Help me prepare food for a vegetarian new mother
May 25, 2008 8:42 PM   Subscribe

Post-partum vegetarian healthy food help.

I've been tasked with providing food for my sister-in-law who recently gave birth. I would like to prepare food that can be frozen and re-heated in individual servings. I'm a bit stumped.
posted by kamikazegopher to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Soup - I make noodle/veggie soup all the time, and it freezes well.
Burritos - use frozen vegetable grounds (meat substitute) and beans to make them vegetarian. I also make large batches of these to freeze.
posted by at 8:54 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Check this previous thread for some awesome and tasty ideas.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:05 PM on May 25, 2008

Here are some recipes that might appeal to her and you, too. For the soup and chili, get a pile of those rigid ziplock containers and put in about 1 and 1/2 cups per serving. By the way, these are recipes I make all the time.

Oven-Baked Split Pea and Lentil Soup

2 quarts vegetable broth
1 cup dried split peas
1 cup dried lentils
4 carrots, sliced
4 celery ribs, sliced
2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and shopped
2 onions, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients in an ovenproof Dutch oven. Bake, covered, at 350F (no need to preheat oven) for 2 hours or until peas and lentils are tender. Do not overcook. Discard bay leaves and serve.

Serves 8. Freezes well.

Bean and Hominy Soup

4 15-ounce cans beans, such as great northern, black or pinto beans, undrained
1 15-ounce can hominy, undrained
1 14.5 ounce can stewed or diced tomatoes
1 10-ounce can Rotel tomatoes with chilies
1 11-ounce can corn, undrained
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon cumin

Combine all ingredients in a large soup pot. Bring to a low boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Serves 8. Freezes well.

Spinach and Salsa Burritos

2 cups cooked rice or other grains
1 cup cooked beans
1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry.
1-1/4 cups chunky-style salsa (or 1 cup regular salsa)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
6 burrito-sized (large) flour tortillas
olive oil spray

Preheat oven to 325.

Mix together the grains, beans, spinach, salsa, chili powder, and cumin. Divide among the 6 tortillas and roll up, tucking in the ends. Spray or brush lightly with olive oil. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden, turning over once.

Black Bean Chili with Soyrizo

2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, diced
2 poblano peppers, diced
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 15-ounce cans black beans
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
½ package soy chorizo (about 6 ounces)
1-1/2 tablespoons cumin
1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon Smoked Tabasco Sauce (or to taste.)

Heat oil in a Dutch oven and sauté onion, peppers, and garlic until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a low boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes or so, adding a bit of water if necessary. Alternately, you can cover the pot and bake in a 400-degree oven for 45 minutes.

Serves 4

Freezes well.

Safety note: when sautéing the peppers, the steam is “spicy.” Run the vent fan over your stove and don’t lean over the pot, to avoid getting the hot pepper in your eyes. (Once you’ve added the beans and tomatoes, this is no longer a problem.)

World’s Easiest Lasagna

1 15-ounce carton ricotta cheese
1 8-ounce package grated mozzarella cheese or Italian cheese blend
1 14-ounce jar pasta sauce
1 26-ounce jar pasta sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
1 8-ounce box no-boil lasagna noodles (12 noodles)

Mix together ricotta and grated cheese in a medium bowl.

In another medium bowl, mix the two jars of pasta sauce with the garlic powder.

Spread about ¼ cup pasta sauce in a 9 x 13-inch pan or two 8 x 8-inch pans. Put 4 noodles in a single layer in the pan, then add 1/3 of the pasta sauce (about 1-1/4 cup). Top with 1/3 of the cheese.

Repeat two more times to make three layers. Bake at 350 for 20-3- minutes, or until pasta sauce beings to bubble.

Serves 6-8.

Eloise’s Curry

1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 8-ounce package seitan, pulled into bite-sized pieces (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon curry powder
½ teaspoon paprika
Pinch of nutmeg
1 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon cornstarch

To serve:
Cooked rice
Condiments such as shredded coconut, cashews, raisins, and chutney.

Heat oil in a large skillet and sauté onion, pepper and garlic until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, seitan, curry powder, paprika and nutmeg and simmer for 20 minutes. Add vegetable broth. Stir cornstarch into 1 tablespoon of water and add to curry. Heat until curry thickens, 2-3 minutes.

Serve over rice and have small bowls of condiments on the table to pass around.

Serves 4.
Freezes well without the rice.

Baked Falafel

3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 15 oz. can chickpeas
1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup tahini
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. oregano
3/4 cup wheat germ, divided use
1/4 cup whole wheat flour

Sauté onion and garlic over medium heat until translucent - about 5 minutes. Drain chickpeas and
reserve ¼ cup liquid (see note).

Place onion, garlic and chickpea liquid in blender or food processor and puree. Add chickpeas, parsley, tahini, cumin and coriander and blend until
smooth. Put chickpea mixture in a small bowl and stir in ½ cup wheat germ. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to
firm mixture (see note).

Form chickpea mixture into 16 balls. Mix remaining wheat germ with whole wheat flour. Roll balls in wheat germ mixture, and flatten slightly to form
patties. Spray a baking sheet with cooking-oil spray.

Place falafel patties on baking sheet and spray the tops lightly with more cooking oil spray. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, turning over after 10 minutes.

To serve, halve four pita bread rounds. Put two falafel patties in each half and top with lettuce, tomato and lemon-tahini dressing . Serves 4.

Cooked falafel patties freeze well.

Note: if you are using a food processor, you can omit the chickpea liquid and skip the refrigeration step.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
4 celery stalks, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
8 ounces veggie sausage
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes,
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon thyme
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Heat olive oil in pot. Sauté onion, garlic and celery until onion is tender. Add veggie sausage and stir to break into pieces.

Add tomatoes with their juice and spices. Simmer, covered, for 10-20 minutes. Serve over rice with Tabasco sauce on the side.

Freezes well without the rice.

Serves 6.
Adapted from Vegetarian Times; recipe by Nava Atlas.
posted by found dog one eye at 9:08 PM on May 25, 2008 [4 favorites]

See my previous thread on a similar topic: freezer meal ideas for postpartum. Try the Tilapia also generously emailed some lovely and easy recipes.
posted by acoutu at 9:24 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

If your new mom would like to avoid heating food in plastic, you might want to check out these Pyrex food storage containers. They're awesome - we just purchased a bunch of the 2-cup bowls, which (with their plastic lids) stack neatly in the refrigerator and heat up beautifully in the microwave. They're clear glass, so you can see -- better than with plastic -- what's inside, and this is a great size for lunch bowls.
posted by amtho at 9:34 PM on May 25, 2008

I was just pottering around the Saving Dinner website, and they have a package (to buy) of recipes for vegetarian dinners, which you prepare then put in the freezer. They are designed to have some cooking done on the eating day, but with little preparation on that day.
posted by slightlybewildered at 9:34 PM on May 25, 2008

One thing to keep in mind with post-partum diet is that many breastfed babies have trouble handling some of the most common and nutritious ingredients--broccoli, cauliflower, or spinach may cause gas, as can members of the allium family (garlic, onions, etc). Not all babies do well with a lot of spice coming through the breastmilk, and some have issues with dairy products.

So first thing, ask if your SIL has noticed any relation between what she's eating and how the baby reacts, if she is breastfeeding. found dog one eye's recipes look fantastic, and I'm favoriting them because I'd like to try them myself, but they're full of components that can be tricky for a new baby's delicate digestion. She may not figure this stuff out right away, so don't feel bad if she calls you two weeks from now to report a change in what she's able to eat.

(as a data point, my first kid could not possibly have cared less what I ate, up to and including caffeine, while my second couldn't tolerate dairy for the first six months or so, which was a real adventure for this quesophile).

There are numerous wonderful pasta and soup recipes out there that freeze and reheat well and that are ideal for stocking a new parent's fridge, but one thing that I always really appreciated when I had just given birth was fresh food--even if it's just a bag of fresh green salad to go along with the lasagna, or providing pre-sliced fixings and bread for sandwiches. This is especially nice as we're heading into warm weather (my second child was born in June and warm-weather foods were especially welcome to us).

Also, don't overlook breakfast and snack options. Someone made me a huge batch of fabulous granola that I pretty much carried around in baggies with me for weeks, and fruits, cut vegetables, cheese and whole-grain crackers, and other similar healthy snacks with any labor already taken care of would be a great thing to add to your list of ideas. Also, if she's an egg eater, quiches and stratas can be frozen and reheated later, and can be the salvation of a lazy weekend day for new parents.
posted by padraigin at 9:55 PM on May 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Seconding the snack idea. Having a healthy snack mix, like something with walnuts (if she likes them and if it's not contradicted by a history of allergies in the case of breastfeeding), would be great - or healthy oatmeal cookies/granola bars, because of the need for quick energy. Breastfeeding really takes it out of you, especially as the months go on, and having quick, healthy food athand between meals is critical and takes a lot of people off guard.
posted by dreamphone at 4:54 AM on May 26, 2008

"many breastfed babies have trouble handling some of the most common and nutritious ingredients--broccoli, cauliflower, or spinach may cause gas" is a wives' tale (spicy's fine too; see also).

As a vegetarian who had a baby last year, I can tell you I really appreciated those supermarket trays of pre-chopped fruit, and pre-chopped veg with dip. Hack up some veg and grab some tubs of hummus every time you visit and you'll be much appreciated.

I made a large number of crepes before baby arrived and froze them -- stick wax paper between each one and they freeze beautifully -- and those were very, very nice to have. Throw in a can of whipped cream and a jar of fruit preserves and they're breakfast...

Is spaghetti sauce too obvious?
posted by kmennie at 6:21 AM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

I love Four-Cheese Stuffed Shells with Smoky Marinara. Freezing directions are included in the recipe. I've frozen it in smaller quantities with no problem.
posted by xsquared-1 at 7:00 AM on May 26, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you all for some really fantastic answers. I really appreciate the time and thoughtfulness you put into your answers!
posted by kamikazegopher at 11:26 AM on May 26, 2008

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