I’m in my 16th week of pregnancy, and let me tell you, it can be tough to find meals that are healthy and hearty enough to sustain my appetite. I’ve found a few different meals that can be eaten as a breakfast, lunch, or dinner to keep you fuller for longer, healthy, and energized (as much as possible given all the lovely pregnancy symptoms).
Here are my top 5 highly nutritious, hearty meals to eat while pregnant:
1. Oatmeal & Eggs / Egg Whites with side of fruit
½ cup oatmeal
1 egg + ½ cup egg white substitute
Side of fruit (I tend to use blackberries, blueberries, and/or strawberries for the antioxidants)
Eggs contain choline, which is responsible for many body processes, including brain development and health.
Berries are also packed with water, healthy carbs, vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. The vitamin C helps your body absorb iron and aids in skin health and immune function. Berries contain relatively few calories and have a relatively low glycemic index value so they should not cause major spikes in blood sugar.
2. Grilled chicken and Avocado Wrap with Kale or Spinach
½ cup of grilled chicken
Handful of kale or spinach
1 wrap or 2 slices whole grain bread (I love La Tortilla low carb tortillas)
1 Tbsp mustard or honey dijon
Chicken is an excellent lean source of high-quality protein and avocados contain a lot of monounsaturated fatty acids which help to build the skin, brain and tissues of the fetus. Avocados also contain more potassium than bananas, which can help relieve leg cramps.
Dark leafy greens (such as kale or spinach) contain fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, iron, folate, and potassium. The fiber content can also aid in preventing constipation (which is very common during pregnancy). Dark greens are also rich in antioxidants and contain plant compounds which benefit the immune system and digestion. They have also been linked to a reduced risk of low birth rate.
3. Baked cod and Sweet Potato with side of Sautéed Spinach
6-8 oz cod filet
1 yam (sweet potato)
5 oz spinach
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp minced garlic
Bake cod in oven at 400° for 12-15 minutes
Set toaster oven to 400°, poke holes in sweet potato with a knife, and bake for 45-50 minutes (can also cook in microwave for about 5 minutes, wrapped in tinfoil, to save time)
Drizzle olive oil and ¼ tsp of minced garlic in a pan and add in spinach (add any other seasonings such as oregano, salt, and/or pepper). Toss around until spinach is wilted.
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene which is converted into vitamin A in your body (which is important for healthy fetal development). They also contain fiber, which may increase fullness, reduce blood sugar spikes, and improve digestive health and mobility.
4. Whole grain pasta or quinoa and beef meatballs
Boil water and heat pasta for approximately 9 minutes (to your satisfaction - I prefer al dente, a tiny bit harder)
Top pasta with meatballs (can add a touch of parmesan for taste)
Whole grains are packed with fiber, vitamins, and plant compounds. Oats and quinoa both contain a decent amount of protein, which is important during pregnancy. Whole grains are also rich in vitamin B, fiber, and magnesium.
5. Cauliflower pizza with chicken sausage, spinach, and tomatoes with side of Greek yogurt
1 cauliflower pizza (can save the other half for later)
2 links chicken sausage
5 oz spinach
Handful of grape tomatoes
¼ cup of nonfat Greek yogurt
Bake cauliflower pizza in the oven at 425° for 8 minutes (every oven is different - I tend to cook for a shorter time than the box suggests, but feel free to check on it and then cook for longer, if need-be)
Cut chicken sausage links into small chunks, heat up sauce pan, drizzle a bit of olive oil, and cook pieces of sausage until browned
Drizzle olive oil and ¼ tsp of minced garlic in a pan and add in spinach (add any other seasonings such as oregano, salt, and/or pepper). Toss around until spinach is wilted. Add in sliced grape tomatoes and toss with spinach for a few minutes.
Remove cauliflower pizza from oven (can cut into 4 pizza slices and save 2 for later). Top with chicken sausage, spinach, and tomatoes.
Enjoy with nonfat Greek yogurt on the side (optional, for taste)
Dairy products contain casein and whey, two types of high-quality protein. Dairy is also the best calcium source and provides high amounts of phosphorus, B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc. Greek yogurt is especially beneficial because it contains more calcium than most other dairy products and some varieties also contain probiotics which aid in digestive health.
What are some of your favorite meals to eat when pregnant? What do you enjoy eating that keeps you fuller for longer? Would love to hear from you!