Eat smart

[The right foods can satisfy your cravings and be good for your baby.]


Maybe the pickles and ice cream craving is just a myth, but unusual longings for certain foods during pregnancy are more the rule than the exception. "Probably because of fluctuating hormone levels, pregnant women develop nearly insatiable desires for specific foods, which seem to change with the wind," says Harvard nutritionist Elizabeth Ward, M.S., R.D., author of Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy (Chronimed Publishing, 1998). Research reveals that approximately 85 percent of pregnant women experience cravings during their time in waiting.

While sweets, dairy products and salty snacks are among the most commonly craved foods, must-have foods run the gamut. For example, Alla Kirsch, 37, a family-practice physician in a Cleveland suburb, craved whole lemons and anchovy paste by the spoonful during her five pregnancies. Giving in to an occasional craving is OK, according to nutrition professor Keith Ayoob, Ed.D., R.D., of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, as long as you keep the cravings — and yourself — under control. "The trouble is, pregnancy cravings drive even restrained eaters over the edge," he says. When they're not pregnant, many women do a great job of balancing their appetite for treats with healthy eating practices. "Some women consider pregnancy a permission to overeat, not realizing they only need 300 extra calories per day in their second and third trimesters [100 extra calories or less in the first]." This can lead to undesirable consequences. Women who gain more than the recommended 25–35 pounds tend to have larger-than-normal babies, which increases the risk of Cesarean delivery. But there are other concerns as well. "Research also shows that women who gain too much during pregnancy have a harder time losing all the weight after pregnancy," Ward says. In one survey from the National Center for Health Statistics and the University of California at Berkeley, pregnant women who gained more than 35 pounds held on to at least 20 of those pounds for a minimum of two years. And research from the University of Washington in Seattle found that laboratory animals that gained excessively during pregnancy had lingering consequences into the third generation, with problem pregnancies and small offspring. "I advise women to use the 80–20 rule to control cravings," says Ward. "Eighty percent of the time, eat the healthy foods you and your baby need. Give in to your cravings just 20 percent of the time." Also, don't be caught off-guard when cravings strike. Rather, plan for them by having smaller portions and healthier versions on hand. If you must have chocolate, for example, pass up candy bars for the Totally Decadent Banana–Chocolate Chip Muffins on page 116. Instead of 10 cookies, plan on eating one or two with a tall glass of nonfat milk. "You'll generally satisfy the craving within the first couple of bites," says Ward. These strategies leave you plenty of calories to spend on healthful foods bursting with the nutrients you and baby need. "Getting all the recommended nutrients gives your baby the brightest possible beginning," says Ayoob. Right from the moment of conception, babies require the highest caliber of building materials — and good nutrition helps ensure high-quality construction. According to traditional research, women who practice good nutrition are 12 times more likely to deliver a healthy baby than women who don't eat well. It also appears that babies who are born to women who eat wisely are more likely to be healthy adults. "Research now shows that a mother's diet during her pregnancy may affect many aspects of her offspring's adult health," says Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D., author of Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy (Henry Holt, 1995).

"Low protein intake during pregnancy can put the baby at risk for high blood pressure as an adult, lack of vitamin B6 and iron can affect cognition, and poor general nutrition in pregnancy may predispose a person to diabetes or heart disease." While an expectant mom should eat wisely to harvest plenty of the 13 vitamins and 20 minerals essential to the health of herself and her baby, she should pay particular attention to the following key nutrients: Iron Forming a baby is an incredibly demanding construction project, as it causes blood volume to increase 50 percent during pregnancy. In addition to preventing anemia, iron helps baby gain sufficient weight and prevents premature delivery. Requirement: 30 milligrams. Best ways to get it: lean red meat, fish, dried beans and peas, whole-grains and green leafy vegetables. Other blood-building nutrients include vitamin C (70 milligrams) from citrus fruits, broccoli and peppers; vitamin B12 (2.2 milligrams) from meat, dairy foods and eggs; riboflavin (1.6 milligrams); and copper (1.5–2 milligrams) from dried beans and peas, whole- grains, seafood, nuts and seeds. Calcium Critically important throughout a woman's life, calcium is even more important during pregnancy, since it helps determine the strength of mom's and baby's bones. Requirement: 1,000 milligrams. (See sidebar below for new requirements of other bone-building nutrients.) Best ways to get it: milk, cheese, dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans and peas, and canned fish with bones. Zinc This mineral plays a key role throughout pregnancy and especially in the very earliest days of pregnancy, when cells divide rapidly to form the tiny but recognizable shape of a baby. Zinc also helps guard against premature delivery. Requirement: 15 milligrams. Best ways to get it: meat, seafood, whole grains, dried beans and peas. Vitamin B6 A key nutrient in providing the vital blueprint for cell division, B6 also helps in the process of breaking down and using the extra protein needed during pregnancy. Requirement: 2.2 milligrams. Best ways to get it: meat, eggs, whole-grains, nuts, bananas and avocados. Folic Acid Like zinc and vitamin B6, folic acid is especially critical as cells are dividing rapidly — as they do in the earliest days of pregnancy. It carries protein fragments to areas under construction, including the spinal column and hard palate. "Because the needs are so critical during the first days of pregnancy, when many women don't know they are pregnant, the U.S. government advises all women of childbearing age to get at least 400 micrograms of folate daily," says Ward. The demand for folic acid remains high right through the last days of pregnancy, when it helps prevent premature birth. In one study, conducted at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Camden, N.J., women who got less than 240 micrograms of folic acid during pregnancy doubled their risk of premature delivery. Requirement: 400 micrograms. Best ways to get it: dark green leafy vegetables, oranges, dried beans and peas.

5 days of healthful (but decadent) eating

This eating plan will satisfy all types of cravings. We've planned something sweet into each day, disguised as a healthy version of what you might reach for if you didn't plan ahead. Each day supplies at least 100 percent of all key nutrients, with the exception of iron. Because it's so difficult to get the optimal amount of iron from food, experts recommend an iron supplement during the second and third trimesters. Our eating plan addresses your changing calorie needs during pregnancy. During the first trimester, you won't need extra calories — 2,000–2,100 total per day is a healthy amount for most women. To get the extra 300 calories your body needs each day in the second and third trimesters, add or substitute the foods in parentheses. Don't forget to space your meals out throughout the day, and to avoid heartburn, wait several hours after you've eaten to lie down. We've also included some easy recipes (marked with an asterisk *).

monday Breakfast Broccoli, mushroom and cheese omelet made with 1 egg, 1/2 cup chopped broccoli, 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms and 1 ounce sharp Cheddar cheese 1 slice whole-wheat toast with 2 teaspoons margarine (2 slices toast with 3 teaspoons margarine) 1 cup skim milk Snack 1/2 cup fresh strawberry slices with 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt, sprinkled with 1/4 cup Grape Nuts cereal Lunch Tossed salad made with 6 cooked and cooled shrimp (8 shrimp), 1 cup chopped romaine lettuce, 1/2 cup chopped tomato, 1/4 cup chopped green onions, 1/4 cup grated carrots and 1 tablespoon poppy seed dressing 4 buttery round crackers 1 cup skim milk 1 peach Snack 1 Totally Decadent Banana–Chocolate Chip Muffin* 1/2 cup skim milk (1 cup) Dinner Pasta topped with chicken- vegetable stir-fry: 4 ounces chicken cut into strips, 1/2 cup chopped broccoli, 1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper, 1/2 cup chopped sweet yellow pepper and 1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts 11/2 cups cooked rotini pasta 1 cup skim milk 1 dinner roll 2 teaspoons margarine Snack 2 graham crackers spread with 1 tablespoon low-fat cream cheese (3 crackers plus 2 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese) 1/2 cup skim milk (1 cup) Daily Analysis First trimester: 2,068 calories, 26 percent fat (60 grams), 51 percent carbohydrate, 23 percent protein, 1,945 milligrams calcium, 474 micrograms folic acid, 15 milligrams iron, 2.6 milligrams B6, 12.5 milligrams zinc, 23 grams fiber.

Second and third trimesters: 2,334 calories, 27 percent fat (69 grams), 50 percent carbohydrate, 23 percent protein, 2,291 milligrams calcium, 499 micrograms folic acid, 17 milligrams iron, 2.8 milligrams B6, 14 milligrams zinc, 25 grams fiber.

tuesday Breakfast 1 cup high-fiber cereal with 1 sliced banana and 1 tablespoon raisins 1 cup skim milk Snack 1/2 cup blueberries with 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt, sprinkled with 2 tablespoons wheat germ Lunch Pita pocket turkey sandwich made with 1/2 whole-wheat pita stuffed with 1/2 cup chopped romaine lettuce, 1/2 cup chopped tomato, 3 ounces lean turkey breast, 1/2 ounce shredded Swiss cheese (1 whole pita and 1 ounce cheese) 1 cup skim milk 2 slices watermelon Snack 1/2 cup ice cream with sliced kiwi (1 cup ice cream) Dinner 1 serving Feta Cheese and Spinach Pizza* 1 cup skim milk Snack Strawberry shortcake made with 1 slice angel food cake, 1/2 cup sliced strawberries and 1 tablespoon light whipped topping Daily Analysis First trimester: 2,047 calories, 20 percent fat (46 grams), 60 percent carbohydrate, 20 percent protein, 1,857 milligrams calcium, 383 micrograms folic acid, 21 milligrams iron, 4.2 milligrams B6, 14.7 milligrams zinc, 49 grams fiber. Second and third trimesters: 2,328 calories, 23 percent fat (59 grams), 58 percent carbohydrate, 19 percent protein, 2,083 milligrams calcium, 398 micrograms folic acid, 23 milligrams iron, 4.3 milligrams B6, 16 milligrams zinc, 51 grams fiber.

wednesday Breakfast Whole-grain bagel with 1 tablespoon low-fat cream cheese (2 tablespoons) 1 cup skim milk 1 cantaloupe wedge Snack 2 fig bar cookies (3 cookies) 1 cup skim milk Lunch 11/2 cups Summer Vegetable Lentil Soup* topped with 1 tablespoon nonfat sour cream (2 tablespoons) Pita pocket salad made with 1 whole- wheat pita pocket stuffed with 1/2 cup romaine lettuce or other dark greens, 1/4 cup chopped green onions and 1/4 cup grated carrot, drizzled with 1 tablespoon salad dressing (2 tablespoons) 1 cup skim milk Snack 1 cup banana-mandarin orange gelatin: Mix 1 cup sliced bananas and 1 cup drained mandarin orange slices into gelatin mix and top with 1 tablespoon light whipped topping (2 tablespoons) Dinner 3 ounces grilled salmon 1/2 cup cilantro brown rice: Stir 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro into 1/2 cup cooked brown rice just before serving 1 cup steamed zucchini 1/2 cup tomatoes

Snack 11/2 cups fresh fruit salad with cantaloupe, watermelon and kiwi 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese (1 cup) Daily Analysis First trimester: 2,013 calories, 17 percent fat (39 grams), 61 percent carbohydrate, 22 percent protein, 1,679 milligrams calcium, 564 micrograms folic acid, 17 milligrams iron, 3.1 milligrams B6, 12 milligrams zinc, 40 grams fiber. Second and third trimesters: 2,319 calories, 22 percent fat (57 grams), 56 percent carbohydrate, 22 percent protein, 789 milligrams calcium, 580 micrograms folic acid, 18 milligrams iron, 3.2 milligrams B6, 12 milligrams zinc, 41 grams fiber.

thursday Breakfast 3/4 cup low-fat granola cereal (1 cup) with 1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries 1 cup skim milk Snack 1 banana spread with 1 tablespoon peanut butter Lunch Vegetable-tuna pasta salad made with 1/2 cup cooked pasta shells, 1/2 cup water-packed tuna, 5 quartered cherry tomatoes, 1 cup chopped broccoli, 1 chopped yellow or red sweet pepper, and 2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise 1 cup blueberries 1 cup skim milk Snack 1/2 cup ice cream (1 cup) sprinkled with 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts and 2 tablespoons light whipped topping Dinner 1 Portobello Burger* 5 steamed asparagus spears sprinkled with fresh lemon juice 1 fresh peach 1 cup skim milk Snack 1 fig bar cookie (2 cookies) 1 cup skim milk Daily Analysis First trimester: 2,006 calories, 26 percent fat (57 grams), 53 percent carbohydrate, 21 percent protein, 1,545 milligrams calcium, 628 micrograms folic acid, 23 milligrams iron, 3.9 milligrams B6, 23 milligrams zinc, 31 grams fiber. Second and third trimesters: 2,303 calories, 26 percent fat (67 grams), 55 percent carbohydrate, 19 percent protein, 1,640 milligrams calcium, 717 micrograms folic acid, 27 milligrams iron, 4.4 milligrams B6, 26 milligrams zinc, 34 grams fiber.

friday Breakfast 1 poached egg 2 slices whole-wheat toast with 2 teaspoons margarine 1 medium orange 1 cup skim milk Snack 1/2 cup fresh raspberries 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt Lunch Pita pocket ham sandwich made with 3 ounces sliced ham, 1 whole-wheat pita pocket and 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise (1 slice American cheese) 1 ounce bagel chips (2 ounces) 1 fresh apple, sliced, with cinnamon 1 cup skim milk Snack 1 cup cantaloupe (add 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese) Dinner 1 serving Rotini Chicken Salad* 1 cup skim milk Snack 2 chocolate chip cookies 1 cup skim milk

Daily Analysis First trimester: 1,963 calories, 24 percent fat (52 grams), 52 percent carbohydrate, 24 percent protein, 1,661 milligrams calcium, 287 micrograms folic acid, 11 milligrams iron, 2.1 milligrams B6, 12 milligrams zinc, 28 grams fiber. Second and third trimesters: 2,244 calories, 25 percent fat (62 grams), 50 percent carbohydrate, 25 percent protein, 1,863 milligrams calcium, 326 micrograms folic acid, 12 milligrams iron, 2.2 milligrams B6, 14 milligrams zinc, 30 grams fiber.

Recipes Totally Decadent Banana– Chocolate Chip Muffins Makes 18 muffins Don't feel guilty when you snack on one of these rich and chocolaty muffins — they're low in fat and high on nutrition.

3 very ripe bananas 3 tablespoons olive oil 1/4 cup applesauce 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt 2 eggs 1/3 cup wheat germ 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour 11/4 cups white flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 3 ounces miniature chocolate chips Vegetable oil spray

Preheat oven to 350º F. Place bananas, oil, applesauce and sugar in mixing bowl; mix on medium speed until bananas are puréed and ingredients are well-mixed. Add yogurt, eggs and wheat germ; mix until blended. In small bowl, mix flours, baking powder and baking soda. Add to wet ingredients and mix just until all ingredients are well-blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Spray 18 muffin cups with vegetable oil spray or line with paper liners. Divide batter between the 18 cups. Place in preheated oven and bake for 22–28 minutes, or until knife inserted into middle comes out clean.

Nutritional information per serving (1 muffin): 155 calories, 27 percent fat (4.6 grams), 65 percent carbohydrate, 8 percent protein, 23 milligrams calcium, 16 micrograms folic acid, .99 milligram iron, .17 milligram B6, .63 milligram zinc, 1.7 grams fiber.

Feta Cheese and Spinach Pizza Serves 3 Have a hankering for pizza? This version is piled high with satisfying vegetables and rich-tasting feta cheese.

Crust 1/2 cup warm water 1 teaspoon dry yeast 1 teaspoon sugar 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 teaspoon salt 11/3 cups all-purpose flour Vegetable oil spray Topping 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce 2 teaspoons dried oregano 1 teaspoon garlic powder 2 teaspoons dried basil 1 medium onion, chopped 1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and drained 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced 1 71/4-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into 1-inch pieces 3 ounces shredded 50 percent reduced-fat mozzarella cheese 3 ounces crumbled feta cheese

To make crust, combine water, yeast and sugar in medium bowl, and mix well. Add olive oil and salt, and mix well. Stir in flour with wooden spoon until well-blended and then for an additional 20 strokes. Alternatively, combine all crust ingredients except flour in free-standing mixer; mix with beater attachment until blended. Add 1 cup of flour and mix until blended. Switch to dough hook; add remaining flour and beat for 2 minutes. Spray 9-inch pizza pan with vegetable oil spray. Place dough in center of pan; pat out over entire pan. Let rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425° F. Spread tomato sauce evenly over dough. Sprinkle spices evenly over sauce. Add vegetables in the order given on ingredient list. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese evenly over vegetables, and top with feta. Bake for 18–22 minutes or until cheese is brown and crust is crisp.

Nutritional information per serving (1/3 of pizza): 493 calories, 29 percent fat (16 grams), 51 percent carbohydrate, 20 percent protein, 282 milligrams calcium, 167 micrograms folic acid, 6.7 milligrams iron, .51 milligram B6, 2.4 milligrams zinc, 7.4 grams fiber.

Summer Vegetable Lentil Soup Serves 5 Try this light, folate-rich recipe.

2 tablespoons olive oil 1 cup chopped onion (about 2 small onions) 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes 1 cup uncooked lentils 1/4 cup uncooked black beans 2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules (or 2 cubes) 3 cups water 1/2 teaspoon chili powder 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, divided 1/4 cup lemon juice, divided 1/2 pound kale, chopped 1/2 pound yellow zucchini, sliced 1/2 pound green zucchini, sliced Garnish 2 medium tomatoes, chopped 5 tablespoons nonfat sour cream, divided

Heat olive oil over low heat in a large stockpot; add onion and garlic. Sauté 5–7 minutes. Add tomatoes, lentils, beans, bouillon, water, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, 2 tablespoons basil and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Simmer 45 minutes, covered. Stir in kale and zucchini; simmer 30 minutes. Add remaining basil and remaining lemon juice; simmer 10 minutes. Garnish and serve.

Nutritional information per serving (11/2 cups soup with 3 tablespoons chopped tomato and 1 tablespoon sour cream as garnishes): 357 calories, 18 percent fat (7 grams), 60 percent carbohydrate, 22 percent protein, 227 milligrams calcium, 286 micrograms folic acid, 8 milligrams iron, .8 milligram B6, 2.8 milligrams zinc, 20 grams fiber.

Portobello Burger Serves 2 Satisfy the craving for hearty beef with this fabulously interesting burger. It's so nutritionally complete that it's really a meal in a bun.

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil 1 clove garlic, crushed 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 2 teaspoons sugar 2 large portobello mushroom caps, washed and patted dry 6 ounces very lean ground sirloin Salt and pepper, to taste 2 whole-grain hamburger buns 4 teaspoons nonfat blue-cheese dressing 2 thick tomato slices 2 large romaine lettuce leaves

In shallow container, mix vinegar, olive oil, basil, garlic, black pepper and sugar. Place mushroom caps in mixture, top side down. Spoon marinade into bottoms of caps. Cover and marinate for an hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. Divide ground sirloin into 2 patties, adding salt and pepper as desired. Grill patties for 5 minutes on 1 side; flip. After flipping patties, add mushroom caps to grill (or broiler pan), top side up (discard marinade). Grill for 5 minutes or until mushrooms are slightly brown and patties are no longer pink in the middle. Build the portobello burgers: Place 1 teaspoon blue-cheese dressing on bottom of each bun; add sirloin patty on bottom of bun; add tomato slice and lettuce; add mushroom cap; place 1 teaspoon blue-cheese dressing on top of mushroom; add bun top.

Nutritional information per serving (1 burger): 340 calories, 32 percent fat (12 grams), 43 percent carbohydrate, 25 percent protein, 76 milligrams calcium, 75 micrograms folic acid, 5 milligrams iron, .4 milligram B6, 4.3 milligrams zinc, 3.8 grams fiber. Rotini Chicken Salad With Oriental Peanut Sauce Serves 2 This pasta salad has a distinctly different flavor with its peanut butter-cilantro oriental-style sauce. The sauce is best served at room temperature.

6 ounces cooked chicken breast, cooled and cut into bite-size pieces 1/2 cup chopped green onion tops 11/2 cups cooked rotini (spiral pasta), at room temperature (after cooking, rinse well with cold water; drain) 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce Sauce 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter 3 tablespoons light soy sauce 2 teaspoons granulated sugar 1/2 cup fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves

Garnish 1 large carrot, grated

In small mixing bowl, combine chicken, onion tops and cooked pasta; toss to mix. Divide lettuce between 2 dinner plates. Divide chicken-pasta mixture and place on top of lettuce (about 11/2 cups of mixture per serving). Combine sauce ingredients in small food processor or blender. Process until cilantro is in tiny pieces. Drizzle half of the mixture over each serving (about 1/4 cup per serving). Sprinkle half of the grated carrot over each serving (about 1/4 cup per serving).

Nutritional information per serving: 490 calories, 29 percent fat (16 grams fat), 39 percent carbohydrate, 32 percent protein, 84 milligrams calcium, 125 micrograms folic acid, 4. milligrams iron, .5 milligram B6, 2.4 milligrams zinc, 5.5 grams fiber.