Today we’re chatting with eMeals Clean Eating meal plan writer Ashley Strickland Freeman. Ashley and her husband are expecting their first child this July, and we were curious how she’s kept to her Clean Eating diet while curbing those pesky pregnancy cravings! Read on to find out.
How long have you been the Clean Eating Meal Plan writer?
I just hit my two-year anniversary this spring.
When did you develop an interest in eating clean?
I’d say within the last three years. When I first heard about “clean eating,” I thought it was another fad diet. Once I started learning more about it, I realized that the lifestyle was in line with how I was trying to eat. At first, I did try out Clean Eating to get healthy and shed some extra pounds. Now I do it for health reasons—to consciously know what I put in my body.
What are your top two or three tips for someone thinking about trying our Clean Eating Meal Plan?
Saving Money While Going Organic. For me the hardest thing about Clean Eating is sticking to a budget—Buying organic can get expensive! I am fortunate to live in south Florida, where tons of great organic produce is available all year round. My husband and I are members of a CSA and get a giant box of organic veggies every two weeks. I try and plan our meals around those veggies first and then buy whatever organic meat is on sale at the grocery store to supplement. I’m also a fan of eating one or two meatless meals a week. That helps save a ton.
Plan Ahead. In an ideal world, we would all have time to make everything from scratch. But let’s be honest: More often than not, we find ourselves walking through the door at 6 p.m. and realizing we haven’t even thought about dinner yet. That’s the beauty of eMeals. Once you know what meals you want to make for the week (if not all seven), prep ahead when you can. Thankfully, most of the meals take 30 minutes to an hour to make, but prepping ahead can really help for especially busy nights. Chop up vegetables and make marinades and salad dressings ahead of time so you can essentially “dump and stir.”
Keep Some Emergency Staples On Hand. Meetings and soccer games run over, but that doesn’t mean you have to hit up the burger shack drive-thru on the way home instead of making something. Keep spice blends, Clean Eating BBQ Sauce, whole-wheat pasta, BPA-free canned beans and tomatoes, and other quick-fix ingredients on hand.
Do you feel like eating clean better prepared you for pregnancy?
Absolutely. I actually have been better about sticking to Clean Eating while pregnant than I was before. Knowing that what I put in my body directly affects the baby has been a real motivator.
How far along are you?
I am 31 weeks. Due in early July.
Do you know if you’re having a boy or a girl? Any names picked out?
It’s a boy! We have had a name picked out for awhile but have decided to keep it a secret until he’s born.
What are some of the NON-CLEAN foods you crave?
I am not ashamed to admit that I have fallen off the Clean Eating wagon several times during pregnancy. For the most part I eat healthy, but I do enjoy ice cream (what pregnant woman doesn’t?) and an occasional trip to Chick-fil-A. And I would do anything to be able to eat a hot dog, which is bizarre, because I didn’t particularly love them before I got pregnant.
What are some of the CLEAN foods you crave?
I’ve especially craved sour and tart foods—citrus anything and just fruit in general. Lately, I’ve really wanted seafood, too, so living by the beach where local wild-caught shrimp and fish are available has been awesome.
What’s your favorite CLEAN snack?
1. Cheese. Prior to becoming pregnant, I couldn’t eat dairy, but this little bambino has changed that so I am taking full advantage! (PSA: Pregnant women shouldn’t eat cheese made from unpasteurized milk, so stick to non-dyed all-natural cheese to maintain Clean Eating.)
2. Fruit leather. I loved Fruit Roll-Ups as a kid, and the adult version is even better. Stretch Island Fruit Co. makes a ton of awesome flavors and they are all-natural and non-GMO.
3. Yogurt with fruit.
What’s your favorite super-quick CLEAN supper when you’re tired at the end of the day?
I touched on this a little bit earlier in my tips, but my husband and I are obsessed with Penzey’s Northwoods seasoning. It’s perfect to rub on chicken, fish, steak (pretty much anything). When we’re in a rush or don’t know what to have, we rub some of it on a pork chop or chicken breast and fire up the grill. For a vegetable, we almost always have a salad using whatever greens and veggies are in the fridge and a vinaigrette I either whip up or keep on hand (1 Tbsp. your favorite vinegar, 1 tsp. honey, 1 tsp. your favorite mustard, 3 Tbsp. olive oil. Done!). Grilled vegetables are also a go-to if we happen to have them around.
Is your husband equally as enthusiastic about eating clean as you are? Or does he mumble about having to eat certain things?
He is. He’s actually better at it than me a lot of the time—especially if we’re eating out. I give him a hard time about him being the “pregnant police.”
Does your doctor know you eat clean? If so, does he/she think it’s a good thing for you and the baby?
Our doctor knows that I’ve been trying to eat healthy while being pregnant, but I don’t think I’ve actually mentioned Clean Eating to him. He is a big health nut himself—running marathons, etc.—and encouraged me to eat even healthier than I did before I got pregnant, so I feel like he would be happy with me eating clean.
Anything else you’d like to add about eating clean and being pregnant?
The first trimester for me was the trickiest. If you are pregnant and are fortunate to bypass morning sickness, I am extremely jealous. I had a tough time with it. Instead of being concerned with eating clean, I just tried to keep anything down. Oddly enough, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were what saved me. While I did eat whole-wheat bread and natural peanut butter, Smucker’s grape jelly was definitely not “clean.” And I do not feel guilty about that. To get my fruits and veggies, all-natural juices (veggie and fruit blends) and homemade smoothies did the trick. I would definitely recommend getting a good blender. Throw in some kale and spinach with your favorite fresh berries and bananas along with yogurt and/or Kefir and blend it until it’s very smooth (texture was a big thing for me).
Thanks, Ashley! Anyone else sticking to a clean diet while pregnant? If so, share your tips and experiences with us in the comments, and share your photos with us using #eMeals on Instagram and Twitter!