What if a dash of this and a pinch of that could supercharge your food postpartum? Co-founder and CEO of Countertop and mama-of-two, Jamie Kantrowitz is (smartly) amping up your pantry staples and re-imagining the way you cook. Herein she shares her personal struggle that led to a surprising career change from digital media to a wellness start-up, their mission to heal people through spices, plus her go-to recipe for new moms. @countertopfoods
Why did you decide to start Countertop?
I suffered postpartum depression from a miscarriage before I had my first child, and there just wasn’t that much information out there about how to recover from it. Because I was always a passionate home cook, I eventually centered in on how you could use food as an integral part of rebalancing and recovering your health. So when I was pregnant with my first child, I was really focused on my postpartum recovery and not falling into depression again.
Researching online, postpartum recovery was really about articles focused on buying belly bands and losing weight, which given my past experience felt completely antithetical to my reality. Through friends, I began learning about doulas and their attentive approach to the mother in postpartum recovery. Then I met Nicole Rice, postpartum doula and certified Ayurvedic Educator (and my now co-founder of Countertop), who used nutrition and food as part of the foundation of her work (she’d tell you sleep and many other tips that we share in our Golden Guide go along with that!). She showed me how healing and comforting food could be by making all of this easy, delicious and nutrient dense dishes with medicinal benefits based on Ayurvedic principles for my entire family. We enjoyed grain bowls, warm lamb stews, soups, oatmeal, and rice pudding that were simple to make yet incredibly complex and seriously delicious in taste. I was hooked.
At the time I was investing in startups, and with Nicole, it was easy to see how both postpartum and making it easy and effortless to home cook superfood were both open markets to build an idea for. For decades, American grocery stores have offered things that allow us to add flavor to our food quickly, but are full of additives and chemicals which were making us sick and overweight, why not offer an alternative?
Nicole started experimenting with ways to put her “cooking” in a jar for more people to experience, and the products were amazing….so with that we built the idea of reimagining everyday cooking staples that made your food taste great in one spoonful, and helped you feel great. And Countertop was born.
What are the Ayurvedic principals?
In short, Ayurveda practices that all health starts with your digestion, so all of our products focus on helping improve your digestion which then helps decrease inflammation in the body.
What are the benefits of having a postpartum doula?
I’m sure it’s a little different for everyone, but for me having a postpartum doula changed the mindset of the house, wherein the focus becomes about ensuring the mother is recovering first & foremost. As Nicole says, happy mom, happy house
What do you recommend for new moms?
We’re launching our postpartum nutrition kit with a replenishment program for new moms. Along with spices and some of our cooking staples like Mother Honey and Golden Butter, the box comes with The Golden Guide For New Moms, full of warm and nutrient dense recipes, plus insightful postpartum doula knowledge from Nicole. One of our go-to recipes is The New Momma Lactation Oatmeal (recipe below). It’s simple to make (only four ingredients!) and loaded with spices that help boost lactation, and that keep you grounded and energized
What are a few key tips from your GOLDEN GUIDE FOR NEW MOMS?
Add fat. To everything.
Spread that butter thick, add that Cocoa Butter to your Golden Milk, cook with Golden Butter, add that coconut oil in where ever you want it. Fats are a great way to add extra calories, and your beautiful lactating body loves fat to make more milk.
Have snacks on standby
Low-blood sugar can lead to a bad mood and a short fuse. Keep snacks and hydration handy. A handful of nuts next to the bed, a block of chocolate next to the pump. Snacks in the diaper bag when going out.
What was your experience launching a company while pregnant?
We soft launched Countertop in September, and my son was born in November—only nine months ago! It was challenging to say the least, even for someone like me who’s used to the start-up grind even with a doula as a co-founder—some stresses are unavoidable! I had a really difficult birth so my postpartum was also hard. However, we didn’t want to hold off on launching as we were ready—pregnant or not!
Did you take a maternity leave?
I did but not as long as I believe every family is entitled to. It’s pretty unique to have someone as your partner who also understands that postpartum process, so I was able to be quite present with my newborn and work. But that was by choice as we were launching Countertop. However, with that said, I don’t recommend this. I believe maternity leave is critical for you and the baby and am a huge advocate both personally and politically for paid maternity leave as there’s a lot of political inequality for women wrapped up in maternity. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to start Countertop as someone who used to work in male-dominated industries like tech and politics.
Why is it important to take 40 days postpartum?
As soon as you become a mom, you’re working with a different set of health and time variables. Women have silently suffered from various issues for years after having babies like exhaustion, brain fog, physical pain, depression, and anxiety. We’re learning more and more that most women never fully recover from postpartum and don’t realize it, and that birth can have lasting depletion effects that can be devastating when left unnurtured. However, when you take proper measures, and the tool of food and nutrition (and rest!) can be so valuable in recovery, you can dramatically reduce your chances of these issues. It’s fantastic to see more and more people come together on this topic. We’re also starting an Instagram community for postpartum moms called @motherofarecovery with nutrition and doula tips, knowledge sharing on postpartum and support.
NEW MOMMA LACTATION OATMEAL (590 Calories)
How does it get any better than a cozy, comforting bowl of warm oatmeal? High in iron, protein, and carbohydrates — all essential for a good milk supply — our upgraded version packs the mineralizing, revitalizing, and anti-inflammatory benefits of our favorite spices.
2 cups water
2 teaspoons of Mother’s Breakfast Blends with Benefits
1 tablespoon of Cocoa Butter
1 apple, peeled and grated
1 cup of oats
pinch of Himalayan salt
1-2 teaspoons of Mother Honey
In a small pot over medium heat, combine water, apple, spice blend, and salt, and cook for 20 minutes. Add oats and Cocoa Butter, turn heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, stir in Mother Honey and any toppings you would like, yogurt, berries, mint, bananas — whatever’s in season that you have on hand.