Healthy Mac and Cheese, a Maqui powder mistake, and Pregnancy Cravings

At the risk of sounding like a 4th grader’s diary entry- soo much has happened since I last wrote!

I’ve had a few months of brain-space-otherwise-occupied. Here are the highlights:

  1. We got pregnant.
  2. I got laid off.
  3. I started another full time dietitian  job (first day was today!)
  4. I began a part-time private practice.
  5. I chopped my hair off into a Michelle Williams-esque pixie (not a cause for not writing but awesome nonetheless).

I’ll have to break these events up into a couple posts. First and foremost-Dr. P and I are beyond excited about the new family addition!

We are about 5 months now- every week is new and evolving. But it really has been a kaleidoscope of symptoms! I finally got a hold of the terrible nausea that plagued me from week 6 to week 15 or so. It was a low grade, persistent nausea accompanied by bizarre food aversions. I normally love chowing on hummus, veggies, and all things healthy, but for a few months, I was craving processed carbs, dairy, and all things sugar.

I sent Dr. P out for Skittles one night, and he came back with 3 bags, which I mowed in rapid succession. For anyone who has been pregnant or is hoping to be, don’t feel bad about these cravings! I found some of them powerful enough that fighting them was futile.

(Ice cream, anyone?)

More than ever, though, I’m elated to be back to my normal, noshing self. I have rejuvenated my love for cooking and nutrient dense foods this last week. The difference in how I feel is quite palpable.  A new cookbook helped me get on track. The Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook by Angela Liddon is genius. She is a new mom so her recipes are reasonably timed- not always the case with vegan food.

I’ve also decided to work my way through Superfood Smoothies smoothie recipes. Sometimes it helps to have a clearly delineated goal. Usually I like to use more creativity, but as I ease back into healthier behaviors after the last couple nausea and fatigue-packed months, a more organized approach seems productive.

I am starting with a few Oh She Glows dinner recipes this week. I planned out my meals yesterday, hit the Giant for the bulk of the list, and visited Mom’s Organic Market for some specialty items. It is difficult to find some healthful items at regular grocery stores. Nutritional yeast, for example, which I used in tonight’s Mac and Peas recipe from Liddon’s new cookbook, is a vegetarian’s best friend. Usually fortified with B12, it is helpful in filling in the nutrition gaps since B12 is typically found in meat.

I didn’t always appreciate nutritional yeast- but the cheesy texture of this sauce won me over! The base is potatoes and carrots, and I prepepared it yesterday so tonight I just had to whip up some pasta, toss in frozen peas, and throw together a salad with some lemon, olive oil, garlic dressing. A small dab of siracha and voila! We housed this deliciousness.

I used whole wheat pasta to up the fiber and protein content, and I would have added frozen edamame instead of peas for more of a protein punch if I hadn’t purchased the pod version by accident. My bad! I added almonds and chick peas to the salad for some additional protein.

Mac and Peas from Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook for dinner. Vegan cheese is more delicious than any of y’all would think! No leftovers here!

Check out her website, Oh She Glows, for more vegan deliciousness. Some recipes take more forethought than others- always a good idea to develop your menu ahead of time to assess this.

I also preprepared some overnight oats for a quick and fantastically filling breakfast. Last night I covered chia seeds, peanut butter, mashed banana, oats, cocao powder and cinnamon with 1/2 cup soy milk and let it sit in the fridge (covered) overnight. This morning, I nuked it for a minute in the microwave and topped with coconut shavings and pepitas (pumpkin seeds).

Nothing is more satisfying than a bowl of chocolate peanut butter oatmeal!

The smoothie I tried this morning was Honeydew Maqui- a good lower calorie pairing with the oatmeal. Maqui powder isn’t something I’ve tried before. It was $15.99 for a small bag of freeze dried powder- yikes, right? It is less well known than Acai powder (and $7 cheaper), and it is also a small berry with a high antioxidant content.

I am not usually a proponent of tinctures or “superfoods”, but again- I needed something novel to get me back on track! Working my way through a smoothie book seems like a way to pull myself out of a slump.

Note: please see addendum at bottom of post.

In my smoothie book, it was listed as having the highest ORAC score of any other fruit. An ORAC score stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity, and this is not a score I use to counsel patients. The USDA stopped publishing this data- based on measuring the antioxidant capacity of food in a lab assay (test)- in 2012 because there wasn’t enough data to say this score actually affected anything in us biologically.

It is often still used to discuss high antioxidant vs lower antioxidant foods, but the score will vary based on concentration of water. Think raisins vs grapes. Grapes have more water therefore less concentration of antioxidants per measured space. Antioxidant content will also vary based on air, heat, and time differences so it isn’t always a reliable measure. Also, there is a synergy in food, so who is to say a freeze dried powder is a good avenue for nutrient intake?

You never know.

Despite the questionable ORAC score research, I’ll keep an open mind as I experiment!

Breakfast! Overnight oats and Honedew Maqui smoothie

So it’s obvious I’m not recommending running to the store with your credit card to buy out all the supplemental powders- BUT I did have a crazy amount of energy these last couple days.

Notably, I ran 5 miles today- nonstop! Not something I’ve done in over a month due to pregnancy fatigue. I’ve done plenty of walk-jogs, yoga, and elliptical time, but a nonstop run has been elusive as of late.

Lady- my little 5 lb chorkie cutie- ran with me too. She’s a beast- she never gets tired! She has been taste testing my smoothie recipes as well. Big fan of the green smoothie, that one.

Lady lovin’ on me after our run.

So can I say my run was powered by my wheatgrass and maqui powder? Probably not. Could my increased energy be due to a renewed overall haul of my diet and a couple good night sleeps?

Most likely. It all adds up. 

Now I better get the chamomile tea ready for tomorrow morning’s Chamomile Strawberry smoothie…and then figure out what this pregnant chic can still fit into for Day 2 of work tomorrow. Harder than you would think when your entire pre-baby work wardrobe consists of pencil skirts…

xoxo

Joanna

Addendum: Right before posting this, I did some more research on Maqui. I didn’t realize a berry would be ill-advised in pregnancy, but it is! So is Acai. Apparently, there’s not enough evidence for either berry to be deemed safe while pregnant or breastfeeding. There isn’t any real negative evidence,  but the strong evidence for safety is lacking. Now I feel like a silly dietitian for not looking into this more before purchasing it, but it does support my strong belief that we have to be mindful when we hear something is a “superfood”. I’m glad I only used it once before wising up, and I doubt it’s an issue, but better to play it safe. Looks like I’ll go back to blueberries and dark cherry smoothies and putting food first! 

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