Good morning all! I have a double Guest RD post for you guys – Michelle and Amanda have prepared a great sample 2-day vegetarian meal plan to demonstrate that protein needs are easily met with plants. I want to make their Apple Pie Smoothie stat!! Check out their blog – Life To Table – for more great recipes and tips.
Hi everyone, it’s Michelle here!
As a registered dietitian in the women’s health clinic, my days are spent with a lot of prenatal and post-partum women. I even get to spend some time with 6 week old beautiful newborn babies who too often pass gas in my hands while I am assisting baby and mother in feeding or spit up on me after they have finished a good meal J (I don’t mind, they are so cute! And seriously, who knew noises like that can come out of something so tiny?!) I have learned so much working with prenatal patients contrary to what I thought I knew. For example, not every woman craves pickles with ice cream, every pregnancy experience is different, and you most definitely can follow a healthy, nourishing vegetarian diet while pregnant.
Protein needs for prenatal women are greater compared to women who are not pregnant. A general rule of thumb is ~70 grams of protein per day (about 1.2 grams – 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight) however this figure can vary depending on height and/or previous and current health conditions , so be sure to check with your doctor or dietitian for a more custom tailored estimation. It is this fact that usually sends a vegetarian mom- to- be in a kind of panic mode and starts to fear that she may not be nourishing herself and her baby appropriately with a plant based diet. I have seen some crack, give in, and start eating meat despite their genuine desire to continue to eat a vegetarian diet. A lot of this fear can also be attributed to societal pressure and from your own personal support group. I know everyone has that one family member or friend who always exclaims, “You don’t eat meat? Are you like, on a diet or something?”…they just don’t get it and they certainly will not get it now that you are supporting yourself and your growing fetus.
I am here today to tell you that it CAN be done. There are so many sources of protein available in so many different forms. With proper guidance and monitoring, you can continue to carry on a nourishing vegetarian diet for you and baby. (I will stress and encourage that one keeps open communication with the doctor and dietitian. Express your desires, goals, and methods of monitoring and treatment to ensure that you and your baby are healthy and strong.)
Together, myself and my blog partner/fellow RD/ best gal pal Amanda have developed a sample 2-day vegetarian meal plan consisting of ~70 grams of protein per day. (Please note: It is my professional recommendation to supplement your diet with a prenatal vitamin and speak to your RD about any specific food allergies or aversions to ensure you are getting all of your recommended prenatal micronutrients).
Breakfast: Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal (16g of protein)
Cook ½ cups of oats in 1 cup of low fat milk, add peanut butter and cacao powder and mix it around to combine. Top with ¼ sliced banana.
Snack: Greek Yogurt Parfait (14g of protein)
Layer a 6 ounce cup of Greek yogurt with chopped fruit and granola.
Lunch: Black Bean and Tofu Scramble Burrito (14g of protein)
Measure ½ cup of diced firm tofu, then finely dice. Sautee in pan: finely diced tofu, peppers, mushrooms and onions for ~5-7 minutes; use spices like cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder to give it a yummy Mexican-type flavor. Add tofu and veggie scramble to a whole grain tortilla wrap, top with ½ cup of black beans and ¼ of avocado.
Snack: Cottage Cheese and Fruit (12g of protein)
½ cup of cottage cheese; 1 cup of berries or fruit of choice, 1 TBSP of honey.
Dinner: Roasted Vegetable and Quinoa Salad (17 grams of protein)
¼ cup of uncooked quinoa, 1 cup of chopped kale, 1 cup of halved roasted Brussels sprouts , 1 cup of roasted mushrooms, ¼ cup of crushed cashews, ¼ cup of balsamic glaze drizzle (or dressing of choice). Cook quinoa according to package directions. Toss Brussels sprouts in olive oil, salt and pepper, roast in a preheated oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for ~20 minutes. Ten minutes before, add the mushrooms, toss, and finish cooking. Meanwhile, massage kale with olive oil and dash of salt for a couple of minutes to soften it up a bit. Combine cooked quinoa, kale, roasted Brussels sprouts and mushrooms, crushed cashews and choice of dressing.
Breakfast: Apple pie smoothie (10 grams)
Apple Pie Smoothie
- 1 large apple or 1 cup of unsweetened apple sauce
- 1 cup silken tofu
- 1 cup milk*
- 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
If you have a good blender like a Vitamix, process the apple until it resembles applesauce. If not, just use applesauce :-). Then add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.
Snack: 2 hard boiled eggs (12 grams)
Lunch: Salad + 1 cup shelled edamame & 2 ounces of almonds (24 grams)
Snack: 1/2 banana + 2 T peanut butter (8 grams)
Dinner: Lentil tacos (10 grams of protein)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup of lentils
- 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
- 2 cups of water
- 1 onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic diced
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 2 teaspoons of cumin
- 1 teaspoon of paprika
- 4 whole wheat tortillas
In a Dutch oven or pot heat the olive oil, then add the onions and garlic. Add lentils, tomato sauce and water. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium heat. Cook for around 30 minutes until your lentil mixture thickens to your liking.
Next step is to assemble your tacos and enjoy!
Dessert: Chocolate Protein Bliss Balls (3 protein balls = ~6 grams of protein)
Chocolate Protein Bliss Balls (Yields 15 protein balls)
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup cacao powder
- 5 medjool dates pitted
- 2 TBSP melted coconut oil
- 1 TBSP hemp protein powder
- 1/4 cup of chia seeds
- 1/4 cup of sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup of cacao nibs
- Add almonds and cashews to a food processor and blend until it becomes a meal ~30-45 seconds.
- Add pitted dates, melted coconut oil, cacao powder, hemp protein powder and blend until smooth ~30 seconds.
- It’s time to roll some bliss balls. It is important to keep your hands and finger tips moist if mixture is a bit dry, so keep a bowl of water next to you. Add a small amount of mixture onto the palm of your hand and roll it into a small ball, about the size of a ping-pong ball or smaller. Roll the formed ball in the chia seed, sesame seed and cacao nib mixture until its coated evenly, and generously
- Eat on the spot or store in an air tight container in the fridge for a few days.
Michelle Hill and Amanda Terillo are two registered dietitians, best friends and bloggers who both graduated from Long Island University- C. W. Post in Brookville, NY with a Bachelors Degree of Science in Nutrition. They both mostly follow a plant-based diet, as they believe that it provides one with an abundance of vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fats and fiber, which are essential to sustaining the healthiest life possible.
Michelle (right) works as an outpatient Registered Dietitian and a Certified Lactation Counselor for a Women’s Health Clinic in NY. When not working, she is blogging, crafting or cooking up a (messy) storm in the kitchen.
Amanda (left) works as outpatient Registered Dietitian at a contract Veterans Affairs clinic in central Virginia and has recently started a consulting business called A Nutritious Life: RD, services. When not working she is with her dogs, hiking, or attempting to garden.