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Mommy nutrition: recipes for each stage of motherhood

Mommy nutrition: recipes for each stage of motherhood

Good nutrition is an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and this is never more important than when you are planning on expanding your family. From optimising your fertility, to nurturing your postpartum body, each stage of motherhood requires a unique combination of vitamins and minerals to help both you and your baby be the healthiest you can be. Mommy nutrition expert Laura Jane Hughes, from The Pregnancy Food Company shares her customised meal plans specifically designed for each step of your motherhood journey: preconception, pregnancy and postpartum.


Preconception

Preconception nutrition is all about ensuring your body has what it needs to produce healthy eggs and create a healthy environment to encourage pregnancy.  It’s also a time when you need your general health to be at its optimum as your body prepares for the most momentous change it will ever likely go through. Zinc is often called the fertility mineral due to its essential role in reproductive health. The pumpkin seeds in Laura’s delicious breakfast recipe are packed full of Zinc and the eggs also give you plenty of choline which can help reduce the risk of birth defects. Vitamin C is also an essential part of fertility nutrition as it helps trigger ovulation and you’ll find plenty of it in this little power lunch - along with Magnesium and Iron which are also great for preparing your body for conception.


Fertility tea

Poached Egg, griddled cherry toms  + avocado on toast

Smashed avocado, flaked tuna & griddled sweet potato slices

Almond & Super Veggie Pizza  

Ideal snack: Preconception nourish balls from The Pregnancy Food Co


Pregnancy

Growing a baby is hungry work - but it’s not about simply increasing your portion sizes. You want to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need to help your baby develop healthily whilst also making sure your body is strong enough to deal with the changes it’s going through. Folate is known to help your baby’s brain and spinal cord develop, and you can find it in leafy greens such as kale and broccoli. Brain development is also greatly enriched by Omega 3, so fish dishes, like the tasty lemon and parsley fish goujons in this plan are perfect for giving baby some extra brain power! This meal plan is also packed with protein rich recipes, as women should try to double their protein intake during pregnancy. Bananas are a great source of dietary fibre, which is good for gut health and they also contain potassium and vitamin B6 which can help combat morning sickness.


Green Smoothie

Banana & cashew butter chia seed porridge/pudding with mixed summer berries

Kale, Squash & Halloumi Salad with a creamy yoghurt dressing.  

Lemon & Parsley Fish Goujons served with turmeric potato wedges & seasonal greens

Ideal snack: Pregnancy Nourish balls from The Pregnancy Food Co


Postpartum

Once you’ve given birth, you will naturally be focusing your energy on caring for your beautiful new baby. But it’s important to remember to look after yourself, you want to be feeling strong and healthy to take on all the challenges that being a mother to a newborn can bring! To help your body recover from childbirth, make sure you are eating plenty of protein and collagen to aid cell repair - you’ll find lots of it scattered throughout this meal plan. It’s no secret that being a new mom can be stressful, so the warm, nourishing recipes in this plan are all aimed at giving you a supportive hug through the medium of food! The Lamb and Mango Curry in particular is full of Zinc and B Vitamins, which are known to combat stress and anxiety. Your diet will also have an impact on how your baby feeds.The oats in this quick and easy pancake recipe will help boost your milk production, so neither of you will be going hungry!



Turmeric & Orange Chia Latte

Blueberry, Oat & Chia seed pancakes topped with live yoghurt & hemp seeds.

Super healing soup with toasted seeds

Lamb & Mango Coconut Curry (mild)

Ideal snack: Protein Recovery Brownie from The Pregnancy Food Co


Recipes

Preconception meal plan

Fertility tea

You can buy dried herbs from places such as Neal’s Yard, who use the best quality, organic herbs.

To make the tea mix, combine all the following ingredients and store in an airtight container. 

Ingredients

2 parts nettle leaf

1 part red raspberry leaf

1 part red clover


To make a tea, prepare as an infusion.

Put 1 heaped tablespoon of herb mixture into a teapot, pour over 1 pint of boiling water and allow it to steep for 45 minutes before drinking. Drink one brew a day.



Poached Egg, griddled cherry toms  + avocado on toast

Serves 2

This is a gorgeous quick & easy breakfast packed full of important fertility nutrients such as zinc from pumpkin seeds, choline & selenium from eggs and vitamin E & fatty acids from the avocado. Feel free to swap out the toast or replace with a gluten free variety if you prefer. Or to make it vegan, drop the eggs!


Ingredients

1 med/large ripe Avocado

2 fresh free range eggs  

4 slices Rye bread

12 x Cherry tomatoes (on the vine)

Squeeze of lemon juice

1 Tbsp Pumpkin seeds

Pinch of salt & pepper

Pinch of chilli flakes  


Method

Turn grill on to high heat.

Start by scooping out the avocado flesh, discarding the pip & skins and place in a bowl. Mash with a fork, or potato masher. Squeeze approx 1 tbsp (or add more to taste) of lemon juice onto the avocado, season with chilli flakes, salt and pepper, mix to combine, (you should have a fairly smooth paste).


Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to the boil; turn the heat down until just simmering. Before you cook your eggs, prepare your tomatoes. Place your tomatoes onto a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and place underneath the grill for up to 5 minutes.


Add a dash of vinegar to the pan (any vinegar will do, this helps to keep the whites from breaking up too much), crack your eggs into a small cups, ready to pour into the water, swirl the water round with a spoon to create a whirlpool, then add your eggs one at a time, to the pan.  

Cook for 2 minutes in the pan, then remove pan from heat and leave in water for another 4 minutes.


Now you have time to toast your rye bread, place on a plate and spoon equal amounts of avocado onto each piece. Remove eggs from water using a slotted spoon, patting each egg dry on kitchen towel and place on top of your avocado toast.


Remove your perfectly griddled tomatoes on top, finishing with a final dash of black pepper, sprinkle over some pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


Make it vegan: swap the eggs for some hemp seeds sprinkled on top of the avocado


Smashed avocado, flaked tuna & griddled sweet potato slices

Serves 2


This little power lunch is perfect for preconception. Packed with aphrodisiacs, and important fertility nutrients such as vitamin E, B vitamins, Selenium, Magnesium, Vitamin C and Iron helping to contribute to good egg and sperm health.


Ingredients


1 tin tuna in water

2 tbsp plain live yoghurt (dairy or soya)

A few sprigs of dill, or a variation of herbs (parsley, basil, tarragon) finely chopped

Extra virgin olive oil

Fresh or dried Chilies - optional

Salt & Pepper

Juice of 1/2 a lemon



1 med Avocado - smashed

2 handfuls watercress

1/2 red pepper - sliced



1 med/lrg sweet potato

Extra virgin olive oil


Method

Turn on the grill, wash the sweet potato, leaving the skin on, cut sweet potato into (1/2 cm) thick vertical slices, brush with small amount of extra virgin olive oil and season with salt & pepper, and place on a baking sheet, under the grill, for approx 5-8 minutes. Turning over half way through cooking, until browned on both sides and soft to touch.


Open your tin of tuna and drain the meat in a sieve, discarding any excess water. In a bowl mix together the tuna with the yoghurt, lemon juice, chopped herbs, salt, pepper, chili & a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, until well combined.


In a bowl, prepare your salad leaves, (wash if necessary & dry thoroughly) finely chop the spinach leaves (leaving some whole if you prefer), deseed the red pepper and slice into thin slithers, scoop out the avocado flesh discarding the pip & skins and cut into cubes, mix together.  


Once the sweet potato is cooked, remove from grill and arrange on your plate. Layering each slice with the tuna salad, finally spooning the salad to the side and sprinkle with some fennel seeds.


Make it Vegan: swap the tuna for plain hummus.




Almond & Super Veggie Pizza  


Gut health plays a very important role in overall health, and especially fertility!  A healthy gut will help the body in essential hormone production and optimal nutrient absorption. The artichoke, onion and garlic in this recipe all help contribute to a healthy gut biome.  This recipe is also packed with vitamin E, B12, vitamin A and selenium, all essential nutrients for fertility and preparing the body for conception.


Serves 2


Ingredients

Pizza base:

220g almond flour/meal

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp dried Italian mixed herbs (or make up your own mix of oregano, basil, thyme)

1/2 teaspoon pink himalayan (or just sea) salt

1/2 tsp black cracked pepper

3 medium fresh eggs

25g Extra Virgin olive oil


Toppings: feel free to mix and match!

Sundried tomato puree or passatta

Tinned cooked Artichokes

A few Sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 Butternut Squash - peeled, cubed & roasted

1/2 Red onion - sliced

8 x button/chestnut mushrooms - sliced

Dried oregano

Cracked black pepper


Method

Turn oven to 180-200 C.


Wash the butternut squash, leaving the skin on. Slice length ways, and remove seeds, dice into 1cm sized cubes and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with Extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for approx 20 mins until soft and nicely browned.  


Meanwhile, make the pizza base - In a bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients, in a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs until frothy.

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well until evenly combined and forms dough like consistency.  Shape dough into a ball and transfer to oiled parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment on top of the dough and roll dough to 1/2 cm thick at most. Remove top parchment and pop into oven.

Bake for 15  mins until the edges start to go brown and crispy.


Whilst the base is cooking, slice the red onion and mushrooms into thin slices and pan fry with a little olive oil for a few minutes. Remove from the hob.  Drain the tinned artichoke and slice into smaller pieces. Remove the base from oven after the 15 minutes and coat with a generous layer of tomato puree, making sure you spread it to the edges. Arrange the roasted squash and artichoke over the base as evenly as possible, placing the sliced onion and mushroom on top.  Sprinkle with dried oregano, season with salt and pepper and put back in the oven for 12-15 mins or until the toppings are cooked.


Serve with a side salad of mixed greens and a squeeze of lemon juice: - this could include

Watercress, romaine lettuce, cos lettuce, baby gem, lambs lettuce, kale, chard, white cabbage.

Avocado & pumpkin seed



Ideal snack: Preconception nourish balls from The Pregnancy Food Co


Pregnancy meal plan

Green Smoothie

Serves 1 (makes 1 large glass, approx 1pint)


Ingredients

2x large handfuls of washed spinach

Few parsley leaves

1x banana

1x Kiwi

2x fresh figs

1x date

Squeeze of lemon/lime

2/3 cups of liquid - adjust to get correct consistency (cold herbal tea (green, orange peel, nettle, jasmine) orange juice (not from concentrate)).

1/2 tsp Ceylon cinnamon (Ceylon helps to regulate blood sugar levels)



Method

Whizz all ingredients together in high speed blender / smoothie maker / nutribullet.

Can be made in batches and frozen in glass jars. Or will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.


Banana & cashew butter chia seed porridge/pudding with mixed summer berries

Serves 1


During pregnancy it’s really important to get a source of protein in at every meal. This recipe packs in all three macronutrients to keep you feeling fuller for longer - growing a baby is hungry work! It also helps to keep your blood sugar level more stable which is important during pregnancy. Banana also contains potassium and vitamin B6 which can help combat morning sickness.


Ingredients

100ml any nut milk

30g chia seeds

1 tbsp Cashew Nut Butter

1/2 banana, sliced or mashed can use frozen

1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla essence

Frozen or fresh berries (can use a mix of Raspberry, blackberry, red currants, blueberries)

1tsp Black sesame seeds (if not regular sesame is fine)


Method

Best soaked over night – but will taste just as good if you whizz up and eat straight away.

If you have a food processor, set aside some of the berries and black sesame seeds to sprinkle on top. Combine the rest of the ingredients together until fully combined and a thick consistency. If you prefer it thicker, add more bananas.  Pour mixture into a bowl, and decorate with the reserved toppings.

Note: - Can be made in larger quantities and stored in the fridge for up to 2 days.



Kale, Squash & Halloumi Salad with a creamy yoghurt dressing.  

Serves 2


Halloumi is a great source of calcium which is sometimes deficient in pregnant women, whilst the kale is a great source of Vitamins A and C which are very useful antioxidants helping with the healthy cell division happening in your developing baby. The healthy fats in the avocado will also help with baby’s growing brain, and your own brain health too. Vitamin A is also used in the development of baby’s lungs and eyes among other organs.



Ingredients


Salad

1 bag / 500g Green Kale or Cavelo Nero – washed & stalks removed, finely shredded

1/2 butternut squash - cubed

1x sour Apple (Cox, Braeburn) – grated  

1 carrot - grated

1/2 Pomegranate (or pot of pomegranate seeds)

1/2 pack Halloumi

1 large Avocado


10 x Cherry tomatoes (on the vine)

1 x Sweet red pepper



Dressing

1 tbsp Plain Live Yoghurt (or plain soya/coconut)

1tsp Apple cider vinegar

1 heaped tsp Dijon or whole grain mustard  

1tsp Extra Virgin Olive oil

Salt & pepper


Method



Pre-heat oven to 200c. Place your cubed butternut squash into a baking tray and add a TBSP of olive oil, and a little seasoning. Roast for 20 minutes or until golden brown, turning once.


Remove the stalks from the kale, (these can be hard and unpleasant to eat), using a sharp knife, finely shred the kale and place in a bowl and squeeze over some lemon juice, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Massage the leaves a little, squeezing between your hands for about 30 secs and until combined. This helps to soften the leaves and remove any bitterness, set aside whilst you prepare the rest of the ingredients.


Wash your other vegetables (there is no need to peel them), place a grater in a large mixing bowl, and grate the apple and carrot. On a chopping board, cut the tomatoes into quarters, thinly slice the red pepper and half the olives.


Prepare your dressing by mixing all ingredients together in a bowl and season to taste.


Prepare the pomegranate, by slicing in half (so that the top and tail is in tact), place the fruit (flat side down) on the chopping board, take a spoon and tap the skin of the pomegranate, the seeds should fall out on the board. Any excess juices, can be added to the kale, reserve the seeds to scatter on top later. Alternatively, you can buy a pot of pomegranate seeds.


Thinly slice the halloumi to approx ½ cm thick, on a medium-high heat in a (preferably a non-stick) frying pan, fry the halloumi on both sides, until nicely crispy and golden in colour. Once cooked set aside.


Scoop out the flesh of the avocado, discarding the skins and pip and dice into large cubes. Now combine this with the kale, carrot, apple and olives. Place a generous handful of salad onto plates, add the butternut squash, spoon the yoghurt dressing on top, sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds and decorate with the slices of halloumi.



Lemon & Parsley Fish Goujons served with turmeric potato wedges & seasonal greens

Serves 2

Fish is a really good source of omega 3 fatty acids, essential for brain health for both you and baby. Broccoli and kale are great natural sources of methylfolate (folic acid) to help support healthy growth of baby’s spinal cord and is also involved in brain development.


Ingredients


2 large sockeye salmon fillets - cut lengthways into two

2 lemons - juiced and zest grated from both

2 Tbsp Rice Flour (if you cant source this normal flour will be fine)

1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

1 x free range egg

1 slice stale whole meal bread - crumbed in a blender

Salt & Pepper


2 Med Sweet Potatoes

1 tsp Turmeric

Coconut oil


Glug of olive oil

1 tbsp of yoghurt

1/2 tsp honey

Salt & pepper


To serve - steamed Peas, purple sprouting broccoli, kale, a tsp of butter & fresh Mint



Method


Turn your oven on to 200c and leave to get to temperature.


Make the lemon dressing using half the lemon zest from the two lemons, and half the juice. Add those ingredients, plus the oil, yoghurt, honey and seasoning. Mix well with a fork and set aside.


Cut the sweet potatoes into wedges, keeping the skin on. Once the oven is up to temperature, put a baking tray into the oven with 1 tbsp of coconut oil and leave for a minute or so until the oil is melted. Remove from oven and carefully add wedges to the tray - covering in the turmeric and covering completely with oil. Put the tray back into the oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes, or until golden brown.


You now need three separate plates:


One with the rice flour and seasoning mixed together

One with the beaten egg and parsley

One with breadcrumbs and lemon zest


Dip and cover each salmon strip in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs and place on a baking tray. Pop in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes.


Place a steamer on the hob and add the peas, broccoli and kale. Cook this mix for approximately 8 minutes once water is boiling. Remove from hob and mix in lemon juice and chopped fresh mint - a few leaves will be plenty.


Remove salmon and sweet potato wedges from the oven, both should be nicely golden brown. Serve with the greens and lemon yoghurt.  



Ideal snack: Pregnancy Nourish balls from The Pregnancy Food Co


Postpartum meal plan


Turmeric & Orange Chia Latte - Healing, warm foods.  

Serves 1

Turmeric is an amazing anti inflammatory, perfect for post birth, and this drink is just the best way to wake up after a tough night.


Ingredients

130ml Almond milk

50ml Coconut milk

Zest of 1 x Orange

1 tsp Honey or Agave

1 tsp Vanilla essence

1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon

1 tsp Ground turmeric or grated root available in quality health food stores


Method

Place all ingredients in a pan on a low heat, being careful not to catch, stirring continuously. Once heated drink from your favourite cup!   



Blueberry, Oat & Chia seed pancakes topped with live yoghurt & hemp seeds.

Serves 2

These pancakes are the perfect healthy treat, just what you need to get your day started as a mumma! Full of protein to help repair the body after birth, oats to boost milk production if breastfeeding, and a great source of energy after a night of little sleep.


Ingredients

200ml Almond milk

80g gluten free oats

1 egg  

2 tbsp Chia seeds

1 tsp Vanilla essence

1 large very ripe banana

1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Handful blueberries

Pinch salt

1 tbsp Coconut oil


To serve

Yoghurt of choice - coconut or greek work well

Drizzle of honey or molasses

1 tbsp hemp seeds  


Method

For best results, combine all ingredients except the blueberries, in a food processor, until well combined, stir through the blueberries and allow the batter to sit for 5 minutes – this allows the chia seeds to thicken the batter and for the bicarbonate of soda to activate. The mix should be nice and thick!


When you are ready to cook your pancakes, turn your oven on to 100c so you have somewhere to keep your pancakes warm whilst you are cooking them all.


Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add a little of the coconut oil. Using a sheet of kitchen towel, wipe the coconut oil around the pan until it is fully greased.


Add two x 2 TBSP dollops of the mix into the pan and gently move the pan so that the batter settles into a circular shape, or spread around with then back of a spoon. Leave to cook on a medium/low heat until you start to see a few bubbles appearing on the top of the pancakes, or for around 2 minutes - now they are ready to flip! Once flipped, leave cooking for around 30 seconds then remove from the heat and pop into the pre heated oven whilst you repeat this step for the remaining batter.


Once all the pancakes are ready, place onto two serving plates, you should get two nice size pancakes each. Add a dollop of yoghurt, a drizzle of honey/molasses and the hemp seeds. Enjoy straight away!


Make it vegan: Just swap out the egg and replace with 1 large TBSP of coconut yoghurt.


Super healing soup with toasted seeds

Serves 2 with leftovers

Warm, healing foods are a must for the post partum period. In some cultures, new mothers aren’t even allowed to eat anything cold for at least 40 days after birth.

This healing soup contains collagen for repair of tissues, prebiotics for gut health, protein for healing and fibre for good digestion.


Ingredients


1 butternut squash, (about 1kg), peeled and cut into 2cm chunks, seeds rinsed and dried

6 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

½ tsp paprika

8 unpeeled cloves  of garlic

2 leeks, roughly chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped into 1 cm cubes

1 red chilli, thinly sliced

400g can butter beans, rinsed and drained

3 rosemary sprigs

1 litre chicken bone broth (we like borough broth co)

3 tbsp coconut yoghurt

Seasoning to taste

Pumpkin seeds


Method


Pre heat oven to 200c. Place the butternut squash cubes, 3 tbsp of the olive oil, the garlic, vinegar and paprika in a roasting tin and mix. Cook for 20 minutes, take out and turn, then place back in the oven for another 20 minutes.


Meanwhile, in a large saucepan sweat the leeks and celery on a low heat with the remaining olive oil for around 15 minutes or until softened. Add the chilli, butterbeans and rosemary sprigs, cooking for a further few minutes.


Remove the butternut squash from the oven and add to the pan, add the chicken bone broth and 500ml of cold water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes.


Remove from the hob, and de-stalk the rosemary leaving just the leaves in the pan. Now add the coconut yoghurt and blend with a hand held blender.


Quickly toast the pumpkin seeds in a frying pan until turning golden brown.


Serve in a soup bowl with the seeds sprinkled on top. Enjoy with your favourite bread if you wish!



Make it vegan: Just swap out the chicken broth with a vegetable broth.



Lamb & Mango Coconut Curry (mild)

Serves 2 with leftovers


Lamb contains lots of B vitamins and zinc to help deal with anxiety and stress - common side effects of motherhood! This curry is a nutritional powerhouse full of iron to help with fatigue, and other nutrients to help support the body at times of repair and nutrient depletion. Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are essential for us to turn our macronutrients, such as carbohydrates, into useable energy.


Ingredients

400g organic diced lamb

1 thumb sized piece root ginger - grated

1 Large white onion - sliced & diced

1 garlic clove - crushed

1 tbsp turmeric

1 tbsp garam masala

2 tbsp mild curry powder

1 fresh mango - sliced

2 tbsp mango chutney

100g almond flour

1 400g tin full fat coconut milk

1 400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 handful spinach (can use chard or kale if preferred)  

Glug olive oil

Juice 1 Lime


To serve

Brown rice, sesame seeds , freshly chopped coriander.


Method

Place the lamb in a large casserole pan with a glug of olive oil, along with the turmeric, the curry powder, the onion, ginger and garam massala. Cook on a medium heat until the meat has turned golden brown. Now add the coconut milk, garlic and the tinned tomatoes and leave to simmer on a the lowest heat on your hob.


After the curry has been simmering for around 10 minutes, pop your rice on to cook as per cooking instructions. When the rice is nearing its cooking time, add the mango slices, almond flour, mango chutney and spinach to the curry mix. Stir through and leave to simmer until the rice is ready.


Remove the rice from the hob, drain, and add to serving plate. Spoon on the curry with a sprinkling or sesame seeds and the fresh coriander on top. Add a squeeze of lime and serve!


Make it vegan: swap the lamb for chickpeas and lentils, or tofu.


You can find more of Laura Jane’s advice, recipes and nutritional products online here.