Food Phobias: An Esculent Trip Through the Trimesters (Plus a Recipe: Pregnant Lady Chicken Biscuits)
The emotional/mental pregnancy trip has manifested itself in me in interesting ways. I wouldn’t say I’ve been “nesting” (no more than normal, anyway) or “ooing” and “aahhing” over “cute” baby things. My trip with food has been a bit of a roller coaster, though.
I started off first trimester feeling ill, mostly induced by dehydration and a sudden dislike of most of my favorite foods. I’d wake up in the middle of the night deadly thirsty, with a headache, and wonder, “What did I drink last night!?! Oh, wait, no! I’m just pregnant. Wait, did I drink last night? Because I’m pregnant, and that’d be bad. No, I didn’t. Okay. I am just pregnant. Do I need to hurl or pee or anything? Eat, maybe? Or can I just concentrate really hard and maybe fall back asleep?”
Prior to this, I’d been eating mostly paleo/primal for the past couple of years, so my main sustenance was coming from vegetables, nuts, fruits, dairy, and meats. I suddenly disliked most meat, abhorred my staple vegetables like spinach and kale, and some days, I couldn’t even get up out of bed without eating a few wheat crackers first, crackers that were thankfully left behind in an upper cabinet from Blake’s last visit to my Mississippi apartment.
A few foods rose to a higher plane of existence in my mind around this time–a whole fantastic spiritual, bodily experience would arise from eating certain things I was really wanting/craving. These included things like: entire rounds of Brie cheese, store bought pimento cheese, dark chocolate pudding, and white rice with butter + vinegar + salt & pepper.
Former favorites like liver and onions, quiche, and cooked greens of any kind, however, would put a bad taste in my mouth even as I smelled them cooking. I knew I didn’t want them. But I’d try to eat them anyway, and then would immediately throw up.
Thankfully, a lot of this passed or lessened with second trimester. I learned to take eggs as long as each bite of them was consumed with a bit of toast. The same with greens: either raw or lightly cooked and mixed with another substance, I began to tolerate them once again.
Throughout second and third trimester, I’ve gone in strange cycles of loving food/eating and feeling like nothing really looks good, smells good, or tastes good. I’ll want something specific, eat it, and love it. Then, I’ll go weeks where I’m just eating something to get past stomach hunger pains. Since about week 30 of this pregnancy, an occasional day will come where nothing I eat fills the void. Each bite breeds more and more and more hunger: so I usually end up drinking tons of milk just to try to fill up the bottomless pit.
Other days, I have half milk/half coffee and cheese toast for breakfast, some fruit/nuts/tea during the day, and a small snack for dinner. Blake is in California for the month, and I’ve spent the first week of his absence being pretty bored by eating and lazy with cooking: toast for breakfast, yogurt with grapenuts + fruit and milk during the day, and pasta with cheese and sometimes peas for dinner–every damn day.
Yesterday being Saturday and having more time, I made a more ambitious/diverse meal for dinner last night, albeit not entirely healthy: chicken biscuits with diverse toppings. I did make most everything from scratch, at least: buttery drop biscuits with our home-grown basil, Berliner cheese, caramelized Granny Smith apple slices + red onion, some honey breaded and baked chicken tenders, and apricot preserves (store bought.) See the end of this post for the recipe!
Part of my reticence toward consumption springs forth from this feeling that many things I want to eat, I only want for some hidden high fructose-ness inside of them, and this makes me both mad and slightly terrified. Sure, I’ve read a lot of food/consumption literature over the years, and I’ve spent the majority of my eating since grad school focusing on basic ingredients, cooking from scratch, and avoiding fake things (most of the time… I do appreciate the occasional horrific/delicious violation of this with substances such as Velveeta, french fries, cheese burgers, etc.) but my knowledge which normally manifests itself in encouraging me to make better choices in the grocery store has now turned into an underlying dread. That yogurt–filled with sugar! That cheese–preservatives–and is it filled with bacteria?! Those greens and apples and grapes are covered in pesticides! Look at all that wheat! Should I still be eating so much wheat? Is that organic expensive fruit really any better for me? Or am I wasting the $$ I’ll sorely need once the print nugget is here?
I wander through the store, not really hungry or inspired by food but slowly, carefully looking at each item I’d normally buy and imagining its smell and taste and how I could prepare it–being bored or disgusted and then worried by what might be hidden on or in it–just trying to overcome my basic mode of toast and cereal and pasta and other mundane not entirely healthy practices that I’d eat, zombie-like, for days, without a thought in my brain.
And that’s why I come out of a store sometimes (just yesterday, in fact) with merely 2 boxes of orange spice tea, a tub of plain Greek yogurt, and some Parmesan cheese. Looking at these items as I placed them into my car, I realized that was not food for a week, so I stopped by a 2nd grocery store for a look around and ended up buying pork chops, uncured bacon, chicken tenders, a bag of apples, an 85% cacao chocolate bar, a gallon of milk, a bag of red onions, and a round of brie. None of that makes a complete meal, either, but combined with the vegetables in my freezer and the carbs I already have at home, I’m getting closer. And this took about 2 hours of shopping, just staring at items, taking up the entire aisle and reading labels and imagining cooking/smelling/biting things and generally staring off into space for minutes at a time like a crazy person or a sleep walker.*
So that’s what’s been going on with me. But it’s really not a bad pregnancy. I haven’t hurled in months, I’m able to work full time, I’m quite mobile and can print and carry things and stay awake all day and even give somewhat coherent critiques and demonstrations! Besides some lower back pain and occasional 8:30pm inexplicable sadness, I’m doing pretty damn well. Baby and I are both very healthy, the doc says, and everything is looking good. Thank you, prenatal vitamins, for taking over where my dumb self leaves off. And thanks to Blake for the many, many delicious meals he’s made me to secretly fill me with good foods hidden in layers of cheese and other ecstasies.
*On a side note from that, I’ve largely avoided the much dreaded pregnancy “belly touching” phenomenon. I must look truly evil. Sometimes people smile at me when I’m out, and I imagine my face then turns into a deeper glower, because they seem to scurry away. I don’t really mean it, y’all! Thanks for being happy/delighted/awed by the wonder of life living inside of me. But thank you for not touching me. Maybe I have that whole “resting bitch face” combined with “hormonal nightmare” etched into my hobbit visage, and this is just enough to keep people a safe distance from me. Thanks for not touching me, random people. It probably helps that I go to the grocery store without combing my hair, wearing layers of t shirt material and things that might pass as pants if they weren’t transformed into sausage casings by my thunder thighs.
P.S. I’m not really in a bad mood. I’ve just been grading. I’m pretty happy most of the days, thank you very much! The end.
Recipe: Pregnant Lady Chicken Biscuits
Serves about 2-3 people or one pregnant people.
It has 3 parts, but it’s worth it: biscuits from scratch, breaded baked chicken tenders, and other toppings prep. I made them in the following order:
Breaded Baked Chicken Tenders
- 5 plain raw chicken strips/tenders (or cut a chicken breast into strips)
- 3/4 mixture of all purpose and whole wheat flour
- 1 egg
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp raw honey
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
I decided to make 5 chicken tenders, 1 per biscuit. Make about twice this recipe if you want enough tenders for all the biscuits.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. I cooked the tenders at 325 on the bottom rack until I put my biscuits in the oven (which upped the temp to 450 F.) At that point, I flipped the tenders, drizzled them with the raw honey, and moved them to the top rack in the oven to finish cooking. I kept a close eye on them.
Put the egg in a bowl and whisk.
Put the flours, salt, pepper, and any other spices you love on chicken in another little bowl and mix together well.
Take each chicken tender and dunk in the egg mixture, then in the flour mixture. Then dunk it back in the egg mixture and back in the flour mixture. (If you want to be really crazy you can set up a third bowl of coarse ground cornmeal and do: dip in egg, dip in cornmeal, dip in egg, dip in flour!)
Place all the tenders in a cast iron pan greased with olive oil. Bake and keep an eye on them (see instructions at beginning.) I cooked until both sides were slightly crispy where they scalded against the cast iron. Yummy. They were still moist inside and delicious. I wish I had some more of them right now, but I ate them all already.
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup + 1-2 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt
- 5-6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
- 1 cup of milk (or 1 cup coconut milk or 1/2 cup milk + 1/2 cup heavy cream depending on decadent you feel/what you have)
- A handful of basil, rinsed and chopped
- Optional: 1 hot pepper, diced
This recipe is adapted from Joy of Cooking‘s “Quick Drop Biscuits” recipe.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt. If you plan to add basil and diced hot pepper (or other wet-ish ingredients,) use the extra tablespoon or two of all purpose flour. If not, the 1 cup of whole wheat and 1 cup of all purpose will suffice.
Using a pastry cutter/blender or 2 butter knives, cut the 5-6 Tbsp of unsalted, cold butter into the batter. Don’t let it melt! If you live in a sauna, pop the whole operation in the fridge to cool down again if you need to during the process. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until it looks like pea sized or breadcrumb sized crumbs of butter, all evenly coated in flour.
Pour all of the milk in and add the basil and pepper at the same time. Mix with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until dry ingredients are just moist. The batter should be moist and sticky but not smooth.
Form biscuit-sized balls in your hands and place them onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with the heel of your hand slightly. Bake about 12-15 minutes until the bottoms are slightly golden brown (on the shorter side of time for smaller biscuits, and better ovens, more for stupid ovens or bigger biscuits.)
Bake until awesome.
- 1 granny smith apple, sliced thinly
- 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
- 1 Tbsp butter (divided between pan and buttering your biscuits, more as desired)
- Apricot preserves or maybe, like, some blackberry jam or some other delicious fruit spread
- Berliner Cheese or other delicious cheese
Right at the end of this whole operation, heat up a little butter in a skillet and once it’s hot and shiny, toss in the red onions over medium heat. Brown the onions in the butter, then drop in the thin sliced granny smith and brown just slightly (this won’t take long.)
Slice up that cheese and then stack all of these awesome toppings on top of your chicken inside your biscuit (or slather them onto the biscuit proper.)