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July 16, 2013 at 8:35 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Eating for Baby: A Plant-Based Meal Plan

By Christina Pasternak More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the FOOD-A-MINS Blog Series

We now know that there are seven essential nutrients that are needed in increased amounts during pregnancy or if you are planning to become pregnant. For those of us interested in maintaining a plant-based diet during pregnancy, this meal plan will show you that it’s possible to get an abundance of these nutrients, including folate, protein, omega-3s, calcium/magnesium, iron, and vitamin B12. The one nutrient that should always be supplemented is vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, simply because we do not get enough sun exposure.

As I’ve said before, good nutrition during pregnancy takes education and planning whether you’re eating a plant-based diet or not. Nutrition experts calculate that pregnant women need to consume an extra 300-400 calories a day to support the growth of a healthy baby.

One of the most re-assuring components of already eating a plant-based diet is that we shouldn’t need to make drastic changes to what we’re eating during pregnancy because we were likely already getting plenty of the essential nutrients. Keep in mind, though, that increased amounts of the nutrients listed above are crucial for preventing birth defects or complications.

The following pregnancy meal plan has been designed to provide you with an illustration of what an average day of plant-based eating looks like during pregnancy. Please note that it is a mere guideline and can be tweaked depending on one’s personal nutritional needs. It is always recommended to have an open dialogue with your doctor about your diet. Here’s to your health, Baby!

Breakfast:

This smoothie is the perfect way to start your day and nourish your developing baby. It’s loaded with protein, calcium, and iron, and it meets your daily omega-3 and folate needs. Amazing!

Calories: 338
Protein:  25 grams
Folate:  751 mcg
Calcium: 365 mg
Magnesium: 131 mg
Iron: 9.6 mg
Vitamin D: 0
Vitamin B12: 0
Omega-3: 500 mg

Mid-Morning Snack:

1/2 cup of oatmeal topped with a sliced banana, a dash of cinnamon, and a teaspoon of maple syrup or raw honey to sweeten if needed, as well as 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk.

Oatmeal is truly stick-to-your-ribs food that will help you feel full and satisfied. The almond milk is enriched with your daily B12 needs, as well as the vitamin D that is difficult to obtain from food. Both of these nutrients are crucial for your growing baby on a plant-based diet and should be monitored to ensure that you are getting enough.

Calories: 294
Protein: 6 grams
Folate: 34 mcg
Calcium: 467 mg
Magnesium: 94 mg
Iron: 2.2 mg
Vitamin D: 100 IU
Vitamin B12: 3.0 mcg
Omega-3: 100 mg

Lunch:

This kale salad is extra special and delicious because it’s so finely chopped. I actually shovel it in my mouth with a spoon because I can’t get enough! If you have a food processor, that will save you a lot of time and you’ll get a finer, melt-in-your-mouth consistency. If not, it’s time to sharpen that knife and get busy. Chop-chop!

The pine nuts in this salad give it some crunch and make it more filling. It’s an excellent source of pregnancy nutrients, especially protein, folate, calcium, iron, omega-3s, and nutritional yeast provides over double the RDA of the seemingly elusive vitamin B12.

Calories: 364
Protein: 17 grams
Folate: 291 mcg
Calcium: 226 mg
Magnesium: 133 mg
Iron: 4 mg
Vitamin D: 0
Vitamin B12: 8 mcg
Omega-3: 300 mg

Afternoon Snack:

Hummus

1/2 cup of hummus with 1 cup of sweet red bell pepper slices and one cup of baby carrots. This protein-packed snack is perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up.

Calories: 358
Protein:  10 grams
Folate: 65 mcg
Calcium: 46 mg
Magnesium: 25 mg
Iron: 2.2 mg
Vitamin D: 100 IU
Vitamin B12: 0 mcg
Omega-3: 0

Dinner:

Spicy Chipotle Beet Burger on toasted whole-grain bread topped with 1/4 cup sliced avocado, tomato, and lettuce. The convenient thing about this recipe is that it makes about six patties that freeze well. Make a batch and freeze the patties when you have some free time so that when in you’re in a pinch, you can just throw one on the grill.

Serve alongside one cup of oven roasted sweet potatoes (just mix a teaspoon of coconut oil, salt, pepper, and a teaspoon of rosemary with 1 cup of cubed sweet potatoes and roast in the oven at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until browned) and about 12 small spears of lightly steamed asparagus.

Calories: 625
Protein: 24 grams
Folate: 476 mcg
Calcium: 264 mg
Magnesium: 204 mg
Iron: 8.7 mg
Vitamin D: 0
Vitamin B12: 0
Omega-3: 300 mg

This hot and spicy burger is brimming with protein and iron. It’s excellent paired with roasted sweet potatoes, which provide plenty of naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals. Asparagus is loaded with folate, with 12 small spears containing 268 mcg. This dinner alone provides us with our daily folate needs. Not too shabby! 

Evening Snack:

Dark Chocolate

One ounce of organic dark chocolate (containing at least 72% cacao) and one cup of sliced strawberries.

Calories: 222
Protein: 3.3 grams
Folate: 39 mcg
Calcium: 47 mg
Magnesium: 86 mg
Iron: 4.1 mg
Vitamin D: 0 IU
Vitamin B12: 0 mcg
Omega-3: 100 mg

Dark chocolate is a special treat that is low in calories and is a good source of iron. It’s time to end the day with a sweet indulgence that’s surprisingly guilt-free!

Nutritional Analysis:

To get a better idea of how plant-based meal planning can help you obtain the essential pregnancy nutrients, here’s a nutritional analysis of this particular menu, compared to the RDA:

Meal Plan RDA
Calories 2,213 2,200-2,400
Protein 87.8 grams 71 grams
Folate 1,719 mcg 400 mcg
Omega-3s 1,300 mg 300 mg
Calcium 1,451 mg 1,400 mg
Magnesium 699 mg 350 mg
Iron 31.7 mg 27 mg
Vitamin D 100 IU 600 IU
Vitamin B12 11.1 mcg 2.6 mcg

*Daily caloric needs depend on a person’s height, body mass index, and activity level. If you are a moderately active mom-to-be, you may need to consume closer to the higher end of the spectrum. Most women do well with eating 2,200 calories per day, especially during their third trimester.

**Taking a vitamin D3 supplement is always recommended due to limited sun exposure and the inadequate amount of naturally-occurring vitamin D that can be sourced from food.

So, when putting it all together, you can see that eating a plant-based diet during pregnancy can supply you with an abundance of the nutrients you and your growing baby need during this incredibly special time. Even better, you get to eat plenty of food, never feel deprived, and be re-assured that you and your baby are eating for better health.

References:

http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/veganpregnancy.php

http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pregnancy-nutrition/PR00109

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