Traditional Jamaican Postpartum Care | Ancient Recipes & Healing Practices
When it comes to whole body postpartum healing, there is incredible wisdom that has been passed down from cultures and societies all over the world. Some of the cultures that we’ve collected rituals and recipes from include Chinese, Korean, Indian, Jamaican, and English. This traditional postpartum series is meant to make this sacred information more accessible and honor the ancient healing modalities that have been lost in our modern world.
The traditional Jamaican view of the postpartum period honors ancient rituals, rest, and family.
After birth, the placenta and umbilical cord are buried in the ground. Often, families plant a small sapling at the burial spot, watching as it grows alongside the baby.
Rest and isolation are another theme that remains prevalent throughout cultures all over the world. In Jamaica, new mothers are advised to stay indoors and are warned of catching a “baby cold”.
Many Jamaican foods include inflammation fighting herbs and spices such as cinnamon and ginger. These also aid naturally in digestion and offer many benefits to the recovering postpartum body.
Nourishment and recovery through traditional postpartum recipes and practices that have been passed down through generations of mothers needs to be celebrated and honored. Jamaican culture offers us another example of tradition and food as a channel for whole body healing, and we are so grateful to be able to share some recipes with you today.
Recipes for Postpartum Healing
Cornmeal or Oats Porridge
Recipe submitted by Cecile Donnarie Edwards, M.Ed, PPDoula, Mindfulness Coach, and Wellness Facilitator. She noted that her family cooks in a way that honor their ancestors who will whisper to them when to stop. In order for these recipes to be just right, you have to be willing to play with it!
- 1 cup cornmeal or oats (quick oats)
- ½ cup condensed milk
- ½ cup condensed sweet milk
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tablespoon of butter (optional)
- ¼ cup brown sugar (optional)
- A few cinnamon sticks
- ½ tsp molasses
- Pinch of salt
- 3 cups of water
- You can also find coconut condensed and sweet milk for a vegan version. I suggest sprouted oats and organic cornmeal
- Put cornmeal or oats into a separate bowl.
- Add one cup of water and mix until oats or cornmeal is saturated and mixed in with water.
- It should be able to be stirred with ease, so it is loose
- In a saucepan add 2 cups of water and bring to a light boil. If using cinnamon sticks you can add to the water, but this is optional. Add salt to boiling water
- Slowly stir cornmeal/oats mixture into water. If you just dump it in it will get lumpy. Add spices, cinnamon, nutmeg
- Stir mixture regularly to ensure it does not lump up. Add more water as needed to keep it like a thick soup. Do this for about 10-15 mins
- Add molasses, condensed sweet milk and condensed milk and stir thoroughly, add sugar if desired – add more milk to achieve the consistency desired. You may also add regular milk to form the consistency desired.
- Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Add ½ tablespoon of butter to top to serve. Serves about 4. This is a versatile meal that can last a few days and easily be reheated, just add more milk or butter for even more dynamic flavor and healthy fats for healing.
Jamaican Chicken Soup
A traditional soup recipe, known to be prepared in Jamaican households every Saturday.
- 2-3 lbs chicken breast (or your favorite parts)
- 3 quarts broth (can use part water if you don’t have enough on hand)
- 1 large kabocha squash
- 1 small butternut squash
- 4 stalks celery
- 1-2 medium onions
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/4 tsp powdered)
- 1 tsp pimento/allspice seeds (1/4 tsp dried)
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
Add any combinations of the following:
- Boniato potatoes
- Irish potatoes
- Yellow yam
- Ripe plantains
- Green bananas
- Chayote squash
Add broth to a large stockpot that hold approx 6 quarts or more if you are making the recipe as-is. and bring to a boil. Add pimento seeds, chicken and uncooked pumpkin/squash at this point.
Reduce heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes, until chicken is mostly cooked. To make things easier, like I do, you can bake the squash whole until it is tender prior to making the soup, then you would just scoop the flesh out and add to the soup at a later point.
Remove chicken from pot, and once cooled enough to handle, shred if desired.
Peel and cut up anything you’d like to add to the soup, such as onions, potatoes, yams, plantains and carrots. Make dumplings if you are adding them in.
Scoop pimento seeds out of the soup and add in onions, celery, yams and potatoes. Let cook about 15 minutes.
Remove the celery if you wish and add in chicken, plantains, scotch bonnet, carrots and dumplings. Let cook another 15 minutes.
Add spices (thyme, garlic, salt, powdered pepper, and powdered allspice if you did not use pimento berries) to taste.
Let simmer a short while until it smells and tastes awesome and additions are cooked to your preference.
Serve with additional fats such as butter or tallow for extra nourishment!
Jamaican Jerk Chicken
A healthy, simple meal that if full of flavor. Ginger and cinnamon offer help with digestion and inflammation while garlic brings antibacterial properties.
- 1 whole free range chicken- cut into pieces
- 1 tbsp agave syrup
- 1/2 cup avocado oil
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp jerk seasoning blend
- 1 red onion-cut in half and sliced
- 1 jalepeno- sliced
- 2 inch piece of ginger-peeled and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic- chopped
- 1/2 cup cilantro-chopped
- 2 cups water
- salt/pepper for taste
- avocado oil for drizzling
Turn on your grill.
Add avocado oil, lime juice, agave syrup and 1 tbsp of jerk seasoning to a small bowl mix well. Place chicken pieces in a large bowl and pour the marinade over the chicken. Let the chicken marinate for 20 minutes, or up to 2 hours.
Place the chicken on the grill and brown both sides over medium flame. About 3-4 minutes on each side. When chicken is brown and crispy, place on a plate and set aside until ready to use.
In a medium pan over medium heat, drizzle the bottom with avocado oil. When oil is hot add onions, ginger, garlic, and the remaining jerk seasoning. Sauté until soft. Add in chicken pieces, season with salt and pepper, then pour water over top. Cover the pan with a lid and let the mixture simmer over medium/low heat for 30 minutes.
When chicken is done simmering, serve with a side of brown rice. Garnish with sauteed onions, sauce and chopped cilantro.