The likelihood is –
that as you’re pregnant you’re hopefully already eating a healthy range of fruits and vegetables, and following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle when pregnant won’t pose too much of a challenge. By selecting a varied amount of fruits, vegetables, grains and wholemeal foods you can get all the nutrients that both you and your baby need.
Many people think –
that veganism is a recent ‘fad’ but the truth is that people have been practising veganism for thousands of years. There are varying levels of vegetarians and vegans pescatarian, which are those that eat seafood, flexitarians, those that may opt to live a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle Monday to Friday with the occasional meat at the weekend. Its a personal and individual choice for everyone. A few years back Veganuary began and many people were opting to exclude meat and dairy from their diets for the first month of the year. Since the cause started back in 2014 the number of people following a vegan lifestyle in January has more than doubled. We have become more aware of the impact of agricultural farming as well as the damage and harm that eating certain meats and diary products can have on our body. It goes without saying that vegans avoid all animal and animal bi-products and whilst many will adhere to avoiding everything that has any form of animal product in it, some are not as strict or some may not be aware that some products that you would expect to be vegan aren’t. For instance did you know that shellac nail varnish is actually made from the secretion of the Lac insect found in India and Thailand……… WOW!
Foods rich in protein which, for many non-vegetarians will often assume can only come from meat and dairy sources – however, foods such as tofu, beans, lentils, pulses, nuts and eggs all include adequate amounts of protein in the right quantity.
Milk and dairy, such as milk, cheese and yogurt, or for a vegan diet non-dairy alternative which are fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Meat, fish and dairy are good sources of a number of essential nutrients, but most of these nutrients can be found in foods that are suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
it’s essential to ensure we’re getting the right amount of the following vitamins and minerals as without proper planning – these can be lacking in a vegan or vegetarian diet.
- OMEGA 3
- VITAMIN B12
- VITAMIN B2
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Iron is a fundamental mineral needed for the normal growth and development of your baby and women can often suffer from iron deficiency during pregnancy.
If you are concerned about your Iron levels during pregnancy, please consult your doctor or midwife who will be able to carry a blood test to determine if you’re deficient. Because iron found in plant based foods isn’t absorbed as easily as that found in animal products, women who do not include meat in their diet need to make sure they include a full range of green leafy vegetables, beans, lentils, seeds and iron rich fortified cereals. Dried apricots are also a good source of iron.
Vitamin C can also enhance the absorption of iron from plant-based sources. Vitamin C is a fat-soluble vitamin and is not stored naturally in the body so regular consumption of vitamin C rich foods throughout the day will aid in your body’s ability to absorb iron.
The difference between iron absorbed through meat products and plant products is that the iron isn’t absorbed as well, you can try combining Vitamin C with your plant based iron sources which can help your body to absorb it slightly better.
Excellent examples of plant based iron includes pulses, beans, peas and lentils, plenty of green leafy vegetables, dried apricots and figs and wholemeal seeded breads. You’ll also find many breakfast cereals fortified with iron.
Proteins are the building blocks for your body’s cells and that of your baby. Many vegans and vegetarians already get plenty of protein from their diet but the key is to get a varied amount and a good range of the essential amino acids and soya is one product that contains a selection of these amino acids. Other excellent plant based protein sources include:
- Dairy products (such as milk, yogurt and cheese)
- Some dairy-free alternatives (such as soy dairy-free alternative drinks and yogurts)
- Beans and pulses, chickpeas, kidney beans, soy beans and lentils
- Nuts and nut butters, peanut butter, almond butter and cashew, look for the ones that contain no palm oil and sugars
Omega 3 We tend to get plenty of Omega 6 in our diets but sadly often fall short in getting sufficient levels of omega 3. Both are crucial and play an essential role but the ratio shows a huge proportion of our essential fatty acids come from Omega-6.
As our bodies don’t produce these naturally, so we need to get them from our diet or by supplements. ⠀⠀
There are three types of Omega 3 fatty acids – ALA, EPA and DHA
ALA found in plant foods and DHA & EPA both found in oily fish. ⠀⠀
Omega-3 fats are needed for normal development of your baby’s brain and eyes, with oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout and tuna all fantastically rich sources of long-chain omega-3 Fats ( DHA and EPA)
As a vegetarian I don’t eat fish but that doesn’t mean I can’t source my Omega 3 elsewhere.
For those of you that don’t or won’t eat fish, you can find short chain omega 3 fats in seeds such as flax and chia, walnuts and walnut oil, good quality vegetable oils such as rapeseed and flax as soybeans.
Although the above are not the long-chain versions like DHA that you find in oily fish but fear not, thankfully you can get your hands on Algae-based omega-3 DHA supplements which are suitable for vegetarians although during pregnancy it’s absolutely crucial to look for a supplement aimed at pregnancy or make sure you check that any supplements you are taking do not contain vitamin A and are suitable for pregnancy.
Choose one that provides a minimum of 300 mg of DHA and make sure it’s Omega 3 fish oil and NOT cod liver oil.
Calcium is crucial in the development and growth of your baby’s bones and to help maintain the health of yours throughout pregnancy. Various dairy products such as cheese, milk and yogurt are all good examples of calcium rich food sources.
If you’re following a vegan lifestyle you can still find plenty of calcium fortified foods out there such as breakfast cereals and breads. Green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach and dairy alternatives that are fortified with calcium such as yogurts, rice and oat milk.
Vitamin B12 is important for the normal growth and development of your baby and helps the body to release the energy from the food you eat. Its vital for the metabolism and the formation of red blood cells and the central nervous system -typically the brain and spinal cord.
Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in foods from animal products, so meats, eggs and dairy. If you’re vegetarian its likely you’re already getting enough B12 in your diet, however if you’re a vegan you may not get sufficient amounts. You can source fortified options such as B12 fortified dairy products such as soya and dairy free spreads as well as B12 fortified cereals.
Vitamin B2 (also known as riboflavin) works with other B vitamins to promote healthy growth and tissue repair and helps release energy from carbohydrates and is crucial for the development of your baby. Vitamin B2 is found in animal products but can also be found in some plant based foods such as mushrooms, almonds, fortified cereals and dairy free products such as soya and oat milks.
Selenium is needed for the normal function of the immune system and to help protect your body’s cells. Meat and fish are good sources of selenium, as well as eggs, some nuts and seeds, breakfast cereals and wheatgerm and seeded breads.
Iodine is important for your baby’s brain development and foods rich in iodine include fish, eggs, milk and milk products such as yogurts and cheeses and vegetarians and vegans are at risk of iodine deficiency as they do not eat rich iodine sources (fish and/or dairy products). We need Iodine for our body to make the essential hormones for our metabolism and an adequate amount is crucial during pregnancy.
Make sure you get plenty of fresh fruits, frozen fruits and vegetables in your diet.
Eat the rainbow
There’s a reason we say eat the rainbow. More often than not we end up eating the same fruit and veg over and over meaning we don’t get a full range of colours.
Phytonutrients are the chemical compounds produced by plants and vegetables that give them their rich colour and they do this to protect themselves and ward off predators.Phytonutrients are packed full of powerful antioxidants and the aim is to get a broad range across the colour spectrum.
Eating them raw when it’s safe to do so, not over cooking and eating the skin and outside (again where it’s possible and safe to do so ) is the BEST way to ensure we are getting those crucial phytonutrients.
As well as the upside of getting our daily dose of vitamins and minerals by eating a wide range of fruit and veg, we also get the added benefits of phytonutrients with their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
They may also enhance our immunity levels whilst also repairing damage to our bodies from exposure to toxins. Beetroot is a great example of this: as they detox the liver and when our liver is functioning well our body is better equipped to balance our hormones, cholesterol and energy levels.
Phytonutrient rich foods Across the colour spectrum of red, orange & yellow includes tomatoes , carrots , peppers, squash, sweet potatoes, peaches, mangos, melons, citrus fruits, and berries) Dark green leafy vegetables (such as spinach, kale, bok choy, broccoli, Swiss chard, and romaine lettuce) Garlic, onions, chives and leeks.
Enjoy as many gorgeous delicious colours that you can.
Your Immune System
Your immune system is your body’s defence system to fight bacteria and germs that can make you sick or worse, cause disease. When it comes to staying healthy, or shortening an illness, having a strong immune system is important.
Most of us have a general idea of what our immune system is, but not so much what our immune system is comprised of, which can make it difficult to maintain our body’s ability to stay healthy.
Broccoli and Ginger Soup
Chakalaka Style Risotto
Chocolate Millet Pudding
Feel Good Salad
Green Sushi with Crispy Tofu
Green Sushi Salad with Crispy Tofu
- 1 cup 250g sushi rice
- 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
- 2 cups 375g natural tofu
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
- 1 inch 3 cm ginger, grated
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce
- 4 baby cucumbers sliced
- few slices nori
- 5/8 cup 125g seaweed salad
- 1 ¼ cup 200g edamame bea
- Boil the rice according to the instructions on the package. Stir in the rice vinegar and allow to cool to room temperature.
- In the meantime, drain the tofu. Cover a bowl with a clean tea towel and crumble the tofu above it. Press out as much moisture as possible squeezing the tea towel.
- Heat the sesame oil in a wok and stir-fry the tofu for 5 minutes on medium heat. Next, add in the ginger and soy sauce. Stir-fry for 5-7 minutes. Season with salt and salt.
- Meanwhile, cut the cucumber into slices and cut the nori into pieces.
- To serve, divide the rice between bowls and then the tofu, cucumber, nori, seaweed salad, and soybeans. Serve with extra soy sauce
Super-food Breakfast with a Fried Egg
Super Food Breakfast with a Fried Egg
- 2 cups 300g broccoli
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1/4 onion chopped
- 2 tbsp. 20g pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbsp. 20g dried cranberry
- lemon juice
- 4 eggs
- ½ tsp. ground turmeric
- ½ tsp. chili flakes
- ½ tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp Oregano
- Divide the broccoli into smaller parts and chop into tiny pieces or use a food processor to make broccoli rice.
- Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a pan on medium-high heat, add the minced garlic, chopped onion, pumpkin seeds and fry, stirring for about 5 minutes, until browned.
- Next, add the cranberries, broccoli rice and all the spices, season with salt & pepper, mix and fry for another 5-7 minutes. If you need, add a little water to avoid burring. At the end of cooking drizzle with lemon juice.
- In a separate frying pan heat the remaining 1 tbsp. of oil, and fry the eggs. Once ready serve on top of the broccoli rice, season with salt & pepper
Strawberry Chia Pudding
Strawberry Chia Pudding
- ½ cup 100g frozen strawberries
- scant 1/2 cup 100ml milk, dairy or coconut
- 1 tbsp. vanilla whey
- 1 tbsp. maple syrup
- scant 1/3 cup 50g chia seeds
- Blitz the strawberries milk, whey and maple syrup in a speed blender or food processor.
- Add the chia seeds and mix well. Leave to thicken in the fridge for 10 mins, mixing 2-3 times, to ensure it thickens evenly. Serve straight away or store in a refrigerator.
- Pro tip: if you leave the pudding in the fridge overnight, you might want to add some extra milk to it before serving as it will become more thick as the chia seeds absorb the liquid.
Vanilla and Coconut Truffles
Vanilla and Coconut Truffles
- 2 cups 200g desiccated coconut + 3 tbsp.
- ¼ cup 60ml coconut milk, canned
- ¼ cup 50g coconut oil
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp. maple syrup
- Slightly heat the oils and coconut milk in a pot over low heat. Add the 200g desiccated coconut, vanilla extract and maple syrup, then mix well. Transfer into a container and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Once the batter is firm, form around 10 balls and roll them in the extra coconut, eat straight away or store in the fridge until necessary.
- Pro tip: add more milk if the batter is too dry and does not want to roll into balls.