Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Vegan Pregnancy: Part 2

It's not easy being green.  Kermit is right.  Not only have I been "green" in the sense that I've been highly nauseous lately, but I'm having trouble being green as a result of that... and I'm not saving the green I used to.

Green is tough.

The thing is, the first trimester of pregnancy can be very difficult.  I have been sick, tired, and hormonal.  On top of that, my personal chef/maid/partner had to leave the country for three weeks for training with his work.  So I've been all by myself- except for a toddler who wants to play play play and make messes and wear away at every last nerve.  Plus, the toddler is not nauseous and doesn't have aversions to the smell of food, so she wants to eat.  Blarg!

The answer I came up with is not as green as I would like, but I feel pretty good about my choices: vegan convenience food.  There is so much more available now than in the past, and you can still eat delicious and balanced meals without cooking in your own home.

Here are some of my favorites:

Kashi Frozen Entrees
Kashi  makes wonderfully balanced meals with lots of veggies, grains, and often legumes.  The Black Bean Mango, Mayan Harvest Bake and Tuscan Veggie Bake are all vegan and delicious.  My favorite is the Black Bean Mango, but Violet really liked the Mayan Harvest Bake.  I like these because of all the grains and veggies, rather than just carbs and proteins like many frozen meals are.

Amy's Kitchen
Amy's has long been seen as a great source of vegetarian and vegan foods.  I have not tried all the vegan options, but I did just today enjoy some rice mac and cheeze (made with Daiya).  It was so ooey gooey and tasty.  My daughter gobbled it up after she got over the fact that it was a bit hot out of the microwave and had to cool down first.  The texture and flavor have the wonderful comfort feel for someone like myself whose grandma use to make her special recipe- Marie Calendar's mac and cheese.  This is one I'll definitely be buying again.

Ethnic Gourmet
There are way more options than I have tried, but I had the tofu pad Thai the other day with some egg rolls and Violet and I loved it.  The pad Thai wasn't as veggie-rich as the other brands, but I still thought it was a good side with some steamed veggies.

Other ways to avoid the smell of food:  

Steaming:  I found that steamed broccoli or greens was done quickly enough and with a mild enough smell that it didn't bother me.  I also discovered that a steamed red potato is perfect in it's starchy comfort and lack of cooking smell.  It also doesn't need to be sliced or wrapped and is ready for topping.

Boiling:  I have tried making chickpeas and black beans, and both had a bit of smell while boiling even with salt and water.  It was still much better than when I tried to cook veggie stock from my leftover veg though.

Broil:  It seems that if I season and then broil/bake tofu then I don't smell it as much and I can eat it more happily.  I prefer broiling because it's quicker and after a while the smell of baked tofu will fill the kitchen.

Blend:  I got a Vitamix, and will post about about that too, and it's a lifesaver.  When I blend everything up, I don't smell it and can get all those veggies that I just couldn't stand the smell of.

Other tips for avoiding the nausea that have worked for me:  I can't tell you what will help you, it's different for everyone, but these have helped me.

1.  An apple a day.  I get my CSA box from Full Circle Farm out of Washington, and I've been getting the most delicious variety of apples every week.  When I start to cook and smell foods or I get that nausea that only needs to be fed to subside, I eat an apple.  The crisp, sweet, and tart combination is the perfect solution for my nausea most of the time.  I also have been eating oranges for their tart and sweet flavor.

2.  Eat out.  If I don't have to cook it, I can eat it.  Usually, we try to really limit our restaurant meals, but I have given myself a break for these few weeks and it has really helped.  Especially breakfast out seems to really make a difference for me.  My favorite breakfast?  I got to Middle Way Cafe and order the eggs Florentine and sub tofu for the eggs and lemon tahini dressing for the hollandaise.  So we end up with an English muffin with sliced fresh tomato, fresh spinach, and then grilled tofu and a side of breakfast potatoes with a nice little cup of dressing on the side.  Violet and I love this breakfast.

3.  Snacks.  It seems that nausea is worse when you have an empty stomach, and everything I've read agrees with this.  My favorite snacks are Veggie Booty, pretzels, walnuts, and carrot sticks.

4.  Be realistic with cravings.  Sometimes your cravings can get so strong you will overeat, and that just makes you feel bad.  Just because you are craving mashed potatoes with such a fierce urge that you think you could eat 7 potatoes mashed up does not mean you actually should eat that many.  As long as it's something healthy, there's no reason to avoid the thing you crave, but you don't want to overdo it.  If you are a pregnant vegan and crave animal products, try making a vegan version or think about the nutrients and try to get those in another way.  I craved a hamgburger the other day, but the idea of a hamburger actually made me physically nauseous, but then I made a yummy loaded Boca burger and it completely cured the craving.

5.  Vinegar.  I have been eating a lot of broccoli.  Broccoli is so good for you, it's green, it's got protein, it's yummy.  Since dealing with this nausea, I've found that I like it best with Dijon mustard mixed with a little vegenaise.  Any time I can put a sauce or dip that is vinegar-y on my foods, I find that they are much less offensive to my tummy.

6.  If all else fails, pretend you are a picky toddler.  Hide the veggies if you have to.  Veggies and fruits are so good for a pregnant woman, so if it just doesn't seem edible, blend it into what you do like.  You can puree spinach and mix it in with mashed potatoes, make a soup with lots of veggies chopped small enough not to notice.  You can also make spaghetti sauce with many veggies mixed in without ever noticing a difference in taste.

7.  Eat what works and take prenatals.  I hate to use my prenatals as my only source of vitamins, but sometimes it's better to not eat things that will make you throw up anyway.  Throwing up is no good.  When I was pregnant with my daughter, I could eat breakfast and not get sick.  So I would eat oatmeal, mix in raisins and walnut butter for extra nutrients, and eat as much as I could.

Sorry I don't have more advice.  I wish I could take away everyone else's nausea and fatigue, because I wouldn't wish this on anyone.  If you have a partner available, have them cook out of range of your nose and try to rest as much as possible.  It's hard to get the rest you need when you are playing single parent to a toddler who doesn't nap for long, but if you aren't in that boat, ask for help and take assistance when you can.

Okay, I just used up another nap time that I should have slept through!

1 comment:

  1. Great advice. I'm not pregnant but do have nausea from a chronic health condition, and your tips are helpful to me. Thanks!