It can be tough to find healthy foods you want to eat when you’re pregnant. From nausea to food aversions, mealtime planning gets a little more complicated. Moreover, when you’re a surrogate, you’ve got a contractual agreement to eat healthy (yep, it’s actually written out in your Gestational Agreement contract).
This blog post is meant to be a an inspirational meal “cheat sheet” to help you find healthy foods you actually want to eat throughout all three trimesters. For this guide we’ve partnered with Dietitian Nutritionist Eva De Angelis to help us cover all the nutritional bases and bring you whole and balanced meals.
Nutritional Requirements for Pregnant Women
Your food choices are as crucial as how much you eat. And there are some key nutrients to maintain a healthy pregnancy and ensure proper fetal development.
Folic acid may be regarded as one of the most essential vitamins for pregnant women. This B vitamin helps prevent neural tube defects and reduces the risk of premature birth and low-birth weight. Fortified cereals, dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, and pulses are great sources.
Calcium helps your baby’s bones and tooth buds develop. Dairy products are a good source, but also plant-based options like white beans, sesame seeds, almonds, chickpeas, kale, and cabbage.
Vitamin D is crucial for calcium absorption. While skin exposure to sunlight is our greatest source, foods like fatty fish (tuna, trout, and salmon), egg yolks, beef liver, mushrooms, and fortified dairy products have vitamin D.
Iron helps boost your blood volume and prevent anemia. Anemia can make you feel tired, increasing the risk of premature birth, low-birth weight, and postpartum depression. Lean meat, especially beef or pork is an excellent source, as well as pulses, dark-green veggies, and iron-fortified foods.
Pregnancy-Friendly Healthy Meal Ideas
Now, let’s get down to business. Here are 10 easy and simple-to-make balanced meals.
Pan-Seared Steak with Quinoa, Walnuts & Spinach
Making pan-seared steak with a sides of quinoa, walnuts and spinach is so quick that you can do it on a regular weeknight with no problem. Packed with iron and protein, lean steaks like sirloin, top round, and flank steak are the best options. And if don’t have quinoa, you can use brown rice. Chopped walnuts are rich in healthy fats and give a wonderful crispy texture.
Turkey Skillet Ravioli Lasagna
When making the turkey skillet ravioli lasagna, just pick your favorite tomato sauce to pair with some broken lasagna noodles and ground turkey for a protein boost with less saturated fat. Add a simple green salad seasoned with some olive oil for healthy fats and more fiber.
Skip the fuzzy omelet and try an easy and simple veggie-packed frittata. Eggs are packed with protein and healthy fats. Add some low-fat cheese, and plenty of veggies like kale, swiss chard, peppers, onions, and carrots to get all the vitamins and minerals you and your baby needs.
Oven-Baked Salmon & Veggies
Salmon is a top pick for pregnancy, low in mercury and high in healthy fats to support your baby’s brain development. Just grab a baking sheet and put a salmon filet with some broccoli florets, cubed potato, and pumpkin seasoned with olive oil, and roast until the fish is done and the veggies crispy.
Vegan Burrito Bowls
Legumes are one great plant-based protein we should all include more often. They’re low in fat and packed with fiber and micronutrients. Ditch the tortillas and keep all the flavor by mixing black beans, sweet corn, avocado, lettuce, bell peppers, red onions, and cilantro into a vegan burrito bowl.
Chickpea and Spinach Stew
Chickpea and spinach stew is another great plant-based option packed with fiber, protein, and calcium. Use low-sodium broth and add some tomato paste for more flavor. And if you don’t want to chop any veggies, look for chopped frozen onions, bell peppers, and carrots to simplify your cooking without compromising your nutrition.
A superfood salad consists of quinoa salad with cranberries, pumpkin seeds & roasted brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts are a good source of calcium and fiber, and go great with the crunchy pumpkin seeds filled with healthy fats. Plus, quinoa is one of the few plant-based sources of complete protein. The cranberries give a sweet tangy twist for another layer of flavor.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Grilled pork tenderloin is packed with zinc, crucial for your baby’s immune system, pork tenderloin is one of the leanest cuts of pork. Pair it with a side salad of whole grains such as brown rice, or barley, dried apricots, pecans, and kale for added fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants.
Tofu and Veggie Stir-Fry
Tofu and veggie stir-fry: tofu is a vegan-friendly protein easy to find and very versatile. Cubed tofu seasoned with grated garlic and ginger goes perfectly with sautéed onions, bell pepper, carrots, and eggplant. You can add some toasted sesame seeds for added flavor and healthy fats to your tofu and veggie stir-fry.
Veggie-Filled Pasta with Peanuts
Regular pasta can be a part of a healthy diet as long as we serve it with plenty of veggies. So don’t fret if you’re not into whole-grain noodles. Adding sliced zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and red onions is a great way to pack your meal with vitamins and minerals. Adding peanuts gives you added protein, healthy fats, and a delicious nutty flavor.
About the Author:
Eva De Angelis is a Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, chef, and writer from Argentina, passionate about everything related to food & nutrition. With several years of experience in healthy cooking workshops, she specializes in food and nutrition education in different settings promoting healthy lifestyles to manage chronic disease.Learn More