We are thrilled to announce a new three-part recipe series in partnership with Allrecipes.com! Two Allrecipe mommas (and mommas-to-be) will share their favorite options from the online catalog. The first is focused on healthy, vegan options for pregnancy. Thanks to Stephanie for her contribution!
It was my recent 16 month journey to get pregnant that turned me into a vegan 8 months ago. It was a difficult choice because I love cheese and eggs more than any other food, but sadly, I am allergic to both and my doctor recommended eating a very clean diet to encourage fertility. Becoming a vegan was also difficult because I am constantly engaging with food at Allrecipes.com, where I’ve worked for the past 3 ½ years. I literally gained the “freshman 15” when I started working there, between checking out recipes on the site all day and being surrounded by 200 people who love food and bring it in to share constantly, my diet and appetite got a little out of whack! Also, I am a busy working mom with two amazing teens and a hungry husband, all of whom are not vegan.
So if being a vegan was already hard, being a pregnant vegan is nearly impossible. The food aversions, cravings and constant need to eat has made my diet a constant focus. I literally went through a month long period where I couldn’t eat anything slimy (think cooked vegetables) – which makes being vegan a serious challenge! With a little creativity, I have come up with a diet that meets my needs as a pregnant vegan, and is also delicious and fun to make and eat. In the process, I also got Allrecipes to update some of the vegan recipe collections and they are now a great resource for me and others, pregnant or otherwise. So check out Allrecipes’ Vegan Recipe Collection for some delicious and healthy ideas.
Tip #1 – Drink your veggies!
Every morning, I make a smoothie filled with all kinds of fruits and veggies from greens like kale and spinach, to fats like coconut oil and avocado, and of course all different kinds of fruits (Trader Joes has tons of great organic diced frozen fruits). Smoothies are a great way to start the day with a few servings of fruit and veggies and offer an opportunity to add in supplements like probiotics, liquid chlorophyll, hemp protein, chia seeds or spirulina. Sometimes I even add grains – try tossing some oatmeal in to thicken a smoothie or topping it with granola!
When I first became a vegan, I had no idea what some of these things were, (liquid chlorophyll? Hemp protein? Spirulina?!) and now, they are nutritious staples of my diet and things you can eat whether you’re vegan or not. Here are some of my favorite smoothie recipes:
(Add some coconut water for digestion or coconut oil for a little more healthy fat)
(I use this smoothie as a base for many things, add pineapple, coconut water, mango, strawberries or any fruit to this and it’s going to be delicious. Top it off with some hemp protein for a protein boost, flax seeds or chia seeds for energy)
Tip #2 – Beans are the Best – and Legumes rock too.
I eat beans and nuts of every variety in nearly every meal. It’s easier than you think to add more beans and legumes to your diet. I know I should be soaking my own, but I’m not a great planner, so I eat most of my beans from the can – except lentils which cook quickly from their dried state. Think, PB or almond butter in the morning with whole grain toast, or black beans in a tortilla with some peppers and salsa for a healthy breakfast (with your smoothie of course). Then humus with carrots, trail mix, a fuit and nut bar or smoked almonds for a midmorning snack. Add some lentils, chickpeas or black beans to a salad, have a vegetarian chili (I like Annie’s from the can) or a pita with falafel olives and humus for lunch. For dinner, I add chickpeas to a vegetable laden spaghetti sauce, almond cheese to top a veggie pizza, or lentils to just about any soup.
(Add kale and mushrooms to this delicious chili for a great dinner served with side salad of course)
Tip #3 – Veggie Sneak Attack
We already know I sneak veggies in my smoothies (which my kids drink every day too), but I also add steamed cauliflower to my mashed potatoes (every time), finely chopped spinach, kale or mushrooms to every sauce, soup or casserole and a side salad to every meal. My kids claim to hate mushrooms and never suspect them, and spinach has a mild flavor so it hides well in things. There is actually a lot of protein in vegetables so get creative in how you use them and you’ll be surprised at how versatile they are.
(Swap the milk and butter for vegan versions and add in some finely chopped spinach for veggie packed vegan mashers)
Tip #4 – Quinoa is King
One thing you have to pay close attention to when you’re pregnant is getting enough protein and quinoa is a great way to work more protein into your diet. I put quinoa on salads, use quinoa pasta and add quinoa to muffins and sweet puddings or breakfasts. Quinoa is a complete protein but cooks and tastes like a grain. It’s versatile and has a light nutty flavor that works well with sweet or savory dishes.
(Add black beans, chickpeas, pinto beans and avocado to this recipe for some additional iron and protein)
(This is a great breakfast, lunch or afternoon snack. Add some coconut milk and sugar to make it more of a dessert pudding)
Vegan Brownies Photo by SunFlower
Tip #5 – Snack Smart
Try to think of snacking as a great way to get in more protein (nuts, protein bars, humus), fiber (fruit, brown rice cakes, toast), veggies (carrot sticks, salsa, cucumbers), calcium (orange juice, broccoli, kale, almonds), etc. Skip the chips, sweets or baked goods in favor of something that will give you an energy boost and help you meet your daily nutritional needs. When the craving for sweets arise (as they do for me every day) I indulge in peanut butter, trail mix with dark chocolate, all fruit popsicles or even just some vanilla rooibos herbal tea which is sweet all on its own. But never underestimate the power of a good vegan brownie when something too healthy just won’t do!
(Add some vegan dark chocolate chips to this for a sweet afternoon snack that is still protein packed)
(These are delicious. They are not healthy but they will hit the spot if you really need a sweet!)
Whether you’re vegan or not, these are all good tips to add a little boost to your diet. Don’t forget to take your vitamins and make sure you check with your doctor before you make any major changes to your diet to make sure you’re meeting your (and baby’s) health needs!
Stephanie Robinett has been an Allrecipeep since October 2009, helping to create and share Allrecipes great brand story with media and influencers through creative campaigns and fun content. Stephanie loves food and marketing so the job is a match made in heaven. Previous to Allrecipes, she did PR for Amazon.com for nearly 4 years and enjoyed the fast passed tech environment greatly.
In her free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, growing veggies and hanging out with her family in the sun (preferably in Mexico).
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