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Family, Food & Recipes

thoughts on a (nearly) vegetarian pregnancy

April 4, 2017

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A vegetarian pregnancy. It was something I had hoped to have the first time around with Ainsley’s pregnancy, but for a number of reasons it never really happened. While I still ate a lot of my favorite vegetarian foods during my first pregnancy, I at a fair amount of meat as well. So many people told me that I couldn’t have a healthy, balanced pregnancy if I wasn’t eating meat, and because I didn’t know any better I decided they were probably right and I should fall in line with more of a standard diet.

This time around, I was more informed and more committed to eating like I usually eat – vegetarian. Sometimes (a lot of times?) pregnancy has a way of stripping you of the things that make you feel most like yourself. I’ve been trying to combat those feelings by doing very normal things, exercising like normal and eating like I normally do when I’m not pregnancy.

Since nausea plagued me for a lot of this pregnancy, and because I live in the heart of the Midwest where there is a shortage of good vegetarian options, I’ve eaten meat from time to time this pregnancy. I’m not militant about it, choosing to eat for health rather than to follow a strict set of rules, but I would say that I’ve been about 95% vegetarian this go around.

My overall thoughts?

Being pregnant and vegetarian is pretty much as easy as being pregnant any other time in life. I don’t think I would recommend becoming a vegetarian while pregnant or if you were a new vegetarian prior to becoming pregnant because learning to eat a well-rounded vegetarian diet that works for your body takes a little time and trial and error. Probably not a great idea when you’re growing a tiny human who needs well-rounded nutrition to grow and develop. But if you already have a good handle on eating a well-rounded vegetarian diet then you shouldn’t have any issue while pregnant.

I’ve been more diligent about making sure I’m eating complete sources of vegetarian protein (Ezekiel bread, beans and grains paired together, peanut butter on toast, hummus and pita, loaded salads) and have also consumed plenty of eggs and breakfast quesadillas, especially during the first trimester. I’ve also relied on my favorite Vega Protein & Greens for smoothies during this pregnancy, which made it easy to get in a few servings of veggies and protein on days when I felt like all I wanted to do was eat carb after carb.

Actually, when I’m left to my default I find that I eat primarily vegan many days. I can go days where the only animal product I consume is the cream in my coffee, so I’ve been working hard to make sure I’m consuming enough dairy, too. A day of eating for me, while pregnant, usually looks like:

Breakfast //
Bowl of oatmeal with chia seeds, almond milk, peanut butter and sliced banana or fresh berries

Lunch //
A large salad served with a side of hummus and whole wheat pita bread or a loaded veggie sandwich on Ezekiel sprouted grain bread

Snack //
Post-workout smoothie made with almond milk, frozen banana, Vega Protein & Greens, powdered peanut butter, chia seeds and ice

Dinner //
A veg-friendly version of whatever we are having for dinner as a family. This is a mixed bag of different meals, so it’s hard to point to anything particular.

Dessert //
I always have to end with a healthy sweet treat, like my healthy microwave mug cake recipe and a dollop of peanut butter

So, long story short, yes! You can be a vegetarian while pregnant. It hasn’t caused me to gain any more or less weight than the first time around, but it’s certainly helped me feel a lot better. I don’t know if it’s all the way I’ve been eating, or the way I’ve exercised or the supplements I’m taking but the energy I’ve had and the great sleep I’ve enjoyed this time around have been night and day different than the first go around. So I’ll chalk a little bit of that up to the way I’ve been eating. 😉

Madison

Family, Food & Recipes, Pregnancy

a day in the life :: pregnancy eats edition

March 3, 2017

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I’ve documented some of my daily eats on the blog in the past, but I don’t think I’ve ever done a pregnancy edition. Even while pregnant, I still eat like a robot most days, sticking to the same general rotation of foods. Dinner is usually the most varied meal from day to day, but breakfast, lunch and snacks are usually pretty similar. Here’s a look at what a typical day in the third trimester looks like for me:

BREAKFAST
I usually wake up around 5:30, drink a big glass of water and have a cup of (regular) coffee with a splash of half and half. I typically eat breakfast when Ainsley wakes up, around 6:30 or 7 which consists of:

1/2 cup oatmeal with cinnamon, stevia, chia seeds, and unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons peanut butter
Fresh fruit, such as raspberries, blueberries of half of a sliced banana

SNACK
I usually try to avoid having a morning snack, but sometimes I’ll have a little something to get me through until lunch, especially if I workout in the morning, I’ll drink more water and half a cup of decaf coffee sometime in the morning, too.

LUNCH
2 whole wheat pita halves, toasted and filled with hummus, as many veggies as we have on hand, avocado and lots of spicy mustard
Salad (usually a portion of a salad kit, prepared with half the dressing)

AFTERNOON SNACK
Smoothie Made With:
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop Vital Proteins Collagen
1 scoop Vega Protein and Greens (vanilla or chocolate)
1/2 of a frozen banana
2 tablespoons powdered peanut butter powder
1/2 tablespoon chia seeds
Ice

Sometimes I’ll pair this with a couple clementines, as pictured above, or some other fruit or veggies

DINNER
This is a grab bag! It’s by far my most varied meal of the day since I make something different (with a vegetarian or fish option for me) almost every night of the week. My dinner last night was:

1 oven-roasted wild salmon filet with olive oil, salt and pepper
A huge bowl of Brussels sprouts, shredded and sauteed with olive oil, salt and pepper and a bit of grated Parmesan

DESSERT
Every night. Almost always something healthy-ish. Last night’s dessert was my favorite Microwave Chocolate Mug Cake with a tablespoon of peanut butter and a dollop of Greek yogurt. Other times I’ll have a Quest bar, microwaved for about 10 seconds to make it gooey and soft.

Madison

Food & Recipes

Healthy Chocolate Mug Cake for One

February 21, 2017

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I don’t care what the circumstances are, every single night I need to end the evening on a sweet note. Truth be told, my body just doesn’t enjoy or tolerate sugar well these days, probably because I don’t eat much of it anymore, but I still have a sweet tooth that begs to be satisfied when Joe and I crash on the couch at the end of the evening.

Usually I try to keep my little nightly “dessert” to around 200 calories and like for it to have some sort of nutritional value, too. Meaning I rotate fruit and Greek yogurt with honey, dark chocolate, a spoonful of nut butter, etc. on the regular. But the other night I was craving something different, and behold this chocolate mug cake was born.

A lot of the recipes that I’ve found on the web for “mug cakes” are actually pretty indulgent and hardly healthy – usually containing plenty of oil or butter, sugar, all-purpose flour and more. Hardly what I look for when I’m going for a healthy dessert.

This recipe comes in around 120 calories without the toppings (I highly suggest a spoonful of peanut butter and some fresh fruit!) and tastes like a dense, rich flourless chocolate cake of sorts. I don’t want to over-promise here, because it is a healthy dessert, but it’s totally crushing my cravings for chocolate each night and doesn’t leave me with a pre-bedtime sugar crash. Total win, right?

Healthy Chocolate Mug Cake for One
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
I LOVE dark chocolate, so two tablespoons of cocoa powder is right up my alley. However, if you prefer a milder chocolate flavor, don't hesitate to use the suggested swap mentioned in the recipe, substituting a little chocolate protein powder for a bit of the cocoa powder.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons Kodiak Cakes Powercakes Pancake Mix (or something very similar)
  • 2 tablespoons powdered peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (for a less "dark chocolate" taste, use 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon chocolate protein powder of your choice)
  • 1 packet Stevia
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • Toppings: Peanut butter, fresh fruit, dollop of Greek yogurt, chopped chocolate, etc.
Instructions
  1. In a ramekin or small bowl, combine the dry ingredients until well combined. Add the water and stir until smooth. Microwave 35 to 45 seconds or until the edges are set and center is almost set but the very middle is just slightly gooey looking.
  2. Top with a scoop of peanut butter and fresh berries, or desired toppings as suggested above and enjoy!

 

Food & Recipes

Freezer Meals for New Moms :: Meatballs

February 13, 2017

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I feel like I have a dozen friends or family members due with babies in the next six months. I’m not even joking when I say a dozen – it’s babies and more babies. I suppose it’s probably just the phase of life we are in right now, but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about freezer meals both for my own postpartum phase as well as meals to bring to friends who are anticipating a new little one.

My genuine hope is to do a very robust freezer meal series on this page in the coming weeks and months. Fingers crossed that I stick with the plan and get all the freezer meals made that I hope I can get done. First up: Meatballs!

Although I’m a vegetarian, I really love the process of making meatballs. And while I don’t have an old family-favorite recipe from an Italian grandmother to pass along to you today, this recipe for meatballs is straightforward, super easy to make in bulk and delivers delicious results from the freezer.

Ideas for using the meatballs include:
-Served on a toasted hoagie bun with marinara and shredded cheese
-Served over whole wheat pasta with marinara
-Served with marinara over spaghetti squash for a lower-carb choice
-Served plain with a side of steamer veggies (because let’s be honest, that’s what my husband would do!)

I decided to make things easier by cooking the meatballs, freezing them flat on a sheet pan and then transferring the frozen meatballs to a freezer bag for storage. Then, since they are already cooked, all you need to do is pop them in the oven until they are hot or thaw them and then add to a skilled fillet with marinara and cook on the stovetop until heated through. Super simple!

Freezer Meatballs
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 64 meatballs
 
Ingredients
  • 4 lbs. lean (at least 80%) ground beef
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 slices white sandwich bread
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 4 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Line four baking sheets with aluminum foil for easy clean up and set aside. For even easier baking, use disposable aluminum baking pans.
  2. Place the ground beef in a very large mixing bowl. In a second smaller bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Stir together (best to just mix really well with your hands) until bread is completely broken up and a soft, liquid-y mixture forms. Add the mixture to the ground beef and work together with your hands until very evenly combined.
  3. Shape beef mixture into 2-inch sized meatballs (mixture should make about 64 meatballs) and place on baking sheets, about 16 meatballs per baking sheet.
  4. Bake 15 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through and no pink remains. Remove from oven and cool meatballs on baking sheets until they are room temperature.
  5. Place cooled meatballs on baking sheets in the freezer and freeze for 4 hours or until frozen solid. Place frozen meatballs in a plastic zip-top freezer bag and store up to six months.
  6. To reheat, place meatballs on baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 350°F or until heated through. Or, thaw in the refrigerator and place in hot marinara on the stovetop; cook until heated through.

 

Family, Food & Recipes

No-Bake Chewy Granola Bites

February 8, 2017

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We are currently working on a home renovation in our basement! Last year we targeted the upstairs and this winter I set my sights on our basement, which needed a LOT of work, I tell ya! By the way, I know that a house tour is long overdue. It’s been a work in progress in terms of design, which is why I’ve held off on sharing anything besides an occasional Instagram photo, but I promise I’m going to get my act together and share soon.

Anyway, the basement. So our contractor is one of our favorite people. He’s so nice to have around, very good at what he does and Ainsley loves him. Joel is her buddy and she honestly looks forward to seeing him every day. We were downstairs a few weeks ago working one night and Ainsley ate one of his chewy granola bars that he eats while he’s on the job. You know, the Sunbelt Bakery kind? Well, she became obsessed on the spot and has been asking for “Joel’s bars” every time we go to the store.

I’ve obliged from time to time, but I would really rather make something at home. So I whipped up these easy little no-bake granola bar bites that are packed with real, whole foods and a little bit of sweet thanks to chocolate chips and a little honey and brown sugar. Health food? Not exactly, but it’s a healthier snack than some of the store bought alternatives, so I’ll call that a parenting win!

No-Bake Chewy Granola Bites
Serves: 16 bites
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup pecan halves
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries, raisins and/or dried cherries
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter (not the natural kind)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the oats, pecan halves, dried fruit and chocolate chips. Pulse 15 times with on-off turns to break up oats and other ingredients. Add the sesame seeds to the mixture and transfer to a small mixing bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the honey, peanut butter, oil and salt. Stir until well combined. Cook 2 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, or until bubbles appear around the edge of the pan. Remove from heat and pour over oat mixture. Stir until wet and dry ingredients are evenly combined.
  3. Scoop by heaping spoonful into 16 mini muffin cups, pressing down firmly with your fingers. Refrigerate 2 hours. Use a knife to gently remove bites from muffin tin cups. Store bites in a zip-top plastic bag or storage container with a lid.