Sunday, December 19, 2010

Eat healthily during pregnancy

Cut down on sugar

Around now you'll probably notice that you're gaining weight steadily - about half a pound a week. If you are overweight, don't go on a diet, but eat healthily and avoid high-fat and high-sugar foods.

You may notice that your gums bleed when you brush your teeth. Look after your teeth and keep your dental appointments. If your diet is low in added sugar - and you generally avoid cakes, sweets and biscuits - you will also reduce your risk of tooth decay.

Vitamin A

Our bodies need vitamin A in pregnancy to help our eyes adapt to light and dark, to help our skin and tissues to grow healthily. Vitamin A comes in two forms - retinol and beta-carotene. Both are needed in pregnancy but too much retinol can harm a developing baby by causing birth defects.

Good sources of retinol are egg yolk, butter or margarine and milk. Liver is very high in the retinol form of vitamin A and therefore should be avoided when you are pregnant. Good sources of beta-carotene are carrots, sweet potatoes, papaya, oranges and green vegetables, especially broccoli, watercress, spinach and spring greens.

Lunch: watercress and celeriac soup

This is a simple homely soup which uses watercress to provide a fabulous green colour and lots of vitamin A. The soup freezes well, and is great for one of those days when you don’t feel like eating very much.


1 large onion, roughly chopped

1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil

400g potatoes, peeled and cubed

400g celeriac, peeled and cubed

1 litre vegetable stock

75g washed watercress

Black pepper and grated nutmeg (optional)


In a large non-stick saucepan, gently fry the onion in the oil until softened. Add the potatoes and celeriac, and continue to cook gently over a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Simmer the soup for 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are nearly soft.

Add the watercress and heat for another 5 minutes until the cress is wilted and the stalks begin to soften.

Blend the soup until smooth, adding black pepper and nutmeg to taste. Serve the soup with some fresh multigrain bread and a chunk of cheddar cheese for a simple, satisfying lunch.

Snack: papaya smoothie

Papaya (or pawpaw) is an extremely good source of beta-carotene.

Take half a small, ripe papaya (about 100g), and remove seeds and skin. Chop roughly and place in a small blender, juicer or food processor. Add 200ml chilled apple and mango juice, and blend until smooth. Serve at once.

Dinner: sweet apple lamb

Serves four

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

This is an easy lamb dish which will provide essential iron for you and baby, and the sweet potatoes provide beta-carotene. If you use Bramley apples they will melt into the mixture, providing a hidden sweetness, but other apples can be used if Bramleys are not available. This recipe is suitable for freezing. Your baby can eat it once she is used to some lumps, and your toddler and older children will enjoy it too.


500g lean lamb mince

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tsp ground cumin

1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced

Quarter of an average celeriac, peeled and diced

1 medium Bramley cooking apple, peeled, cored and diced

2 tsp dried thyme, or 1 large sprig of fresh thyme, leaves removed

400ml water


Gently brown the lamb in large saucepan, stirring in the onion and garlic after a few minutes. Continue to cook until the lamb is browned all over and the onion is soft.

Stir in the cumin, sweet potato, celeriac and cooking apple and cook gently for another few minutes. Lastly add the thyme and water, bring slowly to the boil.

Stir, cover and cook over a low heat for 30-40 minutes until all the vegetables are softened, adding more water if necessary.

Serve the lamb with rice, couscous or mashed potato, and a green vegetable such as broccoli or green beans.

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