Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Standing in Tadasana: Pearled Couscous Tagine

There's something about a snow day that makes us all slow down a little bit.  Even though the roads were pretty clear by the time I would normally have gone to work, I.'s school was closed, so one of us had to stay home, and there was nothing on my calendar that I couldn't postpone, so today it was my turn.  I was sort of glad; I'm feeling increasingly detached from work (even though I'm still sending and receiving plenty of email, and am wondering when that will slow down), and I was feeling pretty lazy this morning, anyway.

We spent the day playing with Legos, making "a craft" (I. took out his supplies and started gluing things together and making collages), sledding and playing in the snow with friends, cooking dinner for tomorrow night, watching a movie (which I fell asleep on, not that my son noticed!), and going to my midwife appointment, where I was told I gained eight pounds in the past week.


OK, so I've been eating cake and drinking honey-lemon water for my cold, and I stopped running last week, but really ... how does anyone gain eight pounds in a single week?  S.'s theory is that I've been eating salty foods (I've had an inexplicable craving for wonton soup) and am retaining water.  That could be partially true, given that my socks are tight around my legs these days.  My blood pressure is fine, so the midwife seemed unconcerned.  I don't look that much fatter.  My maternity clothes are feeling tight, though. And I am pretty horrified.  Also a little concerned (even if my midwife isn't), because sudden weight gains like that at the end of a pregnancy can't be good, can they?  Or am I being overanxious?  I mean, my midwife teaches midwivery; she'd know if something were wrong, right?

My mother called tonight, and wanted to know if there was any word on when the midwife thought the baby might arrive.  You'd think she'd know better, having birthed two children.  "But I'm just concerned that I'm far away and won't get there in time to take care of I.," she explained. (She lives an hour away.)  I asked her if I was born in an hour.  She said no.  I asked her if my brother was born in an hour.  She said no.  I then informed her that we had two backup people who were happy to take our 2 a.m. phone calls and would spring to action if she couldn't make it.  Part of me is wondering why we have asked her to come stay at all, when she won't do laundry, won't cook, and talks so much about herself that she rarely hears what I. says, and now needs to know the exact day and time of the baby's arrival in advance.

What does any of this have to do with tadasana?

Tadasana is the pose of the month at my yoga studio.  We rarely spend much time in tadasana; more often it's the place we begin as we move into other asanas.  But having a strong foundation, feeling ourselves well-grounded, like a mountain, is so important; without that grounding, we're unable to balance, to flow, to breathe.  Snow days remind us to stand still for a bit, to get firm grounding so that we can deal with the rest of the crap that might be coming our way.  Tadasana is also the way we feel the sky and the ground connect; we become the conduits between the heavens and the earth, reaching in both directions simultaneously, both rooted and aspiring to something greater.

The recipe today is a good snow-day dish.  Like tadasana, it has roots in the earth (carrots and other veggies), but the little pearls of couscous (be sure to get the pearled kind) remind me of snowballs, skyward bound.  I hope that I, too, can ground myself well enough to move onward and upward, for whatever comes next.

Pearled Couscous Tagine

2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1" piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ t. ground cumin
2 t. ground turmeric
Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks
1/3 c. chopped dried apricots, dates, or raisins
2 c. vegetable stock
1½ c. chopped ripe tomato (about 1 lb. whole, preferably peeled and seeded, or 1 15 oz. can, drained)
1 c. cooked or drained canned chickpeas
2 carrots, cut in bite-size chunks
½ head cauliflower, cut in bite-sized chunks
2 zucchini, cut in bite-sized chunks

Salt and black pepper
1 cup pearl couscous

Put the oil in a deep skillet with a lid over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until it softens, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 2 minutes.

Add the dried fruit, tomato, stock, chickpeas, carrots, cauliflower, and zucchini, a large pinch of salt, and a good amount of pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook until the vegetables are just tender. (The dish can be made ahead to this point, cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring it to a simmer before proceeding.)

Add the couscous and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. It should have a stewy consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days and then reheat.
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  1. This looks delicious! It's not so summery here in Oz, so a hearty dish it is. My mother came to stay too when I had Callum, suffice to say she was like a hurricane when she was here doing all the chores as well as all the noise. As much as I love the woman I was glad when she went home after a week. I could breathe again!

  2. I wish your mom could be like my mom.

    Please keep an eye on your bp. Just because it wasn't high today doesn't mean it wont change, it can change in a matter of hours. I would also be concerned about the 8 pound gain as well. If you feel "off" at all, be sure to put in a call. Sometimes that is the only way to describe how you feel, but you know what is normal and what isnt.

    Hang in there. You are almost done. Yay!


  3. What did you wear last time compared to this time when you were weighed? any chance 4 or so pounds of that is jeans and a sweater? I wouldn't suggest freaking out about it, but I think I'd call my ob and get a second opinion. Are you using an ob? I know not all people do.

  4. That looks so yummy! I adore cous cous.
    ON the weight gain...8lbs is a lot in a week but not dangerous. I would say it is fluid retention - could be oedema related to pre-eclampsia so keep an eye on your BP. Or it could just be totally normal pregnant lady stuff...who knows. Hope things go smoothly for you :)

  5. Thanks, everyone. I'm wishing I had a BP monitor at work now ... I can't be NOT anxious about this. @inBetween: my midwives are in an ob/gyn practice so they consult with the M.D.s, so I'm not sure who to call ...

  6. Try to hang in there. You know your body and what feels right and what doesn't. There is nothing wrong with getting a second opinion, but checking your blood pressure every few minutes is only going to freak you out and ironically, that will raise your blood pressure.

    Loving this recipe. What I really like about it is that I feel like it's easily adaptable based on what's in your pantry. We recently discovered our love of couscous and have been finding excuses to have it all the time. :) Thanks for giving me another one!

    That time works for our group. Thanks for passing the information along. - Elizabeth

  7. I hope your midwife is right and I actually think the salt explanation makes a lot of sense - maybe it's water weight?

    Sounds like a lovely day and that couscous looks delicious. A perfect winter dish. But your mom coming to stay sounds less than restful (wait, she doesn't cook? or do laundry?). I am thinking good thoughts for you, not only that the delivery goes super smoothly, but also that you weather the onslaught that follows:)

  8. Well, I've been known to gain 6 pounds or so a week in late pregnancy before, and all was well. With my daughter I had some terrible swelling (it got so bad the only shoes I could wedge my fat feet into were oversized crocs) and I think that added to my end of pregnancy weight gain.

    On the other hand, if you're concerned then I think you should call your midwife again and let her know you are worried. No harm in calling.

    Thinking of you. xx


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