An Interview with Adrienne Haeberle of Umi

On the blog today, we are chatting with Adrienne Haeberle, a Brooklyn mom of 2, and chef. She offers her home cooked meals that are nutritionally dense and prepared with carefully sourced ingredients via this amazing platform called Umi. Umi delivers home cooked meals right to your door! Below Adrienne shares some great tips for planning postpartum nutrition, and some mom advise for when you’re expecting your second baby.

Baby Caravan: Thanks for chatting with us today! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your cooking background and experience, and where its brought you today?

Adrienne: Hi Jen, thanks so much for interviewing me. I'm the parent to a 4 year old girl and a 2 year old boy making it work in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. I am a 20+ year [near] daily yoga practitioner, hiker, mushroom forager and all around fan of movement and eating whole foods. I wasn't raised in a house of cooks, gourmands or foodies. In fact, food was often very much overlooked which left me hungry in so many ways. Looking back now, it's easy to connect the dots between an unhappy adolescence and the lack of nourishment in my life, but no one was going to fix this for me. So I set about educating myself. I began by studying nutrition but as I got older, saw more of the world, and ate more regional offerings I started to realize that this food thing wasn't just about vitamins, minerals and carbs. A calorie is not just a calorie and a tomato isn't just a tomato. I still remember the revelation I had (and am slightly embarrassed to admit) at eating a tomato from a friend's garden during college (!), before then I assumed that all tomatoes tasted like slimy cardboard and avoided them completely. I had a lot of ridiculous food 'rules' then that weren't based in science, they were based upon an uneducated palate and mind, misinformation and a lack of exposure.

So, while toiling away in Operations at various publishing and advertising agencies, I began to investigate alternative modalities of nutrition. I found it quite the lark that I was working for a food industry mag whose bottom line was met by Dupont & Monsanto while attending alternative nutritional theory school on the weekends that espoused the exact opposite of what these chemical companies were doing to their food. So, the interest in whole foods was born as was a respect for the foodways of indigenous cultures. From there I began working in the food industry doing events, counseling, instruction and operations. I decided to take my interest a step further and enroll in NYU's master's program in Food Studies. I worked full-time at a culinary school while attending and was able to take advantage of attending the yearlong program in Classical French technique. From there I walked my talk, I worked the line as the grunt extern in a well-known Brooklyn restaurant renowned for its freshness and seasonality. Additionally, I taught kids cooking lessons, volunteered with wellness in the schools and served on the board of Slow Food NYC wherein I brainstormed, organized, launched and led food-oriented fundraising events that would benefit our harvest time education program.  Fast-forward 20 years and I've finally figured out what it takes to keep me feeling good, and how to go about doing so. 

BC:  What are your go-to meal recommendations for newly postpartum moms?

AH: My bone broth of course! I recommend having a big ole pot of precooked whole grains, two or three homemade dressings, a pound or two of roasted veggies, a pound of a nice goat or sheep's milk cheese, and a cup or two of soaked and cooked beans. Having these things offers many options for healthful, satisfying eating, while also not requiring lots of prep or time at the stove. Beyond that (which I envision being done on a Sunday, by your family and/or postpartum doula), make huge quantities of a food you love, portion them out into individually sized offerings, freeze and wrap. That way you can easily defrost your meal in the toaster oven and get back to baby within two minutes. ...and of course, Umi (I'm one of the Umi cooks), the newly launched meal delivery service that brings homecooking to your door in compostable packaging and within the timeframe you've selected.

 BC: How can families best set themselves up for meals during the first few weeks and months home with their baby? Is there anything they should take care of beforehand?

AH: Prep and freeze food in easy to heat, one-portion sizes. This is invaluable. If you're unable to cook and have friends/family that are willing to pitch in, ask them to do the same AND look into setting up a meal train (wherein people sign up in advance to prep and deliver a home cooked meal that is maintained via an online all-access calendar). Of course, seamless, caviar and Umi are a huge part of the dining process in New York. (However, with Umi you can also send food to another family - which is another great way of getting home cooking to your loved ones, or satisfying your promise for the meal train)

BC: What inspires your cooking?

Seasonality, the ability to turn it into something else, the knowledge that my husband, daughter, son, or friend is going to love this. Plus, I tend to do a lot of "back burner cooking" or what I call "lazy cooking". Food that is prepared in stages, sometimes fast at the beginning and then a slow braise for many hours, or an Indian curry, which requires a ton of prep, but cooks rather quickly. The lazy cooking shows up in terms of my frugality. I hate throwing food away and love seeing how one meal can inform the next whether it be what to change in terms of the ingredients, the quantity, when they're added; how I can turn it into something else or utilize another part of the animal/vegetable/dairy for another recipe. I consider it almost a game to be able to estimate how much my ingredients are going to cost and then doing the bob barker and seeing how close I came to my estimate. It's a ridiculous, but entertaining challenge that varies also because the produce in the NE is so variable and the costs fluctuate greatly within that seasonality (well, that and I really would love to work as a food buyer/broker, but can't seem to find a "way in."

BC: Being a veteran parent of two littles, do you have any advice for parents in those first few months home with a newborn you’d like to share?

AH: Be prepared for kid #1 to be jealous!!! There isn't much to do here other than making sure to iron out some one on one time with your eldest - this is where it can be really handy to take your XXX up on their casual offer "to watch the kids." Ask a friend, family member, postpartum doula to watch the youngest for an hour or two and hang with your eldest. Just time with you and him/her. Going to a park one-on-one is terrific, anything really is good so long as it is private without interruptions. The parent/s need to have alone time too with the same back-up required. Don't be ashamed to use a house cleaner, compostable chinette, take-out, delivery or to demand that your children be in bed and you are undisturbed after a certain hour. Do NOT feel guilty for wanting private time, for wanting a break, for questioning everything that this delicious little has wrought. Love your babe, but love yourself, s/he is going to model what you do, not what you say!

Jen Mayer