Friday, May 11, 2012

A pregnant vegan

Pregnant and Vegan

my extremely healthy, usually happy baby
By the time I got pregnant I had been a vegan for five years. Everyone knew me as vegan and the questions of “why” and “what do you eat” had long since past. So when I got pregnant a year ago I was surprised at the constant question, “Are you going to have a vegan pregnancy?” The question startled me every time because I hadn’t thought about it any other way. In fact I believed (and still do) that the vegan diet was the healthier choice for my fetus. Most questions were just curious, some cautious, but a few down right caustic. 
“Do you know what you’re doing to your unborn child?” Their eyes would say. “How can you be so selfish?” And, “what kind of mother are you going to be?”
Was I being selfish? Or perhaps just naive and clueless? I spent a lot of early prenatal appointments talking to my doctor about this, making sure I hadn't just been reading one-sided literature that would severely harm my child.

My wonderfully open-minded doctor helped me regain my confidence and with a little extra attention on my diet I birthed an extremely healthy, usually happy baby. 

This is what I did:
Raspberry Vanilla Protein Shake
1. Protein: A pregnant woman needs 75 grams of protein a day! That is a lot. In order to start off right I made sure to eat at least 30 grams for my morning meal. I did this through soy protein shakes I would make in bulk for the entire week, protein bars (I fell in love with Larabars  and started making my own version), and lots and lots of tofu and beans.

2. Calcium: I made sure to buy calcium-fortified soy milk and orange juice, ate calcium  chews (until I got so sick of them I had to hide the bag), and ate a lot of dark leafy greens. Did you know 3/4 cup collard greens as more calcium than 1 cup cows milk?

3. Supplements: Taking supplements was a new practice, but a very important one. I took (and still take for breast feeding) Rainbow Light Prenatal One, a fantastic vegetarian prenatal that only needs to be taken once a day, B12 (very important pregnant moms!), and Iron. I can proudly say my iron levels stayed great throughout my whole pregnancy).

4. Read. I spent a lot of time on websites and in the backs of cookbooks determining my nutritional needs and planning out how to fulfill them.There are many great resources for vegans during pregnancy. The Vegan Survival Guide by Sayward Rebhal, one of the first books dedicated solely for pregnant vegans, is a great resource I came across after giving birth. I found it important to stay well informed both for myself and my concerned friends and family.

No Bake Oatmeal Cookies
5. Support. I was very fortunate to have a doctor who supported my veganism but I have heard stories of people defending their decision to their health care providers and not receiving their support. It is so important to find a nurse, midwife, or doctor who will work with your lifestyle choices and believe in the inherent health of a vegan diet.

6. Cravings. When the cravings came, I quickly found foods that would satisfy. The grocery store two blocks away carried vegan scones and I spent a lot of my days off stocking up. At home when I craved something sweet and chocolatey I had fast go-to recipes like my no-bake cookies. There was also a time I ate a lot of processed fake meat. Aware of all the foods available to me and with reliable, fast recipes there was never a time I was unable to satisfy a craving.

And in the end...
I had a great, though not without struggles, birth and a beautiful baby girl...wanna take another look? 
As my journey continues I learn how to have a vegan baby who will grow into a vegan toddler. I'm sure there will be lots to share. And maybe next time I'll tell you what I did with my placenta. :)

Do you have any vegan pregnancy thoughts or stories?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake

That's right friends. And it's as good as it looks.

So far the biggest benefit of my soy/gluten freedom month has been the forcing of creativity and innovation. I have to admit, I used to have a sort of prejudice against raw desserts disbelieving in their potential goodness. Oh was I wrong. This is one of my favorite desserts I have ever made. Ever. The chocolate hazelnut cheesecake is so rich and creamy and pure. But wait there's more, it's also healthy!

Get the recipe here

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pepperjack Cashew Cheese

Oh my my, I love cashew cheese. 
There are a lot of store-bought, processed vegan cheeses out there, and some of them are quite good but few are meant to be eaten without melting first. This Pepperjack recipes is inspired from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions, which I talked about here.
Check out the recipe for this Pepperjack Cashew Cheese on The Sweet Life

Monday, April 30, 2012

salted caramel corn

 gluten-free, soy-free, vegan

I only recently discovered how easy it is to make popcorn with just a stove and a pot. Upon this discovery my mind started racing with all the wonderful  flavors I could make. Naturally salted caramel was the first on my list.

Check out the recipe at The Sweet Life.

9 ways to enjoy leave

This week I made my maternity leave indefinite and said my goodbyes to Whole Foods. I am so lucky and blessed by this opportunity and here are some of the things I  look forward to most...

1. Baking for fun .When I baked 8 hours a day for someone else, I hardly ever wanted to come home and play with food. Since I started my leave I love being in the kitchen!. Here are a few of the treats I have been making, with many more to come.

2. Eating breakfast. I was never good at waking up an extra 30 minutes earlier; its hard when you have to be at work at 5:30 in the morning. Now I can enjoy and savor the most important meal of the day. Check out the recipe for one of my favorite ways to start the day: granola.

3. Family walks. One of my favorite developments since Eden's birth is the family walk. Nearly every morning Jason, Eden, Swede, and I start our day with a brisk walk around our neighborhood.

4. Sharing life with Eden. I am so lucky to re-experience childhood through Eden's eyes. I love to watch her grow and learn. Currently she is discovering how hands can be useful.

5. Eden sharing my life. Likewise I am thrilled to teach Eden and show her all my joys in life as she hangs out with me in her wrap.

6. Weekends. I don't think Jason and I have shared weekends together since I've been working as a baker. Oh the things we can do!

7. Dinner. Time and energy to be creative with dinner is very exciting. There were a lot of sad dinners when I could hardly stomach water during my pregnancy and a lot of quick dinners when life was too chaotic to cook.

8. Wednesdays at Fern Creek. I look forward to our weekly trip out to my parent's farm. Eden gets to spend time with family while learning about food and where it comes from.

9. Travel with Jason.  He's always going cool places for work and finally Eden and I can join him. Eden loves living large in hotel rooms, as you can see, and there are many more in her future.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Roasted Eggplant and tomato pizza

gluten-free, soy-free, vegan pizza

When I removed gluten and soy from my diet I was afraid it was going to be a sad, sad month. How silly of me.This pizza is delicious, hearty, and completely satisfying.

Check out the recipe at  The Sweet Life

Thursday, April 26, 2012

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

vegan. gluten-free. soy free. delicious.

For the next month I'm on a gluten-free, soy-free food challenge. As a vegan this limits my diet substantially.  After five days of incredibly healthy, mostly raw meals I needed some chocolate! I have an old no bake cookie recipe in a family cookbook that I have been veganizing for years and I realized with one quick walk to the store, I could have my chocolaty gluten and soy free dessert.

Check it out here at The Sweet Life