Hiding vegetables in soup, part 1

Chicken, broccoli and carrot soup with a parmesan toast

For a few weeks after we found out that Anni was pregnant, nothing changed. I mean, of course everything was different, but everything was also the same. And because life just went on I couldn’t get my head round the fact that by autumn I’d become a father. I kept looking up how big the life growing inside her was, continually surprised at how this microscopic collection of cells was set to take charge and change everything.

In terms of food nothing also changed for a few weeks. Anni carried on in her usual calm way whilst I began to freak out and inspect the sell by dates of every bit of food we had, turn our steaks into pieces of rubber and boil our eggs for 7 hours minimum. After doing a bit of research into what women can and can’t eat during pregnancy we both discovered that pretty much all advice was contradictory, and the vast majority of foods recommended to avoid were based on guesswork, not fact. Just don’t eat raw food, don’t have too much mercury-rich fish and don’t give yourself salmonella. Anni and I had a combined age of 68 and had managed to never get salmonella before in our lives, so I thought that we were going to be ok. 

Instead I chose to focus on all of the great food she could eat, and how each ingredient can be of benefit not only to her, but to our unborn child. I’ll admit, now that my principal role in child creation was sadly over (and boy was it over) I was feeling pretty redundant. At least by taking charge of what we would eat over the coming year I could feel like I was involved, and it was one less thing for Anni to worry about.  

However, a few weeks into pregnancy, everything changed. 

Anni began to find the thought of vegetables pretty unappealing and if I didn’t make food for her that was basically beige in appearance, she would have none of it.  She also began to crave salt so I had to act fast before she started eying up the salt pot at 11am each day. My challenge therefore was to make appetising dishes that I knew she would eat in those first few weeks, but also provide enough of the good stuff for our growing baby. 

So I started to hide vegetables in food. I started to do this a lot.

Soup was my number one way of hiding vegetables for Anni in her first trimester. It was the middle of winter, nights were cold and dark and so a warming bowl of goodness and some cheese on toast went down really well. I made a lot of soup in those first few weeks, they are so easy to make, require minimal preparation, are a great way of using up lots of vegetables and also freeze really well. This particular dish is packed with broccoli which due to its high folate, fibre and vitamin content, is a fantastic pregnancy superfood. The parmesan toast also satisfied her salt cravings. 


  

Method

-Boil the stock in a pan and then reduce to a simmer. Peel and finely slice the carrots and place in the pan.

-Roughly tear up the rosemary, sage and thyme and add.

-Finely slice the chicken and add to the pan before roughly chopping the broccoli and also adding in.

-Bring the liquid back to the boil and cook for at least five minutes (you want to ensure that the chicken is completely cooked through.

-Meanwhile place 2 slices of brioche bread under the grill, toast slightly then remove.

-Using a stick blender, mix the soup thoroughly. Reduce the heat to a low simmer.

-Sprinkle the grated parmesan over the brioche and place back under the grill for 1-2 minutes until the parmesan has melted.

-Pour the soup into bowls and place the toast on top of the mixture.


Ingredients

-2 chicken breasts

-6 carrots

-one onion

-one head of broccoli

-handfuls of thyme, sage and rosemary

-400ml chicken stock

-two slices of brioche bread

-60g grated parmesan

-salt and pepper

make your own pesto, part one

Walnut, spinach and parmesan pesto with roasted chicken, spinach and broccoli

  

Homemade pesto is another great way of hiding folate-heavy greens and healthy nuts in food. What’s more, pesto is so quick and easy to make and keeps for weeks in the fridge and months in the freezer. With homemade pesto you know you aren’t eating any chemicals or additives that you might get with shop-bought pesto, and when you make it in big quantities it’s pretty cheap too.

Anni would inhale big bowls of pasta during her first trimester, and so by making my own pesto we knew for sure that both her and our baby were getting enough vegetables at a time when eating fresh fruit and veg was a struggle.

When making pesto, always serve alongside pasta with a few twists in such as fusilli so the pesto has something to cling on to. Spaghetti for example wouldn’t work well with this dish.


  

Method

-Heat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking tray.

-Boil the pasta as per instructions. When cooked, drain and set aside. Keep the pasta water.

-Butterfly the chicken and cut in half. Place on the baking tray, season and roast for 10-12 minutes, turning halfway.

-Meanwhile, make your pesto in a small blender. Add all the ingredients and blend well. If the mixture is too try, add more olive oil to bring all the ingredients together. Season to taste.

-Dice the onion and garlic, season and cook on a medium heat.

-Cut the broccoli into chunks and cook for 3 minutes in the pasta water. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.

-Add the pasta and broccoli to the pan and stir in some of the pesto. Add the spinach and cook for a further minute until it wilts.

-Divide into two bowls, place the chicken on top and serve with grated parmesan.

Ingredients

  -1 chicken breast

-300g wholemeal fusilli pasta

-half a head of broccoli

-One handful of spinach

-one shallot and two cloves of garlic

For the pesto

-two handfuls of spinach

-2 tablespoons of crushed walnuts

-one tablespoon grated parmesan

-one garlic clove

-3-4 tablespoons of olive

-salt and pepper

The ‘I don’t feel like drinking tonight’ dinner party

Spanish-style risotto with king prawns, pea and asparagus

  For the first time in several years, dry January was for me actually a challenge I enjoyed rather than half-attempted or made up fake rules for such as ‘fizz doesn’t count,’ ‘already open bottles at home don’t count’ and ‘payday Friday doesn’t count’. Like many couples we wanted to continue our social life early on in Anni’s first trimester, but we also didn’t want to blurt out to everyone that Anni was pregnant, at least not before her 12-week scan. Meeting friends therefore whilst we were both ‘doing a dry January’ was the perfect cover so we packed those dinner parties in. Seriously, we needed some sort of shift and queueing system as every weekend in January we crammed our friends into our tiny flat full of moving boxes and apologised for not drinking as ‘we had both been hitting it hard over Christmas and needed a break’. As a cover, it probably sucked, especially as one weekend we had a couple over for dinner who were also doing dry January and as soon as they left Anni and I closed the door, turned to each other and said, ‘she’s definitely pregnant’.

Those first few weeks were a strange time for both of us, but especially for Anni. You begin to live a double life, lying to friends, family and colleagues all because you don’t want to say anything before the magical 12-week scan.  Anni didn’t have bad morning sickness, and there were no film-like scenes where she would have to run from her desk at work or the dinner table to the toilets, but it was still hard going keeping the biggest secret of our lives so far from people around us. True it felt wrong, but it also made the two of us closer, this was our little secret to enjoy for now. We started to make plans, to think about how we wanted to raise our child and what was important to us. However, because Anni’s pregnancy hadn’t yet been confirmed by the 12-week scan, we felt a bit like frauds. What if we were wrong? What if the test had been wrong? What if she lost the baby? 

The closer and closer we got to the magical 12-week scan, the more I realised how much I wanted to become a father, and how much I looked forward to the day in a few months’ time where I would hold my own child. Don’t get me wrong, I was still scared as hell, but I also couldn’t wait.

Apart from being a lovely dinner party dish, this risotto is also really good for mum and baby. Prawns are packed full of protein and the asparagus and peas contain lots of vitamins. It’s also a dish that doesn’t overwhelm you and you can eat it in small mouthfuls, something I learnt was very important in the first trimester.

If you really want to throw your friends off the scent, add a glass of white wine to the risotto too, but don’t worry as you’ll burn of all the alcohol when you cook it.


  

Method

-Thinly slice the onions and gently fry in the butter, before adding in the garlic.

-Add the risotto rice and paprika to the pan, ensuring that the rice is well covered with the butter and spice.

-Pour a cup or so of the stock to the risotto and stir.

-Carry on adding the stock bit by bit for around 10 minutes. The stock will slowly absorb into the rice.

-Remove the bottom quarter of the asparagus and slice the rest, taking care to keep the heads to one side.

-Add the sliced asparagus and peas to the rice and carry on adding in the stock.

-In a separate pan fry the asparagus heads and prawns in a little butter.

-When the risotto is almost done, add in the juice of half a lemon and a generous grating of parmesan.

-Serve the risotto in bowls and arrange the prawns and asparagus on top. Arrange any way you like but a nice pattern is to place the prawn and asparagus one after each other.



Ingredients

-200g king prawns, de-headed and de-shelled

-8-10 asparagus stems

-100g peas (frozen is fine)

-200g risotto rice (arborio or whatever you usually use)

-parmesan

-juice of one lemon

-2 teaspoons paprika

-500ml chicken stock

-2 small shallots

-2 cloves garlic

-25g butter

Can I have French toast for breakfast every day?

French toast with maple syrup, blueberries and bananas (v)

  

Anni was always a fan of French toast, (I mean, who isn’t?), but it was in her first trimester that she developed a special sort of intense relationship with the dish, wanting to eat it for breakfast every day. As far as first trimester food went it was pretty much spot on, being beige in appearance and full of protein and carbs from the brioche and eggs. By topping the French toast with bananas and blueberries Anni could also up her vitamin C and potassium intake. 

Whilst I never caved to the daily French toast demands we did eat it quite a lot over weekends in her first trimester. French toast and anything with eggs in seemed to be her breakfast of choice and who was I to argue. 

Halfway through Anni’s first trimester we moved out of our rented flat in London and into our first home in Kent, swapping the city for clean country air and a diferent lifestyle. The very first people we told about Anni’s pregnancy were three very large removal men because Anni didn’t want them to think she was some sort of princess for not carrying any boxes. Moving at that time was quite stressful but looking back now I’m glad we left when we did, as it was a completely new start for all of us. We had both lived in London together for a few years and wanted to be out, we were craving some green space and a different lifestyle in which to bring our children up.

Unpacking, decorating and generally settling in to our new home was tough on Anni, as in her first trimester all she wanted was warmth and comfort, whereas all we had was a cold, empty house with a dodgy boiler. The kitchen was our saving grace and we spent a lot of time sitting on the floor next to the cooker as it was the warmest place in the house. One of my happiest memories of Anni’s first trimester was both of us sitting with our backs against the oven on a Saturday morning, eating this dish and talking about potential baby names. 


  

Method

-Mix the eggs and add a sprinkling of salt.

-Mix the sugar with the cinnamon. You now have cinnamon sugar (I make this in a large batch so I always have some).

-cut the brioche into slices. Take one slice and submerge in the mixed eggs. Fry gently on each side until the eggs are well cooked.

-place two slices on a plate. Top with sliced banana, blueberries, a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar and maple syrup

Ingredients

  

-one banana and a handful of blueberries

-teaspoonful of cinnamon

-25g granulated sugar

-one brioche loaf

-2 eggs

-maple syrup

playing hide the vegetable (part 2)

Scrambled eggs with avocado, spinach, feta and sundried tomatoes served with wholegrain toast

  

This breakfast dish which worked so well that Anni had it throughout her pregnancy. The eggs and wholegrain toast meet the beige requirements whilst also containing complex carbs and protein, but with the addition of avocado, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach there’s a lot of great vitamins and minerals here too. The feta helps to meet the salt craving of the first trimester, a crucial addition as it stopped Anni munching on rock salt at 11am. 


  

Method

-Slice the feta, sun-dried tomatoes and avocado into small pieces. Fry gently.

-Whisk the eggs, season and add to the pan.

-Cook until the eggs are well cooked and serve with fresh oregano on two slices of wholegrain toast.

Ingredients

  -4 eggs

-half an avocado

-100g sun-dried tomatoes

-100g feta

-fresh oregano, salt and pepper

-wholegrain bread

Hiding vegetables in soup, (part three)

Thai coconut soup with chicken and prawns

 

Another dish that passes the beige test but is also perfect for hiding lots of great vegetables is this Thai coconut soup. I love Thai dishes as they always combine sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavours, which is perfect for a first trimester mum. By putting all the vegetables in a creamy soup, it was a lot easier for Anni to eat, plus the subtle spice was great on cold evenings. 

Method

-Finely slice the ginger, lemongrass and chilli and add to the chicken stock. Bring to the boil then simmer.

-Add the juice of one lime and a tablespoon of fish sauce.

-Slice the tomato into 6-8 chunks and add to the soup.

-Finely slice and add the mushrooms and carrots.

-add the coconut milk and bring back to the boil.

-Slice the chicken into bite-size chunks and stir in.

-Cook for a further few minutes allowing the chicken to cook through, then add the king prawns.

-When the king prawns have just started to turn pink stir in the bok choi.

-Cook for a further minute then take off the heat. Stir in the juice of another lime and garnish with heaps of fresh coriander. 



Ingredients

-One chicken breast

-a dozen or so large prawns, de-shelled

-2-3 carrots

-handful of mushrooms

-one tomato

-50g fresh ginger

-2 lemongrass sticks

-2 limes

-one can of coconut milk

-200ml chicken stock

-fish sauce

-fresh coriander

-one red chilli

Hiding vegetables in soup, part 2

Cumin-spiced chicken, sweet potato and carrot soup

  

Another dish to sneak past the vegetable police, this soup ticks the beige food box but also got Anni to eat sweet potatoes, carrots and onions when the thought of vegetables made her stomach turn. The sweet potato satisfies the carb cravings and the blended chicken gives her and baby all the protein she needs. 

Pumpkin seeds are a good pregnancy superfood and I’d always sprinkle them over any dish I could, here it’s a great addition to the soup. 


  

Method

-Fry the onion in a little salt and stir in the cumin.

-Peel and chop the potatoes, slice thinly and add to pan. Stir ensuring they get covered with the cumin. 

-Add the stock to the pan.

-Peel and thinly slice the carrots, before adding to the pan.

-Cut the chicken into small chunks and again, add to the pan.

-Turn the heat up and let it boil for around 5-6 minutes, ensuring that the chicken is cooked through.

-Using a stick blender, mix the soup evenly. The consistency should be thick, but not lumpy.

-Portion into bowls, top with a little cream drizzled in, fresh coriander and pumpkin seeds on top.

Ingredients

  

-2 large sweet potatoes

-2 chicken breasts

-one red onion

-half a dozen or so carrots

-300ml chicken stock

-1 tablespoon of cumin

-fresh cream

-fresh coriander

-pumpkin seeds 

Make your own pesto, part two

Roasted red pepper and walnut pesto, wholegrain pasta, chicken and vegetables

  

Cracking homemade pesto isn’t of course limited to just the green variety, and there are dozens of different red combinations that also taste delicious. The only thing to consider from a time perspective is that to bring out the rich taste of the red pepper in the pesto, you need to roast it in the oven first for a few minutes before blending it up. 

Red pesto was a great trick up my sleeve in Anni’s first trimester, as there is a lot of red pepper that goes into this dish. As a rule of thumb, the brighter the colour of vegetable, the better it is for you so red peppers really are fantastically healthy to eat. The walnut compliments the pepper very well and is also an easy way of adding some more fibre and vitamins to the dish. As always by topping it off with a handful of spinach there’s more folate for mum and baby too. 


  

Method

-Heat the oven to 180 degrees and line a baking tray. Cut the red pepper into small slices, season with salt and a little olive oil and roast for 15-20 minutes.

-Boil some water and cook the pasta as per packet instructions. When cooked, drain and keep aside.

-Meanwhile, finely slice the shallots and garlic, keep half to one side, season the other half and cook over a gentle heat in a pan.

-Cut the chicken breast into small pieces, season and add to the pan.

-Cut the courgette and mushrooms into small pieces and add to the pan along with the olives.

-Remove the peppers from the oven and place in a hand blender. Add the walnuts, reserved onion and garlic and blend well. Add olive oil and salt and pepper as required to your taste.

-Add the rocket leaves and pasta to the pan and stir well. Pour the pesto into the pan, stir well again and serve along with freshy grated parmesan.

Ingredients

  

-One red pepper

-handful of walnuts

-two cloves of garlic

-2 small shallots

-250 grams wholegrain pasta

-handful of fresh rocket leaves

-handful of black olives

-6-8 chestnut mushrooms

-one chicken breast

-one courgette

-fresh parmesan

The ‘I don’t feel like drinking tonight’ dinner party

Additional Information

 There is literally nothing healthy about this dish apart from the fruit that is covering it, but every once in a while that really doesn’t matter. Meringues aren’t too sweet so make a good dessert for the first trimester, and are good for dinner parties because despite being really easy to make, they still retain a certain wow factor. Make them in advance, store them in an airtight container and they’ll last for a good few days. 


  

Method

-Heat the oven to 120 degrees and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

-Using an electric hand mixer whisk the egg whites together gently at first and then with increasing speed. You are looking to create medium peaks in the egg whites that stay standing unaided for a few seconds before falling over.

-Add the sugar a spoonful at a time and whisk well until finally you have stiff peaks.

-Add the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and whisk again.

-Using a metal spoon, divide the mixture into four and spoon onto the parchment paper in a round-ish disc shape. Use the back of the spoon to slightly press down the middle of the shape (good for placing fruit on).

-Place in the bottom of the oven and cook for around 50 minutes to an hour. Merengues are cooked when you can easily peel them off of the parchment paper.

-Meanwhile make the raspberry coulis. Gently melt the water and sugar together (don’t stir it) and blend the raspberries well. Pass the blended raspberries through a sieve and then stir in the sugar and water. Allow to cool and then use as you wish. This can also be kept in the fridge for days or the freezer for months.

-Remove the meringues from the oven and allow to cool. Then decorate with fresh fruit, icing sugar and the raspberry coulis.

Ingredients

  

-100 grams caster sugar

-two egg whites

-one teaspoon of cornflour

-one teaspoon of vinegar

-two drops of vanilla essence

For the raspberry coulis

-200 grams of raspberries

-100ml water

-100mg caster sugar

Fruit and icing sugar to decorate

Where is my cake?

Lemon drizzle cake with mint and fresh berries (v)

  

This is a cake. It has absolutely zero nutritional value for pregnant women and unborn children. So why is it here? 

Anni taught me a very important lesson early on in her pregnancy. Yes she wanted to eat well and ensure her and our baby were getting enough of the good stuff, but she also wanted to switch off every now and then and just be Anni, without always having to worry about if what she was doing was ok for the baby. So I made her a cake. 

A very quick cake to make, lemon drizzle is one of my favourites. It’s soft and crumbly but with a fantastic sharpness due to the lemon (which contains vitamin C, ha!). Serve it with some fresh berries and mint for a bit more goodness or in Anni’s case just eat it straight from the oven with a spoon.


  

Method

-Whisk together the flour, eggs, baking powder, caster sugar and lemon zest. You only need to mix for a few minutes until everything is mixed thoroughly. The consistency you’re looking for is for the mixture to fall off a spoon after about 5-6 seconds.

-Pour the mixture into a pre-lined and greased loaf tin and bake at 170 degrees for around 40 minutes.

-Remove from the oven and take the cake out of the loaf tin. Allow to cool slightly.

-Using a skewer make small pinpricks all over the top of the cake.

-Mix together in a bowl the juice of one lemon and 50g cane sugar. Spoon this mixture over the cake, and allow to cool fully.

-Serve a few slices with some berries and mint.

Ingredients

  

-150g self raising flour

-150g caster sugar

-2 eggs

-2 teaspoons of milk

-2 teaspoons baking powder

-both the zest and juice of one lemon, separated

-50g cane sugar

A sweet potato love affair

Butterfly chicken with garlic mushrooms, sweet potato mash and wilted spinach

  

Even though during Anni’s first trimester vegetables weren’t top of the hit list I’d always try and trick her by sneaking in some extra veg, cunningly discussed as something else. The same was true when it comes to potatoes. Now my wife is German and so eating potatoes is for her, a national pastime. Potatoes are sacred in Germany but the big, white fluffy ones just aren’t that good for you, so we started to eat a lot of sweet potatoes instead. Sweet potatoes are another super food, especially so in pregnancy as they are full of so many vitamins and minerals that normal potatoes just don’t have. 

I also found that during the first trimester, mashed potato is a lot easier to eat than roast potatoes, especially if Anni was feeling rubbish and wanted some comfort food. 

I’ve also chucked in a handful of spinach here, packed as it is with folate, essential for first trimester development. In general, whenever I can I try and add superfood vegetables to any dish to ensure Anni was getting enough of the good stuff. By serving it with the mash, you almost forget it’s there, another win for the vegetable hiders. 


  

Method

-Heat the oven to 180 degrees or warm up a griddle pan.

-Butterfly the chicken, season with salt and pepper, place 2-3 sage leaves on top, pour the lemon juice over the meat and cook for 10-12 minutes, turning once.

-Meanwhile peel and thinly slice the sweet potato, before boiling for around 7-8 minutes in a pan.

-Slice the garlic and fry in a pan. Thinly slice the mushrooms and add to the pan along with the cream.

-Drain the potatoes, return to the pan, season, add the butter and begin to mash.

-Place a colander above the steaming mash and fill with the spinach. Put a lid on the colander and allow to wilt for 2 minutes.

-Spread the potato onto the middle of a plate, top with the spinach, then chicken before spooning the mushrooms and sauce over the chicken.

Ingredients

  

-2 chicken breasts

-2 sweet potatoes

-A few sage leaves

-6-8 mushrooms

-a handful of spinach per portion

-juice of one lemon

-thumbful of butter

-50ml cream

Give me carbs damn you, part one

Beef meatballs, broccoli, pepper and rocket pasta with a homemade tomato sauce

  

During the first trimester I often found that my wife had been replaced by some sort of carb-eating machine, so I made it my mission to keep said machine satisfied as much as I could. Reading up about this, it seems that it’s perfectly normal as in her first trimester Anni was creating a life, whereas in trimesters two and three she is growing a life, which explains the sudden preference non-negotiable demand for carbs. Swapping standard pasta for wholegrain pasta meant that she was still quenching her carb thirst, but was also getting lots of good stuff that she just wouldn’t get from normal pasta. As vegetables on their own were still a non-starter at this point, I’d sneak in a handful of rocket and some broccoli to the dish, both power foods full of folate, vitamins and minerals.

Anni actually ended up eating this throughout her pregnancy and the dish really came into its own during our first few months of being parents, as it freezes well. Just don’t add the rocket until you are about to serve. 


  

Method

-If using fresh mince, season well, take a small handful of meat and roll into a tight ball. Repeat until you have 12 or so meatballs and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

-Season some boiling water well and cook your wholegrain pasta.

-Slice the onion, season and cook gently in a little olive oil. Add the chopped garlic.

-Add the meatballs to the pan and cook for around 5 minutes.

-Meanwhile, chop the peppers into small cubes and the tomatoes into thin slices, add both to the pan.

-Cook for a further 5 minutes allowing the tomatoes to break down and create the sauce

-Meanwhile, cut the broccoli into bitesize pieces and cook in salted water for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, tip into a bowl of iced water and then allow to drain. 

-Add the broccoli and cook until the broccoli is hot.

-Remove the pasta from the heat, drain and add to the pan, stirring to ensure the sauce is mixed thoroughly.

-Remove from the heat, stir in a handful of rocked and serve. Cover with fresh oregano and grated parmesan.

Ingredients


-Either 12 pre-made supermarket meatballs, or 200g minced beef

-one red pepper

-one onion

-two cloves of garlic

-half a head of broccoli

-one handful of fresh rocket

-parmesan

-6 fresh tomatoes

-wholegrain pasta

-fresh oregano


Playing hide the fruit

Pomegranate and chocolate bites (v)

  

Pomegranates aren’t just little balls of vitamin C, they also contain a load of folate, potassium and fibre, making them a really great pregnancy food. However during her first trimester it was a bit of a challenge for Anni to eat much fruit beyond a banana a day. I started thinking of ways to get fruit into food that she would eat, and came up with the below idea. Not only is this a delicious snack but you can make it in batches and just keep it in the freezer. 

I love this with pomegranate, but blueberries and raspberries would also work.


  

Method

-Boil a pan of water, crumble the chocolate into a bowl and place over the boiling water, taking care to ensure the water doesn’t touch the sides of the bowl.

-Wait for the chocolate to melt, then remove from the heat.

-Gently spoon half the chocolate mixture into the ice tray, taking care to ensure you only fill up each cube halfway.

-Spoon half a dozen or so pomegranate arils on top of the chocolate and then cover with the remaining portion.

-Freeze for at least 2 hours (any less and the chocolate cube will melt when you remove it).

-Remove from the ice cube tray and serve with fresh mint.

Ingredients

  

Ingredients

-200g (one pack) of dark chocolate

-Around 100g of pomegranate arils

-One empty ice tray

-Fresh mint

First trimester Sunday lunch

Loin of lamb with Italian beans and artichokes

  

An English winter feels incomplete without a Sunday roast, however in Anni’s first trimester the thought of a huge chunk of meat and vegetables just made her stomach turn. She could however happily wallow in a pool of potatoes and Yorkshire puddings, but that’s another story. 

Loin of lamb is a relatively light piece of meat that cooks in no time, so is a great choice for a Sunday lunch. Lamb is an iron-heavy meat that was a perfect energy boost for Anni in her first trimester and the beans and artichokes are full of protein, iron and folate so all in all a really healthy dish for mum and baby. 


  

Method

-Heat the oven to 180 degrees and line a baking tray with slightly oiled foil.

-Salt and pepper the lamb loin and then sear it for 30 seconds on each side in a pan on a high heat. Remove from the pan and place in the baking tray. Cook for 10 minutes to ensure the meat is well done. After ten minutes, remove from the oven and allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes.

-Place the tomato in boiling water for 10 seconds maximum, remove and then peel the skin away. Remove the seeds and slice into very small chunks. Set aside.

- Using the pan from the lamb, heat the artichokes, broad beans, cannellini beans and peas. Pour in the chicken stock and white wine and bring to the boil. Cook for a further 2 minutes to get rid of the alcohol.

-Add the tomato to the pan and cook for a further 1 minute.

-Divide the beans and artichokes into two bowls, cover with fresh parsley and 3 or 5 slices of the lamb. Pour any remaining sauce over the meat.

Ingredients

  

Ingredients

-One loin of lamb

-400g (one can) of cannellini beans

-8-10 artichoke hearts, halved

-100g broad beans

-a handful of frozen peas

-one large tomato

-fresh parsley

-50ml white wine

-75ml chicken stock

-15g butter

Friday night dinner after a long week hiding from everyone

Roasted cod loin with vegetables

  

Anni and I decided to keep our pregnancy from everyone until our 12-week scan. As she became pregnant in early January it was relatively easy to withdraw a little from our friends and family for a few weeks, but obviously work is the one place where there is no hiding from anyone. Anni didn’t have bad morning sickness, and there were no film-like scenes where she would have to run from her desk to the toilets, but it was still hard going keeping the biggest secret of our lives so far from people you were sharing a room with for eight hours a day. 

Add to that the irritation of commuting in rush hour (when you still don’t want to wear your pregnancy badge as it’s too early) and Anni would make it to the end of the week pretty tired. From my perspective, Anni’s pregnancy rammed home to me how important it was to keep my job so I was also arriving home at the end of the week exhausted from the double lives we were leading.

This dish is a very quick and very healthy meal to have on those nights after a long day or week at work. The fish has lots of benefits for Anni, and strangely enough when vegetables were cooked for while in tomatoes, Anni could stomach them. Spinach is such a good pregnancy food, packed as it is with folate that I’ve also added a handful to this dish.


  

Method

-Heat the oven to 180 and line a baking tray. Cut the lemon into thin slices and arrange on the base of the baking tray. Season the cod on both sides, place on top of the lemon and cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

-Meanwhile, dice the onion, season and cook in a pan. Dice the courgettes and carrots and add to the pan.

-Pour the canned tomatoes and sugar into the pan, turn up the heat and reduce.

-Slice the mushrooms and add to the pan along with the olives.

-When most of the tomato has reduced, add the spinach to the pan, keeping it mostly to one side.

-Divide the vegetables into two plates, place the wilted spinach on top and cover with the cod. Garnish with freshly chopped oregano and sliced tomatoes.

Ingredients


-2 cod loins

-one courgette

-2 shallots

-handful of mushrooms

-2 carrots

-handful of black olives

-one can of tomatoes

-1 fresh tomato

-2 handfuls of spinach

-fresh oregano

-one teaspoon of brown sugar

-half a lemon

Food for when you’re feeling run down

Spiced carrot, lentil and coriander soup (v)

  

Another pregnancy sucker punch is the fact that if you get a cold, you can’t really take any medicine to feel better, you just have to basically get over it. This seems like such a double kick in the teeth because not only does the woman feel awful, but she’s also worried about if it is affecting her baby at all. 

This soup was a dish for when Anni was feeling a little run down or had a winter cold. The spice of the ground coriander and cumin helped her sweat out her cold, the vitamin rich carrots made her feel better and the protein and fibre rich lentils gave her energy. It’s no substitute for a mug of lemsip but it did help her to get better quicker.


  

Method

-Peel and thinly slice the onion. Season and fry gently in a pan in a little olive oil for 2 minutes.

-Meanwhile peel and finely slice the carrots.

-Add the cumin, ground coriander and carrots to the onions and stir well ensuring everything gets covered with the spices.

- Bring the vegetable stock to the boil and add in the onions and carrots. Bring back to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer for a further 5 minutes. 

-Add the lentils to the pan and cook for a further few minutes.

-Blend until fine using a stick blender. Pour the soup into two bowls, drizzle a little cream through and garnish with pumpkin seeds and fresh coriander.

Ingredients

  

-6-8 carrots

-One onion

-One can of pre-cooked lentils

-a teaspoonful of cumin

-a teaspoonful of ground coriander

-250ml chicken or vegetable stock

-two tablespoons of pumpkin seeds

-fresh cream

-a few sprigs of fresh coriander