Meal Ideas for Pregnancy
BY VALERIE ROBINSON
During my first pregnancy, I remember getting an informational packet geared for the first 20 weeks. The nurse made an effort to point out the food section: “This is a list of everything to avoid.”
Deli meat, soft cheeses, anything with raw egg in it, sushi, certain seafood, and of course… alcohol. What the flip? I suddenly found myself wondering what the heck I would eat as if they just scrapped the entire food pyramid. I also, at that moment, really wanted a Jimmy Johns sandwich.
Pregnancy provided me with the motivation I had always wanted to really become the best version of myself. However, I took those guidelines very seriously, which made me a little meal stressed. This second time around, I did not want to fall into those same anxieties. I continue to strive to be the best version of myself, but this time would be different. I took the time, instead, to do a little homework on the best food for pregnancy and shift my focus to making meals centered on that, rather than spending time missing everything I could not eat. Here was my takeaway: I needed to make sure I was getting plenty of protein, vitamins, healthy fat, complex carbs, and fiber. I would like to share with you some of my favorite meal ideas that are simple to make, filling, and give you all the right nutrients to help that baby grow!
#1 Eggs over medium to hard with whole-grain toast and fruit
This is definitely my go-to breakfast. On a greased skillet with the burner set to medium, I crack a couple of eggs. I sprinkle some salt and pepper and wait a few minutes for the white to cook through and the bottom of the yolk to slightly cook. Flip and wait a few more minutes. This should get your yoke cooked to about medium. Of course, cook longer if you want it cooked all the way hard. It is suggested to avoid eggs over easy while pregnant. I toast a slice or two of whole-grain bread (the bread with some oats on it) and spread a light layer of butter. Add some fresh fruit to your plate and a glass of water, milk of choice, or decaffeinated tea, and you have got yourself a breakfast of champions!
#2 Avocado toast with a yogurt parfait
Toast a couple of slices of whole-grain toast. Mash an avocado with a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and your choice of garlic powder and paprika if you would like. Spread onto the toast and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil. This ends up being such a good source of healthy fats! In a dessert bowl, put several large spoons full of low-fat plain yogurt. Sprinkle with granola and fresh fruits. My personal favorite granola can be found at ALDI or Amazon. This breakfast combo always is a refreshing start to my day; enjoy!
#3 Peanut butter and banana smoothie
Feeling queasy and need something that will go down easy? I do not treat all smoothies equally. Not all smoothies should be used as a meal replacement, especially when you are pregnant. But I will make a delicious exception for this one. I use a couple of ripe bananas, a generous spoonful of peanut butter, low-fat plain yogurt, milk, some ice, and blend until smooth. I then add some plain oats and chia seeds. These add some additional nutrients as well as texture. This is not a very sweet smoothie, but it is packed with nutrients! If you would like to sweeten it up, I like to add a little bit of chocolate syrup! Yum!
#1 Garden salad, fruit, and trail mix
I know this does not sound like a very exciting lunch, but it will leave you feeling so great! My salad of choice of a bed of mixed greens, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onion, avocado, and balsamic dressing. It is fresh, tasty, and has a balanced texture. I eat this with some fruit and a small bowl of trail mix.
#2 Wraps or paninis with carrots and ranch
Everyone loves a good sandwich, right? I am honestly always in the mood for a sandwich. It is so easy and always hits the spot– that is super important when you are pregnant! I like to have some pan-seared chicken breast sliced ahead of time for this one. This is an excellent protein to replace lunch meats! Add cheese, leafy greens, red onion, and condiments of choice. This varies for me all the time. One day I am in the mood for just meat and cheese, and the next, I want it all. That is what makes sandwiches so great; they are flexible! So listen to what your body is in the mood for that day. Add a side of baby carrots and some ranch.
#1 Baked salmon with vegetable and rice
I cannot stress enough how delicious and good for you this dinner idea is! I keep a frozen bag of boneless, individually wrapped salmon fillets in my freezer. Make sure you thaw, line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with cooking spray. Lay your filet skin down and sprinkle with some salt, pepper, and an Italian blend. Then, place some slices of lemon on top. Bake at 425 F for 15-20 mins. While these bakes, prepare the rice. You can do whatever side of vegetable you would like, but my personal favorite is green beans or baked brussel sprouts. I prepare my brussels sprouts with extra virgin olive oil, maple syrup, salt, and pepper baked at 375 F for about 45 mins. You will never go back to any other way! Bon Appetit!
#2 Stir fry with rice or egg noodles
A little prep work goes a long way with this one, but it is worth it because this will quickly become a favorite in your kitchen! Slice red, yellow, and green peppers and about half of a red onion. Slice a bowl of carrots and another bowl of broccoli. Cut about a pound of chicken breast into cubes or slices, whichever you prefer. Heat some olive oil in a large sauté pan. Brown the chicken and then set it aside. Add the carrots first because they take the longest to cook. When they are tender, add in the peppers and onion. Then add the chicken so that it can absorb all that flavor. Season it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and ginger powder. Mix well, and then add in the broccoli. Sprinkle half a cup of brown sugar on top, about a quarter cup of soy sauce, and about 2-4 Tbsp of ketchup. This makes homemade teriyaki sauce, and it is delicious! Mix thoroughly and then turn down the heat to low. While this is simmering, prepare the rice or egg noodles. When those are done, top with the stir fry, and voila!
My all-time favorite pregnancy dessert can be found here. I just had to include this because I love ending my day with 2 or 3 freshly baked cookies and a glass of milk, and it makes the baby happy too! Plus, after such a wonderfully nutritious day, you have earned it!
As I am sure you noticed, these recipes are jam-packed with protein, healthy fats, vitamins, fiber, and complex carbs. They are just a few recipes that you can always come back to and count on to leave you feeling satisfied while knowing your baby is receiving all the nutrients he or she needs to grow! They are also all easily adjustable to fit whatever your needs or preferences are. Most importantly, remember that you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day and just listen to your body. It knows exactly what it needs. Happy cooking!