Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My go-to meal: fueling a healthy pregnancy, and losing the baby weight

I am obsessed with food. Healthy food, that is. If you were a fly on the wall of my life, you would often hear my husband asking, "I'm eating a banana! What kind of vitamins and minerals am I ingesting? Hey, hon, what can I eat to get rid of this cold faster? Baby, do you want a lot of kale or a little kale with your dinner? Is that organic/in season/dairy-free/gluten-free/sugar-free/from the farmer's market?

Yes, I think about, read about, and talk about food a lot. It's the number one way I take care of myself. So, naturally, I was very interested obsessed with eating right during pregnancy. I wanted to provide the best nutrition possible for my baby while giving my own body what it needed to remain healthy and fit. And I found that, after giving birth, my goals were pretty much the same. I was still growing my baby by fueling her little body with breast milk and I still wanted to support my body so it could heal and recover from pregnancy without adding to the baby weight. The easiest way to accomplish these goals is to eat nutrient-dense meals (or snacks), more often. This means eating meals that pack a good variety of the vitamins and minerals your body needs into one dish. I find that I am left feeling much more satisfied (and with much fewer cravings for not-so-healthy food) when I eat this way.

I have a few go-to meals that I eat in rotation, but the "Big Salad," as I so dubbed it during pregnancy, is one that never fails. I feel so nourished and satisfied afterwards, almost as if I can feel the nutrients going to work in my body. It's tasty, filling and so very nutritious. The protein from the eggs and hummus will fill you up, the whole grains from the brown rice bread will give you some fuel/energy without feeling heavy, and the healthy fats from the olive oil and avocado will satisfy cravings (cravings are usually your body's way of asking for something….it just takes a little bit of detective work to figure out what that is). 

All the "fat" in this meal might make you nervous. Personally, I swear by healthy fats. They are rich in omegas, good for your heart, fight fatigue, improve your overall health, and can actually help you control your weight. Healthy fats are one of my secrets! My diet is high in healthy fat and virtually devoid of unhealthy saturated fats. Let's not fail to mention that this way of eating also benefits a growing fetus or growing baby (through breast milk) enormously! 

So, here is my recipe for "Big Salad," including the health benefits of each ingredient (click links for full nutritional information):

Alexa's Big Salad

2-3 cups mixed dark, leafy greens salad mix (I prefer Olivia's Spring Mix)
*high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, and iron

1 cup baby spinach
*high in Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Manganese, Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin C, Iron, Folic Acid, Fiber, B Vitamins, on the "12 best foods to eat during pregnancy" list

1-2 large carrots, peeled and diced 
*high in Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Fiber, Vitamin C, on the "12 best foods to eat during pregnancy" list

6-8 grape tomatoes, halved
*high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Lycopene 

1/2 an avocado, chopped
*high in Folic acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Omegas, on the "12 best foods to eat during pregnancy" list

2 hardboiled Omega/DHA-enhanced eggs, chopped
*high in Protein, Omegas, B Vitamins, Choline (research indicates Choline can help prevent miscarriage in addition to its many other health benefits), on the "12 best foods to eat during pregnancy" list

2-4 tablespoons hummus
*high in protein, Folic Acid, Fiber, Manganese

Olive oil, to taste

Balsamic Vinegar, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

Gluten-free brown rice toast with Coconut Spread, on the side


Mix all ingredients, salad mix through avocado in a bowl with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Top with hardboiled eggs and hummus. Serve toast on the side.

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