Pregnant & Starved for Protein: How I Pack Protein into a Plant Based Diet
While Experts can agree that 75-100 grams of protein is recommended in your diet while expecting, I was still a little shocked when my mid-wife gave me that guideline. I was determined to meet this goal while keeping my primarily plant based diet, despite being flexible with fish and eggs. Most importantly, I wanted to give this growing baby and myself all the required nutrients!
According to the American Pregnancy Association, "Protein positively affects the growth of fetal tissue, including the brain. It also helps your breast and uterine tissue to grow during pregnancy, and it plays a role in your increasing blood supply."
Once I educated myself on protein rich foods both plant based and otherwise I would mix and match to get the max benefit out of my diet. I focused on finding meals and tastes that I truly enjoyed and was craving as a pregnant momma. Also, I wanted to make sure that I could indulge in them healthily.
So here is my ingredient and sneaky food lists I developed for maximizing protein while pregnant ranging from 1 - 40 grams:
- Nuts, Seeds, and grains including: Chia Seeds, Flax seed/meal, Hemp Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Quinoa, and Oatmeal.
- Nut Butters including: Sun Butter, Peanut Butter (powdered and regular), and Almond Butter (powdered and regular).
- A variety of beans including: Black Beans, Chickpeas, Lentils, and Edamame.
- Fruits and Vegetables with surprising amounts of protein including: Bananas, Cherries (dried, frozen, and fresh), Avocados, Spinach, Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes, Green Peas, Cauliflower, Kale, Mushrooms, and Brussels Sprouts.
- Supplements, Flavor Additives, and Special Bread: Nutritional Yeast (adds a cheesy flavor to meals), Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, Ora Organics Protein Powder (vanilla and chocolate), Collagen Powder (Plant Based and regular), Ezekiel Bread.
- Animal Protein: Eggs and safe fish including Salmon
- Vegan Protein meat and dairy substitutes: Tofu, Seitan, Forager Cashewgurt (yogurt alternative), Lavva Yogurt (plant based yogurt), Ripple Milk (plant based milk alternative) packed with protein and the closest to milk tasting, Veggie Burgers, and Jack Fruit
And here are some of the delicious meals I made with the listed ingredients:
- Oatmeal loaded with healthy seeds, fruit, and nut butters
- Buddha Bowls
- Quesadillas loaded with veggies
- Breakfast Scrambles
- Protein Pancakes/waffles using protein powder
- Avocado Toasts suitable for breakfast or lunch
- Meals incorporating vegan protein including nachos, tacos, sloppy joes, stir fries, curry, etc.
- Meals incorporating fish/salmon including tacos, main dishes, and salads
- Meals incorporating as many veggies as possible
- Snacks with yogurts topped with granola and healthy seeds and nuts
Don't be afraid to get creative with your meals and keep yourself feeling energized and healthy while you celebrate the life that is growing inside you. You both will benefit so much from it!
Personally, I noticed having more energy, a healthy weight gain and a positive birthing experience. And most importantly, I was blessed with a very healthy 8lb 21 inch bundle of love!
I can only hope but attribute those things to a healthy diet, as it was the first time out of 3 pregnancies that I was truly mindful about a protein rich diet.
I am so thankful my midwife shared the guideline with me and hope it can be of help to you on your pregnancy journey.
Happy eating with two in mind!