Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Vegan Protein-Packed Ideas for Pregnancy and Lactation

Greetings Friend,

I am writing this in response to a request that I compile a list of high-protein VEGAN foods for pregnant and/or lactating women. Some of these also happen to be great foods for kids and also active people.

I must write as a disclosure that I have never been even slightly concerned about my protein intake as a vegan or vegetarian. Although I am not strictly vegan anymore, pretty much the only reason I will diverge into the world of dairy or the occasional egg during pregnancy and lactation has been sheer laziness (make my own cashew cheese while nauseous or exhausted... not right now, thanks!).

In case you weren't aware, protein is in literally all real food. The body makes its own protein from amino acids. One need not eat a "complete" protein at any given meal to ensure one is getting protein in their diet. Imagine protein like a necklace made of 20 beads, where each amino acid is a bead. Each time we consume an amino acid it is "strung" on the necklace. Once the necklace is complete (all amino acids have been "strung"), a protein is made. Our bodies are super smart. So it's a little more interesting to look at protein in terms of an entire meal plan, than food by food. BUT, for this blog, I'm going to give the simple version.

Then I'll do a meal plan so you can see what that looks like as part of a daily diet.

{Aside: I am G6PD deficient, so I cannot consume any legumes. No beans. No soy. No peanuts. So all of the foods I will mention are completely legume-free.}


Snacks and Add-ins:
  1. Pumpkin seeds: 7g per 1/4 cup
  2. Chia Seeds: 26.5g per cup
  3. Hemp Seeds: 20g per 3 tablespoons
  4. Spirulina: 6g per tablespoon
  5. Goji Berries: 2.4g per 3 tablespoons
  6. Brazil Nuts: 2g for 3 nuts
  7. Bee Pollen: 1.2g per teaspoon
  8. Cacao Powder: 1.2g per tablespoon
These are a snack treat I made by mixing cashew butter
with coconut butter and honey. The brown ones have
cacao powder in them. Cooling them in the fridge makes
turn solid.
So if you were to eat 1 Tbsp of spirulina in some water or juice, a cup of chia seeds as a pudding, a trail mix (1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, 3 Tbsp hemp seeds, 3 Tbsp goji berries, and 3 tsp of bee pollen and 3 brazil nuts), and one of the coconut cups pictured here... You'd be getting 57g of protein from just a few snacks!

All of these foods happen to pack a bunch of other health-benefits too. For example, it has been shown that just 3 brazil nuts a day can improve thyroid health AND just 1 brazil nut a day covers more than 100% of your selenium requirements. And selenium can be hard to just "stumble upon" in vegan foods.  The other thing I love about both brazil nuts and hemp seeds is that they contain no enzyme inhibitors (macadamia nuts don't either!), which means you don't have to bother soaking them for optimal nutrition.

And now for the stuff of meals...

Vegetables and Greens:
  1. Sunflower Spouts: 6g per 1/4 cup
  2. Dried Dulse Seaweed: 6g per ounce
  3. Russet Potatoes: 18.1g in 5 small potatoes (baked)
  4. Broccoli: 7.4g per 2 cups chopped
  5. Spinach: 4.5g per 1 cup (cooked)
  6. Brussel Spouts: 4g per cup
  7. Avocado: 2.7g each
  8. Kale: 2.1g per cup (fresh)
  9. Spring Mix Greens: 1g per cup
Grains and Pseudo-Grains:
  1. Buckwheat Groats: 19.2 per cup
  2. Quinoa: 8.1g per cup
  3. Millet: 6.1g per cup 
  4. Brown Rice: 4.5g per cup


Green Smoothie: 
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 3/4 cup frozen strawberries
  • 3/4 cup frozen mango
  • 3/4 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup fresh kale
  • 1 Tbsp spirulina
  • 1/2 Tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tsp bee pollen
  • 1 Tbsp flax oil
  • a little water to blend
  • 14.3g protein


Fresh Fruit:
  • One mango cut into pieces
  • = 2.8g protein
Trail Mix:
  • 2 Tbsp goji berries
  • 2 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • 3 brazil nuts
  • 2 Tbsp raisins
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • = 14.9g protein
Flax "Cookie" (a fun way to get your DHA supplement):
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp chia
  • 1 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • Blakstrap molasses (to taste) 
  • = 6g protein
Mix all ingredients together, put into a mold or plop on wax paper, freeze and eat... I make these in batches of 12 to have on hand. 


  • 3 cups spring greens
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 cup black olives
  • 1/4 cup dulse seaweed
  • 1 medium avocado, chopped
  • 2 small radishes, chopped
  • = 14g protein (that's without dressing!)
I usually go for olive oil/flax oil, lemon and sea salt. But you could do a tahini dressing for extra protein as well.

Oven "fries":
  • 5 small red potatoes, cut into chunks 
  • coconut oil
  • sea salt
  • nutritional yeast
  • garlic powder
  • = 15.9 protein
Toss together and bake at 400F for 50 minutes in an oven-safe pan. 


Ants on a log:
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 Tbsp cashew butter
  • 1 Tbsp raisins
  • = 4.6g protein


Steamed Veggies with Tahini Sauce on Quinoa
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • Steams: 1 cup chopped carrot, 1 chopped onion, 2 cups broccoli, 1 chopped zucchini, 2 cups spinach, 1 cup kale (add to steamer gradulally in that order, because carrots take the longest and spinash takes the shortest time to cook) 
  • Tahini Sauce: Mix 2 Tbsp raw tahini in "magic bullet" type mini blender with juice of 1 lemon, sea salt to taste, any spices you enjoy and enough water to mix. Drizzle over your creation.
  • = 28.1g protein
Mango Mousse:
  • 1 ripe and sweet mango
  • 1 avocado
  • = 5.5g
Blend in a "magic bullet" type mini blender with a little water until completely smooth and creamy.

Daily Total: 101.3

Pretty good for a vegan, right? ;-)

According to my cron-o-meter database, the only thing this meal plan is lacking is vitamin D. So go out and sunbathe or take a supplement. As you wish.

Peace, love, and happy eating!



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