Pregnancy can be exceptionally demanding for women. The female body experiences a range of hormonal and physical transformations.
The body’s requirements also increase abundantly as the body needs various nutrients like calcium, iron, folic acid, and omega-3 fats in increased amounts. It is crucial to ensure your body is provided with all the nutrients it requires in an ample amount for the baby’s growth and development.
Let’s understand the importance of certain Nutrients required in abundance in pregnancy- Folic Acid
Folic acid is required during and before pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects. It is also necessary to develop the baby’s brain.
Women are often recommended to start folic acid six months before they conceive.
Proteins help in the development of the baby and its tissues.
It also helps in the growth and development of the baby.
The iron required increases during pregnancy as it helps supply blood to the baby.
It also provides oxygen to the tissues.
DHA, one of the most important and often neglected nutrients, is crucial for the baby and brain development.
Calcium is also required to develop the baby’s muscles, bones, and teeth.
It is also necessary to maintain fluids within the body.
Did you know that Vitamin C can help your body absorb iron better? It also helps in developing a baby’s teeth and bones.
It also helps in the healing of any injuries or wounds.
It is essential to drink an ample amount of water in a day. 2-3 litres as it helps in maintaining hydration and improves digestion.
It also contributes to the amniotic fluid.
Women often worry about weight gain and assume they are eating for two. The reality is that the increased requirements are for the development of the foetus, amniotic fluid, placenta, etc. Weight gain differs for each BMI; hence, deciding on a baby with a healthy birth weight must not be the parameter.
It is also essential to understand that since our body is going through various changes, there might be aversions towards certain foods, which is normal. It would be best if you didn’t force yourself to consume anything your body’s not accepting.
Protein-Packed Bean & Grain Bowl
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
½ black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh corn
1 capsicum chopped
1 avocado, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup onion
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (for garnish)
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook Quinoa: Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a vessel. Take quinoa and add a pinch of salt. Switch to medium heat and cover with a lid. Cook for about 15-20 minutes.
Prepare Dressing: In a small bowl, take lime juice, olive oil, ground cumin, chilli powder, salt, and pepper to make the dressing.
Preparation: Combine cooked quinoa, black beans, corn, chopped capsicum, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and cilantro in a mixing bowl.
Dressing: Pour the prepared dressing over the quinoa and black bean mixture. Toss everything well to ensure the sauce is evenly distributed and diced avocado.
Serve: This Quinoa and Black Bean Bowl can be enjoyed warm or cold. It’s a versatile dish you can customize with your favourite vegetables and toppings.
This recipe offers a balanced meal with protein, healthy fats, fibre, and various nutrients. Quinoa and black beans offer plant-based protein, while colourful vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It’s an excellent option for a quick and nutritious meal, whether for lunch or dinner.
Nutrients Per Serving:
Calories: 400 kcal
Protein: 12 g
Fiber: 10 g
Iron: 2 mg
Folate: 75 mcg
Nutritional Benefits of the Bowl
High-Quality Protein: Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs for various functions, including muscle repair and immune system support. That’s why quinoa is known as a complete protein source.
Rich in Fiber: Quinoa is high in dietary fibre, which supports digestive health. It is beneficial for weight management as it regulates blood sugar levels and induces a feeling of fullness.
Vitamins and Minerals: Quinoa contains vitamins such as B vitamins (B1, B2, B6) that play a role in energy metabolism and minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and iron that are important for overall health.
Antioxidants: Quinoa is rich in antioxidants like flavonoids and quercetin, protecting cells against oxidative stress and inflammation.
Gluten-Free: Quinoa is a safe food option for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease, as it is naturally gluten-free.
Plant-Based Protein: Black beans are a great source of plant-based protein, crucial for muscle growth, repair, and overall bodily function.
Fibre-Rich: Black beans are high in dietary fibre, which helps with digestion, regulates blood sugar, and promotes a feeling of fullness.
Low in Fat: Black beans are naturally low in fat, making them a heart-healthy source of protein and nutrients.
Breakfast Recipe: Oats Palak sprouts Uthappam
1 cup powdered quick oats rolled
¼ cup coarsely powdered urad dhal
½ cup palak pureed (2 ½ cups of chopped spinach)
¾ cup boiled mixed sprouts
2 tsp green chilli paste
1 onion chopped
Oil, salt – as taste
Preparation time: 15 min
Fermentation time: 15 min
Cooking time: 15 min
In a vessel, combine oats, urad dal, green chilli paste, salt, spinach pureed and 1 ½ cups water and mix well till there are no more lumps. Cover and keep aside for 15 min.
Heat the pan and grease it lightly using oil.
Pour the batter and add the required sprouts. Cook until they are golden brown on both sides.
Rich in Iron, Folate, Vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fibre, and flavonoids.
It helps maintain bowel health, controls sugar levels, boosts immunity to fight against infection and helps keep the body healthy.
Rich in Source fibre, zinc, copper, and calcium.
It helps Normalize bowel movements, achieve a healthy weight, and control blood sugar levels.
Rich in Proteins, soluble fibre, vitamins and minerals.
It helps lower blood pressure levels, Aids in achieving a healthy weight, and has anti-inflammatory effects.
Rich in Protein, iron, calcium.
Increases muscle mass and strength, lowers the risk of osteoporosis, boosts metabolism, and helps repair the body after surgery/injury.
Recipe- Palak Mattar Rice and Steamed Lentil Ladoo Curry
Palak Mattar Rice
Cooking time: 20-30 minutes
Palak leaves- 2 cups
Chopped onion- 1cup
Green peas- 1 cup
Basmathi rice-1cup (washed and soaked)
Bay leaf-1 no.
Cardamom- 2-3 nos.
Salt- the required amount
In a heated cooker, add oil and onion. Sautee them well.
Add green peas and palak leaves and stir them well for even cooking.
Mix the bay leaf, cloves, cardamom, and basmati rice well.
Add the necessary amount of salt and then close the cooker’s lid. After two whistles, turn down the flame
One pot of spinach mattar rice is ready to be served.
Steamed Lentil Ladoo Curry
Cooking time: 30- 40 minutes
Pre-soaked channa dal- 2 cups
Dried red chillies- 7-10 nos.
Finely chopped onions- 3 medium size
Diced tomatoes – 2 nos.
Finely chopped garlic- 10 cloves
Tamarind- 50g (Soaked in 150ml water)
Fresh yoghurt- 1 cup
Mustard seeds- 2 tsp
Chilli powder- required amount as per taste
Turmeric powder- 2 tsp
Jeera seeds- 4 tsp
Saunf- 2 tsp
Salt- required amount as per taste
Oil- 3 tsp
Add soaked channa dal and dried red chillies 3-4 nos in a blender and make it into a thick paste.
Add 1 small cup of onion, a handful of curry leaves, 2 tsp of jeera seeds, and the required salt and knead it into small balls.
Allow the chana dal balls to steam in a preheated steamer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a hot pan, add 3 tsp of oil; once it is heated, add mustard seeds, chopped onions, dried red chillies and garlic. Sautee them well until it turns golden brown.
Add diced tomatoes, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt, and stir them well. Add 200 ml of water and tamarind water. Cook it well until the raw smell goes away.
Now add fresh yoghurt. Cook until it becomes a moderately thick consistency.
Add the steamed lentil balls to the curry and turn off the flame. Stir them gently.
Hot steamed lentil dal curry is ready to be served.
The lunch course meal: Palak mattar rice and steamed lentil ladoo curry is a protein-rich meal containing a lot of folic acid and iron. Also, this meal is loaded with antioxidants.
Both palak and lentils are good sources of folate. Folic acid is a crucial nutrient during pregnancy as it helps prevent neural tube defects in unborn children.
Iron and calcium are essential nutrients during pregnancy. Their demand during pregnancy increases.
The inclusion of varieties of spinach helps in improving the intake of iron and calcium.
Antioxidant Rich Avocado Seeds Toast
Cooking time: 20 mins
Avocado (ripened)- 1 full
Whole Wheat bread slices- 2 slices Toasted
Pumpkin seeds – 2 tsp
Sunflower seeds – 2 tsp
Garlic- 5-6 pods fresh grated
Tomatoes- 1 chopped
Onions- 1 chopped (small)
Seasonings- oregano, thyme parsley- 1tsp
Lime juice- 1 tbsp
Pepper- 1 tsp
Salt- as required
Method of Preparation
Scoop the Ripened avocado and mash it well. Sautee the garlic (5-6pods) lightly and keep it aside.
Add the chopped onion, tomato, cilantro, oregano, thyme, and parsley to the avocado paste and mix it well.
Add 1 tsp crushed pepper and salt as required. Adjust based on taste.
Spread 1 tbsp of avocado paste on the toasted whole wheat bread.
Garnish with 1 tsp pumpkin and sunflower seeds. A lip-smacking healthy snack is ready.
Serve it with mint chutney or low-fat yoghurt with herbs.
Antioxidant-rich- Prevents seasonal infection and improves immunity.
Protein-rich- helps Foetal development and prevents complications like GDM and excess weight gain during pregnancy.
Insoluble fibre prevents Constipation during pregnancy, keeps satiated and prevents insulin spikes.
PUFA rich- Healthy fats that enhance foetal brain development, help in lactation post-delivery and regulate maternal and foetal metabolic function.
Nutrition Value Per Serving
Energy: 125 kcals
Protein: 7 g
Carbohydrates: 40 g
Fiber: 4 g
The Star ingredient of this recipe, avocado, is a nutrient-dense pregnancy-friendly food. It is known for its nutritional value as it is packed with healthy fats (MUFA- monounsaturated fatty acids), magnesium and potassium, Carotenoids ((lutein, zeaxanthin), insoluble fibre and glycemic friendly, which is very important for foetal growth and development.
Also, this recipe helps to meet the extra calories and protein needed for pregnant mothers.
Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are rich in protein, phytochemicals, vitamins and nutrients, PUFA and antioxidants.
Also high in Vitamin E and phytochemicals, it is an antioxidant that prevents infections and promotes immune function.