I am not a food blog. Yet during pregnancy and the postpartum months food plays a very important role, both in providing nutrients where they’ve been lost and in boosting energy, milk production, and very importantly, mood! I’ve put together here a collection of my favorite go-to recipes that I bring to mothers post-birth, when some feeding of the soul and body are needed.
(They are also family-taste-tested, my kids eat most of them too!
And that’s not a small feat.)
And I apologize in advance for my feeble attempts at food photography….
THE SUPER YUMMY SMOOTHIE
Now, I’ve always loved smoothies, after a brief and terribly random stint as a dishwasher for a vegan resturaunt while a University of Alaska freshman. At that time I had no idea what vegan eating was, much less healthy eating, as I was your average teenager! But a hungry student supporting herself through university on scholarships will eat what comes her way, and the free smoothie lunch I was given was a revelation.
After moving to Israel where fresh fruit is abundant, I began freezing kilos of fresh chopped fruit when it is in season, and these frozen ‘ice cream’ smoothies helped air-condition my body during the summer months. At any time of the year you may find in my freezer great quantities of banannas, strawberries, peaches, apricots, dates, plums and shesek (loquat, apparently, in English).
Since Asher’s birth I’ve learned more about nutrition and breastfeeding, and have been packing my smoothies out with extra ingredients: ground flax seeds (rich in mood boosting Omega 3) almond butter (excellent for boosting lactation) and date syrup or black strap molasses (iron). Often there will be pumpkin seeds (magnesium, potassium and more Omega 3) and lately, I’ve gotten brave and started adding green leafy veg (iron! salad!) to my smoothies. This video showed me how to do it: How to make a green smoothie
- a handful of one kind of green, such as chopped kale, spinach, lettuce, coriander, beet greens
- a soft fruit, such as half a papaya, half a mango, 5-6 strawberries, peaches, or any other frozen berries
- 1 frozen bannana (if it is frozen it adds that smooth, ice-cream like quality to your smoothie, and ensures it’s chilled and tasty.)
- sweetener: 1 or two chopped dates, or 1 TBS date syrup (silan), or 1 TBS honey or blackstrap molasses
- 1 tablespoon almond butter or raw tehina (ground sesame)
- nuts or seeds, such as pumpkin seeds, chopped almonds or brazil nuts
- 1 teaspoon milled flax seeds (“subin pashdan” in Hebrew) which is actually really cheep to buy. The one in my cupboard cost 7 NIS, and I’ve been adding it liberally to smoothies and breads for a few months already.
- 1 cup of water. You can use fruit juice or part yogurt if you prefer, but it already tastes good so it’s up to you!
Blend, pulsing first until the frozen banana is broken up, and then allow to run for 30 seconds on low, until a smooth consistency is attained. Taste, and adjust if needed.
Feel free to share part of your smoothie with your children or other visiting mothers, but make sure you eat plenty of it yourself! Enjoy with the knowledge that you’re feeding your body well.
ROASTED BEET AND ROOT VEG SOUP
This last winter I discovered that not only are beets full of beta-carotene and iron, but their greens are even more so! So now I know what to do with all those leaves that Israeli beets often come still connected to: In this recipe you roast the vegetables which brings out the richness of their flavor, and then add the greens to the soup just before blending. Tada!! You have a rich, tasty, full of pro-lactogenic vitamins, and is a hearty, filling soup for any new mama. I often bring this soup to mothers a day or two after birth and they swear there has never been a tastier soup.
preheat oven to a high temperature, about 250 celsius (just under 500 Fahrenheit)
chop and toss together on a baking sheet:
- 1-2 beets (also add if you want: turnips, kohlrabi, etc)
- 2 potatoes
- 1 onion
- 2 carrots or sweet potatoes
- 1/2 cup celery or fennel
- 3 cloves of garlic, still in their skins
- 1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt, pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Beet green, or a big handful of some other iron-rich leafy green like spinach
Roast for 30 min, or until nice and golden, softened and smelling wonderful. Tip into a cooking pot, making sure you squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skin first. Fragrant and yummy already! Add:
- Hot water to cover
- 2 cubes of beef stock, or vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- the washed, chopped beet greens, around 1 cup (or any other dark green leafy vegetable)
- optional: 1 can chopped tomatoes or 2 fresh chopped toms
Heat to boiling. Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove the bay leaf, and blend with a hand blender. You can leave a few chunky bits for texture, if you desire. Serve with crusty dark bread and a dollop of yogurt. *
Okay, so every now and again (or, often) a mother doesn’t have time to warm up a bowl of soup. Or sit down and make a proper breakfast for herself. These breakfast cookies are packed with goodness, it’s like a healthy granola in your hand. I’ve added oats and flax for boosting milk production. The up side of these cookies is that they don’t taste like cardboard – they are YUM. Especially if you add a handful of dark chocolate chips….
- 2 c. oats
- 1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
- 1 c. white flour
- 1 c. cereal (whatever you have on hand, from corn flakes to grape nuts )
- 1/2 c. wheat germ
- 1/4 c. ground flax seed
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 c. of seeds: sunflour, pumpkin, sesame, flax – whatever you have
- 1 cup butter
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1/3 cup raw tehina or peanut butter
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 c. white sugar (can be replaced with molasses or agave nectar)
- 1 TBS vanilla
- 1/2 c. chopped almonds
- 1 c. raisins or dried cranberries
- 1 c. dates (Or use dark chocolate chips if you want/need them!)
Preheat oven to 350f/180c. Line baking pans with baking paper or lightly grease. Combine dry ingredients. Beat butter, eggs, sugars and vanilla. Add dry ingredients, mix until blended. Mix in almonds, raisins or cranberries and dates. Shape into balls and flatten on cookie sheets. Bake 13/15 minutes, until lightly golden.
And lastly, some link love to some tasty, healthy, give-able recipes I’ve used and fallen in love with this year:
The Yummiest Easiest Roast Veg Soup Ever (my name for it) By JCasa
A Famous Plum Tart from The Kitchn
Chorizo and Chickpea Soup from Claudia at Aux Petit Oiseaux
Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin from Smitten Kitchen (In Israel, “margold” stalks are sweet and don’t need removing.)
Black Bean and Pumpkin Soup** from The Kitchn
Mediterranean Chickpea Salad from Cooking With My Kid
Whole Wheat Banana Bread by Creative Jewish Mom
Simple Crustless Spinach Quiche by Kahakai Kitchen (iron and protein, good warm or eaten cold with one hand…)
Maklooba the ultimate dinner to bring over! From the Middle Eastern Food Blog
Please if you have any more recipes that you love for breastfeeding and post-birth, do share! x
*As always, the color of beets passes through the system, so do not be alarmed at the color of your child’s next diaper change.
** Yes there are a lot of bean recipes in this list. If beans make you very gassy, they may make your child gassy too, and often they are on the ‘avoid’ list for breastfeeding mothers. But cutting them out completely deprives you both of a very use-able, healthy, inexpensive protein, and so the BETTER rule of thumb is to include beans, but to do so with moderation. Do not over do it, but eat beans regularly so that your system, and hence your baby’s system, tolerates them normally.