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6 Surprising Pregnancy Superfoods (And One Easy Way To Eat Them All At Once)

You hear so much about what you shouldn’t eat during pregnancy. It’s nice to see a positive spin, and learn more about  foods that can actually benefit you and your baby. FitPregnancy.com just did a feature on little-known pregnancy superfoods, inspired by the new book  The 100 Healthiest Foods to Eat During Pregnancy: The Surprising Unbiased Truth about Foods You Should be Eating During Pregnancy but Probably Aren’t”

A superfood is one that packs maximum nutritional punch, or one that contains specific nutrients for prenatal health and/or fetal development. The foods they featured may not be the usual ones you’ve been encouraged to eat during pregnancy (another serving of leafy greens, anyone?) But they’re equally nutritionally dense. And though I can find a place for Kale in my heart, there are a lot of things I like a lot better.

For example…

artichokes. These happen to be one of my personal favorites. And they happen to be loaded with the cream of the pregnancy vitamin crop: Folate. Plus they’re tasty, low in fat and calories, and if you get them whole, eating them can be a source of entertainment as well as nourishment. If you’re not up for the hassle (or expense) of whole artichokes, I’ve found that frozen hearts are the best substitute. Trader Joe’s makes a great version, and there are other national brands available too.

pinto beans. Beans offer a huge amount of fiber, which is key to abdominal comfort during pregnancy.  They’re also really rich in minerals like copper, iron and phosphorous. Ceridwen and I both craved beans during pregnancy. I, unfortunately, have a li’l digestive problem with those beany things, one that goes beyond run of the mill embarrassment into acute, long lasting pain. I talked it over with my OB and she gave me the go-ahead to use Beano. Which was a lifesaver, because beans were some of the only protein I found appealing. Using dried beans is sort of a pain in the butt requiring advance planning and soaking. But there is a lot more nutrition in dried beans than canned ones. Plus, now that we know canned foods contain BPA, there’s that to consider.

Most of the foods they mentioned make great snacks on their own. But when I read the Fit Pregnancy list,  I thought, why not combine a bunch of these ingredients into one meal: a pregnancy nutritional powerhouse?

The list also included basil, pumpkin seeds, tahini and chives, among other things.   I was reminded of a sandwich I used to love, topped with hummus and pesto. Hummus dip is one of the most flexible of dishes.  All it really takes to make a hummus is some kind of bean product, mixed with tahini and a little oil. Then you can grind just about anything into it.

Thus:

Pinto Bean Hummus With (or Without) Artichoke Pesto.

To make this dish, your best tool is the trusty food processor. If you don’t have one, you can mash it all by hand. It’ll be harder, but hey, it’ll be an arm workout! (Ingredients are in bold, superfoods in color, linked to more info.)

For the hummus part:

Plop 2 cups of pinto beans (see above) in to the bowl and grind them into a pulp.

Add some garlic or chives (iron! magnesium! vitamin c!) if you want a bit of a bite.

Then add 2 tbsp of  tahini and a little olive oil and pulse to combine.

Squeeze in some lemon, and  season to taste.

Scrape it all out and stick it in the fridge for a while to let the flavors meld.

For the pesto part:

(You can wipe out the food processor bowl if you care about keeping things pristine, but it doesn’t really matter.)

Put a half cup of pumpkin seeds (No shells, bonus flavor if you toast them first)  in the bowl with just enough olive oil to keep the blades moving. Grind ‘em up.

Add 2 cloves of garlic and grind.

Add a bunch of basil (about a cup) and some more oil and pulse until it looks like a paste.

Then add a few artichoke hearts. If you’re using frozen, make sure they’re defrosted and drained or the pesto will be watery.

If you want the pesto thicker, you can add more artichokes. If you want it thinner, you can add more oil. Pesto is really a matter of taste, so try yours to see if it’s to your liking and tweak accordingly. Most Don’t forget the salt!

You can eat the two mixed together, or create your own little superfood dip and spread extravaganza.

For more Pregnancy Superfoods, and more info about how to get these into your diet, see the full piece at Fit Pregnancy.

photo: Lisa Norwood/flickr

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