Fall is one of the best times to be pregnant. It’s the perfect weather, not too hot and not too cold, and full of rich colors and flavors. Sure, it’s best known as pumpkin spice season, but autumn harvests provide so many other delicious tastes too, from apple cinnamon to butternut squash or toasted caramel.
There are plenty of drool-worthy fall recipes, and they also happen to be filled with nutrients, like iron and fiber, which are ideal for you and your growing baby. Some ingredients have even been shown to relieve pregnancy symptoms like abdominal pains or nausea and make for an easier postpartum recovery. This is an excellent time to show off your culinary skills with all that seasonal produce, so we’ve scoped out some healthy fall meal options that taste amazing and are sure to leave you satisfied.
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Tips Before You Get Cooking
Right now, your baby is dependent on you to get the nutrients they need for survival. Giving your baby a healthy diet is essential to keep their development on track. So skip the processed foods and focus on natural produce.
By loading up on delicious and wholesome food, you’re also doing yourself a big favor by reducing the risk of pregnancy complications. Before you start chopping veggies, here are some tips to keep in mind while planning your meals this fall:
Pick your Protein
While pregnant, it’s important to pick lean proteins that provide energy and combat fatigue; most doctors recommend 60 grams of protein per day. Choices like lean chicken, turkey, pork, cooked fish like salmon, dried beans and peas, hard-boiled eggs, and nuts are great for you and your baby.
Focus on These Nutrients
In addition to protein, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says the most essential nutrients for pregnant women are folic acid, calcium, and iron. Folate can be found in leafy greens, fortified cereals, and pasta, or in citrus fruits.
Pasteurized milk, yogurt, hard cheeses, and greens like kale or bok choy are excellent sources of calcium, helping your baby’s bones and teeth grow strong. When pregnant, women need double the amount of iron than they typically do. Lean meats, cooked fish low in mercury like sardines, poultry, beans, peas, or fortified whole grains are full of iron. Be sure to combine these with vitamin C-rich ingredients to aid in iron absorption.
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Eat Plenty of Fruits & Veggies
Every healthy diet includes lots of fruits and vegetables, and the autumn harvest brings so many beautiful selections to your table. Try incorporating pumpkins, cranberries, apples, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, and sweet potatoes into your meals this season. Focus on stewing, baking, or sautéing these nutrient-rich ingredients for hot dishes that leave you feeling full and cozy.
If Unsure, Consult with Your Doctor
Proper nutrition is vital during pregnancy, and the above tips are an excellent guideline, but not every woman’s needs are exactly the same. It’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations, especially if you are experiencing any complications. Ask questions about your diet and supplements during pre-natal visits to get suggestions tailored to your unique pregnancy journey.
Give These Fall Favorites a Try:
They always say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that is especially true when pregnant. Sorry, but a cup of coffee won’t do. Your body needs extra nutrients, and it’s likely sending signals that you are hungry too. Start your first meal of the day off right with recipes packed with vitamins that keep you going throughout the day.
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A hearty fall omelet is just what you need for breakfast. Rich with herbs like sage and loaded with nutrients from the roasted butternut squash, leafy spinach, tomatoes, and eggs. This meal is a great source of folate, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin C. Not only will it keep you feeling full until lunch, but it is also chock-full of all that pregnancy goodness your body needs right now.
Who doesn’t love apple-picking in the fall? And we can’t think of a better way to use those freshly picked fruits than in tasty breakfast pancakes. Apples are fiber-rich and help ward off any gastrointestinal issues. This recipe packs zinc, iron, and vitamin B, and no added sugar. Make a big batch and freeze the rest for later to keep an easy, delicious breakfast on hand.
Don’t short yourself your lunch break. This midday meal will give you the energy boost you need to make it through the rest of the day. It’s also a great way to carve out time for yourself, whether you catch up on a book chapter, listen to a podcast, or simply enjoy your meal.
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Fall is the season for soups, a quick and easy meal that fills you with warmth and can be frozen to enjoy again later on. This flavorful lentil and sweet potato soup boost your immune system with ingredients that offer high vitamin A, C, iron, potassium, and fiber levels. Sweet potatoes, in particular, are low carb and an excellent option for those with gestational diabetes.
The American Pregnancy Association recommends eating brussels sprouts when pregnant as an excellent source of vitamin C, iron, and folate. Some studies have shown they can even help lower the risk of baby birth defects like spin bifida. This delicious salad combines brussels with shaved parmesan, pomegranate, and toasted almonds for the perfect lunch. Just be sure to triple rinse them before tossing all the ingredients together.
At the end of the day, you’re probably feeling tired and swollen, but don’t give in to those urges to just eat a snack and head to bed. Your growing baby is looking for dinner to fill in the gaps of any missing nutrients from earlier in the day. So, grab your partner and get cooking. You don’t want to miss out on the following fall recipes.
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Pumpkins are the first things that come to mind when we think of the season, so it’s only fitting that they are the main ingredient in this fall dinner recipe. This pregnancy superfood is one of the best vegetables you can eat. It’s a powerhouse of nutrients like vitamin A, C, B-6, zinc, and iron, plus low in cholesterol. This one-pot recipe is a savory sensation that easily comes together with pumpkin, kale, pasta, and top with parmesan for that needed calcium.
If you were to dream up all of the best fall flavors and toss them into a casserole dish, this dinner recipe wouldn’t be far off. It combines all the nutritional benefits mentioned earlier from sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts. Plus, added vitamins, fiber, and protein from cranberries, almonds, chicken, and spices like cumin and thyme that support the immune system. Best of all, it’s a warm meal that can feed a couple or a large family. So enjoy together or pack up leftovers to serve later.
A meal isn’t complete without a sweet treat at the end, and eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to skip dessert. While there are certain desserts you should avoid, like meringues or mousses that use raw eggs, there’s plenty that is not off-limits. Recipes like the ones below, loaded with fruits or vegetables, are perfect selections to choose from.
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Ginger is known for its natural immune-boosting properties, which is just what you need while pregnant. Combine it with pears and cookie dough in this dessert recipe for an unexpected pie bursting with flavor. Substitute the added sugar for more molasses, and you’ll give yourself a little extra calcium, iron, and magnesium. For those wondering, cream cheese is made from pasteurized milk and filled with good bacteria, so you’re safe to enjoy this delicious dessert.
Can healthy and dessert be used in the same sentence? We think so, and this recipe, which was highlighted in The Natural Pregnancy Cookbook by The Foodie Physician, is a great example. It’s loaded with calcium and vitamins A, C, and K; plus, all those benefits from pumpkin that we’ve told you about. Most of all, it’s easy to make and so delicious. It pairs perfectly with a dollop of whipped cream, topped with a handful of nuts for some extra protein too.
Creating a tiny human takes a ton of work, so we think you deserve a toast. After all, this is a season of family celebrations and an excellent time to grab some glasses and cheers. Of course, we’re only talking non-alcoholic drinks. Check out these favorites - one is a breakfast brew and the other a mocktail made for Mamas.
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If you’re craving a latte but can’t have too much caffeine, try this healthy substitute instead. This seasonal latte combines ginger with nutmeg, cloves, goji berries, and molasses to reduce inflammation and boost your immune system. Served steamed with almond milk and a dash of cinnamon, it’s a great fall drink that keeps you feeling cozy.
There’s something about those copper mugs that bring rustic warmth to the autumn months. This cranberry-infused mocktail comes together quickly with cranberry juice, lime juice, and ginger beer. Don’t worry; ginger beer is not actually beer. Just be sure to buy the typical non-alcoholic beverage and not another variation. With this fancy-looking drink in hand, you won’t even miss an actual cocktail.