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Cooking for New Parents that are Vegetarians

Hi fellow Chowhounders. My brother and sister in law just had a baby a couple months ago and are incredibly sleep deprived and stressed so I offered to come help them for a day. I'd like to bring them a home cooked dish like comfort food that would be easy to reheat like a cassarole or something however they are pescatarian and mom is trying to eat heathy to shed her baby weight. Any recommendations? I was thinking jambalaya with shrimp but I would need a sausage substution.

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    1. re: greygarious

      Didn't know there was a Vegetarian board. Thank u!

    2. Morningstar Farms makes a really good Chipotle and Black Bean burger that perhaps you could crumble up into it, in place of the sausage:

      https://www.morningstarfarms.com/prod...

      Sams Club and Costco carry them.

      Or perhaps bump up the shrimp content, and use a can of chipotle peppers and black beans for the smokiness?

      4 Replies
      1. re: Atomic76

        if the mom is breastfeeding i would not recommend chipotle peppers.

        1. re: westsidegal

          Why is that? The only thing that (only) one of my grandbabies couldn't handle was cruciferous vegetables, especially kale. Otherwise the sky was the limit.

          1. re: c oliver

            mine (now 22 years old) could handle cruciferous vegetables but couldn't handle spicy.

            1. re: westsidegal

              The "kale baby"'s mother just loves kale and all its relatives so it was a tough period.

      2. Trader joe's has great soy/veggie sausages.

        And, if I am trying to eat healthy but need comfort - soups are grand. A pot of lentil soup, with some nice cheese and bread on the side. Or a cream based soup, with extra tasty crackers...

        I'd also say many vegetarian chili's are fab. Either just with beans or a soy protein crumbled within - very satisfying but still, pretty low cal, comparatively.

        Kudos to them, on their new family, and kudos to you, for caring enough to help : )

          1. re: escondido123

            I'm worried mom will not get enough protein without the meat even though I like the thought of being able to pack in some veggies in a lasagna

            1. re: missmodular818

              If you are truly concerned about this try a recipe that substitutes tofu for the ricotta. It works pretty well.

              1. re: enbell

                For lasagna, I usually split the ricotta 50:50 with soft tofu. Press out as much water as you can from the soft tofu (*not* silken or firm!) and mash it together with ricotta. For a 9x13 lasagna, I usually use one 10 oz block of tofu and 8 oz organic ricotta. Season with salt/pepper (really important since you've lost half the salt of the ricotta due to the tofu), and spike in chopped fresh parsely, parmesean cheese or whatever you like. This gives a huge boost to the protein content and cuts back on animal fat. In addition, I use whole wheat lasagna noodles, which add additional protein. If you can find the Del'Allo brand, they are very thin and can be used as "no cook" noodles if you add 1/2-1 cup water to the pan.

                Other ideas are vegetarian chili or "bolognese" style spaghetti sauce: Use SmartGround crumbles. These have lots of protein, the feel of meat and the assertive flavor of the dishes is what prevails over the meat substitute. Homemade 4-cheese baked mac/cheese would be nice too, or bean enchiladas.

                1. re: Science Chick

                  I will often make a 'bolognese' type sauce with lentils for protein.

                    1. re: Science Chick

                      Gently boil lentils until just cooked (if I remember, I'll add half onion, bay leaf as aromatics)
                      Make tomato sauce- these days I just do the Marcella Hazan butter and tomato.
                      Add some sauted mushrooms.

                1. re: jpc8015

                  Not to mention that veggies contain plenty of protein as well. People always forget that.

                  1. re: jes7o

                    A lot of people mix some eggs into the ricotta. I have not personally done this. THat would be an extra source of protein as well.

                2. re: missmodular818

                  For vegetarian, i tend to turn to Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. Try his mushroom lasagne. I love that hes a meat lover so he makes his vegetarian recipes so that people dont miss the meat.
                  http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...
                  But im going to be honest, lasagna isn't my idea of a food for a woman who is trying to lose the baby weight on account of all that cheesy fat. Though maybe it could be balanced by the fact that mushrooms are low in fat but high in protein. He has a popular vegetarian column in The Guardian so feel free to look through that. Many of his recipes from his cookbooks actually come from his column.

                  1. re: JenniferLopez

                    Maybe cut the carbs on the lasagna by using sliced veggies for some or all of the noodles

                    1. re: JenniferLopez

                      Mushrooms have Bvitamins and some minerals but as far as I know, little or no protein. Are you confusing protein and umami?

                      1. re: greygarious

                        Just did a quick google search

                        Protein Per 100grams
                        Mushrooms: 3g
                        Chicken, beef: 20-30g
                        Fish: 15-20
                        Tofu: 48

                3. Chili is a great idea, especially because you could make a big pot and pack up portions for their freezer if they would welcome it.

                  This thread has a bunch of vegetarian chili recommendations, with recipe links: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/885554

                  1. Tell her it to worry about the baby weight just yet ... It will come off. I second the idea of a veggie lasagna w crumbled tofu in place of ricotta. Mash it up with chopped spinach (frozen is fine). Layer with sauce and parm and it tastes very much like ricotta but is healthier (my mom has made lasagna like this for years. Everyone likes it.)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Westminstress

                      The savory tofu based sauce here (and the kale filling) work well in lasagna: http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2007/02/...

                      Many infants have a problem with dairy, so if she's breastfeeding, that might be another reason to steer clear of dairy.

                    2. How about making a couple of quiches? One to freeze and one to eat now. You can add spinach or crispy fried shitakes to one and make one with gruyere and one with cheddar. Real men do eat quiche.
                      EDIT
                      Check out the quiche thread on this board that is quite active and has lots of great ideas and recipes.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Berheenia

                        Quiche is a great idea. You can really clean out the fridge when making a quiche.

                        1. re: Berheenia

                          I agree quiche, a green salad , ad a fruit salad!

                        2. This isn't make ahead necessarily but you could fix it for them as you're leaving. Vegan ma po tofu. We loved it.

                          http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

                          PS: If she's breastfeeding, that weight is going fly away quickly :)

                          1. Look for bean-centric meals witha lot of vegetables. Some suggestions:

                            -Mexican black bean soup
                            -Indian lentil stews (dals)
                            -split pea soup
                            -baked beans

                            -or why not treat them to a baked oatmeal for breakfast, too?

                            __
                            http://tastespace.wordpress.com

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: blinknoodle

                              I would like to point out that they're not vegans, not really even vegetarians. Pescatarians. So that opens the field to a load of things. Just saying. Also if she's breastfeeding, some babies aren't real keen on cruciferous vegetables. Our grandson couldn't tolerate them for a LONG time. Major gas :(

                              1. re: c oliver

                                fwiw, i am a pescatarian.
                                still,
                                1) fish that has been in the refrigerator for a couple of days, to me, is YUCK.
                                and
                                2) reheated fish usually tastes yuck and may also smell yuck.

                                there is a reason no decent restaurant serves reheated fish.

                                agree with you that it is a good idea to avoid cruciferous vegetables initially.

                                1. re: westsidegal

                                  Totally agree about reheating ANY kind of seafood. I have taken left fish filets and used them in a salad or sandwich. But reheating something like jambalaya? Nope.

                            2. Congratulations to your brother and SIL. I went through the same thing last summer - my husband and I had our son last June and the first few months you wonder what to eat and how exactly to fit in meals again.

                              Easy to reheat meals are the best - beans and rice, vegetarian chili, etc. We made this a few times and even though it wasn't a summer dish at all we didn't care:
                              http://sparrowsandspatulas.blogspot.c...

                              The other thing that was great was having already prepped/cut fruit and vegetables. My parents visited the first few weeks when the baby was born and my mom was always cutting fruit and vegetables for us to snack on.

                              Good luck to the new parents! It does get easier after the first few months. And this isn't food related advice but sleep training at 4 months with our pediatrician's approval saved our lives!!!

                              1. soups, chilis, stews.

                                the source of most of my protein is the legume family: beans (includeing soybeans), peanuts, peas, etc.

                                anything that is bean based will work.

                                the problem with shrimp is that when a shrimp dish is reheated often the shrimp become overcooked and tough. also, fish dishes don't last very long before losing quality.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: westsidegal

                                  I'm so glad you mentioned the reheating of seafood. I kept meaning to. I think it's pretty nasty when reheated actually.

                                2. also, if they eat eggs and cheese, the Ricotta al Forno in evan kleiman's book is easy, terrific, and stores well.
                                  i saute mushrooms until they are brown and dry and serve it over the dish.

                                  when i brought my baby home, the dish i adored but didn't have the time nor energy to make myself was home made fruit salad.

                                  1. How thoughtful of you to take the new parents some food :) and congratulations on your new niece/nephew!
                                    Some things I really appreciated when my girls were born were: soup, especially purees which could be eaten from a mug, without a spoon; individually portioned meals of ANYthing :) but especially foods from my childhood, such as meat on rice; fresh cut fruit salad.
                                    What did you decide to do?