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Tag Archives: pregnancy diet

  • Pregnancy Quiche - Vegan Tofu Quiche

    vegan quiche 1

    During pregnancy food aversions, such as eggs, can be a turn off foods such as quiche. However, this yummy vegan version can give you a great alternative that's also super healthy!

    Spring brunches get an upgrade with this healthy dish! Make this for family get-togethers, potlucks, or just a weekend in. Quiches, packed with cheese, cream, and meat, are loved by many and are a comfort food indeed, but are usually not so healthy. Don’t worry though - this quiche will satisfy your comfort food cravings and provide good nutrition for you and your baby.

    This yummy quiche is packed with veggies and has a hashbrown crust -- which is way easier to make and healthier. Instead of having to use multiple ingredients, roll, refrigerate and shape the crust, you can just shred potatoes and toss them in a pan with vegan butter! This quiche uses mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, and green onions. However, you can use the same amounts of any veggies you have in your fridge! It’s a great way to use leftovers and make a delicious dish.

    Instead of using the traditional method of eggs, tofu is used. The texture and flavor is very similar, so vegans and non-vegans will love it!

    vegan quiche 2

    Here is a comparison between tofu and eggs per 100 grams:


    Tofu Eggs (generic scrambled)
    Calories 62 212
    Fat 2.70 grams 16.18 grams
    Protein 6.90 grams 13.84 grams
    Carbs 2.40 grams 2.08 grams


    Tofu has a third of the calories and a fifth of the fat of eggs. Eggs also take more resources (water, feed, and space) and excrete more waste than producing tofu. Many eggs are also from factory farms where animals are subjected to terrible conditions (cramped, dirty areas).  Sometimes soy is seen as questionable, but Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D. says “During pregnancy, one to two servings of soy daily is fine” (fitPregancy). She adds that, “Besides high-quality protein, soy is a great source of folate, iron, calcium, zinc and trace minerals.”


    This quiche is good for you, your baby and the earth (and it tastes amazing!).


    Vegan Tofu Quiche Recipe:

    Hashbrown Crust:

    4 ½ cups grated, shredded golden potatoes (about 4 medium)

    2 tablespoons vegan butter or oil of choice

    Salt and pepper to taste




    2 cups tofu

    3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

    4 tablespoons hummus


    Roasted veggies:

    2 green onions, chopped

    2 cups chopped broccoli

    Olive oil spray

    salt and pepper



    2 cups chopped mushrooms

    1 big handful spinach, chopped

    3 garlic cloves, chopped

    1 teaspoon olive oil

    Vegan quiche


    1. Roasted veggies: Combine chopped broccoli and green onions in a medium bowl. Spray lightly with olive oil and toss with salt and pepper. Roast at 450 F until golden brown (about 20-25 minutes).
    2. Hashbrown Crust: While the veggies are roasting, wash and grate the potatoes. Put the grated potatoes into a 9x13 inch glass dish and drizzle with the melted vegan butter or oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss everything by hand. Press into the pan to form a crust. Bake at 450 F until slightly golden (about 20 minutes). Remove from oven and set aside until the filling is ready.
    3. Sauteed Veggies: Heat up a medium pan and add the olive oil and garlic and sautee until fragrant and starting to golden. Add the mushrooms and cook until they are soft (on medium heat). Add the spinach, put heat on low, and cook covered until the spinach is lightly wilted. After everything is cooked, drain the cooking juice and save for the filling.
    4. Egg Filling: Blend the tofu, hummus, and nutritional yeast in a food processor. Add in the reserved cooking juice from the mushrooms.
    5. Fold all the veggies into the egg mixture in a large bowl. Spread over hashbrown crust and bake at 375 F for 25-35 minutes.


    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
    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.

  • 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


    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.

  • Roasted Chickpeas - A Pregnancy Superfood!

    chick peas 1

    Over the years, there has been much research on the benefits of consuming chickpeas during pregnancy. This is what has been concluded thus far: It is common to gain weight during pregnancy. Chickpeas help to maintain a healthy weight by containing fiber, which helps keep you fuller longer.

    1. More importantly, they are good for your heart. Chickpeas have been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack, along with other legumes.
    2. These beans offer a steady boost of energy that doesn’t plummet later and leave you fatigued.
    3. During pregnancy, you are eating for two! This means you need more quality nourishment and junk food won’t cut it. Your body requires higher amounts of protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber. A cup of chickpeas contains 12 grams of dietary fiber and 15 grams of protein.
    4. Chickpeas are a great source of iron and vitamin B6 which are essential for the growing fetus.
    5. Lots of people haven’t even heard of choline - but it’s found in chickpeas and is crucial for brain and nerve developments.
    6. One cup of chickpeas packs 65% of your daily manganese requirement during pregnancy. Manganese is also an essential nutrient for your unborn baby, aiding in skeletal development.
    7. Protein, antioxidants, vitamins - these are all widely talked about when nutrition comes up. Copper, zinc and selenium aren’t as well known, but these natural antioxidants protect babies from the damage caused by free radicals and help prevent many diseases.

    Found at: “8 Serious Effects of Chickpeas During Pregnancy.” MomJunction. http://www.momjunction.com/articles/serious-effects-of-chickpeas-during-pregnancy_0083594/

    chick peas 3

    What You Need: (makes approximately 7 servings per 2 cans of garbanzos used)

    1-2 cans chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)


    1-2 large cookie sheets

    Parchment paper

    Medium mixing bowl/s

    1 clean dish towel

    Any desired spices, sugar, salt, and fun add-ins*


    Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F on convection. Rinse the garbanzo beans in a strainer. Pour them on to the dish towel and gently pat dry. Leave them on the towel to air-dry for 5-10 minutes. They should feel matte when you touch them.

    Once the beans have dried, pour them into a bowl. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil per 2 cans of beans and toss. Do not add the spices yet.

    Put the beans on a cookie sheet lined with one piece of parchment paper. Bake for 20-30 minutes, rotating the pan at about 10 minutes. They are done when they are golden and crispy.

    Transfer to the bowl used for mixing and combine with spices/sugar/add-ins. Enjoy!

    chick peas 2


    These are best right out of the oven when they are warm and crispy. As they cool, they get deliciously chewy.


    Herbs de Provence - a classic herbal taste (buy a blend or make your own - rosemary, fennel, thyme, basil, marjoram, lavender, parsley, oregano, tarragon, bay powder). Olive oil recommended.

    Sweet Smokey Barbeque - perfect for summer picnics and backyard barbeques. Use garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, pepper, and a bit of coconut sugar. Avocado oil recommended.

    Cinnamon Sugar - a kid (and parent!) favorite. A much healthier alternative than store-bought sugar cookies or cereal. Coconut oil and coconut sugar recommended.

    Salt ‘n Pepper - the quickest, easiest pick and still delicious and satisfying! Experiment with different salts (smoked, black, himalayan) and different colored peppercorns.

    Nutritional Facts (per ½ cup)

    calories: 142

    fat: 4 grams

    protein: 6 grams

    chick peas 4

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

  • Banana Blueberry Breakfast Loaf

    Banana Blueberry 1Spring is upon us and summer is fast approaching! Get into the mood with this Banana Blueberry Breakfast Loaf. This bread is a perfect choice for a healthy breakfast treat during pregnancy or nursing. There is no added sugar or oil -- just healthy goodness. Top it with greek or soy yogurt, fresh fruit, and nut butter to jump-start your day.

    Use fresh blueberries if they are available locally and are a good price. If not, frozen works just fine. Frozen blueberries are sometimes cheaper and don’t turn all the batter purple. Also, frozen fruit, unlike some fresh fruit, is picked when it is fully ripe. This can maximize the nutritional benefit, instead of possibly stunting the development and natural ripening process (which is a common practice for large-scale farms). By buying frozen, it is possible to get more nutrients out of your fruit than buying under-ripe fresh fruit.

    Banna Blueberry 2

    This bread has a base of ripe bananas, oat flour, and sorghum flour -- all sources of quality carbohydrates that keep you going through your day. EatingWell.com informed that:

    Researchers suspect that carbs promote the production of serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical. In a study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, people who followed a very low carbohydrate diet for a year—which allowed only 20 to 40 grams of carbs daily, about the amount in just 1⁄2 cup of rice plus one piece of bread—experienced more depression, anxiety and anger than those assigned to a low-fat, high-carb diet that focused on low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruit and beans.

    So don’t be fooled by the low-carb diet fads. Glucose (sugar) is the source of fuel for humans. Carbohydrates are converted into usable fuel faster and easier than fat or protein is. Without proper fuel, we have no energy. Having a stable, constant source of energy is essential for us to feel our best.

    Banana Blueberry 3

    According to The China Study, “a high-carbohydrate diet has been shown to reverse heart disease, reverse diabetes, and prevent a plethora of diseases.” This detailed and comprehensive book was written by T. Colin Campbell, an expert of human nutrition with over 40 years of research and a PhD.

    During pregnancy, your metabolism increases and but your energy can decrease with added weight and hormones. Blood pressure and blood sugar can also go up or down. This can lead to experiencing more fatigue. Whole fruits, vegetables, tubers, and grains (all edible plants, really) are the most nutrient dense and highest fiber foods we can eat. These are all good sources of carbohydrates and help keep blood sugar stable. Snacking on these high-carb foods will help fight fatigue throughout the day.

    Listen to your body when you are tired. Sometimes a nap helps, sometimes a bit of exercise rejuvenates you, and sometimes eating healthy snacks more often does the trick. As always, there is no magic formula or secret solution that works for everyone and the only way to feel improvement is through experimentation.

    Banana Blueberry 4

    Ingredients: (makes 8 pieces)

    3 overripe bananas

    1 tbs ground flax

    1 tsp vanilla

    1 cup sorghum

    ⅔ cup oat flour

    ½ tsp baking soda

    ½ tsp baking powder

    ½ tsp ginger

    ½ tsp cardamom

    ½ tsp allspice

    ¼ tsp cloves

    1 tsp cinnamon

    1 ⅓ cup fresh or frozen blueberries

    1 ⅓ cup almond milk

    Lightly grease an 8 inch by 8 inch pan with coconut, olive, or avocado oil. Pre heat your oven to 350 F on convection.

    Mash the bananas in a large bowl. It can be faster and easier to use a whisk.

    Add in the vanilla, ground flax and almond milk. Try to get all the chunks smooth. Set aside.

    In a medium bowl, whisk the sorghum flour, oat flour, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, cardamom, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon.

    Fold the dry mixture into the wet and add the blueberries.

    Pour batter into pan. Bake for approximately one hour, or until edges are golden.

    Nutrition Facts: (per serving)

    calories: 180

    protein: 4 grams

    carbs: 37 grams

    fat: 3 grams

    sugar: 8 grams

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

  • Is Seafood Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?

    Once you’re pregnant, everything you do in your life that affects your health needs to be examined closer to ensure the healthy development of your baby. Nutritional needs top the charts with increased attention to your diet which may be further complicated by morning sickness which, for some women, can last the entire nine months of pregnancy.

    It comes as no surprise that lean protein is an optimal source of nutrition for anyone’s diet, but especially an expecting mom. In terms of calories per portion, seafood such as fish, particularly of the salmon variety which packs in those important fatty acids with low calories per portion can be a great choice. However, many pregnant women steer clear from seafood altogether with all the news we hear about mercury levels being dangerously high and a risk for the health of a developing fetus.

    While some seafood may be best to avoid during pregnancy, it is not a great idea to cut out seafood altogether as they contain many nutrients that are vital to our baby’s health and development. As the saying goes don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. In the same notion don’t throw all the fish out of your diet with the worries of mercury and contamination, but do choose wisely. There are plenty of great seafood choices that are very beneficial to your developing fetus' health as well as our own.

    For starters, omega-3 fatty acids aid in brain development and provide high levels of lean protein. Fish can serve as a powerful weapon against birth defects when choosing the low mercury varieties such as salmon, sardines, haddock and cod. Seafood which is high in mercury that you should avoid during pregnancy include shark, king mackerel, swordfish and tilefish. In moderation, tuna is not a problem as long as you steer clear of the albacore and blufin varieties. It is also a good idea to abstain from fish caught in contaminated lakes or rivers that can carry high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs which could travel to the placenta and affect the development of the fetus. So do be cautious when eating fish from local lakes and rivers.

    Raw shellfish and uncooked sushi are also seafood choices you should postpone during pregnancy.  Also, make sure that cooked mussels, clams and oysters are actually cooked all the way through so that salmonella is not a threat. Pathogens such as salmonella are destroyed through cooking, otherwise they can cause severe food poisoning in pregnancy and may cross the placenta to the fetus as well.

    It is easy to be overwhelmed with all the mercury and food poisoning cautions and simply avoid seafood altogether during pregnancy, but this would be a disservice to your developing baby and yourself as there are so many benefits to safe seafood choices, such as wild salmon for dinner. Seafood during pregnancy can be a very healthy choice, just choose wisely and space out your seafood meals and portion sizes for moderation in your diet.

  • 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.

  • 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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