STEVE: Cooking for a (Pregnant) Vegetarian

Today, Steve is taking over the blog, writing about learning to cook for the vegetarian in his life (hello!). He actually wrote the bulk of this post while I was pregnant, hence the focus on me going right off meat substitutes.

Over to Steve:

Cooking for a (Pregnant) Vegetarian - Smiley Soup

I’ve always been enthusiastic about food but I’ve not always put a huge amount of thought into what I put on a plate. While I’ve been living with Sarah I’ve done the bulk of the cooking as I enjoyed it; she was less enamoured with the cooking process so did more of the washing up.

My initial vegetarian repertoire was not that expansive. Roasted Mediterranean vegetables got old quickly and ready meals weren’t a sustainable answer. Quorn was a handy solution. It could be cooked in so many different ways I started adventuring with what I prepared. I got a Quorn cookbook on a deal and went to town. I’ve probably used more recipes from that book than any other I own. It was a great launch pad to start modifying recipes to suit taste and available ingredients. I started looking back at all my meaty recipes and seeing ways to make it vegetarian just by substituting in Quorn. While it got me experimenting with different dishes and expanding my repertoire it also turned into something of a crutch.

Early during Sarah’s pregnancy she went off Quorn. We were assuming it was just a pregnancy thing and she might well be ok with it again after the baby arrived (not as yet). However, there were several months until that was even an option again. I had to expand my horizons again.

At first this involved a lot of pasta. It’s one of our staples and wasn’t a huge stretch to do without Quorn.

However, I wanted to try fit in a wider range of ingredients. While Sarah had to carry the baby I could at least contribute to her development and wellbeing through nutrition. Into my cookbooks I delved.

Initially I was daunted. There were so many ingredients that I’d never cooked with. Butternut squash, sweet potatoes, swede, parsnips, avocado. I’d at most bought ready meals containing them previously.

There are several cookbooks that I have been enjoying working through and seeing new possibilities in. Many have meat recipes but I’ve frequently used them as a starting point and simply substituted or omitted the meat. Here they are.

Cooking for a (Pregnant) Vegetarian - Cookbooks

A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones

This was actually on Sarah’s wishlist and my parents bought it for her at Christmas. This is a great book. It’s expansive with some really straightforward recipes for tasty and healthy food. It also has some guidelines and flowcharts to give ideas on how to create and modify your own recipes. Not only that but the variety of ingredients and the simplicity of the recipes opened my eyes to what I could cook.

Cooking for a (Pregnant) Vegetarian - Coconut Soup

A Girl called Jack by Jack Monroe

A present from Sarah. This has some great recipes that she had fed her small son with but also suggestions about how to do them on a budget. Try own brands, use cheaper alternatives. She also talks about food poverty very well. The bean and dark chocolate chili is a favourite.

The Quorn Kitchen

This was my go to recipe book for a long time. It will hopefully be used again but maybe not as regularly. I’ve lost some weight since we stopped eating Quorn as much but that’s probably more to do with not going to the pub nearly as often!

Cooking for a (Pregnant) Vegetarian - Basic Pasta


Pasta

Small M&S book with numerous pasta recipes of varying complexity. This was initially an invaluable resource when I was trying to figure out what else to cook.

Cooking for a (Pregnant) Vegetarian - Spiced apple porridge

Hungover Cookbook by Milton Crawford

Mostly of the breakfast variety but some great ways to start a weekend. I’m fond of the spiced apple porridge and Turkish breakfast.

Brilliant Bread by James Morton

Make nice bread without too much effort or a breadmaker. Essentially less kneading and more leaving the yeast for a while to do the work. I’ve been practising the basic recipes more than the advanced stuff. I want to get to a point where I’m making some every week rather than just once in blue moon.

Cooking for a (Pregnant) Vegetarian - Homemade Bread

Gok Wan Cooks Chinese

The TV series happened to be on last time I properly had the flu. The recipes tend to be of a more meaty variety so need a bit of thought to do without Quorn or a similar veggie alternative. The sticky rice method was nice and easy though and gets used.

Super Grains and Seeds by Amy Ruth Finegold

A present from Sarah’s sister. Focuses on introducing nutritious alternatives into cooking. While I’ve not tried out too many of the recipes in this one yet, it has given me ideas on incorporating different things into our diet. It’s also not exclusively vegetarian so some recipes may need some adaption.

Things on Toast by Tonia George

Great for breakfasts, snacks and lunches. Particularly the Indian Scrambled Eggs on naan bread.

Cooking for a (Pregnant) Vegetarian - Curry


Vegetarian

No meaty recipes to think about adapting. This was also very useful when trying to move away from a Quorn heavy diet.

100 Pizza recipes

M&S. There were a few weeks pre-baby where I was enthused with this book and we ate far too much pizza. Its time will come again. Perhaps I will make the dough also!

Honourable mentions: Jamie Oliver’s various efforts; Levi Roots; Gino D'Campo’s idiet; Simon Rimmer’s Accidental Vegetarian. Also Pinterest.

In conclusion I’m finding the more I cook with different recipes and ingredients the more confident I am adapting and improvising depending on what is in the cupboard. Not every experiment will work but it’s a learning process, finding what flavours work together. Buying larger quantities for economy has meant finding ways to use the extra after the initial recipe I had in mind.

I’m also gratified that I’d already been cooking with a number of ingredients that are supposedly good for developing foetal brains. Namely avocado, hard boiled eggs, sweet potatoes, greek yoghurt, spinach and lentils. Of course Sarah will have gotten the essentials from vitamin supplements but a bit extra can’t hurt.

Preparing food for a teething Matilda, that will be a whole other adventure!

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