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How not to look like a fat frump when pregnant

You will notice, because you are smart, that I almost never promote anything on this blog. “Oh it’s too much like hard work,” I say to the occasional food person who gets in touch wondering if I’d like a free packet of spelt. “I’m so lazy,” I say. “I’ll never get round to it, sorry.”

But the fact is that I’m not interested in food freebies. (Sometimes I wonder whether I’m interested in food full stop.) If I want something for free I will say to my husband: “I want some rare albino truffle please,” and he will make a phonecall and it will turn up on my doorstep and I won’t even have to write about it.

But clothes? Cloooooothes?? Special nice clothes for preggy ladies that don’t make you look fat or pinch your bump or squish your boobs?

“Do you want some?” asked my friend Celia. “From ME+EM. We want you to be a sort of brand ambassador.”

“FUCK YEAH” I screamed. I didn’t even stop to say “Oh but why me? I’m so shit and fat and ugly. You don’t want me, you want someone more glamorous and interesting.” No, I did NOT say that, I just asked how much stuff I could have. Should I hire a parcel van to drive to the shop? Because I can do one on my Addison Lee app…

Then I immediately started to fret about it, as I always do. That the clothes wouldn’t fit or wouldn’t be nice and I would take a lot and then not wear them but have to be nice about them anyway. And then I would break our special bond, the one where I tell you the absolute truth about absolutely everything and don’t try and sell you anything, ever.

Don’t worry. I am not leading you a merry dance. This shit is for real. It’s amazing. There are dresses here that make you look, if you’re under, say, 20-24 weeks like you’re not pregnant. Especially from the front. And after that, they just expand like magic so even though you look like a Sherman tank, you feel comfy.

Pregnancy wear is mostly so so horrible. Massive floaty things with a big print. But this is all terrifically chic. And THE best long-length jersey vests and long-sleeved t-shirts EVAH.

THERE’S EVEN A SALE ON RIGHT NOW!!!

These are the things I got, which are particularly excellent and I recommend to you, pregnant or not. More original, I think, and better fabrics than Isabella Oliver or Seraphine – though God bless them both, eh? Where would we be without them.

On the ME+EM website they do a thing where they use skinny models for all the clothes, so you can’t really imagine how they would work on a massive pregnant arse and giant blobby tits, so this is my edit for anyone with a blubbery mess to cover up.

Just think of me like a very badass Gwyneth Paltrow, yeah?

Almost all of this comes in different colours and is available HERE. The sizing is very generous. I am 5’6” and weigh in at 10 stone 3.5 and fit into a small.

Crepe swing dress. MAKES YOU LOOK NOT PREGNANT. £104. You will wear it everywhere and it’s crepe so it won’t get bobbles.

Tuck neck swing dress. This is just so cool, such a nice shape. Great with long boots, ankle boots or little slippers. £115. I will be wearing this on Christmas Day.



Extra long layer T. The last word in long-length long-sleeved tops. Soft as a kitten. £42. There are also excellent vests at £19 each. Fucking BARGAIN.

V-neck box pleat dress. Very similar to one at Isabella Oliver but a nicer colour, a more slimming fit and less expensive at £104

An amazing thing. If you only get one thing when you are pregnant, get this. It is sort of drapey and concealing without being heavyweight so you don’t end up looking like a piece of soft furniture. It also has lovely long sleeves. I plan to wear mine until it has holes in it. Knit sleeve 3/4 jacket – £119

And a snood. Because I’ve decided that I hate scarves. Wide rib snood – £68
 

Happy shopping and have a great weekend.

 

Pasta with Butternut Sauce, Spicy Sausage and Baby Spinach

Spicy chicken sausage is the perfect compliment to this creamy pasta dish made with butternut squash, baby spinach, parmesan and a touch of sage. It’s filling and comforting on a chilly winter night.

Since making Spaghetti with Creamy Butternut Leek Sauce[1] a few weeks back, I am officially hooked. I love how the butternut squash feels like a decadent creamy sauce without the need for heavy cream. And with the addition of parmesan and hot sausage, the end result is savory and delicious.

I am also loving Giada’s new line of organic pastas sold at Target. I’m picky with my pasta and love the taste and texture of this pasta when cooked al dente. I always go for unusual pasta shapes, here I used a shape called casarecce… love!

As part of the Target Inner Circle, I got to meet Giada in person a few weeks ago at Fun and Fit in the City. Isn’t she beautiful!
She was so sweet in person, I also got an autographed cookbook and a goody bag full of her new food products sold at Target. My favorites were of course the organic pastas. I tried a few shapes, but plan on going back to Target to try the whole wheat.

A few more things: This week I teemed up with 11 other bloggers to host a HUGE HOLIDAY giveaway… Two winners, one will win an iMac Computer! A second winner will win a $500 gift card. Hey, you never know! You gotta be in it to win it… click here for a chance to win[2]!

And most importantly: Starting today I am making a commitment to run at least 1 mile a day until New Years. You in? It’s part of the 2012 Holiday Running Streak from Runner’s World[3]. The way I see it, why wait till New Years? Let’s start now, with all the baking and indulging that goes on during the Holidays, this is the perfect way to find a balance. I ran a mile this morning, I’ll be running again tomorrow… if you prefer to walk, that’s fine too, I would love it if you joined me. It could be inside, outside, morning, lunch time, evening… whenever you can squeeze it in. Tell me you’re in, it will help keep me motivated!

Pasta with Spicy Sausage, Baby Spinach and Creamy Butternut Sauce
gordon-ramsay-recipe.com
Servings: 5 • Size: 1 1/4 cups • Old Points: 7 pts • Points+: 9
Calories: 362 • Fat: 8 g • Carb: 55 g • Fiber: 5 g • Protein: 20 g • Sugar: 1 g
Sodium: 419 mg (without salt)

Ingredients:

  • 11 oz (4 links) spicy chicken Italian sausage
  • 1 lb butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp light butter
  • 10 oz casarecce, or pasta of your choice 
  • 1/4 cup shallots, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh shaved parmesan cheese
  • 4 sage leaves, sliced thin
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add butternut squash and cook until soft. Remove squash with a slotted spoon and place in a blender, blend until smooth.

Add pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions for al dente, reserving at least 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.

Meanwhile, in a large deep non-stick skillet, sauté sausage over medium heat until browned, breaking up with a spoon as it cooks. When cooked through, set aside on a plate.

Reduce heat to medium-low and melt the butter, sauté the shallots and garlic until soft and golden, about 5 – 6 minutes. Add pureed butternut squash, season with with salt and fresh cracked pepper and add a little of the reserved pasta water (I used about 1 cup) to thin out the sauce to your liking. Add baby spinach and stir in parmesan cheese and sage.

Toss in cooked pasta and sausage and mix until well coated.
Serve with additional parmesan cheese on the side if desired.

Makes about 6 cups.

References

  1. ^ Creamy Butternut Leek Sauce (www.gordon-ramsay-recipe.com)
  2. ^ click here for a chance to win (www.skinny-bits.com)
  3. ^ 2012 Holiday Running Streak from Runner’s World (www.runnersworld.com)

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Date bread

If this looks familiar, it’s because it is almost identical in every way to a Banana Bread For Dory (q.v.) but it uses dates instead of bananas.

I wanted to try this out because my friend Becky B brought over a sticky date cake the other day and it reminded me of the packet of dates in the larder I had been meaning to use to make a sticky toffee pudding, but have never quite found the excuse for.

It’s also because I do LOVE that banana bread recipe but quite often don’t find I have quite the right number of overripe bananas to justify it. So I wondered if it was possible with dates. And it is! It is still a sort of date bread, rather than a cake, because it’s not especially sweet, which I think is a good thing. You could definitely spread this with butter, for example. Like all cakey/breads that are not a sponge, this keeps very well in tupperware for a few days.

Becky B did a terribly clever thing with HER date cake, which was to soak it, in the manner of a lemon drizzle cake, with a caramel sauce that she bought from Waitrose – it was Bonne Maman, she said: “Confiture de Caramel”. She thinned it with some hot water, pricked the cake all over with a skewer and then went MAD with the sauce. It was really, really fab. My mother always says that things that other people have made for you are always more delicious than something you have made yourself, but still – Becky B is a terrific cook.

You can also make your own caramel sauce if you are that sort of person – there is a recipe somewhere on here, have a rummage.

So here we go

Date bread

150 veg oil
200g dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
250g dates
75g natural yoghurt
1 tsp bicarb of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
225g wholemeal spelt flour (get it from Waitrose)
2 tbs caster sugar or cane sugar

1 Pre-heat your oven to 170C and butter a 2lb loaf tin and line it (YES you must do this, don’t be lazy) and line a baking sheet, too.

1 In a bowl whisk together the oil, sugar, vanilla and eggs

2 Chop up the dates roughly then put them in a bowl and pour over boiling water to just cover them. Leave them to soak for 20 mins then drain them and sort of gently mash them through the sieve to get out most of the water.

3 Add the youghurt to the dates and mix together. Sprinkle over the bicarb of soda, baking powder, and salt and stir again.

4 Mix the date mixture and the sugar/egg mixture together. Then sprinkle over the flour and stir until things are only just combined. Over-mixing is disastrous here so stop as soon as you can’t see any more flour. Spoon the batter into your smugly-lined tin.

5 Sprinkle some sugar – caster, cane or granulated -down the spine of the loaf and then put in the oven.

7 Bake for 45-50 mins.

HOW is Kitty, people say to me. How is she, how is she? I don’t talk about her that much any more because she is just off my hands. She turns two in February but she has been off since she turned 18 months old and could walk, talk, ask for things, watch tv, sit and draw or look at her books, play imaginary games with her stuffed animals, scoot around the kitchen on her little trike and so on. She is an actual person these days and it’s such a relief, I can’t tell you.

When I look back on some of the darker things I wrote when she was small I feel awful, so guilty. But it must have been bad for me to write those things, it must have been like that. She’s now this little chattering pixie, everyone wants a piece of her, everyone wants a smile and to hear her squeak “I’m knackered!” – her first party trick.

I used to dread her waking up in the night – the thought of it made me feel actually sick with anxiety. Now sometimes I wake in the night and hope that she might wake, too and need me. But she never does.

Here is a picture of Kitty with her bunny, her hair a bit wild from her nap. Note how she is gripping the bunny quite hard round the neck – I think she is trying to get him to tell her where the chocolate is. I can get pictures printed on t-shirts, mugs, bags and mousemats for a small fee if anyone is interested?

Though I can see the benefits of babies, I suppose. They are not constantly after your iPad and whatever it is that you are eating. And they don’t have a massive fucking tantrum when you try to stop them from doing incredibly dangerous things.

 

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