Although women are expected to “eat for two” in pregnancy, we tend to think that life – and eating habits – will return to normal once the baby is born. Especially if you are breastfeeding, this is simply not true. In fact, a breastfeeding woman needs more calories and a higher quantity of many nutrients than she did in pregnancy.
Unfortunately, increasing your intake of nutrient-dense foods is immensely more difficult with an infant to tend to. Convenience foods are commonly based around meats, so the vegetarian mother has even more of a challenge ahead of her.
Here are five vegetarian foods that are easy to prepare and have on hand throughout the day as you work to nourish yourself and your young baby, whether you are a vegetarian or not:
Vegetarian Soups and Stews – When you get a moment to cook, make the most of it! It’s no harder to make a huge batch of soup than to make a small one, so load up that stock pot with whatever vegetables and beans you have on hand. Whatever extra you have can go in the freezer for a no-prep dinner or back into the fridge as leftovers for a day or two. Soups and stews are so soothing, and the broth is packed with the nutrients in the vegetables.
Nutrient-Dense Dips and Spreads – Nut and seed butters go with a variety of flavors, depending on the nut or seed. Dip veggies and fruit in them or spread them on whole grain crackers and toast. If your dip of choice is Ranch, try a vegan alternative that is made with white beans for added protein and thickness.
Nut Butter Snack Mixes – Tired of apples and almond butter? Try mixing some of your favorite nut butter with bananas, oats, nuts, cinnamon and honey. It is such a treat (especially if you throw in some chocolate chips) and will serve as a great mid-day boost. Be sure to get nut butters that are free of sugar and hydrogenated oils for extra nutrition.
Trail Mixes – If you are sensing a trend with nuts and seeds, you are getting the picture. They are chock full of the protein, essential fats and vitamins that you need to sustain your body and make nourishing milk for your baby. And the best part is, they are easy to grab and go. Keep things interesting by putting a variety of nuts, seeds, dried fruit and even granola in a bag that is easily accessible. A little will take you a long way, and it’s easy to eat one-handed while you nurse.
Veggie Wraps – It’s not so easy to eat a salad while you breastfeed, yet all of the calories you are burning will likely render you starving. Get all the benefits of a great salad and the convenience of a big, hearty burrito by wrapping it up in a whole grain tortilla. You will be more likely to get the vegetables and boost you need, and baby will be less likely to have chopped veggies dropped on his ear.
What are your go-to snacks to get you through the day?
About the Author
Brannan Sirratt has been pregnant, nursing, or both for more than five years and a vegetarian for nearly three. During her most recent pregnancy, she founded The Pregnant Vegetarian, a growing resource for vegetarian mothers through pregnancy and beyond, and she continues to write there and in various corners throughout the web.