On a monthly basis, I attend one of those potlucks that feels like a treasure trove of the most comforting recipes from each attendee’s culinary repertoire. It’s a gathering of my fellow volunteer doulas, where we take the time to connect and participate in a continuing education seminar.
Back the truck up, you say? What’s a doula, you ask?
A doula is a person who provides physical, emotional and informational support to women and their families during the antenatal period. We don’t do any medical procedures, but we meet with women and their support people a couple of times before their due date to talk about their options for birthing, and then we support them fully throughout the duration of their labour. Once the baby is born, doula supports a woman’s transition to motherhood by helping with breastfeeding and basic baby care.
That’s the technical definition. But what does being a doula really mean? It means sharing the fears and anticipation, living in the unknown with a woman as she nears her due date. It means a call at 2a.m., a nervous, rushing voice on the other end of the line, “I’ve been having contractions on and off all night…” It’s swaying with a woman who leans into you, hands clasped behind your neck, while she quietly integrates the intensity of her contractions. Holding hands as she bears down, and witnessing awe, delight, love and relief wash over her when she holds her baby her to chest for the first time.
It is the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.
I’ve been a doula for almost five years now, I guess. It was something I stumbled upon – one of those things that somehow the universe conspires to make happen, if you listen closely enough and have the bravery to trust it’s meant to be. Along with the incredible birth stories I’ve been honoured to be a part of, I’ve had the privilege of meeting many of the other women in my city who have dedicated their hearts to this work. They are a strong, passionate, exceptional bunch. Several of us get together regularly, and there’s always food. These are women who are serious nurturers, and I think we all agree that sharing food is one of the best ways to care for others.
One of my favourite recipes from these potlucks is a beet and cashew salad. I made this not too long ago to share with my family, who had all come to visit and spend time with my daughter Ada.
Here’s what you need:
1 raw beet, grated
1 cup cashew nuts, roasted (I use sliced almonds sometimes, too)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp maple syrup
3 cm fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp sesame oil
Salt to taste
Here’s what you do:
Combine the grated beets and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients. Pour over the beet mixture and stir to coat.
Oh, and by the way, you should check out the blog of my friend Amy – she started blogging on the same day I did (!) and is choosing one type of food per month to make recipes with. This month is beets! She’s super healthy.
Recipe courtesy of Lindsay Miller, a volunteer doula at the Chebucto Family Centre.