Sunday 15 March 2009

Hospital food and mum’s cooking

Thanks to everyone who has left such kind comments on the birth of Sylvia. I have been trying to catch up on your posts in my blog reader but due to limited time I apologise that I haven’t been able to make comments.

There is still very little cooking going on here but I do have a few recipes to post. However, before that, I wanted to share a rant and some thanks.

The rant is about hospital food. We went through the public health system and had some excellent service and some not-so-good service but the food has to be one of the low points. I have had an insatiable hunger since the birth – probably the fact I don’t have a baby squashed against my stomach as well as the energy required for labour and feeding. So I was horrified at how bad the food during my stay in the hospital was.

I took the above photo of a meal I was served because it appalled me so much. The frozen peas, corn and carrot were described on the menu as ‘seasonal vegetable’ which made me laugh. As you can see, despite what is recommended as healthy eating for breastfeeding mothers, the hospital meals were devoid of much in the way of protein, iron, calcium, or fresh fruit and vegetables.

Vegetarians were poorly catered for. When I complained about the food in talking to the nurses, they found I wasn’t getting the vegetarian meal. When this was finally changed, the veg option wasn’t much healthier. I don’t imagine that carnivores fared much better - the meat meal I was given on one occasion looked like grey sludge.

Maybe this is all about cost-cutting but baked beans on toast has far more nutrients than these meals and is dirt cheap. Surely people in hospital need good food to build up their strength rather than a starvation diet. (update - for more on hospital food check out Notes from a Hospital Bed.)

On a more positive note, I have been very lucky to have a mother who appreciates good food. (OK, no coincidence there!) She brought me food in hospital and has been cooking up an impressive array of dishes for me to have at home - pumpkin quiche (pictured), lentil, mushroom and fetta salad, dahl, stuffed eggplants, and the wonderful Leek and Aubergine Tart Tatin which was recently featured on the Cook and the Chef on the telly. She has also visited with loaves of good sourdough, home made cakes and very helpful advice. There is probably more that I have forgotten too because the past few weeks are a bit of a blur. Thanks mum!


  1. Welcome back, Johanna! Glad to hear that you are doing well despite the horrible hospital fare (I think that fact is universal). ;)

    What a great Mum you have--those dishes sound wonderful!

    Hope you and E are enjoying parenthood and little Sylvia is doing well. You have lots to focus on besides blogging and we all understand--but are glad to have you back, too! :)

  2. I totally know what you mean about the awful hospital food. In emergency it's even worse because they don't think the patients need proper food (despite the fact that many of them stay in emergency for ages, many days!), all they get is a 120mL carton of juice and a sandwich. so much for encouraging them to eat up and drink up! And try having a food intolerance in hospital.. you could turn the hospital upside down and still have nothing better than a small tub of yoghurt as the only thing to offer a coeliac person.

  3. Good old mums, what would we do without them. Hey, you can be counted in that too now :)

  4. EUGH! That hospital food looks like school dinners!!!
    Your Mum sounds like a fab cook, even the quiche looks yum and Ive never liked quiche, and now it make me think of Kath and Kim haha.
    Hope you are all ok and Hugs for Sylvia :)

  5. What a depressing looking meal! I'm so glad that your mum is cooking you such lovely things - the mushroom lentil and feta dish in particular has sent my mind a-whirling.

  6. What a great mum you have to bring you such wonderful food in hospital. I think the quality of the food they offered you is bad, especially as you need all the important nutrients.

  7. Welcome back and welcome little Sylvia! As for hospital food, at least you did have a vegetarian option - I spent two weeks in a public hospital here in Portugal before & after my baby was born due to complications, and was fed meat or fish twice daily. And my mum couldn't even bring me food as I was on a strict diet due to gestational diabetes... the medical care however was splendid.

  8. Thanks Ricki - my mum really enjoys her cooking - you can see where I get my love of cooking from!

    Thanks Anon - I was quite aware of the lack of allowance for food intolerances because of the coeliacs in my family - the only categories were 'salty' and 'soft' which seemed very retirement home!

    Thanks Holler - don't know what I would do without my mum!

    Thanks Flower - I could have done with some of the fatty foods that Jamie Oliver hates in school dinners (other than the very worst potato wedges I have ever ever tasted that they served one evening) - hope you find some quiches to love - some are too eggy for me but they are full of good nutrients

    Thanks Lysy - the salad was indeed cheering - loved the chargrilled portobello mushrooms - worth trying

    Thanks Katie - most of the food I mentioned was brought to me at home when I was out of hospital but my mum brought in a bounty from an upmarket food hall while I was in hospital which was so welcome

    Thanks Tallulah - that sounds stressful - two weeks in hospital eating fish and meat would drive me crazy - I just couldn't wait to leave the place

  9. Just read about the healthy food on this hospital menu Chicken broth aside, it would be wonderful if it found its way to our hospitals.

    I worked at a hospital part time for over a year and our boss liked us to all lunch together in the staff cafeteria (some kind of heroic bonding exercise?)..after the first week I couldn't even walk outside the building without gagging, let alone eat in there.

    Great you guys are home now..and hopefully still being fed well by your mum (or has E taking cooking lessons? :)

  10. Congrats to you and yours. Sylvia - what a beautiful name. Good luck with all the exciting time ahead. May you recover fast and fully.
    Sorry about the hospital food, but at least you have your mamma. Hugs to you!

  11. I have somehow been lucky enough that I have never eaten hospital food, but that picture seems to say enough.

    But I hope you and Sylvia are doing well and enjoying some homecooked food :)

  12. Glad you're doing so well :) And you're right, hospital food is the worst. I remember my post birth meal consisting of some kind of meat loaf (pre veg) that was like a roll of toilet paper cardboard covered in brown water which was meant to be gravy.

    My Mum just came out of a 3 day stay in hospital last week and all she got was a single ham sandwich, about 4 bowls of fluro green jelly and 2 watery looking desserts that curdled when she opened them. Apparently the local hospital around here is well known for being a great place to go on a diet :P

    Your Mums food however sounds amazing and that quiche is just beautiful!

  13. thanks aof - the hosp cafe was only marginally better than what I was served in hosp - wouldn't fancy lunch there every day - as for E cooking, well only in my dreams but he has discovered the local health food store!

    thanks VCG - yes glad to have my mum on hand!

    Thanks Tanna

    Thanks Chris - it was such a relief to get home from hosp to home cooking - I am starting to do a little more myself now

    thanks Vegetation - that sounds awful and all too familiar - yes the quiche was lovely!

  14. Too bad about the hospital food but yaey for your awesome mom! =)

  15. My grand mother used to smuggle food in for my mother as well! Hospital food is not better in France or Italy.


Thanks for dropping by. I love hearing from you. Please share your thoughts and questions. Annoyingly the spammers are bombarding me so I have turned on the pesky captcha code (refresh to find an easy one if you don't like the first one)