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From eating for two…

After nine months of carrying a baby and bringing it in to this world, a woman’s body is bound to have some wear and tear, and needs some recuperation time.

Thus, the foods that a mother consumes during this time are ones that should not only boost the mother’s health but also prevent future illnesses. Some foods are also given to help boost the mother’s milk supply.

Where Chinese confinement dishes are concerned, while many of the foods used seem to be Chinese cooking basics, they are actually chosen for distinctive health-enhancing values.

... To eating for you

Here are some of the typical ingredients that are used in Chinese confinement dishes to help boost mama’s health.

This is given to mothers as it is rich in protein and vitamin E, and used to strengthen lungs and kidney and drain the lymph system of impurities.

Angelica (Dang Gui)
Dang Gui is widely known as a blood tonic, and largely used for enhancing blood circulation. It is rich in calcium and is used to nourish the female organs, alleviate menstrual pain and prevent hemorrhage.

Black Bean
Apart from being a rich source of fibre and folate, black bean is also rich in antioxidants and iron.

Black Fungus (hei mu er).
Due to its rich iron content, black fungus helps in cleansing arteries and expelling stale blood from body. Black fungus also aids in nourishing the lungs, stomach and liver.

Black Vinegar
Traditionally known for its curative ability to help purify the blood and cleanse the arteries. It also relieves ‘wind’ in the abdomen and cleanses the womb of residual blood.

It’s also used to prepare high calcium food as it will leach calcium from the bones of the meat (like pork) that it is cooked with, making it highly recommended for breast feeding mothers.

These are rich in phosphorous, selenium and calcium, and are used to invigorate vital energy and resolve fatigue depression and irritability.

Chicken contains the amino acid tryptophan, which helps to improve mood and guard against post-natal depression. It also has vitamins to boost energy levels.

Chinese Wolfberry
(Gou Qi)

The Chinese Wolfberry is very high in antioxidant and anti-ageing properties, and helps promote good eyesight. It is also nourishing for the liver and kidney and supposedly boosts your vitality.

Dried Longan
Dried longan improves blood circulation, heart efficiency and reduces stress and tension, and contributes to the nourishment of the blood through reinforcing the blood-building functions of the heart and spleen. It can also help in promoting restful sleep.

Eucommia Bark
(Du Zhong)

Eucommia bark (du zhong) is used to strengthen the kidney, sinews and bones, and also promotes blood circulation. It has warm and calming properties and is specifically beneficial in helping to reduce stress and tension.

Eggs help nourish the body, and improve your ‘chi’ system and complexion.

Fish is an excellent source of protein and Omega-3 fats. It is believed to help increase milk production, and has fats that are vital for infants’ brain growth and development. Fish maw is good for strengthening limbs and joints.

Old Ginger
One of the most commonly used confinement foods, it is used to drive out ‘wind’ left in the mothers body after childbirth. ‘Wind’ in the mother’s body has been said to cause illnesses like rheumatism and body pains.
Ginger is also frequently with ‘cooling’ foods to balance those elements. It also helps in supporting overall blood circulation and good intestinal digestion.

Polygonum (He Shou Wu)
Polygomum is a renowned Chinese tonic to prevent hairloss and graying hair. It improves blood circulation, and strengthens the kidney and liver. It is also excellent for maintaining internal strength and vitality, reducing blood pressure, cholesterol and has anti-ageing benefits.

Red Dates
Red dates are rich in iron, and used to improve energy and calm the mind. It is commonly brewed with dried longan and wolfberry to be consumed in place of water during the confinement period, as it is believed that plain water contains ‘wind’.

Sesame Oil
Sesame oil is used in many confinement food recipes largely to promote blood circulation, overall strength and vitality. It is rich in Vitamin E, iron and calcium, and is a ‘heaty’ ingredient that is added to many dishes to counteract ‘cooling’ foods that may induce ‘wind’ in the body.

Tumeric is used as an antibiotic and promotes a healthy circulatory system. It is also a powerful antioxidant best known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
With these under your belt, we hope you can see this confinement period not just as a chance to replenish and build up strength and vitality, but also to enjoy all manner of Chinese dishes in their multi-herbal splendour. Happy eating! LWB

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