Sunday, December 16, 2012

Vegan Pregnancy: Prenatal Vitamins

This may be a boring post if you are not a vegan or pregnant, but if it helps ONE person it will be worth it! I spent hours in the beginning of my pregnancy trying to sort through the vitamin issue and wouldn't wish it upon anyone. So here is what works for me. It has been approved by my doctor and OB/GYN but please consult with your own doctor before starting any type of prenatal vitamin routine.

* Note, I take my vitamins at night with my evening snack. For one, it's easier on my stomach, and two, it gives me the day to make healthy food choices. Then at the end of the day, I can quickly calculate what kinds of foods and nutrients I've had and decide what vitamins I might need. I take my multi and at least one calcium a day, but add or take away based on how I've eaten that day. Example: If I succumbed to junk food a little too often, I might take extra calcium since I didn't have my regular glass of non-dairy milk or cup of coconut yogurt.  I try not to take the attitude of "Oh, I have vitamins, so I should eat whatever I want instead of healthy, beneficial foods." Instead, I look at the vitamins as added extras to my healthy prenatal diet that provides most of the baby's needs on it's own.

Lets start with the basics. Before I was pregnant, I was already taking a folic acid supplement, since we were trying and it is recommended to have this vitamin in your body in the beginning stages of pregnancy. However, once I found out I was pregnant, I tried to order vegan prenatals. There are actually quite a few vegan prenatal multivitamins available...if you live in the US. I tried ordering them and got a message saying they would not ship them to me in Canada. Which is why I take so many different vitamins now. So any Canadian vegans out there, if you've figured out a way around this or I missed something...let me know!

Anyways, after figuring out that I would not be able to order a vegan prenatal multi, I did some research. I continued with my regular multivitamin. The reason why health care providers want you to switch from a regular to a prenatal is so that you are getting quantities of vitamins and supplements that are more suitable for pregnant women. One of these vitamins is vitamin A. In large quantities, the animal form of vitamin A can be harmful to a fetus. Well, I was already taking a vegan multi, so no worries there.

The vegan multi I use is Sisu Supreme Multivitamin. Sisu makes a prenatal vitamin but it contains animal sourced D3.

Next, I needed a vegan source of D3, which luckily I already knew about since I take it for my thyroid (I have an underactive thyroid). Global Trax makes a vegan D3 available in spray or capsule form. Vitamin D will also be helpful in warding off the flu this season! I plan on switching to the spray form once Baby arrives so that I can also give it to Baby.

For extra iron (more so now than in the first trimester), I take Floravit liquid supplement. It tastes like metallic prune juice but it's not too bad. I heard that liquid supplements were easier on your digestive system which is why I didn't go with a tablet. My hemoglobin levels were high at my last blood test, so this is really just a precaution. I usually only take it every other day or so, until the doctor tells me to step it up.

For calcium, I use Sisu's Maxi Cal tablet. Each tablet contains 300 mg of calcium (approx a third of your daily need, although they recommend more when pregnant). I like that I can choose how much to take in a day depending on what I've eaten that day. These are my least favourite of the vitamins, just because of the size of them.
And for proper brain development for Baby, I take a vegan DHA supplement (omega 3s). These will be especially important during the third trimester for baby's development. Again, I use my judgement on how often I take these, depending on if I've add other healthy fats like nuts that day.  
Other vitamins I take on occasion: 
A zinc tablet once a week

I have stopped taking the separate folic acid, simply because it's in my daily multi and I know that I get more than enough just from the food I eat (I average 8-12 servings of produce a day!) 

One challenge I've been dealing with is how all of these vitamins and certain foods interact with my thyroid medication. I take my thyroid pill in the morning, and am not supposed to ingest large amounts of calcium or soy or any supplement within four hours. This makes it difficult for breakfast when I want cereal with almond or soy milk. I occasionally use coconut milk since it's the only non dairy beverage I can find that is not enriched with calcium. 
Soy foods are limited to late afternoon/evening meals. 

If you have a thyroid problem and want to become pregnant, talk to your doctor. My previous family doctor did not tell me that if I wanted to start a family I should be on a higher dose of thyroid meds (which is probably why it took us upwards of a year to conceive). I've also had to up my dosage 25% as your thyroid hormone needs elevate during pregnancy. 

What does a pregnant vegan eat?

 Whatever she wants!

I'm in a pretty good place right now, as far as life balancing goes. Between work, appointments, friends, family and the approaching holidays, I am still managing to get some me time and some cooking done! I think my nesting phase is starting slowly but surely (organizing cupboards and closets).

Vegetable Lasagna- Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Foods

This lasagna is layers of noodles, sauce, tofu ricotta, spinach, zucchini, carrots and cheese. I also threw in Yves ground round to the sauce for Billy. It was delicious! I had mine with a side of lemon garlic kale. Billy did not...more for me and the baby!

 Chocolate Candy Cane Ice Cream- A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise

 The flavour of this ice cream (recipe here) was great. I loved the little chunks of candy cane. The texture was not my favourite. I think it was my error and not the recipe's because I've made similar recipe's before without the problem. It was just too soft, and even after days in the freezer it was melting within seconds of being served. However, it was still a nice holiday flavoured treat!

Split Pea Soup-The Vegan Table

I liked this soup. Very comforting. Nothing spectacular in terms of split pea soup but delicious and filling. I liked that there is no sauteeing of the veggies first. You just throw all the ingredients in the pot and simmer, which makes it a great soup to make in the slow cooker as well. I'll be making a few batches in my slow cooker to freeze before Baby arrives.

I served the soup with homemade French bread using this recipe. The dough mixed and rose in my breadmaker and then all I had to do was roll it out, let it rise again and bake. There is nothing better than fresh baked bread!!  I'd also like to make a few of these and freeze them.

Santa's Favourite Christmas Bread- La Dolce Vegan

And for my weekend baking, I made this delicious loaf. It's like banana bread but also has walnuts, coconut, oranges and chocolate chips. It also called for dried cherries but I didn't see any at the store and didn't want to make a separate trip to Bulk Barn. This is excellent as my afternoon snack with a cup of (decaf) coffee.

I've made a meal plan for the upcoming week but with the holidays around the bend we shall see if I get around to posting!

Sunday, December 02, 2012


This time there's a good reason that I haven't posted in so long...first trimester fatigue!

Billy and I are expecting our first child in late April. We are over the moon and anxiously preparing for the arrival of little Baby Vegan. I have been cooking as much as possible but not taking pictures. Some days its all I can do to throw together something semi-healthy for me and my passenger. Now that I'm into the second trimester my energy levels are much improved, so hopefully I'll be updating with some yummy food soon.

Last night, I made a delicious veggie lasagna from Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food, and tonight I made a simple black bean soup from the same book.

I hope to feature some posts about my vegan pregnancy in the coming months, but be patient with's the holiday season after all :) I'll start by saying that my doctor knows I'm a vegan and has no issue whatsoever with it, especially when she saw my higher-than-average iron levels! So any concerned family members out there...I got this. I'm a smart cookie and would not do anything to harm this precious gift that we have been waiting for for so long.

Lots of love!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

DIY Monday: Gift basket and pillows

 I'm standing as a bridesmaid (matron?) for a dear friend this fall, and I volunteered to make a gift basket for her penny table at the stag and doe, to raise money for her wedding. I had a blast doing it! Next time you need an inexpensive, fun and thoughtful gift for a loved one, consider something like this! I got the basket and containers at Value Village and luckily had most of the supplies on hand from other DIY adventures. I thought I had a picture of the final product with ribbons and all but I guess not, so use your imagination!

Coconut Milk Shampoo
Bath Salts
Chocolate Hand Scrub
Mint Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse
Bath Soak
Bath Fizzies (Not in this picture)

Bath Fizzies

The bath fizzies can be found here. I had everything needed to make the fizzies but did buy a silicone "brownie bite" pan to make these so they would pop out easily without breaking. Plus, now I can make brownie bites ;). The pink ones are grapefruit scented and the green ones are mint.

Chocolate Hand Scrub
I've made this scrub for friends and family in the past and it is always a huge hit so it was a shoe-in for the basket. The recipe is here. I love how simple and yet effective it is.

Bath Soak
This is just a mix of safflower oil and coconut oil, to be poured into bath water for extra moisturizing.

 Reviving Bath Salts
 I loved the container for these with the cute little spoon. It was actually kind of hard to give away! This is very simple to make and I chose mint essential oil as the scent...The recipe is here.

 Homemade Coconut Milk Shampoo
Coconut milk, castile soap, vitamin E oil and essential oil...that easy! If I ever want a break from my baking soda/apple cider vinegar hair routine, I will definitely try this! Check it out here.

 Mint Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse
 Apple cider vinegar makes for a great hair rinse in lieu of conditioner...I love it! This mint variation is lovely and a great way to use up a bunch of fresh mint. Check it out!


 In other DIY happenings...I made pillow covers :) All I have is a portable sewing machine and it was still pretty easy. I used the tutorial here. (This is why I deny being any type of Martha Stewart, I copy everyone else lol). I got throw pillows at Value Village for 3.99 each since Michael's wanted 18$ for a pillow fill (yikes!).

 Icky pre-DIY pillow

Post-DIY Pretty Gray Pillow :)

Savings put me in a kissy mood!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dear Zeppelin,

I have to admit, when you first came into my life I was a little disappointed. When I signed up to be a foster parent for the cat shelter I had visions of getting a new kitten every few weeks to cuddle with until it got a new home. Instead they gave us you, an adult feral tabby that had been to a "cat whisperer" to adapt to your new life and wouldn't move, paralyzed with fear, for the first few days. I quickly learned the error of my ways.

Even full of fear and distrustful, you couldn't say no to a good head scratching. If we ventured beyond your head however, we quickly got a slap telling us "Don't touch!". But within a few weeks you became the lovable, love-absorbing cat we know you as. Your purring earned you your name and always told me I was scratching just right...

A terrible accident took you from us far too soon but you will be with us forever and I am sorry.

Thank you for being a companion to Logan and for teaching Dill that cats are really the alpha dogs of the pack.

Rest in peace my grey-eyed handsome boy,


Tuesday, July 17, 2012


 Billy and I wanted to go to Toronto this year for our wedding anniversary. Basically, I asked Billy to find something fun for us to do. He did, but said that we would have to go in July rather than August because there was something there for a limited time, but it was a surprise. So we planned a three night stay with a bunch of activities and this one "surprise" activity. I ate tons of vegan food, we went to the AGO to see the Picasso exhibit, we saw a Jays game, we perused the St. Lawrence market, we hung out and shopped with my sister who lives in Toronto AND.....

Billy brought me to see the broadway musical of my favourite movie of all time! Billy managed to keep it a secret until we were literally walking into the show and I saw the giant rose on stage. It was so sweet! We saw the Lion King last year and that was amazing, but I have to say that Beauty and the Beast is my new favourite. I laughed, I cried, and I even enjoyed the things that they added and changed from the movie. It was wildly entertaining. 

Chocolate Chip Muffins- Vegan Brunch
The recipe is for coffee chip muffins, but I just left out the coffee. These were our road trip snacks along with fresh fruit and crackers.

We stayed at a boutique hotel that we booked through hotwire. Wellesley Manor was beautiful and in the perfect location in downtown Toronto, we will be staying there again. 

 After we saw the Picasso exhibit, we still wanted to look at the general collection of art. But first, lunch! We walk around in Chinatown til we found a lovely thai restaurant with a vegetarian section. I forget the exact name but there are countless restaurants like this in TO. I had a rice noodle and steamed veggie dish that was very tasty.

 Dinner before the show was at Fressen (we also ate at Urban Herbivore at the Eaton Centre....yum!). Fressen is entirely vegan, and it is so nice to not have to worry about ingredients when you're out for dinner. Another bonus? I got to taste Billy's meal too :)

Our appetizer was the fried plantain cakes. These were good, a bit spicy. Our first time having plantain.

 Billy got the black bean seitan sausage with veggies.

And I got the battered tempeh with veggies. The veggies and the broth sauce they came in were fabulous. The tempeh was nice and crunchy but plain. I would've liked a tartar or creamy based sauce to dip it in. 

All in all, it was a fabulous trip.  Almost all of our traveling is usually done to visit our families, so it was so nice to take some time for ourselves. I did not want for food. Sunday,we had breakfast at Fresh with my sister. I got the pancake platter: two pancakes, scrambled tofu with cheese and sausage patties. God, it was filling! We had also wanted to go to Poutini's, a poutine restaurant that serves a vegan poutine, but there was a downpour and construction that kept us from getting there. Next time!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Magical Mint

Loving, loving, loving summer! With the heat, comes the diminished desire to cook things in the oven so I've been having cold things like smoothies and taco salad, but there has been some cooking going on. I went to see Magic Mike this weekend with the girls, and we decided to get together before hand on my deck for some drinks and snacks...

My signature drink for the evening was the mojito! We have tons of mint growing in our yard (hint: if you want to grow mint, grow it in planters, or it will infest your yard!), so this was a great way to use it up. First, I made mint-infused simple syrup.

Mint-Infused Simple Syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
handful of mint leaves

Stir the water and sugar together in a pot and bring to a boil. Stir for about a minute, til sugar dissolves, then remove from heat. Add in the mint leaves and allow to sit for an hour. The mint adds a nice little touch to the syrup. I prefer making cold drinks (mojitos, lemonade) with simple syrup rather than granular sugar because then you don't have crunchy bits of sugar in your drink.

And to keep the calories low, I also made a sugar free mint simple syrup using sucralose instead. Its not as good, it doesn't thicken as much as the regular syrup, but once you're one or two mojitos in, you don't really notice ;) Can't wait to make this for my sister in law!

Then it was time to assemble the mojitos (sorry no pictures of this fabulous drink!)

In a glass, pour 1 oz. of simple syrup and add a small handful of mint leaves. Muddle together (mush the leaves). Add crushed ice, 1.5 oz of rum, the juice of half a lime and top with club soda. Garnish with a straw, a lime wedge and some mint leaves.

These were so yummy and refreshing on a hot evening....and definitely made Magic Mike seem better than it really was (what were all those scenes with people talking???? :P)

Now, I'm a good hostess. I don't booze up my guests without providing something to snack on too! I served fruit, veggies and hummus and I also roasted three heads of garlic to spread onto toasted baguette rounds. Mmmmm. 

 I also made up a little goody bag for my friends. Since I've got so much mint, I made a bouquet of it for each girl, along with a handwritten booklet of some great uses for mint. They included tea/iced tea, air freshener, pore reducer, foot scrub and a link to some recipes. As I make these things myself I will blog about them!

Rosemary Lentils over Polenta- Supermarket Vegan
This is a very tasty dish...and it made me like polenta. Billy liked it too. It's a very visually appealing meal and feels fancy when you're eating it.

Look what I found at Value Village! An old popcorn popper! I've bought some from WalMart before but they always break :( They just don't make things the way they used to. This thing looks like it was made in the 80's and it still works great. I'm a popcorn fiend, as in: I have it as my evening snack almost daily. I was popping kernels in brown bags in the microwave, but a popper is less wasteful and makes delicious popcorn without the use of oil. I paid 4$ for it. 

More cold food, since its 29 degrees today...leftover grilled veggies with guacamole on a whole wheat tortilla. Yum!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Summer Time!

School's out and that means I now have a lot of time on my hands! So hopefully, my blog posts can be a little more regular. I'm aiming for once a week.

Cinnamon Oat Pancakes
I decided to make breakfast for dinner one night when we were running low on food. I made these about 3-4 inches big and froze the leftovers. They were great to just pop in the toaster for a quick breakfast or snack. The recipe is here.

 Pan Seared Tofu Scallops with Basil Cream Sauce over Linguine- Veganize This!
The recipes in this book are such a mouthful! This was a really nice meal. I absolutely loved the way the tofu was prepared (marinaded in a seafood broth, then pan seared in Earth Balance Butter til crispy). I will be using it again. It felt really fancy :)

 Tempeh Sausage Breakfast Squares- Vegan Brunch
I wanted to make a warm breakfast item and use up the puff pastry in my freezer, so this recipe was perfect. I used the maple tempeh bacon strips, and its sauteed with red peppers and seasonings and then baked on puff pastry squares. Delicious! You can find the recipe here.
 Tomato, Basil and Arugula Bruschetta- The Vegan Table

Billy likes to have a BBQ night every once in a while, and who am I to complain if it means less work for me?!? So we had barbecued meatless chicken (grilled to perfection) with bruschetta and fiddleheads. The bruschetta is fabulous. It's a great way to sneak some greens in.  And it held up pretty well as leftovers.

Lemon Pepper Tofu- Vegan Brunch
These tofu slices are really simple to make. I sliced mine thinner than the recipe calls for, just as a personal preference. They are rubbed with oil and lemon pepper and then baked. I had mine on toasted tomato sandwiches.

DIY- Father's Day
I guess I should have posted this yesterday on my DIY post. For our dads this year, I made homemade rubs for barbecuing. I know that the end result is not vegan, but my part of it is! :P I made greek rub, brown sugar rub, and all purpose spice rub. A quick google search will give you tons of recipes if you're interested. I'd love to try the greek rub on some President's Choice Meatless Chicken. I got the magnetic spice containers at Bulk Barn.

 Strawberry Shortcake- Skinny Bitch UEC
This consists of a sweet biscuit layered with sweetened strawberries and Rice Whip. I liked it, Billy loved it (I think I got 2 of the 9 or so). I wouldn't say it's super desserty as the biscuit kind of comes out like a pancake, but its a nice light end to a meal.
 Santa Claus Melon
When I saw the name of this melon at the store yesterday, I had to buy it! You prepare it the same way you would honeydew or cantaloupe. And its very similar to those melons. It's mellow and very sweet and juicy. Very refreshing on a hot day! (It beats the freezies I used to have instead, which I have since banned from the house lol)

Tempeh No-Meat Loaf- Skinny Bitch UEC
I followed the variation in the cookbook, to cook them in muffin tins for individual portions. Like most vegan meatloafs I've made, it doesn't really hold up and ends up crumbling, but it was still very tasty, especially served with ketchup.

I am off to the library to stock up on some summer reads! :D