One of my brothers always says, "To be honest," when starting a sentence... which makes me raise my eyebrows and tease, "Uh, if you were honest, would you need to say that all the time bro?" But I get it, the phrase is catchy, and after spending time with him I find myself saying:
To be honest, this pregnancy stuff is no joke.
We’ve had a lot of take out lately simply because I can’t stomach the thought of cooking or eating too much…. I feel like it’s made my creative culinary juices suffer, and I’m trying hard to not let that reflect on here.
I also like rice, pasta, cereal and noodles more than any human really should.
A friend of mine, who also happens to be pregnant was texting me the other day, and said, “Uh, morning sickness my butt! It’s ALL freaking day and night. Who started this rumor that you only feel sick in the morning? They must be punished.” I completely agreed.
As I am slowly de-bunking the myths of pregnancy and experiencing this all for the first time, I thought it would be super fun to de-bunk some fat myths.
Speaking of fat, there’s nothing quite like putting on your pants and then having to unbutton that top button simply because the tightness against your belly is the same discomfort you feel after eating Thanksgiving dinner. It's a confusing time, one in which I am asking myself, am I fat? Or is this pregnancy related?
Fat is confusing. So, let’s talk about it real quick without having us drool on ourselves out of sheer boredom. Plain and simple: good fat, is really good for us, bad fat, is really bad for us. Ladies, we especially need fat, lots of good fat to helps us balance our hormones.
Okay okay, here’s what you need to know, this is like, beginning fun stuff, most of this you probably already know:
Vegetable Oils - This includes Canola oil, Soybean oil, Grapeseed oil, Rapeseed oil, Corn oil, Safflower oil and, sniff, Sunflower oil. I'm a little sad to type sunflower oil because I do use it in salad dressings, but I try my best to purchase organic and cold pressed.
What vegetable makes oil might I ask you? Lettuce? Zucchini? By the way, what's a Canola? Vegetable oil + Canola oil are usually made from cotton seeds or soybeans or rapeseeds or a mix of any of the three. We’re not designed to eat cotton seeds or rapeseeds... Not only are they GMO, but they're crazy processed and turn carcinogenic when cooked and digested.
Hydrogenated oils - Think Crisco, shortening and that sneaky fat put into Oreos and most processed cookies, crackers and cereals. Sometimes it reads partially hydrogenated palm oil, or vegetable oil. These fats are man-made. Our bodies literally don’t know what to do with these fats and since our bodies can’t use them, these hydrogenated toxins just get stored in the fat cells in our bodies. These fats, make us fat. The fatter we are, and the more of these bad fats we eat, the sicker we get.
Butter, Coconut oil, Lard, Avocado and Ghee. Ghee is just clarified butter, it’s amazing. Clarified butter is basically heating the butter and skimming the lactose (or white foam) off of the top, making it versatile for those that may be sensitive to dairy. All of these fats are excellent for baking and cooking at high temperatures.
You may be thinking: Wait, wait, LARD? Yes. Organic lard is actually good for us friends. It’s a fat our body knows how to use, it’s completely natural and what our ancestors lived off of for a long time. I've seen it make a comeback lately at health grocery stores. I know it seems scary, but no one is rushing you into this relationship I promise. Lard and butter are a good substitutes for shortening in a recipe.
Olive oil is good for cooking at medium temperatures. Yes, I tend to roast and bake with olive oil all the time, but in order to receive the best benefits from olive oil, we really shouldn’t heat it up too much.
Sesame oil, Flaxseed oil, Hempseed oil, Chia Seed oil, Avocado oil, Walnut oil, Almond oil... are also great fats and really shouldn’t be heated at all so we can receive the full benefits. Think of adding these bad boys to salad dressings or smoothies.
When purchasing these oils + fats make sure they are organic and for oils make sure they are cold pressed.
There was a time in my life when I was terribly afraid that fat made me fat. I fell victim to dry non-buttered toast and thinking low fat frozen yogurt was a "healthy choice". Over time I've learned what fat and how much fat I really should be eating and it's made me much happier and healthier. Fat, is still something a lot of us women still struggle with because we think: I can't have fat, it will make me fat. #false
I am so not a perfect eater, but I feel a little stronger knowing what I know, so I wanted to share this stuff. To be honest, (wink) I wasn't sure if you guys would like this post... so it took me a while to get it right, but, I'm throwing all this info out there because I want you to #treatyourself and I don't want you to be afraid of fat. Maybe you never feared fat? If so, hug me.
Oh! Ps. Here's a great chart to help you remember what temperature you should cook your fats too. Also fun fact, I graduated from this awesome (intense) holistic Culinary Nutrition Academy this December. Meghan, the founder of Culinary Nutrition Academy is the bomb-diggity and SUPER-balls to the walls intense with nutrition. I'm like a little sugar plum fairy compared to her, but she taught me tons and I like her lots. I like you a lot too. Love to you friends. xo
penne pasta with roasted tomato sauce
note: I love this sauce because it reminds me of summer, even though summer and the fresh tomatoes that come with it are far away, the fresh herbs used are a nod towards spring, and the winter root veggie (the onion) and hearty pasta keeps us grounded in the present. Even though this sauce may take a while in the oven, it’s worth it. I recommend doubling the sauce so you have more to freeze and eat later. It freezes beautifully. Last time I made this I caught my grandmother mopping up the sauce with a left over lettuce leaf. Which reminds me, this sauce would be fantastic over some roasted green veggies if you want to switch it up a bit. AND, though not the prettiest, this pasta is equally as delicious cold, like a cold pasta salad. xo
¼ cup / 60ml olive oil, plus more for serving
1 medium brown onion, chopped (about 1 heaping cup of onion)
3 cloves garlic, peeled, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup / 240ml homemade chicken stock or organic chicken stock
2 (28 ounce) cans / 784g peeled plum tomatoes, crushed with your hands
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ cup / 60ml fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
1 pound / 454g organic penne pasta
½ cup / 120ml pasta water, reserved
4 tablespoons fresh oregano, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
½ cup fresh basil, chopped + divided
1 cup / 240ml heavy cream
1 cup / 110g parmesan cheese, freshly graded - divided into ½ cups
plus more parmesan, basil and large, generous lemon wedges to serve
Preheat oven to 375°F / 190°C.
In a large heavy bottomed sauce pot, heat olive oil and chopped onion until translucent, about five minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, dried oregano and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken stock, and simmer away until the sauce looks like it’s reduced by half (it takes about 20-30 minutes).
While sauce is reducing, drain tomatoes and crush them with your hands into a large bowl. Add sugar + pepper to bowl. When sauce is reduced, add your freshly crushed tomatoes to the pot and stir. Salt to taste, it may not need salt.
Cover the pot with a tight fitted lid, and bake in the oven for an hour. Remove the pot from the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes.
While the sauce is cooling, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the penne pasta until just slightly under al dente. I cook the pasta just under al dente, because once the warm sauce is added to the warm pasta, the pasta will cook just a tiny bit further. Toss the cooked pasta in a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Reserve ½ cup pasta water.
With an immersion blender, or a standing blender, blend the tomato sauce in manageable batches until it reaches a smooth consistency.
Return the sauce to the pan. Add 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, ¼ cup fresh basil, lemon juice, 1/2 cup Parmesan and cream. More salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Simmer for about 5 minutes. If you'd like to thin the sauce a bit, add the ½ cup pasta water.
Add warm sauce to pasta, adding as little or as much as you choose. You could easily cover the entire pound of pasta with this sauce, but I found that to be just a little too much, and reserved some of the sauce to freeze for later. Totally up to you though.
Top pasta with fresh parmesan, fresh oregano, basil, another squeeze of fresh lemon, drizzle of olive oil and a lemon wedge. I can’t eat this any other way. That might be a pregnancy thing, but my non-pregnant people agree with me. ;)
If you double the sauce, it freezes beautifully for up to 3 months.
why is this good for me?
all good fats - are key to helping us women keep our hormones in balance and this hormonal balance not only makes a happy woman, but a fertile one. Good fats also help protect our organs, help us digest and use vitamins a, d, e, and k. Good fats also give us energy and they promote weight loss and help speed up our metabolism. I think the weight loss thing is from us feeling fuller and more satisfied by fat, thus we eat + crave less... that's my personal theory. ;)
olive oil - (and this goes for every good fat) is really good for our brains. Did you know our brain is mostly made up of fat? Olive oil helps us fight against heart disease, help control our blood sugar levels and reduces inflammation. It also helps ward off bad bacteria in our guts and has been known to heal stomach ulcers.
Really amazing books to teach you more about fat, how the low-fat craze got started (aka why we started fearing fat) and books that I have learned from in order to write this post:
Wanna learn a little more?
Here's some science-y words about safflower oil, which is a form of sunflower oil, they just extract the oil from the seed using steam making it rich in polyunsaturated fat.