We want to try to make each bite count when it comes to flavor, satiety, and postnatal repletion. Whether you are reading this pregnant or postpartum, the demands on body for nutrients is unlike literally any other time in your life and even more so if you choose to breastfeed.
We can easily add some depth to our food when we consider prepare and combine foods. While I encourage you to not overly obsess about these steps, they are there for you and your family to use is desired. Perhaps knowing a bit more about it will make it seem more doable!
Also worthy of noting here: If doing these things just seems like too much. - skip it! Read it through and plant the seed in your head so you can go back to it should circumstances allow.
Ways we can increase nutrients are
Food Synergy / Affinity
Culinary Medicine / Bioavailability
Low + Slow
Toasting grains, oats, spices is an added step but the flavor enhancement and helps with digestibility. To do this, use your seasoned cast iron skillet and heat to a low to medium, place in pan for 3 - 5 minutes. Watching and moving it to ensure that nothing gets blackened or stick - just gently toasted. You'll be able to smell a nice nutty flavor. Allow them to cool and either use or return to the pantry.
You can soak whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.
This technique transforms dormant properties and indigestible components to something full of minerals, accessible nutrients and enzymes.
Soaking Beans + Grains
While many do this and tout increased mineral absorption, chances are if you are eating a well rounded, anti-inflammatory diet you are already getting plenty of minerals.
That being said soaking grains is actually culturing them and by doing so you are increasing flavor, shortening the time to cook, releasing more nutrients, and making them easier to digest. Additionally there is something called anti-nutrients.
Generally speaking, the benefits of eating these foods unsoaked far outweigh the anti nutrients that are consumed BUT it's not a bad idea to understand this a bit deeper.
This is a time honored tradition that we've gotten away from the last few generations. Even a short soak will benefit if you don't have time to get things going. In general, it's smart to just think an overnight soak! This chart helps but I want to stress again, any amount of soaking will be of benefit.
This can be a regular Ritual of Care and is great job for loved ones looking to help.
It's easiest to think about folding this into the evening/before bed for a simple overnight soak.
Cover in warm water in a pot on the stove (or counter but the stoves residual warmth is helpful to cultures. (No, it's not necessary to pre-warm your stove.)
Add one teaspoon of acid per cup of grain.
The acid can be lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, whey, buttermilk, yogurt.
Leave covered sitting out at room temp (overnight is a great rule of thumb but remember any amount of soaking is beneficial).
When done soaking, give it good rinse and cook!
Couple notes: If you skip over the acid and just do the soak, that works well too!
Cook times will likely be shorter for soaked grains. Times are so variable as it depends on the length of soak, heat of pot, age of grain, amount of liquid etc.
A word on soaking nuts + seeds
I know this one is kind of odd for folks as many of us are used to our roasted, toasted, salty nuts. Soaking nuts and seeds happens for the same reasons as grains but in this case we use salt to breakdown the anti-nutrients. Raw nuts are jam packed but we can't absorb lots of it until we deactivate the anti nutrients (in this case phytic acid). What's cool as that many traditional cultures historically did this with seawater and sun.
Just like with the grains, this is about enhancing nutrients. IF YOU MISS THIS STEP, DO NOT WORRY! We aren't eating copious amounts of nuts initially anyway.
In regards to the early postpartum, it's great to let loved ones know that you could use their help with keeping things soaked - especially if you plan on using Medjool Dates and raw cashews.
There are some rules of thumb here. This is another area to not overthink too much right now. Simply taking your prenatal will be a big step in the right direction. When you are feeling ready, keep these things in mind.
Pair Iron + Vitamin C rich foods. A simple squeeze of citrus will do this!
TO BE UPDATED
Garlic needs to be chopped and wait about 10- 15 minutes for the allicin to stabilize.
Cutting fruits (and veggies) up helps break down the rigid cell walls.
We aren't eating raw foods in the early postpartum anyways BUT cooking foods also increases the bioavailabilty.
Foods with lycopene and betacarotene will increase by cooking
Denaturing (lightly cooking)proteins in meat and eggs so they are absorbed easier.
Cooking decreases oxalates which makes iron and other mineral more available.
Turmeric needs peperine aka Black Pepper (and fat) to be more bioavailable to the body.
Place mushrooms gills side up in the sun for 10 -30 minutes to drastically increase the Vitamin D content in the mushie!
Eat Fat! Yes, here it is again. We need fat to absorb the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, K, E) in food!
After soaking, you can go one step further and Sprout! Yeah, now you are ambitious! BUT this is time consuming, and requires clear attention. Again, thinking about setting out a reminder or a loved one request to help with this as a Ritual of Care - they can facilitate this as a lovely use of their helpful energy and intentions.
Since sprouts aren't generally recommended to eat in pregnancy, the household might be a bit out of practice.
We still want to work clean here so we can avoid untoward yuck like bacterial growth e coli and other unsavory and dangerous food-borne illness. Clean conditions (clean hands, equipment and timing) are important components to this to ensure we consume sprouted foods safely. Always consume sprouts within a few days, fresh and straight out of the fridge.
There is a whole world of things that can be sprouted. Broccoli seeds are a personal favorite. The moong bean you receive will be great to sprout as well.
This will be updated asap but for now,
JUST REMEMBER, IN GENERAL, WE THEN WANT TO LIGHTLY COOK THE SPORTS INSTEAD OF EATING LOTS RAW IN THE EARLY POSTPARTUM.