Meet Colleen.  She is the first winner of my Biggest Contest Ever!  She has won free nutrition and lifestyle coaching for the next 28 weeks, the remainder of her pregnancy.

*Every individual is unique and will have different nutritional needs.  The recommendations I make for Colleen may or may not benefit other women who have similar experiences.  The nutritional advice given to Colleen is based on a specific, detailed health and lifestyle assessment.  They will not apply to every pregnant woman.  If you are interested in a personal assessment for yourself, please send an e-mail to

Colleen is currently 12 weeks pregnant.  Her due date is January 31, 2014.

Mandy McKinnon ultrasound 2

Colleen’s baby at 12 weeks.


Colleen is in her late 20’s, married with a one year old son.  She and her husband were fortunate enough to get pregnant on their first try.  Both times!  Many couples struggle with fertility issues and she is well aware, grateful for what they have.

Right now she is tired, as to be expected in her first trimester.  I can’t help but remember my own pregnancy and those early days.  The afternoon nap was not uncommon for me.  Colleen isn’t allowed this luxury as she is needed to care for her son.  It is important for her to rest as much as she can, when she can.  Pregnancy is hard work.

Her main complaint right now is morning sickness and not being able to eat.  This is a common problem for many women in their first trimester.  It is very important that she provide enough nutrients for her growing baby.  She should eat small meals frequently throughout the day as often as she can.  She needs an extra 300 – 400 calories per day, including an increase in protein to support her baby’s growth.  Sometimes nausea is caused by not getting enough nutrients.  Another reason to eat more.  Herbal teas such as peppermint and ginger may alleviate her nausea.  Fortunately, morning sickness is usually gone by the second trimester.  If this is true for Colleen, she must be celebrating right about now.

Some of the issues we discussed other than morning sickness were muscle cramps (oh, those charley horses!), ‘baby brain’ and nutritional deficiencies.  There are indications that Colleen may be deficient in calcium, which can contribute to muscle spasms.  She hasn’t experienced any yet with this pregnancy, but she did with her last one.  Of course, I am not a doctor and can’t determine for sure if she has a calcium deficiency or not.  I suggest that she discuss this with her doctor.  Calcium, as we all know is very important.  During pregnancy, if there is not enough calcium from our diet, our body will actually pull it out of our bones to give to the baby!  Prenatal vitamins provide some calcium, but in Colleen’s case I recommend she take extra calcium from both supplements and food sources.

Poor concentration or memory is another symptom Colleen is experiencing.  When I asked her if it were always like that, or only since she’s been pregnant, she couldn’t remember.   🙂

Essential fatty acids play an important part in brain health.  Colleen should eat a variety of EFA’s every day including nuts, seeds, eggs, olive oil, coconut oil and butter.  Yes, butter.  I can’t stress how much I love butter and how good it is for you.  Fish is another excellent source of EFA’s.  In fact, everybody should enjoy seafood as a regular part of our diet.  Unfortunately, Colleen can’t stomach the thought of fish or seafood.  For that reason, I feel a fish oil supplement for her is necessary.

Colleen has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism.  I truly believe that if she follows all of my recommendations, over time she can heal her thyroid.  However, this is a long process and one that takes patience and commitment.  I think she can do it!

I will be checking in with Colleen monthly as she continues her pregnancy.  Feel free to leave a comment if you would like to ask a question or just to say hi.


Chickpea Kale Salad

Chickpeas, otherwise known as garbanzo beans, are a legume vegetable.  They are a good source of protein and fiber to add to any diet.  Kale is a leafy green vegetable, providing calcium among other nutrients.  Put them together, with some rice and other vegetables, and you’ve got an excellent combination of nutrients that taste great too!


Chickpea Kale Salad

Chickpea Kale Salad

1 cup uncooked rice

4 cups kale, chopped with stems removed

1 small red onion (about 1 1/4 cups), diced

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

2 lemons, juice of

¼ cup olive oil

1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas that have been pre-soaked and cooked (or 2 14 oz cans, rinsed well)

2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped


Boil 2 ¼ cups of water and add rice.  Reduce heat to medium/low and cover for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Set aside to cool.

Steam kale for 20 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Combine all ingredients into a very large bowl and mix well.


Option:  serve over pita or naan bread and top with sprouts or feta cheese.


*Serves 8 – 10.  May be refrigerated for up to one week.