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Healthy Pregnancy Recipes

  • Pregnancy Snack - Delicious and Healthy Oil-Free Granola!

    Granola oil free

    Who doesn’t love a hearty bowl of granola with some fruit and yogurt to start the day? This homemade version is healthier than many varieties due to the fact that it contains no refined sugar or oil! Many store-bought granolas (especially the ones made by companies who make sugar cereals) have too much sugar and oil to actually be considered healthy.

    This recipe makes a big batch, so you will have it for weeks! How’s that for convenience?

    This granola is also an awesome healthy snack during any time of day (or night!). Some pregnant women feel like there is too much pressure on their tummy to have a big meals. It can be hard to adjust to a new way of eating, but don’t fear - snacks are here! Some women have found that eating 5-6 small meals during the day works better for them during pregnancy. This keeps them comfortable, fueled, and properly nourished to be the best mom they can be.

    Pregnancy can be a fun time to experiment with healthy snacks, and this granola definitely fits the bill. It’s a good mix of energy and satiation from the oats and almonds, and has just enough sweetness to taste delicious.

    Besides eating it as a breakfast and snack, try it these ways:

    • on frozen yogurt or non-dairy ice cream (which is typically lower in fat, healthier, cruelty-free and better for the environment)

    • on smoothie bowls

    • sprinkle on pancakes

    • spread peanut or almond butter on celery, banana, bread, or carrots and roll in granola

    • use as a crumble topping for apple and berry crisps and pies

    There are so many ways to enjoy this delicious granola. Get creative and enjoy!

    Oil Free Granola Ingrediants Oil Free Granola Ingrediants

     

    Ingredients:

    4 cups of rolled oats

    1 cup of toasted buckwheat

    1 cup nuts

    1 cup applesauce

    1 cup puffed cereal of choice (kamut, quinoa, millet, rice)

    ½ cup maple syrup

    A generous amount of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and allspice

    1 tablespoon vanilla extract

    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 1 or 2 baking sheets* with parchment paper.

    Mix the applesauce, maple syrup, vanilla and spices together in a small bowl. Set aside.

    Chop the nuts and transfer to large bowl. Mix in the oats, puffed cereal, and toasted buckwheat.

    Fold in the wet mix to the dry and mix until combined. Pour granola mixture onto pan and spread evenly.

    Oil free granola 3

    *If you like your granola with some bigger chunks in it, use 1 baking sheet. Gently press all the mixture into a “bar” or “loaf”. Don’t break up the loaf while it is baking. After it cools, break up the loaf into chunks.

    *If you like your granola evenly toasted and don’t want bigger chunks, use 2 baking sheets. Spread the mixture so that there is plenty of space and the layer is only a couple oats thick.

    Bake for 25-35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.

    Enjoy your guilt-free delicious snack!

    All Original Content. Copyright Athena Byers 2016, All Rights Reserved.

  • Mint Chocolate Truffles - ease your pregnancy carvings!

     
    mint c Mint Chocolate Truffles
    Just the smell of mint can refresh and re-energize you when you are feeling that pregnancy fatigue. These truffles are packed with fresh mint leaves and cacao - two superfoods that are beneficial to pregnancy.
    Sometimes you just feel like relaxing, eating truffles, doing a face mask and watching a movie. These truffles are perfect for that occasion - super simple, quick and no waiting around for anything to chill or bake. The cacao adds a deep, rich chocolate flavor that is decadent, yet healthy!
    mint chocolate truffles 1Eating, drinking and smelling mint is very effective for treating nausea. For this reason, it is especially helpful to have some mint tea, grow some in a windowsill or buy some to add to smoothies and salads during pregnancy. Morning sickness can be a very unpleasant experience for many women during their first months, and mint can help relieve those icky feelings. Mint is also very helpful for digestion, headaches, and fatigue.

     

    It is not recommended for pregnant women to consume large amounts of caffeine during pregnancy. Chocolate and cacao do contain small amounts of caffeine, but not enough to pose any risk when eaten in moderation. Cacao is also very high in antioxidants, magnesium, iron, fiber, and other minerals. It also contains theobromine, which dilates blood vessels and relaxes smooth muscle, which helps to lower blood pressure.
    If you don’t like the flavor of mint, you can try fresh ginger, which has similar benefits to mint. Start with a ½ inch piece and add in more to taste.
    These can also be packaged up in a jar with some festive ribbon and a cute gift tag to give to friends and family for the holidays or as winter gifts. You can even print out the recipe and attach it so that they can re-create the bliss.
    mint chocolate truffles 2
    Ingredients:
    1 cup of nuts
    1 ½ cup dates
    ⅔ cup packed fresh mint leaves
    5 tablespoons cacao powder
    3 tablespoons dried unsweetened shredded coconut
    Process the nuts and mint until you get a rough sand texture. Add in the other ingredients and pulse until combined. Test the mixture by trying to pinch together a small ball. If it falls apart, pulse a bit longer. Try not to overmix -- the processing will separate the oil from the nuts if it is blended too long.  When the dough stays together, form into small balls and roll in cacao powder, chopped nuts, shredded coconut or cacao nibs. These keep well in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for a couple weeks.
    You can use any blend of nuts you want: walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, brazil nuts, or seeds such as sunflower seeds or pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
    Lastly, enjoy your guilt-free desert!
    mint chocolate truffles 4

    All Original Content. Copyright Athena Byers 2016, All Rights Reserved.



  • Easiest Cinnamon Rolls Ever!

    Easiest Cinnamon Rolls Ever - only 5 ingredients!

    If you are looking for a yummy pregnancy snack that is as good as it is healthy, then check out this super easy Cinnamon Rolls Vegan recipe! There is no dough-making involved - which means less waiting, less work and more fun! For this recipe, pre-made whole-wheat pizza dough is used, so all you have to do is make the filling, roll, cut and bake. Traditionally, cinnamon rolls use butter and refined sugar for the filling. For these super healthy vegan rolls, it is recommended to use vegan butter, coconut oil, any specialty oils (hazelnut, walnut, pistachio), or a blend with olive oil. Or, experiment with nut butters!

    cinnamon rolls 4

     

    There is some debate about whether vegan butter is actually a better choice than butter.

    Here is a comparison of the two:

    Vegan Butter Dairy Butter
    Most brands contain ingredients that are sustainably sourced (cruelty free). Most brands use generic milk from cows in factory farms (bad living conditions).
    Plant foods take less resources (space and water) than animal products. Animal products (namely dairy and meats), take huge amounts of resources.
    Plant foods contain no cholesterol. Dairy contains cholesterol.
    Less saturated fats. More saturated fats.

     

    The price is comparable and the taste is almost exactly the same. So make the switch to support a healthier you and care for the planet and animals.

    Coconut sugar is used instead of regular refined sugar. Coconut sugar has a great caramel-y taste and is more sustainable than cane sugar. It also has minerals, amino acids, and a lower glycemic index.

    cinnamon rolls2

     

    Ingredients

    1 package of pre-made whole-wheat pizza dough (Trader Joe’s brand was used)

    ¼ cup coconut sugar

    2 teaspoons cinnamon

    ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

    5 tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance was used for this recipe) or about 4 tablespoons of your choice of oil/s

    Optional:

    ¼ cup chopped dates

    ⅓ cup chopped pecans

    cinnamon rolls

    Glaze:

    4 oz. vegan cream cheese or coconut butter

    Maple syrup to taste (a couple tablespoons should do it)

    1-2 teaspoons lemon juice

    water to thin out to desired consistency

    Directions

    Follow the directions for dough prep on the package. This may include setting the dough on a lightly floured surface and letting it rise for 25-30 minutes.

    While you are waiting, mix together the coconut sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and optional add-ins in a small bowl and set aside. After any dough prep is done, roll out into a rectangle about ½ to ¼ inch thick. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F and line a cake pan or 8x8 dish with parchment paper. They will spread out and touch as they bake.

    Spread 2-3 tablespoons of oil or vegan butter onto dough. Sprinkle the sugar mixture. Roll into a log and cut into 8 pieces.

    Put rolls into pan. They should all have a bit of room around them (about ½ an inch). Drizzle the remaining 1-2 tablespoons of vegan butter or oil on the outsides of the rolls.

    Bake for 25-45 minutes. There is variation in the cooking time depending on what oil/butter and dough you use. Mix together glaze ingredients, smear on, and enjoy!

    Cinnamon rolls 3

    All Original Content. Copyright Athena Byers 2016, All Rights Reserved.

  • Healthy Pregnancy Eggnog!! A Holiday Treat :)

    Healthy Vegan Eggnog Healthy Vegan Eggnog

    It’s getting colder and colder as the holiday season approaches! Warm yourself up and nourish your body and baby with this delicious and easy recipe for eggnog minus the eggs! Yes, you read that correctly! This clever vegan recipe is perfect for pregnancy and beyond and perfectly safe for your body and growing baby in your belly since there are no raw eggs to worry about!  This drink takes under 20 minutes so you can whip it up for a quick dessert or as a midday pick-me-up.

    Recipes with raw eggs can be a little risky, or at least leave you weary -- especially if you are pregnant. Babycenter.com advises pregnant women to steer clear of home or restaurant-made items with raw eggs -- which means no eggnog. However, they also say that it’s probably okay to drink store-bought versions, because they contain pasteurized eggs. But why drink store-bought versions when making it yourself is that much more fun, healthy, and safe? This recipe contains no eggs or animal products at all, making it much safer and much healthier. Afterall, who needs added stress for the holiday season?

    eggnog3

    The base is made from pecans and dates with a bit of spice and molasses for flavor. An optional addition is cashew cream, which is made of just soaked cashews and water. This versatile ingredient is a must for classic holiday meals. You can add it to pumpkin pie filling, make dressings, add it to soups, and of course, make creamy hot drinks! It’s almost impossible to mess up this recipe -- so experiment with different amounts of cashew cream, molasses, and all the other ingredients! You can even add some orange oil or add less sweetener and use it as an alternative milk.

    However you make it, this drink will warm you up and put a smile on your face. So go make some and drink it while you cuddle up with a good book or movie. It makes over 5 cups, so there’s plenty to share -- or not!

    eggnog4Eggnog Ingredients: makes 5 to 7 servings

    1 cup pecans

    ¾ cup medjool dates

    4 cups water

    1 tablespoon molasses

    1 teaspoon cinnamon

    ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

    Add everything to a blender and blend until smooth!

    eggnog5

    Optional: If you want the eggnog more thick and creamy, add ¼ to ⅓ cup cashew cream:

    -Soak about 1 cup of cashews overnight or for 6-8 hours.

    -Rinse thoroughly.

    -Blend in a high speed blender, adding just enough water to make a thick cream (think Greek yogurt consistency).

    -Refrigerate extra in an air-tight container. Keeps for about 5 days. You can also freeze it and thaw as needed.

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

  • Pregnancy Pancakes!

    pancakes2We nicknamed these healthy pancakes "Pregnancy Pancakes" because not only will they satisfy your pancakes cravings (anytime of the day), but they are actually good for you! As you know pregnancy is a time when we want to take better care of ourselves and eat responsibly but we also crave those emotional comfort foods with greater intensity then ever. These pancakes give you the most bang-for-your-buck of any pancake recipe out there! With about 5 ingredients, anybody can master these flapjacks and be fueled through their morning.

    Pancakes1If you make a batch over the weekend, you can reheat leftovers (if there any!) and have them on weekday mornings -- definitely motivation to get out of your cozy bed and start your day! They’re also special and delicious enough to treat friends or family, and fast enough to surprise someone with a breakfast in bed.

    Buckwheat or teff flour is listed in the recipe, but you could also experiment with using amaranth flour, spelt, whole wheat or just about any other whole grain flour! Keep in mind that you may have to adjust the amount of almond milk you add.

    The strawberry jam is a healthier version than your typical sugar spread. It’s made of fresh or frozen strawberries, chia and maple syrup or coconut sugar. The chia thickens it and adds serious nutritional punch. Chia has been gaining popularity in the health food world. What’s all the hype?

     

    A one ounce serving of chia contains:

    • 11 grams of fiber
    • 4 grams of protein
    • 5 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids
    • 18% RDA calcium
    • 27% RDA phosphorus
    • 30% magnesium
    • 30% magnesium
    • also small amounts of zinc, vitamin B3, potassium, vitamin B1, and vitamin B2
    • high in antioxidants

    Because of its thickening and absorption qualities, chia can be used to replace eggs in baked goods and helps keep you fuller longer.

    Whole Grain Vegan Pancakes:

    ½ cup oat flour

    ½ cup buckwheat or teff flour

    1 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)

    2 teaspoons baking powder

    2 tablespoons apple sauce

    1 tbs coconut sugar

    pancakes5

    Directions: Whisk the oat flour, buckwheat or teff flour, and baking powder in a medium bowl.

    Mix wet ingredients in a measuring cup and fold the two mixtures together.

    Heat a flat pan on medium-low heat.

    To test if the pan is the right temperature, sprinkle water on the pan. If nothing happens for a few seconds, it’s not hot enough. If it immediately sizzles and spits violently, it might be too hot.

    Try to get a temperature where water droplets sizzle mildly upon hitting the pan.

    Spray or rub with your choice of oil.

    Use a ⅓ cup measure to pour the batter, or make mini pancakes, big pancakes, hearts, mickey mouse or anything else fun!

    Blueberries and chocolate chips are also a fun addition.

    pancakes3Strawberry Chia Jam:

    2 cups whole fresh (make sure they’re properly ripe) or frozen strawberries.

    1 tbs chia seeds Sweetener to taste (coconut sugar or maple syrup).

    Defrost berries on low in a microwave or pot. If using fresh, you don’t need to do this step.

    Put in a blender until big chunks are gone (you may want to leave a few medium-size globs!).

    Transfer to bowl and mix in chia and sweetener.

    It will thicken in 25-20 minutes, and even more after it is refrigerated.

    pancakes4 Recommended Toppings: -coconut, almond or soy yogurt -nut butter (almond, peanut butter, pecan, walnut, or a blend!).

    If you have a food processor, the possibilities are endless. -fresh fruit - banana is highly recommended!

    Great paired with a more tart fruit like kiwi or raspberries. -maple syrup -and of course, the Strawberry Chia Jam!

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

  • Chewy Vegan Granola Bars

    Vegan Granola Bars 3

    You know that pregnancy craving you get sometimes after lunch, when you want a little something? Something sweet and satisfying, but not too heavy or super-filling? One of these bars is the perfect little something to satisfy cravings until dinner time.

    This recipe makes a huge batch (about 20-24 bars) so keep them in your refrigerator as a grab-n-go snack. No artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives.

    It’s important during your to make sure you are sufficiently fueled throughout the day to prevent overeating later. If you find that you consistently overeat during dinner or get the munchies at night, you may need to bump up your caloric intake earlier in the day. This means having a more hearty breakfast and lunch and adding in healthy snacks between meals so that you don’t come to a meal feeling ravenous.

    Vegan Granola Bars 1Choose snacks that sustain energy and digest slower, like whole grains and food with naturally occurring sugar. This is particularly important during pregnancy as many expecting moms are prone to gestational diabetes and are more sensitive to sugar in their diets.

    If you find that you are feeling starved when you sit down for a meal, try to eat slowly and mindfully. Eating slowly is not easy when you are super hungry and super pregnant! Some ways to make this easier is to take smaller bites - smaller than you might think. Also try putting down your fork or spoon in between bites.

    These bars certainly meet the criteria for an A+ snack. Here’s a rundown of the main elements:

    Dates: Filled with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and natural sugars (glucose and fructose) to give quick energy. One date alone has almost 2 grams of fiber, which promotes healthy digestion.

    Oats: Rich in minerals, B-complex vitamins, and amino acids to help your baby develop and stay healthy. This grain is slow-digesting, meaning it will keep you satisfied longer.

    Figs: Lots of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients. One serving of figs contain about 50 times more polyphenol (a micronutrient used to fight cancer and other degenerative diseases).

    Bananas: We all know about the potassium, but bananas also contain good amounts of vitamin B-6, fiber, vitamin C, and magnesium. Bananas also contain high amounts of tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin and helps to improve mood.

    Ingredients: (makes about 20 bars)

    3 cups oatmeal

    2 cup puffed cereal (I used puffed kamut)

    ½  cup chopped almonds

    ½ teaspoon cinnamon

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    1 tablespoon sesame seeds

    1 tablespoons poppy seeds

    1 cup medjool dates

    1 cup dried figs

    1/2 cup almond butter

    3 overripe bananas

    1 tablespoon vanilla extract

    Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.

    Put all wet ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth.

    Fold the wet and dry mixes together until there are no dry spots.

    Press dough into 9 x 13 inch pan lined with parchment. Bake at 250 F for 50 minutes. Carefully flip bars onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350 F until edges are golden (about 20-30 minutes). You can experiment with a higher temperature from the beginning, but this is just what I used. Cut into desired size and wrap in foil or parchment paper and store in the refrigerator.

    Vegan Granola Bars 4Enjoy mindfully with tea or almond milk, or just by itself.

    Note: Experiment with different ratios and varieties of dried fruit, nuts, nut butter, and seeds. Customize it to what YOU like. Eating healthy is all about nourishing your body with foods that make YOU feel good.

     

     

     

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

     

     

     

  • Vegan Mac & Cheeze - Good and Good for you!

    Just because you're pregnant doesn't mean you can't indulge in some yummy comfort food! In fact carbs might be the only thing your body likes or craves in those early months of pregnancy! This Mac 'n Cheeze recipe is one you can enjoy guilt free as it's healthy, vegan and delicious! Make it ahead and have go to meals for days to come!mac and cheese 2

     

    Vegan Mac ‘n Cheeze (serves 4-6)

    10 ounces pasta

    1 cup peeled and diced potatoes

    ¼ cup peeled/diced carrots

    ⅓ cup chopped onion

    ¾ cup water (use liquid from pot of boiled veggies)

    ½ cup raw cashews soaked for at least 3 hours, or overnight

    ¼ cup almond milk

    3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

    1 tablespoon lemon juice

    Salt to taste

    1 teaspoon miso

    ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

    ¼ teaspoon turmeric

    ¼-½  teaspoon smoked paprika

    Bring a pot of water to boil and add in the onions, potatoes, carrots. Boil for 10-15 minutes, or until soft.

    Rinse the soaked cashews with cold water. Set aside.

    Add all ingredients, including the boiled vegetables, to a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth.

    Nutrition Facts (per ½ cup scoop)

    calories: 192

    fat: 4 grams

    protein: 5 grams

    mac and cheese 3

    During pregnancy, comforting food can be especially comforting. Many women crave comfort foods - dishes that can be overloaded lots of salt and fat. This classic, comforting macaroni and “cheeze” satisfies cravings and nourishes you and your baby. Made with cashews, veggies, and almond milk instead of cream or milk, it is definitely a smart and healthy choice. Instead of feeling heavy or sick, you will know that you have done your body (and your baby’s!) good.

    Miso is traditionally made from fermented soybeans, making it a better choice than regular salt. This is because fermented foods provide good bacteria to your gut flora. This strengthens our immune and digestive systems and introduce healthy bacteria to your baby a young age. Fermented foods also contain amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.

    Not only is nutritional yeast used to get a great cheesy flavor, it is fortified with Vitamin B12, a nutrient essential for proper brain growth and function. It also helps with the formation of blood. Smoked paprika is another ingredient that helps give this sauce a deep umami flavor. Turmeric acts as a natural food coloring to create a golden color that everyone (especially kids) will love.

    Cashews are another superfood in this delish dish! One ounce of these contains:

    23% of your daily recommended amount of manganese

    31% of your daily recommended amount of copper

    20% of your daily recommended amount of magnesium

    One ounce of milk only contains:

    0% of your daily recommended amount of manganese

    1% of your daily recommended amount of copper

    7% of your daily recommended amount of magnesium

    Making this dish with cashews and almond milk eliminates the need for using dairy milk. Dairy products have been advertised as healthy and essential for decades. Walter Willett, MD, PhD, professor of epidemiology and head of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health reported that, “One of the main arguments for USDA recommendations is that drinking milk or equivalent dairy products will reduce the risk of fractures. But in fact there’s very little evidence that milk consumption is associated with reduced fractures.” The pros of dairy are that it contains calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D. However, these nutrients are abundant in plant sources like leafy greens, fruit, vegetables, and nuts.

    mac and cheese

  • Changing Habits and Homemade Energy Bars

    Everyone seems to have a favorite energy bar, whether it be a Luna bar, Cliff bar, or Nature Valley crumbs-everywhere bar. They are a quick, easy and healthy choice...right?

    Store-bought granola and energy bars are often packed with excess amounts of sugar and unnecessary oil. The second ingredient in many bars is cane syrup or dried cane syrup--which just means processed, refined sugar.

    If you are not suffering the bouts of morning sickness, then pregnancy is the perfect time to consider healthy food options. There is always a way to make a healthier version of your favorite junk foods, comfort foods, or convenience foods. Oftentimes even morning sickness can be kept at bay by eating an opportune healthy snack between meals instead of going too long between meals.

    Yummy pregnancy oat and date barWhen it comes to convenience foods, like granola bars, packaged salad kits, chips or anything you would grab at a grocery store in the middle of a hectic day or busy schedule, there is that element of convenience and sometimes it is okay to purchase those not-the-healthiest-but-not-the-unhealthiest foods. But going for the pure junk food option is a slippery slope when craving those extra carbs when you are pregnant and can quickly become a habit if we indulge every last craving with an unhealthy food choice.

    Whenever you can, grab a banana, apple, some almonds, or veggies and hummus instead of the less nourishing choices that our brains and hands are self-trained to reach for. It’s all about changing habits. As you make changes in your diet and health, it will get easier and more satisfying the longer you work at it.

    eat oat and date bars whien pregnantYou might have heard the claim that “It takes 21 days to form a habit,” (originally introduced by Maxwell Maltz in the 1960s). It is a nice, neat number that is inspiring and believable. However, Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, conducted a study and found that it actually took anywhere from 18 to 254 days (about the time of your pregnancy!) for the study participants to develop a habit.

    It might be discouraging to find that it could take over 8 months to form a habit -- but try not to get disheartened! Instead acknowledge this fact and use it to reassure yourself when you do slip up that it is perfectly normal for a new habit to not get set overnight. However, if you are 18-21 days down the path of healthier living and better food choices, then you are well on your way to a better habit for life. Lally also found that "missing one opportunity to perform the behavior did not materially affect the habit formation process." So don’t worry if you slip up now and then, because you are still making progress and reinforcing those neural pathways in your brain! Forming healthy habits is not an all-or-nothing endeavor, so be patient with yourself and don’t give up.

    what to eat when pregnantThe Oat Date n’ Nut Bars (recipe below) are an easy to make healthy snack bar that you can whip up for yourself ahead of time for the week. These bars are a much healthier choice than your standard granola or energy bar, and are also a fun, dessert-y option as well -- so you won’t even miss those sugary store-bought versions. These oat and nut bars are sweetened with dates which are a great source of fiber, energy, and potassium. There is no baking involved, which certainly adds a convenience factor. Whip up a batch and start to strengthen healthy habits as you enjoy the great flavor in these bars! Your body (especially your taste buds!) will thank you.

     

     

    Oat Date 'n Nut Bars (makes 16 bars)

    ⅓ cup peanut butter

    ½ cup roasted salted sunflower seeds (shelled)

    1 cup tightly packed chopped dates

    2 cups rolled oats

    1 tsp cinnamon

    ½ tsp ground cardamom

    2 tablespoons ground flax

    Lightly grease an 8x8 pan with your preferred oil.

    Process the sunflower seeds with the spices in a food processor. Add the dates, peanut butter, flax and 1 ½ cups of the oats. Keep processing until you achieve a soft dough. Pulse in the remaining ½ cup of oats.

    Squish the dough into the pan, using the bottom of a large measuring cup to flatten if needed. Once you have shaped and flattened it, loosen the edges with a knife or fork and gently flip onto a cutting board lined with a sheet of parchment. Cut into 16 bars (or whatever size you like!) and wrap in foil or plastic wrap. Store in the fridge and grab whenever you need a convenient snack.

    Nutrition Facts: (per bar)

    Calories: 190

    Carbs: 35 grams

    Fat: 6 grams

    Protein: 4 grams

    Fiber: 4 grams

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

  • Guilt-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Chip 1

    Some healthy recipes can taste, well, too healthy. Dessert should taste like dessert, but it shouldn’t leave you feeling sick, particularly at time when you are sensitive to morning sickness! Your meals shouldn’t hurt your body, they should help it, especially during pregnancy when you are literally eating for both you and your baby! Food can either be the slowest form of poison or the most powerful medicine to fuel your body and improve your health. When you supply your body with the right nutrition you will see feel the difference with more energy for your day. Healthy food can definitely be delicious, and here is one recipe where you the taste is as good as the nutrition it provides.

    These cookies are the reward for lots of experimentation in the kitchen. They have the classic taste of chocolate chip cookies but are a far healthier version than the classic store bought cookies or grocery store cookie mix we all know and love, but also know is not the healthiest choice for our bodies. This chocolate chip cookies recipe supports your pregnancy health while still satisfying your sweet tooth pregnancy cravings. They are chewy, soft, and slightly crispy on the edges. The sweetness of the agave is perfectly complimented by the nuttiness of the hazelnut oil and balanced with a bit of sea salt. No one will ever know these are free of white flour, butter, or white sugar!

    Chip 3

    These cookies are a bit high in fat, but it is from high quality sources (avocado and hazelnut oil), aka guilt-free fat! According to a study published in the March 2005 issue of the "Journal of Nutrition”, avocado oil increases the absorption of carotenoids (organic pigments that act like antioxidants within the body) from your food. Fat-soluble carotenoids rely on dietary fats to be properly used, but most foods that are high in carotenoids (think red, orange, and dark green veggies) are low in fat. Avocado is unusual because it contains high quantities of unsaturated fatty acids as well as generous amounts of carotenoids. In the study, “both high and low doses of avocado oil enhanced alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lutein absorption from a salad by as much as 15 times compared to a salad without avocado oil.”

    Hazelnut oil has a similar composition to olive oil, but it contains less saturated fat per tablespoon. It is a bit on the expensive side, but it only takes a little bit to add complexity and flavor to baked goods.

    Chocolate ChipIf you don’t have avocado or hazelnut oil, try mixing whatever oil you have on hand (like grape seed, coconut, sunflower--maybe even try olive oil and add some orange zest!). You can also experiment with adding shredded coconut, nuts, extracts, and different spices to customize. Have fun and make healthy cooking something you look forward to!

     

     

     

    Chocolate Chip Cookies

    2 ½ cups almond flour

    ¼ cup sorghum flour

    ½ tsp baking soda

    ½ tsp fine grain sea salt

    ½ cup agave syrup

    ¼ cup hazelnut oil

    ¼ cup avocado oil

    1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F on convection. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

    Whisk the almond flour, sorghum flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.

    In a separate medium bowl, combine the agave, hazelnut oil, avocado oil, and vanilla.

    Fold the wet and dry mix together. Bake for 10-15 minutes, rotating the pan about 6 minutes in.

    Nutrition Facts: (per cookie)

    Calories: 223

    Fat: 17

    Carbs: 16

    Protein: 5

    Sugar: 8

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

  • 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.

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