CNN photojournalist Jeremy Harlan is based in Washington D.C. This is his first in a two-part series on what to cook for a pregnant spouse. In this instance, beast is a loving term.
“I don’t wanna eat my steamed carrots. I want peppermint ice cream.”
“You can’t have any ice cream until you eat your carrots. They’re good for you.”
“But I don’t want them.”
I thought I’d be having this conversation four or five years down the road with our daughter. Instead, here I was last month arguing carrots vs. candy cane ice cream with my then-five months pregnant wife.
Could this be the same woman I married three years ago? I thought I had her figured out: sage and mozzarella stuffed chicken breasts, roasted sweet potato fries, steamed yellow squash and a colorful spinach salad. This was the dinner equation that won me rights to the remote control for the rest of the night.
But four months ago, it all came to a screeching halt with four simple words:
“I want a cheeseburger.”
I didn't even have my left shoe on before I had her in the car, heading straight for the local burger joint. I love cheeseburgers (Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Exhibit A), so I was not about to look a gift horse in the mouth. This craving was going to be awesome.
After about our fifth visit, by which time the kid at the counter probably knew our names, I began to wonder if I should stop giving in to cravings (both hers and mine) and plan a nutritional diet for my wife and our firstborn.
Honey, I’m Home. What’s For Dinner?
The days of June and Ward are long gone. It’s no secret that more and more men are responsible for what happens between the grocery store shelves and dining room table.
My wife and I are the perfect example. I get home from work well before she does, so I’m responsible for nearly all dinners we have at home. Fortunately, I love to cook, so we eat at home an average of five or six nights per week. And those who wield the Nakiri knife wield the power of the menu. Basically, I’m responsible for what my wife eats and, consequently, for what gets funneled through that cord to our developing baby. It’s no simple task, and there were lots of things for me to learn.
So here’s my offering to all the other new-age Ward Cleavers out there. Some principles for the guys and gals who, like me, didn’t have the faintest idea what our expecting significant others should and should not eat.
Ma’am, Step Away From The Sashimi
After you see that first (or seventh) “+” sign on the home pregnancy test, spider rolls and sake bombs at your favorite sushi spot are not how you want to celebrate.
These are foods and beverages you need to avoid as soon as you know there is a little one on the way.
2. Deli Meats, Hot Dogs, Soft Cheese, Raw Milk, Undercooked Meat, Raw Seafood, Shellfish
This has been a difficult task because many common foods fall into this category. For example, my wife loves a Jimmy John’s #1 sub sandwich with sprouts - but the sprouts will have to wait as they're prone to bacteria (although I’ve been told that this will be the very first thing I’m to get her after delivery).
Same goes for many cheeses, including feta, goat cheese, brie, queso fresco, several blue cheese varieties and any cheese made with raw milk. If it’s soft and not made with pasteurized milk, avoid putting it on the table.
We’ve also had to pay a lot more attention to fruit juices or ciders, which are often flash-pasteurized, or not pasteurized at all. We had a problem with this at a local cider festival. My better half loves cider, but, sadly, most of it at the festival had not been pasteurized after pressing. She went home an unhappy camper - but at least a healthy one.
Also, many refrigerated smoked fishes, like salmon and whitefish, are not good unless they’re served in a hot dish.
3. High-Mercury Seafood
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee suggests that pregnant women can eat up to 12 oz. of a variety of cooked seafood per week, but should avoid those predatory fish I just mentioned. You’ll have to hold off on the filet of Jaws with grilled pineapple salsa until after the delivery.
4. Bacon and Cured Meats
Tomorrow – our brave spouse tells us what the mother-to-be CAN eat, demystifies pregnancy cravings and grills up a nutritionist-approved steak dinner.
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