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Jul 28, 2008 07:54 PM

Straighforward cooking for pregnant wife? + my suggestions

I cook about once or twice a week, but I only know about a dozen or so recipes my wife likes. She's now pregnant and a lot of foods (meaty, oily, or strong smell) are off the list. I'm a decent learner but I'm best with straightforward recipes (<20 minutes, 2-5 main ingredients). Any ideas?

My own suggestions so far:
Applesauce - add a little lemon if not eaten right away

Milk shake - vanilla ice cream, milk, banana. Blend!

Stiry fry - smash garlic, heat garlic in oil till brown, remove garlic, toss in washed but dried and cut vegetable, cook until delicious and season. This is my wife's favorite, feel free to ask for tips!

Grilled vegetables - oil the pan with a drop of oil (use a kitchen paper towell and drop 1 drop of olive oil - any more and it's too much for a sensitive pregnant woman). Cut cherry tomatoes in half and cook face down for 5-10 minutes until semi-brown. Grill corn, this is always a winner. If you can get fresh (not dried) lima beans, grill with just salt until semi-brown and it's awesome.

Baked fries - I cheat and buy the frozen fries and bake them. Baking avoids grease, and I think pregnant women love potatoes (the smell and the minerals)

Toasted baguette - buy a good crusty baguette (I get Ralph's crusty country loaf), slice into diagonal rounds about 1 inch thick. Toast until it browns (watch the oven if first time). My wife likes it topped with prosciutto. A safe cheese is laughing cow's cheese wedges since they have no odor.

So I've been doing the above and then some for the last few weeks, but I'm really looking for new ideas to keep her fed and healthy. Most of my other recipes are ruled out for various reasons. Any ideas?

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  1. When I was pregnant, especially in the summer, I craved fruits and salads and cheeses. I lived on:
    Yogurt with cantaloupe, grapes and blueberries.
    Egg salad with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.
    Grilled cheese (swiss) with tomato.
    Spinach salad with goat cheese, pecans and dried cherries.
    Macaroni and cheese.
    Crusty bread with cream cheese and sliced strawberries.
    Cottage cheese with either chopped tomato, cucumber, basil and salt and pepper or
    Cottage cheese with any fresh fruit.

    2 Replies
    1. re: greenstate

      Excellent suggestions! This is exactly what I'm looking for. What's really great is most of these share ingredients, which really helps in flexibility and planning.

      I forgot my wife used to eat cottage cheese. This'll be a good chance to make more dishes with them. I'm eating a lot healthier since my wife got pregnant.

      Thanks a lot!

      1. re: greenstate

        Definitely follow the cravings - my wife with our first child lived on celery and cream cheese as the main staple along with fruits/vegetables and a few other proteins squeezed in -

      2. Since she likes cantaloupe and prosciutto you could slice some cantaloupe(remove the skin) and wrap slices of proscuitto around it for her. You might also want to stock things like baby carrots, sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes so there's something healthy to snack on that requires little/no prep.

        A little longer cooking time than your usual but I thought I'd throw it out there anyway... As a variation on your frozen fries you could try roasting potatoes: to keep prep to a minimum buy baby potatoes and simply wash and quarter them (removing anything that doesn't look right), and in a medium bowl toss with about 2 tablespoons olive oil, and salt and pepper(or other flavors your wife enjoys...trying to keep the suggestions a bit bland since I know what it's like to feel nauseous from strong smells). Bake on a cookie sheet for 25-30 min, making sure to turn them every 10 minutes so they cook evenly. Serve with chicken (either made at home or a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store) and a green salad.

        Speaking of chicken, chicken noodle soup is easy, particularly if you use a good store bought stock. Just saute about 1/2 cup diced onion (or omit it if the odor is too much for her) with some diced carrots and celery (more or less depending on how thick you like your soup) add the stock (2 litres, or two of the large tetra packs) and 1-2 cups of diced chicken (uses up the chicken from the meal w roasted potatoes)

        Otherwise I 2nd greenstate's suggestions, I used to love fruit salad and yogurt/cottage cheese when I was pregnant, particularly in the summer.

        Thankfully for most women morning sickness lasts the first trimester, but for some food aversions go on the whole time. Good Luck & Congratulations :)

        4 Replies
        1. re: maplesugar

          Thanks for your kind suggestions! I've never tried to quarter and then bake but that sounds good. When we went to soup plantation, she ate 2 potatoes with sour cream and I thought I should make more potatoes somehow.

          I do want to make chicken noodle, and I'll try that.

          I'm sure there's at least one more pregnant couple out there that can use these easy to follow ideas.

          Other ideas:
          Tuna and lettuce - at Trader Joe's we get a salad mix and put in small chunks of tuna and thin sliced Japanese cucumbers (1/4 inch). If there's a Japanese supermarket, try out Japanese cucumbers - I think they're delicious just sliced.

          Dill and Pasta with sour cream - My mom boils pasta, then when it's completely dry (let it evaporate) she mixes in sour cream in a very thin layer. Then she cuts the dill into small individual leaves and mixes it evenly in. The dill vs. cream is plenty of flavor.

          For morning sickness:
          The most consistent thing I've found for morning sickness is hand squeezed lemonade with 2/3 the sugar you'd normally use so it's like sour candy. I cut the lemon in half and have her smell it if it's urgent. It's worked every time for her. After cutting in half, I pick out the exposed seeds I can. Then I squeeze the lemon into a cup - no tools used. Using a tool can get a lot of pulp and can potentially introduce some bitterness from skin. You can get almost all the juice if you just squeeze the lemon half in half by hand, then rotate slightly and repeat. Add a spoonful of sugar in - more than you'd expect but you can taste it later. Mix, and then add 2/3 a cup of water. Remove any extra sees by spoon. This is a small cup of lemonade and should be less sweet than storebought lemondade, and a bit sour. If it's too sour add sugar, but it should have a little sourness.

          Made right, it's better than storebought. Lemonade from the store isn't potent enough I've found - the lemon has to be served within half an hour kind of like an avocado or apple. The closest storebought substitute is Florida's Natural Grapefruit juicy (ruby red), but she drinks several cups to get the satisfaction of one fresh lemon.

          1. re: maplesugar

            As a nonpregnant woman who nonetheless always loses her appetite in the oppressive summer heat, I agree with the posters above about yogurt and more yogurt. You are sweet to take care of your wife. In the summer here are other things I love:

            Chicken salad sandwiches--you can add some red grapes and almonds if you'd like and whatever herbs your wife might like--tarragon works
            Pimiento cheese sandwiches--I sex these up by subbing roasted poblanos for the pimientos and I use grated extra sharp cheddar, and I make homemade mayo, which I think is a no-no for pregnant women, so just use a good quality pasteurized store bought
            Egg salad with dill
            Quick cucumber, tomato, onion, and dill pickles--find a combo of vinegar, sugar, and oil she likes
            Three bean salad--use quick blanched green beans, navies and kidneys, and ditto on the dressing above--have her taste it to get the proportions right
            Brie on wheat bread with apricot preserves and walnuts
            Chips with homemade salsa--with a blender these are super quick, and I like both green and red
            Goat cheese on bread with honey and mint
            Tabbouleh--I'll eat this all the time either with or without some cooked cold chicken. It's also good with a minty yogurt sauce, and with a food processor it can be prepared very quickly
            Cold salad with raw broccoli, thinly sliced red onion, toasted almonds, golden raisins, chopped crispy bacon--lightly dressed with a mayo, vinegar, and sugar dressing
            Mixed green salad with thinly sliced medium rare steak and light citrus dressing
            Lightly sauteed thinly sliced fennel and celery (use a mandoline) tossed with good quality oil and lemon juice and zest, I also like chopping up some of the fennel fronds and adding them to the mix
            Good bread with a mixture of feta, chopped tomatoes, chopped olives and basil
            Fruit salad in any form--this may be too much for your pregnant wife, but I love it lightly salted Mexican style with some chili powder and lime juice--extremely refreshing. Think pineapple, mango, melon, watermelon, peaches, and plums.
            Simple grilled fish with fruit salsa--same idea as above. Chopped fruit of choice, a little red onion, cilantro, minced jalapeno, lime juice. You could make what I call green rice with this--steam up some rice and fluff it up with lime juice and chopped cilantro
            Heirloom tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozz or goat cheese on good bread
            Black bean and grilled corn salad with chopped tomatoes, scallions, jalapenos, a bit of garlic--dress with oil and lime juice, and add cumin and chili powder to taste
            Gazpacho, my summer staple--a perfect thing to go with one of the aforementioned sandwiches

            1. re: diva360

              Great advice, everything sounds delicious and healthy. I'm amazed how many great 2-4 ingredient dishes I never thought of until your suggestions!

            2. re: maplesugar

              For delicious chicken soup, boil some bone-in chicken (breasts or thighs, whatever she prefers), with veggies, in store-bought stock for about 30 minutes until the meat is cooked. Then pull the meat off the bone and reserve. Then chill the stock and allow the fat to harden on top. You can then lift the hardened fat right off and the stock will be essentially fat free.

              You can add the noodles while actually cooking the soup. Or you can boil them separately and add them in if you want to make sure they dont get too soft and stay al dente. (I actually like the soft noodles though!)

            3. My wife loved fried rice with veggies and chicken when she was pregnant (feel free to omit the chicken if that is too "meaty", of course). She was very sensitive to food but this hit the spot for her.

              1. Many pregnancy food plans suggest more smaller meals, both to cut down on the liklihood of morning sickness and to keep blood sugar levels more even. So you may want to think about stacking up on health snacks like whole wheat muffins with dry fruit.

                Also once I was over my nasea stage, I love the kids' size yogurts frozen with a popcicle stick. The Danone kids brand come in a slightly conical tub that makes getting the frozen yogurt out easy and the kids size was just the right size for a snack.

                1 Reply
                1. re: pengcast

                  This is very true, I usually split dinner in two. My wife made some stews and curries, and they can get better with reheating. I'll look out for the Danone frozen yogurt at the grocery, thanks!

                  For anyone interested:
                  Curry is a good meal that even a bachelor can make in 20-30 minutes and eat fir dinner over the next 2 or even 3 days. It's a good way for using up vegetables like brocolli, onions, carrots, potatoes, bell peppers, celery. It scales well in that you can make a little or a lot. I suggest grilling onions until they're brown first as it adds flavor. Meat-wise any meat like chicken/pork/beef will do, though beef is my favorite for curry. The back of the box for the curry sauce (ex Golden Curry or House brands) lists the measurements for water / sauce.

                2. i'm over the "morning" sickness stage, but at 27 weeks i'm eating:
                  -tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella, seasoned with sea salt, white balsamic vinegar and olive oil
                  -english muffins with scrambled eggs to which cream cheese has been added (for breakfast)
                  -fish sticks
                  -wheat toast with cream cheese and honey
                  -fresh peaches peeled, with cream
                  -vegetable tacos: olive oil, chopped onion, tomatillos, poblano peppers, carrots, boiled potatoes and some frozen corn added at the end. season with salt and oregano. fry or simply warm corn tortillas in a non-stick pan. top with sour cream.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: fara

                    Great use of cream cheese!

                    My wife loves cheese but can't eat most of them anymore - cream cheese definitely works. The only "strong" cheese she makes exception for are the ones that have no real smell or offensive taste like hard cheese. There's a couple of varieties but it's similar to hard Emmential/Swiss cheese. I slice it thin on a cracker to mellow it, and it's a good snack inbetween meals. If I have prosciutto, I slice it into strips and pile one on top.

                    1. re: royaljester

                      1. Many people do not understand how much protein a pregnant woman should eat per day: 71 grams!


                      The Mayo Clinic website is a great, no nonsense website to go to for all sorts of health advice during pregnancy and also for child and adult health questions.

                      (#1 on their list, folate, is important during the first trimester, when the neural tubes form.


                      2. You only have to worry about morning sickness / avoiding strong smells etc during the first trimester. After it passes, fortunately for most women, garlic and spices -- anything goes. (Once I read about a study that showed that kids whose mothers ate garlic and spices while pregnant were less likely to be picky eaters after they were born. I cannot find the source of this now, but while pregnant I tried this. My kid eats everything under the sun. Could be coincidence of course!)

                      3. Babies getting too big in utero to fit out the birth canal is a major cause of c-sections. So eat smart. Cut the milkshakes and simple carbs. Get adequate protein, and whole fruits and vegetables.

                      1. re: eade

                        Thanks for the tip, this is a great resource. After the initial screenings came clear, our only real concern is avoiding a c-section if possible.

                        I think there's something to what the mother eats during pregnancy like you said. We have very old sayings to that effect. Personally I know feel different depending on the type of food I eat (vegetables vs. meat), and me and my siblings all liked vegetables since we were young. Too much red meat, even in a small portion, and I can feel overwhelmed.

                    2. re: fara

                      Royaljester, you are an amazing partner to not only cook for your pregnant wife, but to squeeze her fresh lemonade!

                      I'll add my super-simple breakfast tacos -- I also ate these a lot after the baby was born and I had to do everything with one hand and in as little time as possible. Microwave one egg in a small cup for 30 seconds, mix, back in for another 20 seconds. Throw some salsa and cheese into the cup. Warm two corn tortillas in the microwave for a few seconds. Divide egg among tortillas and eat.

                      You can make pizza or calzones with store-bought dough. Just spread out the dough, put on some sauce (if pizza), cheese, and veggies (zucchini or summer squash would be good, they're pretty inoffensive) and maybe some sliced grilled chicken, and bake in the oven at about 350 for half an hour or so.

                      Sounds like your wife is at the beginning of her pregnancy -- don't worry, most pregnant women get their appetite back and then some after the first few months.

                      1. re: Pia

                        I think my wife will definitely like the pizza idea. I've tried toast with diced tomatoes and onions on top, bruschetta style. Zuchinni or squash with cheese would really round that out.