Note from Mommypotamus: If you happen to see me today and there’s a light bruise on my arm, it’s only because I had to pinch myself to make sure this is really happening. Jenny of Nourished Kitchen is one of my favorite bloggers ever – and I mean OF. ALL. TIME – and I am so thrilled to share this guest post from her today.
If you haven’t had a chance to pop over to her blog yet, you’ve been missing out. Her recipes – like this three ingredient holiday candy – are both elegant and simple. Discovering them is what made me first fall in love with the art of preparing real food. Thank you for stopping by, Jenny!
Like most of you, over the last few weeks . . .
I’ve found myself checking in on the Mommypotamus Facebook Page where I eagerly awaited any hint of their baby’s impending birth, and when those first few posts announcing Heather’s labor found their way to my feed, I rejoiced for my friend at the continued growth of her beautiful family.
I remembered my own baby’s birth over 8 years ago – the fear, the pain, the tears, and a joy so profound it still wakens within me a great humility for having been blessed enough in my life to be the vehicle for someone else’s entrance into this world. I still cradle my child, kiss the top of his head and remember what it was like to nurse him, to sleep with him in our bed. Those first few quiet weeks as the baby finds itself out of the womb and nestled into a welcoming and gracious family are so tender, so sweet and so very intimate and private.
When I read the news of Heather and Daniel’s newest baby’s birth, my first instinct was to knock on their door with a big casserole – something easily reheated, nourishing for a new mother and effortless. Yet, driving 1,300 miles from my home to theirs was out of the question, so I did the very best with what I have: a virtual casserole for nursing mothers, sent the way of Mommypotamus not only for you, her fans, to appreciate, but also so that my effort, no matter how minimal, might help to ease her burden and help her to sleep away her babymoon without worrying over writing and posting.
Spiced Whole-Grain Baked Porridge for Nursing Mothers
When I think of food for nursing mothers, I think of calorie-dense, satiating meals that aren’t apt to upset the new baby’s tummy. I remember nursing my son, and how my hunger pangs would begin as soon as he latched – it takes a lot of fuel to make enough food to nourish not only mother, but her baby as well. In this simple, baked porridge (like my Baked Oatmeal Recipe at Nourished Kitchen) not only is the focus on calorie-dense foods, but also on lactogenic foods – that is foods and herbs thought to promote a high supply of breastmilk.
Quinoa, Oats and Barley
Rich in calories and carbohydrates, many grains are thought to support breastfeeding. Quinoa, in particular, was prized by the people of South America for its ability to boost waning milk supplies and stimulate the flow of milk, according to Dr. Price in his landmark book about native nutrition: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Oats, barley, millet and pumpkin seeds share similar folk traditions in other areas of the world. To increase the bioavailability of the minerals contained within these grains, I recommend soaking them which helps to deactivate antinutrients like food phytate while releasing the full complement of minerals available in the grain. Learn more about soaking grains here.
Eggs, Coconut Oil and Coconut Milk
Some babies exhibit colic-like symptoms or digestive upset when their mothers eat or drink dairy products, so I favor dairy-free diets for most nursing mothers and, indeed, adopted one myself until my son outgrew his early sensitivities. Yet, the importance of nutrient-dense, fat-rich foods are critical to upping the caloric load for nursing mothers as well as supporting their overall health and that of their babies with fat-soluble vitamins. This porridge receives a hefty dose of nutrient-dense fats with the inclusion of pasture-raised eggs, coconut oil and coconut milk. Further the lauric acid found in coconut oil and coconut milk shows some promise in supporting healthy immune systems – good for both mother and baby. You can learn more about my take on healthy fats here.
Medicinal and Culinary Spices
In addition to cereal grains, pasture-raised eggs and wholesome fats, I’ve added a touch of spices that offer both medicinal and culinary use. I’ve long marveled at the way flavor-rich herbs and spices not only enhance the outcome of dishes, but also infuse them with medicinal properties. You can learn more about the medicinal uses of common culinary herbs here.
In this recipe, I’ve included ground fenugreek – a golden colored spice with a strong maple-like aroma that has long been used for its ability to promote breastmilk production. Fennel provides a faint licorice-like flavor to the baked porridge, and like fenugreek, is associated with increased breastmilk production in traditional herbal medicine. Blessed Thistle also supports breastfeeding mothers as a lactogenic spice.
Spiced Whole Grain Porridge Recipe
- Pour the oats, barley, quinoa and pumpkin seeds into a large mixing bowl. Cover with warm water by 1 inch, and stir in the vinegar. Allow the grains to soak for at least 12 and up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well, and return to the mixing bowl.
- Heat the oven to 350 F, and grease a 2-quart baking dish with coconut oil.
- Beat the eggs, coconut milk, coconut oil and maple syrup together. Pour them into the mixing bowl with the soaked grains, and stir them until evenly combined. Fold the currants into the bowl.
- Heat a skillet over high heat, and toss the fenugreek, fennel and blessed thistle into the skillet, toasting them gently for 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and grind until they form a fine powder. Fold the powdered herbs into the contents of the mixing bowl, then pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the the top of the porridge is golden brown and its center is no longer liquid. Serve warm with yogurt, kefir, coconut milk or maple syrup.
Jenny McGruther is a food educator and the author of Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle (available in spring of 2014 from Ten Speed Press). She is also the voice behind the award-winning traditional foods website, www.nourishedkitchen.com. She teaches workshops and retreats on traditional foods, fermentation, and food activism. Jenny’s work emphasizes back-to-basics, old-world culinary techniques, and simple, traditional home cooking. Jenny lives with her husband and son in the central mountains of Colorado, there she and her husband created and managed one of Colorado’s most progressive farmers markets.