When I work with pregnant clients, I share a lot of different recommendations based on their lifestyle, dietary habits/preferences and their comfort level in the kitchen. All suggestions are suited to their unique lifestyle; however, I have one recommendation that I share with every client, so I thought I would share it here! It’s easy to do and is loaded with nutritional benefits (even for people who aren’t pregnant!).
Sometimes getting all of the nutrients that you and your baby need throughout pregnancy can be difficult, especially if you aren’t even sure where to start (that’s where I come in!). When it comes to healthy fats, the essential fats are ones you will want to focus on. Essential fats are ones that your body does not make, and therefore must be consumed through your diet. The two specific fatty acids you need are linoleic and alpha-linolenic (don’t worry you don’t really to memorize these!). These two fatty acids are used to make omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. You want to ensure you get a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The balance of these fats is key, not just the amount of omega-3 (as is commonly believed). To do this, I’ve given you a simple, versatile recipe below.
Healthy fats are incredibly important for the growth of your baby. Every single cell in our body has an outer layer made of fat, so you can imagine why fat is so important. Just like you, your baby’s nervous system and brain are made primarily of fat. Providing adequate healthy fat throughout your pregnancy can help give your baby the building blocks he or she needs to develop.
Fats are also used to make hormones, so ensuring you get enough before, during and after your pregnancy can help to create hormones and regulate your levels.
The recipe below is simply a combination of ground flaxseeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. You can use the ground seeds to sprinkle on yogourt, or add it in smoothies. You can also add a few tablespoons to baked goods, pancake mix, homemade meat or veggie burgers, or to stir fries. The key is eat 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture per day.
Pumpkin seeds: Besides being rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (about 50% fat), they are also high in iron, calcium, zinc and a mix of B vitamins (all needed throughout pregnancy).
Sunflower seeds: High in potassium and low in sodium (an ideal balance!), a good source of protein and fiber, rich in B vitamins and polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6).
Sesame seeds: High in B vitamins (although not folic acid), vitamins A and E, zinc and are about 55% oil.
Flaxseeds: High in omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber.
Some key things to consider when creating this recipe:
- Buy fresh, unsalted, unroasted seeds; roasting can damage the seeds and the salt is completely unnecessary.
- Keep the whole seeds in a dark container or bag in your fridge to reduce the damaging effects of light and heat.
- Don’t grind too many seeds at once, as the natural oils can go rancid. Instead, make a small jar full and fill it back up once you’ve eaten it. Or, if time allows, grind some fresh everyday to eat.
- Keep the ground seeds in a dark container in your fridge to keep them fresh.
- Grinding the seeds, as opposed to just eating the whole seeds, helps to release their oils, and reduces the work your teeth and digestive system need to do to get the nutrients from them.
Prep time: 5 mins
- 1 part raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 part raw sunflower seeds
- 1 part raw sesame seeds (white or black)
- 2 parts whole, unroasted flaxseeds
Mix the seeds together and grind them until the oils start to come out (about 5-10 secs for 1 Tbsp of each seed, and 2 Tbsp of flaxseeds). A clean coffee grinder works well. Aim to eat 1-2 Tbsp of the mixture per day by adding it to a smoothie, sprinkling it on yogurt, or tossing it in a stir fry. Store the ground seeds in an air tight, dark container in the fridge.