the flesh of the salmon in oil. Sprinkle with seasoning of choice and sea salt.
  5. Place lemon slices on top of the salmon fillet and wrap in foil to create a foil packet.
  6. Place foil packet on the grill and cover the grill. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until salmon is cooked through (or reaches desired done-ness). Cook times will vary depending on the thickness of the salmon.

Thursday

No new recipes for today!

Friday

I took the pack of chicken and separated into 2 large breasts to use for Caprese chicken, along with some chicken strips to use for the garden salad. I just simply bake the chicken strips with olive oil, Italian seasoning, and a little salt and pepper for about 20 minutes.

Caprese Chicken and Spaghetti Squash

From Confessions of a Fit Foodie recipe (with small modifications)

INGREDIENTS (for 2 servings)

  • 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp. shredded basil
  • 2/3 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 spaghetti squash

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut Spaghetti Squash in half length-wise. Spray insides with EVOO and sprinkle with salt/pepper
  3. Bake squash cut side down on a cookie sheet (covered with aluminum foil) for about 20 minutes or until outside shell is soft.
  4. While squash is baking, heat a large skillet with olive oil and season chicken with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook chicken over medium heat until golden and cooked through, about 6-8 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
  6. Lower heat to medium low and add the two teaspoons of olive oil to the pan. Add onion and stir for a few minutes or until they begin soften.
  7. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute or until fragrant.
  8. Add tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and let simmer until soft, about 4-5 minutes.
  9. Stir in a tablespoon of basil. Return chicken to skillet and nestle in tomatoes. Top evenly with mozzarella and cover with lid to melt cheese.
  10. Remove spaghetti squash from oven and use a fork to scrap out ‘spaghetti’ into bowl.
  11. Spoon tomatoes, chicken and sauce over spaghetti squash and garnish with remaining basil.

Delicious and Healthy!

Saturday & Sunday

Instant Pot Beanless Beef Chili

This meal is great because it is so quick and easy – from start to finish 30 mins. I didn’t end up adding the bell pepper to mine as I was short on time, and reduced some of the quantities (beef, tomatoes w/chilies) as I was only cooking for 2 adults, but otherwise I followed this recipe from Confessions of a Fit Foodie as written. I will definitely make this one again – really good. If you are breastfeeding, you may also want to reduce the heat level do be sure it will agree with the baby 🙂

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ pounds ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots,peeled and diced
  • 1 cup of bell peppers, diced
  • 2 cups of zucchini, cut into half moons
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato puree or tomato sauce
  • 2 small cans of tomatoes with green chilies

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Set your Instant Pot to Saute and brown beef until beef is thoroughly cooked, adding garlic for the last minute. Drain excess fat, set aside.
  2. Add oil, onions, celery, carrots, peppers, and seasonings to the Pot and saute until onions are translucent. Add zucchini, cooked beef, tomatoes, and sauce to the pot and stir.
  3. Cover IP and be sure valve is set to sealing. Set to manual and cook for 20 minutes. After cook time, switch to venting for quick release.

Next Week’s Meal Plan

Here’s my plan for next week! Planning to be healthy and keeping it simple!

parenting · postpartum

Make the most of your Postpartum Time : Week 1

The first week after the baby is born is all about recovery and settling in. Whether this is your first baby or you’ve been down this road before – this is a special, hectic, messy time!

Today (or tonight, really) my newborn will be turning 1 week-old, so here’s how my first week went.

After the night of my delivery, I spent two additional nights in the hospital. As much as I wanted to get back to my own home, own shower, and own food, I know how valuable this time is – round the clock professional care for myself and my baby? Yes, please! My priority was for my husband and I to get some sleep while we had all this extra help, so we let the baby go to the nursery in between feedings each night. This also works out well for the hospital staff as they have numerous checks and vaccinations to complete, etc – that they would schedule during the same time.

Another important goal during the hospital stay is to help your body heal – I knew that once I got home I would be moving around so much more (chasing after a 2 year-old as well) that my bleeding and pain/discomfort would increase – and it did. So during the time at the hospital its was important to rest, get into a care routine where the peri-bottle and ice packs became my best friends, and stock up on disposable undies to use later!

Lastly – I took advantage of the lactation specialist during my stay. I had nursed my son for 9 months, and my goal is to do at least the same for my daughter. Even though I had nursed for such a long time (and it wasn’t that long ago) I still found it extremely helpful to hear from the specialist. Reminders on how to latch, different position options, how to tell if she’s feeding correctly, etc. All extremely helpful. Since most babies lose weight in their first couple days of birth (especially exclusively breastfed babies) if you are breastfeeding you are going to want to feel confident that your baby is getting enough to eat. Proper form also reduces pain and complications for the mother and helps keep your supply up. The baby is the best pump for you and if she feeds correctly your supply will be plentiful! So my main job after returning home was to establish a good feeding “routine” (essentially feeding on demand at this point, sometimes she would be hungry after 30mins, sometimes 3hrs) and to make sure she was gaining back the weight she lost. We have a small baby scale we purchased for my son (you can see it was from Babies R’Us, still so upset they are gone because it was so convenient to be able to run out and get whatever little thing we needed right away) and this is great to eliminate any question on if she’s gaining weight or not.

Fortunately, we’ve had a productive week and she is well over her original birth weight. The general guidance is that most babies should regain any lost weight by days 10-14 of life, and most babies lose 5-10% of their birth weight in the first 5 days or so of life (breastfed babies will typically at the higher end of this range).

What worked for me is to offer the breast anytime she woke or was fussy. If she didn’t take it – then I would look for another source for her crying or discomfort, but 90% of the time, she’s hungry! This is really a learning from my experience with my first-born. With him I tended to think ‘he just finished eating 30mins ago, he couldn’t possibly be hungry’ – well I was wrong, the poor kid was probably hungry all the time! Especially early on – they do a lot of cluster feeding, and also nurse to soothe themselves, so expect to spend a lot of time nursing!

This week your baby will also have their first Well-Baby visit – the first of many visits in the first year of baby’s life. There are numerous things to check and discuss at this visit:

  • Measure baby’s weight, length and head circumference – here’s a good reference on newborn averages
  • Check how baby’s umbilical cord and circumcision (as applicable) are healing
  • Check baby’s heartbeat and breathing
  • Check baby’s reflexes
  • Check baby’s skin color looking for signs of jaundice
  • Check baby’s genitals
  • Check baby’s Fontanels (soft spots) and the shape of her head

You’ll also discuss the how the baby is feeding and sleeping, and this is the best time and place to ask any and all questions you may have (there’s no such thing as a stupid question when you have a newborn).

Just completed my first check-up!

Given how much went on this week (its amazing how quickly your life can change!) there are also a couple things I didn’t worry about this week

  • My weight or getting my body back – this week, I didn’t worry about my diet, other than wanting to make sure I was eating enough to help establish my milk supply. I didn’t even think about exercise, as I wanted my body to heal. There is time for this in the weeks to come, but was not my priority this week.
  • Thank you notes and other ‘To-do’s’. With various baby gifts arriving the thank-you notes are on my list but will have to wait. Returning phone calls and emails or messages will also have to wait. This is a special time for our little family of four and its ok to be a little selfish.

One important reminder though – get that baby added to your insurance. This is one ‘To-do’ I checked off before leaving the hospital.

So, what did I feed my family this week? The first night we got home we dug into one of our Freezer Meals that I had prepared before baby arrived – what a lifesaver! We went for the turkey lasagna rolls, and this was dinner for mom, dad, and brother for our first two nights back – it was delicious, even though it looks a little messy. Timing worked out that we were actually all able to sit down and eat together too which my toddler loved, “we’re all together” he said happily.

Otherwise I ate fruit, cereal, or Lactation Cookies (also from my Freezer Meals prep) for breakfasts, sandwiches for lunch (tuna sandwich with a small cappuccino shown below), and we even did a ‘breakfast for dinner’ night with a spinach omelette – quick to make and good to eat!

Looking forward to my Post-partum (PP) week 2 however, I do want to start getting back into my normal groove of planning a weekly menu of healthy nutritious meals for the family. Here’s the plan:

I like to do Meatless Monday – but if you are following no meat on Friday’s for Lent you could easily switch the days around to accommodate. I did not do a big prep session for this week, thats a little too ambitious for me for week 2. I plan to prep as I go during the week and fit it in between feedings, snuggling with the baby, etc. We’ll see how that works out!

Since today is Monday, I’ve already started following this plan, the Low Carb Waffles (also from Freezer Meals prep) were delicious – like crave-worthy delicious.

Here’s the recipe I’ll be using for the Mushroom & Artichoke Fettuccine from DamnDelicious – it looks yummy and hearty which is perfect for a vegetarian meal!

I can’t wait to try it!