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Vodka Sauce & Pregnancy

…not together, obviously!

Penne alla Vodka adapted from Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes

2 tsp butter 50/50 Smart Balance Butter Blend
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 shallots, minced
3 4 oz prosciutto, trimmed and chopped
1/8 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup vodka
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
12 oz uncooked (6 cups cooked) whole wheat penne

In a large sauté pan heat butter on a low flame. Add garlic and shallots and sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Add prosciutto and red pepper flakes and cook another minute. Add tomatoes, vodka, salt and pepper and cook on low, covered about 20 minutes. Add basil and half and half, mix well and cook another 5 minutes. Serve this over pasta and top with grated cheese. Yield: 6 servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving — approx. 1 cup): 405 calories; 7 g. fat; 19 mg. cholesterol; 450 mg. sodium; 61 g. carbohydrate; 11.2 g. fiber; 15 g. protein

Today’s NNM Topic: Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an important time to focus on nutrition — both macronutrients and micronutrients. Pregnant women require adequate folic acid to prevent neural tube defects. 

During pregnancy, the amount of weight gain is dependent upon the mother’s pre-pregnancy weight. The more overweight a woman is at the time she conceives, the less weight she should gain (with a minimum weight gain of 15 pounds for overweight/obese women). Women with a BMI of 19.5-24.9 should look to gain 25-37 pounds during pregnancy. During the first trimester, no additional energy (calories) is needed. During the second and third trimesters an additional 300 calories are needed each day to support fetal growth. While 300 calories may sound significant this is less than a 10% increase for most women or the equivalent of a large snack each day, or 2 glasses of milk with a piece of fruit. Woman who breast feed, however, have their energy needs drastically increase to 700 additional calories each day — a good-sized meal for most individuals.

Poor diet and/or excessive intake during pregnancy not only results in excessive weight gain, but also puts the woman at increased risk for gestational diabetes, back pain, leg pain, high blood pressure, extreme fatigue, varicose veins, and cesarean delivery.


National Nutrition Month Theme: Nutrition From the Ground Up

The ADA is requesting bloggers to define the NNM theme in their own words, so I wanted to take a stab. The theme this year, Nutrition from the Ground Up, is consistent with the latest trends in nutrition. As of late, there has been a large movement to consume locally grown and organic produce, as well as a stronger emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as staples in the diet. And of course, these items come from the ground and are packed with nutrition — fiber, vitamins, minerals, and low caloric density.


Question: Were you breastfed? Do you believe in the benefits of breastfeeding? If you are mother or some-day-hope-to-be-a-mother, did you or do you plan to breastfeed your baby?

Interesting fact: When I interned at WIC during my dietetic internship, I learned from the lactation consultant that the benefits from breastfeeding are maximized during the first 6 months of breastfeeding. She explained that there are no additional benefits (nutritionally-speaking) to breastfeeding after 6 months of age.

And Faith of An Edible Mosaic…you win! I burned 844 calories hauling that dirt to my garden! You were only 11 calories off! Send me your address, girlie! I’ve got a Chobani coupon for you!

And a picture of one sleeeeepy puppy to brighten your day… 🙂

Have a great day-before-Friday! 😀

Share With Your Friends!


  1. lessonstolearn
    March 4, 2010 / 4:52 am

    I knew that there isn’t a need for additional calories until the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy…but my body doesn’t seem to understand that. I am hungry all the time!! Amazingly, even though I am eating a bit more, I haven’t gained any weight yet. Just a lot of bloat!

    My mom breastfed me and I hope to breastfeed this baby. It seems like a beautiful way to connect with your child. But I also know that for some mothers and babies it is really a struggle. If its creating too much stress,logistically or emotionally, I think it is fine to choose not to breastfeed. Being a new mom is stressful enough without feeling pressure to do one thing or another. The added 700 calories requirement is definite plus though!

  2. Karla
    March 4, 2010 / 6:02 am

    Interesting! I was always curious about how much a pregnant woman should consume. I guess the idea of “eating for two” isn’t entirely accurate.

  3. Anna
    March 4, 2010 / 8:25 am

    So many people just go hog wild with the calories when they’re pregnant, so it’s always funny to read about how you really don’t need to eat THAT much more, and only in the final two trimesters.

  4. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday
    March 4, 2010 / 8:26 am

    Great post on pregnancy. I’m not a mother, but if I become one I probably will breastfeed. Why not? It’s cheaper than formula and better for the baby!

    I wasn’t breastfed as a baby, but it was the 80’s. Formula was the “in” thing then.

  5. Can You Stay for Dinner
    March 4, 2010 / 8:40 am

    Wow!! I’m so glad you posted that penne a la vodka recipe! Looks delicious!
    Interesting info, as always!
    And that picture of your dog made my morning!!
    Have a great Thursday!

  6. Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman
    March 4, 2010 / 8:44 am

    I was breastfed, and after reading so much about how it helps the baby and the mother, I definitely plan to breast feed when I’m pregnant.

    I always think it’s funny when people say they’re eating for two. It’s amazing how little extra you need. I remember hearing an MD at a scientific conference I attended speak about how the Institute of Medicine was working to change the weight recommendations for overweight pregnant women because there’s no need for them to eat double. She said that overweight women don’t even need to gain weight. And it’s OK for some obese women to lose during pregnancy. It’s so funny how we think of it as a free time to gorge.

  7. Anne Marie@New Weigh of Life
    March 4, 2010 / 8:49 am

    I wasn’t breastfed, but I want to breastfeed my children.

  8. Cara
    March 4, 2010 / 8:50 am

    And here I thought this was going to be a discussion on whether or not the vodka cooks off so that a pregnant woman can enjoy the dish 🙂

    I am a little surprised by the statistic that 300 calories is less than a 10% increase for most women. Wouldn’t that mean that the average woman is eating 3000cals/day? For me that would be closer to 17% of my daily intake!

    • Nicole
      March 4, 2010 / 9:09 am

      You’re right – it is much more percentage wise for a lot of women. I think my math was off. I will post a correction tomorrow…thanks for catching that!

  9. Estela @ Weekly Bite
    March 4, 2010 / 8:53 am

    Great post Nicole! I have a post in works about breast feeding vs. bottle feeding. I was breast fed as a baby.

    When it comes to nutrition we all know that “breast is best” for the baby… but the reality may not let that happen.

    I got very very sick after I had my daughter and had to stop breastfeeding completely. Only a mom can understand it when I say “I felt like I was letting my baby down” I felt like I was already doing her an injustice because I couldn’t breast feed. I had no choice but to give her formula. Next time I have a baby I will attempt to breast feed again… but I have to say that my daughter is so healthy and thriving!!! I wish I could’ve breast fed, but I’m happy that formula gave my daughter the nutrition she needed 🙂

  10. Lauren @ Eater not a runner
    March 4, 2010 / 8:53 am

    Lily is SO cute.

    I wasn’t breast-fed and was a colic-y baby and have suffered from digestive issues my whole life. I know some people say that the two are related, and I’m not sure if that is true. I think I would like to breast feed if/when I ever have kids….but that is too far away to think about! 😉

  11. Heather
    March 4, 2010 / 9:58 am

    Love the recipe for the Vodka sauce – it is one of my faves – especially with peas in it!

    Great information – I was not breast fed as a baby – my mom is allergic to milk so they assumed (wrongly) I would be too. I was a formula baby.

  12. Rebecca from Dijon
    March 4, 2010 / 9:59 am

    Great posts! And thanks for answering my ? from earlier!

    And interesting post about breast feeding. If and when I have a child, I think I plan to breast feed. I’ve worked a lot in preschools and from all the literature I’ve read about it, it seems like the best choice.

  13. MelissaNibbles
    March 4, 2010 / 9:59 am

    I don’t want kids so I don’t plan on breastfeeding anyone.
    The recipe looks great. My boyfriend loves penne a la vodka. I’m definitely going to make this for him. Thanks!

  14. Karin
    March 4, 2010 / 10:12 am

    Vodka tomato sauce?? Sounds fantastic! Absolute vodka is the best (although that statement makes me sound like an alcoholic ;))

  15. Lily @ Lily's Health Pad
    March 4, 2010 / 10:16 am

    I was breastfed. But my sister wasn’t. She was born 12 years before me, and in the 70’s, breastfeeding just wasn’t as popular. Obviously, I’m not sure if it made a difference. But hey, I am a LOT taller than she is!

  16. Stef @ moretolifethanlettuce
    March 4, 2010 / 10:19 am

    i really thought/hoped you’d announce that YOU were pregnant in this post, lol!! but this was a goodie anyway,i love pasta sauce :). breastfeeding is so important, i’ve learned a lot of cool stuff about it in my public health class lately! i was breastfed, and the docs told my mom it was a really good thing to do bc i was a preemie. you should talk to averie (love veggies yoga) about it, i KNOW she’s a huge proponent of breastfeeding!

    • Nicole
      March 5, 2010 / 8:47 am

      That would be an “oopsie!” if so 🙂 Not for at least a few more years, if even then… 🙂

  17. Astra Libris
    March 4, 2010 / 10:38 am

    I so need to fix this gorgeous vodka sauce immediately! Love the use of the smart balance butter blend! 🙂

  18. Tina
    March 4, 2010 / 10:56 am

    Pregnancy and breastfeeding are two things I feel VERY strongly about. I hate how people think pregnancy is a time to not worry about nutrition and eat whatever. Sure, there can be room for some extra indulgence but that shouldn’t be the core of what you eat. Pregnancy is when you should be focusing on nutrition the most! You’re growing a baby people. LOL

    And breastfeeding – it is true that the nutrition benefits drop off after 6 months. I still think it is good to breastfeed for as close to a year as possible though. I made it 8 months with Makenzie before my milk just couldn’t keep up with her love to eat. And I plan to breastfeed at least 6 months with my second. I think people give up way too easily! Get through the first 6 weeks and then they are golden.

  19. Kelly
    March 4, 2010 / 11:39 am

    I was breast fed for only about 6 weeks and then my mom immediately switched me to formula. She had a lot of trouble with the whole breast feeding process. If I ever have kids (big if..haha) I will breast feed for as long as I can…ideally between 9-12 months. But you never know. My mom planned on that too…

  20. Heather @ Get Healthy With Heather
    March 4, 2010 / 11:41 am

    I really hope to breast feed when I have babies, at least for 6 months to a year.

    I guess I need to head out to my garden and work up a sweat, you burned so many cals!

  21. suzicate
    March 4, 2010 / 11:55 am

    I’ve never made vodka sauce , but this recip makes me want to try my hand at it. Thanks.

  22. kbwood
    March 4, 2010 / 11:57 am

    WOW this is soo incredibly interesting about pregnancy! ive always wondered!

  23. Melinda
    March 4, 2010 / 12:59 pm

    I was wondering where this topic title was going. I think I was breast fed, but I am not actually sure. Of course I believe in the benefits. If you have trouble, at least get the colostrum in for an immunity booster. Some women really have a hard time, but at least they try. Oh, and I love vodka sauce! Hope you are having a great week.

  24. Food-Fitness-FreshAir
    March 4, 2010 / 1:16 pm

    It’s interesting to learn that as pregnancy progresses, a women only needs an additional large snack…It seems as though most women eat much more. I have a feeling a lot women are unaware of this, although they should try to tune in with their bodies. Interesting.

  25. marla {Family Fresh Cooking}
    March 4, 2010 / 1:53 pm

    Yup, I nursed both my kids. Was not nursed by my mom cause “they didn’t do that then.” The good thing is that nursing has obviously come in and out of fashion even though it’s the best choice if it works for the mom and the child. Glad I did it and so glad i’m done.
    Here’s to a great looking Vodka Sauce!

  26. Bree@beeskneeslife
    March 4, 2010 / 2:24 pm

    I was breastfed and plan to do the same. In regards to eating more for pregnancy, before I knew anything about food I always thought it meant eat whatever whenever! Now I know how much food 300 calories is, and plan on sticking to the best foods I can for my future baby and me.

    I can’t WAIT to get out in my own garden! Only about a foot of snow to go 😉

  27. thebalancebroad
    March 4, 2010 / 2:32 pm

    Yep, I was breast fed and definitely hope to be able to do it, too! For one thing, there is the fact that it’s FREE. 😉 And it’s obviously a great way to bond with your child. My grandma was an OB nurse for 30 + years and said even if you can only breast feed for one week, it is good for the baby.

    All that said, some friends of mine haven’t been able to BF for various reasons, and that’s okay! You have to do what’s best for the baby AND for you. I have some friends who BF and look down on those moms who don’t – I don’t think it should be this way at all.

  28. homecookedem
    March 4, 2010 / 3:06 pm

    Ohhhhh MAN!! I was so close to guessing your calories right, haha!! 🙂

    Great info on the needs of pregnant women. I’m hoping to conceive very soon, so this is very helpful. I had no idea that your caloric needs don’t change until the 2nd trimester… I thought it was right away. Also didn’t know you needed so many calories when breastfeeding.

    I was breastfed by my mom and I will definitely breastfeed my kids. I think it’s breast, I mean best for babies, hehe! 😉

  29. Andrea@WellnessNotes
    March 4, 2010 / 3:22 pm

    Your title caught my attention! 😉

    The penne pasta sounds great!

    Great points about pregnancy weight gain. Yes, 300 extra calories isn’t a lot. I gained too much weight with both pregnancies (50 lbs each time). Before my first pregnancy I was slightly underweight, so my doctor didn’t mind.

    I had really planned to gain a healthier amount during my second pregnancy and was very aware that I only needed 300 extra calories during the 2nd and 3rd trimester. I also wanted to keep up my exercise. However, things didn’t exactly go as planned. I had extreme morning sickness (which lasted 24 hours) and couldn’t exercise. Then I developed gallstones and other complications. And I ended up eating a lot more than 300 extra calories. Plus, I had been used to working out 5 to 6 times a week for at least an hour before becoming pregnant. Anyway, I did make healthy choices, but too many calories and not enough exercise make you gain weight…

    I breastfed both my children and am very glad I did and was able to as I think there are many emotional and health benefits. I was only able to breastfeed the teenager for about four months, and I felt guilty about it for a long time. I breastfed the toddler for a year, at which point it felt natural to stop. I think breastfeeding is wonderful if everything goes as planned. Unfortunately, women who can’t or choose not to breastfeed (for many reasons) are often made to feel very guilty and ashamed these days, which is really a shame… It’s hard enough to adjust to life as a new mom; you don’t need added guilt…

  30. applec
    March 4, 2010 / 4:11 pm

    Phew! You had me there for a minute…I actually began to wonder if Vodka sauce is allowed during pregnancy? !
    As for the sauce – gotta try it. It looks great.

    As for the pregnancy info., interesting. I was not breast fed. For me, career came first so having children wasn’t in the plan. If I had, I would not have breast fed.

    The pup is adorable! So tired 🙁

  31. Bekkah
    March 4, 2010 / 4:49 pm

    I will definitely be trying out your vodka sauce recipe. It looks great!

    My mom breast fed my brothers and me. I definitely believe in the benefits. When I become a mom I plan to breastfeed my children.

  32. inmytummy
    March 4, 2010 / 5:46 pm

    I was breast fed and I plan to breast feed any children I have. I don’t have a strong opinion on it, I guess I just always assumed that’s what I would do.

  33. Leslie
    March 4, 2010 / 5:49 pm

    I can not believe that lactation consultant said that the nutrient difference between formula and breastmilk dropped off after 6 months. Their are so many properties to breastmilk that really aren’t very well studied yet and are definitely not in formula. Think about all the foods we eat and all the micronutrients/phytonutrients in those that can not very well be placed into a supplement! Do you think they can (or do) put all that stuff into formula? It goes into the breastmilk. Isn’t their a reason we eat our foods if we can instead of taking a vitamin pill or drinking a meal replacement shake ourselves! And the nutrients from breastmilk tend to be better absorbed than those from formula.

  34. kilax
    March 4, 2010 / 6:08 pm

    I was breast-fed. I can understand the pros of doing it! You know what though? My crazy uncle decided to preach to me (after my grandpa’s funeral) about how women should breast feed for 3 years! WTF? I don’t even have kids? He’s so crazy.

  35. Diane Fit to the Finish
    March 4, 2010 / 9:20 pm

    I have nursed all my kids and it was a wonderful experience. I made sure to eat healthy and still managed to lose all my weight in a reasonable amount of time.

  36. Mari
    March 4, 2010 / 10:28 pm

    awwwww koosh lily is too cute! that picture just made me very sleepy lol

  37. Kerstin
    March 4, 2010 / 11:11 pm

    Mmm, your vodka sauce pasta looks so good with all that fresh basil in it!

  38. sophia
    March 4, 2010 / 11:19 pm

    I don’t plan on getting pregnant ever…but…I LOVED and totally burst out laughing at your title and the beginning of your post! wahahaha!

  39. Sushma Mallya
    March 5, 2010 / 2:27 am

    Nice post nicole…

  40. The Candid RD
    March 5, 2010 / 7:06 am

    Oh yeah, I definitely think breastfeeding is the way to go! Now that’s not to say that if a women doesn’t breastfeed, she is not a good mother. My own mother had a hard time with me latching on. She only breastfed for a the first few weeks, and she’s the best mother ever. I do think the first few weeks are most important anyway.

    I was doing a dietary consult one time and this obese lady (who was also pregnant) said that she needed to gain about 30 pounds. I tried to tel her that wasn’t true, but she got really angry. It’s kind of hard to talk to women about that, they are so emotionally fragile at that time, but it’s SO important not to gain too much!! It can have such a negative effect on the baby, AND the mother.

    Great post Nicole, good information, as always. Have a nice weekend!

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