There are lots of fun little things people fail to tell (read: warn) you about that come with “the miracle of pregnancy” – including the miraculous way your bowels seem to grind to a complete halt, leaving you, well, completely full of shit (kinda like those women who say they loved everything about being pregnant). For me, the pregnancy constipation was quite an uncomfortable change from my typical daily constitutional that occurred like clockwork each morning. In fact, I was feeling so bloated and uncomfortable that I was already longing to get into a comfy pair of maternity pants at 8 weeks! Needless to say this was not something I could deal with for an entire 10 months (yes, another fun fact people fail to mention is that pregnancy is actually 10, not 9, glorious months long), so I was keen on finding a way to solve this crappy situation (ha – pun definitely intended). I already eat tons of fiber-filled vegetables, fruits and whole grains; take a daily probiotic; and eat my fair share of lubricating EFAs, so what was to be my solution? Ah – enter my new mineral BFF, magnesium, which plays a key role in this week’s incredible pregnancy treat, Raw Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake Bites – but more on that shortly.
Magnesium is a well-known mineral, but somehow it still seems to be noticeably lacking in so many people’s diets. In fact, magnesium deficiency is an extremely common for many, with less than 30% of North Americans getting the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). This is a big problem considering all the amazing roles it plays in your body’s health – including elimination (aka a good poop). In fact, magnesium is necessary for more than 300 chemical reactions in the human body – including maintaining bone integrity; enabling energy production (preventing fatigue); maintaining the health of our nervous system (and thus good mental health); decreasing inflammation in the body (thus preventing a lot of chronic disease); and managing blood sugar control (which can prevent obesity, diabetes and dysglycemia). It’s also extremely helpful in promoting good sleep – something many people – including pregnant women- struggle to get.
Supplements are a great way to quickly get your magnesium levels back to where they should be. One important thing to know is that like many minerals, magnesium must be bound to another substance in order to be properly absorbed, which makes choosing the right supplemental form crucial. When choosing a supplement, make sure you choose a magnesium citrate (most common), glycinate, taurate, malate or chloride. You’ll want to avoid magnesium oxide, sulfate, and glutamate since these are poorly absorbed and can actually do more harm than good in some instances. I actually use the Natural Calm magnesium powder (available at any health food store) each night for amazing results – namely a fantastic night’s sleep and a successful trip to le toilette in the am!
Of course as a holistic nutritionist, I am compelled to also trumpet the benefits of getting nutrients from whole food sources, and there are lots of great food sources of magnesium. So where can you get it? An easy way to remember foods that are good magnesium sources is to think fiber, since foods that are high in fiber are generally high in magnesium. Great food sources include legumes, whole grains, vegetables (especially broccoli, squash, and green leafy vegetables), seeds, and nuts (especially almonds). Of course my favourite source is featured in this week’s recipe: raw cacao.
According to some researchers, raw cacao is actually the richest source of magnesium of any food. It’s also packed with antioxidants (so much more than generic cocoa powder), tryptophan (a CNS relaxant that promotes sleep and fights stress), and is an incredible source of iron – something that is incredibly important for pregnant women.
All of this makes this week’s recipe for Raw Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake Bites pretty much the perfect treat for pregnant women (and anyone who has taste buds). They are raw, vegan, sugar-free and gluten-free, and not only do they boast an amazing array of health benefits, they are guaranteed to tame all those pregnancy cravings for chocolate while providing you and baby with the nutrients you need to make it through these crazy 10 months!
And Lord knows I will need all the help I can get… 😉
The Natural Blonde
P.s. Magnesium is also good at calming those crazy pregnancy hormone episodes aka the time you cried because you thought you were going to one restaurant but instead were going to a different one and “had already picked out what you were going to have and now the night is ruined”. This is not a real life example… ok it is.
Raw Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake Bites
- ½ cup rolled oats
- 1 cup raw pecans
- 1 Tbsp. coconut sugar
- 1½ Tbsp. ground flax seeds
- 2-3 Tbsp. raw cocao powder (or regular cocoa powder)
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp. coconut nectar (or can sub honey or maple syrup)
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
- 1-2 Tbsp. unsweetened non-dairy milk
- Pinch of sea salt (I use coarse sea salt to really taste the salty with the sweet)
- 1½ cups of raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours and drained
- ¼ cup raw cacao powder
- 1 Tbsp. coconut nectar (maple syrup would also work)
- ¼ cup xylitol (can also use more coconut nectar but I try and keep the sugar content down)
- 2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp. of coconut milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
- ½ tsp. sea salt
Start by lining a loaf pan with parchment paper.
For the base, simply combine all ingredients in your food processor and pulse until well combined and sticky. Scoop the sticky mixture into the loaf pan, pressing it evenly along the bottom. Place it in the freezer to set while you make the filling.
Clean the food processor bowl (I know it’s a pain but it’s necessary), then place all the ingredients for the filling into the bowl. Blend until completely smooth (this will take a couple minutes), stopping to scrap down the sides of the bowl as needed. Once smooth, remove the loaf pan from the freezer and pour the filling over top of the base, again spreading it out evenly (you may want to wet the spatula to avoid the mixture sticking as you do this).
Place the loaf pan back in the freezer for 1 hour to set. Once set, slice into 12-16 squares and prepare to enjoy the best damn vegan treat you’ve ever had! Store the remaining squares in the freezer for as long as they last (don’t worry – they won’t get too hard to eat straight out of it!).
*You can use unsweetened cocoa powder; you just won’t get the same nutritional benefits.