Ok...you should be eating these any time, not just when you are pregnant, but many women are willing to try new things for their health when pregnant vs when they are not.
Nutrition is so vital for a growing baby and what you eat will have an impact on the health of you as a mother, and your child. And even your labor and potentially the outcome of your birth.
Pregnancy is a time to really boost your nutrition by eating nutrient dense foods that are easy to come by and easy to make so I am giving you two fun foods that are easy to make and eat and should be a staple in your pantry from now on. This is why our childbirth education classes talk about food focus at each class.
Chow charts anyone?
Yes. I am talking about the little seeds that became popular in the 90's by growing on terracotta figurines. These cha-cha-cha-chia seeds have been know around the world for their amazing health benefits. And here in America, we turned them into a novelty, but I digress.
These tiny black or white seeds are nutrition powerhouses that you want to have in your pantry all the time. They are sorta sweet nutty flavored that turn into a gel when they sit in liquid for 10-15 minutes.
1 oz of chia seeds (which is about 2 TBS) contains approximately
4 grams protein
11 grams of fiber
9 grams fat
18% calcium requirement
30% magnesium requirement
28% phosphorus requirement
4500 milligram ALA Omega 3 (more than flax seed)
3X the iron of spinach
2x the antioxidants in blueberries
Historically, these little seeds were called Chia by the Mayans and Aztecs meaning "strength". They were given to the messengers that had to run long distances to give them fuel and stamina without burning out or getting dehydrated because the seeds hold water.
Homemade chia bars or even chia seeds in coconut water would be the perfect labor fuel to keep your body fueled and strong for labor.
So...how do you I eat this-just swallow a spoonful?
If you were running the Warrior Dash and did not want a full stomach of water, yes (I did but it did not make me run faster).
These little seeds are so versatile you can do so much with them!
If you are just starting out with them, you want to start with a Tablespoon at a time, as the fiber content can really clean you out.
Of course, pregnancy has a way of backing you up -chia seeds to the rescue!
These are wonderful to give you a boost of energy without any caffeine, they keep you regular and help with constipation and are easy to throw into just about anything you eat on a daily basis.
Sprinkle them on greek yogurt with some berries or on oatmeal for a healthy crunch.
Toss them in your favorite smoothie, which will thicken it as well as make it a super smoothie.
Toss it in meatloaf or in hamburgers to help bind the meat and add magneseum.
Put a tablespoon in your favorite tea or coconut milk for a drinkable smoothie.
Add to kombucha to feel like a pregnant rockstar.
I love making overnight chia pudding in cute little mason jars so I have a quick on the go breakfast or snack. I add 3 TBS to a glass of coconut milk with a bit of liquid stevia or honey, shake and put in the fridge until morning.
You can use chocolate, berries, cinnamon, pumpkin, and any liquid you want. If you use dates as your sweetener you have an extra bonus because consuming dates in the last few months has been shown to shorten labor -win.
One of my favorite places to get chia recipes is online from Katie @ Wellness Mama
She also has chia seed granola bar recipes which should be in your labor bag (make enough for your doula too...or better yet, have dad make up a batch so he knows how to make them when you are nursing postpartum)
Another great recipe which uses dates is from The Minimalist Baker
One of my kids favorite things to make are chia balls.
I personally don't measure but I probably should.
I toss dates and almonds in a blender and pulse until then are mixed well, then I add a tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil and chia seeds and pulse it all until it develops into a thick batter. Sometimes I will toss in chocolate pieces if I have them and coconut flakes to. I scoop it out and roll up little balls about 1" round and place them on parchment. Then I hide them because my kids eat them by the handful if I don't. When I get the measurements wrong, I just smash it into a pan and my kids scoop it out on a spoon, like peanut butter, but healthier.
Costco usually has a good deal on large bags of chia and it lasts for awhile but I usually buy chia seeds in the bulk section of Sprouts.
This funny little seed is often sold with rice and other grains, but it is a seed. It can be black, yellowish or red but they all taste about the same (not like brown rice vs white rice).
The Incas referred to this as the "mother of all grain" and it was a staple food for them.
Unlike some of our grains (like rice or oats) quinoa is packed with protein.
1 cup of quinoa contains
5 g fiber
19 % RDA folate (which is very important for spinal development in babies)
58% RDA magnesium
18% RDA Iron
Plus other vitamins and minerals and a small amount of ALA Omega 3 fatty acids.
Quinoa also contains flavonoids, which are plant antioxidants that are super healthy!
It is also 100% gluten free, so if you find gluten-free products (like pasta) made from quinoa, you are getting a healthier product that has not been stripped of bran like many products made with tapioca flour or rice flour. You still get a nutritious pasta without the gluten.
Most plant based proteins are not complete because they lack essential amino acids. But NOT quinoa. It has every essential amino acid, making it a complete protein great for those times when your morning sickness tells you there is no way you are going to be eating red meat. (Or Turkey. I hated turkey in all forms with my 3rd pregnancy).
Quinoa is also a lower GI food, so it will not spike your blood sugar like some grains can, which is very important during pregnancy. As you are snacking, sipping and grazing, you want to make sure to keep your blood sugar levels normal. Quinoa helps you out like that!
The carbs and protein in quinoa make it a perfect labor dish to keep your strength up, especially being easy to digest.
How to cook quinoa: 2 parts water/broth to 1 part quinoa.
Bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered.
I cup of quinoa makes like 6 cups cooked so a little goes a long way. You will know it is done because the outer part will spiral off and it will be tender with just a slight bite.
You will want to rinse your quinoa before cooking because it has a dusty saponin (soap) covering on it that can make it bitter.
My favorite way to make quinoa is to cook it in chicken broth, then saute the cooked quinoa in butter and onions and serve it on the side of chicken sausage with buttery broccoli. Being a Texan, I also make mexican quinoa as a replacement for mexican rice for our taco nights.
Along with the health benefits, it is very easy to make, cooks in about 20 minutes and can be served hot, cold, savory or sweet. It can be used in granola bars and even ground into a flour to add to smoothies or baked goods. You can also cook the quinoa and add in berries and honey for a breakfast bowl, or breakfast bars similar to making baked oatmeal.
Kids love it, partially because it is fun to say and partially because it absorbs any flavor you add to it so it is rarely bland unless you only cook it in water with no salt. Or herbs. Or salt. (You should salt to taste when pregnant anyway with a good sea salt or a trace mineral salt).
My friend makes a cold quinoa salad, the same way you would a pasta salad, but using quinoa instead of pasta. Hers is cooked cold quinoa, lime, salt & pepper, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and olives.
If you want a variety of fun ways to make quinoa, visit Simply Quinoa and get creative and healthy.
(The ONLY thing I do not like about quinoa is cleaning up after children that are messy because my dog won't eat it off the floor so I have to wait for it to dry and vacuum it up. It does not like brooms.)
Have you tried chia or quinoa before? What is your favorite way to enjoy either or both of these amazing seeds during your pregnancy?