Delicious Pregnancy Green Smoothie

Leafy green foods and protein should be two very important aspects of a pregnant person’s diet; however, during pregnancy, it can be difficult to incorporate all the nutritious foods our bodies need every day. Not only do many people experience food aversions and have little to no appetite in the first trimester, you may also be low on energy and not entirely motivated to plan out well balanced meals. Combine that with the fact that the majority of us live incredibly busy lives that don’t allow for a lot of extra time to cook each meal from scratch and it can be a recipe for unpleasant and unwanted health problems. Enter this delicious green smoothie recipe that doesn’t taste like freshly mowed lawn clippings. Bonus: you don’t have to be pregnant to enjoy it!

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I will be the first to admit that if you want to stay fuller longer, its best to eat your greens instead of blending them up to drink them, but if you find yourself struggling to meet the recommended daily intake for vegetables or protein, this green smoothie can help tremendously. The nutritional benefits are still abundant and here’s why:

Kale
Kale is low in calories but high in fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, and calcium. Fiber can improve the dreaded pregnancy constipation. Vitamins A and C are important for a well-functioning immune system, that is generally weaker during pregnancy. Vitamin K strengthens your blood vessels, which is necessary when your blood volume increases.

Spinach
Also low in calories, spinach is rich in folate and iron. Folate is an essential nutrient in pregnancy because it can prevent certain birth defects and decrease your chances of premature labor. Iron can help prevent anemia, which is common during pregnancy. Spinach also contains calcium which is important for you and your growing baby’s bones.

Cucumber
Not only does cucumber greatly improve the taste of this green smoothie, it’s made up of 95% water, as well as magnesium and potassium. All three of these work together to keep you well hydrated. Cucumbers also contain several antioxidants, which have a variety of benefits relating to organ function, disease prevention, and your overall health.

Avocado
Just like many of the above green foods, avocado is high in Vitamin K, folate, Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. What makes it unique compared to the other ingredients is it’s high fat content. This type of “healthy fat” is shown to reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol. It’s a key ingredient to this smoothie recipe because it’s going to help keep you feeling full and satisfied longer.

Mango
Mango adds a touch of sweetness to the recipe, but it won’t spike your blood sugar levels because of its low glycemic index. The enzymes in the fruit help to improve digestion.

Coconut Water
Coconut water is another excellent way to ensure hydration and prevent constipation. It can also help treat heartburn because it neutralizes acid in the body. It’s preferable to using juice in a smoothie because it is lower in sugar.

Lemon Juice
The lemon in this recipe really helps to neutralize the bitterness of the leafy greens without adding a noticeable sour taste to the drink. Lemons are powerful detoxifiers and promote a healthy immune system.

Protein Powder
In pregnancy, experts recommend 75 to 100 grams of protein a day. Protein is essential for fetal brain development. Any type of protein powder should be fine for this purpose, but if you don’t already have a specific brand you’re partial to, Rainbow Light makes a great plant-based, vegan protein powder formulated for pregnancy and postpartum.

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Recipe
Yield: 2 Servings
Serving Size: 8-10 ounces

1 cup kale, packed
1 cup baby spinach, packed
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1/2 avocado
1/2 cup frozen mango
1 cup coconut water
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 scoops of protein powder (optional)

Put the ingredients in your blender in the order they’re listed and blend until smooth! This recipe makes two 8-10 ounce servings, so you can share the other portion with your partner or children or you can save it in the refrigerator for yourself for the following day. It still tastes delicious, just make sure you stir it first, in case the protein powder settles.

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Pregnancy can be extremely depleting on the body. It’s crucial that we care for ourselves so we’re functioning at our best. Eating well by incorporating green foods and protein is a great way to help us thrive in pregnancy, postpartum, and parenthood.

Alexandra Bravo LMT, CLC
Owner, Bravo Birth DFW

Vegan Banana Walnut Muffins

Last week was a very busy week for Bravo Birth DFW, as well as the Bravo family. I didn’t have time to grocery shop over the weekend, so I planned to do it on Monday morning. When that fell through too, I decided to use an online grocery ordering and delivery service that is relatively new to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Ordering was a breeze, and surprisingly my groceries were delivered within two hours, giving me just enough time to put everything away before I had to pick up my older kids from school and take them to their ballet class.

The grocery delivery was a huge lifesaver, but in my hurry to place the order, I had apparently ordered five bunches of bananas, rather than five single bananas. In total, I had about 35 bananas to use before they went bad. After giving one bunch to a neighbor, and bringing some to a play date to share with friends, we managed to eat most of them before they were too ripe, until only a handful were remaining.

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Everyone knows that too-ripe bananas call for banana bread, so I decided to make these banana walnut muffins as an easy, grab-and-go breakfast for us this coming week. The muffins can also be frozen in a ziplock freezer bag and then thawed and eaten at a later date. This would be a great snack to make ahead and freeze before birth to save some trouble of cooking and baking during postpartum recovery. Bonus: oats, nuts, and flaxseed are all galactagogues, meaning they may help increase breastmilk supply.

One of my children has food allergies, so I made these without dairy or eggs, but if you don’t want the vegan version, the flaxseed meal can easily be replaced with eggs. I hope you all enjoy the recipe that was born from my online grocery shopping mishap!

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups whole wheat or all-purpose flour
1/2 cup instant oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, plus more for topping
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flax meal
6 tablespoons water
4-5 overripe bananas
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin tin.

2. Mix the flour, oats, walnuts, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

3. Whisk the flax meal and water in a small bowl and allow it to thicken for 5 minutes.

4. Mash the bananas in a medium bowl. Add the flax mixture, brown sugar, applesauce, coconut oil, and vanilla extract.

5. Gradually incorporate the wet mixture in with the dry ingredients, until just mixed.

6. Divide the batter between muffin cups and sprinkle remaining walnuts over the tops.

7. Bake for 20 – 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.

8. Let cool, then store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Healthy Quinoa Salad

The first time I tried this recipe was while working a postpartum shift for one of my clients. One of the tasks I often assist with is meal preparation. After assembling this simple, healthy salad, my client was kind enough to send a portion home with me to try. Let me tell you, my mind was blown at how delicious it was! Not only that, but it’s super quick to whip up, has lots of protein which is essential for postpartum recovery, and it’s vegetarian. It has become a staple in our home, and I am pleased to have permission to share this recipe with all of you.

Healthy Quinoa Salad
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lime (juiced)
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
5 green onions (chopped)
1/4 cup cilantro (chopped
Tortilla chips for serving (optional)

Instructions:
Bring quinoa and water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until water absorbs (10-15 minutes). Set aside.

Whisk olive oil, lime juice, cumin, salt, red pepper flakes in a bowl. Add tomatoes, black beans, green onions to quinoa. Pour olive oil mixture over salad and toss. Top with cilantro and serve with tortilla chips.

That’s it! I usually double the recipe to ensure lots of yummy leftovers. The best part about this quick, easy meal is that it can be customized to your liking. We have tried it with corn, ground beef, tortilla bowls and more. Try it and let me know what you think!