Lee and I love food. We love to make it, eat it, and share it! In fact, whenever we Two Doulas do any postpartum doula work we always bring the new family something to eat. That’s why we are sharing some of our favourite nourishing dishes we make for our own families (and for you, if you’re a Two Doulas client).
Some of these recipes are great to make while you are in that “nesting” stage of pregnancy to stock your freezer, and all of them are wonderful options to bring when you visit a family for the first time since their baby’s arrival. A note about that – I said “arrival” and not “birth” and that was on purpose. Though Lee and I work mainly with families through pregnancy and birth, we also want to honour and include families that grow through adoption and fostering. Indeed, bringing a child home is intense, new, beautiful, and exhausting no matter which way the child joins their family. So when you go visit a family for the first time since they gained a new member, bring food!
If you’re not a great cook, or you don’t have a lot of time, no sweat! Offer to pick up their favourite take-out or stop by a local bakery and bring something fresh. But if you are up for it, and want to prepare something yourself, have courage! Like my close friend, Joe, says “You don’t need to be a great cook, you just need to know how to read.” And here is some inspiration!
Quinoa and Vegetable Salad
(aka The Two Doulas Postpartum Salad)
This salad is delicious, easy-to-make, keeps for two to three days in the fridge, and best of all – it packs a great nutritional punch for busy new parents whose hands may be too full for regular showers, let alone meal planning.
Vegetarians and haters of tuna can go ahead and omit it, and people who can’t stand cilantro (I don’t get it, either, but they’re out there) can substitute flat-leaf or “Italian” parsley, or any other fresh herb they don’t discriminate against.
- 1 cup quinoa (do yourself a favour and get the pre-washed kind)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 3 green onions, sliced
- 2 large handfuls grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 avocado, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 yellow/red/orange pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 English cucumber, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 can tuna, drained
- 1 cup pre-cooked chickpeas (canned and drained works great)
- 1/2 cup canned whole-kernel corn (or fresh if you fancy)
For the Dressing:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pinch of red chili flakes (optional)
- In a medium-sized pot, heat olive oil over high heat and add quinoa. Toast quinoa for 2-3 minutes, stirring with a spoon so it doesn’t burn. Add broth, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. The quinoa should be soft but not mushy, so uncover and cook a little longer if it’s too wet. Remove from heat and cool.
- After the quinoa has cooled down, transfer to large bowl. Chop the vegetables and cilantro, and add to the bowl, along with the drained tuna, chickpeas and corn.
- In separate bowl, mix the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the quinoa and vegetables. Toss well and serve.
Jenny’s Red Lentil and Winter Squash Soup
On a wintery day like today, this is like cozy in a bowl. Or mug. Or straight out of the pot. It’s full of protein and fibre and freezes really well.
Serves 4-6 depending on the size of squash.
- 1 butternut squash or other winter squash (or you can use a can of pumpkin and nobody will judge you)
- 1 leek or large onion
- 4 cloves of garlic or a generous shake of garlic powder
- a good pinch of dried ginger
- a dainty pinch of nutmeg (if you want)
- at least a teaspoon of curry powder – more if you like
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 1 cup of dry red lentils, soaked in water for 30 mins and rinsed*
- 1 cube of mushroom bullion or vegetable bullion (or you can use homemade broth instead of the water and cube)
- salt and pepper to taste
*Soaking and rinsing the lentils makes them much gentler on the tummy which is always a good thing, especially for those who’ve recently given birth.
- Either roast the squash ahead of time, or cut up the squash in cubes.
- Chop up the leek or onion and cook it in the cooking oil of your choice for a couple of minutes.
- Add the garlic, ginger, nutmeg, and curry powder and stir around a bit.
- Add the squash, the can of coconut milk, and 4 cans of water.
- Bring this to a boil, add the bullion cube and lentils, and simmer it until the squash is tender and the lentils are cooked (usually between 30 to 60 mins).
- Use and immersion blender or food processor, or even a potato masher if you want a “rustic” texture. Add salt and pepper to taste and voila! Depending on the size of squash, you might find the soup is too thick, so add some water or broth if you like. *Optional, top with fresh parsley. Serve it with a fresh baguette or some other delicious bread.
(adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook)
This vegetarian, tomato-based stew – made famous by the eponymous Pixar feature starring an animated rat – is surprisingly hearty and a great choice for parents welcoming home a fall/winter baby. It can be served over rice, quinoa, couscous, egg noodles or any other starch, and freezes easily. Enjoy it now, before your child’s repeated viewings of the film make you curse the day you heard its name.
Serves 4 to 6
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 large chopped onion
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large eggplant, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 medium yellow/red/orange peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces
- black pepper to taste
- 1 796 ml/28 oz can diced tomatoes (with the liquid)
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 cup pitted, sliced black olives (optional)
- Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add garlic, onion and bay leaf and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until onions turn soft and translucent.
- Add eggplant, salt and herbs. (I know it seems like a lot of salt, but this helps cut the natural bitterness of the eggplant.) Stir, then cover and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the eggplant is soft.
- Add zucchini, peppers, black pepper, tomatoes and red wine vinegar. Cover and simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the zucchini and peppers are tender.
- Remove bay leaf and serve hot over starch of choice. Top with olives if you’re so inclined.
Jenny’s Meat Love
This meatloaf is packed with wholesome vegetables and flavour and is as delicious cold, in a sandwich the next day, as it is right out of the oven.
Serves 4 but I always double the recipe and make one for the freezer.
- 1-1.5 lbs of ground meat of your choice (beef, pork, lamb, chicken, or turkey)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1-2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
- 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 large or 2 small shredded carrots
- 1 shredded parsnip
- 1 good handful of fresh spinach chopped
- 1/3 cup white wine or chicken broth
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp of oil for cooking
- hearty pinch of salt (at least a tsp) and pepper
- 2 tsp Herbs de Provence
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 egg
- Preheat the oven to 375°
- In a pan on the stove, heat the oil and sauté the onions, garlic, celery and carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Add the dijon mustard and wine or broth after about a minute then simmer for 5 minutes, until vegetables are fragrant and tender.
- Set the veggie mixture aside in a bowl to cool and add the breadcrumbs to it to soften.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the meat, the parsley, the spinach, the herbs de Provence and the egg using your clean hands.
- Once it’s cool enough to handle, add the vegetable breadcrumb mixture to the meat mixture and knead until well combined.
- In an oven-safe pan, form the loaf shape. I usually make my meat loaf into a heart, hence the name. It started as a Valentine’s day thing and it stuck.
- Bake for 1.5 hours, and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Paul Newman’s Own Chicken
This recipe is one my mom used to make a lot when I was growing up, and it was one of the first proper main dishes I learned to cook for myself. That’s because it is insanely easy and truly delicious.
- 1 whole chicken cut into 10 pieces (just ask the person at the meat counter to do it for you at the grocery store or the butcher) or 10 – 12 pieces of pre-cut chicken, could be legs, thighs, breasts, whatever you like.
- 1 bottle of salad dressing (my mom uses Newman’s Own Italian, hence the name of the recipe, but feel free to use any brand, any flavour).
- Salt and pepper. That’s literally all you need.
- Optional extras: garlic powder, onion powder, or actual garlic and onions.
- Place your chicken pieces in an oven-safe dish like a pyrex or roasting pan.
- Use salt and pepper to season the chicken.
- Pour the salad dressing over the chicken and turn the pieces to coat them. You can do this step the night before, or morning of, cover the pan with plastic wrap and toss it in the fridge to marinate.
- Add any optional extras to the roasting pan.
- Bake uncovered at 325° for 2 hours, or 350° for an hour and a half (drumsticks on their own are a bit quicker). If you have the time, low and slow makes for very juicy chicken.
Please share your own favourite recipes in the comments below.