Eating healthy when you’re pregnant is vital. Even when taking prenatal vitamins, pregnant women need lots of natural food sources of folate, calcium, potassium, iron, vitamin E and vitamin A. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends pregnant women steer clear of too much sugar, preservatives and saturated fat. So what’s a woman to do when she has the munchies? When you’re craving that pickle-and-ice-cream sundae, try instead this selection of savory and sweet tidbits that will satisfy the real craving in you for high-density nutrients that you and your baby need.
Homemade hummus is flavorful, satisfying and high in fiber to reduce the constipation that plagues pregnant women. Hummus uses tahini, a seed butter made by pureeing hulled sesame seeds. Find tahini at your local health food store or Middle Eastern grocery. Serve hummus with fresh raw vegetables or whole wheat pita bread. The following is a basic, traditional recipe that leaves out the extra oils, spices and roasted vegetables that are sometimes included. Feel free to experiment with measurements and ingredients, leaving out the garlic if it’s too pungent–or adding extra garlic if that’s what you’re craving.
Place in a blender in the order listed:
1 cup water
½ cup tahini
1 16 oz. can of chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)
¼ cup lemon juice
1 clove garlic
¼ tsp. salt
Blend until smooth. Fresh homemade hummus keeps up to three days in the refrigerator.
Peanut Butter Celery
Peanut butter celery is simple, basic, easy, wholesome and satisfying. Wash and trim a couple of celery stalks, then spread natural peanut butter in the recess and enjoy.
Mango Avocado Dip
Full-fledged guacamole may be too intense for your pregnant stomach, so try mashing avocados with lemon juice and adding chopped mangoes. This light, sweet snack is great for dipping veggies and has plenty of fiber, potassium and folate.
Savory and Sweet Cheese
Maternity units at hospitals routinely stash cheese for their pregnant inpatients. Rich in calcium and protein, cheese is a convenient and healthy snack to keep you going between meals. If your stomach is reluctant to accept the cheese you used to like before you got pregnant, try another variety. Choose from aged cheeses like cheddar and Swiss, or pick a fresh cheese like mozzarella. Spread some fresh ricotta on a wholemeal rye cracker. Instead of ice cream or cheesecake, mash cream cheese with a bit of pure maple and spread over a whole grain graham cracker.
Make your own high-fiber granola with natural sweeteners and custom ingredients. Spread 3 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats on a cookie sheet and toast in a preheated 325-degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 minutes. Toss the warm oats together with 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, ¼ cup wheat germ, 1 cup sliced blanched almonds, and a mixture of ¼ cup honey or pure maple syrup and 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil. If you’ve been experiencing morning sickness, add ½ tsp. ginger powder to the mixture to help with nausea. Mix the ingredients well and spread on the cookie sheet. Bake until golden and crisp, from 20 to 40 minutes. When cool, add ½ cup of dried cranberries, dried tart cherries or raisins. Munch on granola plain, or serve it with cold milk any time of the day.
For those intense sweets cravings, fix a fruit salad of melon, bananas, grapefruit and apricots–all of which are rich in the vitamins and potassium you need. Add a dash of balsamic vinegar for an extra flavor experience.