Being pregnant with dietary restrictions can be a bit of a headache. Because of this, I became a complete nutrition nut when I was pregnant with my daughter. As a first-time mom, I scoured through any book that I could get my hands on about proper nutrition. It became my focus to find another book or a new website that would give me more information. Mommies and daddies-to-be can get lost under all of the craziness there is out there about the do’s and don’ts during pregnancy. Adding a long list of food restrictions to this can make you a little nutty. My husband was a little less enthusiastic about my need for so much information. He reminded me at least once a day that I needed to relax. It’s never that easy for me in general and was especially challenging when I was pregnant.
While reading these articles and books I found that almost every source was encouraging pregnant women to eat meat, poultry and eggs often. I understood that these products would give my body and my growing baby iron and protein, all-important for her little developing brain and body, but what happens when you don’t consume these foods? The thought of eating any of these items made my already squeamish, morning sickness-prone belly a little woozy. I can’t even crack an egg let alone cook one and eat it. So I kept searching. I wanted confirmation that my normal diet was sufficient as my pregnancy diet.
Pregnancy is such an amazing but fragile period. Your body is doing things that it has never done before and your emotions can be all over the place. Everyone wants to be a great parent but when you have the privilege to actually carry the child, your caretaker mode kicks in way before you actually hold the baby for the first time. But it is a short 40-week pregnancy period and I needed to find my balance, fast. I started journaling daily and meditating to clear my mind of the worrisome thoughts that were bouncing around. I put those pregnancy books on the shelves, donated a few to friends and took a deep breath. I pretended that I was a seasoned mother, relaxed and confident. I found a doula that helped me fine tune my diet to make sure that the essential vitamins were being consumed and I just started to enjoy myself.
During my research I was able to find that there were several super foods that I should consume during my pregnancy. They were also perfect replacements for a diet that excluded animal proteins. These food super stars were spinach, collard greens, lentils and peanuts. I figured this would be pretty easy as these are food staples in my diet already. Spinach, beans (especially lentils), all nuts (peanuts in particular) and collard greens were my go-to foods for 40 weeks. The great thing about these foods is that they are available year round and are foods that are incredibly high in folate/folic acid, calcium and protein. Of course all green vegetables (asparagus, broccoli and kale), beans (garbanzo, white, black and kidney), nuts (almonds and pistachios) and fruit (all especially oranges) are important to consume daily, but these particular foods are high in many essential nutrients and should be staples in your diet. You need the proper fuel for your body for the 9-10 month stretch because let’s face it, pregnancy and labor are the ultimate marathons for your body–growing a kid isn’t easy! Stocking up on super foods, and even preparing a few dishes that freeze well (this will be a life saver later) will give you time to enjoy all the other joys that come with preparing for a baby.
I became a pretty lazy cook while I was pregnant. The last thing that I want to do was stand over a hot stove when my internal body temperature already felt like 500 degrees! But I also felt that being pregnant was good enough reason to make sure that all my meals were especially delicious and by that I mean extra spicy and extra cheesy. So what does a lazy cook who wants especially delicious foods do? She figures out a recipe and piles many of her super foods into a yummy wrap.
Collard greens are the new super star food and I used them as the shell of my wrap. The filling is a mixture of spinach, lentils, mushrooms and Daiya cheese.
SpicyVegan Collard Wraps
1 cup of spinach (fresh or frozen)
I cup cooked lentils
I teaspoon crushed garlic
8 chopped mushrooms (any type will do)
1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
1 teaspoon Ancho Chili pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil
¾ cup Daiya cheese
3 collard greens leaves
Vegetable broth (optional)
1. Bring water (or vegetable broth) to a boil in a small pot. Once boiling, turn fire off and toss in collard greens. Cook for no more than three minutes. You want the leaves to be pliable but not so weak that they fall apart when you wrap them. Place these to the side and cover.
2. In a medium saucepan, add olive oil, spinach, mushrooms, lentils, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook until spinach and mushrooms are the desired tenderness.
3. Turn off fire and fold in Daiya cheese while still warm.
4. Take several spoonfuls of lentil, spinach, and mushroom mixture and add to center of a piece of collard green. Fold the ends in and wrap filling completely. You can leave the ends open but it will be a bit messy.
Related: First Foods for Your Vegan Baby
Photo: 123rf; Sorina Fant