Supplementing Your Multivitamin: Prenatal Meal Ideas
Perhaps you never really thought about the levels of vitamins and minerals in your system, whether or not some were more deficient than others. Maybe you dabbled in supplements because someone said you were likely low in iron or vitamin D. Then suddenly you find yourself pregnant and these deficiencies feel like they carry higher stakes. You’re taking a daily Prenatal multivitamin, but your care provider says it’s still not enough. Luckily, plenty of foods naturally contain the vitamins and minerals found in Prenatal supplements.
Below is a list of foods that contain some of the most common vitamins found in prenatals, followed by a few meal ideas that will make this all seem less daunting (Think: tacos.)
It is also important to keep in mind that not every food holds the same amount of each nutrient and every body will absorb these nutrients differently, but by incorporating these items into your daily diet, you can feel more in control of your pregnancy and the changing needs of your body as it prepares for childbirth.
**DISCLAIMER: These lists are not to be used as a substitute for your prenatal vitamins, but rather a means of further supplementation through diet.
Folate is a naturally occurring B Vitamin found in food such as legumes, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and some juices. When added to supplements, it becomes Folic Acid. It has been shown that increasing your intake of folate and folic acid during pregnancy helps in developing the babies nervous system and may prevent preterm birth and neural tube defects such a spina bifida.
As your body works to produce enough red blood cells to supply both you and your baby, the need for iron increases. Because the body cannot make iron on its own, we have to consciously ingest enough to keep our supply balanced. While animal products contain some of the highest level of iron, it is also possible for those with a plant-based diet to maintain their iron supply with foods such as tomato juice, beans, and spinach. It has also been shown that using cast iron cookware can raise the levels of iron in your food.
Calcium is essential as the baby develops its skeletal system and strengthens its heart. If there is an insufficient amount of food-sourced calcium, the baby will take what it needs from the pregnant person’s bones. Luckily, during pregnancy, the body has the ability to more easily absorb calcium. Calcium is not only found in dairy, but many leafy greens also contain a good supply.
Recent studies have shown that Vitamin C has more or less a neutral effect on fetal development, meaning it neither helps nor harms the baby. However, Vitamin C allows the body to more easily absorb iron, which is very important for fetal development. While it may not be necessary to take a separate Vitamin C supplement, being aware of your daily intake will help to ensure your body is sufficiently storing the iron it needs. Citrus fruits are a great way to take in Vitamin C as well as dark leafy greens like kale and certain herbs such as thyme.
Vitamin D is important for the absorption of Calcium, but unfortunately, there are very few food sources that naturally contain Vitamin D and even fewer that are safe for pregnancy. Your best bet for natural Vitamin D intake is to spend at least 15 minutes in direct sunlight (Of course, this isn’t always consistent).
Tomato Soup and A Tuna Melt
1 stick of butter
2 tbl olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 tsp fresh thyme
4-5 basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
3 tbl tomato paste
4 cups broth
1/2 c flour
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add olive oil and onion. Cook until onion is soft, translucent, and starting to brown. (About 10 minutes) Add thyme, basil, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Stir, allowing the aromatics to be released, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir to blend. Simmer for 10 minutes. In the meantime, add equal parts flour and broth in a separate bowl. Whisk to form a paste. Stir into tomato mixture. Add remaining broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Stir frequently as soup will stick to bottom of the pot.
SANDWICH: Heat a medium size pan on high heat. Spread butter onto one side of each slice of bread. Shred about 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. When pan is hot, add one slice of bread and lower heat to medium low. Place cheese on top of bread. Layer about half the tuna salad on top of the cheese. Add the second piece of bread so the buttered side is facing up. When the bottom piece of bread is golden brown (be patient!), flip the sandwich to toast the other side. Transfer to a plate and cut in half.
Put soup in a blender in batches, blend until smooth. (Pour blended soup into a new pot.) Add salt and pepper to taste, and a little cream (optional) for added richness. Serve hot.
Lentil and Cauliflower Tacos with Cilantro Lime Chutney
1/2 cup lentils
1 head cauliflower, ground in food processor (option: chopped)
1.5 cups fresh cilantro
1 tbl fresh lime juice, additional for serving
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 avocado, sliced
1 large clove of garlic
2 tbl olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp all spice
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Rinse lentils through a mesh sieve under running water. Add to a small pot with 1 cup of water and smoked paprika, if using. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer for about 25 minutes. Add more water if needed. Lentils should be tender, not mushy.
Meanwhile, place ground or chopped cauliflower into a mixing bowl. Add olive oil, cumin, chili powder, nutmeg, all spice, salt, and pepper. Mix with a spoon to combine. Lay flat on a baking sheet. Place sheet in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, flipping them with a spatula half way through.
Once lentils and cauliflower are finished cooking, transfer to separate bowl for taco assembly.
Cilantro Chutney: Place cilantro with stems in a food processor. Add garlic, 2 tbl lime juice, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 cup olive oil. While blending, slowly drizzle about 1/2 cup water until ingredients are incorporated and the consistency is pourable but not too watery. You may not need to use all the water.
Assemble taco, adding any toppings you enjoy. Option to add hot peppers.
Beans and Greens on Toast
1 can white beans, rinsed
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic, clove, chopped
1 cup Kale, washed and de-stemmed
1 slice of Sourdough
1/2 cup chicken broth
In a cast-iron skillet, heat about 2 tbl olive oil. Add onions and allow to cook until soft. Add garlic and sautée for approximately 2 minutes. Stir often so as to not let the garlic burn.
Add beans and broth. Allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Shred kale by hand and mix it in until the kale is nearly wilted, but still firm.
Push the mixture toward the sides of the pan. Add slice of bread in the middle and allow to absorb flavors and begin to toast.
Once bread is at your preferable toastiness, take off the heat, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, add a dash of smoked paprika and serve hot.