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pregnancy diet

  • Snack on these Valentines-Themed Beans!

    Brownie pic

    As Valentines Day fast approaches chocolate is on the brain. Pregnancy is no time to lose all your vices, or at least not the healthy ones. Who knew that a yummy brownie desert, that looks and tastes truly decadent, could be so healthy? Well there are a few secret ingredients involved, but no one will ever know the difference (not even you when you taste them!)

    The main super healthy ingredient hidden in this brownie mix is black beans. Just a half cup of cooked black beans is packed with essential vitamins for your healthy pregnancy diet. Here's the break down in vitamins and minerals for the half cup of cooked black beans:

    30% recommended daily amount of folate (aka folic acid, very important!)

    15% recommended daily amount of magnesium

    16% recommended daily amount of manganese

    10% recommended daily amount of iron

    8 grams protein

    8 grams fiber

    Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart! The combination of protein and fiber helps to steady the digestion processes and regulate blood sugar. This is very important as pregnancy is often a time when blood sugar spikes and expectant mothers are often prone to gestational diabetes. Healthy snacks like these actually help you maintain a steady and lower blood sugar.

    It is always important to include lean protein in your diet, but even more so when you’re pregnant.  The amino acids in protein are the building blocks of our bodies.  During pregnancy, these amino acids are providing the same cell-building tasks for your growing baby. The magnesium in black beans also helps with this synthesis of protein.

    Protein is also responsible for red blood cells--which as you probably know transport nutrients and oxygen to and from cells.  Red blood cells also control blood clotting, particularly those in and around the uterus and placenta.

    They hold a variety of phytonutrients (both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory) which help fight cancer, decrease risk of heart disease, and reduce effects of aging.  In fact, black beans have more antioxidant activity, gram for gram, than any other bean. The flavonoids found in this “magic fruit” prevent the adhesion of platelets in the blood, which can help lower risk for heart attack and strokes.

    They also provide a great base for healthy brownies!  You can’t even tell these have a whole can of beans in them.  They are moist, fudgy and loaded with antioxidants and minerals from the cacao.  Notice that is cacao, not cocoa.  Cacao is the less processed powder and is much higher in nutrients.  Cocoa is more processed, but less expensive and still contains valuable nutrients.  Whichever one you choose (cacao or cocoa) you will be sure to enjoy this very yummy desert!

    black bean brownies

    Almond Bean Brownies (16 servings)

    1 15 oz. can rinsed and drained black beans

    about 13 pitted Medjool dates

    ½ cup of unsweetened almond milk

    ½ cup almond butter

    ¼ cup maple syrup

    ¼ cup coconut oil

    1 tsp vanilla

    1 egg

    ¾ tsp baking soda

    ½ cup cacao or cocoa powder

    ½ tsp salt

    1 3.4-4 oz bar of dark chocolate

    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F on convection.  Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper.  Put the beans, dates, almond milk, almond butter, and vanilla in food processor or blender.  Blend until super smooth (approximately 3-5 minutes).

    While this is blending, whisk together the cacao/cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Set aside.  Melt the coconut oil and maple syrup.  Add the maple syrup and coconut oil mixture to the food processor and blend to combine.  Add the egg and blend until combined.  Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients. Chop the chocolate bar in small pieces and add to the batter.  Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 50-60 minutes.

    Nutrition Facts (Per serving)

    Calories: 198

    Protein: 5 grams

    Carbs: 24 grams

    Fat: 11 grams

    All Original Content. Copyright Athena Byers 2015, All Rights Reserved.

  • Benefits of Broccoli!

     

    We knew broccoli was good for us but we had no idea just how good. Broccoli is an excellent vegetable choice to add to your prenatal diet as it is packed with essential vitamins and minerals.

    One cup of cooked broccoli has about…

    250% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin K

    40% the recommended daily amount of folate

    140% recommended daily amount of Vitamin C

    Vitamin K does not receive a lot of publicity and is sometimes referred to as “the forgotten vitamin” but it is important for many functions, including preventing blood clots. It is also a key partner to vitamin D in building strong bones. If you are deficient in vitamin K, then vitamin D does not work optimally in your body. These two vitamins complement one another and you need to have a sufficient amount of each vitamin for them to work effectively in your body.

    We all know folate (aka folic acid) is a top priority for all expecting mothers, particularly in early pregnancy. Once you are pregnant, everyone from your doctor to your next door neighbor is encouraging you to increase folic acid in your diet. It has been proven that folic acid can actually prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida in your baby which is ample reason to increase your intake.

    According to Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, when broccoli is lightly sautéed in oil, it loses almost none of its water-soluble nutrients because it is in contact with oil, not water (as opposed to steaming). They also absorb the phytonutrients in oil and garlic. This is an excellent opportunity to add double your nutritional value by cooking in olive oil, a very healthy fat.

    Indole is also formed when broccoli is cooked. According to research in The Journal of Nutrition, this organic compound helps kill precancerous cells before they turn malignant.  Vitamin K, folate and Vitamin C are all essential for a healthy pregnancy and broccoli is a great source of all of these!

    Basic Broccoli Method:

    2 medium bunches of rinsed broccoli

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    1 tsp thyme

    3-4 cloves garlic, chopped

    Desired amount of salt and pepper

    Put a large pan on medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and chopped garlic. Chop the broccoli and set aside in medium bowl (makes approximately 6 cups).

    Once the garlic has lightly browned in the oil, add the chopped broccoli and stir. Add the thyme, salt, and pepper.  Cover the pan with a lid and check every few minutes until it is as cooked as you like.

    DSC_0030

    You can either eat it just like that, or make a delicious quinoa salad!

    Quinoa Broccoli Salad (1-2 servings):

    1 cup cooked broccoli

    1 cup cooked quinoa

    ¼ cup pasta sauce

    1 cup chopped kale

    ½ cup garbanzo beans

    Toss all ingredients in a bowl and you’re good to go. This recipe can easily be doubled or even quadrupled for a family meal! The addition of raw kale adds even more of those essential vitamins for a healthy pregnancy.

    DSC_0251

    All Original Content. Copyright Athena Byers 2015, All Rights Reserved

  • Are you Tired or Iron Deficent?

    As summer steams up, many of us start feeling a little lethargic. If you are living in a hot and humid area, it is easy to get the pregnancy doldrums that make our maternity weight feel like it is double, even if you aren’t expecting twins. For many women the hot weather is not the only cause of pregnancy fatigue, it may also stem from a lack of sufficient iron in your diet.

    Research shows that only one in five women begin their pregnancy with sufficient iron levels. No matter the geography, iron is the most common and widespread deficiency in women around the world and the leading cause of fatigue in women. Other symptoms from low iron are poor concentration and quick mental fatigue as well as a low tolerance for exercise and physical exertion.

    During pregnancy women’s iron requirements double and without the proper diet and supplementation iron reserves can continue to deplete with each subsequent pregnancy. Studies show that as many as 50% of pregnant women are iron deficient and 20% of non-pregnant women. Clearly we all need to be getting more iron in our diet or at least supplementing more.

    If your diet has 15mg of iron and 30mg of iron supplementation you are probably meeting your iron requirement during pregnancy. If you are not meeting your iron requirement, an easy way to add more iron to your diet is to eat more iron-enriched cereals and grains (read the labels) as well as snacking on dried fruits such as raisins and prunes. Also, foods in the bean family such as lentils, chick peas and soybeans are all high in iron as well. We all know that dark leafy greens like Popeye recommends such as spinach and collards are rich in iron and very good for you.

    Other foods high in iron are red meat and egg yolks. But even if you are a vegetarian or a vegan there are still plenty of iron rich food options for you. Talk to your doctor about a supplement (or have a blood test) if you suspect you may be low on iron in your diet, particularly if you are pregnant.

  • Diet matters for a Healthy Pregnancy

    A recent study led by Englund-Ögge with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Institute of Clinical Sciences at the Sahlgrenska Hospital in Gottenburg, Sweden showed the diet was very important for a healthy pregnancy and for lowering the risk of a preterm birth. Dr. Linda Englund-Ögge told Reuters Health in an email.

    "Diet really matters when it comes to preterm delivery and it is very important for pregnant women to choose or to increase the intake of an overall healthy diet consisting of fresh and raw vegetables, fruit, whole-grain products, certain fish and to drink water."

    In recent years there has been more interest and more research done concerning maternal diet how it affects the risk of preterm delivery. In this study 66,000 Norwegian women participated between 2002-2008 to study the effects of diet and maternal health. Those who had a “Prudent Diet” consisting of cooked vegetables, salad, onion/leek/garlic, fruit and berries, nuts, vegetables oils, water as a beverage, whole grain cereals, poultry and fiber-rich bread had the lowest instance of preterm birth. Those with a “Western Diet” which included more salty snacks, sweets and chocolates, French fries, white bread, ketchup, sugar-sweetened drinks, pasta and processed meat products had a much higher instance of preterm birth.

    There were a total of 3,505 preterm deliveries. The researchers found that women who adhered most closely to the Prudent Diet were 11 percent less likely to have preterm deliveries compared to women who didn't follow the diet as closely.

    "We would like for doctors, midwives and all others who work with pregnant women to reinforce the important message that pregnant women should be encouraged to eat a balanced and healthy diet," Englund-Ögge said.

    "There are modifiable risk factors that people can address to enhance their pregnancy outcomes," Dr. Louis Muglia told Reuters Health.

    Based on this study, he said, a balanced diet with more foods rich in vitamins and other micronutrients probably facilitates a full-term pregnancy. Additionally women that followed the prudent diet were also more likely to have other beneficial lifestyle habits which would contribute to good pregnancy outcomes. These women were more likely to maintain a healthier weight, smoked less and avoided alcohol.

    "So I think there are a lot of things that go along with that prudent lifestyle that increases the likelihood of having a healthy pregnancy and reduces the likelihood of a preterm birth as well," Muglia said.

    This research is helpful in relying the message that we assumed for years, that as expecting moms we can positively affect our developing baby’s health by eating healthy foods during pregnancy and following a healthy lifestyle. The research noted that even the women in the “Prudent Diet” category did indulge in Western eatting from time to time and did indulge in sweets sometimes as well, but it’s the overall diet pattern that mattered the most. This is good news for all of us as it’s impossible to be perfect in pregnancy or anytime!

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