TTC as a Vegetarian

There are a lot of misconceptions about eating vegetarian and trying to conceive. Some say you won’t get enough protein, or you’ll be lacking in the nutrients necessary for your body (and reproductive system) to function at its best. Of course, that’s entirely possible if you’re not eating well. But when you’re trying to conceive, one of the first things most people look at is their lifestyle, including their diet and exercise. Ensuring proper nutrition is key, no matter what your preferred diet.

We’ve rounded up 5 delicious vegetarian recipes that have plenty of vitamins like B6, selenium, and folate, to name a few, so you’ll be getting all you need and more while still eating food that tastes amazing. At the end, we share one of our all-time favorite yoga poses, known for its ability to help women on their fertility journey.

5 Fertility-Friendly Vegetarian Meal Ideas

For Breakfast, Try:

Brazil Nut Bread with Honey Butter
from
Clean Eating Magazine

Why we love this recipe:

Free radicals are no good when you’re trying to conceive. They can cause chromosomal damages which can, in turn, cause birth defects or miscarriage. Thankfully, consuming antioxidant-rich foods can help combat this concern. One powerful antioxidant: selenium. Not only does it help fight free radicals but it’s also necessary for healthy sperm production. Here’s a breakdown of two key ingredients in this recipe:

Brazil nuts — one (yes, one) Brazil nut contains almost all of the recommended daily allowance for selenium.

Eggs — great source of Vitamin D, which helps the body to create and balance the hormones that affect ovulation

Try it!

Ingredients for bread

  • Organic unsalted butter, for greasing
  • 6 tbsp white whole-wheat flour + additional for dusting
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon and baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt or sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup finely chopped pitted Medjool dates
  • 1 cup raw unsalted Brazil nuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp whole milk

Ingredients for honey Butter

  • 1/2 stick organic unsalted butter (1/4 cup), softened
  • 2 tbsp raw honey

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Butter a 9-inch cake pan or pie plate, then dust with flour (tap out excess). Or butter then line bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, zest, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add eggs, dates, nuts and milk and mix well. (TIP: It’ll be thick and chunky, so you’ll need to use some elbow grease.) Pour into pan, leveling off with the back of a spoon. Place pan on a baking sheet and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until top is light to golden brown and center springs back when pressed.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare butter: In a small bowl, combine butter and honey. Serve with bread. Bread can be served warm or at room temperature.
Brazil Nut Bread with Honey Butter from Clean Eating Magazine

Image credit: Clean Eating Magazine

For Lunch, Try:

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Burritos
from Oh She Glows

Why we love this recipe:

One of the biggest myths about eating a vegetarian diet is that you can’t get enough protein to stay healthy (and full). This is simply not true — there are ample sources of plant proteins available, all of which will provide plenty of protein, along with a variety of other nutrients. A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that infertility was 39% more common in women with the highest intake of animal protein; clearly, vegetarians have a leg up here. These fertility-boosting burritos are great because they contain:

Squash — this winter squash is high in multiple nutrients: calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, Vitamins C and A, and folate. Folate, especially, is essential. One study says, “although fetuses are known to concentrate folate from maternal circulation to fulfill their nutrient requirements, it has been demonstrated in several animal models that severe maternal folate deficiency in the preconception and gestational periods may hamper female fertility and embryo and fetal viability.”

Olive oil — has anti-inflammatory properties due to being rich in monounsaturated fats. This is important because inflammation can interfere with ovulation, conception, and the early development of an embryo.

Black beans — also high in folate

Try it!

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, cubed, & roasted
  • 1/2 cup uncooked short grain brown rice (yields: 1.5 cups cooked)
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • One 15-oz can black beans (about 1.5-2 cups cooked), drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup Daiya cheese
  • 4 tortilla wraps (large or x-large)
Toppings (Optional)
  • avocado
  • salsa
  • vegan sour cream
  • spinach/lettuce
  • cilantro

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F and line a large glass dish with tinfoil. Drizzle olive oil on squash and give a shake of salt and pepper. Coat with hands. Roast chopped butternut squash for 45 mins. or until tender.
  2. Cook brown rice
  3. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, add oil, onion, and minced garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Now add in salt and seasonings and stir well.
  4. Add chopped red pepper, black beans, and cooked rice and sauté for another 10 mins. on low.
  5. When butternut squash is tender remove from oven and cool slightly. Add 1.5 cups of the cooked butternut squash to the skillet and stir well. You can mash the squash with a fork if some pieces are too large. Add Daiya cheese and heat another couple minutes.
  6. Add bean filling to tortilla along with desired toppings. Wrap and serve. Leftover filling can be reheated the next day for lunch in a wrap or as a salad topper.
Image credit: Oh She Glows

Image credit: Oh She Glows

For Dinner, Try:

Savory Kale & Quinoa Macro Glow Bowl
from The Glowing Fridge

Why we love this recipe:

When you’re trying to conceive, it’s more important than ever that you’re consuming nutrient-rich foods that leave you feeling full and satisfied. While every ingredient in this macro bowl is great for you, there are some key components that add an extra baby-making oomph.

Kale — high in vitamin B6, helps to regulate blood sugar and balance hormones. In fact, one study found that couples who ate a Mediterranean diet that was high in B6 were more likely to get pregnant than those whose diets contained less vitamin B6.

Olives — high in vitamin E, a nutrient that helps boost sperm health and acts as an antioxidant in both males and females.

Quinoaa “superfood” for fertility, this whole grain is rich in B vitamins (namely B12 and B9, also known as folic acid), fiber (which helps rid the body of excess estrogen, and prevents blood sugar spikes because it takes more time to digest), and antioxidants.

Try it!

Ingredients

  • 2-3 kale leaves, de-stemmed & torn into pieces
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (or any other whole grain)
  • 1/2 cup roasted butternut squash, cubed
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, mashed or cubed
  • 2-3 green olives, halved
  • 2 tablespoons raw sauerkraut
  • hemp seeds, for topping

Tahini sauce

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup (or agave nectar)
  • 1-2 tablespoons water, if needed, for a thinner consistency

Instructions

  • Assemble your macro bowl starting with the kale and quinoa. Add in the squash, avocado, olives and kraut, with a sprinkling of hemp seeds.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the tahini sauce until smooth and creamy. Pour the sauce and mix it around until well combined.
  • Serve immediately.
  • Enjoy!
Image credit: The Glowing Fridge

Image credit: The Glowing Fridge

For a Snack, Try:

Sweet and Salty Roasted Brown Sugar Pumpkin Seeds
by Fork Knife Swoon

Why we love this recipe:

Low levels of zinc are linked to early stage miscarriage. As if that weren’t enough of a reason to up your intake, zinc is necessary to balance your estrogen and progesterone levels. If those two hormones get out of whack, your reproductive system won’t be operating at its best. For the guys, zinc can help improve sperm count, motility, and morphology. Though seafood, beef, and lamb contain the highest levels of zinc, vegetarians can get plenty from pumpkin seeds.

Try it!

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups pumpkin (or other winter squash) seeds
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Coupons
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp (packed) light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Scoop the pumpkin seeds out of the pumpkin and into a large colander. Rinse the pumpkin seeds thoroughly under cold running water. Use your hands to separate any lingering pumpkin flesh from the seeds. Shake off as much water as you can, then pat dry with paper towel.
  3. Stir together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium mixing bowl, until completely combined. Add the pumpkin seeds and toss to coat. Evenly spread the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring/flipping once or twice, until the seeds are golden and crispy.
Image credit: Fork Knife Swoon

Image credit: Fork Knife Swoon

For Dessert, Try:

Frozen Yogurt Popsicles
from Chocolate Covered Katie

Why we love this recipe:

Yogurt, especially the full-fat variety, is a great source of calcium, Vitamin D (which can help the follicles in your ovaries mature), and probiotics. All great nutrients for boosting your fertility! As mentioned in a previous post, The Nurses Health Study found that whole milk products are better than low-fat: they can increase the likelihood of ovulation. This echoes another study from 2007 that found that women who consumed a lot of low-fat dairy products were at an increased risk of infertility. Oh, and the fruit in this recipe provides an added boost of antioxidants and vitamins!

Try it!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 3 tbsp pure maple syrup, or sweetener of choice
  • fresh berries of choice
  • add-ins as desired
  • optional 1/8 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Stir together the yogurt, sweetener, and optional extract and add-ins. If using strawberries, press a few strawberry slices against the side of a popsicle mold or dixie cup. (Alternatively, you can stir fruit right into the yogurt.) Fill popsicle molds with yogurt mixture, and freeze. If using dixie cups, insert a popsicle stick or small spoon into the center after the cups have been in the freezer about 1/2 an hour, so the stick or spoon will stay upright.

Image credit: Chocolate Covered Katie

Image credit: Oh She Glows

yoga pose

A Fertility-Boosting Yoga Move

Exercise and fertility go hand-in-hand: it helps you maintain your optimal weight, relieves stress, and helps balance hormones. When you’re looking for something more low key than your usual routine, yoga is a powerful option and can boost fertility. Even if you add in just one move a week, you can reap the benefits of yoga and move one step closer to conception.

This week, try:

Seated Forward Bend

Why we love this pose:

Aside from increasing flexibility in your hips and hamstrings, the seated forward bend can help to revitalize your ovaries and uterus. In addition, this pose can help you relax and focus your mind.

Yogabasics.com provides a helpful tutorial that walks you step by step through a seated forward bend. You can check that out here.