Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Vegan Protein-Packed Ideas for Pregnancy and Lactation

Greetings Friend,

I am writing this in response to a request that I compile a list of high-protein VEGAN foods for pregnant and/or lactating women. Some of these also happen to be great foods for kids and also active people.

I must write as a disclosure that I have never been even slightly concerned about my protein intake as a vegan or vegetarian. Although I am not strictly vegan anymore, pretty much the only reason I will diverge into the world of dairy or the occasional egg during pregnancy and lactation has been sheer laziness (make my own cashew cheese while nauseous or exhausted... not right now, thanks!).

In case you weren't aware, protein is in literally all real food. The body makes its own protein from amino acids. One need not eat a "complete" protein at any given meal to ensure one is getting protein in their diet. Imagine protein like a necklace made of 20 beads, where each amino acid is a bead. Each time we consume an amino acid it is "strung" on the necklace. Once the necklace is complete (all amino acids have been "strung"), a protein is made. Our bodies are super smart. So it's a little more interesting to look at protein in terms of an entire meal plan, than food by food. BUT, for this blog, I'm going to give the simple version.

Then I'll do a meal plan so you can see what that looks like as part of a daily diet.

{Aside: I am G6PD deficient, so I cannot consume any legumes. No beans. No soy. No peanuts. So all of the foods I will mention are completely legume-free.}


Snacks and Add-ins:
  1. Pumpkin seeds: 7g per 1/4 cup
  2. Chia Seeds: 26.5g per cup
  3. Hemp Seeds: 20g per 3 tablespoons
  4. Spirulina: 6g per tablespoon
  5. Goji Berries: 2.4g per 3 tablespoons
  6. Brazil Nuts: 2g for 3 nuts
  7. Bee Pollen: 1.2g per teaspoon
  8. Cacao Powder: 1.2g per tablespoon
These are a snack treat I made by mixing cashew butter
with coconut butter and honey. The brown ones have
cacao powder in them. Cooling them in the fridge makes
turn solid.
So if you were to eat 1 Tbsp of spirulina in some water or juice, a cup of chia seeds as a pudding, a trail mix (1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, 3 Tbsp hemp seeds, 3 Tbsp goji berries, and 3 tsp of bee pollen and 3 brazil nuts), and one of the coconut cups pictured here... You'd be getting 57g of protein from just a few snacks!

All of these foods happen to pack a bunch of other health-benefits too. For example, it has been shown that just 3 brazil nuts a day can improve thyroid health AND just 1 brazil nut a day covers more than 100% of your selenium requirements. And selenium can be hard to just "stumble upon" in vegan foods.  The other thing I love about both brazil nuts and hemp seeds is that they contain no enzyme inhibitors (macadamia nuts don't either!), which means you don't have to bother soaking them for optimal nutrition.

And now for the stuff of meals...

Vegetables and Greens:
  1. Sunflower Spouts: 6g per 1/4 cup
  2. Dried Dulse Seaweed: 6g per ounce
  3. Russet Potatoes: 18.1g in 5 small potatoes (baked)
  4. Broccoli: 7.4g per 2 cups chopped
  5. Spinach: 4.5g per 1 cup (cooked)
  6. Brussel Spouts: 4g per cup
  7. Avocado: 2.7g each
  8. Kale: 2.1g per cup (fresh)
  9. Spring Mix Greens: 1g per cup
Grains and Pseudo-Grains:
  1. Buckwheat Groats: 19.2 per cup
  2. Quinoa: 8.1g per cup
  3. Millet: 6.1g per cup 
  4. Brown Rice: 4.5g per cup


Green Smoothie: 
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 3/4 cup frozen strawberries
  • 3/4 cup frozen mango
  • 3/4 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup fresh kale
  • 1 Tbsp spirulina
  • 1/2 Tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tsp bee pollen
  • 1 Tbsp flax oil
  • a little water to blend
  • 14.3g protein


Fresh Fruit:
  • One mango cut into pieces
  • = 2.8g protein
Trail Mix:
  • 2 Tbsp goji berries
  • 2 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • 3 brazil nuts
  • 2 Tbsp raisins
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • = 14.9g protein
Flax "Cookie" (a fun way to get your DHA supplement):
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp chia
  • 1 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • Blakstrap molasses (to taste) 
  • = 6g protein
Mix all ingredients together, put into a mold or plop on wax paper, freeze and eat... I make these in batches of 12 to have on hand. 


  • 3 cups spring greens
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 cup black olives
  • 1/4 cup dulse seaweed
  • 1 medium avocado, chopped
  • 2 small radishes, chopped
  • = 14g protein (that's without dressing!)
I usually go for olive oil/flax oil, lemon and sea salt. But you could do a tahini dressing for extra protein as well.

Oven "fries":
  • 5 small red potatoes, cut into chunks 
  • coconut oil
  • sea salt
  • nutritional yeast
  • garlic powder
  • = 15.9 protein
Toss together and bake at 400F for 50 minutes in an oven-safe pan. 


Ants on a log:
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 Tbsp cashew butter
  • 1 Tbsp raisins
  • = 4.6g protein


Steamed Veggies with Tahini Sauce on Quinoa
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • Steams: 1 cup chopped carrot, 1 chopped onion, 2 cups broccoli, 1 chopped zucchini, 2 cups spinach, 1 cup kale (add to steamer gradulally in that order, because carrots take the longest and spinash takes the shortest time to cook) 
  • Tahini Sauce: Mix 2 Tbsp raw tahini in "magic bullet" type mini blender with juice of 1 lemon, sea salt to taste, any spices you enjoy and enough water to mix. Drizzle over your creation.
  • = 28.1g protein
Mango Mousse:
  • 1 ripe and sweet mango
  • 1 avocado
  • = 5.5g
Blend in a "magic bullet" type mini blender with a little water until completely smooth and creamy.

Daily Total: 101.3

Pretty good for a vegan, right? ;-)

According to my cron-o-meter database, the only thing this meal plan is lacking is vitamin D. So go out and sunbathe or take a supplement. As you wish.

Peace, love, and happy eating!


Monday, August 15, 2016

Must... Write... SOMETHING!

I am writing this blog entry to motivate myself to start writing again.

Every time I start to write about a topic that interests me I either get way too involved and it starts to bore me, or I get bored of the topic from the get-to.

OK. Here it is.


I wrote it.

I'll write more.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Freebirth and a Second Chance

Sat Nam,

The story of the birth of our second son, Prem-Beant, on March 5th 2016, is more than a birth story for me. It is a story about my second chance.

A second chance at something I believe is a primal desire and, dare I say, need, of every birthing woman on this planet: the chance to fully experience the miracle of what her body can so perfectly do.

If you read our first son, Amrit-Anter's, birth story—published here—you'll know that it was a very traumatic experience for both of us. Missing components of a successful birth (in my estimation) included: my care provider's lack of trust in my body, guidelines set in place by the rules and regulations of the state that I was not able to meet, an unnecessary ambulance call, and finally, my decision to give up my power and my birth and give into the fear (which really was: False Evidence Appearing (very) Real at the time). 


When I learned I was pregnant with Prem-Beant Singh in June of last year, I knew I wanted the experience of his birth to be different. But how?

After interviewing one homebirth midwife, and visiting a birthing center in town as well as the local midwife-run unit of our closest hospital, my husband and I decided we had some thinking to do. There were pros and cons of every option, so we took some time to weigh everything.

On the full moon in July, I was laying in bed unable to sleep.

A thought perked me out of bed: "I don't like any of those options. What if I just delivered the baby myself?" Followed by the logical voice in my head: "Do people do that?"

In truth, I knew of only two other couples who had chosen unassisted childbirth but I had never met them.

Unable to sleep, I began some late-night internet research and came across a website called Indie Birth.

So it seemed people did indeed "freebirth" or have "UCs" (Unassisted Childbirth). Knowing that it was a reasonable option was enough for me to tell my husband that next morning about my choice: I wanted to birth my baby in the privacy of our own home with only him (and possibly our son, but that didn't work out) as a witness. That's how I would feel most secure, and most secure (as I learned even more about in the months to come) was the safest and smartest choice for my birth or anyone's.


If you really want to know more about the reasons behind the "rightness" of this decision for me, that's a topic for another blog. I wanted to tell my birth story here, but I am offering a little backstory for fun.

If you are really curious why freebirth is a reasonable birthing option, I highly recommend the books Unassisted Childbirth by Laura Shanley, Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Dr. Sarah Buckley, Primal Mothering by Hygeia Halfmoon, every podcast by Maryn Green on "Taking Back Birth", the "How to Have an Indie Birth" online course, and the Midwife Thinking blog.

These references will explain why the system of birth that bases itself on the Western medical model (and I include many homebirth practices in this paradigm) creates most of the problems that it claims to "save" us from.

Anyhoo... the story...


On Sunday, February 28th of a leap year, I went into very gentle labor at about 10pm. The rhythmic contractions lasted for about four hours and I was doing fine... sort of.

That night also happened to be the night I caught my husband's flu. I was laboring through a developing cough, a terrible headache, and an increasingly awful body ache (unrelated to the contractions—believe it or not!).

I was so relieved when labor stopped. I mean, it would have been cool to have a leap year baby, but not so cool that I wanted a flu-stricken man as my entire birth team! I was being challenged and it was a little scary.

So yeah, we were both relieved when we realized we could sleep. We assumed the contractions would begin again the next day, but thank God they didn't. I mean, I got contractions every day until the actual day, but each time they petered out... presumably my highly intelligent body's realization that I didn't have what it was going to take yet.

By Wednesday my son had a fever. So all three of us were sick, snotty and coughing. And I'm going on 41 weeks pregnant. Was this seriously happening?


Yes it was.

I didn't think much of my son being sick because he is usually so resilient, but that fever did not go away.

On Saturday morning March 5th, when I woke up with REAL DEAL contractions, he was still very hot. Knowing this was probably it—and oh so tired from a night of sleeplessly soothing him—we called my sister-in-law to take him for the day (or so we thought). She ended up taking him to urgent care, only to find out that he had influenza b and that he was contagious until his fever dropped.

Bye Amrit-Anter!

Our little angel was with his aunt that day... and three days later too!


So here I am on Saturday morning: still plenty sick (but not as much), exhausted from a nearly sleepless night next to a feverish 3-year old, and in labor.

This was not how I pictured my awesome unassisted birth story...

(Don't worry though. It gets better.)

My husband had the good sense to text our friend who is a Reiki practitioner. He happened to be in the area and so he came over and gave me a mini treatment. This really changed my mind frame and, I believe, was important for how the day progressed. It was the mental-reboot I needed to get focused on the task at hand... BIRTHING.

After my super sick son left with his aunt, I decided the house was far too messy to birth in. My dream for this birth had included the good fortune of having just cleaned my house the day before I went into labor. No such luck. We had all been sick after all. Nothing had gotten done.

Enter my angelic friend who agreed to come over and vacuum the whole house. And my husband followed her around with the mop. And did like a dozen loads of laundry to un-yuck our house from the flu.

Once that was complete, my husband began the task of setting up the birth tub. I've heard it is almost cliche that something goes wrong with the tub, which is funny because it was pretty much the only thing that did not go wrong with my first birth.

Anyway, yup, we ran out of hot water. While we waited for the hot water heater to produce more, I went to take a bath in our small bathtub and found a nice rhythm pouring water over my belly with a plastic pitcher, chanting "Sat Narayan" with each contraction (Mata Mandir Singh's version, if you must know). It was kind of lovely.

Then we decided to try the tub temperature again. I settled for this lukewarm experience because it gave me more room to move. The contractions were getting more intense and so I did hands and knees position while my husband counter-squeezed my thighs with his legs. This was how I spent most of my first son's birth, but my husband was grateful I didn't love it as much the second time around... it kills his knees.

In fact, I moved around a lot and changed positions really frequently.

When I was getting up from the small tub to get to the big tub I noticed that it really helped to lean on the shower curtain and let the contraction move everything in a downward motion while I pulled down with my arms. In fact, I remember being very conscious of the fact that if I didn't fight the downward pull of my muscles (particularly when standing), I was able to get through the intensity a lot more easily.

So when I got tired of the hands and knees in the big tub, my husband set up his pull-up bar in one of our doorways. He set up a contraption (as only he could!) with some linen I had left-over from making my own baby sling. It wrapped through the pull-up bar so I could pull on it like a rope when I was going through a contraction, and then he tied it in the middle so I could lean my torso forward on it and "rest" a bit between the intense times.

It was pretty ingenious.

From there my husband took cues like "water", "spray me" (with the spray bottle when I got too hot), or "juice" and every time he talked I told him to "be quiet."

I was in charge of making the loudest groaning and moaning noises I've ever heard come from my being.

And who was there to judge? No one. No one was there. (I count my husband as no one in this instance, which is the measure of how comfortable I felt having him there... a good thing!).

I felt so uninhibited!

So that's where I spent the rest of my birthing time—very personally involved with a piece of turquoise linen. That is, up until what most people would call "transition"—the moment I became my own life coach.

At that moment was when I started thinking things like "I don't know if I can do this" and then affirming to myself quietly: "I can do this." 

But I didn't really believe my thoughts.

It was kind of odd. Usually women will report they want to give up in transition. And I remember that feeling well from my first birth. But I was highly aware this time that there was no womanly presence to reassure me if I gave up. I intuitively knew this and from a non-logical part of my brain, I took over as my own coach. I can't really explain how I knew to do this... I just did.

By the time I got back in the tub it was obvious that baby was coming... sort of.

Me: "I don't think this baby is coming."
Me: "No, this baby has to come. All babies come."

I couldn't help but want to "check" myself to see how close the baby's head was at this point. So I stuck my hand up towards the baby and could feel something squishy, which seemed odd at the time, but I realized later was the baby's amniotic sac.

Baby was coming.

I wanted to be on the toilet.

No I didn't.

I wanted to be on the floor by the toilet squatting.


I settled on a half squat, half kneel position where I felt again for baby: there was a little piece of amniotic sac bulging out of me!

The second I felt that sac, I tore it. (Don't ask me why! To speed things up? Impatience?)

I waited for one more contraction and beared down strongly. The baby just flew out of me into my hands before he hit Amrit'Anter's bathroom floor (covered by a pad). I held the slippery bloody beautiful creature to my chest, feeling his umbilical cord still inside me, connecting us.

No clue if he was born face up or face down. My husband was there watching, but it was dark.

We do know it was 8:01pm.

I couldn't believe it.

"I did it!" I exclaimed, nearly in tears.

"We did it! I really did it!"

I really can't express the sense of VICTORY that I had in that moment. A primal sensation of knowing my body worked and I was a woman and I could do anything. Something I had robbed myself of with my first birth.

Something I had known I had to reclaim.

It was the most successful moment of my life.

I have no idea how long I was half-squatting there in disbelief and glory before I realized we hadn't checked the baby's sex. What was it?

I could hardly believe it when I saw a little scrotum down there. My entire pregnancy I was convinced we were having a girl. My husband and I both laughed joyously. A boy!


Amrit-Anter meets Prem-Beant for the first time!
The most amazing part of this experience that took so long to prepare for (10 months) and so much inner-guidance to follow through with, is that it was a totally simple and normal experience.

There was no point in this process where it would have felt right to have been supervised or inspected.

It was just natural and normal...

On the other hand, it was HEALING and gave me a sense of COMPLETION that I really craved.

Now, only a little over a week after the birth, I am not afraid of birth. I could do it again. I would love to do it again actually.

My mood is high. My baby is happy and sleeping well. My family is adjusting to the new addition.

There are times when it is crucial that we follow our inner-guidance about what is right, no matter what "norm" has been established and what is considered OK by our society. Some things are too important and you just have to step on some toes.

I am so relieved and happy that I followed my gut on this one.

Much love,

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Prenatal Yogic Prescriptions

I am nearing the final moments of my second pregnancy.

I have felt at different times that this baby has been urging me to focus on different aspects of myself in preparation for her/his arrival... and I've been listening.

So besides an emphasis on good nutrition, I've been delving into a lot of meditation.

I thought I'd share what I have been doing in hopes that it may inspire other mammas-to-be to get on that meditation pillow and shed the excess weight of existence... whilst putting on the physical pounds. ;-) (Sorry, I had to).  Also, I want to remember what I did... So here it is:


I had the honor of leading a 40 Day Global Sadhana in the first trimester of my pregnancy. I find that the first few months of pregnancy are the hardest for me, even though I had no nausea this time—just horrible food aversions and repulsion to certain smells.

It was really beneficial for me to just get over my pregnancy woes and lead a few thousand people in a meditation practice. (I did not disclose that I was pregnant until a few weeks later.)

Here is what we did: Meditation to Increase Your Energy

The title and purpose of the meditation could not have been more à propos considering how tired I was during that time.

I did about 20 days of this practice before the Global Sadhana began, took a break for Summer Solstice Sadhana Celebration (in June) in New Mexico, and then did the 40 days with everyone. 

It was really amazing how the group energy carried me through this. It truly helped lift my energy, even though I had to basically make myself do it! 

Besides this meditation, I didn't do much else in the realm of yoga during this time given how tired and hot (Phoenix summer!) I was.  

:: NEXT UP :: 

At the end of the fourth month, I began doing more yoga. I was waking up early much of the time to do my sadhana in the wee hours of the morning, which felt great. I did a lot of stretching and some challenging kriyas.

I used Gurmukh's Bountiful Blissful Beautiful prenatal yoga book to select meditations that felt appropriate for that day, without committing to any. But then I decided to revisit and old favorite. It has a few different names, depending on the application. In the prenatal book she calls it "Healing Emotional Wounds from the Past." I LOVE THIS MEDITATION! I did this one for 40 days.

Here it is explained by Gurmukh herself:

During this time we had a 120th Day Celebration. I might do a whole blog on that tradition so I won't say too much here. Basically though, it was a day where I did NOTHING and we had a big party where we chanted and ate cake (because it was also my birthday!). 


After completing 40 days of the healing 9-minute meditation explained above, I began Kirtan Kriya, which I hadn't ever done as an extended practice before. I did this one for 11 minutes daily, sometimes doing the 31 minute version when time permitted. I passed day 90 and hope to make it to day 120 before the baby comes... but we shall see. 
I've been using Nirinjan Kaur's beautiful musical version available here

At some point during this time I decided to double-up on meditations and incorporate one called "Releasing Emotions of the Past" from the Kundalini Yoga woman's manual I Am a Woman. This one is a pranayam. Very simple. Very affective. I am a little over 50 days into that one.

During this time I have also been doing some stretching and a few yoga classes here and there. I feel really great in my body.

So that's about it... I forgot to mention that I recite Japji and Kirtan Sohila daily, but I've been doing that since before I was pregnant. Blessed to know them by heart, or I would probably not get around to them with running after my 3-year old.