Monthly Archives: January 2016

food for thought – pregnancy 

it took us a a while and quite some effort getting pregnant with our little one. so when i finally got pregnant, i was naturally, maybe a little overly, cautious about what to eat. i read some articles about what to and not to eat during pregnancy, and heard about friends’ experiences and diligently followed those advices.

surprisingly enough to some people, i ate sashimi, raw fish, every now and then during my pregnancy amongst other seafood. the japanese guideline states that pregnant women can eat raw fish occasionally as long as they are fresh (fresh in the japanese context, which means “super” fresh in the global standard i believe). i avoided eating large-sized fish from sea water such as tuna and sword fish, as they allegedly carry certain amount of mercury. also i avoided shell-fish, since i thought there was higher risk to get food poisoning, but this is not backed up with a clear scientific research.

my hong kong chinese friends told me that in chinese culture you are not supposed to eat any sort of seafood during pregnancy, raw or cooked…. hah, i’m so glad i wasn’t in china while pregnant. i love fish and seafood in general, and it would have been a torture if i couldn’t eat any of it for months. actually, there appear to be a lot of food you are not supposed to eat in the chinese culture during pregnancy, including seafood, many types of fruits, certain types of tea, and not even cold water since it is considered to lower your body temperature. woah, very strict!

in italy, i learned they don’t encourage pregnant women to eat cured ham, such as prosciutto, salami, etc., as well as certain types of cheese because of some bacteria they carry. well, if you think about it, it makes sense. just like avoiding raw eggs for salmonella i guess.

another friend (american/italian) told me that they avoid eating salad leaves. as far as i remember, it was because the water used to wash salad leaves may be contaminated…? well, this makes sense if you live in developing countries where tap water is not potable, or even in japan when we had nuclear meltdown scare… but it didn’t really occur to me during my pregnancy, and i ate salad on a daily basis. i am glad that i did not find this out before i delivered my little one!

but the most rewarding and interesting for me to learn was when i was in south of france for summer holiday visiting my best friend and her partner during my pregnancy. we were having dinner at the back garden of the house we were staying, and the host served us the famous and luxurious “pata negra” ham from spain for appetizer, along with a glass of rosé, the popular summer drink in the region.   ….and of course i wasn’t touching any of it. i did explain why not, and the host (a bit reluctantly) accepted the reasoning. however, as they drunk a bit more wine and got more tipsy, my friend’s partner started to explain us about his frustrations with the theory of this food restrictions for pregnant women. they said in france anything can be accepted if you eat in moderation, and the most important thing in pregnancy (or even in general) is to enjoy food rather than being scared or worried about it. this goes to wine also, it doesn’t harm if you have a sip (or probably he said “glass”) or two. he claimed, “what is there to enjoy, if you can’t enjoy food and drink in life?”

i know there are people who would go totally against the french way, but considering all the stories i’ve heard and learned, i realised there is no right or wrong answer to this – the best thing is to follow what you feel most comfortable with. otherwise, you’d get lost in the flood of information and different beliefs which vary in each culture. just trust your gut feeling, and enjoy.

bento for the little one (udon noodles – 28 jan 16)


udon noodles with chicken & tofu, spinach egg omelet, tomato & cucumber salad

organic grape jelly (bought at a shop) & fresh strawberries for dessert

today, LO is back at daycare after staying home for a week because of a flu. we say that udon (japanese noodles made of wheat flour) soup noodles are good for digestion and often eat them while being ill. i remember my mum’s udon – simple but tasty and gentle for your stomach… my comfort food. i just cannot bring myself to feeding my little one a cracker with a slice of cheese when she is ill, while it is what my husband (he’s dutch) craves when he doesn’t feel well. cheese is one of the last things to come to my mind… but i know this goes way back to your childhood and is deeply rooted to your senses… it’s funny how cultural differences can be discovered so randomly in situations like this. i wonder how our LO’s tasting pallet develops as exposed as she is to such versatile choices of food.

udon soup noodles (serving for 4)


– 400g udon noodles (store bought)

– 800cc – 1,000cc japanese fish broth

– 1 small (or 100g) carrot (thinly sliced, roughly into 1cm x 3cm rectangular slices)

– 100g daikon, japanese radish (thinly sliced, roughly into 1cm x 3cm rectangular slices)

– 15cm japanese negi/ spring onion, roughly sliced

– 100g chicken thigh (cut into small bite pieces)

– 1/4 of fresh tofu, diced

– 2 table spoons of japanese sake (can be omitted)

– 1 tea spoon of salt

– 2 – 3 table spoons of say sauce (start with 1, and add to your liking)

– 1 – 2 table spoons of japanese mirin (alternatively, just a pinch of sugar)

– for garnish & extra colour, chopped japanese mitsuba leaves or cooked spinach or thinly sliced leek


1. in a medium sized pan, pour the broth and put carrots, daikon & leek slices and bring them to boil.

2. lower the heat but keep it boiling, and gently remove any residue coming up to the surface

2. add chicken and boil for another 5 minutes or so. make sure to remove residue

3. once carrots & daikon are soft, add sake, salt, say sauce and mirin to taste. make sure that soup tastes to your liking here

4. add udon, brings the soup to gentle boil, lower the heat and cook for another 3 – 5 minutes or so (depending on the thickness of the udon)

5. add tofu at the very end, stir gently so that tofu gets warm

6. place the soup and noodles in a deep bowl, place the garnish at the center

bento for the little one (salmon rice – 20 jan 16)

main dish of the day: one of the little one’s favorite dishes, grilled salmon mixed in rice

menu: grilled salmon flakes mixed in rice with sesame & nori seaweed seasoning, cooked pumpkin in dashi broth, cherry tomato, omelet with spinach

mikan (similar to mandarine orange) for dessert

in Japan we eat a lot of grilled fish. some everyday even for breakfast, others maybe every other day. we have a fish grill embedded in our kitchen stove, which is common here and very handy.

this morning i grilled salmon filet (marinated with salt beforehand) while preparing for breakfast, and once done, mixed its flakes into a bowl of rice and a pinch of salt to taste. it’s always nice to sprinkle some seasoning on top for presentation.
fish grill in our kitchen. look at the cute little fish sign above the dial at far right

bento for the little one (hijiki – 18 jan 16)

new year’s resolution: post bento images as much as possible.

today’s menu: hijiki (cooked hijiki sea weed with chicken & carrots), tamago (omelet), cherry tomatoes, broccoli & rice with sesame seasoning

homemade apple mousse and diced banana for dessert

hijiki is full in mineral and iron. Very good for kids.



dried hijiki – fistful (lightly rinse, soak in water for 15 min, drained)

1 small carrot (sliced in julienne)

100g chicen thigh (cut into small pieces)

1 tbsp oil

2 tbsp sake

2 – 5 tbsp water

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 1/2 tbsp sugar

directions: a medium sized frying pan, put oil and stir fry chicken and carrots in medium heat for 3 minutes or so

2. add sake and fry further until carrots are soft

3. add hijiki, stir fry further. add water as required so the hijiki keeps moist

4. once hijiki is tender, add soy sauce and sugar, stir a bit and turn off the heat.