Building Blocks

Here are the foods you need to stay healthy and give your baby a strong nutritional foundation.

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Did you know it takes about 56,000 extra calories to create a baby? That may sound like a lot, but it translates to just 300 extra calories a day, the equivalent of a half-cup of Ben & Jerry's Rain Forest Crunch ice cream or one Krispy Kreme glazed blueberry doughnut. Still, it takes more than ice cream and doughnuts to nourish a growing baby. By eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy products and lean protein, you'll supply your little one with the nutrients he needs.

To help you put all this information on your plate, we address some of the most common questions regarding pregnancy nutrition. We've also come up with a fabulous five-day meal plan. It's easy to follow, packed with nutrients and new food ideas and accompanied by easy recipes for delicious meals. When you're building a baby, every calorie counts, in terms of nutrition and great taste.

question:

How often should I eat?

In the first trimester, six mini-meals a day may help prevent nausea and fatigue. Toward the end of your pregnancy when the fetus is almost full-grown, mini-meals may again be easier to digest than three large meals a day.

question:

Are supplements important?

While foods are your best source of nutrients, you may need a multiple vitamin and mineral pill that supplies 100 percent to 150 percent of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowances. Talk to your health care provider about prenatal supplements.

question:

How can I avoid heartburn?

Relax, eat slowly and don't lie flat immediately after a meal. Also try to keep your head elevated while sleeping.

baby-building essentials

During pregnancy your dietary and nutrient needs are more critical than ever. Here are some nutrients that are particularly important: Not only do they keep you healthy and strong so you will be less likely to have complications during pregnancy and labor, but they're also vital for the proper development of your baby. Make sure to include them in your diet every day.

> calcium

Daily requirement: 1,000 milligrams

Essential role: Necessary for fetal bone development and your bone strength; can help ward off pregnancy-induced hypertension.

> folate

Daily requirement: 600 micrograms (400 micrograms for women who are trying to conceive)

Essential role: Helps prevent neural-tube defects and may help prevent cleft palate; builds strong red blood cells; aids in utilizing dietary protein.

> fiber

Daily requirement: 25–35 grams

Essential role: Fights constipation; helps control

blood sugar, which in turn reduces risk of developing gestational diabetes.

> iron

Daily requirement: 30 milligrams

Essential role: Helps prevent anemia and premature delivery; helps baby gain weight.

good-for-you foods

Focus your diet on the following and you'll get the essential nutrients to keep you and your growing baby healthy.

  • Eat your veggies and legumes for a good dose of fiber. Carrots, tomatoes and beans are ideal sources.
  • Berries, beans and leafy greens brim with essential vitamins and minerals such as folate, which helps prevent neural-tube defects.
  • Whole-grain breads and cereals provide lots of B vitamins, iron, selenium and fiber.
  • Low-fat dairy foods, particularly milk, supply calcium, which is crucial for bone development and nerve and muscle function; lean meats, seafood, chicken and legumes have plenty of protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12.
  • Drink at least eight glasses of water a day to keep up with your expanding blood volume, which increases up to 50 percent during pregnancy. Water also flushes your body of toxins and helps reduce excessive swelling.

Five-day meal plan

Get the nutrients you need with this easy-to-follow meal plan. Additions are listed for your second and third trimesters at the end of each day to help you get the extra calories you need during these crucial months. Recipes follow for those marked with an asterisk.

Day 1

Breakfast

8 ounces low-fat vanilla yogurt mixed

with 2 tablespoons wheat germ

1 cinnamon-raisin bagel

1 tablespoon reduced-fat cream cheese

Snack

1 banana dipped in 1 tablespoon soy nut

butter (available at most specialty

grocers or health-food stores)

Lunch

2 Spinach-Bean Burritos: Divide 1 cup

refried beans, 1/2 cup fresh spinach

leaves and 1/2 cup reduced-fat cheddar

cheese between 2 whole-wheat flour

tortillas. Roll each tortilla into a burrito.

1 kiwi

8 ounces low-fat milk

Snack

Peach Almond Smoothie: Blend together

8 ounces low-fat milk, 1 fresh peach

and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract.

Dinner

1 serving Pork Tenderloin With Late-

Summer Fruits*

1 medium sweet potato, baked

11/2 cups broccoli flowerets, steamed

1 whole-grain dinner roll

2 teaspoons butter

Snack

8 ounces cranberry-raspberry cocktail

juice

1/4 cup chocolate-covered raisins

Additions for your second and third trimesters

1 tablespoon strawberry jam added to

cinnamon-raisin bagel

1 tablespoon soy nut butter at mid-

morning snack

8 ounces low-fat milk at midmorning

snack

1 cup fresh cubed pineapple at dinner

First-trimester nutritional information (daily total): 2,444 calories, 24 percent fat (66 grams), 58 percent carbohydrate, 18 percent protein, 41 grams fiber, 17 milligrams iron, 1,825 milligrams calcium, 605 micrograms folate.

Second- and third-trimester nutritional information (daily total): 2,762 calories, 24 percent fat (75 grams), 58 percent carbohydrate, 18 percent protein, 44 grams fiber, 18 milligrams iron, 2,140 milligrams calcium, 635 micrograms folate.

Day 2

Breakfast

1 1/2 cups frosted shredded wheat cereal

8 ounces low-fat milk

1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced

Snack

8 ounces pineapple-orange juice

5 dried Mission figs

Lunch

1 serving Fresh Corn and Zucchini

Cheese Puff*

1 cup steamed green beans mixed with

1/2 cup steamed mushrooms

1 whole-wheat dinner roll

1 teaspoon butter

1 cup grapes

Snack

4 tablespoons roasted red pepper

hummus

8 whole-wheat wafer crackers

Dinner

4 ounces grilled salmon topped with 1

teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon lime juice

and 1/4 teaspoon crushed oregano

1 cup whole-wheat couscous sprinkled

with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups fresh asparagus spears, steamed

2 slices French bread

2 teaspoons butter

Snack

2 medium oatmeal-raisin cookies

8 ounces low-fat milk

Additions for your second and third trimesters

4 honey graham cracker squares at

morning snack

1 cup vegetable juice at afternoon snack

8 ounces low-fat milk at dinner

First-trimester nutritional information (daily total): 2,391 calories, 22 percent fat (58 grams), 60 percent carbohydrate, 18 percent protein, 38 grams fiber, 25 milligrams iron, 1,370 milligrams calcium, 849 micrograms folate.

Second- and third-trimester nutritional information (daily total): 2,691 calories, 22 percent fat (65 grams), 60 percent carbohydrate, 18 percent protein, 39 grams fiber, 28 milligrams iron, 1,804 milligrams calcium, 875 micrograms folate.

Day 3

Breakfast

1 Orange-Blueberry Muffin*

2 tablespoons orange marmalade

8 ounces low-fat milk

1/2 red grapefruit

Snack

1/4 cup dried sweet cherries

3 tablespoons walnuts

Lunch

Italian Bean Salad: 1 cup fresh romaine leaves,

1 cup fresh spinach leaves,

1/2 cup garbanzo beans,

1 medium tomato cut into thin wedges,

1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil leaves,

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.

1/4 cup reduced-fat Italian dressing

2 slices Italian bread

2 teaspoons butter

Snack

16 baked tortilla chips

1/2 cup chunky salsa

Dinner

Beef Fajitas: 4 ounces lean beef sirloin,

1/2 cup each green, red and yellow pepper

strips, 3/4 cup onion slices. Sauté all

ingredients in a large wok or skillet and

divide between 2 whole-wheat flour tortillas.

1/2 cup apricot halves in light syrup

8 ounces low-fat milk

Snack

1/2 Fuji apple, cut into slices and dipped in

1/4 cup fat-free caramel dip

Additions for your second and third trimesters

8 ounces low-fat chocolate milk at

morning snack

1/2 cup Spanish rice at dinner

2 tablespoons light sour cream at dinner

First-trimester nutritional information (daily total): 2,343 calories, 29 percent fat (76 grams), 56 percent carbohydrate, 15 percent protein, 36 grams fiber, 7 milligrams iron, 1,505 milligrams cal-cium, 487 micrograms folate.

Second- and third-trimester nutritional information (daily total): 2,672 calories, 29 percent fat (87 grams), 56 percent carbohydrate, 15 percent protein, 38 grams fiber 18 milligrams iron, 1,862 milligrams calcium, 513 micrograms folate.

Day 4

Breakfast

1 1/2 cups cooked oatmeal

1/4 cup chopped dates

8 ounces low-fat milk

Snack

1/2 sesame seed bagel topped with 1

tablespoon peanut butter

8 ounces orange juice

Lunch

Turkey Pita Sandwich: 2 ounces

prepackaged sliced turkey breast; 2

ounces sliced provolone cheese; 2 tea-

spoons mayonnaise; 1/2 Fuji apple, cut

into slices; 1 cup baby carrots; 1 cup

mango cubes. Divide all of the ingredients between the pockets of 1

whole-wheat pita sliced in half.

Snack

8 ounces tomato juice

1/4 cup roasted, salted soy nuts (available

at most specialty grocers and health-

food stores)

Dinner

1 serving Thai Curried Shrimp With

Spinach*

1 cup cooked brown rice

1/2 cup fresh pineapple chunks

Snack

1 cup orange sherbet

1 tablespoon chocolate sauce

1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips

Additions for your second and third trimesters

1/2 cup oatmeal at breakfast with 1 tea-

spoon brown sugar

Other half of sesame bagel at morning

snack

1 cup steamed fresh snow pea pods at

dinner

1/2 cup cooked brown rice at dinner

First trimester nutritional information (daily total): 2,465 calories, 24 percent fat (65 grams), 59 percent carbohydrate, 17 percent protein, 35 grams fiber, 16 milligrams iron, 1,257 milligrams calcium, 472 micrograms folate.

Second- and third-trimester nutritional information (daily total): 2,800 calories, 22 percent fat (67 grams), 62 percent carbohydrate, 16 percent protein, 40 grams fiber, 19.5 milligrams iron, 487 micrograms folate.

Day 5

Breakfast

1 English Muffin Sandwich: 1 whole-grain

English muffin, toasted; 2 slices Canadi-

an bacon (3/4 ounce each); 1 ounce

Colby cheese; 1 egg fried in 1 teaspoon

butter.

8 ounces ruby red grapefruit juice

Snack

1 Orange-Blueberry Muffin*

8 ounces low-fat chocolate milk

Lunch

1 veggie burger patty (about 3 ounces)

on 2 slices multigrain bread with 1 tea-

spoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup fresh

spinach leaves and 4 tomato slices

11/2 cups pepper slices (green, red and

yellow)

1 serving Vanilla Pudding With Gingered

Peaches*

Snack

8 ounces low-fat milk

1/2 cup cantaloupe cubes

Dinner

4 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast

grilled with 1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce

6 small cooked red potatoes

1 cup cooked sugar snap peas

1/2 cup fresh raspberries

Snack

1 slice cinnamon-raisin bread

1 tablespoon cashew nut butter

Additions for your second and third trimesters

1/2 cup low-fat milk at breakfast

1/2 cup low-fat milk at afternoon snack

1/2 cup cantaloupe cubes at afternoon

snack

1 multigrain roll at dinner

1 teaspoon butter at dinner

1 fresh pear at evening snack

First-trimester nutritional information (daily total): 2,409 calories, 23 percent fat (62 grams), 55 percent carbohydrate, 22 percent protein, 37 grams fiber, 18 milligrams iron, 1,424 milligrams cal-cium, 384 micrograms folate.
Second- and third-trimester nutritional information (daily total): 2,750 calories, 23 percent fat (71 grams), 56 percent carbohydrate, 21 percent protein, 42 grams fiber, 20 milligrams iron, 1,659 milligrams cal-cium, 446 micrograms folate.

RECIPES

Pork Tenderloin With
Late-Summer Fruits

Serves 4

1 1-pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons shallots, minced

1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

1/2 cup blackberries

1/2 cup raspberries

1 ripe plum, pitted and sliced

1 1/2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 400º F. Place pork on a foil-lined baking sheet and rub with 1 teaspoon oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 10–12 minutes on each side (pork will be rosy inside, yet completely cooked through).

While pork is cooking, heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a me-dium skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté for 5 minutes. Add orange juice concentrate, berries, plum, honey and mustard; simmer for 5 minutes. Season with additional salt, pepper and honey to taste.

Place half of fruit sauce in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until pureed. Transfer to skillet; stir to combine. Transfer pork to a cutting board; cut into thin slices. Spoon a portion of sauce on each plate. Lay slices of pork over sauce.

Nutritional information per serving (3 ounces pork and 1/3 cup sauce): 265 calories, 24 percent fat (7 grams), 38 percent carbohydrate, 38 percent protein, 3 grams fiber, 2 milligrams iron, 29 milligrams calcium, 47 micrograms folate.

Fresh Corn and Zucchini Cheese Puff

Serves 4

Nonstick cooking spray

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 cup zucchini, diced

1/2 cup onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup fresh corn kernels

1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

1/2 cup 1 percent milk

1/4 cup grated Romano cheese, divided

3 eggs, separated and divided

2 tablespoons cornmeal

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat a shallow, square 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini, onion, garlic, thyme, a pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper. Sauté until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Stir in corn; season with salt and pepper.

Place cottage cheese, milk, 2 tablespoons Romano cheese and 1 egg yolk in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until smooth. Transfer to a bowl; stir in cornmeal and flour. Blend in zucchini mixture.

Beat 3 egg whites in a medium bowl until firm peaks form. (Refrigerate remaining 2 yolks for another use.) Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into zucchini mixture. Gently fold in remaining egg whites. Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish and gently smooth top. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons Romano cheese and bake for 35 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Slice in half, rotate dish and slice in half again, making four squares.

Nutritional information per serving (1 square): 226 calories, 26 percent fat (6.5 grams), 45 percent carbohydrate, 29 percent protein, 3.5 grams fiber, 1.2 milligrams iron, 209 milligrams calcium, 56 micrograms folate.

Orange-Blueberry Muffins

Serves 12

Nonstick cooking spray

1 orange

1/2 cup wheat bran

1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk (available at specialty grocers)

1 cup canned navy beans, rinsed and drained

3 tablespoons canola oil

2/3 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

11/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 350º F. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Grate rind from orange and place rind in a medium bowl. Juice orange and add to bowl (you should have about 1/2 cup orange juice). Stir in bran and buttermilk; set aside.

Combine beans, oil, sugar and egg in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until smooth. Add to bran mixture and stir to blend. Whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Stir into bran mixture until just combined; add blueberries.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins and bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean. Let muffins cool slightly in tin before removing.

Nutritional information per serving (1 muffin): 183 calories, 22 percent fat (4.5 grams), 68 percent carbohydrate, 10 percent protein, 3 grams fiber, 1.5 milligrams iron, 51 milligrams calcium, 27 micrograms folate.

Thai Curried Shrimp
With Spinach

Serves 4

4 cloves garlic

1 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled

2 teaspoons canola oil

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 cup reduced-fat coconut milk

1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons fish sauce or soy sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon chili paste

1 (10-ounce) bag fresh spinach, rinsed, stems removed

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Combine garlic and ginger in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse until minced. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add curry powder and onion; sauté 6–8 minutes, or until onion is soft. Stir in coconut milk, clam juice, sugar, fish or soy sauce, lime juice, chili paste and garlic-ginger mixture. Bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 3 minutes.

Working in batches, add handfuls of spinach to sauce, stirring greens after each addition until they collapse slightly. Add shrimp and cook until just cooked through and spinach is wilted but still bright-green, about 8 minutes.

Nutritional information per serving (1 1/2 cups): 250 calories, 29 percent fat (8 grams), 29 percent carbohydrate, 42 percent protein, 3 grams fiber, 6 milligrams iron, 152 milligrams calcium, 152 micrograms folate.

Vanilla Pudding With Gingered Peaches

Serves 4

2 cups 1 percent milk

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 fresh peaches, skinned, pitted and cut into small, thin slices

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Combine milk, 1/2 cup maple syrup and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low and keep warm.

In a medium bowl, stir together cornstarch and water until completely smooth. Pour hot milk mixture into dissolved cornstarch and whisk to combine.

Transfer mixture back to pot and cook over low heat until pudding has thickened, about 2 minutes. Blend in vanilla. Pour pudding into a medium bowl, or four 6-ounce ramekins or pudding cups. Lay a small piece of plastic wrap over surface of pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or until set. Toss peaches with remaining 1 tablespoon maple syrup and ginger. Serve over pudding.

Nutritional information per serving (1/2 cup pudding with 1/2 peach): 223 calories, 6 percent fat (1.5 grams), 86 percent carbohydrate, 8 percent protein, 1 gram fiber, 0.5 milligram iron, 160 milligrams calcium, 7.5 microgram folate.

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