I have been DYING to let everyone know about my exciting personal news for weeks now but things happened – life got in the way, I got a tad bit gun-shy about posting my first pregnancy on the worldwide web, and, then, I ended up waiting so long I figured why not wait until we had all the info (like pink or blue) so I could do a mega preggo rollout. That’s right – we’re on day 3 of 4 straight days of pregnancy blogs!!!!
As excited as I was to announce that (1) I’m pregnancy and (2) it’s a blueberry mojito mocktail…I mean…a boy, nothing makes me happier right now than unloading the truth and letting you all in on what life has really been like for me the past few months.
I can sum it all up in one word: HARD. Before I sound too complain-y, let me first say that we feel incredibly happy and grateful to be in our situation, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that being pregnant is hard work. And being a pregnant healthy food blogger with a full-time day job? Let’s just say, there were days where, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t keep it together, and there were other days where I just didn’t have the energy to try at all. Eating healthy (or blogging healthy) is not an easy task, especially when you’re feeling queasy, craving cheesy carbs and too tired to lift your head, let alone a saute pan.
I cannot tell you guys how hard it was for me to come up with interesting, healthy recipes when, for about two months, I wanted nothing more than grilled cheeses and pizza every night. The worst part was not being able to share my changing taste buds with all my foodie friends.
The first couple weeks of pregnancy, before the really bad lethargy hit, I tried to eat healthy – I bought greens and fruit and gluten-free bread. I even made Food Faith Fitness’s Paleo Banana Bread (amazing by the way). But my efforts didn’t last (and neither did the banana bread because I ate it all in 3 days). Pretty soon, I didn’t want the greens, and once the banana bread was gone, I didn’t have the energy to make anymore.
Fast forward to week 7, and I became the takeout queen. I spent about a solid week or two letting myself delve into the world of restaurant grilled cheeses, pizza delivery, Mexican takeout and Shake Shack burgers. Not because I wanted to let myself go or revel in the “eating for two” myth (yes, myth as it’s more like eating for “one and 1/8”) but because it’s all I could stomach. Of course, afterwards, I felt worse. It was not a good time.
It didn’t help that I was hungry, oh, about every hour the first trimester. At certain points I actually started to dislike food. ME. The person who thinks 15 meals ahead and trolls recipe sites for hours. I stopped watching all my food shows, I neglected Pinterest (except to pin pizza after pizza), and I feared the “hungry” that would strike 59 minutes after I just ate. A girl can only eat so many snacks before getting bored of chewing.
Soon, I realized that I needed to find a balance – whadyaknow? Moderation exists even in pregnancy. I had to accept that maybe I wasn’t going to be the picture of health my first trimester – eating organic smoothies and oatmeal for breakfast every morning like I planned – but that didn’t mean I had to go to the unhealthy extreme. I had to accept that I didn’t have the energy to make dinners from scratch, bake gluten-free, low-sugar cookies or assemble 15 different kinds of healthy snacks to make it through the day. I had to accept shortcuts. I had to accept the fact that I might eat dried fruit and crackers every hour on the hour for a few weeks. I had to accept store-bought cookies.
Instead of spending lots of money on unhealthy Mexican takeout, I bought tons of refried beans and tortillas so I could make quick and easy bean burritos and tostadas topped with pregnancy-healthy avocado. I usually limit my cheese intake but I allowed myself some grilled cheese sandwiches on healthy sprouted grain bread when my stomach was calling for carbs plus dairy. I made a killer black bean burger which blew away the Shake Shack burger, and, for the most part, I shied away from any recipes that required more than 5-10 minutes of kitchen time.
By satisfying my cravings (which were more along the lines of “my stomach only wants grilled cheese because everything else looks gross” than “it’s 3 am and I need you to run to the store for ice cream, sweetie”) with healthier alternatives, I could allow myself the occasional indulgences without feeling bad. Beer Brat Nachos, I’m looking at you.
Now that I’m in my second trimester, things have gotten easier and my taste buds have evolved past “carbs”. But to add to my food blogging despairs, the midwife practice I’ve enrolled with is extremely strict about pregnancy diet. They prefer their patients get all their nutrients and vitamins through food and disapprove of patients eating too much wheat or sugar. It’s all about the fruits, veggies, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats.
As a healthy food blogger, I can totally get on board with that. I already limit my wheat and sugar intake. But, as a person who likes the occasional indulgence and as a pregnant person who doesn’t have 100 percent control over her taste buds, it’s not that easy. When you’re super busy, tired all the time and dealing with a limited diet, the easiest thing to do is eat the same meals consistently. I’ve read over and over that the people who are most successful in losing or maintaining weight eat the same things every day. I have never been that person. Sure, I’m good with leftovers. But, as soon as they’re gone, I’m onto the next recipe. Plus, as a food blogger, if I ate the same thing every day I would have nothing new and exciting to share with you guys. I think about you all the time. (Aww face)
So, again, moderation comes into play. I’ve had to accept the monotony of eating certain dishes over and over because they’re easy, healthy and I just don’t have time to always think of something new. But, you know what? It’s not that bad.
Especially when what I’m eating is a killer quinoa salad. The midwives provided a sample food menu which included a spinach and quinoa salad with salmon. I took that idea and added some additional good-for-you-during-pregnancy ingredients – black beans, avocado and citrus. It’s the perfect quick-to-throw-together lunch that meets all my pregnancy health needs. It’s also customizable. When I was feeling queasy and I couldn’t stomach tons of different flavors, I would eat just the beans, avocado and quinoa. When I was going through my salmon aversion, I would leave the salmon out. If I ran out of quinoa, I could easily substitute barley, brown rice or another healthy whole grain.
It’s the perfect pregnancy lunch. Really, it’s just the perfect lunch if you’re trying to be healthy. So, let’s eat to our health and to babies!!
- ½ pound good-quality, wild-caught salmon
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- ½ cup cooked black beans (make sure to drain and rinse the beans after opening the can)
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
- Juice from half a lemon
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat the oil in a small pan over medium-high heat. Add the salmon to the pan, skin side down and cook for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Flip the salmon over with a spatula and cook for another 3 minutes or until desired temperature. Flake the fish with a fork and set aside.
- Add the quinoa, black beans, avocado slices and spinach leaves to a bowl. Top with the salmon pieces and add in the lemon juice. Mix all the ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.