by Carrie Saum
It’s springtime, which means everything is blooming, alive, and vital. My body starts craving fresh green veggies, berries, and other seasonal vegetables. One of my favorite salads for this late spring and summer? Strawberry and fennel with baby kale and goat cheese. Salads are fast, easy to prep and it doesn’t take much to make them a little fancy.
Getting enough green leafy veggies can also be a challenge for breastfeeding or pumping mamas, and we need those powerful plants to bring nourishment to our babes. Iron is a key component to maternal and infant health, and pregnancy and breastfeeding can take a massive toll on our iron stores. It’s important to keep that in mind as we care for our tiny people and also care for ourselves.
One key component of iron absorption that is commonly overlooked is the necessity of vitamin C. Vitamin C plays a powerful role in assimilation of iron in the body. Think about it this way: Your body produces milk, but the milk doesn’t do much without a way to move it. We use our babies mouths or breast pumps to deliver the milk to the right place so it can be utilized. In the same way, iron needs vitamin C to deliver it to our bodies’ cells for maximum benefit. (If you’re interested in learning more about the important role of iron and vitamin c, read this great info from the CDC.)
This salad uses plenty of fresh, iron-rich green veggies, and seasonal strawberries, which are loaded with vitamin C. The addition of fennel provides a gentle boost to your milk supply as well as slightly sweet, bright crunch with a hint of licorice flavor that makes all of the flavors pop.
If you’re steering clear of cheese, I suggest ripe avocado to add creaminess and healthy fat. I also have a bottle of pomegranate balsamic vinegar that I use for things like this. As far as berries are concerned, I tried this with blueberries because we went berry picking last summer and found ourselves with five pounds of blueberry goodness. IT WAS AMAZING. I regret not getting a photo of it. But strawberries are a great addition to this salad, and have enough vitamin C to help your body absorb the iron in the greens.
If you use baby kale, this salad stays fresh for 48 hours in the refrigerator, so it’s convenient to make one large salad and snack on it for a couple of days. If baby kale is too much for you or your little one, try baby spinach for a milder flavor and tender texture. It just won’t keep longer than a few hours once it’s dressed.
- 4 cups baby kale (Baby kale is more like spring greens and less like…kale.)
- 10 fresh strawberries, sliced and halved
- 1 small fennel bulb, sliced thin (I recommend a mandolin)
- 3-4 oz goat cheese crumbles, or one small avocado, diced
- small handful of microgreens (optional)
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds (optional)
- red wine vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- Herbs d’Provenance
- Salt and pepper
- Combine all prepped produce in a bowl.
- Top with goat cheese and herbs and chia seeds if you’re using them.
- Drizzle with olive oil and vinegars. Finish with a few shakes of salt and pepper.
- Let everyone know you’re a salad magician.
We don’t need to make this harder than it absolutely has to be, mamas. Keep it simple, easy, and tasty. The fact that it’s packed full of nutrition just makes it that much better.
It’s Not Easy Being Green,
*Note: It’s important to point out that most women aren’t going to need to eat food with the intention of upping their milk supply, if everything is working the way it is supposed to, your baby will know how to up your supply just fine themselves. Skin-to-skin and feeding on demand are the best ways to increase breastmilk supply to meet your baby’s needs. (Concerned you have low supply? Read this to help figure out if it is something you need to be concerned about.) For those women, galactalogues just happen and they don’t need to think about it. But some women, like me, do need a boost. As a mom who ended up exclusively pumping and indeed having low supply such that I ended up on medication solely to increase my milk production, I know what it’s like to look for anything, anything at all that would help my body make even just a little more milk to help feed my baby. With the support of my health care providers, we tried everything. It becomes “I will eat all the cookies, I will drink all the shakes, I will eat all the parfaits!” if it even just makes me feel like I’m doing something to address the low supply struggle, it is worth it.
Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields. With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.