My favorite time with Coraline is first thing in the morning. I think this is because the dark nighttime hours are the longest I go without looking at her, and so in the morning she always looks new and different. But watching her change and grow over these past two months has been incredible, and she’s growing well: At her eight-week check-up she measured off the charts in length (24.5 inches!) and has gained four pounds since birth. But most importantly, she is a happy, happy baby. Apparently, these bubbies make super-milk.The same diet rules that applied while pregnant apply while nursing for the most part, since what you eat directly affects the taste and nutritional potency of your milk. Keep taking your prenatal vitamins, watch your caffeine intake (although it would take about five cups of coffee to give baby a buzz), drink lots of water, limit processed foods, and eat your organic fruits and veggies (but watch out for raw cruciferous vegetables as they can make baby gassy). If you ate spicy, garlicky, or otherwise strongly flavored foods (like curry) while you were pregnant, the baby is probably used to it and so won’t be bothered if you eat those things while nursing.In addition to following these general guidelines, I have a secret weapon: barley stew. The following recipe comes from Mina Dobic, a renowned macrobiotic counselor (click here for more on macrobiotics). She recommends that the stew be eaten four times a week as long as you’re nursing; it contains all the nutrients and enzymes necessary for proper development of the baby’s organs, blood quality, and immune system (which is critical if, like me, you’ve made the informed decision not to immunize).Barley Stew (aka Liquid Gold)
- 1 cup whole or pearled barley
- 1 inch of kombu seaweed
- 4 slices of dried lotus root
- ½ cup onion
- ½ cup green cabbage
- ½ cup burdock root (peeled and cut into matchsticks)
- ½ cup kabocha squash
- 1 umeboshi plum OR pinch of sea salt
- Scallions and parsley for garnish
(You’ll want to use a heavy pot, like a Le Creuset, and a flame deflector to keep the pot evenly heated.)
- Soak the barley overnight in 4 ½ cups of water with the seaweed. Soak the lotus root for 30 minutes before use.
- Cook the barley and lotus root, covered, over low flame for 1 hour.
- Add the onion, cabbage, burdock root, and squash. Bring to a boil and then continue to cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
- Twice a week add the umeboshi plum to season, otherwise use a pinch of sea salt.
- Puree the stew in a food processor (like a Cuisinart).
- Garnish with chopped scallions and parsley.
- Always serve with one cup of steamed leafy greens like kale, bok choy, or collards.
Photograph by Shannon Gallagher