Pregnancy is a time that comes with a lot of emotion, physical change and excitement. It also can be a very confusing time amidst all of the hormones in figuring out the “to-dos” and “not to-dos” within the nine months.
One of the biggest questions that goes through an expecting mother’s mind is what to eat. There is plenty of information on what not to eat (deli meats, raw fish, sprouts, etc.), but what about the foods you SHOULD be eating?
Here is my list of some of the most nutrient dense foods you can feed yourself and your growing babe while pregnant.
*First trimester nausea can make some of the foods listed below sound less than appealing. Honestly, do your best to eat what stays down and make sure that it is the best quality of that food. My first trimester was filled with quality sourdough toast and grass-fed butter – it was pretty much all I could stomach. The goal is to keep additives, sugars and poor quality fats (fried foods, vegetable oils, soybean oil) out of the diet as much as possible.
Green Veggies: full of folate, which is a critical nutrient when pregnant. It helps to avoid birth defects, greens are loaded with minerals and vitamins A, C, E and K. Load up on roasted broccoli, asparagus, collard greens and kale. Try wrapping hummus, chicken or egg salad in collards versus using a tortilla or bread. Kale and spinach are great to add to smoothies. Or try my Spicy Kale Coleslaw.
Figs: a healthy way to satisfy a sweet tooth, figs are loaded with minerals and are a good source of iron (along with your leafy greens). Adequate iron is necessary as the blood volume increases during pregnancy. Deficiencies in iron can be related to nausea, shortness of breath and fatigue. Try a couple in your salad or even dip them in almond butter for a satisfying snack.
Seaweed: Iodine is a mineral that we need for proper functioning of the thyroid gland which is responsible for metabolism, growth & development and mental balance. Either look for a prenatal that has 150 micrograms of iodine in it or add iodine rich foods such as Wakame, kelp, nori, kombu are all different types of seaweed. Just 1 gram provides close to 150 micrograms. You can also sprinkle kelp flakes on avocados, salads and soups. I recommend the brand Maine Coast. It can be found in the ethnic cooking section of most health food stores.
Lentils: high in fiber, protein and folate! One of the common complaints during pregnancy is constipation which can be quite uncomfortable with a growing belly. Adding in some lentils to your diet in place of meat, can help relieve some of that discomfort. Try my Smoked Paprika Red lentil Hummus for an added boost of fiber and protein.
Organic Eggs: A healthy source of protein and fat, which are key to help with brain development during those 9 months. Also, eggs are high in choline, which has been shown to boost cognitive function, learning and memory in utero. You can wrap my Easy Egg Salad in collard greens or try my Egg Cup recipe.
Avocado, Walnuts & Flaxseed: all high in EFAs, a critical and commonly overlooked nutrient needed for optimal brain development in the fetus. Avocado is also high in fiber and potassium – which can help keep blood pressure numbers in range for expecting mamas. Flaxseed and walnuts also add some healthy protein which is always important to support the growth of the baby. Make sure you grind your flaxseeds and store all nuts and seeds in the refrigerator. Walnuts and ground flaxseed are great in oatmeal or tossed in a smoothie.