Protein during pregnancy? - Mothering Forums
Vegetarian and Vegan > Protein during pregnancy?
greenmamato2's Avatar greenmamato2 12:47 AM 05-12-2012
I will start out by saying I am not vegan. At least I wasn't. Apparently my baby wants me to be however! I'm 14 weeks pregnant and can't stand to eat any of my typical sources of protein. Meat, fish, chicken, eggs, peanut butter... All of it makes me sick. I'm allergic to milk (not just intolerance) so dairy products are out too.

But... I need protein! Help???

catnip's Avatar catnip 11:36 AM 05-12-2012

Food aversions are common in pregnancy. I spent most of mine able to eat: bread/pasta/tortillas, peanut butter and jelly, eggs, sweet potatoes, potatoes, milk (fluid milk only - not yogurt, not cheese, not cottage cheese), butter, and bananas. That is it. Literally. It. The THOUGHT of even trying to eat a green vegetable or a bean or any fruit made me queasy. Heck, thinking about how thinking about it made me feel still makes me queasy, and this was eight years ago!


For protein ideas - hemp seed stirred into salads, cereals, pasta. The Barilla plus pasta is high protein. Maybe almond butter is a lighter flavor that you can handle better than peanut butter. How are you with tofu? There are some great recipes for tofu-based puddings out there, even if you don't think you like it - but I know a million ways to make tofu and they are all different - quick fried in a little bit of oil, covered in teriyaki sauce and baked, cubed and added to soups, pureed into a ricotta-like texture. Um ... coconut milk curry with red lentils and veggies?  How do you do with beans? Bean burritos?

mumkimum's Avatar mumkimum 11:51 AM 05-12-2012

It may help to remember that MOST foods have some protein, and even negligible amounts do add up.  When I was pregnant, and counting my protein intake at the time - remembering that and adding it up (so the protein in the massive amounts of fruits or smoothies I made) I found I wasn't as sorely lacking as I might have thought if I weren't taking that into account.  


I found (craved, actually) bean burritos, so that was a huge help.  I started eating eggs when pregnant, but I'd scramble just one egg with a ton of veggies & cheese (so the egg wasn't really noticeable).  I got sprouted breads and the ezekiel bread and tortillas (which are higher protein). There are the higher protein pastas out there too.  Things like cottage cheese pancakes or french toast might be more palatable right now.  Pudding can be helpful (with ricotta, more eggs, or even tofu blended in).  Find some reliable things that are just a little higher in protein that you can handle right now and go with them.  

fruitfulmomma's Avatar fruitfulmomma 12:15 PM 05-12-2012 has an essential nutrients list, link is right at the top, and if you go to the protein section and scroll to the bottom there is a chart full of foods and their content. There are several good sources of non animal protein, including beans and swiss chard. Also if you are still feeling like you need more Brewer's yeast is a good source.

marsupial-mom's Avatar marsupial-mom 03:33 PM 05-14-2012
Legumes are the best source of protein.
activealli's Avatar activealli 08:41 AM 05-15-2012

I am on my second pregnancy with the due dates exactly 1 year apart. I am a vegetarian but strive for as vegan as possible. Here are some of my tricks. As a few other people suggested, shelled hemp seed aka hemp hearts. I know our costco just started carrying Manitoba harvests Hemp Hearts for about $10 for a large bag... which goes a long way. Sprinkle it on everything. Oatmeal, smoothies. salad, any sort of warm meal you may have. It is one of the best natural sources for omega's, folic acid and iron. Bean are an exceptional source of protein, iron, fiber and minerals. I save money (and its healthier) I buy it in bulk dried, soak for a few hours, then simmer on low for a few hours until done. You can use the beans in stews, burritos or just over some rice with some veggies. Lately Ive been into oatmeal for breakfast. I have been making an awesome overnight chai oatmeal. Here is a copy of the recipe:


1 cup gluten-free rolled oats (or any rolled oats if you are not GF)
2 tablespoons chia seeds (can find these at most health food stores or off amazon)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (I use vanilla coconut milk from trader joes, its about $2 a box, which is cheaper than real milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
a pinch of ground black pepper
a pinch of ground cloves


I put it all in a tupperware and put it in the fridge. Its ready in teh morning. I usually warm it in the microwave for about 45 seconds before I eat it. I usually eat half of the container at a time, with some golden raisins, and sliced fruit and a tablespoon of shelled hemp seed. I did the nutritional info on it and my breakfast had 17 grams of protein! Hard to beat that!


Other good sources are whole grains: quinoa is a great source of protein, cheap and readily available just about everywhere. I also tend to make green protein smoothies with frozen fruit, spinach or kale, and a scoop of protein powder. I usually use vega whole food health optimizer, but its sort of an aquired taste, so you can use any protein powder you like (hemp protein powder is excellent from what I heard and can be found at trader joes).


Here is my favorite vegan blog. It has a lot of non-veg friendly recipes. They dont call for a lot of meat replacers. Its mostly whole food recipes that anyone can enjoy (many of my meat eating friends love recipes from here)


Good luck

activealli's Avatar activealli 08:42 AM 05-15-2012

also, ditto on the ezekial 4:9 sprouted breads. VERY high in protein, minerals and good healthy stuff.

hasya's Avatar hasya 06:26 AM 05-18-2012

Chickpeas, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, black beans, navy beans...lentils, etc. You need to soak the dry beans, discard the water, cook (if you aren't sprouting, that is). If sprouting, sprout and cook (or not? I am not sure; not cooking makes my bowels go haywire).


You need iron also along with protein as your iron source has been cut off as well. Luckily, all of these beans and lentils are good sources of iron. Add greens and you're good to go. hth! Always combine 2 different protein sources in a day, because very few of them like quinoa are complete proteins.

CStone1's Avatar CStone1 03:35 PM 05-21-2012

lentils, chickpeas, dry beans and peas, nuts, seeds, quinoa, whole grains, tofu, tempeh, edamame, nutritional yeast, spirulina, nut and seed butters such as almond, sunflower, tahini, etc, add nut butter to any smoothie, plus everything except oil has at least some protein in it. When I was pregnant just made sure I was getting a protein food at every meal. Examples: Hot cereal such as oatmeal, buckwheat or millet with nuts or seeds and dried fruit in it, there's the standard beans and rice but mix it up by doing for example chickpeas and millet, lentil and barley soup, beans and quinoa, potatoes and beans, etc. Burritos made with whole grain tortillas, beans, sprouts, greens and salsa. Toast with honey, coconut oil and almond butter. Sprinkle nuts, seeds or tofu over a salad. Saute tempeh with vegetables and serve over rice. Make a bean salad by adding lots of chopped raw veggies and seasonings to the beans. Dip veggies in bean dip or humus. Falafal sandwhiches. There are lots of options out there.

catnip's Avatar catnip 09:48 PM 05-21-2012

(the only reason I didn't prominently suggest legumes is that they were one of my bigger food aversions)

MrsKoehn's Avatar MrsKoehn 12:07 PM 05-22-2012

I am glad to read this thread! I have a hard time just eating, much less worrying about protein. I've been trying to watch protein and calories. My MW wasn't happy with my losing weight between visits! : )

mumkimum's Avatar mumkimum 03:25 PM 05-23-2012

protein chart with content for lots of different foods



I know I chimed in before, but I found my link to a chart I used to count protein when I was pregnant.


Lots of fruit or vegetables, you'll notice, don't have zero protein - but actually have a few grams of protein content.  So if you're worried and actually go to add it up, you may find you're doing better with your intake than you might think. 

mleawicks's Avatar mleawicks 04:00 PM 06-26-2012

brewers yeast can be made into foe mac anc cheese. google it. there are many recipes out there. so you can find what sounds good to you. I just had my little one and I ate alot of brewers yeast. 80 to 100 grams protien is said to keep you from getting toxima and that pre cla what ever it is....

Vegan Princess's Avatar Vegan Princess 10:57 PM 06-29-2012

I hope the food aversions pass for you! You could try soy yogurt or goats milk yogurt. I love lentils and quinoa. Honey baked lentils is a favorite, as well as a lentil soup w/dumplings (let me know if you want either recipe). Also, I adore these quinoa muffins from vegan dad. Super high in protein and pretty easy to get down since they are a muffin. Bready things were the easiest for me to eat during the 1st trimester. I usually sub dried cranberries for 1/2 the chocolate chips and I cut the sugar down a little too - you don't miss it with the chocolate chips in there.


You could also make a chocolate pudding with blended up soft tofu.


Chia seeds are amazing during pregnancy. Google "chia pudding". If you soak them with a milk (I like almond milk) and some cinnamon and agave, it tastes like tapioca pudding! High in essential fatty acids too. 


You say peanut butter won't work - but could you munch on any other nuts like almonds or cashews?


Tacos made with beans is an easy staple around here too. 


Good luck!



Munchkin08's Avatar Munchkin08 02:52 PM 08-16-2012

So glad I came across this post. I was just commenting in another thread about how I am worried I might need to take supplements. I would much rather eat some of the ideas listed above. I will try the beans (and rice so it is a complete protein). What about iron/calcium? I don't drink milk, but I do eggs, and yogurt. I was thinking of adding string cheese or yogurt for snack.

Vegan Princess's Avatar Vegan Princess 03:01 PM 08-16-2012

Munchkin: I've never supplemented iron, other than what's in my prenatal. My iron levels have always been great. I eat eggs but I also eat a lot of leafy greens. Kale is very high in iron - add it to smoothies or sautee it. I do take a calcium supplement. I take it even when not pregnant. My nails are super rock hard and they aren't when I don't supp. But lately I've been eating a lot of greek yogurt. I finally found an organic and full fat version that I love - 20 grams protein per cup and a good dose of calcium. That said, I'm not convinced dairy is actually a good usable source of calcium. I've read that it isn't and my 3 yr old drinks tons of milk and eats cheese daily and her nails are soft and peel off. So I'm thinking her body is not getting what it needs from dairy. 



SplashingPuddle's Avatar SplashingPuddle 05:52 PM 08-16-2012

For a lot of my pregnancy, I mainly only wanted to eat "white things" - potatoes, bread, corn, yogurt, donuts...


I did try but it was not a balanced diet. I had such strong cravings and aversions that it was hard to get enough protein.


In the end, I do not think I succeeded, but my daughter was born at home, 7lbs12oz, very healthy, and I resumed a more "normal" vegetarian diet again. 



MrsKoehn's Avatar MrsKoehn 05:51 PM 08-17-2012

I started knuckling down on protein this week. I wrote a list of what my foods in stock have in them. I started eating yogurt in the morning with my Dandy Blend coffee substitute, then either quinoa made like oatmeal or eggs (I am full with 2, my SILs ate up to 4) with cheese and a glass of milk for breakfast a couple hours later. I try to snack on sunflower seeds, peanuts or cashews, and string cheese. I am going to make a recipe my Oma always made for holidays. Make jello (I use juice and my unflavored gelatin and stevia). When it's about 50-65% set, stir in cottage cheese. Can top with whipped cream or leave off.  Then we usually have some fish, chicken, beef or deer at supper. Tuna is also really good. I had tuna salad sandwich for lunch.

MrsKoehn's Avatar MrsKoehn 05:52 PM 08-17-2012

Oh, and my MW said go to a HF store, read the labels, but drinking a protein smoothie for bfast or midday would be good. I just didn't have the $ this week and I can probably get something better & cheaper online.

loveandgarbage's Avatar loveandgarbage 09:46 PM 08-24-2012

I just posted in my DDC about being pregnant and needing protein ideas. Thanks, thread! My usual distaste for beans is a full out aversion right now. I'm going to look into the hemp seeds.

Tags: Vegan