Food nerd

Andreae Prozesky has a bun in the oven.

Well, folks, it’s time you knew. Your friendly food nerd finds herself, of late, in the family way. In a delicate condition. Preggers. Knocked up. Donning the panel pants.

Which is a wonderful thing, of course, except when it comes to eating.

The lust I harbour for things foodish is now tempered by a low-grade, all-day nausea that has, on more than one occasion, driven me from the kitchen. For weeks, I couldn’t go anywhere near garlic. One Saturday morning, the smell of bacon about did me in. There was even a short time when I couldn’t contemplate eating anything that had been cooked. Not even toast. And while something like lasagna seemed too heavy to eat, I could devour a half a cheesecake without flinching.

What’s up with that?

Pregnancy is a time of foodular conflict for many who end up on the reproductive path. We know how important nutrition is. We commit to memory the lists of things we should be eating (omega-3 laden fish, leafy greens, fresh fruit, yoghurt by the bucket) and the things that are forbidden (hot dogs from carts, sashimi, Caesar salad, soft foreign cheeses). And yet, armed with all this, sometimes it is all we can do to eat anything that isn’t beige.

There have been days over the last three months when the best meal I could force down has been a bowl of oatmeal. Or cream of wheat. Or white rice. Or spaghetti noodles with butter. Rice Krispies with banana slices have been another standby, and, if I’m really getting crazy, I’ll go for some plain yogourt with maple syrup and wheat germ on top. I’ve been eating apples by the bag, but, let’s face it, they’re mostly beige, too.

It’s been a bland, bland season.

A few years back, when I was first pregnant with my daughter, I barely ate a bite from January to April. At the time, I was living in a shack with no running water and only a hot plate and a toaster oven, so I couldn’t really have cooked if I tried. Everything I put in my mini-fridge froze solid, and come springtime I realized this was because the fridge had actually died some time ago, and was simply reacting to the air temperature in that particular corner of my rustic home. I ate cold cereal for most meals in the shack, and at lunch I would walk to the Vietnamese diner and order—of all things—a grilled cheese sandwich It was diner style: plastic cheese, margarine, white bread, with a side of carcinogenic, pasty fries straight out of filthy, rancid fry-o-lator oil. As if that weren’t bad enough, I found myself drawn many times to a certain fried chicken outlet known by its initials, devouring chicken pieces and chasing them down with Orange Crush.

And yet my daughter, by some beautiful miracle, enjoys perfect health to this day. She eats her vegetables without a fight and is both tall and clever for her age. Clearly, she didn’t suffer one bit for the toxic sandwiches, the toaster waffles (a pack a day for two weeks, with fake syrup), the Orange Crush, the cake for dinner, or the tins of chalky, repugnant “meal replacement” shakes when things got really dire. …Although she does have an abiding love of fried chicken.

I didn’t always eat terribly though. I had friends who cooked magnificent meals for me, and I did eventually incorporate foods with colours into my diet. Through the later months of pregnancy I ate lovely salads and wholesome muffins.

But if you had asked me at three months pregnant if I would ever eat lasagna again, I would have given you a look of disgust that would have registered as a definite “no.”

This time around, it’s much the same, although I have managed to cook enough food to make it from column to column. It’s been pretty starchy stuff, though, so I must apologize. Things will get zippy again real soon, I promise. I can already feel my will to eat returning, and not a moment too soon! If I have to crunch my way through one more box of cereal I might cry from boredom.

Oh, wait, that’s the hormones. Never mind.

Foods even a pregnant lady can eat

For any of you who might be pregnant, or who might know anyone pregnant, or who might find pregnancy trivia interesting, here are a few things that have gotten me through two rounds of ugly food fights with myself.

• Smoothies. I don’t really measure anything, I just throw a big glob of Balkan-style yoghurt in the blender with some sliced banana, a handful of frozen berries, a spoonful of honey and a splash of juice, and let the blender do the rest. Nutritious and not gross!

• Guacamole. Apparently, avocados have more usable protein, ounce for ounce, than steaks do. Go figure. I see nothing at all wrong with whipping up some guacamole (smooshed up avocado plus one clove crushed garlic plus juice of 1/2 lime plus 1/4 teaspoon cumin, plus salt and pepper, all smashed together with a fork), opening up a bag of tortilla chips (go for multigrain if it makes you feel better), and calling that lunch. If you want to boost your nutrients more, chop up a tomato and throw it in there.

• Things that are sweet but still good for you. Like banana bread, made with honey and lots of nuts. Or pumpkin cookies. Or granola bars. Any baked good with a high fruit or vegetable component and a relatively small amount of sugar should be considered a half decent way to get a few vitamins into your system.

And, speaking of vitamins, remember to take yours. That way, if you accidentally eat nothing but toaster waffles for a week, you’re covered.

Send your questions, comments, and well-rounded suggestions to dreae@thescope.ca