Oops. I’ve made a honey boo-boo.

Back in May/early June,when I found I was pregnant, I went on a pregnancy book buying and reading spree. I read approximately 5 books about pregnancy (and plan to review them for you soon; some of them were much much better than others) and checked all of them pretty religiously when any new symptom appeared. You know, like a completely sane person.

As part of my fanatical book reading research, I consulted the books to find out what I could and couldn’t eat. Of course, my OB also gave me a list (since I’m a vegetarian, my list is basically just unpasteurized dairy), but I still felt the need to double check all.the.time. Despite this, the one item that wasn’t covered in any of my books or by my OB and that I didn’t even think about checking on is honey. I eat kinda a lot of honey (I don’t eat refined sugar, so I use honey to sweeten most things I eat regularly), so I can’t believe I never researched it. This morning, though, I found this post from the Hip Chick’s Guide to PMS, Pregnancy, and Bodies. As it turns out, honey is safe in pregnancy, but the recommendation is to use grocery store honey because its guaranteed to be pasteurized.

And that’s awesome. Except. I don’t eat grocery store honey. I don’t think it tastes great and I prefer to buy local honey as it helps (ever so slightly) with my allergy symptoms. What’s a girl to do? Frankly, I’m not sure yet, but I’ll probably find a honey substitute for the next several months.

So… any honey substitute suggestions?

Black Bean Taco Bake

Remember yesterday when I said I would be posting a lot of the recipes I mentioned? Yeah. This isn’t one of those.

Monday night I really wanted something cheesy with black beans (imagine that), so I made up this black bean taco bake. It really hit the spot and was pretty delicious, if I do say so myself, so I decided to share. I’m going to get to the recipe, but before you get started you should make sure that you have some taco seasoning on hand or, if you don’t, make your own. Personally, I don’t buy taco seasoning since I found Alton Brown’s Taco Seasoning Recipe. It’s a great mix, but I’ve been making my own recipe using his as a base for a few months now. Here’s my recipe:

Martha’s Taco Seasoning Mix

Ingredients

2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons arrowroot powder (you can use cornstarch, but I never seem to have any)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Method

Put all the ingredients into a jar ow bowl with a lid and shake it all up.
Et viola! Taco seasoning.

Now that you definitely have taco seasoning, here’s the recipe for the taco bake:

Black Bean Taco Bake

Ingredients

1 can black beans
2 bell peppers (I had one green and one red)
1/2 large red onion (or 1 small red onion)
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons salsa (whatever kind you want)
3-4 tablespoons taco seasoning
1/2 cup water
tortilla shells
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (or however much you want)

Accoutrements

Avocado or guacamole
green onions
tomato (fresh)
lettuce
salsa
lime

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Put large skillet with olive oil on medium heat
  3. Dice the peppers, onion, and garlic
  4. Add peppers, onion, and garlic
  5. While the peppers, onion, and garlic are sauteing, prep your accoutrements (i.e. chop the green onions and tomato)
  6. After the peppers and onions have a bit of color on them, add the black beans and salsa and cook for a minute or two
  7. Add the taco seasoning (I did 4 tablespoons, but 3 might be good for you)
  8. Give the mix a good stir and let it cook for about 1 minute
  9. Add the water and deglaze the pan a bit (get the caramelized bits of peppers and seasoning from the bottom)
  10. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the water is mostly gone (you want a wet but not soupy consistency)
  11. While that’s cooking, get out a 9X13 baking dish (no need to oil it)
  12. Add the peppers, onions, garlic, taco seasoning mix to the baking dish and top with cheese.
  13. Pop into the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling.
  14. If you like your tortilla shells warm, use this 10-15 minutes to do that
  15. Remove baking dish, use the cheesy mixture as filling for your taco shells, and dress using whatever accoutrements you like

I should mention that you can add whatever you want into the peppers, onion, garlic base. I really wanted some corn in there, but didn’t have any on hand. I served these with a guacamole/salsa dip (just gauc and salsa mixed together) and fried up some ham with taco seasoning for S.’s tacos (sounds weird, but he said it was pretty good). If you have any other suggestions, let me know!

Enjoy!

My Top Five Pregnancy Cravings

Everyone always talks about the amazingly weird cravings they have during pregnancy. I haven’t had any really weird cravings (no pickles and ice cream here!), but I have had some pretty strong, one might even say irresistible, cravings.  Here are my top five cravings in no particular order.

1. Chocolate: I’m not usually a huge fan of chocolate. I mean, I like it, but I usually don’t crave it. Until now. I’ve been craving dark chocolate, which I don’t usually even like that much. I’ve not really been giving into this particular craving that often, but when I do I just have a piece of a chocolate bar.

2. Spinach: I always like spinach, so that’s not a huge surprise, but I want it at least 3 times a week these days. How have I been satisfying this? Well, I’ve been making smoothies and adding a handful of spinach in. I’ve also been making Italian Egg Drop Soup and having a lot of spinach salads.

3. Black Beans: Pretty much in any way possible. Black bean salsa dip, black bean chili, black bean tacos, black bean soup. Love. Them. And cannot get enough.

4. Guacamole: I’ve been eating this like crazy. As a dip, on sandwiches, in soup…

5. Watermelon: There’s not much to say about this. I’ve been eating at least one baby watermelon a week by myself. I’m really hoping that all this super hot weather we’ve had this year means the watermelon season will last forever, because if there’s one thing that’s really gross it’s out-of-season watermelon.

6. Sharp Cheddar: I know, I know. I said this was a list of my top 5 cravings. As it turns out, I have 6. I can’t stop eating sharp cheddar cheese. Really the sharper the better. I usually pair this with granny smith apple slices, but it’s not unusual for me to just eat  slice.

As I was typing this list, I realized I haven’t blogged a lot of these recipes yet. I’m shocked since most of these are my favorite recipes in general. So, expect a lot of recipe posts in the coming weeks!

Did you, or anyone you know, have weird cravings while pregnant?

Perfect Late-Summer Brunch

I don’t know about you, but I love a good brunch. Breakfast food is pretty much my favorite food, so any meal that allows me to eat breakfast or a breakfast-ish meal is my favorite. Last week, when we were in the midst of a glorious three day weekend, seemed like a great time to make some brunch. So, of course, I turned to my pinterest boards for inspiration. (Do you follow me on pinterest? You should.)

After much pinteresting, and because I had an abundance of green beans ( not my favorite) and basil ( my favorite), I decided to make green beans with pesto topped with a poached egg. Now, I didn’t exactly follow the recipe. It sounds lovely and I’m actually going to try it later today, but I didn’t have the necessary ingredients (like parsley). Here’s my version:

Green Beans with Pesto & Poached Egg

Ingredients:

Green Beans (duh): about 1/2 pound

Basil: about a cup

Olive Oil

Pine Nuts: about a 1/4 cup

Parmesan: to taste (about a 1/3 cup for me)

1 clove garlic

Balsamic vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 eggs

Method:

1. Trim the green beans (and string them if necessary)

2. Put about a half inch of water (with salt!) and about a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar into a large skillet and bring to a boil.

3. Bring large pot of water (with salt!) and about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to a boil.

4. For the pesto: Add basil, pamesan, garlic, and pine nuts to food processor. Pulse a couple of times until a little paste-y. Add olive oil until the pesto starts to pull away from the sides. Note: I didn’t have any lemons, but a bit of lemon juice would be fabulous.

5. Add the green beans to the boil water in the large skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes (you want them to be crisp-tender), pull out, and shock with some cold water. (Shocking is usually done my dunking them in ice water; I was lazy so I just used really cold water).

6. Poach the eggs. (There’s lots of advice for poaching eggs. Here’s mine: Wait until the water has just started boiling (not a rolling boil), crack the eggs into a ramekin or small bowl, hold the ramekin just above the water and slowly drop the egg in.)

7. While the eggs are poaching (that should take 2-3 minutes), mix the green beans and pesto and plate that.

8. Put the eggs on top of the green bean/pesto mixture. Sprinkle a bit of parm on top.

9. Enjoy!

I should also mention that I served this with a bit of crusty garlic bread and a ham steak (for S.) and it was delicious. In fact, our only complaint was that we didn’t have enough for seconds!

UPDATE: Thanks to Tammy for reminding me that I took a picture of this meal! Pregnancy brain is real, folks. And sometimes it makes you forget that you meant to include the crappy iphone picture you took of a delicious meal in your blog post.

Don’t judge me because I’m a vegetarian

Today I came across this NPR blog post: Do Vegetarians and Vegans Think They Are Better Than Everyone Else?  The post was interesting, but nothing earth shattering to me. The basic premise is this: No. Vegetarians and vegans don’t think they’re better than everyone else, but others think they think they’re better than everyone else.

I agree wholeheartedly with this premise.

I’ve been a vegetarian for a little over three years now and before that I ate very little meat. I’m an ovo-lacto vegetarian, which, for me, means I eat eggs and dairy, but no animal flesh or products that actually require the death of an animal to make (no broths or gelatin or fish oil).  Because I didn’t eat that much meat before I stopped all together, my diet isn’t actually that different than it was three years ago. So, I was a little surprised, no, shocked when people began treating me differently because I was a vegetarian.

Once I decided to quit eating meat, I didn’t make a big announcement. I just stopped. In fact, I’m not sure that my husband even noticed until several months after the fact. But, as people started noticing, their attitudes toward me at mealtimes started changing. Suddenly, the fact that I ordered “pasta with no chicken, please” became a topic of dinner-time conversation. At first, this wasn’t so bad. After three years, though, its gotten a little tedious to explain, at a large portion of the social gatherings I go to, why I’m a vegetarian and then debate the pros and cons of the choice with everyone in earshot.

That’s not the worst part, though. The worst part is that people get defensive and attack me and my diet choice. At first, I didn’t understand why this happened. As time has passed, though, I think I’ve got it figured out: People seem to think that because I’m a vegetarian, I think I’m better than they are and that I’m judging them.

Now, maybe you think I’m jumping to conclusions, that the NPR post-influenced me. Not the case. I’ve been in what feels like a million situations where people–friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers–have made comments like what I really need to knock me off my high horse is a ham sandwich (actual quote), or how I must not be healthy because I can’t possibly be getting all the nutrition I need, or that it must really upset me to see everyone enjoying the ribs because so many animals had to die to make that smorgasbord.

To be clear: I’m not judging you for not being a vegetarian. I don’t think I’m better than you because I decided not to eat meat.

In fact, it seems to me that any belief others have that I am judging them or that I do think I’m better than them because I eat my pasta meatless is actually a projection of how they feel  themselves. In my interactions with the carnivores of the world, they have, at least at first, judged me for being a vegetarian and thought that they were better than me because they eat meat. Maybe others have had different experiences, but that’s mine. Maybe the judging I’m subjected to comes because people think I’m judging them.

What’s the solution to all the misunderstanding? Really, the only solution is to not judge a person by their diet. But, just like not judging a book by its cover, that probably won’t happen.  So, looks like I’ll keep using my “Why I’m a vegetarian” speech for most social occasions.

 

 

 

Waiting for Breakfast

In case you missed the one million times I’ve mentioned it this week, I’m on vacation!

Although vacation actually started Friday at 3:30, we didn’t actually leave for our destination until yesterday afternoon when we dropped our dogs off with my mom (thanks, mom!) and headed to Asheville. Asheville isn’t our ultimate destination, but we decided that pregnant Martha probably wouldn’t be happy if we did the entire drive in one leg. So, we stopped here on our way to the coast.

Last night, after we arrived we headed downtown to find something to eat and to wonder around for a bit. We secured food AND live entertainment pretty quickly and spent the rest of the evening just hanging out and watching some live music.

This morning, we decided to head back downtown for breakfast before continuing our epic journey east. We’re currently waiting to eat at Tupelo Honey… Normally pregnant Martha doesn’t enjoy waiting for food, but check out this menu! This is going to be fabulous!

Hope your Sunday is just as awesome!

Homemade tomato sauce

If you’ve been following me on twitter today, you know that I’m officially on vacation!! Of course, this is roughly the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me.* But, like all things, there is a downside. This week my CSA share, which is normally shared with R., is all mine. And it’s full of tomatoes and corn and peppers and tons of other things that we can’t possibly eat all of before  our trip.

*Note to the future offspring: that was hyperbole.

So, to use up a large chunk of the tomatoes, which, incidentally have been fabulous this year, I made fresh tomato sauce. I used a recipe that was included with the CSA this week. It’s really simple: Tomatoes, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, and Basil.  I added some balsamic vinegar and food processed it all until smooth.  After the sauce is complete, just add to some hot pasta and top with some Parmesan.

Lunch today. I also added a tofurkey Italian sausage.

This is basically a perfect summer meal, light, fast, and full of the taste of summer. Fabulous!