Posted by: thatjen | February 24, 2006

Menu Challenge!

Friends of ours had a baby last week and we are cooking dinner for them at least once in the next week. The pediatrician has asked the nursing mom to avoid the following foods: garlic, onion, broccoli, cabbage, citrus, and chocolate, and to have dairy in moderation. The situation is further complicated because Cait and I are vegetarian cooks, though we are willing to make chicken for our friends. However, it’s been so long since I cooked chicken that I don’t know any recipes, and the ones in the dim recesses of my mind all include the forbidden foods anyway!

Sooo, your challenge is to propose relatively simple recipes that meet these criteria (either veg or chicken). I’d like something that keeps well and reheats easily. Any ideas?

(Please don’t turn this into a debate about whether avoiding these foods makes sense or not – these are the parameters I’m working in and I’m not interested in changing them!)


  1. I’ll put my thinking cap on, but in the meantime, in case you didn’t know (and in case your soon-to-arrive Harpo has a tummy even half as sensitive as David’s), tomatoes are citrus, too…

  2. Here’s an old standby that fits the parameters (although I usually make it with garlic and onion): Tater Tot Casserole

    ground chicken, turkey, or beef, (browned with seasoning of choice)
    green beans, fresh or frozen
    cream of mushroom soup
    tater tots

    mix ground meat, soup and green beans and pour into casserole pan. Cover with tator tots and a little shredded cheddar (optional).
    Bake until bubbly and hot.

    This is like the anti-foody meal. It’s so basic and 50’s, but surprisingly tasty and easy. Good luck!

  3. Crunchy Chicken Casserole
    4-6 Chicken breasts
    I roll Townhouse crackers
    3 cans cream of chicken soup
    i stick butter
    1 16 ox container sour cream

    Boil chicken Breasts, season water as desired
    After breasts are cool, cut meat into bite size pieces, mix with soup and sour cream. Place mixture in 13x9x2 casserole. Cover with cracker crumbs and butter pieces.
    Bake at 350 until bubbly. (30 minutes)

  4. How about stir fry with seasonings in the ginger/soy/fermented bean categories? Or…

    Twice-baked potatoes, easy on the cheese
    Roasted root veggies with olive oil
    Stuffed squash
    Couscous with raisins and pine nuts

    Now I’m getting hungry. You might want to see if you can locate a Hare Krishna cookbook for recipes that avoid garlic and onions and meats. Be warned that some recipes are heavy on the dairy, though.

  5. No onions, Meredith, not onion-rific. What about soup? Split pea, lentil, chicken noodle, etc.? They’re easy to make in large batches and can be frozen.

  6. What does moderation mean, anyway? How about quiche? You could make a mushroom-spinach quiche that would be good either cold or warmed up. You could even add some chicken if you liked. It would contain some milk, though, even if you don’t add cheese, which is why I ask about the moderation.

    Another very simple meal is dhal. Take yellow or green split peas and boil them in veggie bouillon for 1.5-2 hours. Mash them (if they’re not already mashed up from the boiling) and add bouillon until the mix is a bit runnier than mashed potatoes. Season with garam masala or curry powder and salt/pepper and serve over brown rice with a side of veggies. It doesn’t need to be spicy hot, just savory. Very yummy and easy to reheat, very easy to make, just takes the boiling time, and that can be done the day before, actually.

    Those are my suggestions. I vote for the quiche, actually, email me if you want my recipe, it’s very easy. But the dhal is a favorite of ours since it’s so easy and reheats so well.

  7. Stuffed shells or a veggie lasagna – one with minimal cheese and lots of shredded veggies (carrots, eggplant, etc)?

    You could use mashed tofu as part of the filling?

    There’s a great carrot/mushroom loaf recipe in the original moosewood, if you ahve that. It’s basically a melange of cooked mushroom and carrot, held together with a little egg and some shredded cheddar, and baked in a 9×13 pan. It calls for some garlic/onion but that could certainly be left out.

    I like the quiche idea quite a bit. I would have snarfed that down as a new nursing mom πŸ™‚

    Just as another warning to you veggie cooks — while NONE Of the stuff in that list bothered either of my babies in any way (in fact, they loved garlic-scented breastmilk, probably because I ate a LOT of it before they were born), Textured vegetable protein (TVP) used in many meat substitutes gave my son awful, screaming, gas. Word to the wise πŸ˜‰

  8. Funny, quiche was the example that my friend and I agreed on as “too much dairy”. However, neither of us was thinking cheeseless quiche. (My cheese loving soul weeps at the very thought, I have to say.) So I will put quiche back in contention, minus cheese.

    I wonder if goat cheese is ok? Mmmmmm, goat cheese.

  9. All my first thoughts end up having onion, garlic or ginger. If it’s not just cabbage and broccoli, but all brassicas (including: broccoli, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens, pak choi and kohlrabi) that’s very sad.

    Here’s a curry with coconut milk recipe that uses lemongrass, fish sauce and nuts. The recipe from You could totally add some veggies in addition or instead of chicken.

    I would think using lots of fresh herbs would add good flavor without using garlic/onion/ginger. Like pesto without garlic on pasta with sauteed veggies. Or sauted potatoes and chicken with rosemary.

    Mustard, sesame oil, olives, roasted bell peppers would all add lots of good flavor. Maybe you could bring some good bread and olive oil as part of the meal since carbs are ok. Mmm, carbs.

    I would guess a nursing mama would love more things she could graze on but doesn’t have the time to chop or prep fresh stuff. Maybe include a fresh veggie plate with a yogurt herb dip (since yogurt is probably one of the best kinds of dairy).

    You could make a breakfast for dinner kind of thing with eggs, pancakes and bacon. I also like the quiche and twice baked potato ideas from previous posters. Sorry to go on and on but I love talking about food.

  10. Ok. I’ve checked. No barred ingredients:
    This is a great, filling meal (especially in winter) and will limit your exposure to meat products:

    Strachiatelli aka: Spaghetti Soup

    Take 1 large can of chicken broth.
    Heat in big pot.

    In other pot bring 6quarts of water to boil.

    Take 2 boxes of frozen spinach, defrost, drain out water, and add to broth.

    Bring broth to boil as your water starts boiling.

    Beat 3 eggs.

    Add 1 box of angel hair pasta to boiling water.

    Stir eggs into broth/spinach, using fork to separate – they’ll start cooking immediatly. After the eggs have cooked on high for a minute, turn heat off broth.

    Drain pasta, and pour it into the soup mix.

    Top with parmesan cheese, and, voila – Excellent yumminess

  11. my stand-by is rachel ray’s chicken enchiladas. (look on and basically you boil a couple of chicken breasts, make a little sauce to mix into the shredded chicken, roll into the corn tortillas… and sprinkle with cheese on top (or don’t!).

    I have done it for us and frozen little leftover containers or the whole casserole. Also, it’s very affordable – the chicken is all that will set you back (sorry, am a poor student!)

  12. Make whatever veg dish sounds good and order out some great rotisserie chicken from a good deli so that you don’t have to cook the meat.
    Have a fab dinner!!

  13. 1 lb chicken, cut into bite-sized strips
    several cans coconut milk
    garlic (guess you’d have to nix this bit)
    nam pla (fish sauce)
    ~1/2 lb fresh spinach per person

    Cook the chicken in the coconut milk, into which you have dumped several smashed cloves of garlic, several large pieces of ginger, and a couple splashes of fish sauce. Cook on low heat until the chicken is done.

    I wash the spinach (neat tip: use COLD and SALTY water to get the sand off), steam it in the microwave, and serve the chicken on rice with the spinach and top it all off with

    spicy peanut sauce:
    (or if you have a recipe you already love, use it instead)

    ~2 c peanut butter (chunky!)
    ~5 T ginger (I use large pieces I can fish out later)
    enough coconut milk to make the mixture easily pourable
    a couple splashes of fish sauce
    pepper flakes to taste

    I generally have to tinker with this a bit until it tastes right to me.

    garnish with scallions

  14. her’es a REAL easy dish that friends of ours brought over last weekend:

    1) grill chicken.
    2) add in a box of “yellow” rice – just not the MSG kind – usually the Thai flavor ones are MSG free
    3) add water

    Simmer for 25 minutes.


    And YUM.


  15. oh, wow. am i going to have to avoid these things, too? wow. i’m going to have to relearn how to cook. everything i have has onions and garlic in it.

    ok. i’m going to think and see if i can come up with something.

  16. I don’t think tomatoes are citrus. They are in the nightshade family (along with eggplant and peppers) which nursing mothers are sometimes told to avoid. And spinach isn’t a brassica. Which leaves (nearly cheeseless, shudder) lasagna. But don’t do it. She will already get lasagnas. This I know.

    I don’t think most nursin women are instructed to give up many (any?) foods unless there are known sensitivities in the family or the baby is having some sort of reaction. So, I wouldn’t worry.

    My fall back is split pea soup with yummy bread, although I’m not sure about making it onion-free. I suppose leeks count too.

    Man I suck without onions and garlic. Let me know what you do.

  17. “Cream of Mushroom Soup”, an ingredient suggested for a couple recipes, is almost always based on beef broth. Ick! If you want beef-free Cream of Mushroom Soup, hit the health food store and read labels.

    How about some simple comfort food? Baked/broiled/grilled chicken breasts, with “Simply Organic” chicken gravy (No MSG or other nasty stuff), steamed veggies (ask the new Moms their permitted favorites) and baked potatoes with a bit of fat free yogurt.

  18. If you’re not used to cooking chicken, it’s probably worth it to go with “boneless skinless breasts”. That’s about the easiest to work with. If you need to slice/cube it before cooking, put it in the freezer for 20 minutes first, so it’s partially, but not all the way frozen. Makes it much easier to cut up.

    “Perdue” brand is good. Their advertising is true. They trim most of the yucky stuff off the chicken pieces, so you don’t have to. You’re also not paying for stuff you’re going to trim off and toss away.

  19. as brooke noted (i was surprised enough to look it up), tomatoes are NOT citrus. but as a breastfeeding mom whose baby’s tummy was tender, my doctor must have told me to treat tomatoes AS citrus and i got confused…

    but afrindiemum, don’t worry. i don’t think most moms need to give much up (broccoli and onions are the most common). our baby had bad colicky symptoms for a whole year, and after eliminating some other possibilities, we cut dairy and citrus (and tomatoes!) out of my diet, which did help relieve the three-hour screamfests. but i know people who have eaten their regular diets without a hitch while nursing. it just depends on the baby.

  20. I’d do a pasta. Cook some red capsicum, zucchini and mushrooms in the frying pan. Boil some pasta spirals and stir through the vegies. Add some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, teaspoon honey, sliced olives, basil etc to taste. yum!

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