Today’s LIFEHONEY Wellness Wisdom comes from Korea. It is for Mothers, Mothers-to-be, and for the rest of us who just love soup.
Miyeokguk is a savory soup made of edible seaweed, typically accompanied with some form of protein (e.g. beef, prawns, etc.) and light seasoning. This Korean seaweed soup is traditionally eaten on birthdays or served to a woman after just delivering a baby. In fact, in many parts of Korea, new mothers will eat miyeokguk for breakfast, lunch and dinner for an entire month after giving birth.
Mothers eat this soup postpartum because of the beneficial nutrients contained in the seaweed. It is a great source of calcium, iodine, fiber, omega acids, and vitamins B1 & B3. It helps with breastmilk supply and speeds recovery.
In addition to being lovingly served bowls of miyeokguk throughout the day, the new mother stays at home to look after her newborn baby and regain her strength. She lays down on the traditional Korean heated floor (ondol) to sweat out the "bad stuff" and take in the “good stuff” in the form of healthy miyeokguk and a big dose of relaxation.
(Serves 2 to 3)
- 1/2 ounce (16 grams) dried seaweed, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes
- 1 pound free-range beef brisket, skirt steak or wild buffalo, cut into thin and small pieces
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fish sauce (or salt and soy sauce to your taste)
- 2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Step 1. Rinse and drain the seaweed. Squeeze out excess water. Cut a few times into bite-size pieces.
Step 2. Transfer the seaweed to a large and heavy pot. Add 8 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil for about 10 to 12 minutes.
Step 3. Turn down the heat to medium. Add the beef (or your choice of protein), cover, and cook for 40 minutes.
Step 4. Stir in garlic and fish sauce. Cook for another 10 minutes, or until the beef is tender and the broth is savory.
Step 5. Stir-in the sesame oil. Ladle into bowls and serve. This soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Step 6: Serve with rice or quinoa.
I am not a new Mother nor am I a seasoned cook, but when I was told about this ancient wellness recipe from my Korean acupuncturist, I went to the grocery store and proceeded to cook up a batch. It’s super simple (even for me) and my fiancé was over the moon for it. It is now our go-to soup on cold, wintery days.
Korean tips for caring for a mother’s health after delivery:
- Rest. It is crucial to rest whenever you can, especially in the first few weeks after delivery. Sleeping will help with your speed of recovery and health.
- Stay warm. This can be done by consuming warm foods, drinking warm liquids, and wearing warm clothing.
- Avoid heavy lifting. Do not lift anything heavier than your baby while you are still recovering, especially if you have undergone a C-section delivery.
- Wash your hands often, especially before feeding your lil' peanut. This may seem like a small thing but make sure you do this often. Be mindful after you visit the bathroom or change the baby’s diaper.
- Limit stair climbing during the first week. As much as possible, try to cut down the amount of stair climbing while you heal.
- Limit visitors. Some family and friends will want to visit and meet your newborn baby but know that it is fine to limit visits or say no completely for the first few weeks. This will help you establish feeding routines if you decide to breastfeed. Also, you will be adjusting to your new life with your baby and healing from your delivery—you do not need to add entertaining to the list.
- Ask for help. If you need help at home, like cooking, doing the laundry or babysitting siblings, let your family and friends know and kindly ask for their help.
- Trade in perfectionism for love. ‘nuff said.
Like most good things in life, these tips are common sense.
The simple things in life are the best things.
Happy souping everyone!