Sunday, June 12, 2011

Let's talk about: Protein

I feel like most pregnant women I talk with have this issue. (One of many...) They can't figure out how to get enough protein in their daily diet. Protein is essential for proper growth and development of your baby as well as for your milk production as your due date nears. Eating plenty of protein will also give you plenty of energy throughout your pregnancy. It's also said to reduce swelling, later in your third trimester. While I'm not having that issue YET, I'm definitely interested in doing anything I can to keep (at least!!!) my feet from expanding...ew.

The recommended daily intake is 60 grams of protein. Now, I don't know about you but for me, that is a whole lot of protein. I do eat meat, fish, and poultry. I also eat tofu and various other vegetarian sources of protein. I drink cow's milk.

Given all this...I was still struggling to meet my daily goal. UNTIL I developed a plan!

It seems obvious, but eating protein at every meal increases your chances of getting 60g, right? Well yes, but are you planning on putting chicken on everything? Um, not if you're this girl. I've had a serious poultry aversion since the day I saw those two lines on a stick. I've tried force feeding myself steak, as well as disguising fish in pasta. I CAN"T DEAL.

And so what am I left with? Well here are some of my daily noshes:

Pregnancy Protein

Yogurt: Specifically 2% Greek yogurt. With a whopping 20 grams of protein, these little tubs of love are a quick (and delicious) way to satisfy my hunger and boost my energy for the day. I often have one for breakfast or snack before bed. And now with all the amazing summer fruits in season, it's a great addition of Vitamin C.

Quinoa: Another great source with 24 grams per cup. Yahoo! This is a perfect substitute for rice, potatoes, and even oatmeal. I even use quinoa in cookies and muffins, in place of flour. If you've ever made home made granola, try toasting quinoa instead of oats!

Hummus: Ah hummus, an old friend. I kind of hummused myself out for a few years but have recently revisited my old standby because of it's 19 grams of protein. Go Hummus! Also, it's such a bargain when home made. I think a can of chickpeas is maybe a dollar. Don't buy five dollar hummus people.

Milk: Oh milk...what a delicious beverage you are. Who needs margaritas when I have you? (Yeah, right...) Oh and I'm talking whole people. None of this 1% garbage. Milk should not be grey. 8 grams in a cup. And if I have enough bowls of cereal in a day, I bet I can reach my intake just on this liquid gold alone.

Nut Butters With about 7-10 grams in two teaspoons, I could survive on nut butters most days. I try to shake things up with almond, peanut, cashew, and various others. But some of this on an english muffin with a tall glass of milk (yum) and I am a happy lady.

Smoothies Now we're talking. Ever since project protein began, I have been drinking smoothies almost daily. The number one reason: kefir. Don't know what kefir is? It's basically drinkable yogurt. But that's not all. We're talking 30 grams of protein folks. Toss that in with any other fruit you may love and you've got a meal. "But why don't you just use those awesome protein powders, Karolina?" Well, I try not to eat too many synthetic foods and those powders are highly processed. It doesn't matter if it's organic, soy, a million dollars, etc. It's fake. And I'd rather get my protein from real food sources. Hence all this research...

Eggs: This is weird, but eggs are probably one of my favorite foods. I know... But I can eat them any time of day and in any fashion. There are six grams in one large egg not including all the healthy fats you're getting! Egg-cellent. (Wow, this post is getting crazy.)

String Cheese: A five year olds lunch or a pregnant girl's best friend? I doubt you can hate string cheese at any age. Depending on what brand you get, it's between 8 and 10 grams of protein per stick. But who says you need to stop at just one?! I think I've, um, heard of some people eating a whole package at one time...

Phew. So there you go! These delicious little gems have been feeding myself and baby boy for the past few weeks with as little gagging as possible. Yay!

And don't forget some honorable mentions such as cottage cheese, tofu, an occasional turkey or veggie burger, and of course bean burritos.

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