Lactogenic Fennel Tea with Barley Water

digestion1I have always loved the taste of fennel, and I had heard that it was commonly recommended as a galactogogue, but I had never heard of making it with barley water until I bought the book Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year.

Fennel was a popular ingredient in medicinal remedies in Ancient Greece and was introduced to Italy and France by the Romans. It aids digestion by stimulating the production of gastric juices, and today it is often used to treat gastrointestinal problems, including IBS, indigestion, and gas.

Because it contains phytoestrogens, which help balance female hormone levels, fennel is a commonly used to increase milk production and breast development and to treat the symptoms of menopause and menstrual irregularities, such as PMS.

It is also a delicious culinary spice which tastes similar to anise or black licorice. Yum!

When I decided to prepare this tea, I was concerned that the barley water would give it a strange flavor, but it does not affect the flavor too much. Basically, the tea tastes like fennel tea that has been watered down a bit. I do, however, recommend that you add a generous amount of honey, preferably raw and organic, to improve the flavor.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of barley
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
Raw, Organic Honey

Directions:

1. Soak the barley in 3 cups of filtered water overnight.

2. Strain the water ( you may want to reserve the barley for another recipe, such as soup).

3. Heat the barley water till boiling.

4. Remove pot from heat, add 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds, and cover pot with lid.

5. Steep seeds for no more than 30 minutes.

6. Strain tea and add honey to taste.

7. Then just pour the tea in a thermos and sip on it throughout the day.

Enjoy! Try it and tell me if you notice a difference in your milk supply.

Lactogenic Sesame Shake (Raw Vegan Recipe)

I highly recommend this shake, whether you are just looking for a new yummy, healthy smoothie or you’re a mom looking to increase her liquid gold supply. As a new mom, I’ve spent a lot of time researching ways to improve my milk production.  Then one day after eating tahini several nights in a row, I realized that my milk supply had increased. The only changes I had made in my diet was eating tahini and dried figs, so I figured it was the tahini, and I was right. I searched online and discovered that sesame seeds are used as a galactogogue in Asia. Sesame seeds are also the strongest vegetable source of calcium. As much as I love tahini, eating it every day is not very appealing. Drinking a sesame seed milkshake on the other hand is something I can enjoy daily. I found a recipe for a sesame seed smoothie written by Fab Veggie Mama, but after trying it, I modified it to make it even tastier and more nutritious. I doubled the amount of sesame seeds to make it more potent and added dates, coconut oil, and brewer’s yeast.

Coconut oil contains large amounts of lauric acid, a powerful anti-microbial fatty acid that protects the immune system of the fetus and newborn. Pregnant and nursing mothers should eat coconut oil to increase the quality of the womb environment and breast milk,” according to Dr. Claudia Pillow. (For more information on this, see the article: Why Coconut Oil Is So Good For Pregnant & Nursing Mothers) It’s important to purchase raw, organic, cold pressed, extra virgin coconut oil. (For more information on how to select high quality coconut oil, read: How to Choose a Coconut Oil & Comparing Best and Worst Brands.)

After reading that Brewer’s Yeast is a galactogogue, I decided to add it to my shake. Besides, it’s also has a high nucleic acid count, an important component of cell development, and contains vitamins and minerals, such as, folic acid, B12, Potassium, Thiamin, Niacin, and Chromium. I listed this ingredient as optional because I find the smoothie to be sweeter and tastier without it, so if you’re not making this shake for its lactogenic properties, I recommend making it first without the brewer’s yeast, and then adding it to see how you like it. You may find that you need to add more dates or an additional natural sweetener if you do use brewer’s yeast.

Note: Allergies to sesame seeds are becoming more common.

Sesame Seed Shake

Ingredients:

4 Tablespoons of Raw, Unhulled Sesame Seeds, preferably organic.(White or black seeds are fine. Unhulled white seeds have a thin light brown shell.) I buy mine at Whole Foods.

10 oz. of Almond Milk (Good Alternatives: Coconut or Soy milk)

1tablespoon of Raw Coconut Oil

4 Medjool Dates (or Raw Honey) 

Cinnamon to taste

1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract 

Ice (as much as you like)

(Optional: Brewer’s Yeast)

Directions:

I use a handheld blender for easy cleaning, but a regular blender works just as well.

1. Cut the dates in half and remove the pit.

2. Place them in a bowl of warm water for softening.

3. Pour about half of the milk in the blender, add the sesame seeds, softened dates, coconut oil, vanilla, and cinnamon, and blend.

4. Add the ice and the rest of the almond milk and blend again.

5. Serve in a chilled glass and garnish with cinnamon.

Mothering Ourselves

Nighttime is a blessed time for my daughter and me. I dim the lights, burn lavender oil, play lullabies, and nurse and/or give her her bottle, depending on her appetite and my supply. And depending on her energy level, I also read her stories or play with her in bed. We both enjoy and look forward to this time together. Sometimes when I take her into the bedroom at night, she gets happy and excited because she knows it’s “our time” where we can give each other quiet, intimately loving attention.

There is something so beautiful about settling in at bedtime. It’s a time to tune into oneself and quiet the mind. To enjoy one’s own company and surrender all of the ambitions of the material world. It’s at night when we give our minds permission to rest. And quietly, our hearts and our feelings begin to speak. And if we allow them to speak, without analyzing or judging them, we can hear them loud and clear. If we accept our emotions, we begin to understand their origin. Seeing the root of our emotions begins the healing process if we are injured. And it helps us to know who we are and what we really need in life to feel whole. This is especially important if we tend to escape our feelings because we judge them as painful, dark, wrong, or overwhelming. These intense emotions signal feelings that are screaming to be noticed, validated, and healed, for they are giving voice to a need that requires nurturing, an injury, healing.

As a mother, I’ve witnessed my daughter scream and cry if I leave the room for a brief moment or if she awakes from her nap to discover I’m not immediately in sight. I know that she is safe and that I am coming right back, but she doesn’t know that. She feels scared that her mommy is leaving and that she doesn’t know if or when she’ll return. When she is fearful like this, I always pick her up as quickly as possible, embrace her, and kiss her, saying, “You’re okay. Mommy is here. I’m not going anywhere. I love you.” She calms down, feels relieved, and sometimes even smiles, because she knows how much she is loved and that she is safe. And as her mother, I feel great peace in being able to comfort her and show her how much she means to me.

Adult emotions can sometimes seem more complicated than those of a child, but at their core, they are quite similar. If we can acknowledge and accept all of our emotions, instead of running away from them, we will discover that they stem from one of two places: fear or love.

When our emotions are fear based, we are like a small child, who fears the worst and knows not how to protect and comfort herself. At times like these, if we respond with the tenderness of a nurturing mother, suddenly, we will find relief, for our hearts will know that our feelings are important and that we are safe and lovable just as we are.

If our feelings signal a dream or longing for some experience in life, we must honor this, too. Just as a mother listens to her daughter’s dreams of becoming a doctor, an actress, or a mommy, and cheers her on, telling her she can be anything she wants to be, we too should respond to our own dreams with enthusiasm and confidence. For anytime we dream about doing something special with our own life, it is our soul signaling what we were meant to do in this life. When we love and desire to be or do something positive in life, it is our spirit speaking in the language of emotions. For the spirit is always better expressed through the heart than the mind.

So anytime you feel emotions that stem from fear, please be kind to yourself, just as a mother is to her child. Remember to comfort yourself and know that you are safe in God’s arms. Then think about the opposite of your fear. If your fear is “I’m scared I am going to fail at _________,” then turn it around into a loving desire, such as, “I really want to succeed in ____________.” Then have faith in yourself and your dreams. Affirm your heartfelt emotions and claim your dreams as your reality, your destiny. Tell yourself, “I am so grateful that I am succeeding in doing/becoming/having/feeling __________.” For you deserve to be liberated from your fears and live a life that honors that which you love.

Ask any child whom they love more than anyone in the world, and they will often say their mother. And this is because mothers love and accept their children unconditionally, just as God loves and accepts us. Mothers are here to teach us how to love ourselves and others. And even if they fall short, as humans often do, we can still love ourselves this way. For our mothers do not determine our worth. Mothers teach us that we are loved. They express love, so that we may more easily love ourselves and others. Yet, we are all inherently worthy and valuable. So even if your mother didn’t express love for you, or she tried, but was never able to do so in the manner which you needed most, never doubt for a minute that you are lovable, for you are a miraculous expression of divine love. When you realize this, you will be able to give yourself the unconditional, compassionate, and ceaseless love you’ve always deserved.

Tonight while Leila was falling asleep, I caressed the side of her face and forehead. I ran my fingers through her hair and rubbed her back. Watching her slip into a most peaceful state, I couldn’t help but remember that God, in essence, is caressing and embracing me, too.

The Potential of the Present Moment

One of the most beautiful experiences of being a new parent is the opportunity to experience life anew through the eyes of your child. For an infant, every object, experience, moment, time, and place is something new and fascinating to be discovered and enjoyed. And as their parent, you are blessed in being able to witness and guide them through all of their “firsts” which continue for many years as they develop from newborns into adults. As adults, many of us have lost this sense of wonder and curiosity. Life goes from being ever new and exciting to routine and lackluster. Many of us begin to feel restless, bored, and unmotivated when we lose our experience of life as magical and full of possibilities. Some people use mind altering substances, the purchase of new material possessions, travel, or high risk ventures in sports, business, or love to regain their sense of aliveness and excitement. Sometimes these methods work for a while but other times we may find ourselves feeling a greater sense of emptiness once the “high” or sense of escape wears off.

But instead of continually chasing exciting experiences, maybe we just need to open our eyes to all of the newness that is occurring before our eyes at every moment. If we are really present, as in mentally attuned and spiritually awake to our immediate environment, we will discover that everything is new. Each moment in time is unique and full of potential if we only open our minds and hearts. The only thing that prevents us from perceiving the newness and uniqueness of each moment is our minds. When our minds are preoccupied with the past or the future and we numb ourselves to the present, we lose our sense of aliveness and we close ourselves off to beauty and possibility inherent in the present time and place.

As a new mother, my day to day life is full of possibilities as I watch my daughter notice or do something new each and every day. Something as simple as learning to sit up is an evolving process, which I have been observing for months. Observing every little stage in her development brings me into the present moment and makes each moment truly unique. At first she could only sit with her back supported by someone or some props, such as pillows. Then she was able to sit supporting herself by leaning onto her hands. Sometimes she would let go and her body would usually begin to lean forward until she folded to the ground. Other times, she would lean or flop to her side.

And more often than I would like, she would fall back and bump her head. Eventually, she could sit up straight, but only long enough to do a victory dance or sit poised for a picture, and then down she went again.

Then last week, her father and I took her to the beach to swim in the Pacific Ocean for the first time. We tried sitting her in the sand for a picture, and, suddenly, she was able to sit on her own for more than a few seconds. For the first time, she looked so relaxed, comfortable, and confident while sitting unassisted.

Since then, her sitting sessions have become longer and more stable. And now my focus has turned to her ever improving sliding, scooting, and other pre-crawling skills.

You don’t have to be a new parent to see the potential for new and beautiful experiences to spring forth from the present moment. Just put your cell phone away, take your mind off the past and the future, and take a deep breath. See your companion or your environment without labels. Don’t limit them with your ideas, memories, or feelings. Just witness and honor them as God’s creation. You will be amazed at the wonder and magic that will begin to blossom before your eyes when you receive the present moment with an open heart and mind.

Mango Snack

This Mexican treat has been one of my favorites since childhood. Just cut up a mango or two and place on a dish. Cover with freshly squeezed lime* juice, and then sprinkle with powdered chile and salt.

Both mangos and limes are a great source of Vitamin C, and mangos also contain Vitamins A & E in addition to Calcium.

*Use Mexican limes when possible as they give the best flavor and the most juice. If not available, key limes are another good option.