Parents Need to Eat Too, by Debbie Koenig

Parents Need to Eat Too

When I was preparing for our first baby, I froze a couple of meals, stocked up the pantry, and crossed that item off the list. There — I was ready, right?

I had no idea what I was in for — the meals prepared and eaten one-handed, the desire for the fastest, easiest meal possible, and the demanding-to-be-sated-hunger. When Bee was a couple of weeks old my husband prepared a gorgeous plate of steamed asparagus. “I don’t have time for asparagus!” I remember grousing, thinking of how long it’d take to eat those spears and how little it would fill me up. A couple of weeks later I took Bee to meet my grandparents with my parents. When it was time for lunch (a glorious affair of the kind only grandmothers can prepare) it became clear that Bee wouldn’t tolerate being put down and needed to be held. I was so eagerly anticipating digging in (and wonder of wonder, eating with both hands!) that I almost wept with relief when my mom offered to hold her instead. Another time while I was still on leave I put some ravioli on to boil and set the timer. Halfway through Bee fell asleep, so I put her down, turned off the burner, and walked straight to the guest room bed and fell asleep — lunch and mushy pasta be damned.

I wish I would have had this book.

There are cookbooks that focus on quick and easy recipes, and cookbooks for baby food, and even a few cookbooks for postpartum women, but Parents Need to Eat Too by Debbie Koenig is the only cookbook I’ve heard of that pulls all three together.

If you had all day to think of and shop for quick, easy to prepare, nutritious meals that at some point doubled as meals for your growing baby, maybe you wouldn’t need this cookbook. But most new parents don’t. Koenig’s recipes start at the most basic — meals you can prepare and eat with one hand — and get more advanced, but each recipe has the new parent in mind, noting which dishes freeze well, which you can prep while baby is around and what’ll need to be done during nap time, and which meals are safe (and enjoyable) for babies and kids. Koenig has the nursing mother covered too, with a chapter devoted to lactogenic (milk supply boosting) recipes. I’m looking forward to “having” to eat her almond butter banana oatmeal cookies.

But even without this additional information Koenig’s recipes would stand on their own. They’re inventive and delicious, novel in their simplicity or pairings, and nutritious, incorporating whole grains, vegetables, and proteins. A few we’ve starred so far are Cheater’s Chana Masala, Roasted Vegetable Turnovers, and Sicilian Spinach Envelopes. Parents Need to Eat Too is the kind of resource that could get you through your first year and then be something you turn to again and again when your family gets into the jarred sauce and pasta rut.

So don’t feel you need a baby to check out this book, or Koenig’s blog, Words to Eat By.

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