At 17 weeks pregnant I’m trying to be more conscious of choosing foods that have more nutritional bang for your buck. Of course, not everything that goes down my gut is 100% good-for-you food (I like Burger King’s breakfast combo: bacon & egg muffin sammies with those golden hash brown coins…yummm!) but I do try and make the extra effort when it comes to home-prepped meals, particularly with breakfast.

Why Shimmy When You Can Shake?
During my second month of pregnancy I started eating tons of fruit high in Vitamin C (pineapple, oranges, strawberries, kiwi) and drinking lots of ice water, which I never really enjoyed (it had to be hot or room temp with lemon. For some reason, my stomach didn’t like plain/cold water.) Seeing how I needed more water and a lot of nutrients for the growing baby, I figured the best way would be to introduce shakes into my diet. They’re easy to prepare, you can make a big batch to last several days, and the flavors are delicious!

Natural (Ingredient) Selection
First off, I know dairy is not my friend. Milk bloats me up and makes me tired, so I use either soy or almond milk or both  (NOTE: almond milk has no protein, so consider adding a protein boost of some kind when making your breakfast shakes.)

Next, I like the versatility tofu. After doing the “How to Tofu” challenge in October, I learned quite a bit about this food, and learning that it contained plant estrogens that may help with hot flashes was what I needed to combat my night sweats. (waking up at 2 a.m. in a 55 degree bedroom drenched in sweat is no fun, because as soon as that cold air hits you–brrr!)

Of course, shakes have to be nice and thick. Lots of you may have enjoyed Overnight Oats where you soak your oatmeal in milk in the fridge overnight and eat it for breakfast the next morning. Adding a bit of oatmeal to your shake will do a nice job of thickening it up, especially if you let it sit for a day or two.

Finally, I needed some flavor. Chocolate? You bet! Orange? Of course! Berries? Fiber- and vitamin-rich, how can you go wrong? But don’t stop there, you got peanut butter, banana, peach, coconut, pineapple, vanilla, apple, passion fruit, pumpkin…just think of those delicious frozen yogurt flavors and you’ll come up with something creative and delicious!

The Results?
Thick, creamy, flavorful, and filled with lots of good stuff for you and your baby (if you got one in there!) These shakes are around 300 calories each and I try to make it so you get 10 grams of protein in per serving.

Basic Tofu Shake Mix
Incredibly easy!

1 box Mori-Nu Silken Lite Tofu
2 tablespoons light agave syrup
3 tablespoons (1/4 cup) oatmeal
12-16 oz light vanilla soy milk
4 oz coconut milk (or use more soy milk)

Directions: Add everything to a blender and mix on medium speed until combined. Use one of the flavor variations below or make your own. Refrigerate unused portion for up to 5 days.

Now this shake says, "Good morning!"

Now this shake says “Good morning!”

Orange Bang Protein Shake
Reminiscent of those whipped fruit drinks served at gas stations and Orange Julius’s everywhere!

Ingredients:
Half recipe of tofu shake mix (recipe above)
2-3 tablespoons frozen concentrated orange juice
½ scoop vanilla protein powder (I use Vitacost Soy Protein Powder, vanilla flavor)
zest from 1 orange (eat the orange after zesting, it’s good for you!)
Crushed ice
additional water to thin

Directions: Mix everything in blender on medium speed until combined, adding additional water to thin, if necessary. Pour into glass and enjoy.

Mixed Berry Shake
Fresh and fruity, but watch out for seeds if you’re using raspberries or blackberries!

Ingredients:
¾ cup frozen mixed berries
Half recipe of Tofu shake mix (recipe above)
additional water or vanilla almond or soy milk
additional agave syrup or stevia

Directions: Add frozen strawberries or mixed berries to blender FIRST and blend on medium speed until chopped finely, turning off motor and scraping down sides as necessary. Add tofu shake mix and blend until combined, thinning with water or almond or soy milk. Pour into glass and enjoy.

This shake gets its thickness from tofu and oatmeal!

Orange zest is perfect to brighten up the heavier chocolate flavor.

Chocolate Orange Protein Shake (my favorite!)
I love letting this sit in the fridge for a day or two because it gets extra thick

Ingredients:
Half recipe of tofu shake mix
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
Zest of 1 orange (eat the orange after zesting, it’s good for you!)
additional vanilla almond or soy milk
additional agave syrup or stevia

Directions: add tofu shake mix to blender and start on low speed. Open chute and add cocoa powder through zest. Add almond or soy milk to thin out and sweeten with additional agave syrup or stevia, if necessary. Pour into glass and enjoy.

So what’s your favorite way to shake up your breakfast and snacks?

Strawberries with Vanilla Coconut Cream: it’s the cat’s meow!

Our cat, Wolfie, likes to take walks with us around the property, occasionally scratching a rotting log and sniffing the ground to see who (or what) else may have crossed the path recently. After a few minutes he would start meow-complaining (about the tall grass, muddy path, anything!) but he’d tough it out and keep up with us at a pretty good pace.

Wolfie is the most curious one of the three and also likes to see what I’m up to in the kitchen. I don’t normally give him scraps when I’m cooking, but there’s a few things I’ll give him a tiny portion of…like coconut milk! Whenever I’d cook Thai curry, Wolfie would be there, waiting for a sample taste. And when I made this vanilla coconut cream, there he was, first sticking his nose into my picture,and then licking the cream off a plate when I wasn’t looking! Needless to say, I couldn’t use that plate of strawberries & coconut cream in the photos. :(

Continuing with our Flavor of the Week theme, here is the recipe for Vanilla Coconut Cream, a wonderful substitute for regular whipped topping (and the fake stuff, too!) The texture is soft, thick and incredibly creamy. Use it on other desserts, but be sure to keep an eye on it if your cat is lurking about!

These strawberries look too cozy in their fluffy cream topping to be eaten.

Strawberries and Vanilla Coconut Cream
If you don’t have xanthan gum, coconut cream can be used, but the texture will be less thick

8oz coconut milk, chilled in fridge overnight
1 tablespoon vanilla syrup (or 1 tablespoon sugar + increase vanilla extract to 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon gluten-free xanthan gum
8-10 fresh strawberries, washed

With a mixer, beat coconut milk on high until thickened, about 1 minute. Add syrup or sugar and extract, beat on high until combined, about 15 seconds. Sprinkle half of xanthan gum, beat on high for ten seconds and check consistency. If you want it thicker, add remaining xanthan gum and beat on high for another ten seconds.

Serve with fresh strawberries.

The vanilla coconut cream is a wonderful dairy-free substitute for regular cream.