postmodyrn Eats! : Balancing Act
When my ten-week-old daughter began making eye contact and showing signs of trying to connect, I quickly became obsessed with trying to make her smile. I’ve felt connected to Emilie from the moment I felt her move in my belly, but watching her learning to connect with me has been truly magical. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, I hear every sniffle, whimper and movement. As a full-time mom with no family living nearby, it’s difficult for me to imagine being away from her for even a few hours at this point – and while I would whole-heartedly welcome a short break – I also wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a wonderful feeling to be loved and needed in such a pure, unconditional manner.
Getting through this 4th Trimester for the second time, I have been more conscious to truly live in the moment. While the days can seem endless at times, the months and years really do fly by. My son, who just turned four, has already become so independent. While he still comes into our bedroom to snuggle first thing in the morning, and runs over for some comfort when he gets hurt, his hugs already are fewer and further between. Barbara Kingsolver, author of The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven, once wrote: “Kids don’t stay with you if you do it right. It’s the one job where, the better you are, the more surely you won’t be needed in the long run.” A crazy thought during this 4th Trimester! However, it’s also a nice reminder that this strange time, with all of its highs and lows, won’t last forever.
Given all these passing thoughts at 3:00 a.m. after my third feeding of the night, I’ve put together some advice that I wish I could have given myself four years ago:
First, try not to lose sight of yourself. Despite being in demand 24/7, make some time to nurture the hobbies you enjoy and the little things that make you happy. For me, it’s cooking and taking a long, relaxing bath. For my mother, it was playing the piano. Whatever your passion, don’t put it on hold.
Second, take some time to appreciate your partner. I understand it’s difficult and time-consuming (especially when you haven’t slept more than four hours in three months), but remember there will come a time when you will not be in constant demand, and you will need to still feel connected to the other important people in your life.
Last but not least, accept the help that is offered! With my first child, I felt awkward taking up friends and family members on their offers to help out. This time, I have not been as shy. For me, getting over this hurdle has truly been instrumental in regaining some balance in my life, while struggling to figure out our "new normal" as a family of four.
One way I’ve been able to enjoy some time with my husband has been to prepare a quick meal early in the night that can be reheated and shared at a moment’s notice. When the stars align, and the small one is sleeping, and the older one is busy playing (or happily watching The Octonauts), my husband and I can steal a few minutes over a quick dinner. The following recipe is an example of one of these meals.
Meal planning tip: Stock your freezer with frozen fish. I buy fresh fish, such as salmon, and cut it into one inch pieces. I then freeze the pieces in one layer in an airtight bag – laying it flat in my freezer. These frozen, bite-sized pieces of fish will cook up very quickly in a hot liquid such as soup.
RECIPE: Salmon and Coconut Milk Soup
Not only is this meal fast, but each of the ingredients I use have tremendous health properties. For example, the coconut milk and coconut oil are a great source of healthy fat that not only protects against heart disease, put promote weight loss as the coconut’s medium chain fats are easily absorbed and used as an energy source, consequently increasing the body’s metabolic rate. The bok choy is loaded with calcium, potassium, and Vitamin A, and the garlic and ginger both provide anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Also, garlic has been shown to combat heart disease and high blood pressure, as well as help improve blood cholesterol levels.
I understand it is more expensive, but I highly recommend buying wild salmon. Not only is it high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which can lower triglyceride levels and blood pressure, it also contains B vitamins (including niacin, B6 and B12), vitamin D, and the mineral selium which protects healthy cells by fighting off free radicals. Wild salmon’s pink hue comes from a diet of nutrient-rich krill (not food-coloring like some farmed salmon), and signals an abundance of carotenoids which are known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
1 Tbsp coconut oil
2-3 cloves of garlic (grated on a microplane)
1 tsp fresh ginger (grated on a microplane)
1 tsp green curry paste
2 Tbsp soy sauce (Or more to taste – I used a low-sodium vegetable broth and a reduced-sodium soy sauce, and ended up using a little more)
1 14-ounce can of coconut milk
1 ½ cups vegetable broth
8 ounces salmon cut into 1 inch pieces
Assorted vegetables such as bok choy, mushrooms, red bell peppers, tomatoes, spinach
Juice of 1 lime
Optional additions: cooked brown rice or buckwheat noodles, Sriracha sauce for some extra spice
In a soup pot over medium heat, add the coconut oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is ready, add the garlic, ginger, curry paste, and gently cook for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and vegetable broth, and let everything simmer gently on the stove for 10 minutes. (Note: You do not want this soup to boil vigorously, so don’t leave the pot unattended for too long.)
At this point, you could cover your pot, and turn off the heat to do things such as change a diaper, brush an older child’s teeth, pump a bottle, etc.
When you are ready to eat, bring the broth back to a simmer (small bubbles around the edge of the pot), then add the vegetables, the salmon pieces and the optional cooked rice or noodles. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Season the soup with soy sauce, lime juice, and sriracha to taste, and enjoy!
Photos 1 & 3: Laura Kudritzki Photography
Recipe Photos: Chef Larson