What To Eat After Giving Birth

Byline: Julia Jones

Pregnancy is a time of wonder, hope and anticipation. But after that little bundle of joy arrives many mothers find themselves struggling. Postnatal depression and divorce rates are high, and breastfeeding rates are low.  Over 80% of new mothers say they feel exhausted and overwhelmed.

But before I scare you away I want you to know it doesn’t have to be like this. After giving birth women have very special physical and emotional needs, recognised by hundreds of different cultures for thousands of years. Anthropologists Stern and Kruckman found that cultures with low incidence of postpartum mood disorders share a range of protective social structures that provide support and care for new mothers.

Similarly, anthropologist Dr. Dana Raphael studied how humans have managed to keep their babies alive for so long when breastfeeding seems so hard. She found the same pattern occurring in nearly 200 cultures around the world. Ancient communities appreciate a new mother’s needs, not the least of which is your need to be nurtured and loved and cared for in the same way that you nurture and love and care for your baby.

Why hospital food is the worst thing you can eat after birth. And what to eat instead.

One of the key universal features of postpartum care around the world is warm, nourishing comfort foods. Soups, stews and puddings feature on international postpartum menus and are always cooked for the mother, not by her. Different cultures have variations in detail. I cook Ayurvedic food for my clients, based on ancient Indian medicine.

Ayurveda is an elemental science, meaning it is based on the five elements – earth, fire, water, air and space. If you picture a pregnant woman you can see her abundance of earth and water! Childbirth is the biggest and fastest change in a woman’s life. In just a few hours her body loses vast amounts of earth (for example the baby and placenta), water (in amniotic fluid and tears) and fire (through her blood and sweat). Ayurveda emphasises balancing the elements in your body, meaning you need to replace the earth, water and fire that is lost in childbirth.

Even if you normally enjoy eating raw foods, Ayurveda teaches us that different foods are appropriate for different stages of life. Raw foods are suitable for people with strong digestion and lots of earth and fire. New mothers on the other hand are already high in air and space. The qualities needed after birth are sweetness, warmth, oiliness, simplicity and moisture. Soups, stews and puddings, good fats and good sugars will give you the energy you need, but to digest them you will need to add spices and keep meals simple and regular.

An Ayurvedic postpartum diet is like weaning a baby. When you eat after giving birth, start with soft, warm, soupy foods that are simple to digest, gradually introduce more texture and variety, and eventually, as your appetite and energy return you can go back to your regular diet. Sit down to eat fresh, homemade food regularly. If you only do one thing – eat cooked food.

You can see how standard issue hospital food does not fit the postpartum bill as it is often old, cold, dry and heavy to digest.

This is a recipe I suggest instead, as it aids digestion, has instantly accessible energy and builds blood. Rice pudding is a wonderful food for friends and family to bring you in hospital in a thermos, so add this recipe to your birth plan.

Nepali Rice Pudding Recipe

rice pudding

Cooking time 35 minutes
Serves 3—4

Ingredients

  • 5 cups pure water
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • ¼ cup jaggery
  • ¼ cup ghee
  • 2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 2/3 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • pinch nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup milk

Directions

Bring water and rice to a boil in large pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally until it begins to thicken. This should take about 20 minutes.

Add the sugar and spices and ghee. You may need to add an extra cup of water at this stage if your pudding is too thick.

Continue to cook slowly; stirring as needed. When gelatinous consistency add milk. Cook for a few more minutes to thicken.

Serve hot, with sugar and ghee to taste. Serve as desired throughout the day.

This recipe is from my book Nourishing Newborn Mother – Ayurvedic recipes to heal your mind, body and soul after childbirth. You can check it out at www.newbornmothers.com.au.

mailchimp size profile picJulia works with pregnant women who want to find peace and joy in motherhood and is the founder of Newborn Mothers. She is an Ayurvedic postnatal doula, recipe book author and creator of a weekly free pregnancy podcast. Click here to listen to her free podcasts.

Halloween Brownie Graveyard

Keeping with the healthy halloween treats from last week, this is one of my favorite raw dessert recipes. Most likely because of the all hallows eve, cemetery feel it’s got going on. Oh, and the bananas. Yum!

This is the perfect type of recipe to make with kids. It’s made with whole foods, has a lot less sugar than commercial brownies, and it’s really fun to decorate together!

Making Your Own Raw Brownie Cemetery

In a high-speed blender or food processor put equal parts dates and walnuts and add 2 to 3 tablespoons Raw Chocolate Powder. Feel free to spice it up by adding a little bit of mint extract or vanilla into the mix.

Blend well and watch as the ingredients form into dough. Once the chocolatey dough is ready, push into the bottom of a pie or brownie plate.

Decorating Your Raw Brownies

It’s time to get creative!

To create some tombstones, slice the two ends of a peeled banana into thin tombstone shapes. To have them stand up, make small indentations in the “earth” and place these tombstones standing up.

To create a fall-time tree, stick a grape stem into the dough. The benefit of this is that you get to munch on some yummy grapes while you make this dessert. That, and you get a tree without leaves… perfect!

Now let’s add some pumpkins. Use the skin from a tangerine or orange and roll it up into several balls to create little pumpkins. Or you could use the left overs from making your orange bell pepper jack-o-lanterns!

Eat this brownie graveyard with a spoon and knife or just let your guests wonder at how you made this using nothing but wholesome foods.

Frighteningly Delicious!

Now it’s your turn… what have you got planned for All Hollows Eve? Any yummy treats brewing in your cauldron?

Love, Nathalie

How to Make a Festive Raw Pumpkin Pie Recipe

nathalie-pumpkin-pie

[Editor’s Note: This is a crowd pleaser for both Thanksgiving and Halloween, and I’m republishing it because I added a new ingredient so read till the end to find out what makes this whole pie jive even better!]

This week-end it was Canadian Thanksgiving. Our thanksgiving happens earlier because our harvest season is shorter, and we want to enjoy it when it’s fresh!

As it happens I had two social gatherings to attend, one all raw and the other not so much. What’s a girl to bring to please such different groups?

Luckily I have been immersing myself in the wonderful world of raw desserts for the past few weeks so it was just a matter of choosing a healthy dessert recipe from my store.

I decided to go with the Raw Pumpkin Pie, using freshly cut pumpkin. Jack-o-lanterns are totally appropriate here at the Raw Foods Witch site.

How to Make a Raw Pumpkin Pie Video

Raw Pumpkin Pie Recipe

If itʼs not Autumn and you canʼt get your hands on a fresh pumpkin you can use a variety of replacements: from butternut squash to sweet potato.

Raw Pumpkin Pie Crust

  • 2 cups pecans or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup soaked dates
  • Dash of sea salt

Blend the crust ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor, then evenly distribute in the bottom of a pie plate.

Raw Pumpkin Pie Filling

  • 2 cups shredded pumpkin, butternut squash, or sweet potato flesh
  • 1 cup soaked dates
  • 1/2 cup soaked, washed Irish Moss
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. freshly diced ginger
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • Dash of vanilla
  • 1/4 cup almond milk or water to help blend

What is Irish Moss?

Irish Moss

Don’t worry if you don’t have Irish Moss, just skip this ingredient and put your pie in the freezer before serving. Irish Moss helps the whole pie gel together better, because it is a fibery seaweed product that blends well. Irish Moss is full of super gentle fiber, it’s got great mineral content because it’s seaweed and it makes for great looking pies!

Make sure to wash the Irish Moss thoroughly to remove any sand or salt. Otherwise you’ll get a crunchy salty pumpkin pie, which is not exactly what we’re going for here!

Making the Raw Pumpkin Pie

If you donʼt feel like shredding the pumpkin by hand, simply cube and place in a high speed blender or food processor until itʼs nicely chopped.

Then add the rest of the ingredients and blend until nice and smooth. You might need to add more liquid to get it to blend well.

Pour into crust, then chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving. This dessert might not seem overly sweet, but trust me when I say it can rival even the most traditional of pumpkin pies.

Love, Nathalie

Super Simple Raw Chocolate Cups Recipe

Raw Chocolate Recipes
Here’s a quick raw chocolate recipe that you can’t do wrong!

You take some raw cacao butter, mix it with raw cacao powder, add some stevia (or raw honey) and bam! You’ve got healthy chocolate.

Let me take you by the hand and show you exactly how this would work.

Raw Chocolate Cups Ingredients

How to Make Raw Chocolate

  1. First, shred the cacao butter. I used a cheese grater to break up the solid cacao butter. Cacao butter melts at 34.1 °C (93.4 °F), which is still raw woohoo!
  2. Now melt the cacao butter by putting the shredded cacao in a bowl, and putting this bowl in a bigger bowl that is filled with warm water. Be patient.
  3. After the cacao is melted, add the dry cacao powder. Add the dry or wet sweetener (I prefer stevia or raw honey here) and mix well.
  4. Pour the melted chocolate mix into small silicone cups. Here’s where you can get creative! Add nuts, dry fruit, coconut flakes, or any other goodies.
  5. Put the cups in the refrigerator or freezer to harden. Then take your yummy chocolates out, pop them out of the cups and store in a sealed glass container in the refrigerator.

Click to see silicone cups
Bonus! If you use stevia you’re making a super healthy chocolate, that does not spike your blood sugar at all. Truly guilt-free and yummy chocolate is possible.

Love, Nathalie

Is There Such a Thing as Healthy Chocolate?

healthy-chocolate-raw
Photo by Akico

Chocolate is such a controversial topic, with new contradictory studies and anecdotes being published regularly.

So the question at this point really comes down to this: are you eating chocolate because you like it and you feel good when you eat it, or are you doing it because you think it’s healthy?

Keep reading to find out whether there is such a thing as healthy chocolate… and then I’ll encourage you to choose whether to eat chocolate or not based on your own feelings about it.

Want a Healthy Heart and Long Life? Eat Chocolate.

But not just any chocolate! I think it’s important to highlight the benefits of chocolate without getting sucked into the hype of chocolate marketers… especially those companies that use lots of fillers and give you so little “real chocolate”.

Here are a few snippets that might encourage you to pursue healthy chocolate as part of a joyful lifestyle.

Jeanne Calment is the longest documented living woman in the world. She lived to be 122, which in itself might seem a little insane.

The really incredible part is that she claims her long life is due to eating and applying olive oil to her skin, drinking port wine, and eating nearly 1 kilo of chocolate per week. Now that’s a LOT of chocolate. Read her story here.

Recently, a friend and colleague of mine Carlene Monson sent me a sampler of healthy chocolates, and shared a very interesting story with me. Her husband started eating healthy chocolate and a few months later had his blood pressure and cholesterol tested again. The results were great, his doctor was amazed at how much better both his numbers were.

They’ve got chocolate to thank for these changes. Not just any chocolate though, but healthy chocolate that is cold pressed and packed with antioxidents. Keep reading to find out more about healthy chocolate.

Got Chocolate Cravings?

I want to emphasize that chocolate cravings are definitely a real phenomenon. Let’s look at what happens when you eat chocolate.

First you experience a shift in mood because chocolate releases feel good brain chemicals. You may also experience satisfaction from the mix of fat and sugar, great texture and taste.

On top of that you may be eating chocolate to supplement your diet unknowingly. I see it time and again: women eat more chocolate at certain times during the month when their hormones are fluctuating. Chocolate is high in magnesium which is important before or during a woman’s menstruation.

If you feel like your chocolate cravings are out of control you might want to shift the type of chocolate you are eating to a more pure form. It might be your body crying out for more of the minerals in chocolate but getting too many fillers instead. You might also need help managing your cravings.

What is Raw Chocolate?

cacao-pod
Photo by Nick Hobgood

Raw chocolate, also commonly know as raw cacao or even raw cocoa, is basically cold pressed cacao beans.

The Theobroma Cacao tree is a small evergreen tree that grows in tropical regions of the world. The photo to the right shows the cacao pod or fruit, which contains the cacao beans that are used to make chocolate.

Raw chocolate is essentially the cacao beans ground down to a powder, or sometimes also sold as nibs. You can also get your hands on cold pressed cacao butter, which is the healthy-oil part of the bean.

David Wolfe spoke at great length about raw chocolate and the benefits of eating chocolate for minerals. I’ve definitely felt the effect of eating healthy chocolate in my life, and must admit that it’s something I choose to enjoy regularly.

The Difference Between Dark Chocolate and Raw Chocolate

cacao-beans
Cacao Beans – Photo by Chrissy Gombos

The difference between raw chocolate and “regular” dark chocolate is that it has not been heated.

Traditional “candy bar” chocolates contain very little cacao and in fact are mostly fillers. Some of the worst aspects of regular chocolates is that they are filled with sugar and allergens like dairy, soy, and other unrecognizable filler products.

If you’re going to eat chocolate that isn’t raw (in a pinch or because you can’t get your hands on raw chocolate) then definitely make sure it is dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is by far a better choice than a sugary “cheap” substitute.

Dark chocolate is generally made with cacao that has been processed with heat, which is what is called “dutched” chocolate. This process helps the cacao powder hold together as what we commonly know as the chocolate bar “feel”.

With that in mind, I’ve seen the best results when eating truly raw chocolate. You might be wondering how you can eat cacao powder… certainly not by the dry spoonful, right?!

Well with raw chocolate powder and raw cacao butter you can make your own raw chocolate fudge, cookies, brownies, and shakes. You can also purchase premade raw chocolate bars that contain far more actual cacao than any other bars out there on the market.

Where to Buy Raw Chocolate

I’ve got a few raw chocolate recipes in my free ebook called “28 Desserts You Can Eat Every Day“. You’ll need some basic raw chocolate ingredients, and here they are:

  • Navitas Naturals Raw Chocolate Powder: This is my go-to raw cacao powder for making smoothies, brownies, and chocolate puddings too.
  • Organic Raw Chocolate Nibs: If you’re looking for “chocolate chip” alternatives, this is what you need. Crunchy and great to add a different texture to raw ice creams and trail mix.
  • Raw Cacao Butter: If you’re looking to make your own decadent raw chocolates or raw fudge, then this is the healthy fat of the cacao that you’re looking for.
  • Raw Cacao Powder by Ultimate Superfoods: Although I’m a big fan of Navitas, I’ve recently tried the Ultimate Superfoods brand and I gotta say I’m loving this cacao powder. It’s got a slightly different taste and texture and I’m really loving it.
dark-cacao-truffles

Or, if you want to go straight for the raw chocolate bars and truffles, these are some of my favorites:

Do You Love Chocolate?

Leave a comment below and let me know whether you love chocolate or not. I know chocolate is not for everyone – it’s toxic for dogs, and my boyfriend likes to joke that he must be a dog because he can’t stand chocolate.

Take this article with a grain of salt and check in with your heart at this point.

If eating chocolate doesn’t appeal to you, or you feel jittery and stressed after you eat it, then it’s not for you. On the other hand if you feel good when you eat chocolate, then keep doing what works for you. We’re all different!

So are you more chocolate or vanilla?

Love, Nathalie