Yes, I’ve fallen into the “pumpkin everything” trap. I told myself I wouldn’t succumb to those sneaky marketing ploys from the big chains and ignore the fact that it’s already September, and we’re supposed to be falling in line (no pun intended) with the fall-themed script: pumpkin, pumpkin and more pumpkin. I wasn’t going to do it. Wasn’t ready. Wasn’t feeling the pumpkin everything vibe.
But then, you know, this funny thing called pregnancy got the best of me. I saw a recipe for a pumpkin smoothie somewhere and suddenly my mind could not stop thinking about making one. Maybe all the stealthy marketing campaigns got to me. But suddenly, my mind was all pumpkin, and there was no stopping me until I had my fix.
But still another thing happened this week to lead to the creation of this smoothie — another thing that I can definitively blame on my pregnancy. I got my results back for my 1-hour glucose screening test — something I thought I would pass with flying colors, given my pre-pregnancy history of actually having low glucose levels on all my blood tests — and the results were not as I planned. My glucose levels were high. Now, I realize that a lot of women actually have this happen and they do end up passing their 3-hour test when all is said and done, without a diagnosis of gestational diabetes (I take my follow-up test next week, just to be sure). But the initial realization that my glucose was fairly high, along with even the possibility of having gestational diabetes looming in my mind, had me really re-thinking my diet and trying to re-imagine a diet plan if a gestational diabetes diagnosis were in my future.
So, naturally, I Googled “vegan gestational diabetes diet” to see what I could come up with. While there was sadly little there (as far as Google searches go, I mean), I did find some great blog posts from pregnant vegans who had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes (those posts can be found here and here). And what I came to realize is that the key to controlling blood sugars during a gestational diabetes pregnancy is not necessarily eliminating all carbs/sugars, but carefully building these components into a meal balanced with plenty of other things, such as fats and proteins, to stabilize blood sugars and prevent a huge spike.
In fact, both bloggers I linked to above posted their meal plans, which included morning smoothies that still, miraculously, contained fruit. It was just that there were more limited amounts of fruit, and the smoothies centered more around protein than anything else.
* Now, here’s my standard disclaimer. I am neither a doctor, nutritionist, nor a dietician. I am not claiming that this smoothie is safe for women with gestational diabetes, or people with diabetes in general. I created this smoothie as I was inspired to tweak my own dietary habits while I await more testing, and to play around with combining small portions of fruit/carbs with more protein in general. It may or may not be the perfect “GD” morning breakfast, but it’s what I’m enjoying now.
Anyways, the idea of tweaking my pregnancy diet led me to look more closely in general at what, and how much, I was eating. Whether or not my second glucose test comes back normal, I do plan to continue to track my calories and macro nutrients more closely, as I feel better throughout the day and feel I am managing my weight gain a bit better by paying closer attention to the nutritional and caloric breakdown of what I’m putting in my body. For that reason, I’ve included the calories and macro nutrient breakdown in this smoothie for those who are interested. It’s also worth noting that the addition of cocoa powder (depending on the brand) adds about 15-20% of your daily iron, which is great during pregnancy (I’m always trying to look for foods to up my iron intake).
And in other pregnancy news, I am actually feeling pretty good! I am feeling even better now that I’ve semi (see disclaimer above) adopted a gestational diabetes diet (for trial purposes, not because I was told to) and am eating more protein and fats, fewer carbs, and eating more often (but smaller portions) throughout the day. For a few weeks prior to this, I’d been really, really, run down after eating lunch, and feeling extremely tired in the afternoons. Not that I still don’t get fatigued from time to time (especially when I’ve had a busy day), but I really just feel I have a lot more energy in general with smaller meals throughout the day.
My bump is also rounding out a bit. For awhile it was looking really pointy — and it still looks like baby girl is sort of reclining back and sticking her legs out straight — but it’s definitely more round than it was a few weeks ago. At the 28 week mark, I finally hit the point where strangers began asking me my due date, so I think it’s probably fairly obvious that I’m pregnant now. And baby girl is now kicking a lot harder and more often, which I’m still loving (I have a long torso, so I’ve thus far avoided the dreaded rib kicks).
As far as workouts go, I am trying to get in at least 60 minutes of moderate exercise a day. Lots of that is walking, but I also continue to do Zumba (I modify if I feel the class is too strenuous), Zumba toning, prenatal pilates, and prenatal yoga. One of my favorite prenatal yoga sequences is actually one I found on youtube — check it out here. I try to do that one a few days a week to keep myself stretched and limber. I also have been really enjoying the 10 Minute Solution Prenatal Pilates. I do the entire sequence, but skip or modify a lot of the core work that seems too strenuous on my abs. I’ve heard conflicting info about core work during pregnancy, so I tend to err on the side of caution.
And that’s about it for now! Hope you enjoy this delicious fall pumpkin smoothie.
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1 medium frozen banana
- ½ cup canned pure pumpkin puree
- ¼ cup unsweetened, pure hemp protein powder* (See note on why I recommend Manitoba Harvest)
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 packet stevia (I used Sweetleaf stevia)** (See note on stevia brands)
- Pinch cinnamon
- 1-2 dashes nutmeg
- Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. For an icier smoothie, add a small handful ice cubes if desired.
- To serve, top with unsweetened shredded coconut or hemp hearts, if desired (not included in nutritional info).
This smoothie also contains 54 grams carbohydrates and 16.3 grams protein
To increase protein in this smoothie, sub unsweetened soy milk for almond milk. 1 cup unsweetened soy milk contains 7 grams protein, as opposed to only 1 gram for almond milk. This would increase the total protein in this smoothie to 22.3 grams (but would also slightly increase the calories, fat and carbs).
If using an unsweetened milk that is not vanilla flavored, consider adding just a very small drop or two of vanilla extract (be careful not to add too much, which can overpower the smoothie).
*Also note that your protein content may change depending on the hemp protein brand you use. I linked to the brand I used above, which I think actually has a lower protein content than other brands, but seems to blend better in smoothies and has less of an overpowering hemp taste. I recommend this brand for pure taste purposes.
** Like the hemp protein powder, taste may change depending on the stevia brand you use. I really like Sweetleaf stevia, but if you use a different brand, please add slowly and adjust sweetness according to taste.