When I was getting ready to go on maternity leave, my male friends and co-workers joked it would be like a vacation. Some seasoned moms suggested it would be the ideal time to really explore my passions – read in the park, go on lunch dates, bake my heart out. I thought it might be the ideal time to take some courses.
Bull, bull, bull, bull, bull. See the photo to the right (be kind Internets)? I’m smiling, but not really. I’ve painted my nails Short Story Pink for some semblance of normality. I’m still in pain from my C-section and probably really, really hungry. But I don’t want to get up because that would wake my baby WHO NEVER WANTS TO SLEEP.
But that’s a topic for another day – for another blog, really.
Anyway, most days as a new mom I was lucky when I ate something, anything.
If my mother didn’t show up with lunch, then I didn’t eat, or I ate whatever I could find. Once I started to be able to go for walks, I ate Starbucks sandwiches.
Here are my top on-the-run lunches for new moms. Most of these can be prepared with one hand. (I kid you not). And please, please take my suggestions with a grain of salt. I am in no way suggesting you should nourish yourself with a fistful of almonds. Some humour helps, though, doesn’t it?
Beet and lentil salad:This is the recipe I came up with when I was in the final weeks of my pregnancy, when I couldn’t be bothered to cook, and it has served me well as a new mom when I only have time to toss ingredients in a bowl. It’s great because it’s fine to eat at room temperature or cold, and it will fill you up for hours. I’ve eaten this for days at a time, standing over the sink, as an appetizer, served it to guests.
It’s a simple variation of a classic French du Puy lentil salad. Open can of lentils, rinse, put in bowl. Open can of sliced beets, rinse, put in bowl. If you have the extra time, you can boil the beets and simmer the lentils with onions and salt and pepper and fresh thyme.
Add some sort of nuts that you like, such as walnuts, or sunflower seeds. Make a vinaigrette of Dijon mustard, balsamic or red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and thyme (start out with small quantities and increase depending on your taste). Add to bowl, mix it all up.
Five minutes to spare? Add some goat cheese before serving. And if you are really feeling adventurous, it would be great to add some crispy bacon.
Open jar, stick in a spoon, scoop out some peanut butter. That will last you for a couple of hours. Five minutes to spare? Cut up some apple slices to eat with the peanut butter.
Use your leftover rotisserie chicken, or frozen chicken fingers for this wrap. Place a slice of cheese in a tortilla, heat it for 20 seconds, put the chicken on top, squirt some mayo and/or Dijon mustard on top. Plop some pre-washed salad or other veggies (I like grape tomatoes myself), wrap it up with some foil or a paper towel, and you can eat it with one-hand while a) feeding your kid, b) pushing the stroller, c), pushing the swing, d) rocking him in your other hand and humming through a mouth full of chicken.
Five minutes to spare? Mix the mayo with some smoked paprika before spreading it in the tortilla.
This one will take a bit of planning. After your baby goes to sleep, make some pesto. I used this recipe from Martha Stewart
. You can refrigerate it for a few days, or freeze it. Boil pasta, mix in the pesto. Stand over the pot and eat it with a fork. When your significant other comes home, grill some chicken or saute some mushrooms and grape tomatoes and throw ’em in. Gloat while you look like a genius. (I also use my pre-made pesto as a base for pizza, or I’ve even put it on top of oven-baked chicken breast with pancetta. Delish.) Five minutes to spare?
Throw some pancetta slices in the oven and watch them crisp, then toss them in the pot.
Almonds, baby carrots, celery sticks, apple slices:
Always have some on hand. You never know when your baby is so fussy that every time you put him down he will wail “neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” in one breath until he is red in the face and his eyes are squeezed shut so that even when you do the Hammer dance to the “I’m a bear, a happy bear, a friendly bear” song he won’t notice. Eat a handful of almonds and you will feel better temporarily. Five minutes to spare? For the love of God, eat something else!
For whatever reason, a can of sardines with some grainy mustard and alfalfa sprouts went a long way in satisfying my hunger, and making me feel like I was eating something gourmet. (Crazy, I know, but maybe someone else will enjoy this recipe from Chef Michael Smith
). Five minutes to spare?
Um, I don’t know, go clean your toilets or something.