Friday, April 22, 2016

Fitness Friday: Fueling Pregnancy Workouts

Every good vegan and vegetarian knows that a great way to get plant protein into their diet is nuts.  I have always enjoyed various types of nuts, but after going vegan in college, they started playing a huge roll in my diet.  I mean, you can make CHEESE out of cashews, people.  That's pretty great.

So, when reached out to see if I had any tips on refueling after a workout, I was on board.  During the first trimester of my pregnancy, I couldn't work out at all.  Then the clouds parted, the sun came out, and I got off the couch.  Since then, I have really been trying to be active every day.  I have even fallen into a pretty amazing routine week to week.

2nd Trimester Weekly Workouts

Monday: Treadmill 30 min, prenatal barre arms
Tuesday: Long walk with a girlfriend
Wednesday: Treadmill 30 min, prenatal barre legs
Thursday: Prenatal yoga
Friday: 30 minute lap swim
Saturday: do something outside!
Sunday: yin yoga

Walks have really become my favorite thing.  Most weeks, I get outside for at least an hour walk, and afterwards I feel pretty tired but very relaxed.  Prenatal yoga has been absolutely amazing.  Since I already had a pretty strong yoga practice going before getting pregnant, prenatal keeps me connected to my mat while teaching me safe ways to play.  I was even able to get my glow-yoga on a few weeks ago, and I kept myself safe through lots of modifications.  Swimming is a new thing for me, but I'm really loving it.  I found a local, affordable pool where I can swim after work.  I must say, though, it wears me out in a good way.  So, when I get home, I definitely find that I need a hearty dinner to refuel.

Josh and I created this co-meal awhile back, and it's one of our go-to dinners.  We always have spinach, apples, carrots, and nuts on hand, so as long as I stock some frozen vegan and non-vegan chicken, we're ready to go!

The base of the salad most recently was spinach, apple, walnut, carrot, and cheese.  You could sub your favorite vegan cheese or omit to make vegan.

While you're making your salad, throw your favorite vegan chicken strips in the oven to warm up.  Josh subs a non-vegan fried chicken for his salads.  Toss with your favorite dressing, and you have a great, hearty dinner!

Since I usually work out after work, I definitely need a protein packed dinner to refuel.  I do try, though, to have a snack before my workouts so that I have a little energy to burn.  Lately, I've been packing my lunch, and I've been including a handful of raw almonds to eat around 4.  Sometimes I want them by themselves, but I have found they go great thrown into a yogurt.

A pregnant woman can never have too many snacks on hand.  I get pretty cranky when I'm hungry, so I usually have a little pouch of nuts tucked away in my purse.

There are some pretty great recipe ideas over at for vegans and pregnant ladies.  If you're looking for more ways to incorporate nuts into your diet, you might click on the pictures below for some inspiration.  I definitely want to make those chocolate truffles soon.

How do you re-fuel after a workout?  Are you a whole food type, or do you prefer a protein shake?  Leave me a comment below!

Disclaimer:  I was contacted by to share tips about pregnancy and post-workout fuels.  I was not compensated for the post.  All opinions and writing are my own.  I will always continue to tell you when I'm contacted by a company.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Co-Meal: Fried Rice and Egg Rolls

So, back in January I started sharing with you guys some of the co-meals we make together, where there are just a few components that are different, so we can pretty much have the same dinner.  This has worked out great for us, and we had another one the other night.  By the time we get home from work, I'm beat, so dinners have been super simple lately.  Josh has been cooking a lot more, but I still love being in the kitchen.  So, I try.

So, the only difference in our meal was the protein.  We get vegan and regular chicken strips, so they were super easy to warm up on the side of our meal.

Then, I cooked up some frozen veggies, edemame, a few cups of rice, and an egg in tamari and rice wine vinegar.  You could absolutely leave out the egg to make vegan.

On the side, we had veggie egg rolls.  You could sub vegan spring rolls to make a vegan option.  These have a small amount of egg in the wrapper.

I used to be super sensitive to hot sauce and spicy things during the first trimester, but it's much better, so I brought it with the hot sauce.  Yum!  This was super easy to throw together, so it would be great to give you meat, vegetarian, and vegan dinner options.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Springtime Park Lunch

When the days are nice, I head across the street for lunch.  I prop up my Nook, read Outlander (book 5 right now, can't stop won't stop), and have a picnic!

This first lunch was a strawberry salad with a side of crackers, pesto, and cheese.

I have been obsessed with olives lately, so all of my lunches have been FULL of them!

Sometimes I also bring sandwiches, filled with avocado!  You may be noticing a pumpkin seed theme.  They're just so delicious!

I hope the weather stays nice, so I can keep having more park picnics.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Plus Size Pregnancy Guilt

When I first started this blog, I was on a journey to change my body.  I had accomplished much that I'd set my mind to in life, but I'd never really been able to alter my shape.  The more I tried, the farther from happy I became, and I seemed to be stuck in a pretty bad cycle.  So, I started writing about it, hoping to keep myself accountable.

If you're been reading for awhile, you probably know that something unexpected happened.  Instead of hating my body and wishing it was different, I started to embrace it.  I ran half marathons, I did bike races, I learned to cook all sorts of great things, and I smiled a lot.  I realized that being skinny wasn't going to someone make me happy.  I had to learn how to be happy where I was.

This carried with through my wedding, where I decided I would not diet to fit into some crazy dress, through my honeymoon in Hawaii, where I chose to take pictures of more than just my face, because even if my body didn't look perfect, it was my body, and up until the time I got pregnant in August of last year.  I don't think I struggled with anxiety about being overweight and pregnant then.  The pregnancy was too short lived for me to really begin to understand what it meant to be making a life.  When it was over, though, my sadness took away my desire to numb with food.  I made the choice to not drink through my grief, and over the months we had to wait to try again, I lost about 15 pounds.  So, when I got pregnant again in January, I felt pretty comfortable in my skin.  At first.

Soon, though, that began to change.  I started again to feel the body hatred that had plagued me in my mid 20's.  As my uterus expanded and began the process of creating another human, I shied away from mirrors and berated myself for starting this pregnancy at my current weight.  Knowing that the scale will probably only go up from here, I fretted about gaining too much weight.  My nausea didn't help this, as one might think.  The only things that felt acceptable to eat were mashed potatoes and ice cream, things bland, white, and starchy.  I could barely walk down the hall without wanting to throw up, so working out was off the table.  For almost 12 weeks, I stayed glued to the couch and full of carbs.  It definitely did a number on my head.

The internet has tons of resources for healthy, plus sized pregnancies.  I know that my blood work has always been stellar, I take care of myself, and I got pregnant easily both times.  There shouldn't have been major things to worry about, but still I worried.  I got very sensitive about craving sweets, something that I really never did before pregnancy, and got very defensive about it.  Basically, the first trimester was rough.

Things have gotten better, though.  At 16 weeks, I'm still not really showing yet.  I think I probably just look a little pudgier than normal, but my closet full of A-line dresses will likely hide whatever growing bump I have for quite some time.  I feel like I'm coming through this rough patch, though, mostly due to feeling more like myself again.  Since about 12 weeks, I've been able to work fruits and veggies back into my diet.  I've also been working out again.  I'll talk more about that soon, but it's been a complete and total life saver.  Fitness really is my antidepressant, and take that away and I'm in bad shape.  I know that I will continue to struggle with this stuff, and that being a new mom will make it hard to get in some me-time, but I know I will need to make it a priority.

At my checkup today, I was bubbly and happy.  I got to hear the heart beat, I was feeling really good, and I'd only gained a pound.  Last month I had gained 4 pounds since the month before, so I was fearing some out of control weight gain.  With healthy eating and tons of walks, though, I'm definitely feeling like a healthy mama.  I'm sure the bad days will be there, and I'll long to be a thin chick with a round belly, but that's just not me, and I've got to make peace with it.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Eats Lately: Pregnancy

Now that I'm 16 weeks into this pregnancy, I feel like I can finally eat and cook again.  The first semester, though, was anything but easy.  I could barely go into the kitchen, and anything green turned my stomach.  It was horrible.  There was a week in the beginning where all I wanted to eat were potatoes.  I knew it would get better, but it was pretty rough.

In the middle of hating all my favorite foods, I started doing more research on pregnancy nutrition.  I talked to my doctor about a vegan diet while pregnant, and he was supportive but recognized that I would understand more about that than he did.  As the weeks went on, and I could keep food down, I started tracking my food intake to check for calcium, iron, and protein.  That's when I started to get a bit nervous.  Obviously, there are ways to get enough things you need on a vegan diet to support a pregnancy.  There are a lot of great resources out there that I looked into.  A lot of those plans, though, are fairly high in calories in order to get enough.  I am starting this pregnancy at a point in my weight where I need to be cognizant of gaining too much.  I really struggled with this in the beginning, including having lots of guilt and body hating that I hadn't felt in years, but I'll save that for another post.

So, I started to think that incorporating dairy and eggs back into my diet was the way I wanted to go.  Then I fretted about it.  Veganism had been my identity for 8 years, and I wasn't even sure I could do it, but I really felt like I needed to.  After having our miscarriage, I think I've been so terrified to do something wrong that could influence the health of our baby.  I know that ultimately babies are born healthy into much worse circumstances than I could create, but it's still a fear.  Anyway, all that is to say that for now, for the pregnancy, I am not eating a strictly vegan diet.

I feel like 80% of my diet is still the way it was, with just a few added things.  I won't be switching off Earth Balance or nut milks, because I don't really feel like the alternatives offer me anything better.  I mainly started by adding Greek yogurt to my smoothies, since they're full of protein, and I've already talked about not wanting to use protein powder.  Eventually, I picked up some eggs at the farmer's market and Josh made me my first egg in almost a decade.

I'm still using plant based meat, because I still don't want to eat meat.  I think a vegetarian pregnancy will be fine for me, and I haven't had the urge to go farther.  Plus, I still thing vegan and vegetarian diets are better for animals and the planet.  Josh made me this breakfast sandwich for dinner awhile back.  It was super weird to eat eggs, and I'm still not super into it, but it's something I do occasionally.

Early in the pregnancy, I got super sick off Mexican food, so I didn't eat it for a long time.  The only exception were these tasty vegan tacos from Tacos 4 Life.  I got a tasty tofu one, which I loved, and another one with mushrooms that I had a hard time with, because I have had a distaste for mushrooms for months now.  I think I'm finally getting over it, though.

We went to visit my parents recently, and my mom made me this protein POWERHOUSE.  Mama V made black bean burgers, tofu, chickpeas and brussels sprouts, and grilled potatoes.  Hello, heaven.

There were several weeks in the beginning where all I wanted was avocado toast, and that has not stopped.  It's really the best, right?

A few weeks ago, I got a huge craving for banh mi's, so we had these tofu ones with a zucchini salad.  I am having trouble with spicy food, because it just tastes more intense, so this dinner was a bit hot.  It was my fault for putting all the jalapenos in it.

You might see a running theme here.  I'm inhaling all the tofu and toast I can find,  This has been a pretty common meal.  So good.

I have some recipe posts coming, and more musings on pregnancy.  It's my hope that this post doesn't discourage anything about veganism.  It's an incredibly compassionate and delicious way of life.  This is just my situation for now, and I hope you will continue to read.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Vegan Cuts March Box

Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement on our big news!  It feels really good to be back to myself again.  The first trimester was pretty rough, but I'll share more about that tomorrow.

One thing that has been helping keep me going is snacking.  I was not always a huge snack person, but in order to keep the nausea away, I found it was better to have a little something in my tummy.  So, I decided to start up my Vegan Cuts Snack Box again.  I came home from a particularly hard day at work to find this box on my doorstep, which made me incredibly happy.  I'd like to tell you about some of my favorite things inside.

I am a fan of chips, and these were really tasty.  They were sweet and tangy, and the bag wasn't too large.  It made quite a nice snack before an afternoon walk.

I was not as enthused at these veggie chips.  Usually, I like the veggie sticks you can buy at Kroger, but these were bland with very little taste.  I wouldn't buy them again.

I have actually been carrying this around as my emergency meal in case I can't find food or wait too long to eat.  Fortunately, though, I haven't had to break it out yet.  Looks yummy, though.

I went through a huge cereal kick before my box arrived, so now I'm a bit sick of it.  I'll try this one soon.

Bazie thought this looked really neat, but on the whole I hate pouches like this.  I'll give it a go, though, although I want to look up the ingredients first.

These coconut bites were very yummy.  They were covered in dark chocolate, and I kept them on hand for weeks when I needed a little boost.

I haven't had any caffeine during this pregnancy, save for some chocolate, so I'm not sure I want to be eating Guarana.  I'll probably send this one with Josh.

I didn't have any problem eating this brownie, though.  It comes in two nice chunks, which I savored for several days.  It's incredibly minty, so Josh wouldn't touch it.

Protein powders have been a bit of a conundrum for me.  I know they can be a good source of protein, and I drank them a lot pre-pregnancy, but they also have tons of extracts that I wasn't comfortable with.  For instance, I love Vega, but certain ones have a papaya extract, which may or may not cause contractions.  So, on the whole, I just decided to not do protein powders during my pregnancy.  I'm looking for whole foods instead.

This bar was pretty weird.  It was very chalky and overall did not have a great taste.  It was so filling that I had it before a walk and wasn't hungry for dinner.

Oh man, though, I will SO be buying this at the store.  These are so low in calorie and so filling.  I came home from yoga and made some HUGE veggie tacos with this jackfruit filling.

Last, but not least, are these chickpea shells.  I love non-traditional pasta, so I can't wait to break these out.

So, it was a bit of a mixed bag, but overall I was pretty happy.  If you want to order yourself one, you can click on the banner below.  I'm a Vegan Cuts Ambassador, so if you use the link, I think I get a percentage (although, I've had those on there for years and not made a cent, which is fine, I want to support a great site.)