Green Goddess smoothie

smoothieAll this cold weather has us thinking about smoothies…ironically enough!  While many of us benefit from favoring warm, comforting foods in colder months, a smoothie this packed with goodness is worth the possible brain freeze.  It it best to consume colder foods like these in the midday if possible, though you can enjoy them anytime.

This smoothie is packed with crucial nutrients and protein from superfood all-stars like kale, chia, flaxseed, and spirulina.  Really, everything in this smoothie is great for your body and your baby.  Not only is this great for pregnancy, but would also make for a fabulous early labor snack to give you lots of fuel and nutrients for the journey ahead.  The bonus is that this smoothie is beautiful and gives a splash of color to these otherwise white winter days!  Enjoy mamas.

In a blender or with an immersion blender, blend and enjoy:

– 1 ripe banana

– 1 cup frozen organic blueberries

– 1 cup organic spinach

– 1 cup organic kale

– 1/3 of a cup of coconut water (can substitute almond milk or plain water), add more liquid if you like your smoothies drinkable rather than spoonable

– 1 T ground flax seeds

– 1 T chia seeds

– 1 t hemp protein powder (optional)

– 1 t spirulina

– 2 medjool dates (optional– adds sweetness)

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10 Great Foods for Pregnancy

salad in preg

Eating during pregnancy can invite an entirely new way of eating and thinking about food.  For example, a woman who used to eat a small breakfast at 11 am, skip lunch, and eat dinner after a long day at 8pm, may find she wakes hungry and craves a full high protein meal, can’t go longer than two hours without eating, and suddenly hates all vegetables/meats/fruits/or red foods…

Because you are no longer simply eating for your single adult body (but are, miraculously, building the body of another person!) it’s a good idea to educate yourself about how to eat optimally during pregnancy.  Sometimes, all the details about grams of protein, milligrams of iron, what to avoid, and how to take various supplements can get overwhelming; so here is a simple list of ten foods that are highly nutritious and beneficial during pregnancy.  Feel free to incorporate these into your diet as they work best for you (taking what you like and leaving the rest).

foodsEggs

With more than a dozen vitamins and minerals, lots of protein and less than a 100 calories each, eggs are a great food for pregnancy.  Cheap, easy to cook, and versatile, eggs are an excellent source of choline, which is crucial to baby’s growth and brain health and helps prevent neural tube defects.  Insufficient choline consumption in pregnancy can lead to structural problems in the baby’s brain.  Some eggs also contain omega-3 fats, which are also important to baby’s brain health.  Healthy women are advised to consume 1-2 eggs daily.

Other sources of choline include chicken, turkey, collard greens, and cauliflower.

Beans and legumes

There are so many beans to choose from and many ways to prepare and enjoy them.  Of all the vegetables, beans have the highest concentrations of protein and fiber, both important in pregnancy.  In order from highest to lowest protein concentrations are soy beans, fava beans, lentils, red kidney beans, black beans, haricot beans, black-eyes peas, garbanzos, and lima beans.  Beans can be used in burritos, salads, soups, chili, pasta dishes, casseroles and more.

Beans are also a great source of iron, folate, calcium, and zinc.  Half a cup of lentils, for example, contains nearly fifty percent of a pregnant woman’s daily folic acid requirements.

Salmon

Salmon is a high quality protein, a great source of omega-3 fats (DHA), and has low amounts of mercury, which is the reason to limit consumption of other kinds of fish in pregnancy.  Omega-3 fatty acids are great for baby’s developing brain and eyes.  During pregnancy, you can aim to eat about 12 ounces of salmon each week (wild-caught is best).

Quinoa

High in magnesium, manganese, copper, iron (3mg per cooked cup), and B Vitamins, quinoa is one of the only complete proteins in the plant world (containing about 8 grams of protein per one cooked cup).  Quinoa can be used in place of rice or any other whole grain.  It can be used in baking (try quinoa flakes in place of some of your flour), added to soups, salads, made into a tasty side dish with veggies, desserts, and more.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are rich in carotenoids (which lend them their color), which the body converts to vitamin A.  While too much vitamin A from animal sources can be dangerous in pregnancy, carotenoids are a plant pigment that is only converted to vitamin A as needed.  In addition to vitamin A, sweet potatoes also contain vitamin C, folate, and fiber.  They are also inexpensive and easy to prepare.  Try them mashed (with a little ginger to ease nausea), baked, in soups and stews, in salads, or as part of a main dish.

Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt typically has twice the protein of regular yogurt and is a great source of calcium, which is important for mama and baby’s bones, teeth, and more.  Be careful not to get yogurt that is too loaded with sugars.  If you want to add flavor, you may consider adding your own berries or flavoring to control the sugar load.  You can also cook with yogurt—add yogurt, vinegar, and spices as a creamy marinade for chicken or other meats.  You can also use yogurt to make dips and sauces.

Walnuts

Walnuts are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, especially for those who aren’t big fans of fish and eggs.  Walnuts and other nuts are a great source of protein on the run.  Consider making a trail mix snack bag with walnuts, dried apricots or peaches (high in iron), and other nuts and berries.

Dark leafy greens

Loaded with vitamins and nutrients such as vitamins A, C and K, iron and folate, dark leafy greens are great in pregnancy.  These include spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and collard greens.  You can make salads, add into soups or smoothies, or sauté with a little garlic and coconut oil.

Lean Organic meats

Lean organic meats are a great source of protein and (heme) iron, which are both vital in pregnancy and postpartum.  Lean meats, such as those around 95-98% fat free, and those that are organic are preferred.  Beef and pork have the added benefit of containing choline.

Colorful vegetables and fruits

Vegetables and fruits have so many outstanding health benefits that if they were pharmaceuticals, they would be hailed as wonder drugs that all people everywhere were encouraged to consume daily.

Eat a variety of red, orange, yellow, green, and purple, fruits and vegetables to ensure that you and your baby get an array of different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

As far as what to get organic, check out the Environmental Working Group’s list of the “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” fruits and vegetables (based on pesticide use on crops).

Water

Okay, this is number 11 and water is not a food…but water is so important in pregnancy that it deserves to be on this list!  For mama, adequate water consumption in pregnancy prevents dehydration, reduces the likelihood of nausea, cramps, swelling, dizziness, constipation, hemorrhoids, heartburn, and even preterm labor.  Sufficient water intake can also prevent urinary tract infections.  Water is also crucial to building up your blood, amniotic fluid, and breast milk.

What are your favorite ways to eat these foods in pregnancy?

Preconception Planning

PPcoupleMost couples don’t think about preconception planning—yet it can make a world of difference in fostering a healthy pregnancy and birth.

Every couple benefits from addressing their overall health and wellness in preparation for pregnancy, even if they are not having fertility issues. This preparation supports a healthy and happy pregnancy and eases the transition through postpartum into parenthood.

preconceptionP1For all the gardeners out there, consider this metaphor: preconception planning is much like preparing/improving the soil. Creating a healthy environment for your growing darlings even before they are planted optimizes their chances of thriving — sometimes in ways that later care doesn’t allow (e.g. water and sun; or, in our case, pregnancy care).

Health Foundations offers preconception planning services, including comprehensive visits to discuss your health and create an individualized plan that works for your family.

When should preconception planning begin?

Ideally, we love to see couples three to six months before they hope to conceive.  This gives us time to correct any nutritional deficiencies (such as low iron or Vitamin D), which can have a significant impact on the pregnancy.  Sperm live for approximately 3 months, so we want to get dad as healthy as possible before conception so that his contribution to the pregnancy is healthy and strong.  Eggs begin their maturation process around this time too; when, like sperm, they are most vulnerable to toxins, radiation, and nutritional deficiencies.

What does a preconception planning visit look like?

During a preconception visit, we will talk with you and your partner about your current health, lifestyle, diet, personal and family medical history, medications you are taking, work and home environments, past pregnancies, and you and your partner’s desires and concerns about getting pregnant.  Here are some of the issues we will explore during your appointment:

  • General current health:
  • Blood Sample
    • We recommend women receive a pap and cultures during a well-woman visit (which Health Foundations can provide)
    • Visit a dentist to get a cleaning and any necessary work done prior to conception
    • Talk to your provider about current medications to make sure they are safe at this time
    • Discuss any history of hormonal birth control
    • Have diagnostic/lab tests for various issues that can impact pregnancy and maternal health (all offered at Health Foundations)
  • Diet/Weight
    • Love coupleWe can work with you to optimize your diet to ensure the greatest health prior to and during pregnancy
    • Eliminate caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drugs.
    • Drink plenty of water (aim for 8 glasses a day)
    • Weight: women 15% below their ideal weight may benefit from added pounds during pregnancy; women who are overweight, however, do not benefit from crash dieting prior to pregnancy, as this can deplete their health.  In either case, we can create a plan to create optimal health for you.
  • Lifestyle
    • Establish a consistent exercise pattern
    • Inventory your environment for chemical, heavy metal, and other toxic exposure (you may want to work with a professional on a detox plan)
    • Address emotional health and stress
  • Use of supplements
    • We recommend women begin prenatal vitamins at least three months prior to conception (folic acid is especially important to begin prior to conception to avoid neural tube defects in baby)
    • Omega-3 and DHA are also important
    • Nutritive herbal infusions such as alfalfa, nettles and red clover can support overall health
    • Vegans and vegetarians may want to begin B12 supplementation
    • Additional supplements may also be recommended based on the individual
  • Men’s health
    • Men should follow the same dietary and lifestyle recommendations as their partner
    • Men should also take a multi-vitamin for the months leading up to conception
  • Fertility awareness
    • PPchartingWe help couples understand their fertility so that they can maximize their chances of conceiving.
    • Taking Charge of your Fertility by Toni Weshler (book and website) and Fertility Friend (website) are great resources for understanding fertility awareness and how to chart your fertile periods each month
    • Inexpensive, reusable fertility test kits are available (less expensive than one-time ovulation tests)
  • Useful therapies
    • Acupuncture has proven benefits for women wanting to conceive
    • Massage, yoga, aromatherapy, and chiropractic can also help by reducing stress, balancing hormones, and overall physical wellness.
  • Having fun
    • Above all, we encourage couples to have FUN during this process!  It takes an average of 6 to 9 months to conceive—being stressed during this time will only make conception more difficult.  Plus, this is your time to really enjoy your partner and all those things that can be a bit more difficult to enjoy during pregnancy and into parenthood.