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03 July 2008

eating handfuls at a time

tiny wooden vegetables

I find that I’m not eating many meals these days.

Oh, I’m eating. Every few hours, Little Bean wriggles in my belly, sometimes in quite a concerted fashion, and I know it’s time for food. I’m happy to comply, with shreds of fresh mozzarella with herbed sea salt, or a handful or Rainier cherries, or a wild greens salad with chevre and sunflower seeds. Whatever my body tells me I want to eat, I’m reaching for it.

It’s just the full-meal deal that eludes me now. I don’t remember the last time I sat down to a multi-course meal, or even an appetizer and a dessert.

There’s a rather large baby sitting on my stomach right now. (And my bladder, but that’s a different discussion.) And the presence of Little Bean effectively blots out my hunger. The gnawing, ravenous feeling of having not eaten in hours? The keening that calls for great food and quite a lot of it? That has all but disappeared around here.

It feels a little strange.

When I was suffering from the worst throes of celiac, and was eating gluten without knowing the damage it was doing to me, I completely lost my appetite. My stomach sent out a consistent flat-line signal. Nothing going on there. And then I was repulsed by food. I had never experienced anything like it in my life. I hated it.

These last few weeks of pregnancy don’t feel like that. I’m still actively enjoying the food I eat. The spicy lamb tibs I scooped into injera bread at lunch with my friend Karen and her mother today? I tasted every prickling of jalapenos, the spicy red sauce, the chew of each piece of lamb. For hours, I felt deeply satisfied. Little Bean did a happy dance in my belly afterwards too.

I’m still in love with food. Especially now that I know that what I eat feeds our Little Bean.

But I just don’t have the active stomach space once open to me that I once did.

Since the summer has fully arrived — complete this morning with the rare Seattle lightning storm — I’m only interested in ingredients. Blueberries off the bush, strawberries stolen away from their stems and popped into my mouth, whole milk yogurt with watermelon cubes. A single pork sausage, roasted in the oven, sizzling, and ready for my fork. Nibbles of cheese. Sugar snap peas eaten raw.

It feels strange to be working on recipes for the cookbook when I have no interest — in this heated condition — to be blending and pureeing and sautéing. Just give me food.

But isn’t this what summer feels like anyway? We strip down to our essential selves, suits and ties flung away, the tank tops emerging from our drawers. An outfit that would have seemed shocking in January — shorts, sandals, short-sleeve t-shirt — feels boringly normal now. We show so much skin that we become inured to the allure of sun upon it.

With all this sun, the zucchini plant in our garden has grown to monstrous proportions, reaching toward the sky with its thorny stems and enormous leaves. Each time I look out the back door to check on its progress, I shake my head in amazement. Soon, we’ll have squash blossoms stuffed with goat cheese. And after Little Bean arrives, we’ll probably have such a plethora of zucchini that we’ll sigh and wish that we had a little less.

Everything wants to live this time of the year.

With all this bounty, who needs meals?

brown rice with tomatoes and tuna

BROWN RICE WITH TUNA AND TOMATOES

If I must, I can be persuaded to put fresh vegetables and other ingredients into an assemblage and call it a meal. This is a play on a dish my dear friend Meri made for me years ago, after I had abdominal surgery and only wanted soft, healthy foods. Good brown rice, fresh tomatoes, and tuna. The textures blend into a lovely soft chew, nothing sharp or unexpected. It always left me satisfied.

Tuna’s controversial in general these days, but particularly with pregnant women. The mercury levels are enough to give anyone pause. Some women swear off tuna entirely. My choice? There are times that the lean protein really appeals to me. And so I’ve eaten maybe the equivalent of three cans of tuna over the course of the entire pregnancy. And each of them was high-quality tuna, caught in a sustainable fashion. All things in moderation feels the right way for me.

I’m not going to give you a recipe here. That feels ridiculous. Just the ingredients.

Cooked brown jasmine rice
Sliced avocado
Light-meat tuna, drained of its juices, and dressed with a light vinaigrette (lemon juice)
Fresh mozzarella, shredded into bites
Ripe heirloom tomatoes, tossed with olive oil and sea salt
Sunflower seeds

Assemble these together in any fashion you wish. If you choose the finest ingredients, in season, that you can find, you won’t need anything else besides this.

28 Comments:

At 12:03 AM, Blogger Darby said...

You write wonderfully. So wonderfully, in fact, that for a minute there I wanted to be pregnant again. Just for a moment, of course. :)

 
At 3:31 AM, Anonymous Ann said...

So true about stripping down in the summer. Complicated preparations are great in winter when you want to warm the kitchen and house, but in summer? Some sliced radishes on good bread with a little butter and sea salt is perfection!

 
At 4:44 AM, Blogger Tiara said...

Oh now, that is just a bowl of happy food! Tuna and avocado go so perfectly together.

Reading your posts is like a taste of summer while I'm wrapped up in winter of New Zealand. So nice...

 
At 6:56 AM, Anonymous Sho said...

I hope you have dumplings in your cookbook-to-be. I have been looking for a good recipe for gluten-free dumplings so I can make "matzo balls" for my chicken soup--again!

Take care,

Shoshannah

 
At 7:18 AM, Anonymous Emily said...

I've never felt compelled to offer a comment on your site before, but I just wanted to let you know that the wooden veggies you have (I presume for Little Bean) are such a big hit at our house with our almost 2 year old.

We got them for her before she was born - I confess, I wanted to play with them myself! - and she has been fascinated with them since she was about 6 months old.

I just wanted to complement your excellent taste, and wish you great joy in the coming months!

Peace,
Emily

 
At 7:23 AM, Blogger LaurieA-B said...

Your salad looks delicious and reminds me of how my grandmother (who was raised in the Philippines) loved to eat rice mixed with tuna and sprinkled with vinegar. (My OB would have agreed with your "tuna in moderation," by the way; she just said to avoid high-mercury fish like shark and swordfish. Otherwise she pretty much encouraged me to eat what I felt like, which I appreciated).

Iris and I had a great time at a Seattle Tilth children's class this week. I can see you and Little Bean there some day.

 
At 10:15 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

That looks so good. I haven't even eaten breakfast yet, but now I'm craving tuna and mozzarella!

 
At 12:33 PM, Blogger Hapamama said...

You've probably heard this a million times by now, but I can't resist! I was fondly remembering the huge amounts of food that I was able to eat while breastfeeding. All I could think about when you were talking about your tiny meals (which I also remember, not so fondly!) was the glee and shock with which my appetite returned once my milk came in full on...
I know you will not be with us as much during that time, but I do hope to hear about what you're eating during that time as well. Enjoy my dear!

 
At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Catherine said...

I love 'no recipe' eating/cooking.

Happy 4th of July!

--Catherine
www.aglutenfreeguide.com

 
At 1:29 PM, Blogger Lauren Denneson said...

Mmmm... I've been eating like this a lot lately too, though I'm not pregnant (at least that I know of!). This week I have been eating brown rice with lime juice, fresh garlic, cilantro, and a little sea salt. Then I top it with slices of avocado, sweet walla walla onion, and chickpeas. It's very satisfying and nice and cool on these warm summer days.

 
At 1:32 PM, Blogger RedHeadMel said...

Oh my - I remember feeling like you are now when I was pregnant with twins. I was at 38 weeks and my stomach muscles were literally separating above my belly button because I was getting so big. I begged my OB to induce me as I couldn't sit, stand or even lay down comfortably. Eating was difficult. I remember eating fruit and not much else.

Then I began nursing twins - and I never ate so much in my life. I would take them to the store and put their carriers in the cart (the sideshow "oh my, are those twins?!?" I would get asked about 12 times) and then I'd leave a cart at the end of each aisle and fill it with food.

We have some wooden fruits and vegies too - the kind you can "cut" with wooden knives - they velcro together. The kids were always feeding me with them when they were younger. I find they still use them when they play restaurant or store (they are 8, 8, and 6 now).

Here's to your quiet days of summer - as your life will never be the same! What a wonderful journey you are embarking upon.

 
At 2:47 PM, Blogger cris said...

where do you find injera here that doesn't have wheat flour? i've tried but failed...much to my spouse's chagrin. he loves Ethiopian.

 
At 7:06 AM, Blogger Marika på Odlingspyssel said...

Hello,

Great to find a gluten free blog! I am gluten intollerant myself and I would like to give you a tip about how to find the best gluten free flour on the market (at least I think so) It is a swedish brand called Semper, you can find their web page here: www.semper.se Perhaps some online stores have semper products in store so that you can buy them online. In grocery stores 500 g costs about 20 sek, that is 3 us dollars. Take care and keep up the good work with your blog! If you have any questions, click on my blog and I will try to answer them :)

 
At 7:53 AM, Blogger Allison said...

I remember well how little room there was for anything but our big boy in those last weeks. Small, frequent meals were literally all that fit.

It's sometimes inconvenient to have to eat so often, but it's kind of helpful too, since it's a preview to the normal eating style of a baby and toddler. Dictating how much and when a baby 'should' be hungry and eat is an ill conceived modern construct and should be laid to rest, in my view. They know how they feel--we don't.

They say that baby's stomach is just about the same size as his wee balled-up fist, and momma milk is digested very quickly and easily, so that tiny tummy fills and empties in a flash. You'll soon recognize all the early signs that the baby is hungry (crying is the last resort, after all other signals have failed) and it's completely normal to see a newborn or older baby in a growth spurt begin craning his head, sticking out his tongue, rooting for the breast and gnawing his fist trying to eat again when he's just had his last meal 20 or 30 minutes ago.

Once they get older, of course, they don't add pounds and inches by the week as they do in the early months, so they don't eat nearly as frequently. Even older babies and toddlers still much prefer to graze though. Our three year old stays on an even keel if I offer five small, healthy meals rather than three per day. (and a meal may be a hand full of garbanzo beans and some sliced apple--nothing fancy) If I don't feed him mid morning and mid afternoon and insist he hold out till the big meal I'm guaranteed a very sad boy.

Also, a thought for early parenthood, when you'll be mostly nursing, napping and changing diapers. I found it helpful to have on hand LOTS of food that I could eat with one hand, and preferably stuff that is not too drippy or crumbly. All that nursing will make you hungry too (making milk burns tons of calories) and when the baby is eating you'll want to eat and drink water too. Having a plate of food near your favorite place to nurse will help a lot, but it's even better when it's food that doesn't require two hands to eat and which doesn't get all over the baby.

Our went from 0-3 month clothes to 6-9 month clothes within several months (talk about a good eater!) and I spent many meals at the table with him laying on the boppy nursing and with my napkin spread across him to keep the worst of the drips off. What can you do when you're both hungry at the same time! ;-)

 
At 9:29 AM, Blogger Gluten free Kay said...

Zucchini blossoms stuffed with goat cheese?! Then what? Is there more to this dish? I have about 30 zucchini plants in my garden and I want to make good use of them.

Hmmm. I could eat match books stuffed with goat cheese. Maybe additional ingredients are not necessary.

 
At 3:15 PM, Blogger Beata said...

I'm fascinated by your book, so energetic and inspiring!!! I advertised it on my family's blog which you encuraged us to start. The name is "gluten free boy" and the boy is really small, just three :-) I'm interested in your next book, but I'd like most to see the book about feeding the child (is it the third one?). During my pregnancy I tried to eat healthy, but I wish I had had the knowledge I'm having now...After the delivery
I wanted to protect my baby from allergy. First I breastfed him, then there were a lot of experiments... We both had a very good apetite, my God, I had never eaten so much in my life! My diet mostly was macrobiotic orientated what helped me to improve my blood
test (I had problems with iron during pregnancy). Max grew fast and was very strong and healthy. Around seventh month I tried to give him some solid food but he
refused. So I decided to wait one month, but then, after first experiments (just with apple and carrot)and changes in my diet (slowly I had started to eat what I was used in the past) it occured that Max had the food allergy problems. I was brestfeeding him two years and thanks to his hypoallergic diet the symptoms were gone. Around the second Max's birthday he had a test and it shoved that he had intollerancy of gluten. Well, what for I've written this? Food can be healing, food can be poisoning, my experience showed myself the real power of it.
Anyway Max is a happy boy and very, very lively and of course healthy.
Shauna, once more, a young mother needs a lot of energy and apart from sleeping, she needs the best food in the world. I wish you all the best with the delivery and enough energy for you and your husband to carry all the things not to mention cooking!!
Beata (who is Polish living in rainy Dublin).

 
At 2:41 AM, Blogger Gluten Free Boy said...

Shauna, I'd like to show you Max reading your fabulous book, even three years old love to read it!!!
http://gfboy.blogspot.com/2008/07/inspiring-must-read.html
Once more best regards!
Beata

 
At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read your book. It only took me 24 hours. You are a gifted writer and kept me hungry the whole 24 hours--for food and words.
I have a slight gluten intolerance that I have lived with and tolerated, but I am starting to think "NO MORE" after reading the encouragement in your book. I also have an autistic son and am wondering if this would help him as well.
Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm and experience. I look forward to exploring your site(s) and the world of gluten-free living.
Leigh Ann

 
At 9:23 PM, Blogger the nibbling marmot said...

Hi there,
You mentioned eating injera bread in this post. I love Ethiopian food, but end up eating it with lettuce because most places have wheat flour mixed into their injera. Did you find an Ethiopian restaurant that doesn't do this? Even if it's only in Seattle, it's worth a visit.
Thanks,
Beth

 
At 5:11 AM, Anonymous Stephanie said...

Beautiful post, as always! But I write regarding the injera questions. I was so sure that injera was made only with Teff, and made a date to finally get lunch at an Ethiopian restaurant near my office. Asked the question, and they said they make it with a blend. HOWEVER, I was told if I called 2 days in advance (it's fermented...) they would make it with only Teff for the day I would eat there!

Haven't done it yet, as I haven't had another lunch date for a day on which they're open for lunch! But we'll see. Perhaps other restaurants will do the same?

 
At 6:37 AM, Blogger Renee said...

Love your book, my family BEGS me to repeat your recipes - that's never happened before from any other cookbook I've owned and I own about 75 cookbooks (yes, really...75). So, I make your recipes again and again because they're so good and I read your book over and over because I like the way that you write - it's so much more than a cookbook, truly. It's inspirational for celiacs - I'll never feel the same way about being "deprived" again! You're a treasure.

Regarding babies, someone told me when I was pregnant, that when a baby gets to be about 13 pounds they usually start sleeping through the night. Apparently, that's the weight where babies start having more body fat(or storage capacity) to hold nourishment in for a number of hours. It sure was true with my son! So when Little Bean makes you feel sleep deprived, just keep chanting a personal mantra..."13 pounds, 13 pounds, 13 pounds"...

You'll get there...

Renee

 
At 9:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to disagree, Renee, but surely sleep patterns depend on the baby? My two girls were different in sleep, but neither one slept 6 hours straight at 13 pounds. (That was at around 3 months, I think. They were chunks and avid breastfeeders!) Little Bean's patterns will be unique, challenging and wonderful in their own ways.

Shauna, that bowl of deliciousness makes me wish desperately to have an avocado tree in my backyard! Those flavors look so tempting!!

Kris from Virginia

 
At 3:23 PM, Anonymous Marissa said...

I too have been all about ingredients as of late, and I have nothing in my belly but belly. I cannot even bring myself to make anything with the cherries I buy because I want to savor their taste without anything else getting involved in there.

I thought I would share a recent obsession with you. You mentioned yogurt, and I know you will enjoy this which has been a staple for my breakfast for the past 3 months solid!

Yogurt, grapes, raw walnuts, and a drizzle of honey...absolute heaven!

 
At 8:43 AM, Anonymous Stephanie said...

Oh, my! I made my own version of this last night. Warmed leftover brown rice just enough to absorb a lemon/olive oil/dried mint vinagrette. (dried mint because the fresh seemed too strong) Baby pea tendrils from the farmer's market, quartered small tomatoes, pulled-apart oxaca(?) cheese, chopped avocado, cracked pepper, pink salt & a little chile salt. I've heard of brown rice being described as "nutty", but this brought it out like never before! I would've added chick peas, but the can was hiding from me.

Thank you thank you thank you! Even hubby loved it--he balks at lemon.

 
At 7:29 AM, OpenID punkysquirrel said...

I love that "recipe" you posted. It looks so delicious, and something I want to have very soon. Yum!

P.S. I think you and I have the same dishes. Target, right? ;)

 
At 2:42 PM, Blogger Chair said...

Hey there! I just found you thanks to a commenter on my blog. I've been having migraine issues and I've already decided to try Gluten Free to see if it help. My doctor is having me screened just in case but it couldn't hurt to try anyway!

I haven't had a chance to read much, I just scrolled through and saw this post. We eat something very similar on a regular basis but instead of tomatoes and avocado, I make Korean Beansprout Salad and it.is.amazing!!! I found the recipe here (http://tinyurl.com/5sywks) and tweaked it a bit (I add shredded carrot and julienned cucumbers). I cannot recommend it enough -especially with Kimchee on the side!

(Congratulations on the wee one on the way!)
:)

 
At 12:48 AM, Blogger shila said...

I am always blown away by the beautiful simplicity of your writing. And I feel that it is so appropriate that you write about not just the sensation of tasting and eating but of the experience of food. I take pleasure in each and every post!

 
At 12:44 AM, Blogger Jenni said...

I just recently found your blog, Congratulations on your pregnancy! I am so excited for you!
My DH and I just had our little one on the first of June, and I've been GF two years successfully and part time for two years longer than that. My whole immediate family have celiac issues.

Anyway, I was very careful while pregnant and didn't get accidentally glutened, not even once. I was so hyper about doing everything perfectly that I nearly didn't eat anything I had not prepared myself.

The staff at our hospital here in Germany knows about CD, and took great care in getting our meals to us without gluten. I have contact reactions, so had there been any, I would have reacted within minutes... and the whole week I was there recovering from natural childbirth, no issues whatsoever!

I do want to warn you though, Pampers diapers have gluten in them, so you might want to call around and check other disposables if you are inclined to use those.

Our little man apparently also has CD, as he reacted topically to the gluten in the diapers just as I do to gluten I accidentally encounter from time to time at my inlaws. He had horrible pain every time he wore them, and he was only in them until his umbilical stub fell off at 3 weeks. From there, he went straight into BumGenius3.0 diapers, and no issues since.

Hope that helps you along on your journey!

I'll keep myself posted on your blog to see how you're doing post-labor.

 

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