A few weeks ago, I was listening to Maryn Green’s livestream on Facebook where she talked about prenatal care. She concluded her video by asking what prenatal care means to you, the expecting mother. This is my second pregnancy and I am past 40 weeks right now. Last pregnancy, I was in Michigan and I had two midwives whom I saw regularly. Their prenatal care consisted mostly of just chitchatting about how I felt, if I had any concerns, questions, and they offered me different assessments I could take at certain stages as the pregnancy progressed. I did a few blood tests at the very beginning of pregnancy to check for blood count, whether I was Rh positive, iron levels, and Hepatitis B I think. These were all blood tests that I decided to do from the list my midwife read out and explained to me. I could have done more or less. In addition, we listened to baby’s heartbeat both with a fetoscope and a doppler throughout the pregnancy when it was possible to do so, and I had a GBS test done later in pregnancy which I tested positive for. No scans and nothing else.
I grew up in a family where soup was the staple dish of dinner nearly everyday, even in the hot summer days of Cyprus. After getting married, I didn’t insist on cooking soup as often as we did back home especially because my husband wasn’t big on soup either but now that I have a baby who is fed easier that way and who – mashallah – loves soup, I’m more motivated to make soup and I try to shoot for at least twice a week. If you make a large amount, it could last you for a couple of days, or you can freeze some and thaw it later at another date.
Last week I made some nettle & spinach soup which I think is also a favorite of mine, but I decided on these three for this post.
VEGAN RED LENTIL SOUP
2-3 small to medium carrots
1/2 cup red lentil
1-2 tsp tomato paste
approx. 4-5 cups water (guessing the amount off of my head right now. You might have to add more later as the water will lessen as the soup cooks, or you might leave it as is. Your call)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon
red chilli flakes
Chop up the onions and carrots. The shape is not important since you’ll blend this soup at the end but if you cut them up small they’ll cook faster. Rinse the lentils. Now you could start this off in two ways: either add everything all at once along with the water, minus the olive oil OR you could add the olive oil and the spices and then the vegetables and tomato paste, gently fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the lentils and the water. Once the vegetables are cooked through (usually the red lentils cook earlier, at least in my case. If the lentils you have take long you can try soaking them prior to cooking) blend the soup using a hand blender. Add more water if necessary. Salt & pepper to taste.
VEGETARIAN GINGER PUMPKIN SOUP
1 pound of pumpkin
piece of fresh ginger root size of half a thumb or 1/2 tsp of ginger in powder form
1/2 tsp cinnamon
heavy cream or full fat milk (optional)
Normally I give the onions and pumpkin a quick fry and then boil them till they cook thoroughly and finally give it a blend, but this last time, I roasted the pumpkins instead. And I actually didn’t have any onions or ginger in the house (shhh) so it was definitely missing something BUT let’s assume I had onions and ginger, and this is how I ‘did’ it. Place the pumpkin on a baking tray, add some coconut oil and butter over it. Adding dairy to this recipe is completely optional. You can omit the dairy and have it vegan. You could also add nut milk for creaminess if you prefer that, up to you. Sprinkle some thyme, cinnamon and salt. Bake it until the pumpkin is cooked completely. In the meanwhile fry some onions with turmeric and some more coconut oil or butter (or olive oil) for a couple of minutes, add the baked pumpkins, add some water, blend until smooth and adjust the water to your own taste. Once the water comes to a gentle boil you can let it simmer for a bit and then finally add your cream. If you’ve noticed, I left out the amount for cream and water, because you’ll decide on the water according to your desired consistency, and the cream is added in small amounts usually (less than the water.) It’s really up to you.
TURMERIC CHICKEN SOUP
1 whole chicken
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp rosemary, dried
thumb sized ginger, shredded
2-3 cardamom pods
1/2 tsp cinnamon or 1-2 cinnamon sticks
Squeeze a lemon over the the chicken and rub it clean using the lemon pieces. Put everything (excluding the lemon) into a large enough pot, cover the chicken with water and bring to a boil with the lid covered. Lower heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. This usually takes about an hour. Remove the chicken and sieve the stock into another pot. Now you can decide what you want to do with the remaining vegetables. I discarded it. Actually I do usually feed the cats, dogs and seagulls outside my kitchen window but I didn’t this time. Anyway, back to the recipe. I ended up cutting the chicken in half and baking one half with potatoes until nice and crispy at the top, and the other half is what went into the final soup. Just to clarify, we didn’t have two meals consisting mainly chicken in one day – we had the baked chicken the first day, and I prepared the soup the next day. Remove the chicken meat and shred it using your hand. Discard bones (now the cats and stuff came into play). I chose to save 1/4 in a glass container in the fridge to make into wraps or add to salad. The rest I threw into the stock which by the way is full of nutritious gelatin. You know that jelly when your stock gets cold? That stuff. You can also add some grains to your soup like barley or oat flakes. I added some small organic alphabet pasta lol. Adjust the salt & pepper if needed and once the grain is cooked the soup is ready. Squeeze some lemon and you’re done. This is a great choice if you’re trying to beat a cold too.
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I just realized all three soups have similar color tones! Enjoy. ♥
Note: I do not use refined salt in my recipes. I do not use processed oils. I try to use only pasture fed organic chicken and pasture fed organic dairy.
I discovered the Whole30 after finding Dallas Hartwig’s instagram through Nutritious Movement. I was about 2 months postpartum when I decided to give it a shot. It was Ramadhan. I wasn’t fasting this year as I was exclusively breastfeeding. I encouraged my mom to give it a shot too. She thought it’d be incorporated nicely with her 30 day Ramadhan fast. Unfortunately I couldn’t go past day 17, not because it wasn’t doable, but because I was invited for an iftar at a friend’s and I felt too shy to tell her I was strictly avoiding pretty much everything I knew she’d be serving for dinner – turned out I was right. I didn’t want her to plan according to me as I wasn’t the only guest, but I knew she’d make changes so I didn’t want to give her a hard time. Well, the plan was that I’d break only some of the rules. I ended up breaking them all. I felt like I had a hangover the next day. I experienced a terrible headache that lasted nearly all day. I had had sugar, wheat, chickpeas, rice, and yogurt. For those of you who don’t know, Whole30 is basically a paleo diet, except somewhat stricter: no legumes, no natural sweeteners etc. After this, I decided I’d try one of the no-no’s on the list every other day and note how I’d feel. I noticed that I experienced major joint pain and headaches shortly after eating particularly gluten. I didn’t feel much difference eating dairy.
OK, since my Whole30 attempt was a bit of a fail, I want to still mention some of the positives I noticed while I was following the rules in those 17 days. I didn’t experience any constipation or bloating at all during those 17 days. Even after eating, there was no bloating. I felt very light which made me feel good overall. I did notice some bloody stools a couple of times, and after some research, I thought it could be due to reducing carbs cold turkey. I didn’t have any pain though, so I don’t know.
My mom, on the other hand, successfully completed the 30 days. She was suffering from frozen shoulder syndrome for about a year. Whole30 cleared that up for her, which we thought was pretty amazing. I remember reading somewhere that frozen shoulder was something Dallas experienced too, until he improved his diet.
Just another note on Whole30/Paleo, I’m personally not too fond of the idea of eating so much red meat & chicken. I prefer sea food. That reminds me, I will be writing a post about some locations in Istanbul that are worth going to for those visiting Istanbul including a couple of seafood restaurants that I liked. I can’t find grass-fed organic red meat easily where I live in Istanbul, and Sunnah-wise it’s best to reduce red meat intake in general.
As the weather is getting colder now and as I’m experiencing stiff and achy knee joints, I’m seriously considering reducing my wheat intake (don’t touch my rice & oats! I try to prepare those properly, I promise.) I have some guests staying over with us for the next 5-6 days. My plan is to go on a 10 day wheat & sugar detox once our guests leave and then compromise once in a while if necessary.
To health & overall wellbeing.