The Daily Dozen

12 simple rules for eating well during pregnancy; plus 5 delicious recipes.


Excerpted from What to Expect ®: Eating Well When You’re Expecting. Copyright © 2005 by What to Expect LLC. Used by permission of Workman Publishing, Inc., New York. All rights reserved. For more information about pregnancy, go to

So, you think you will be undergoing a lot of changes during your 40-week pregnancy? Consider what’s happening to your baby: Cells are dividing; organs are forming; and the digestive, sensory, circulatory, urinary and other systems are developing. Your diet will provide the nutrients necessary for all that growth, and study after study shows that more nutritious prenatal diets result in far healthier babies. By following the 12 simple suggestions, you’ll get all the vitamins, minerals and other substances you and baby need the whole nine months. These guidelines (and scrumptious recipes) will give your baby a great start and make your pregnancy healthier. For the benefits of eating well, for you and your baby, click here.

1. Calories >> 300 extra a day After the first trimester, you’ll need just 300 extra calories a day to make a baby (equivalent to 1/4 cup peanuts or almonds, an apple and a glass of 1% fat milk). To find out how much weight you should gain, go to

2. Protein>> 3 servings No single nutrient is more essential to the making of a baby than protein’s amino acids, the building blocks of human tissue. Protein also helps maximize fetal brain development. Here’s a sample list of protein-packed foods; eat a combination equal to 3 servings daily. 1 serving>> 1 cup cottage cheese; 6 tablespoons peanut butter; 6 ounces (before cooking) whole-wheat pasta; 3 1/2 ounces canned tuna; 4 ounces (before cooking) fresh fish, skinless poultry, lean beef, lamb or pork

3. Calcium>> 4 servings If you don’t get enough calcium, your body will drain it from your bones to help build and strengthen your baby’s—possibly setting you up for osteoporosis later on. (If you’re going with dairy sources for protein, don’t forget to tally them into your calcium servings as well.) 1 serving >> 1 1/2 ounces cheese; 1 cup calcium-fortified soy milk; 1 cup milk; 1 cup yogurt; 1 cup calcium-fortified orange juice; 3 tablespoons sesame seeds; 1 cup cooked greens (collard, mustard or turnip)

4. Vitamin C>> 3 servings Because your body doesn’t store vitamin C, you need to consume a fresh supply every day. Vitamin C also is fragile: Heat, light and air can destroy it over time, so try to eat your vitamin-C foods in the freshest form possible. 1 serving>> 1/3 cup fresh strawberries; 1/2 cup grapefruit or orange juice; 1/2 cup raw or cooked broccoli; 1/2 cup raw or cooked cauliflower; 1/2 cup cooked spinach; 1 medium tomato; 1/4 medium red, yellow or orange bell pepper

5. Green leafy, yellow-orange vegetables; yellow-orange fruit>> 3–4 servings These nutrient powerhouses are rich in beta-carotene (which is crucial for fetal development), vitamin E, riboflavin, B6, folic acid and magnesium. Plus, they supply constipation-countering fiber. Use color as your selection key: The deeper the hue, the higher the nutrient content. 1 serving>> 2 apricots; 1 nectarine or peach; 1 pink or ruby red grapefruit; 1/4 medium papaya; 1/2 medium mango; 1 packed cup dark-green leafy lettuce (romaine, arugula or field greens); 1/2 sweet potato or yam; 1/2 carrot

6. Other fruit and vegetables>> 1–2 servings Although not rich in any single nutrient, other fruit and vegetables (see examples below) supply a wide range of additional vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber. 1 serving>> 1 medium banana; 1 medium apple; 1/4 cup raisins; 1/2 cup blueberries; 2 small plums; 1/2 cup pomegranate juice; 1/2 cup cooked zucchini; 1/2 cup chopped cucumbers

7. Whole grains and legumes>> 6–9 servings These complex carbohydrates contain minerals (selenium, magnesium, zinc and chromium) and vitamins (particularly E and B) essential for your baby’s developing body. 1 serving>> 1/2 cup cooked whole grains (brown or wild rice, barley, quinoa); 1 cup cooked oatmeal; 1 slice whole-grain bread; 1 small corn tortilla; 1/2 cup cooked beans, lentils or split peas; 2 cups air-popped popcorn

8. Iron-rich foods>> at least 27 milligrams Your body’s demand for iron will never be greater than it is now, as it works overtime to generate enough red blood cells for baby-making. To make sure the demand is met and that a deficiency (which could lead to anemia) doesn’t develop, your doctor will likely recommend a prenatal supplement with 30 mg of iron.

There is no standard serving size for iron, but you can enhance your diet with the following iron-rich foods, in addition to taking a prenatal supplement: 3 ounces (before cooking) lean beef tenderloin; 3 ounces cooked shrimp; 1/2 cup dried kidney beans, boiled.

9. Salty foods>> in moderation For some women, a diet high in sodium may cause a variety of complications, such as high blood pressure. Read nutrition labels and cut back on foods high in sodium: processed foods, such as canned soups, frozen entrées and fast food. A healthy goal is 2,400 mg daily.

10. Healthful fats>> in moderation Your baby needs essential fatty acids for growth and development. Especially important in the last month of pregnancy and first month of breastfeeding are omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish and walnuts), needed for optimal brain development. Do not rely on french fries, chips, cookies or other processed snack foods for your daily servings.

There is no standard serving size for fat, but you can enhance your diet with these healthful sources (free of trans fats): 1 1/2 ounces cheese; 4 ounces (before cooking) meat, poultry or fish (such as wild salmon); 1 1/2 ounces nuts; 1/2 cup puréed avocado; 1 tablespoon olive, canola or sesame oil.

11. Fluids>> at least eight 8-ounce glasses Fluids are needed for building the fetus’s circulatory system and cells, delivery of nutrients and excretion of waste. Your body needs extra hydration to prevent fatigue (linked to dehydration), combat constipation and reduce urinary tract infection risk. In addition to drinking 8 glasses of water, get 37 ounces of fluid from the following sources: milk (it’s 2/3 water); soup; fruit and vegetables (5 typical servings equal about 2 fluid servings); decaf coffee and tea; juices.

12. Prenatal vitamin supplements>> daily Despite your best efforts, your diet may lack some nutrients from time to time. Enter your daily prenatal vitamin. Especially in the case of nutrients that are difficult to obtain just from the foods you eat—such as iron and folic acid—a supplement makes the task that much easier.


Broccoli and Cheese Soup SERVES 2 PREP TIME: 10 minutes COOK TIME: 25 minutes

1 tablespoon butter 1/2 medium onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced 2 cups broccoli florets 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth 3/4 cup buttermilk 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add broccoli, potato and chicken broth. Raise heat to high and allow to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the broccoli and potato soften, about 7 minutes. Let broccoli mixture cool slightly, then transfer to a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth. Return soup to saucepan, add buttermilk and 1/4 cup cheese. Cook soup over low heat until cheese melts (do not allow it to boil), about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour soup into bowls and top each with remaining cheese. Daily dozen nutrient information per serving: Protein: 1/2 serving, Calcium: almost 2 servings, Vitamin C: 2 servings, Green leafy and yellow-orange vegetables and fruit: 2 servings, Other fruit and vegetables: 1/2 serving, Fat: 1/2 serving

Crunchy Pear Salad SERVES 2

PREP TIME: 15 minutes COOK TIME: none

1 ripe pear, peeled and thinly sliced 4 cups (packed) baby spinach 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 1 shallot, minced 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shavings 1/4 cup walnut pieces

Mix together pear slices and spinach in a salad bowl. Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, mustard and shallot in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss pear and spinach with enough dressing to coat evenly. Place on salad plates and top with Parmesan shavings and walnuts. Serve immediately. Daily dozen nutrient information per serving: Protein: 1/2 serving, Calcium: 1 serving, Vitamin C: 1 serving with spinach; 1/2 serving with arugula, Green leafy and yellow-orange vegetables and fruit: 2 servings, Other fruit and vegetables: 1/2 serving, Fat: 1 serving

Salmon Cakes With Tropical Salsa SERVES 3 PREP TIME: 30 minutes COOK TIME: 8 minutes

Note: Look for canned wild salmon, such as Bumble Bee, which contains fewer dioxins than farmed salmon.

1 can (14 3/4 ounces) pink salmon, drained and mashed with a fork 1 medium red bell pepper, diced 1/2 cup grated carrot 1 tablespoon drained capers 1 large egg Zest of 1/2 lemon 4 tablespoons whole-wheat bread crumbs 2 tablespoons wheat germ or ground flaxseed Freshly ground black pepper 2 teaspoons olive oil 1 cup pineapple chunks, fresh or canned 1 cup ripe mango chunks 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar Crushed red pepper flakes

Mix salmon, half the bell pepper, carrot, capers, egg and lemon zest in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, mix bread crumbs and wheat germ or ground flaxseed. Add half the bread crumb mixture to the salmon mixture and combine well. Season with freshly ground pepper to taste. Divide salmon mixture into 6 equal portions and form cakes, about 1/2-inch thick. Coat cakes on both sides with remaining bread crumb mixture. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cakes and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Meanwhile, mix remaining bell pepper and pineapple, mango, vinegar and red pepper flakes in a small bowl to make salsa. Spoon salsa onto 3 plates and top each with 2 salmon cakes. Daily dozen nutrient information per serving (2 cakes): Protein: 1 serving, Vitamin C: 2 or more servings, Calcium: 1 serving, Green leafy and yellow-orange vegetables and fruit: 1 serving, Whole grains and legumes: 1/2 serving, Fat: 1 serving

Fettuccine with Turkey and Wild Mushrooms SERVES 2 PREP TIME: 10 minutes COOK TIME: 20 minutes

1/4 pound whole-wheat or soy fettuccine 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/2 pound boneless, skinless turkey breast, thinly sliced 3 cups wild mushrooms, sliced (such as shiitake or porto-bello) 2 shallots, minced 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves 1/2 cup plain yogurt 3 tablespoons fresh dill, minced 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese Salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (optional)

Cook fettuccine according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add turkey and stir until almost cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, shallots and thyme and cook until mushrooms soften, about 3–4 minutes. Mix in yogurt and dill. Set turkey and mushroom mixture aside until pasta is ready, covering to keep warm. Drain fettuccine and toss with turkey and mushroom mixture and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Sprinkle with pine nuts, if desired. Daily dozen nutrient information per serving: Protein: 1 1/2 servings (2 1/2 if made with soy pasta), Calcium: 1 serving, Fruit and vegetables: 3 servings, Whole grains and legumes: 2 servings, Fat: 1/2 serving

Read more about the benefits of eating well for you and your baby.