Pregnancy can be an overwhelming time for a woman. We are bombarded with information on what we can and cannot do.
It seems like every opinion is matched by a conflicting opinion telling us to disregard the first...
This is especially true when it comes to what to eat during pregnancy.
But one thing all soon-to-be-mamas can appreciate is a quick, easy, safe and nutritious meal to go. Say hello to smoothies!
Smoothies are great for pregnancy because they can be adapted to meet increased nutrient and fluid needs, combat unwanted symptoms, and cure a sweet tooth - all in one little cup!
But there’s a catch.
Not just any smoothie is going to be the perfect prenatal pick me up.
Key Nutrients During Pregnancy
There are certain nutrients and ingredients to be on the lookout for when searching out smoothie recipes during pregnancy.
Folate and Folic Acid
I’m sure you’ve heard all about this one. The B-Vitamin, folate, and its synthetic form - folic acid, are needed to prevent neural tube defects in baby (aka problems with baby’s brain and spine).
Iron needs increase during pregnancy.
Many women do not adjust their intake accordingly and can become anemic. Iron deficiency anemia is actually quite common during pregnancy and can cause weakness and fatigue.
To prevent iron deficiency, be sure to also consume plenty of vitamin C which helps the iron to be absorbed.
Electrolytes are substances required for numerous body functions including muscle contractions and maintaining fluid balance. They include calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium.
Mamas-to-be are at an increased risk for dehydration and thus maintaining electrolyte balance in the body is super important!
This vitamin has been making headlines over the past few years - and for good reason!
Vitamin D helps with bone formation and cell division - two very important things in pregnancy!
And - you probably aren’t getting enough from your prenatal vitamin and foods alone. Most prenatal vitamins have only 400 IUs of vitamin D and the American Pregnancy Association states that new studies are recommending supplementing 4000 IUs per day!
Definitely something to bring up with your healthcare provider at your next visit.
Protein is made of amino acids which are the building blocks of the human body. And during pregnancy, when you are literally building a human body, what could be more important?!
Unlike the previous nutrients mentioned (which are micronutrients and needed in small amounts), protein is a macronutrient and is needed in larger amounts - around 70 grams per day according to the Mayo Clinic (more or less depending on your size and specific needs).
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are used for the development of your baby’s nervous system as well as their vision and cognition.
In fact, some studies have found that children born to women who supplemented omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy had higher cognitive function and hand eye coordination than those who did not.
Getting the right amount of fiber during pregnancy can help to relieve a lot of very uncomfortable side effects such as constipation, bloating, and hemorrhoids.
It can also help you to feel full longer.
Another huge benefit of adequate fiber intake is blood sugar control. Fiber slows down how fast sugars are absorbed and thus reduces spikes.
This list touches on just a few of the many nutrients pregnant ladies should take in. If you want to know more about basic nutrition during pregnancy, check out the USDA’s ChooseMyPlate website.
But how does all this apply to smoothies?! Well...the smoothie friendly ingredients below can be used to meet your nutrient needs during pregnancy!
Top 5 Ingredients Good For Pregnancy:
Dark Green Vegetables
The USDA recommends 1 ½ - 2 cups of these each day and if you’re taste buds are anything like mine were during pregnancy, that amount may be a struggle! I had a serious aversion to basically anything green (except green Laffy Taffy, maybe?).
Smoothies were my saving grace.
You can easily sneak a cup of broccoli or green leafy veggies into a smoothie with hardly any change to the texture or taste (although the color will likely give it away!). You can use romaine, spinach, kale, or any other green in fresh or frozen form.
A few of the nutrients in these green superfoods include iron, folate, and vitamins A, C, E, and K.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are excellent additions to smoothies. They are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, protein and lots of fiber.
Nuts are great additions to smoothies and can be added in their whole form, nut butters, or even powdered. Powdered peanut butter is a great addition to smoothies because it is lower in fat (and cheaper!) than regular peanut butter.
As for seeds, my favorites are flax, chia, and sunflower seeds. I always grind my flax and soak my chia seeds overnight before adding them to smoothies.
Alright, not everyone is going to agree with me on this one. And that’s okay!
There are lots of non-dairy yogurts and milks that are equally as delicious and fortified with lots of prego-healthy nutrients. As with any processed food, just keep an eye on what else has been added to them (sugar? carrageenan?).
Personally, I like to switch it up and consume both non-dairy and dairy milks and yogurts.
Anyway, back to the dairy. Dairy is loaded with protein, calcium, potassium, and the illusive vitamin D!
Organic is key here. Buying organic will guarantee that the cow’s who provided the milk you are drinking were not treated with growth hormones and antibiotics and were fed organic, non-GMO food.
Ginger is the anti-ingredient: anti-nausea, antinflammatory, and antioxidant - all of which are GREAT for pregnancy!
Ginger may even reduce your risk for heart disease and diabetes! Read more about the “Amazing and Mighty Ginger” here.
When using ginger in smoothies, you can use in it’s whole root form, powdered, or as a tea. You can get ginger root at most grocery stores.
I recommend using a cheese grater to shred it a bit before adding it a smoothie.
In a smoothie?!
Yes. It may seem weird but legumes do wonders for the texture of a smoothie.
And, they are packed with fiber, protein, iron, zinc, folate, and potassium!
I’ve used chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans and (my favorite) tofu in smoothies with excellent results.
You can use dry (soak them first!), canned, or frozen.
Next are five ingredients you should NOT use in your smoothies while pregnant.
Top 5 Ingredients Bad for Pregnancy
Let’s be real, you should ALWAYS wash produce before using it but sometimes we’re in a hurry and maybe aren’t super thorough or (heaven forbid!) we just grab a handful of those refrigerated berries and throw them in straight out of the container.
Pregnancy is NOT the time to do this.
Produce can contain listeria which can cause serious illness, miscarriage, or even death of the baby after she is born. But taking a few precautions such as thoroughly washing produce before using (and washing your hands before handling foods) decreases your risk of contracting this bacteria.
Check out this video on how to correctly wash produce:
Unpasteurized Dairy & Juices
Unpasteurized dairy products and juices can also be contaminated with listeria. They can also contain salmonella or e. Coli.
The pasteurization process kills these bacteria with heat.
So, how do you know if a product is pasteurized? Just read the label.
If you’re buying the milk directly from a dairy or juice by the glass the product may not be pasteurized and there may not be a label. Check with the person who sold it to you to find out for sure.
Have you ever looked at a protein powder, multivitamin, or other supplement and seen on the label that it contains 1000% DV?
More vitamins and minerals aren’t always better, especially during pregnancy.
Certain nutrients, like copper, iron, and vitamin A can be toxic when consumed in excess.
Other supplements to be mindful of are weight loss and detox products (now is not the time ladies!).
Always check with your health care practitioner before consuming a supplement during pregnancy.
Most of us know excess caffeine during pregnancy is a no-no but the exact recommendations on how much you can have varies depending on who you ask.
Personally, I went with the American Pregnancy Association’s recommendation of about 12 oz per day (so one coffee based smoothie would have probably been just fine…).
So be sure not to go overboard using green tea, coffee or lots of chocolate in your smoothies.
It’s always a good idea to limit foods with added sugars because they are often high calorie. And consuming too many calories can lead to gaining too much weight which puts you and your baby at risk.
Even if you aren’t gaining too much weight, added sugars should still be avoided because they increase risk of hypertension and chronic heart disease.
If you do have a sweet tooth, try to satisfy it with a sweet food that actually has some nutrients in it.. Like a fruit smoothie!
So, now that I’ve become just another person telling you to “eat this” and “don’t do that” during pregnancy (please forgive me!).. Let’s get to the fun part. Healthy nutritious smoothie recipes!
These recipes take into consideration all of the points we just discussed. Happy blending, ladies!
Best Smoothies to Meet Increased Nutrient Needs
Best Smoothies to Cure a Sweet Tooth
Finding Your Perfect Pregnancy Smoothie
Drinking healthy smoothies can take some of the drama out of your diet. They can be an easy, quick, healthy and delicious meal you can consume prior to, during, and after pregnancy.
I’ve prepared this guide so you’ll be able to tell easily which ingredients you should go for and which to avoid at the different stages.
I also hope you’ll find your favorite smoothie recipes among the ones I posted here. Feel free to experiment with any ingredient that you’d like, as long as it’s one of the good ones!
Did you drink smoothies while pregnant? If so what were your favorite recipes? I would love to hear your stories and tips for blending while pregnant below!