The way I think about food has morphed drastically lately, starting when I got married and then again while I was pregnant. I grew up being very picky, not eating many vegetables or fruits and relying on staples like Mac and Cheese, King’s Hawaiian rolls, and Pop Tarts. I was happy with the way I ate and was not willing to try new things. I actually ate a strawberry for the first time in my adult life while in college!
Jared on the other hand is a very adventurous eater. He will eat anything set in front of him and is always excited to try new and interesting things. While we were dating in college, I would cook dinner for us often. He started the grow bored of my plain chicken and rice dinners, which seemed very healthy to me! I started shopping at a store called Fresh and Easy (which I think is closed now! So sad) that sells pre chopped and packaged dinners that just need to be cooked. Meat, vegetables, and grains included. This got me started cooking with fresh ingredients.
Once we were married I was less intimidated and enjoyed cooking much more! I knew I could recreate Fresh and Easy’s meal kits for much cheaper on my own, so I started easing into cooking from scratch. A few months after we got married I stopped working, then started working only part time. This gave me a lot of free time to experiment with different techniques of cooking and trying out different ingredients. I still relied on some processed foods, but much less than before.
While I was pregnant, some friends from church recommended the documentary What the Health on Netflix. I was super interested in learning what different types of foods can do for your body, how processed food harms it, and the benefits and drawbacks of consuming animal products. I watched a couple more documentaries and ended up being vegan for the majority of my pregnancy and into the beginning of Gideon’s life.
The newborn stage made cooking from scratch more challenging, but I did succeed pretty often. I started to introduce more animal products again like milk, cheese, and eggs, but unfortunately this ended up bothering Gideon’s little tummy through my breastmilk. Because of that I am now almost completely vegan, though I do eat meat on occasion. I make almost everything I can from scratch (bread, vegetable stock, most snacks) and I mostly only shop from the bulk bins and the produce section. When we move I plan on buying all my produce from the Farmer’s Market, and I have gotten into canning so I can preserve what’s in season so we can still enjoy it later.
We are going to be talking with Gideon’s pediatrician soon about introducing eggs and dairy back into Gideon’s diet, and so long as his tummy agrees I do plan to make eggs more of a staple in our kitchen. I don’t think I will keep milk around though, maybe a bit of cheese but not much. Mostly it will be nice to not have to obsess over checking food labels or asking for the allergen menu when eating out.
A normal day of meals at my house looks something like this:
Currently Jared leaves for work around 4:30 AM, so breakfasts are just Gideon and I on weekdays. We rotate between steel cut oatmeal (Gideon eats it plain and I add some brown sugar and sometimes dairy-free chocolate chips), Cream of Wheat (again, Gideon’s is plain and mine has chocolate chips… sometimes I share a little chocolate with him too), and pancakes (made from scratch). Even though we do Baby Led Weaning, I will spoon feed Gideon oatmeal or Cream of Wheat just because it’s too messy, but I will put Cheerios on his tray to keep him occupied between bites and to give him a chance to work in his pincer grasp.
This is the meal I have a hard time diversifying! Gideon and I both love hummus, so I fall back a lot on eating a bagel or toast with hummus, some cucumber, bell pepper, mushrooms, sprouts, and spinach. I’ve also lately fallen in love with Daiya cheddar cheese slices, but I don’t feed those to Gideon so he’ll get some leftovers for dinner if that’s what I’m having. I try to make sure lunch is very vegetable heavy, and I’ve been trying to add in some fruits as well, like grapes or cuties.
My basic dinner when I don’t have a lot of time, energy, or creativity is to grab some veggies, sauté them on my trusty cast iron skillet, and serve them over some quinoa and lentils. I do like to make vegetable soups, tomato soup, pasta with vegetable heavy sauce, gnocchi with homemade tomato sauce and mushrooms, lentil and black bean tacos, a Greek spread with homemade pita bread, and whatever else I’m inspired to make from what’s in my fridge. I usually start thinking about dinner just before lunch time, so then I’ll slowly work on prepping through the afternoon, leaving the heavy cooking to do once Jared gets home so that Gideon stays occupied.
We are huge snackers in my house! Both Gideon and I can get very hangry when our blood sugar quickly drops, so I always keep snacks handy. Sometimes that’ll be some sort of mix of things from bulk bins, maybe some veggie straws from Trader Joe’s, or maybe a piece of fruit. Gideon likes to snack on Cheerios and has a blast dumping them all over the floor.
I have a huge sweet tooth, so though we eat healthy and vegan we do not lack in the dessert department. Now that it’s winter I often make my amazing vegan chocolate chip cookies or my vegan from-scratch hot chocolate. Sometimes I’ll get some vegan ice cream in the summer but I think this coming summer I’m going to try my hand at making my own with bananas and other fruits (and of course chocolate). Making these things from scratch I’m able to make small batches which really helps me limit how many sweets I can eat per day.
We drink a lot of water around here! I always have my 32oz Hydroflask with me and keep it full so I can stay very hydrated, especially since I’m breastfeeding. I’ll also have hot tea on cold days or lots of iced tea on hot days. Jared drinks a lot of coffee and is trying to convert me to be a coffee drinker… we’ll see :) Gideon still mostly drinks breastmilk but he also has water during meals (and sometimes a little with snacks too).
How do you do food in your house? Do you cook from scratch? What kind of recipes would you like to see on the blog? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget if you have a question to Ask a Bestie!