From Too Many Chefs -

January 19, 2006
Children Change Your Life

trout almonds.jpgFrom the time you let slip to your nearest and dearest that you are expecting a little bundle of joy until the nipper is at least six months old, you can expect to hear it from every well-meaning soul on the planet: children will change your life, you have no idea. Well, actually, I did. I think all intelligent parents do: they know to expect sleepless nights, no social life, terminal chaos in their living quarters. Those well-meaning souls make sure they do. But there was one change I didn't expect, though I suppose I should have. As a result of the Boy, we actually eat a bit more healthily than we used to do.

It started even before he was conceived: less alcohol (just in case) and lots of green leafy vegetables for the folic acid. Then through pregnancy, NO alcohol and a nice varied diet. Since he started eating proper food, I make much more of an effort to buy organic vegetables and as large a variety as possible. This is for his sake, but we all profit from it.

And the latest? Well the (French) doctor has told me that it's time to take the boy off formula and put him on the fortified milk known here as lait de croissance. I have a real problem with this. The milk is enhanced with iron and "essential oils" but it's also endowed with a load of vanilla and sugar to cover up the taste of these goodies. Ick. I want to switch him straight to whole pasteurized milk. But that means I have to make sure he has lots of iron (luckily he loves spinach) and fish high in omega-3 oil. Well, heck, we can all use a little more of each. And so we started this week with a few filets of trout. I bought it for the boy, but we all had some. And in the spirit of the post-holiday period, I made it with NO cream. It was hard, may hand hovering over the crème fraiche tub, but I managed it. And the result was actually pretty tasty, with silky mushrooms and leeks smothering the pink delicate flesh of the fish. I added a handful of toasted almonds and pine nuts to add a bit of crunch and a sweet nuttiness. And that was our dose of Omega-3 taken care of for the day. A winner all around.

Actually, it's a well-known fact that almonds go well with the tender flesh of trout. Butter, nuts and delicate oily fish combine beautifully. Most of the trout amandine recipes I've seen over the years call for drowning your almond slices in butter, though, and here I tried toasting them to keep the feel of grease at a minimum.

Trout with leeks, mushrooms and nuts

2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 small leek
5 large mushrooms
2-3 trout filets
1/4 cup (abougt 80 grams) mixed pine nuts and chopped almonds
1/2 glass of white wine

In a heavy-bottomed frying pan toss the nuts on a medium heat until they just begin to brown. Be careful as they can go from "slightly brown" to "nastily burnt" in about half a second. Remove the nuts to a bowl and reserve them for later. In the same frying pan melt the butter. When it froths and bubbles, add the mushrooms (sliced) and leeks (also sliced in thin rings). Cook them until all is soft and slithery and the leek rings have separated. Remove them to another bowl with a slotted spoon, reserving the butter as much as possible. If the pan looks a bit dry, add another pat of butter and then slap the fish in the pan, skin side up. (In my experience, the skin ALWAYS sticks to the bottom of the pan and it doesn't add a nice flavor to the sauce you make afterwards. So keep it up.) Cook for five minutes or so, then pour in the wine and strew the leeks and mushrooms over the whole. Cover and cook until the fish is opaque through and through but not dried out. (It should only take a few minutes.)

Serve over a bed of rice in the following order: fish, then leeks and mushrooms and then a handful of crispy nuts. It shouldn't need much salt, especially if you've been generous in buttering and salting the rice.

Okay, it's still not weight-watchers but it's reasonably healthy and digestible. Oh yes, and extremely tasty!

Posted by Meg in Sussex at January 19, 2006 2:28 PM | TrackBack

What a lovely gift to yourself and the Boy, this new healthier eating! My mother made most of the baby food I ate with her volcanic rock molcajete, a.k.a. mortar and pestle. Fresh fruits, steamed or boiled vegetables and cooked meats from early on, smashed into a soft goodness no jar of Gerber's could beat. We still use the same mortar for salsa and so much more!

Posted by Monica on January 19, 2006 at 3:24 PM

you'd be surprised about the WW.
It is definitely healthier. I have only been on it 36 hours so far, but veg intake has gone up, my fat and sugar contact down and i still managed to have a baked potato with creme fraiche, bacon, truffle oil and parmigiano for supper last night - well inside my point limits too.

I have been too self indulgent. it is time to be sensible. My blog has to have a conscience too!

I think toasted almonds make everything aste better btw

Posted by sam on January 19, 2006 at 5:31 PM

Seems like a fair trade. You change their nappies, they change your life.

Good for you for going healthy! I'm struggling with that myself.

Posted by barrett on January 19, 2006 at 7:35 PM

Mmmm...trout. Anyway it is cooked, if it starts out good, it ends up good. I adore trout.

Posted by Barbara on January 19, 2006 at 8:39 PM

Sam, good luck on the WW! I started the program a few years ago and then promptly fell pregnant so that was the end of dieting. It's a great program, though. My sister lost about 20 pounds and has kept them off through their follow-up program. And last time I checked, I think my mom had lost a whopping 60 lbs with them!

Maybe now that I'm working part-time I should find a group here in Paris and get back on the wagon...

Barbara, I totally agree about trout. It has so much flavour compared with white fish! And it's such a pretty pink...

: )

Posted by Meg in Paris on January 20, 2006 at 3:13 AM

Trout, salmon, arctic char and bluegill are all favorite fish with me--they all have a ton of flavor as compared to turbot, cod or any of the other white fishes that our mothers made us eat as kids.

My uncle used to go trout fishing once or twice a year, and bring back coolers full of them, and we'd bread them in cornmeal and fry them gently in butter and oil--delicious.

I think that the only way any of us ate fish when I was a kid was can tell we were Southerners.

Posted by Barbara on January 20, 2006 at 9:31 AM

Meg - i am just doing it online - no meetings - it has a great recipe calculator that caluclates points for whatever you make - you just add all the ingredients. Cool huh!

Posted by sam on January 20, 2006 at 10:59 AM

Sam, I'll have to check it out - had no idea they were so technologically advanced these days! Um, but maybe AFTER this weekend, when we are invited to a Burns night, complete with haggis, beer and whisky...

Very cool, thanks for the tip!

Posted by Meg in Paris on January 20, 2006 at 11:03 AM

Hmmm...Having a baby could potentially make Barrett eat more healthfully? Interesting. I'll have to add that my equation determining when we start a family. :)

While it doesn't sound like you're going to feed the little guy fish daily, I just want to add some information about fish and mercury. I suspect the issues has been around for decades, but the FDA released guidelines and started a public awareness campaign in 2001.

For "women who are pregnant or may become pregnant" and for children:
-no more than 12 ounces of fish per week for adults. (I would say 6ounces for a child).
-do not eat shark, swordfish, kingmackerel, and tile fish
-Albacore "white" tuna is higher than most tuna, so no more than 6 ounces (quite a lot) per week
-If you're eatting locally caught freshwater fish in the USA, you can check online for recommendations.

Having said all of that, I grew up eatting A LOT of fish caught by my dad and grandparents in Lake Cumberland, and I think I turned out okay. :)

Posted by Rebecca on January 20, 2006 at 11:32 AM

Rebecca - you turned out better than OK, but I think the fish turned your hair red!

Posted by barrett on January 20, 2006 at 11:36 AM

Rebecca, I was planning on a couple of ounces of trout or salmon once a week actually. And organic spinach and crucifers because apparently they are particularly prone to absorbing nitrates and polluants from the soil.

Actually, flax seed for the omega-3 and dried apricots (in his case soaked and pureed with other fruit) for the iron are the sources preferred by a lot of the mothers I've met.

I figure a varied diet will ensure that he's eating will we all!

And aside from the sleep-deprivation thing (which luckily we haven't suffered from too much) kids are very good for your health! A recent story on the BBC site quoted a study in the US that exploded the myth of the "mommy brain" (a popular belief that having kids makes mothers, especially, more air-headed). They found that, on the contrary, mothers and fathers became more focussed and organized and had better performing brains than their childless counterparts!

Posted by Meg in Paris on January 20, 2006 at 12:30 PM


I was intelligent when Z was born about 10 and a half years ago. I knew stuff, like what you said. But what I didn't quite grasp is the shear volume of time it consumes. And I ain't talkin' about that 'issue' that took all day to lay to rest. Or some 'phase' that was going on that month. I'm talking about a 1/3 of your life span. And we always started out with good food, even vegetables.
Nothing stuck and it wasn't long until they're old enough to be babysat by aunts, uncles and close friends. All it takes is one introduction to Top Ramen and you're screwed.
Ah well, at least Taylor from Fatted Calf was able to talk to E & Z and stop them from talking family members in to taking them on trips to fast food burger joints. Taylor is 'that' way with children, a good trait for a butcher, eh?


Posted by Dr. Biggles on January 20, 2006 at 7:34 PM