During pregnancy, we are usually very focused on staying in optimal health and eating right for the baby’s sake. Of course, our bodies benefit from the intake of vitamin-rich nutrients and minerals but in our minds, we are eating this way mainly for the baby.
We view this as our chance to help create something extra pure an untainted by popcorn, soda, and favorite junk food (don’t worry; the baby will find those treats all on their own soon enough). It’s almost like starting with a blank canvas or a fresh new journal. The possibilities are endless and feeding it the correct ingredients can make all the difference.
But when we are battling morning sickness and scrolling through Pinterest looking at all the delicious food we wish we could eat, things can be a bit discouraging. Fortunately, there are clever ways of combining foods so that we still get the much-needed vitamins without having to actually eat the food in its raw or traditionally served form.
Furthermore, we might hate tuna right now but love salmon so lunch can be a simple matter of changing things up a bit and finding new foods to try. Here are 20 foods to get you started.
20 The Magical Smoothie
Throughout the course of our pregnancy, morning sickness or not, smoothies will likely become a favorite. They taste great, are easy to make, keep us hydrated and can have tons of hidden nutrients and vitamins packed inside. And we can customize them to our specific likes, wants and needs each day.
According to Mother Rising Birth, one magic ingredient is spinach: “Spinach is high in niacin and zinc, as well as protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese. I like to eat spinach in smoothies OR steamed, then eaten with salt and vinegar.”
19 Whole Creamy Yogurt
A nice container of whole fat yogurt sprinkled with granola, fresh fruit and a spoon of protein powder or spirulina can make a great snack any time of the day. Plus, there are plenty of flavors to choose from and even some delicious dairy alternatives on the market now.
On top of that, yogurt is great for the digestive system which is something we need after all the morning sickness. According to What To Expect, “For the midday slump, carrot or oat bran muffins can replace doughnuts and coffee cake; take them with a wedge of cheese or a container of yogurt, and you've made yourself a mini-meal.”
18 The Versatile Sandwich
Sandwiches are amazing and can be tweaked to fit every need imaginable—even taking into consideration gluten allergies with bread-free options. After all that morning sickness, a sandwich might sound good or bad but the beauty is that we can add hidden ingredients like spinach, olive pâté and loads of healthy (steamed) meats like beef, chicken, and turkey to help build a baby.
As Serious Eats puts it, “For many of us, a sandwich was the first meal we learned to make for ourselves. And we delight in eating them for the rest of our lives, sometimes at an astonishing rate—roughly 50% of Americans consume a sandwich every day.”
17 Quick And Easy Pasta Salad
We all have at least one favorite pasta salad recipe. The best thing about pasta salad is that we can break it down and remake it with different ingredients every time. We can even sneak in healthy vegetables like zucchini noodles, tomatoes, and roasted summer squash while combining them with shrimp, salmon or cherries for a unique twist.
And we can add our own healthy dressing options too if we want. As Thrive Strive tells us, “With all the different flavor combinations you can create you’ll surely find flavorful twists on the classic dish you’ll sure to love.”
16 Tuna Sandwich Anyone?
We’ve heard contradictory information regarding tuna and pregnancy for years now, but when the rule of moderation is applied, tuna can be safely consumed and has added benefits for baby.
Fit Pregnancy explains it, “According to the most recent research, eating fish during pregnancy can promote better brain health and yes, that rings true for tuna as well. In fact, tuna may be among those seafood varieties that offer the best fetal brain benefits.”
So, if we’re craving a tuna sandwich with tomato soup, let’s indulge that craving freely. All those Omega-3s will help baby’s brain develop which is good news for us.
15 Delicious Salmon Patties
Or salmon, in general, is a pregnancy superfood. When made into a patty, however, we can sneak in other things like minced vegetables that we might not otherwise eat and then smother it all with mango salsa.
Lunch is served! As Fit Pregnancy reminds us, “A 3-ounce serving of the pink stuff packs 500 milligrams of omega-3s, so have it once a week. On other days, pick seafood like anchovies, herring, sardines, and chunk light canned tuna (which you can safely eat 6 ounces of each week), or shop your grocery store for DHA-fortified foods, including milk, yogurt, bread, and even chocolate.”
14 A Healthy Cobb Salad
The Cobb salad gets something of a bad rep for its large portions of protein and sodium from the bacon and eggs, but when we are pregnant, that extra protein portion is ideal. The sodium a bit less so. But one of the beauties of this salad (like any other) is that we can swap out ingredients for better or more palpable ones. If we like everything on the salad except the dressing, switch it up! PopSugar has a recipe that promises to be healthy, “This healthier version may weigh in under 375 calories, but it hits all the notes you love about the classic. I promise.”
13 Trail Mix Munchies
When we are pregnant or have morning sickness, we need to find something yummy to munch on—especially if we can’t stomach a whole meal. And in the third trimester, we can’t fit in a whole meal anyway so snacks are a must. One great go-to snack is trail mix with almonds.
As Fit Pregnancy tells us, “Just a quarter cup of these heart-healthy nuts (or 2 tablespoons of almond butter) delivers more than a third of your daily dose of vitamin E, which plays a role in your infant’s brain development.” Add in some high-calorie raisins and a few chocolate chips and we’re set!
12 Scrambled Or Over Easy?
Depending on cravings, eggs might be at the top, bottom or middle of our food list right now and that’s perfectly fine. They can be eaten in a large number of ways (including pound cake), so mixing it up and finding a way to eat eggs is a fun mental exercise. If we opt for a fried egg sandwich, be sure to throw on spinach and tomato on there.
As Fit Pregnancy tell us, “Egg whites may have more protein, but the yolk contains almost all of an egg’s choline—a mineral that plays a role in your baby’s brain health."
11 A Devil Of A Twist
If fried or scrambled eggs aren’t sounding too great, we can always shoot for deviled egg salad or sandwiches which have the added benefit of being something tasty which we can sneak other things into like pureed garlic and spinach. Boiling the eggs might leave us nauseous, but a pinch of parsley will take away the smell, and baking soda in the water will make the eggs easier to peel.
According to Mother Rising Birth, “Not only will the protein help keep pregnancy nausea away giving you have a great morning, but egg yolk is considered the brain food for the growing infant.” Swapping the mayo for avocado is a tasty and healthy alternative, too.
10 All About Them Oats
This may or may not sound appealing in the early months but as a general pregnancy whole, steel cut oats are a superfood. According to Fit Pregnancy, “Just one cup of this breakfast favorite (either traditional or instant) delivers more than 30 percent of your daily dose of magnesium, which your body needs to build Baby’s bones and teeth. Getting your 350 to 360 milligrams of magnesium can also reduce your risk of preterm labor, as well as regulate your blood-sugar level and blood pressure.”
We can easily add in protein powder and fresh fruit, dried fruit or nuts too.
9 Ah, Steak!
Lean red meat is a delicious and filling option for hungry pregnant mamas. Plus, it contains zinc which has the added benefits of helping to reduce preterm delivery, pregnancy complications, and neonatal infections. We can easily serve up any leftovers in tomorrow’s salad.
Win-win! According to Fit Pregnancy, “In addition, you’re taking care of 8 percent of your iron needs also, 30 percent of your daily protein needs. Select cuts with fewer than 10 grams of total fat per serving. Flank steak or sirloin are easy to prep in a slow cooker.”
We can also have that burger we’ve been craving too.
8 The Underrated Lentil
Lentils are often overlooked in the legumes family and at the dinner table but they are making a comeback in recent days. According to Mother Rising Birth, “Lentils are a powerhouse of nutrition. They are a good source of, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K, but are particularly rich in dietary fiber, lean protein, folate, and iron.”
We can sprinkle cooked lentils on our salads in the summer or make a delicious lentil soup in the winter (which is also perfect for sneaking in other yummy things like roasted tomatoes and a bit of ham for flavor and protein).
7 Can't Forget Quinoa
Quinoa is relatively popular right now and with good reason. According to Fit Pregnancy, “Quinoa is a complete source of protein for a meatless Monday or any day you’re trying to cut back on animal products. It’s also high in fiber, something chicken or beef can’t claim, and it cooks up faster than whole grains.”
Because it can be used as a base ingredient, we can make a savory bowl with black beans and veggies, or a sweet bowl with yogurt, chia seeds, and fresh fruit. If we don’t like oatmeal, we might like quinoa for breakfast instead.
6 Peanut Butter Cravings
If we don’t have peanut allergies, eating peanuts and peanut butter during pregnancy is a great way to get extra protein and nutrients. According to Very Well Family, “Since peanuts and peanut butter are good sources of protein, this may be a healthy snack for you during pregnancy. Many women also find peanut butter and jelly to be a comfort food. This can be a relief to many PB&J fans.”
So peanut butter on apple slices, a classic PB&J, cookies or even a smoothie are all options for the hungry pregnant mama. And we can add the nuts to trail mix, too. Don't shy away from that almond butter, either!
5 Shepherd’s Pie For Dinner
Finding delicious dishes that taste good, meet several nutrition requirements and help satisfy those cravings is tricky for every pregnant woman but the classic shepherd’s pie is an underrated powerhouse in this department.
Easy to make and particularly easy to squeeze extra vegetables in (pureeing works really well later on for picky kids skilled at spotting colorful chunks of carrot, onion, also peas), this is a dish to try for everyone. Kid Spot describes their recipe as “a rich cooked mince full of bacon, mushrooms, and peas covered with creamy mashed potato, it's the perfect meal for a cold winter's night.”
4 Healthy Granola Bars
Hunger can strike at any moment when we are pregnant so having a supply of nutritious snacks on hand is a must. And one of those snacks—which is also super easy to make ourselves—is granola bars. We have the benefits of oatmeal, almonds, dried fruit, honey and whatever else we decide to throw in for a twist without all the added sugar.
As Bless This Mess Please states, “They taste delicious, they travel well, they make great little gifts to take over to friends, and they are just plain easy to put together. Need a snack for preschool, after t-ball, or to take in the car to a game? I’ve got you covered.”
3 The Classic Veggie Tray
This is a classic for a reason but it can get old really fast. But on the flip side, it is remarkably simple and easy to make, which makes it appealing from the depths of the morning sickness fog.
What we can do with it is jazz it up with fruit, in-season veggies and different dips instead of just ranch. As Serious Eats puts it, “Now is the time for you to upgrade your carrot-and-celery plate into a veritable orgy of hedonistic vegetal delights. All of this can be yours. All it takes is a trip to a good vegetable market and just a bit of effort.”
2 Eat Like A Dinosaur
Or at least pretend to when eating broccoli. The little stocks are like mini trees once steamed and slathered in butter. According to Mother Rising Birth, “One of my favorite things about broccoli is that it is a great source of folate. Folate, also sometimes called folic acid, is an essential nutrient for a growing baby. Without it, babies can develop birth defects like Spina Bifida.”
A classic food combo if broccoli beef which is delicious and easy to make at home without a lot of added ingredients. We can also roast broccoli and cauliflower in the oven for a snack.
1 A Drink To Wash It Down
After all that food, many of us are probably wondering what to drink as well. Thankfully there are a lot of options available for the pregnant woman. Lemon water, sparkling water, tomato juice, freshly squeezed juice combos, and kombucha all fit the bill.
According to Mother Rising Birth, “Kombucha is a delicious fermented beverage that is increasing in popularity. It is rich in probiotics and a great substitute for soda.”
We all know how important those probiotics are to a pregnant woman. The trace amount of alcohol in kombucha is a direct result of the fermentation process, and it won’t affect the baby at all. Watch out for brands that add folic acid to their kombucha as this can be harmful to moms and babies with MTHFR.