Pre-Baby Food Prep

I can’t tell you how many people have told me to “just relax, whatever you do before hand, you will inevitably end up eating take out most of the first few months with a newborn”. Aside from the fact that nutritionally, I couldn’t imagine trying to heal/recover from pregnancy, labour & delivery on takeout, OR creating breast milk from nutrient-deplete foods, I know that I simply cannot eat those kinds of foods if I want my body to work properly (more on my health journey here!).

  • Gluten and vegetable oils will instantly cause massive inflammation in my body, specifically joint pain (E.g. once during my pregnancy I had multiple vegetable oil exposures over the course of 3 days and on the 3rd night I woke up in tears with bilateral pulsing pain of my hands, wrists and elbows. Yeah, not fun.)
  • Dairy causes massive digestive distress in me, but it’s also the food my husband is highly allergic to (instant congestion – with a history of asthma – followed by bad eczema that takes months to go away), so since we’re both very reactive, I’m not going to expose our little one to milk before he/she has developed a solid gut. Odds aren’t super great for him/her tolerating dairy well.
  • Gluten-free flours contain corn (which really does a number on my gut), so even gluten-free options are not really options in my world (other than Cup of Tea Bakery which uses rice, tapioca and potato as their flour – no corn! Except some of their products use quinoa and/or bean flours, so I still have to be quite careful.)

While others may think that I’m just Type A-ing it, or being obsessively healthy, not being prepared food-wise is a disaster waiting to happen for me. And by disaster I literally mean PAIN.

So in an effort to prevent pain (as well as set the stage for my healing/recovery and kicking off my kiddo’s postpartum nutrition well), I started stocking my freezer and keeping my pantry full, when I was around 7.5 months pregnant. Here’s what I did…

NOTE: I’m sure I’ll do a follow up post after the baby arrives about how beneficial and/or useless this was, or what I should have made. LOL

 

Pre-Baby Food Prep

Freezer Meals

Chicken “Noodle” Soup – We got a bunch of soup birds from our favourite farm – The Shulist Family Farm. Starting in July, I would make a batch of broth in my instant pot, pull off the meat and turn it into soup. I always add white rice, because we both tolerate it great and I know I’ll need lots of carbs once the baby comes.

Easy Paleo Hamburger Pie – I tripled the recipe (and made a few mods like adding sautéed onion and a broth/tomato paste combo in lieu of tomato sauce). Had one batch for dinner and leftovers. Froze the other 2 portions!

Banana Muffins – I made 2 dozen of these delicious, high-fat, high-nutrient (nut-free!) muffins, as well as another 2 dozen lemon blueberry, following more closely to the original recipe.

Mom’s Spaghetti Sauce – I tripled this recipe (which is already doubled) and froze multiple litres in 2 cup portions, which will be perfect for last minute meals like spaghetti squash bolognese.

Chicken Liver Pate – anyone who follows me on Instagram knows this is my go-to recipe for getting liver into me! Why liver you ask? Check out this post! I doubled up the recipe and portioned it into 10 half cup servings. Not only will liver help me stay nutrient-replete while nursing, but it will also provide lots of life-giving nutrients to kiddo (specifically folate, vitamin A, D, K2 and all the B’s), AND give me what I’m sure will be a much-needed energy boost.

Bone Broth – like it’s going out of style. Go read the post on bone broth for the health benefits (healing, building new tissues) and you’ll see why I prioritize this incredible food. I’ve got lots frozen in little pucks, ready to be added to rice, last-minute soups/stews or slow/pressure-cooked meats. My Instant Pot is also always ready to make more broth, as soon as I run out!

Mirepoix – I pre-chopped about 20 cups of onion, carrot and celery, flash froze on lined baking sheets and then stored in large ziploc freezer bags. Pre-prepared mirepoix will make slow/pressure cooking SO easy. Take any piece of tough meat (brisket, chicken thighs, pork shoulder), throw in a few handfuls of mirepoix and a puck or 2 of bone broth and you’re good to go.

Burger Patties – every time I’ve made something with ground meat over the last few weeks, I pulled out twice as much meat as I need. So normally I would use 1 lb ground beef for 4 burgers (one each for dinner, leftovers for lunch) or taco night/leftovers. Now I grab 2lbs (and often a combo of ground beef & ground pork – such a solid flavour combo), and do what I normally do, while also making 4 extra patties to flash freeze. I quickly amassed a few dozen burger patties! This isn’t anything too complicated, but you can cook a burger patty from frozen, and a ¼ lb of meat thaws a lot quicker than an entire pound. 

Additional Recipes I Plan To Make (pending early arrival)

Sweet Potato Flatbreads, Chili (but I’ll add beef heart because, nutrients), Ginger Carrot Soup, Butternut Squash Soup (but I’ll go easy on the thai curry paste, probably just use a little yellow curry paste instead of loads of red like I normally do!), these lactation cookies (modified to be nut-free, since I don’t do great with large volume of almond flour), and likely more muffins…

 

Pantry/Freezer Stock 

Carbs/Starch

  • Sweet Potato Noodles (found in the rice noodle section of Asian grocery stores)
  • White Rice (which is always cooked in bone broth)
  • Sweet Potatoes (for fries or quick hashes like this one)
  • Green Plantains
  • Inka Plantain Chips (from Dollarama)
  • White Rice crackers
  • Frozen fruit (mango, organic berries & cherries – all from Costco)
  • Dates and figs

Protein (our favourite meat places are Shulist Family Farm and BrookersMeat.com)

  • Ground beef & pork for quick meals like burgerstacos and chili
  • Sausages
  • Canned tuna, sardines & salmon
  • Frozen wild salmon (from Costco) for my go-to, super-fast Salmon en Papillote 
  • Lots of roasts/large pieces of meat like pork shoulder, tip/blade roasts and brisket for easy, high-volume slow/pressure-cooker meals like pulled pork and shredded beef (hello leftovers!)
  • Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides (for anything liquid!)
  • Prairie Naturals Grassfed Whey Protein (for smoothies)

Fat

  • Aroy D coconut milk (free of all additives), for smoothies, puddings and soups!
  • My 3 favourite oils: olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil (all from Costco!)
  • Ghee (I make my own following these directions with Rolling Meadow grassfed butter)
  • Shredded coconut 

 

Perishables

  • eggs (multiple dozens since they last so long and cook up so quick!)
  • veggies with a long fridge-life like kale and broccoli would be my typical go-to’s (and I’ll still eat them), but they also tend to be slightly notorious for causing belly distress in little one’s, so this will be a bit of an experiment. I can eat an entire head of cauliflower raw, or a massive bowl of cabbage, and have no gut reaction, so it might be okay!
  • boxes of pre-washed organic spinach and baby-kale
  • organic apples & pears (things you can eat with one hand!)

 

Beyond Babies

While this post is specifically about what I did to prepare for baby’s arrival, there are a lot of great tips that can be totally applied to your normal, every day life. Making a double batch of something and freezing for last minute meals, keeping healthy muffins on hand, stocking your pantry with delicious and nutritious items – these habits will help keep you on track and healthy throughout your life!

 

Okay mamas, help a newbie out! What else should I be making to get ready for kiddo’s arrival??

 

Coconut Milk Yogurt

Coconut Milk Yogurt | dairy-free, gluten-free, paleo, AIP | AmandaNaturally.comYogurt is one of the foods I miss the most, since having to avoid dairy. Unfortunately there are no good alternatives out there. And while there are some expensive cultured almond or coconut snacks available, they are filled with stabilizers, gums and other weird ingredients – so I don’t touch them. Not to mention they’re always super low fat, so what’s the point? I had resigned myself to not having any yogurt ever again, until I got an Instant Pot and can now make homemade Coconut Milk Yogurt! I guess I could have used this recipe with a standard yogurt maker, or the old school way of a pot in an oven overnight, but alas, it took me getting this awesome kitchen gadget to figure it out!

Not only is yogurt super delicious, but it is another probiotic rich food. Supporting the gut bacteria through regular consumption of probiotic foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut, is one of the best things you can do for the health of your entire body! And when probiotic foods are as delicious as this coconut milk yogurt, it’s not hard to consume it on a regular basis!

Coconut Milk Yogurt in the Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of coconut milk (I like the brand Aroy D because it doesn’t contain any guar gum or carrageenan. I get it at an Asian Supermarket, but apparently it’s been found at places like Walmart and Superstore.)
  • 2 packets Cultures for Health Vegan Yogurt Starter OR ½ cup yogurt from your previous batch
  • 2 tsp gelatin (My favourite brand is Vital Proteins green tub, which unfortunately is still on backorder on Amazon at the time of publishing this post, but if you’re in Whitby you can grab some at our office.  Great Lakes red carton is a great alternative, available on both Amazon and at stores like Healthy Planet.)

 

Directions

1. Heat 4 cups of full-fat coconut milk (I prefer the Aroy D brand) in a pot, to 110F. Use a candy thermometer, or an electronic meat thermometer ( <– another favourite kitchen gadget). Stir frequently, it only takes a few minutes. As soon as the temperature hits 110F, pull it off the heat.

 

2. Immediately whisk in ½ cup of a previous batch of yogurt (you can use dairy if tolerated, store-bought or your previous batch) or 2 packets of Vegan Yogurt Culture (I love the Cultures for Health product, although it does have a bit of rice starch in it – something to note if you’re sensitive or following the AIP protocol). NOTE: Apparently you can use 2 or 3 probiotic capsules, but I haven’t tried this. (UPDATE: a friend told me she uses ¼ tsp of probiotic powder, or 2-3 capsules, and 1-2 tbsp of maple syrup)

 

3. Whisk in 2 tsp grassfed gelatin. Without this, it won’t thicken. You will still have a yummy, tangy coconut milk, but it will definitely be milk, not yogurt. NOTE: Apparently you can use agar agar to keep it vegan, but I haven’t tried this since I’m always looking for extra ways to get in gelatin!

 

4. Pour into jars, or a glass bowl (that fits in the pot), and place in the bottom of the Instant Pot. NOTE: don’t put the yogurt directly in the Instant Pot. Since it is stainless steel, mine retains a slight hint of what was previously cooked – usually broth. And trust me, broth-flavoured coconut yogurt is not good.

 

5. Secure the lid (or place the glass lid on), press the “yogurt” button, adjust the time to 12 hours and walk away. NOTE: if you don’t like really tangy yogurt, start checking the flavour around 8 hours.

Coconut Milk Yogurt | dairy-free | AmandaNaturally.com

 

6. 12 hours later, remove from Instant Pot and store in fridge for a few hours to let set. If you are planning to make another batch, store ½ cup in a separate container to use again later. NOTE: I have found that I can only do this a few times, before I need to reinoculate with a new batch of probiotics/yogurt starter. Likely because there isn’t enough sugar in the coconut milk to support continual growth. You might have success by adding sugar or a simple starch like potato or tapioca, to encourage more growth.

7. Yogurt lasts about 2 weeks in the fridge, although it will start to separate after about a week. That’s just what happens when you don’t use any emulsifiers! It’s perfectly fine to eat!

Add Ins:

  • In step 3, I also add in a liberal amount of collagen peptides, which doesn’t gel. This adds extra protein and extra gut/joint/skin healing goodness.
  • In step 5 you can add in additional flavours such as:
    – fruit
    – honey or maple syrup
    – vanilla extract
    – cocoa powder

 

Alternative Methods of Yogurt Prep

I love the Instant Pot because it’s a one-stop shop. It quickly became the most used (and loved) gadget in my kitchen. If you make bone broth regularly, it’s a no-brainer to add to your arsenal. However, it’s definitely not the cheapest item, and there are other ways to make yogurt that don’t require this gadget. Check out the following resources if you want to make coconut-milk yogurt sans the Instant Pot.

Simple Stove/Oven Method

Dehydrator Method

Yogurt Maker Method

NOTE: the directions in the above links use cow milk. With coconut milk, you do not need to heat it to 200F first because there is no bacteria that needs to be pasteurized out.

Dairy Yogurt

If you tolerate dairy, you can absolutely follow the same instructions, just make sure you heat the milk to about 200F first and let it cool before following steps 1-7 above. Cow, goat and sheep milk can all be used! The reason for making your own dairy-yogurt is purely for nutritional value (and cost!). It can be extremely challenging to find quality dairy that is also higher in fat, and since the fat is what contains most of the nutrients from dairy, that’s what you want to be eating! Look for grassfed or organic yogurt that is as high fat as possible. I’m talking at minimum 2-3%, but ideally higher than that. Since that kind of product is hard to come by, purchasing organic or grassfed milk (or goat/sheep milk) and making your own yogurt is a solid option – not to mention friendlier on the wallet!

Green Mango Smoothie

Green Mango Smoothie | AmandaNaturally.comI’m going to be honest with you, I’ve never been a big smoothie fan. When I started down my health journey, I had a smoothie every morning for breakfast for about 2 years, then hit a wall and haven’t enjoyed them in years. However, so many people love them, and they are a great healthy option for fast and on-the-go meals, so I’ve always kept them in my arsenal when working with clients.

Recently, smoothies have totally been my jam. This is for a few reasons:

  1. It’s summer, crazy hot and I am 7 months pregnant
  2. My stomach is small so a liquid breakfast allows me to get in more nutrition right now
  3. I have a lot of appointments so I often come back from the gym, have a half hour turn around and am out the door to the chiro or midwives. Or I’m seeing clients of my own. So even though I’m not a big fan of eating on the go (it’s important to relax in order to digest friends!), taking a smoothie in the car has been a life saver some mornings.
  4. It’s hot. I’m hot. Smoothies are cold and therefore taste AMAZING. For breakfast, lunch or dinner. Did I mention I’m hot? (#pregancyproblems)

If you haven’t read my detailed post on How To Build a Healthy Smoothie – go read it now! It also has a recipe for a chocolate smoothie – which is great for moving kids (or adults) over to a real food breakfast when they’re used to sugar-filled ones. 

This recipe for my Green Mango Smoothie has been my go-to this summer. The tropical flavour combination is so delicious, and it’s a great opportunity to get some extra veggies in, as well as collagen protein (one of the amazing nutrients found in bone broth, that is critical for bone/connective tissue development – key for pregnancy, and healing in general)! Not to mention protein when my stomach is feeling small, haha.

 

Choosing a Protein Powder

This can be a bit of a learning process to find your favourite. Here are some of my suggestions:

  1. Collagen Peptides by Vital Proteins – hands down my favourite. No flavour, incredibly good for your entire body (gut, joints, bones, skin, hair, nails – pretty much everything.). It’s often available on Amazon.ca but as of pressing publish on this post (July 14/16), it’s out of stock right now. Alternatively, Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate is a good option and can sometimes be found at health food stores like Healthy Planet. 
    1. safe on the autoimmune protocol
    2. great for kids
    3. not a complete protein, so not a good post-workout option (at least not on its own), but great as part of a balanced diet that includes whole protein sources like meat, fish and eggs.
  2. Organic, Grassfed or New Zealand Whey – the most bioavailable, easy to use protein, BUT made from dairy. So if you do not tolerate dairy, this is not an option for you. If you do tolerate whey protein, getting a plain, high quality protein is your best bet. My favourite brand is Prairie Naturals because it’s much more local than New Zealand whey, but nutritionally they are on par.
    1. SIDE NOTE: it took me 5 years of strict dairy-free and epic amounts of gut healing before I was able to reintroduce whey protein.
  3. Hemp Protein – I like the Manitoba Harvest brand because they use coconut sugar to sweeten, instead of stevia like most other natural brands (which can be a gut irritant for some). It’s a little grainy, so I often recommend using a half dose in combination with a scoop of collagen.
  4. Pumpkin Seed Protein – the only brand I have seen is Omega Alpha. It’s similar to hemp in that it’s grainy, but it has no other ingredients.
  5. Brown Rice Protein – this is my least favourite, personally, because it tastes like sand to me. But it’s my husband’s favourite. He thinks it’s less grainy than hemp or pumpkin, and doesn’t tolerate whey. His go-to is the Prairie Naturals brand (full-disclosure, he formulates products for them, so has a slight bias towards the company. But he also works for them because he loves their products and values as a company!)

Things to avoid in protein powders:Green Mango Smoothie | AmandaNaturally.com

  • aspartame, sucralose and acesulfame-potassium (all artificial sweeteners)
  • artificial flavours
  • colours
  • pea protein, a common component of most plant-based/vegan protein powders (very cheap, incredibly hard on the gut)
  • soy protein (unless it’s organic, it’s guaranteed to be GMO and covered in RoundUp, not to mention soy can be very estrogenic, which can be useful under the direction of a practitioner, just don’t go it alone)

Green Mango Smoothie

Green Mango Smoothie
Serves 1
Healthy, nutrient dense and tastes like the tropics!
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup frozen mango pieces
  2. 1 small banana (or ½ a ripe avocado)
  3. 1 handful of spinach
  4. ¼ cup full-fat canned coconut milk (preferred brand: Aroy D)
  5. ½ tsp vanilla extract (omit for strict AIP)
  6. pinch of sea salt
  7. ½ - ¾ cup water (depending on desired thickness)
  8. 1 serving of protein (approximately 15-25g)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend until the spinach is thoroughly broken down.
  3. Enjoy!
Protein Powder Options
  1. MY FAV: 1 scoop Vital Proteins collagen + 1 scoop Prairie Natrurals whey or Manitoba Harvest hemp
  2. AIP: only use collagen (1-2 scoops)
  3. POST-WO: whey, hemp or brown rice
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