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Recipe ideas for pregnant lady with high blood pressure

Hi all. Well, I just got some bad news that I have high blood pressure and I'm 21 weeks pregnant. I'm on medication for it, but I also need/want to eat healthily so I can handle this holistically as well.

I know spices and lemon juice help with flavor.
I'm making a list of flavorful recipes with focus on legumes, veggies, and fish.

Here's my list so far:

-Cold broad bean salad with fresh peppers, tomatoes, onion, dill, parsley & mint.

-Fava (Greek yellow split peas)

-Chicken breast with homemade salsa & guacamole

-Briam (Greek mix of veggies, tomato, & different herbs)

-Stewed okra in tomato sauce

-Baked fallafel

-Chana Masala

-Indian curried lentils

-Quinoa-chicken salad or quinoa-shrimp salad

-whole wheat pasta w/fresh tomatoes

-cold pasta salad with broccoli

-roasted fish

-fish cakes w/lots of veggies and spices and herbs

-veggie omelet


-roast goat

-rabbit stew

Does anyone have any other suggestions for me to add? I am not looking for any wintery, stew-type dishes, since it's getting hot here already.

Thanks so much in advance!

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  1. Your request is fairly non-specific, limit sodium and you can add flavor with herbs or salt-free spices to any of your favorite dishes. I love several of the mixes from Penzey's.

    1. Your going to want to make sure that sodium levels are low.

      You can make your own sauces, soups and look for low sodium alternatives at the store.

      Baked fish with cooked veggies and whole grain rice

      Whole wheat pasta with home made sauce and bison meat balls

      vegetarian lasgana

      Lemon Pepper grilled chicken with carrots, broccoli and potatoes

      lamb with greek salad

      goat cheese ravioli with home made marinara sauce and small salad

      7 Replies
      1. re: Sandwich_Sister

        Bison meat balls is a good idea!

        I always crave pasta (especially whole wheat) and I'm glad I can continue eating it...but I guess I have to cut down the parmesan. I can't imagine cutting it out completely!

        1. re: eviemichael

          yeah we have been using bison for meatballs and even meatloaf for my grandma for years. She loves it.

        2. re: Sandwich_Sister

          1)many pre-prepared lemon pepper spice mixes are made using a LOT of salt.

          2)there is a wide variation about how much salt is used in different brands of cheeses. in particular, feta cheese, which is used in greek salad, is often chock full of salt

          3) if you are making the lasagna with sauce from a jar, many of those are heavily salted.
          i usually use the Silver Palate Low-Sodium variety

          1. re: westsidegal

            I make everything from scratch to avoid the sodium pit falls.

            I haven't used jarred sauces or premade spice mixes in years.

            1. re: Sandwich_Sister

              Yeah I don't use jarred sauces and spice mixed either. My vice was ordering take out when my husband and I were too tired to cook.

              1. re: eviemichael

                FYI-Some European brands have much less salt than North American ones. Check out labels on canned tomatoes from Italy for example.

            2. re: westsidegal

              Re cheese: If you do find low-sodium cheese, it tastes like cardboard. Here is how you improve it: grind it up in the Cuisinart with garlic and enough beer to make a spread. This doesn't add any sodium but makes it edible.

            1. I LOVE this lentil - sweet potato dal. It is not pretty, but is delicious. I typically add both a jalapeno and a serrano pepper, but remove the seeds and membranes before mincing. I never add the chard/greens. It calls for 1 tsp. Kosher salt, but I think you could use less because it has so many other flavors.

              3 Replies
                1. re: AreBe

                  I love Indian food, this recipe looks great! Thanks.

                  1. re: AreBe

                    that looks like a lovely recipe.

                    if you are using pre-made vegetable broth, be sure to check the sodium content as many brands are really more salt water than anything else.

                    i'd be that you could use plain water as a substitute and the dish would not suffer because there are so many other flavorful elements.

                  2. Barley is supposed to be very good for people with high blood pressure and pregnant women (not the sprouted kind, though). Maybe a barley pilaf, soup, or a tabouleh-style barley salad with lots of parsley, cilantro and lemon juice would be nice.

                    If you think you'll be eating a lot of fish, this list might be helpful: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnanc...

                    One more thought: I find the hormonal effects of chickpeas, fava, soy and sweet potato to be pretty strong. This may not be an issue for you, but it's something to keep in mind.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: ninrn

                      Interesting about the hormonal effects of those foods...I didn't know that some food items could set hormones off. I'll keep that in mind!

                        1. re: RUK

                          The parsley has to be eaten in extremely large quantities to be dangerous.

                          1. re: RUK

                            Your link is to the vitamins and supplements part of the WebMD site where they are talking about parsley prepared in a concentrated form to have a much greater biochemical impact than fresh, raw parsley. Even on that page it specifically says "Parsley in food amounts is fine".

                        2. For sodium, the main culprit is packaged and processed goods and restaurant food.

                          Stick with fresh foods (vegetables, meat, seafood, fruit), pure grains (rice, etc), eggs. Make sure to get no sodium added stock, or make your own.

                          I notice that some of the recipes posted are cheese based - many cheeses are naturally very high in salt, due to how they are produced, so read the packages carefully. If I remember correctly, aged or hard cheeses tend to be higher salt.

                          Another surprisingly high salt item is Asian noodles (udon, ramen, etc), where even the plain unseasoned noodles, fresh or dried, are very high in salt.

                          Avoid soy sauce, miso, chili paste and sauces, premade salad dressings, etc, and any processed meat. Read the labels on anything that has a label to check.

                          And don't eat at restaurants.

                          For high flavour, low salt seasonings, try using dried (but not salted) ingredients. Dried mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, etc, can add a lot of flavour and umani. You can make your own salad dressings easily (good for summer meals), and if you like spicy stuff, your own vinegar based chili sauces.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                            I don't usually eat packaged or processed foods, but we were going out to eat a lot at restayrabts. :-/

                            I thought sun dried tomatoes were very salty...do you mean the ones that aren't in oil?

                            1. re: eviemichael

                              I think the dried ones are basically just tomatoes - that's what I usually use, as the jarred ones are too expensive to ship, due to weight.

                              But yeah, restaurant food tends to be pretty dreadful for salt content, even when the food looks like real food (ie, not fast food). My mom is on a kidney related low salt diet, and had been looking forward to eating out more after retirement.

                          2. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditi...

                            Be sure to check out the link to the Low Sodium Cook Book

                            1 Reply
                            1. is there any chance you could have a chat with a dietician/nutritionist associated with your OB? The DASH diet is an old standby - great advice in there - but as a pregnant woman [congratulations!], you have to make sure to get enough protein and calcium in as well. Prenatal vits, of course, but there's a lot at stake here early in your pregnancy and we all want you to be as healthy and safe as possible.

                              Assuming your list meets your doc's recommendations for calories, protein, and other nutrients, and you're eating whole, real foods with non-salt seasoning, you should be pretty good.

                              Gotta admit that i admire your list! it all sounds yummy - and you're emphasizing a good mix of animal and vegetable proteins with lots of veggies. a word about the fish - current guidelines recommend NOT eating fish that are high up the food chain - like tuna and swordfish - because of the risk of excess mercury

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jiffypop

                                I do make sure to have lots of low fat milk and Greek yogurt, and I get lots of protein from legumes. But you're right, there may be days where I'm not realizing that I haven't had enough.

                                I mostly avoid high mercury fish, although I eat tuna from time to time. Just not super often.


                              2. Sorry if this has been mentioned, but be really careful in restaurants.
                                Butter and salt is why it tastes so good.
                                Maybe confine your dining out choices to chains that have their sodium content published on their website.

                                Anyways, good luck and health to you and your baby!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: monavano

                                  Thank you very much! :)

                                  We are avoiding restaurants now for the most part...it stinks. It seems I'm craving super salty Indian and Chinese take-out more than ever now that I know I can't have it.

                                  I love to cook, but I also love to go out!

                                  There is one place that has a salad I can eat- Greek rye rusks with tomato, a Greek type of ricotta, and olive oil...it's so good. I can ask for it unsalted.

                                2. What mcf said below about the BP....and is this your first pregnancy?

                                  There may be days where "what to eat" is dictated by what you crave/what you can "keep down".

                                  Best wishes!

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: pedalfaster

                                    In my 4th month, I developed an intense revulsion for the smell or sight of Chinese food and a gag reflex at the sight of oil dressing on salad. Both things I love.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      On the flip side I went through a phase where I could only eat cottage cheese and canned peaches (???).

                                      Normally I dislike canned peaches very much. But at that point in time In ~needed~ them desperately!

                                      1. re: pedalfaster

                                        funny, you just reminded me that was a big treat dish for me when I was really young. I loved canned peaches with cottage cheese.

                                    2. re: pedalfaster

                                      Yes it's my first pregnancy. But I didn't really have any nausea and I'm getting towards the end of my second trimester now. It seems I got by without that horrible symptom!

                                    3. If you can handle mild diuretics you might consider hibiscus beverages. There's some evidence it may reduce blood pressure. It tastes good and is popular as a hot tea or as a cold sweetened beverage.

                                      Apologies if this is OT.

                                      1. I went through this exact same thing with my daughter. I kept my sodium intake to 1500 mg a day. One thing I discovered - a little finishing salt doesn't add that much sodium and adds a lot of flavor. I would cook everything without any salt, but then put a carefully measured sprinkle on top. I actually ate a lot of spaghetti - some sauces aren't that high in sodium. I also ate a lot of beef b/c I like it!

                                        vinegar is also good for adding a salty flavor.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: OrangeBlossom76

                                          Thanks! I will allow myself some finishing sea salt.

                                        2. I don have suggestions for specific recipes, but I'm thinking adding tumeric and cinnamon to the food should already eat. As always, ask your doctor first.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                            Thanks, I love tumeric. Tumeric really does help make up for the lack of salt.

                                          2. Am I crazy? I am looking to re-read a long reply that was very helpful by mcf and I don't see it here anymore...
                                            Can you re-post the info mcf? Sorry!

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: eviemichael

                                              Nope. If the OP saw it, she can choose to discuss with her doctor or not.

                                              She may fall into the small minority of folks with ht who are salt sensitivity and it may not harm her to restrict sodium, and not the majority who are harmed by severe restriction of it..

                                              1. re: mcf

                                                I am the OP, and wanted to re-read the info so that I could discuss it with my doctor.
                                                Was the post removed by chowhound? Sorry, I'm not clear on why the post was removed.

                                                1. re: eviemichael

                                                  It was due to mention of an rx drug which the mods found too medical for our fun food boards. I should have known better. I will repost an edited version and hope you get to see it:

                                                  In pregnancy, your body produces a lot more cortisol, a steroid that strongly increases potassium excretion and also raises bp, as does the high insulin response to a high carb diet. Because cortisol and carbs both raise blood glucose, you can end up producing high insulin levels for the cortisol alone, not only your food choices.

                                                  Potassium has a strong regulatory effect on bp. You might want to check with your doc about that possibility, and about using a cuff to measure your results at home (I have ht at the doc's office, but am below normal at home pretty much all the time now) Foods rich in potassium and magnesium and some calcium tend to lower bp and work very well for me. Salt is required to get potassium where it's needed in the body.

                                                  Meals that contain those minerals and that also include quality proteins, especially from animals and fish and non starchy veggies really drop bp like a rock in most folks, so a menu built around meat, fish, Greek yogurt or other dairy, eggs, and plenty of colorful, high fiber veggies is loaded with much more nutrition per calorie (what you want in pregnancy) and usually reduces bp. Nuts and cheese sticks make great take along snacks, too.

                                                  Stuff like a crustless or thin crusted quiche with shellfish and veggies could be a great, easy meal and one can last you a week of lunches or even breakfast. There are so many different combos you can make that you should never get bored with it.

                                                  Big salads or a bed of sauteed greens served with proteins instead of something next to or over rice, pasta, quinoa lower bp dramatically, IME and that of others.

                                                  One way that starches/high carbs raise bp is that every stored glycogen molecule stored in your body is attached to 3 water molecules. Less starch and sugars means less fluid retention, such a diet is much more diuretic than salt restriction. This is the mechanism behind the big water loss at the beginning of the Atkins diet you may have heard of. It's usually 10lbs of excreted water bloat the first week to 10 days.. I'm not suggesting any particular diet or carb level as that's highly individual, just discussing the effect certain foods have on bp regulation.

                                                  I hope this helps you explore all possibilities with your doctor, figure out what works for you and that you have the healthiest pregnancy and easiest delivery ever.


                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                    In case I've stepped out of bounds with this post, too, you can email me at the addy in my profile and discuss it off of CH.

                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                      Thanks so much! I hope it wasn't a hassle to re-post this. I am eating lots of veggies, Greek yogurt, ;ean poultry & meat & eggs, but I am also having lots of carbs in legumes, fruit, and grains...and for some reason I've been craving potatoes like crazy.

                                                      1. re: eviemichael

                                                        You're welcome! Hormones drive hunger. Higher carb intakes have been proven in studies to increase hunger and calorie consumption all day. And what you crave tends to be more of the same.

                                              2. You might want to try a grain called Frekeeh which is very healthy and can be combined with vegetables as you would with a quinoa salad.

                                                2 Replies
                                                  1. re: eviemichael

                                                    You are welcome and the grain can be eaten alone, and in the morning as a hot cereal.

                                                1. In addition to lemon juice, lemon zest adds a whole lot of taste to dishes.

                                                  1. I trust this is about avoiding salt. I cooked low-salt for a heart patient for over 20 years. 1) If you can get to a Trader Joe's they sell the single most useful product I know of for a low-salt diet, a low-sodium Organic Marinara Sauce. Name brands have 300-700 mgm per 1/2 cup but this one at TJ has 25 mg and it is delicious and very tomatoe-y---you can use it for dozens of things. 2) Lemon juice makes green vegetables good without salt. 3) You don't ordinarily eat salt on fresh fruit so use a lot of fresh fruit salads. 4) Beware of baking powder and baking soda as they add a lot of sodium. 5) If you long for gravy you can make a palatable substitute with low-sodium chicken stock (again, I found the TJ version to be good). 6) Sweet-and-sour seems to do pretty well without salt, for example a sweet-and-sour pineapple sauce to go with lean roast pork. 7) Avoid commercial preparations like poison---they are usually loaded with salt and other high-sodium stuff. Read labels a lot.

                                                    1. some great advise here but almost everything I'm reading is related to salt intake. like MCF mentioned there are a lot of other factors to hi BP then just salt. sometimes eating "healthy" can also mean eating harmful. things most people would never think about like red peppers have one of the highest levels of vitamin K which is a natural blood thickener and spinach has great levels of folic acid and iron both great for pregnancy but too much iron can cause gastrointestinal backups and can thicken blood . so be careful not to eat too much of any one thing without knowing the vitamin , mineral content and the effects of them best of luck and congratulations Dom.

                                                      1. I see that people have discussed sodium, but on the flip side, a major cause of high blood pressure is an imbalance between all the sodium we consume and all the potassium we don't consume.

                                                        So, one way to help moderate HBP is by increasing your potassium intake somewhat (given what your doctor would deem to be healthy for you). Potatoes are an excellent source of potassium, as well as low-sodium V8 Juice. I usually start my day with a glass of the low-sodium V8, instead of sugar laden Orange Juice. Bananas as well are a good source for Potassium.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: mwk


                                                          We have already touched on the "health" aspects of this situation (thanks to some great posts...) and have been heavily *moderated* for doing so.

                                                          It may be best (on chowhound) to stick to recipe ideas (and perhaps search clues to other websites?<<not sure it that's allowed).

                                                          1. re: pedalfaster

                                                            Thanks for the warning.

                                                            So for the OP, I guess my "recipe" is to suggest that for a nice light lunch you try having a baked potato and maybe put some fresh herbs on it and some vegetables.