Soup Recipe 2: Green Papaya with Pork Trotters Soup
Good for boosting milk production
Preparation Time: 1¼ hour
Cooking time: 2½ hours (1 hour using pressure cooker)
Source of ingredients: Chinese grocery store, Chinese butcher
1 Pork trotter (ask your butcher to chopped it into chunks)
200g Green papaya
2 Red dates
½ Cup of soy beans
3 Slice of ginger
3 Stalks of spring onions.
Salt to taste
Soak soybeans for 1 hour. Discard water.
Remove seeds from the red dates, and chop into small pieces. Set aside.
Remove the skin and seeds from green papaya. Then chop into small chunks.
Blanch pork trotters in boiling water for 10 minutes to remove impurities. Rinse and set aside.
Place trotters, red dates, soy beans, ginger and spring onions into a cooking pot.
Add 1.5 litres of water, or until the water covers the trotters.
Bring the soup to boil. Then simmer on medium-low for 45 minutes. Check water level regularly and add hot water if the water level runs low.
Add papaya chunks and cook further for 20 minutes until papaya is fully soft and the pork meat is falling off the bone.
Season with salt to taste.
If you use a pressure cooker, follow instructions step 1 to 4 as above, then:
5. Place the trotter, red dates, soy beans, ginger and spring onion in the pressure cooker. Add water to halfway mark of the pot, or just covering the bones.
6. Boil the soup using high pressure for 35 mins.
7. Depressurise the cooker. Add papaya chunks and cook on high pressure for another 15 mins.
8. Season with salt to taste.
Soup Recipe 1: Black Bean and Pork Trotters Soup
- Boosting milk production
- Preventing lower back pain
Preparation Time: 1¼ hour
Cooking time: 2½ hours (45 mins using pressure cooker)
Source of ingredients: Chinese grocery store, Chinese butcher
- 2 Pork trotters (ask your butcher to chop them into chunks)
- 1 Cup of dried black beans
- 4 Dried red dates
- 1.5 Litres of water
- Salt to taste
- Soak black beans for 1 hour. Discard water.
- Remove seeds from the red dates, and chop into small pieces. Set aside.
- Blanched pork trotters in boiling water for 10 minutes to remove impurities. Rinse and set aside.
- Place trotters, red dates and black beans into a cooking pot.
- Add 1.5 litres of water, or until it covers the trotters.
- Bring the soup to boil. Then simmer on medium-low for 1-1½ hours, until the meat on the bones are soft and falling off the bone. Check water level regularly and add hot water if the water level runs low.
- Season with salt to taste.
If you use a pressure cooker, follow instructions 1 to 3 from above, then:
4. Place the trotter, red dates and black beans in the pressure cooker.
5. Add water to halfway mark of the pot, or just covering the bones.
6. Boil the soup using high pressure for 45 mins.
7. Season with salt to taste.
Breast feeding is highly recommended by the health professions and is increasingly encouraged by the Australian society.
Breast milk is the food that specifically caters to a baby’s growing needs. It can strengthen the baby’s digestion and increases its immune system. The act of breastfeeding can help to promote bonding between the mother and the baby. Where possible, we strongly recommend breastfeeding for the well being of the mother and the baby.
In order to maintain a healthy milk supply for the baby, it is very important that the mum have good nutrition and sufficient fluids to help boost the milk production.
In non-breast feeding women, around 2 litres of fluids per day is sufficient. However, during breast feeding months, fluid consumption should increase to at least 4 litres. They can be in the form of plain water, juices, red dates tea and soups.
A healthy diet is important too, not just for milk production, but also for the health of the mother during the breast feeding months. In Chinese Medicine point of view, milk is the extension of ‘Blood’. So breastfeeding is likened to constant blood loss. This explains why most breastfeeding mothers will not get their period until they stop exclusive breast feeding. Our body is so amazing!
In Chinese Medicine point of view, the quality of the milk is also richest when the women is without period, while the quality of the milk decreases significantly when the period resumes.
At the clinic, we often see breast feeding women present with dizziness, hair loss, tiredness, cold hands and feet, sore lower back (all signs of insufficient Blood). Sometimes, we see mothers suffers severe menopausal symptoms years after having their children. Most of the time, we can trace the cause to excessive breastfeeding during their younger days while also also having their period (therefore causing excessive Blood loss). As you can see, it is very important for breastfeeding mothers to look after their own body’s health during her breastfeeding months.
In our next post, we will share with you two traditional soups which can greatly strengthens the body while stimulating and boosting breast milk, so stay tuned!
Meanwhile, if you are experiencing any of the conditions listed above (dizziness, hair loss, tiredness, cold hands and feet, sore lower back), do speak to your Chinese Medicine practitioner, or call us, to discuss how acupuncture treatments and Chinese herbal medicine can strengthen your body.
We have been pretty busy over winter helping new mothers and mothers-to-be with birth-prepataion treatments, pregnancy issues, and of course, confinement care.
Over the next few posts, we will share with you some of the common concerns our parents faced. Hopefully, you will find these information useful for your confinement preprartion too!
Staying Warm This Winter
After a late start, temperatures are starting to drop. It is important to keep yourself warm if your confinement period is in the winter months.
When at home, pay particular attention in keeping yourself warm when:
1. you step out of bed,
2. when you step out of the shower/bath.
Ideally, you will be able to preheat your bedroom and bathroom. But be very cautious that you do not create electrical, fire, or trip hazards when you use heaters.
Besides heating the air in these spaces. Try keeping a pair of thick woollen socks next to your bed. Put them on before you step out of bed. This will help you to retain more body heat.
When you have finished bathing or showering. Dry off in the bathroom as quickly as possible. If you have washed your hair, use a hair dryer to thoroughly dry your hair, including your scalp.
It is also a good idea to shower during the warmer time of the day, such as the early afternoon.
As always, if you are stepping outdoors, make sure you cover up to stay warm.
"Do not touch water"
This is a practice where the mother avoid making any contact with water over the confinement period. Instead of using water on its own, various herbs are boiled in water to create solutions for cleaning and hydration.
This ritual may sound extreme. But in the era before treated tap water was available, water retrieved from rivers and wells could be infested with various water borne diseases. Therefore, the avoidance of these untreated water had protected mothers living in these environments.
Because tap water is reliably treated and easily accessible to us today, the practice of avoiding water is no longer required. Mothers may still choose to prepare various types of herbal solutions for drinking or cleaning for various reasons. But in modern Western medical and Chinese medical understanding, mothers can and safely touch and use tap water during the confinement period.
So, this practice of avoiding (untreated) water has an important role in some context, but is no longer applicable to us with access to clean, treated tap water.
"No fruits and vegetables."
Some mothers avoid eating all fruits and vegetables during the confinement period. This ritual is most likely a misguided attempt to avoid food that has 'cooling/cold' properties under the Chinese dietary framework.
It is true that 'cooling/cold' fruits and vegetables such as watermelon and cucumber are best avoided during the confinement period. However, this does not mean fruits and vegetables are to be avoided altogether. There are a number of non-cooling fruits and vegetables to choose from, such as grapes, plums, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. These alternatives are easily accessible in Australia, and are considered 'neutral' in thermal properties under the Chinese dietary framework.
The total avoidance of fruits and vegetables actually works against the benefits of the mother. In Western medicine's perspectives, a lack of dietary fibre will lead to constipation along with its associated discomforts and complications. Chinese medicine believes in a balanced consumption of meat, vegetables (including fruits) and grains in each meal. Chinese medicine does not endorse the total avoidance of fruits and vegetables during confinement.
Confinement Care recommends a diet that has a balanced inclusion of fruits and vegetables. As the consumption of protein increases during confinement, so should the amount of fruits and vegetables.
Try to vary your use of fruits and vegetables in each meal, and include fresh ingredients of different colours. The mix of colours will not only brighten your meal, you will also benefit from the bigger variety of nutrients they contain.
During confinement, it is wise to chose fruits and vegetables with neutral or warm properties, such as peaches, pumpkins, leek, and corn. You can also add warmth to the properties of your dishes by including ginger, garlic or onion in your cooking.
Cooking makes your food easier to digest, and easier for your body to absorb. Therefore, mothers should eat more cooked vegetables, rather than cold salads.
When it comes to fruits, keep a basket of fresh fruits on the kitchen bench, so you are not eating them cold out of the fridge.
Keep in mind that fruits and vegetables are vital to the well being of mothers throughout her whole life, including the confinement period. So, remember to include fruits and vegetables, especially vegetables in their cooked form, in your confinement diet.
"Eat pig trotters cooked in vinegar and ginger every day."
It is true that pork trotters cooked with vinegar and ginger is an essential part of a confinement meal plan (it promotes milk production, helps with wound healing and blood circulation). However, pig trotters cooked with vinegar and ginger is too tonic to be eaten immediately after labour. Depending on your pace of recovery, you can generally consume this dish towards the end of the second week.
So, pig trotters cooked in vinegar and ginger is an important dish in the confinement food calendar, but should only be eaten at the appropriate time.
"Close all windows, no fans, no air-conditioning"
This is only practised in a few cultural groups. However, for the new mothers who are caught in this practice, it is highly uncomfortable. Especially if this is happening over the Australian summer!
In the Chinese Medicine's system, 'wind' is a vehicle for illnesses to enter the body. It is important to understand that 'wind' itself does not cause illness, but rather it acts as a carrier that help introduce an illness into a person.
While eliminating wind in an environment can lower the chance of an invading illness, we also know that the lack of fresh air, or an overly hot environment will have direct negative health impacts on the mother. Extreme discomfort will also affect the mother's emotional well-being. For this reason, we think this is an overly extreme application of a precaution.
We recommend new mothers to access to fresh air (eg. open your windows when the weather is great), and while indoors, maintain a stable environment that is not too hot, not too cold, and definitely not one that fluctuates between the two extremes.
We acknowledge that excessive wind can affect a mother's health, but we also know mothers can benefit a lot from natural sunshine during confinement. So we recommend new mothers to find opportunity to spend a bit of time outdoors (in the garden, in parks and other open spaces, not crowded spaces like markets) on days when it is sunny and not windy. If you cannot avoid being in the wind or the breeze, then cover up appropriately and avoid exposing your lower back to the wind, and use a scarf to cover the back of your neck.
"No hair washing"
This is easily the most debated practice in confinement. It is also the reason why many mothers reject the confinement concept.
This concept probably originated from the colder regions of China in an era where dwellings were not effective at keeping the occupants warm. However, in today's setting, where we can easily regulate water temperature, maintain warmness in the bathroom, and use hair dryers to quickly dry our hair, Chinese Medicine practitioners no longer consider this restriction to be appropriate. In fact, in the Australian context, a lack of personal cleaning will more likely be a cause of illnesses.
Simply put, this restriction has its roots but is no longer required, and is not recommended in the modern Australian context.