Nine Months: Pregnancy cravings at their peak? Here's how to cook healthy and satiate those pangs

Walking the fine line between healthy and unhealthy could be difficult, particularly when you’re pregnant. On one hand, you have ready-to-eat products branded as healthy and on the other you’ve got pregnancy cravings to curb. Do you give in?

We suggest you absolutely must — but not to those convenient foods labeled as vitamin-fortified or calcium-enriched!  They’re everything you should avoid at this stage.

Follow Firstpost's show Nine Months for facts on nutrition you must know if your little one is almost underway. Nine Months is a visual how-to survival guide that brings experience, knowledge and perspective to mothers so they can follow a reliable and singular narrative on pregnancy and parenting.

But first, let’s begin with these nutrient-dense recipes prepared from natural ingredients. Don’t worry, they’re as yummy as any topping on a pizza!

Mushroom Carpaccio

Soft mushrooms, pungent garlic, succulent asparagus, bright tomatoes, and aromatic cumin combine harmoniously to create a meal that’s both comforting and nutritious.

Directions —

  • Add chopped button mushrooms into a frying pan and sauté with garlic and chillies
  • After a quick sauté, remove the mushrooms and transfer into a bowl
  • Use the same frying pan and add olive oil
  • Sprinkle cumin and sauté with chopped asparagus, chimji mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and edamame or peas
  • Plate the mushrooms and top them over with the sautéed vegetables

Indulge in this recipe that is high in vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin D, iron, and a host of other minerals. Full of flavour and abundant in nutrients, you’ll wish for a second serving!

Cottage Cheese Trilogy

Soft cottage cheese blocks (paneer) coated in the choicest marinades, these mouthwatering treats find their home in a soft bed of olives. There couldn’t have been a better match!

Directions —

  • Take three bite-sized paneer blocks
  • Top off each with a marinade
  • The first marinade should be a blend of hung curd, garlic, and ginger
  • The second one termed ‘resham patti’ would be a paste of Kashmiri dried chillies
  • The final marinade can be made with a combination of coriander, mint leaves, hung curd, and mustard oil
  • Once each block is coated with a different marinade, leave them aside for an hour
  • Next, place them in the oven to grill
  • Once grilled, plate the paneer on a base of olives
  • Serve with green chutney and spicy mayonnaise for some added flavour

Rich in protein, this quick paneer preparation is the perfect mid-afternoon snack. The olives come as an added boost of vitamin E and antioxidants, making for a wholesome meal.

Eating For Two

‘Consider the quality, not the quantity’. This maxim more than solves the dilemma of ‘eating for two’ when you’re pregnant. It’s more important to double the amount of nutrients than just the quantity of food on your plate. Ensure you include ingredients that pack a sizeable amount of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and other nutrients.

For pregnant mothers, it is recommended to increase calorie intake by 300 to 500 calories in the second and third trimesters, through unprocessed, additive-free food.

Demystifying Cravings

When you want another serving of that cake, it’s not really the sweet treat that you crave. Rather it’s a signal from your body to replenish fat stores. To this, you’d be pleased to smile and go on with devouring that cake whole; but wait a moment! What you really need is good fat and not the kind that’s processed and loaded with refined sugars. Think - avocado, coconut oil, and ghee, which all belong to the family of healthy fats.

The Fruity Dilemma

It’s been weeks since you last saw the succulent face of a papaya and now you’re getting impatient you can’t indulge in your favourite fruit. In that case, we’re happy to break the age-old myth associated with papayas and miscarriages. Papayas and other fruits popularly regarded as high-risk during pregnancies have been proven to be safe, with doctors trying time and again to reassure women.

But, if you’re still feeling unsure, it’s absolutely fine to go a few months without papayas or pineapples! And, regardless of what you eat, it’s important to practice moderation and derive your nutrients from varied food groups.

The Quest For Healthy Fats With Omega-3 Fatty Acids

As a rule of thumb, make it a point to boost your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s the best way to ensure the healthy development of your baby’s brain. Rely on sources like eggs and fish, which are rich in omega-3. Alternatively, you could consume fish oil supplements to increase levels of this fatty acid in your body. Vegetarians need not be disappointed. Foods like flaxseed and walnut can consumed in conjunction with algae supplements to increase the concentration of omega-3 in the body.

Remember, nutrient levels in your body need to be at their optimum during the planning stage, pregnancy, and post-pregnancy phase to ensure your little one receives the nourishment too!

The Pregnancy Diet And What Shouldn’t Find Its Way Into It

A caveat for a pregnancy diet or any healthy diet for that matter is to avoid processed and convenient foods. These contain indiscriminate amounts of preservatives, additives, and unhealthy trans fats, which may cause hormonal changes and elevation in blood sugar levels, besides other health problems. For the same reason, doctors recommend a balanced diet containing unprocessed whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fats, and proteins. Proteins in particular are what most diets lack in, particularly in the case of vegetarians. Which is why including a portion of proteins through foods like lentils and soya beans with every meal is essential to replenish and maintain reserves of this nutrient. Considered the building blocks of the body, they are known to impact a number of functions during the pregnancy process, including the amniotic fluid.

The Right Way To Eat

Often pregnant women complain of acidity and other stomach-related issues. Most of these stem from improper eating habits. An on-the-move attitude while eating has more to do with this.

Eating in a stressful situation or having your meals in a rush sets the body in the fight or flight mode. This prevents it from releasing the digestive enzymes that aid in digestion. Instead, your body’s natural survival instincts jump into action, putting off any other bodily process till later. All these reactions eventually culminate into gastric issues and in serious cases, certain health problems. Hence, make sure you sit down to eat your meal in a peaceful setting. Chew your meal slowly and avoid any distractions during the time.

Watch this episode of 9 Months for a more comprehensive discussion on how to cook healthy during pregnancy and get those nutrients!

Updated Date: Jun 26, 2018 19:06:49 IST