Unexpected (and delicious!) foods that will provide the nutrition you need during pregnancy.
1. Figs: Serving Size: 1 cup (about 8 dried figs)
Figs are a great nondairy souce of calcium and iron. Iron deficiency can cause anemia, especially during pregnancy, thanks to the increase in your blood volume and growing demands by the baby for iron to produce millions of red blood cells. The same number of figs will also provide your body with 23 micrograms of vitamin K, which is needed for proper blood clotting and bone formation.
Tasty Tips If you don’t like the seedy texture of dried figs, try fresh ones. Or, purée them, then use the purée as a sweetener or fat substitute in recipes. You can make fig purée by combining 8 ounces of dried figs with 1⁄4 to 1 ⁄3 cup of water in a blender.
2. Chives: Serving Size: 2 tablespoons, chopped
Seen as a garnish, chives tend to be overlooked. But, these small, mild-tasting green onions are a source of folate (the synthetic form is folic acid), iron, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, calcium and magnesium. Folic acid may be the most important nutrient of the first trimester. Without it, your baby has an increased risk for structural defects that could be fatal. It can also help with constipation during pregnancy.
Tasty Tips sprinkle some on your salad or soup. Or go with the all-time favorite use and sprinkle them on your baked potato. More great ways to eat them: Mix chopped chives into softened cream cheese before you spread it on a bagel, cracker, tortilla chip or slice of bread. Stir them into dips or add them to hummus.
3. Pinto beans: Serving Size: ½ cup, dried
Pinto beans are one of the healthiest foods on Earth. There is copper iron and phosphorus .Copper aids in forming red blood cells; iron is important for making hemoglobin, the substance in your red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to your baby; and, phosphorus works with calcium to ensure that your baby’s bones and teeth are growing properly.
Pinto beans are also packed with fiber, One of the best strategies for helping to avoid the nausea and vomiting commonly experienced during the first trimester is to keep your belly feeling satisfied and full. Foods with a high fiber content can be an ally in your battle against morning sickness.
Tasty Tips The healthiest way to eat beans is to buy dried beans and soak them overnight first. If you are using canned pinto beans, be sure to rinse them well first to remove the extra sodium. For bean dip, cream a can of pintos in your blender or food processor. (Use a little veggie broth if you need to add liquid.) Then, pour the beans into a microwave-safe container and heat them.
4. Leeks: Serving Size: 1 cup, raw
Leeks are the vegetable equivalent of a super multivitamin-mineral tablet. They are a nondairy source of calcium, which is essential for the development of your baby’s bones. Plus, calcium may help combat some common symptoms of pregnancy, including irritability, insomnia and back and leg pains. One serving of leeks also contains folate as well as vitamin B, which is necessary for your body to metabolize energy from the carbohydrates, fats and proteins in your diet. There’s also evidence that vitamin B6 can help alleviate morning sickness.
Tasty Tips Leeks have a very mild, sweet flavor, making them especially appealing when you’re suffering from morning sickness. If your stomach’s sensitive but you can’t face plain broth, try adding sliced leeks and shiitake mushrooms with minced fresh ginger. To prepare leeks, cut off the fibrous green tops and the base, then slice the stem in half. Rinse thoroughly to remove any hidden grit, and cut into small pieces.
5. Artichoke: Serving Size: 1 medium artichoke
Feeling sluggish? Reach for an artichoke. This vegetable is a great nonmeat source of iron, which is an energizing nutrient. There’s another energizing nutrient in artichokes: folate. Besides helping to prevent birth defects, folate helps your body metabolize proteins, the building blocks for the hormones and enzymes that help your body keep going.
During your pregnancy, you may suffer from constipation, which can be alleviated with some extra fiber in your diet. Artichokes are wonderful sources of fiber. And they’re often recommended to soothe indigestion, another common pregnancy complaint.
Tasty Tips For a truly decadent delight, dip steamed artichoke leaves in melted organic butter mixed with freshly squeezed lemon juice. If you use oil-based jarred artichokes, enjoy them in a salad and use the oil as part of the dressing. Canned artichokes are almost always packed in water, but have a lot of added sodium; rinse them before eating.
6. Pumpkin seeds: Serving Size: ½ cup
Part of the healing that occurs on a regular basis in your body during pregnancy is the repair of muscles. As your uterus grows, your back, abdominal and hip muscles are required to stretch in new ways. With sufficient protein in your diet, these muscles will be better armed to keep up with their new tasks. Adding pumpkin seeds to your diet will help boost your intake of protein. These tasty seeds also contain sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and many other minerals involved in muscle health and hydration. One of the most important minerals required for healing is zinc—1 cup of pumpkin seeds provides close to half of your daily needs.
Tasty Tips Research has shown that roasted seeds have far more protein, minerals and fiber than raw ones. You can buy pumpkin seeds raw and roast them at home: Melt organic butter or heat macadamia nut oil or olive oil and toss in the pumpkin seeds to coat. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season with turmeric, garlic or cayenne pepper. Roast at 300° F until crisp.
7. Tahini: Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
A paste made from sesame seeds, tahini contains all of sesame’s nutrients, including healthy oils called omega-6 fatty acids. A few tablespoons of tahini will help with proper cell integrity and healthy nervous and immune system function.
Proper development of your milk glands, placenta and uterus is also dependent on having sufficient levels of healthy fats in your body. Tahini is also a good source of thiamin, phosphorus, copper and manganese, all key to your baby’s healthy development.
Tasty Tips Tahini is great on crackers, in hummus and other dips, or as an ingredient in salad dressing. It’s easy to make your own hummus: Drain a can of chickpeas and cream them in a blender or food processor (add a little vegetable stock if they’re too dry). Add tahini, garlic, lime juice and cracked black pepper, to taste. The texture will get thicker and the flavors will blend better if you let the hummus chill in the fridge for an hour or more before eating.
8. Fresh Basil: Serving Size: 10 tablespoons fresh basil (whole leaves)
Basil is a pregnancy superfood. This fresh herb is a good source of protein, vitamin E, riboflavin, and niacin; plus, it’s a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese.
Basil is also packed with iron, vital for keeping your energy levels up; calcium, essential for strong bones and teeth; and folate, vital for many processes, including fetal cell growth and division. Whenever possible, choose fresh basil, because it contains more of these nutrients than dried basil.
Tasty Tips Enjoy the fresh, spicy leaves in a caprese salad. It’s super-easy to put together: Line your salad plate with buttery lettuce leaves (like Boston or Bibb lettuce). Then create a circle of alternating half-slices of tomato, mozzarella cheese and basil leaves, fanning them on top of each other. Drizzle olive oil (and balsamic vinegar if you like) over the salad and add a sprinkling of salt—you need that iodine.
9. Molasses: Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
Manganese is an essential mineral that plays a role in normal bone development, and that’s important for your growing baby.
Vitamin B6 plays a role in your sodium-phosphorus balance, which determines how much water you have in your body. And potassium is another mineral involved in water retention. Getting enough vitamin B6 and potassium may help shrink your swollen feet and ankles.
If possible, look for organic, unsulphured blackstrap molasses, which contains fewer contaminants.
Tasty Tips Try it as a sweetener in your oatmeal, smoothies or yogurt, and in breads and other baked goods or in ginger tea. Or, it makes a yummy barbecue sauce for pork or chicken.