10 Healthy Lunches for Pregnant Women

Chow on 08.24.12
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Photo Credit:iStockphot/Thinkstock

Many women get serious about nutrition when they become pregnant.  We want to make sure we are eating the right foods that will nourish our little babies while they are growing.  However, there are so many do's and don'ts when it comes to pregnancy nutrition, it is easy to get confused and overwhelmed.

When I was pregnant with both of my daughters, it was a constant battle to plan enough healthy meals to make sure I covered the vast spectrum of nutrients required during pregnancy.  For whatever reason, I found that lunches were the most challenging.  Probably because I was working, rushing, and eating the most convenient foods to pack and bring with me.

To take some of the guess work out of trying to plan healthy lunches, here are a few great ideas packed with nutrients needed during pregnancy.

1. Egg Salad

egg salad

Phot Credit: Kelly Rossiter

Eggs are high in choline, a nutrient that is essential to maximize your baby's brain growth and development. This make ahead salad will keep for 2-3 days.  I love Kelly's recipe which includes salmon-a fish high in omega 3's. Change it up by putting it in a whole-wheat tortilla one day and on whole-wheat bread the next.

2. Black Bean and Cheese Quesadillas

quesadilla

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

I am a huge fan of quesadillas.  They are super easy to prepare and can often contain leftover veggies or meats.  Keep them low-fat with vegetarian black beans and reduced fat Monterey Jack cheese.  Make sure to include some fresh veggies like peppers, tomatoes, and spinach.  The beans are loaded with heart healthy fiber, a nutrient that can be helpful during pregnancy. Pair this with a simple salad or fruit.

3. Pita Pizza

pizza

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Use whole-wheat pita pockets, tomato sauce, a few veggies that are on hand, and low-fat mozzarella for a simple pizza. Assemble and bake for 10 minutes at 400.  This pizza has fiber and calcium.  Calcium helps to build baby's bones and teeth.

4. Hearty Roasted Veggie Soup

soup

Photo Credit: Sarah Fernandez/ Chateau and Bungalow

Soup is such a wonderful comfort food.  I love Sarah's recipe for Hearty Roasted Vegetable Soup. This soup is full of beta-carotene, which is a safe form of vitamin A and best to get from foods. This soup is filling and can be paired with a slice of whole-wheat toast with hummus for extra protein and fiber.

5. Veggie Mac and Cheese

mac and cheese

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Who doesn't love mac and cheese, right?  With fiber-rich whole wheat pasta and low-fat cheese this lunch option is packed with calcium needed to strengthen bones and regulate heartbeat.  I like to add veggies like tomatoes and peas for extra vitamins and minerals.  

6. Grilled Salmon Fillet

salmon

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Seafood and fish are important foods during pregnancy because they are high in protein, healthy fats, and omega 3's- a nutrient necessary for building brain function and proper vision.  However, certain fish are high in mercury and can harm your child in utero. It is best to avoid large fish like swordfish, tile fish, king mackerel, and shark because they are high in mercury. To get the benefits from fish, plan to eat a variety of safe fish about twice a week. Salmon is especially great because it contains Selenium, which may protect your body from mercury poisoning.  Try this salmon fillet with lime salsa for a delicious and healthy lunch.

7. Chopped Chicken Salad

chicken salad

Photo Credit: Sarah Fernandez

A green salad with protein is one of my favorite go-to lunch options.  Sarah's Chopped Grilled Chicken Salad is the perfect recipe for a yummy healthy lunch.  The protein from the chicken will keep you full and help you reach the daily goal of 60 g per day for pregnancy. The tomatoes are high in vitamin C which helps your body absorb the iron from the chicken. These nutrients will help prevent pregnancy-induced anemia.

8. Turkey Burger

turkey burger

Photo Credit: Jaden Hair

Jaden's Turkey Burger with Roasted Red Pepper Spread is delicious and uses lean turkey instead of regular ground beef which has more saturated fat.  If you use the feta pepper spread, make sure the cheese is pasteurized to prevent risk of miscarriage caused by the bacteria Listeria found in raw milk cheeses.

9. Couscous Salad

corn

Photo Credit: Kelly Rossiter

Couscous is a versatile grain that lends well as a base for cold salads.  This pea and corn salad can be made with whole-wheat couscous for extra fiber.  Try adding different veggies to vary the salad.  I love to add cheese and tomatoes for extra calcium and vitamin C.

10. Strawberry Spinach Saladsalad

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Strawberry Spinach Salad is loaded with iron, vitamin C, and protein.  These nutrients combined are great for pregnancy because they will help your body build red blood cells, which your body is busy making as your blood volume increases nearly 50% during pregnancy.

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