I am now in my second trimester of pregnancy and am pleased to report that for the most part I am feeling well and that the baby a.k.a. Bean is on track thus far. Just after my last post we had an early scan to determine how far along in my pregnancy I was.
It was magic- there on the sonogram monitor was what looked exactly like a tiny dancing kidney bean waving little arms and legs. “ No wonder you’re so flatulent; you’re full of beans!” quipped Tom, who is practicing his Dad Humor in a big way. As of a few weeks ago I have begun to feel Bean’s little kicks and flutters like there’s a party in my uterus, which is so exciting. In general though expecting is not at all what I expected. For starters I was looking forward to what I thought would be nine glorious months of guilt free binge-eating with lots of charmingly incongruous food cravings (I was hoping for nachos with melted chocolate for dipping) thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately for me an annoying side effect of being pregnant has been a loss of appetite. Well not exactly a loss of appetite but before I was always a starter, main course and dessert kind of gal whereas now I find that I can really only manage small meals before I feel too full and uncomfortable.
Basically I am too full of baby to do any bingeing. Obviously this development is far far better for mine and the baby’s health but I can’t help but feel a bit cheated. For the first time in my life I’m actually supposed to be gaining weight but the little creature who is subletting my body is thwarting me. Of course these days health practitioners closely monitor weight gain during pregnancy and sadly the old saying “eating for two” is now known to be a complete myth. Most expectant mothers eat mindfully and continue to exercise during pregnancy. For me the advent of my pregnancy has been a major shift in lifestyle. Before I would work long hours with black coffee and diet coke forming the cornerstone of my diet then go home and wolf down a huge carb-laden bowl of pasta with tons of cream and cheese. However now I find that I need to eat light meals regularly during the day or else my energy will lag and I’ll suddenly be ravenous.
This recipe uses finely sliced strips of courgette in place of pasta to boost your vegetable intake and makes for the perfect vehicle for your favourite pasta sauces and noodle dishes. There is a fancy kitchen gadget called a spiralizer that turns the courgette into “courghetti” but I find you can achieve the same effect with a potato peeler or even better a julienne peeler.
Courghetti with Asparagus and Crispy Parma Ham (serves one)
A little oil for cooking
3 slices Parma ham
10 asparagus spears
sea salt flakes & cracked black pepper
200g raw spiralized or julienned courgette (about 2 whole courgettes)
2 tblsp olive oil (or lemon infused olive oil optional)
Half clove garlic, crushed
handful flat leaf parsley
zest of one lemon
15g toasted pine nuts
Creme Fraiche for serving
- Heat a griddle pan on a medium to hot heat.
- Slick with a little oil and then lay the Parma ham slices flat in the pan cook for about five minutes, turning half way, until crispy.
- Set aside the ham and then wipe out the griddle pan, return to the heat and with another drizzle of olive oil arrange the trimmed asparagus in the pan with a pinch of salt and pepper. Turn the asparagus frequently until charred and tender then remove from the heat.
- While the asparagus are cooking prepare the courghetti. Using a peeler, knife or julienne peeler scrape or slice the flesh into long thin strips. Use the skin and pale flesh of the courgette but save the seedy centre section for a soup or stir-fry.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Toss the courghetti with the olive oil and crushed garlic and then heat gently in the pan.
- Finely chop the parsley and lemon zest and stir through the courgette. Transfer the courghetti to a bowl, throw in the pine nuts, crumble the crispy Parma ham over and arrange the charred asparagus on top.
- Finish with soft dollops of creme fraiche and maybe a final drizzle of oil.