Fermented Foods Saved My Poop!

542390225756f78888142d54f3d17e01_S

They say that when you become pregnant, the foods that you crave are the foods that you grew up with – Comfort Foods. For me, growing up my dining experience was very much a Korean one, with rice being the staple (of course) and then a myriad of dishes, from spicy fish stews to oxtail soup, various types of kimchi and marinated greens, rice cakes and quail eggs, pickled root vegetables and salted fish eggs. When I was younger, bringing friends around for dinner was a mix between awkward and educational – luckily for me my friends were curious and adventurous enough to want to try these weird and wonderful new dishes and my mother is an excellent cook, so regardless of how exotic the flavour combinations may have been, they were always delicious.

The first trimester was horrible for me, to be completely honest. I could only really stomach pineapples and lemons, but now that I have passed (for the most part) the nausea, the cravings have started to take hold of my daily meal requirements. The biggest challenge for me was to satisfy my Korean Food cravings. Living in central France, where even finding tofu can be a bit of a scavenger hunt, trying to procure the ingredients to recreate any of my mother’s Korean dishes was impossible. ¬†Luckily, my parents sent me a care package with the needed ingredients to make many of my favourite Korean dishes, and my lovely friends in London sent me a care package with some of the essentials. Namely – KIMCHI.

Kimchi is a fermented cabbage dish that is a side to every single Korean meal. It’s as important (maybe more so) than the rice. This spicy, crunchy condiment is traditionally made of napa cabbage, hot Korean chili flakes, garlic (lots and lots of garlic), salt and fermented shrimp. Mix it all together in a glass bowl, preserve in a glass jar and allow it to ferment for a few days (or weeks – whatever your fancy) et voila – a delicious, stinky, spicy side to your meals.

Kimchi is a fermented food which means that it contains the prebiotics and the probiotics that your gut needs in order to function optimally. The raw garlic acts as a antimicrobial systemically and the dish is a great source of fiber as well. All in all, kimchi is a panacea for many digestive problems, and let me tell ya – it solved my pregnancy constipation in a pinch!!

My favourite dish is Kimchi Jjigae, which is a Kimchi Stew. I took a picture of it which is at the top of this post, and a hot bowl of this with a bowl of rice was Just the thing that I needed to satisfy my craving AND solve my constipation issues all in one go! If you are a kimchi lover like I am (and like a growing population of the world is, given the number of Korean Fusion pop up restaurants and the success of the Momofuku restaurant empire in NYC, Toronto and beyond…) then this simple stew is right up your alley. It’s simple, it’s healthy, it’s filling AND it’s great for your gastrointestinal tract.

RECIPE KIMCHI JJIGAE

200g Pork Belly (you can replace this with 1-2 cans of tuna if you wish)

4 – 5 cups of chopped Kimchi (home made or store bought – use the juice as well!)

1 heaping tsp of Korean Red Pepper Paste

1 tsp of sugar (Can use maple syrup as well)

2 -3 cups of water (depends how concentrated you want the stew)

1/2 package of tofu chopped into chunks

Spring onions chopped

In large pot, throw in the kimchi, the water, the pork belly, the sugar, the red pepper paste and the water.

Bring to a boil then lower it down to a simmer.

Let simmer half covered for about 30-45 minutes.

At the last minute, add the tofu and spring onions before serving.

Eat with rice.

Poo like a champ.

mmmmmm……

Things They Do Not Tell You About Being Pregnant

64d93d666355a43c4a86679a030d35b6_S

It has been a Very long time since my last post and I swear to Goddess that there is a very very good reason for this all. In fact, the image itself should probably give you a very good idea as to what has been going on with me (or at least, IN me) for the past 16 weeks and I thought I would dedicate this post to all of the things that I learned about the Miracle of Pregnancy.

First off, let me preface this by saying that I am (We are) thrilled. This was a long journey and as a naturopath who specialises in fertility and female hormonal issues, it was definitely a kick in the box to struggle with my own issues. There were months of temperature taking and cervical mucous monitering and miscarriages – let’s not forget the miscarriages. It is liberating to say it out loud as the shame that I held onto for the past couple of years was unbearable. How can a yoga-ing, organic-food eating, supplement popping, meditating naturopath Not be able to conceive at the drop of a hat (or panties for that matter!) or worse – not be able to hold onto a pregnancy? How was my body failing me even though I was doing everything Right?

I started to lose faith in myself as a naturopath and there was a point where I wondered about Natural Medicine as a whole and if it was failing me and my body, was it something that I wanted to continue to practice? There was just so much entangled in my fertility journey that not only encompassed my skills as a naturopath, but my faith in my own body to be able to heal itself, or at least know what was best, which is one of the main tenets of Naturopathic Medicine. Let Your Body Heal Itself.

I suppose that is why they say it is Darkest before the Dawn (or some shit like that) and I finally stopped trying to control my own treatment plan and I passed the buck onto a couple of my naturopathic colleagues and friends, who supplied me with their own course of action. I separated my Naturopathic Doctor self from my Hannah as a Woman self and gave the reins to someone else. Perhaps it was that switch in my own paradigm, perhaps it was the new regimen I placed myself on, perhaps it was the trip to India – who f*&king knows. But here I am, 16 weeks later in my 2nd trimester and I am still a little in disbelief that there is this little thing (that frankly, looks like an Alien…a very large headed alien…) inside my body. So…I guess my body really did know. I just had to trust that no matter what, baby or no baby, things would just kinda work themselves out. I believe that is the real goal of Naturopathic Medicine.

Now that I’m ”Out of the Woods” and I received a ”Low Risk for Trisomy” (which is a whole other experience that I will write about later and think is a load of crap designed to stress women over the age of 35 out) I thought that I would enlighten all of you about-to-get-knocked-up ladies and fellow pregnant women with the things that I learned about the First Trimester that everyone tries to Sugar Coat.

1) Morning Sickness. Yes. It SUCKS. I had it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. It would wake me up in the middle of the night. My experience was that I never actually vomited, although I sometimes prayed to the heavens that I would. At least it would feel like something would MOVE or that I would feel some temporary relief. It was constant, relentless, and you know that excess salivation that you get right before you upchuck? Yup – it was like that, but with no vomiting, no relief. And no, the candies and mints and Pericardium 6 (Seaband acupressure point) did dick-all. Ginger tea helped slightly, but i think it was more the hot water that would wash the saliva down my throat whilst burning my tongue at the same time that distracted me, momentarily, from the nausea. By the 12th week, it had lessened to 3 intense hours of dry-heaving between 6pm and 9pm, and now I only experience it if I’m hungry. So…I guess it’s better.

2) Headaches. Yes. Combined with the morning sickness and salivation, it’s pretty much like a horrible, Absinthe induced hangover for 3 months straight. Your head pounds, the dry heaves increase the pain, the heightened sense of smell only makes both the nausea AND the headaches worse. And of course they say you can’t take any painkillers for it (other than Acetaminophen, which as a stupid Naturopath I did not have any lying around the house) so the only thing I could do was lie in the dark, completely still. That was awesome.

3) Heightened Sense of Smell. If they could somehow recreate this superpower in sommaliers and coffee connoisseurs, there would be a helluva lot more than ”hints of lavendar” and ”notes of limestone minerality” on descriptive labels. I swear I could smell molecules fusing and breaking apart. Water smelled strange (horrible, nausea-inducing) and if my husband even tried to speak to me in the morning without brushing his teeth, there was usually a pillow smushed into his face. I swear I could smell people’s emotions from a block away. And it all made me want to barf.

4) Fatigue. Have you seen My Own Private Idaho? The narcoleptic? Enough Said.

5) Constipation. I am a regular pooper. I take pride in the fact that my bowels move regularly and healthily. Two to three times a day. I love to poop. I rarely, if ever, experience constipation. I am not poop-shy. I can poop in restaurants, bars, friend’s houses, port-o-potties – I hate to deny my body the pleasure of a poop. Pregnancy has denied me this for about 16 weeks now. And I don’t want to strain because I worry I will squeeze the baby out or get hemerrhoids. It’s a catch-22. It also leads to headaches.

6) Horrendous Farts. This is probably related to number 5 above. Pregnancy makes your digestion slow down so that all the nutrients can go to the baby. This makes you constipated, which then allows the gas to just hang around in your bowels around the already festering, fermenting, rotting, hardening constipation-causing poop. The gas that results? Warfare. Weapon of War. Plain and Simple. And then it makes you want to vomit and worsens the headaches. Combined with the sensitive nose, it’s enough to give you nosebleeds. Seriously.

7) Complete and Utter Paranoia. The pregnancy industry FEEDS on the fear. The medical industry does nothing to assuage it, instead choosing to treat pregnancy as a disease, rather than a completely natural state. Our world is a strange place in which to be a woman. Society pressures you into getting pregnant or making you feel as though there is something wrong or missing if you do not want to have children. Then the minute you get yourself knocked up, thereby fulfilling the ”one true role” of being a female (don’t get me started…) they guilt you and scare you and essentially make you feel as though you have now just made the worst decision of your life. Don’t eat this, do you have enough of that, stay away from bicycles and mountains and animals and public transportation and definitely do not lift a dumb bell but you can lift a toddler (which is heavier than a dumb bell…) and oh my GOD have you not taken your folic acid? Your baby is definitely going to have cleft palate or spina bifida or a chromosomal abnormality or be more prone to behavioural disorders. And being over the age of 35 suddenly puts you into the ”more likely to have a dead baby” and ”probably get diabetes or high blood pressure or placenta previa” category which does nothing to actually allow you to relax and Enjoy the pregnancy, something that is already hard to do when you’re suffering from numbers 1-6 on the list.

….But I hear it’s all going to be worth it in the end.

Am I right?

Guys?

Maternity Leave

Hello Everyone!

I know – it’s been far too long since my last health post, but I have a very good reason – I am now currently on Maternity Leave as we have welcomed our baby daughter into the world.

I will keep posting a few health tidbits here and there, although many of them may be baby and post-labour recovery related for all the new (and not-new) mothers and fathers out there.

Please do check in often, or sign up to my mailing list so as not to miss out on new recipes, health advice or DIY non-toxic products for your health, beauty and home!

Happy 2015 Everyone

Much Love and Light