It’s Fall, Daylight Saving’s Time, and it’s the big push before the holiday season picks us up and blows us into 2019. I wanted to share something cozy. Something that is nourishing. Yes, the blog below reads like it’s for new moms, and it is. If that doesn’t apply to you, skip to the bottom for your own cozy bit. Plus there are three recipes! The recipes are for everybody… comforting and perfect for these cool, crisp days ahead.
There's a book that's been making the rounds in a lot of yoga circles, mommy blogs, and even cooking Instagram stories since 2016. I don't know that it would have made it into my sphere until my client Ashley wrote me saying she and her husband were expecting a child and that she wanted me to cook for her first 40 days after she had the baby. She sent the link to the book and I couldn't wait to receive it and get started on my new project.
I love an assignment. I love taking my weekly cooking to a whole 'nother level of service. And I love babies, and new moms! I got the book and it's really special. The First Forty Days - The Essential Art Of Nourishing The New Mother by Heng Ou. Have you heard of it? If you are expecting or have someone in your life that is, buy this book. It's kind of a game changer.
History shows that in the past, as well as in other cultures, new mothers were awarded forty days of stillness, quiet, a cocoon-like environment to heal their bodies, recover from pregnancy and birth, and create a sacred bond with their new child. A postpartum period that is sometimes called the fourth trimester. "Other people in her community would feed her, nurture her, and take all responsibilities off her plate so that she could focus on one thing only; transitioning healthily and happily from expectant woman to mother."
I cooked the first 40 days for Ashley to great success. It was a time of homemade meals that rebuilt her energy, replenished her lost nutrients, and helped her body produce breast milk. I fell in love with the book and immediately sent copies to my friends who were expecting children of their own. I've even gone on to cook the first 40 days for two other mothers.
Ashley and her husband Nick just welcomed their second child into the world and I am cooking a new set of first 40 days for them! Aside from the recipes that are specific to restoring the health of the new mother, having someone show up every week with meals takes away the tasks of shopping, prep, and clean up so the couple's energy can be devoted to each other and their growing family.
I shared a recipe from the book last January (also below) with the intention of sharing the book at a later date. Now seemed like the perfect time. As I am revisiting the book, it has me thinking about blocks of time.
40 days. A lot can happen during that period of time on the calendar. We can get a promotion or lose our jobs. We can meet the person of our dreams or get our hearts broken. We can get a clean bill of health or we can lose a loved one to illness. Yes, I've presented a scenario of either/or and high/low scenarios. No, life doesn't always happen in extremes. In 40 days, it'll be December 15th. Ten days before Christmas, 16 days until New Year's Eve. Eeeeesh. I don't know about you, but 2018 was a blip for me. So fast.
I'm determined, during these last 40 days, that the change of 2018 will not 'go out with a bang,' but with a stillness, a quiet time of extreme self-care that restores and nourishes me for the coming year ahead. I have big things on my TO DO list for 2019 and I want to be at my best. I don't want to wait until January 1st to commit to sleeping well, eating well, drinking my water, keeping up with my movement schedule, etc.
So many things are out of our control these days - violence and the small minded and small-heartedness of others, the political atmosphere, the economy - but I challenge you to take the wheel of your own self-care. That is the only way we'll be at our best to deal with those other things.
And our own personal self-care and wellness is really the best gift we can give our loved ones. We'll show up for them in a more vibrant way. We'll truly be present for their needs. I know that loving myself expands my capacity to love everyone else. And the good thing about calendar blocks of 40 days, no matter how they go - wonderfully or poorly, there will be another 40 days behind it to either try again or build on our success.
Ginger Fried Rice
2 cups cooked white rice (leftover rice will work best here) or you can make it fresh
3 tablespoons sesame oil, plus more as needed
3 pieces of 2-inch bacon slices (optional)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 slice of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 large pasture-raised eggs, beaten with a pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat, add bacon (if using), garlic, and fresh ginger, and cook until tender and fragrant. Add the cooked rice to the pan and spread it out evenly, making a thick layer, and cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour the beaten eggs into the rice and continue to stir frequently, until the eggs are cooked, about 5 minutes. Add the green onions and cook for another 2 minutes, uncovered, until the rice is golden in color and the eggs and onions are cooked. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve warm.
Oats And Chia Congee
2 cups rolled oats
1 1⁄2 cup steel-cut oats
1-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and halved
Pinch of sea salt
1⁄4 cup chia seeds
1⁄2 cup quinoa flakes (optional; add another 1⁄2 cup/120 ml water if using)
For the toppings:
1 cup milk (or cream, coconut milk, or nut milk of your choice)
2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter
1⁄4 cup maple syrup, or to taste
Fresh or frozen fruit or berries, for serving (optional)
Chopped almonds or other nuts, for serving (optional)
In a medium pot, bring 41⁄2 cups water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the rolled and steel-cut oats, the ginger, and salt. Reduce the heat to medium and let cook—three-quarters of the way covered— for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 15 minutes; add more water if needed, keeping an eye on the pot so it doesn’t boil over. Add the chia seeds and quinoa flakes, if using, during the last 15 minutes of cooking, stirring occasionally so the seeds and flakes separate and incorporate into the mixture. Once the grains are soft and creamy, and most of the liquid is absorbed, remove from heat.
When you are ready to eat, serve warm with the milk, coconut oil or butter, maple syrup to taste, plus fresh fruit and almonds, if you like.
Peanut Butter And Honey Rice Crispy Treats
Makes an 8-inch square pan
1 cup peanut butter
1⁄2 cup salted grass-fed butter
1⁄2 cup honey
2 cups organic puffed rice
Pinch of sea salt
Optional add-ins: chocolate chips, peanuts, shredded coconut, dried fruit of your choice
In a small saucepan, melt the peanut butter, butter, and honey over medium heat, stirring until well combined.
Put the puffed rice in a mixing bowl with the pinch of sea salt, add the peanut butter mixture, and stir until the cereal is evenly coated. Stir in any optional ingredients you’d like. Transfer the mixture to an 8-inch (20-cm) square pan and press down gently to cover the bottom. Chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, or up to several hours. When they are hard to the touch, cut into squares and enjoy. They will soften at room temperature, so best to keep them chilled until you are ready to eat.