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Our Favourite Ways to Cook Healthily for the Family When Pregnant

Cooking nutritious food for the family can be challenge, especially when you're pregnant! It doesn't need to be a problem with these simple, delicious recipes and tips

 

Cooking for a family can be quite a challenge on the average day, but add being pregnant to the mix and it becomes even more difficult!

What to eat when pregnant

There are days when you simply don't feel like eating, let alone cooking. Whether it's first trimester nausea (and morning sickness is by no means limited to the morning!), heartburn, or your growing baby pressing in so many directions that you simply can't sit down and eat in comfort, sometimes it just seems like too much effort!

We invited pregnancy fitness and well-being experts FittaMamma to share some recipe ideas for Mammas-to-be. Packed with nutritional goodness and easy to prepare, these recipes are easy to eat and will satisfy the whole family.

Expert nutrition for pregnant women

FittaMamma expert Deborah McCabe says:

"It's so important to get all the right nutrition for you and your baby during pregnancy. FittaMamma have put together a series of recipes that don't include any ingredients you should avoid during pregnancy, are easy to cook, and easy to digest."

"Tempting as it is to have 'one for you and one for the baby' you don't actually need to boost your calorie intake until the third trimester of your pregnancy and even then you won't need more than 250-300 extra calories a day. That's the equivalent of a cheese sandwich (without the mayo) or a moderately sized jacket potato with a knob of butter!"

"If you're feeding a family, there's no reason why you should cook different meals for them. Whilst there are some foods that you can't eat whilst pregnant, it's not difficult to avoid including them in your menus - unless it's really too much of a hardship for your partner to go without oysters!"

Most of your pregnancy food needs can be met by following a normal, healthy diet, but it's worth being aware of the different food groups you should include each day to make sure you get all the nutrients you need for you, your baby, and your family.

Essential food groups when pregnant

Ways to Cook for the Family When PregnantPlenty of protein. Ideally meat, fish, cheese and eggs, or vegetable proteins such as beans, lentils and tofu. The amino acids that make up protein are the building blocks of cell development and are essential for your baby's growth. Aim for around 70gms of protein daily.

Heaps of fruit and vegetables. At least 5 or 6 a day! Try and include the 'rainbow' of colours to get a good mix of essential vitamins and minerals.

Ample carbs - which you can find in cereals, bread, pasta and savoury biscuits. Go for whole grains wherever possible, with all the goodness and extra fibre to keep your digestive system healthy.

Lots of calcium, essential for developing bones and teeth. Dairy products are the obvious source, but you'll find calcium in green leafy vegetables, beans, seeds, and nuts too.

Folic acid is essential during the first trimester for healthy neural development. You'll find it in green vegetables, potatoes, chickpeas, whole grains, sweetcorn, broccoli and soya milk.

Foods rich in iron, such as red meat and green leafy vegetables. Team your iron-rich meal with Vitamin C (such as a glass of orange juice) for easier absorption of iron - and avoid caffeine.

Monounsaturated fats - the healthy varieties found in olive oil, nuts, and avocados - along with polyunsaturated fats (those in oily fish and soya beans) and Omega oils are required for your developing baby's brain and nervous system. Avoid hydrogenated fats.

Drink plenty of fluids, ideally water!

Healthy recipes to get you started when pregnant!

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and definitely shouldn't be skipped when you're pregnant, so elevate the humble bowl of porridge to a FittaBreakfast packed with goodness that will set you up for the day (or at least until lunchtime!) and is great for toddlers, teens, and partners too!

Power Porridge

Oats are a great source of dietary fibre, low in saturated fat and cholesterol and slowly release their energy making you feel fuller for longer. We like to add a few extras to make it even more nutritious and delicious!

Preparation method

Follow your usual porridge recipe (we use one ½ cup of porridge per person mixed with ½ cup of water and ½ cup of milk, but for added calcium use 1 cup of milk and leave out the water) and simply add one or more of the following ingredients:

  • Grated apple
  • Handful of sultanasOur Favourite Ways to Cook Healthily for the Family When Pregnant
  • A heaped tsp of flaxseed
  • Handful of dried cranberries
  • A generous shake of mixed seeds
  • A spoonful of wheatgerm
  • A spoonful of ground almonds
  • Finely chopped brazil nuts
  • Mashed banana
  • Blueberries (these will make it a lovely colour!)
  • Raspberries

A mixture of fruit, nuts and seeds works best! Bring gently to the boil, simmer for a few minutes until creamy, and then serve. Top with yogurt and add a dollop of honey for sweetness.

Nutritious soups for pregnant women

A steaming bowl of hot, warming soup at lunchtime is so satisfying, especially when the weather is chilly. "We're great fans of soup," say FittaMamma, "It's easy to make up a big batch, eat some and save some". Soup freezes really well if you want to keep it for a while, and it's easy to include lots of different vegetables, beans and pulses.

Little ones love the colour and sweetness of this soup and it's good for them too! Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin C and provide an abundance of Vitamin A - which helps body tissue repair itself and aids cell growth. They are also a good source of dietary fibre and help to maintain a steady blood sugar level.

Sweet Potato and Coconut Cream Soup

IngredientsWays to Cook for the Family When Pregnant

  • 1 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1.25cm/½in piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • 675g/1½lb sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp lemongrass, chopped 
  • 570ml/1 pint vegetable stock
  • 570ml/1 pint coconut cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 limes, zest and juice
  • Few slices of chilli to garnish

Preparation method

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion, garlic and ginger for about 5 minutes until tender. Add the sweet potatoes and lemongrass and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  2. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Add the coconut cream and blend.
  4. Heat through without allowing the soup to boil. Simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavours to develop. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the lime juice.
  6. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the lime zest and thinly sliced chilli.

Fruity Power Shake

Packed with vitamins, ground almonds (a good source of Vitamin E) and wheat germ (another useful source of Vitamin E and folate too) as well as calcium-rich yogurt.

Ingredients

  • Approximately 150g/6oz prepared fruit such as berries, mango banana, papaya, peach, apricot, melon or Kiwi fruit
  • 250ml/8½fl oz low-fat plain yoghurt
  • 250ml/8½fl oz fruit juice of choice such as orange, apple, pineapple or cranberry
  • 50g/2oz ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3-4 tbsp wheat germ
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon

Preparation method

  1. Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth, serve in glasses with extra ice to taste, this shake will keep in the fridge for two days.
  2. For a wheat-free variation, soak rolled oats overnight in fruit juice and use instead of the wheatgerm.

Tips on pregnancy exercises and fitness

Ways to Cook for the Family When Pregnant

Read our pregnancy and fitness series, written with FittaMamma:

Visit FittaMamma for more recipes and nutritional advice, pregnancy and postnatal exercises, and FittaMamma's unique range of supportive maternity fitnesswear and leisure wear.

 
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