Thursday, 8 March 2012
I’m now officially 8 months pregnant, and I guess you could say I’m nesting. I’m not really doing that much to clean or prepare the house, but what I have started doing is cooking – and freezing meals for the postpartum period. I have heard that broths and stews are excellent for promoting lactation in addition to being nutritionally dense, so that’s what I’ve been making. I saw this awesome recipe for lamb chili in the New York Times a few weeks ago, and I’ve made it a couple of times since then and adapted it to my taste. ( I’m also still focused on keeping up my iron intake, hence the multitude of lamb recipes lately.) I’ve got a bunch in the freezer now and plan to take some with me to the birth center to devour after going through labor.
Here’s my adaptation of the recipe. I have used different kinds of beans depending on what I have on hand, and have not actually tried the white beans, but this last time I used pinto beans and it balanced the lamb very nicely. The NY Times recipe calls for using the cilantro stems, but I found it easier to avoid that step, without changing the flavor profile in my opinion. I cut the amount of peppers and chili powder by at least half, just to ward off any potential acid reflux or digestive distress, and the level of spice ended up being just right. Also I used stock instead of water for richer flavor and added nutrition (I used lamb stock but beef or chicken would also work).
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground lamb
Sea salt and black pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 small can organic tomato paste
4 cups cooked beans (pinto, chili, or white beans)
4 cups homemade stock (lamb, beef or chicken)
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
Plain goat yogurt, for serving
Saute the onion, peppers and garlic in olive oil in a large pot until tender and fragrant. Add the ground lamb and spices and saute until browned. Season liberally with sea salt and black pepper. Stir in the tomato paste, beans and lamb stock and bring to a boil. Add a pinch more sea salt (about 1/4 tsp or more to taste, depending on the saltiness of the stock). Turn to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes more to thicken. Serve in bowls with fresh chopped cilantro, a squeeze of lime juice, and a dollop of yogurt.
You might also notice that I added some raw garlic to the yogurt in the photo above. I have been on a raw garlic kick lately, primarily to boost my immune system naturally and ward off any potential infection ahead of GBS (group B strep) testing at 36 weeks pregnant. (This is a bacteria that is commonly present in our digestive tracts and is harmless to us but can in very rare cases [1 in 2,000] cause infection if passed to a newborn at birth.) The testing is optional at the birth center but I have learned that if it’s necessary to transfer to a hospital and you have not had the GBS test, they will mandate that you are given IV antibiotics in labor (and if you refuse that, they will take your baby for a complete work-up including spinal tap!). Wanting to avoid all that, I thought it best to just try to test negative. So I’ve been eating a couple cloves of raw garlic every day (it’s delicious on a burger or mixed with some sauteed spinach!), along with other immune boosting measures like taking vitamin C, grapefruit seed extract and probiotics.
I have noticed that since I started the garlic about 10 days ago, my seasonal allergies have gotten significantly better, so I know that its antimicrobial properties are positively affecting my immune system. Add that to all the immune-boosting ingredients in the chili (stock, healthy fats and B vitamins in lamb, antioxidants from spices, probiotics in the yogurt, etc.) and you’ve got one healthy meal. I have to give credit to foods like this for keeping me from getting sick (I’ve only had one minor cold in the past 2 years, despite being surrounded by kids at work and never getting a flu shot) when it seems like so many people around me get sick quite often (it’s not the germs, it’s the immune system!).
Hope this helps you experience a healthy cold & flu season, as well as enjoy a delicious meal! I hope to post another recipe or two before the baby comes, so stay tuned for another !