Give Into Your Cravings, The Healthy Way

When pregnancy cravings take control, you can indulge them in a healthy way. Here'’s how.


Pregnancy does some exciting and strange things to a woman's body. Changes you may experience include naseau as well as cravings for specific foods or combinations of tastes and textures. // Although most cravings occur during the first trimester, some women have them throughout pregnancy. You may even find yourself yearning for foods you've never liked before. // "Cravings seem to be an intense need to satisfy hunger, and in some cases, indulging the craving simply reduces nausea," says Miriam Erick, M.S., R.D., author of No More Morning Sickness: A Survival Guide for Pregnant Women (Plume, 1993). How do you get the nutrients both you and your baby need when you only crave, say, sweet stuff? The answer is a pregnant woman's dream: Fit Pregnancy's cravings meal plan. Each day features a flavor or texture theme, such as sweet or crunchy. We also provide snack ideas to satisfy cravings and a rundown of the basics of pregnancy nutrition. With all this, you won't have to think twice about what you should eat.

Our readers crave...
At, we asked women to tell us their must-have pregnancy foods. Here are a few of their responses:

"A large pastrami sandwich with a bowl of vanilla ice cream."
Charlene Lescord, San Pedro, Calif.

"Tomato sauce from a local Italian restaurant several times a week for the first two months. No pasta, just the sauce. Hand me a spoon!"
Jessica DiPrampero, Millsboro, PA.

"Lemons and salt, 24/7."
Stephanie Hickman-Mathews,
Shawnee, Okla.

"Crackers with black-pepper
Jillanna Babb-Cheshul, Amherst, Mass.

"Crunchy, breaded liver and lima beans."
Rolanda L. Polleri, via e-mail

"White cheese with tea."
Jeanette Santana, Chicago

Basics for a Healthy Pregnancy

These guidelines set the stage for your next nine months.

Weight Gain: Women of normal weight should gain 25–35 pounds during pregnancy (28–40 pounds if you're underweight and 15–25 pounds if you're overweight). Check with your doctor or midwife to see which range is right for you.

Calorie Counts: Add about 300 calories a day to your diet during your second and third trimesters.

Vitamins: Take a daily supplement, as recommended by your doctor or midwife, that supplies 100–150 percent of the Dietary Reference Intake for
all vitamins and minerals. Consider calcium supplements if you can't make the quota of at least 1,000 milligrams a day (about three glasses of milk).

What to Avoid: To reduce the risk of food-borne illness from the listeria bacterium, steer clear of uncooked, unpasteurized cheeses such as feta, brie and Camembert, and blue-veined or Mexican-style cheeses. (Hard cheeses, processed cheeses, cream cheese and yogurt are safe.) Do not eat raw or undercooked animal foods such as meat, sushi, seafood or eggs; avoid fish that may contain excessive mercury (this includes swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish); and limit shellfish and canned fish to 12 ounces a week. Also avoid alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and medications that have not been approved by your physician. — Mindy Hermann, R.D.

The Cravings Meal Plan

Do you crave salty, crunchy foods one minute and something sweet and creamy the next? Here's a mix-and-match meal plan to help you indulge all your cravings and get the nutrients you and your baby need. Each day has been calculated to contain about 2,200 calories without snacks and 2,500 with snacks. During your second and third trimesters, also include two snacks per day from "Smarter Snacks" on pg. 79. Recipes follow for foods marked with an asterisk (*).

1 serving Banana Pancakes*
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup apricot nectar
Peanut butter and apple butter sandwich: 2 tablespoons peanut butter and 1 tablespoon apple butter spread on 2 slices cinnamon swirl bread.
1/4 cup dried fruit mix
1 cup low-fat chocolate milk
Ham with cherry sauce: Small ham steak topped with 2 tablespoons canned cherry pie filling.
1 large baked sweet potato
2 teaspoons butter
Spinach salad with mandarin oranges: 11/2 cups fresh spinach leaves with 1/2 cup mandarin orange wedges and 2 tablespoons sweet poppy seed dressing.
2 whole-grain dinner rolls with 1 tablespoon preserves
Baked apple: 1 apple (peeled) topped with 1 teaspoon butter, 2 teaspoons brown sugar and 1 tablespoon chopped pecans; bake at 350° F for 35–45 minutes.
1 cup low-fat milk

Omelet: 3 eggs, 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 2 tablespoons each chopped mushrooms, chopped onions and chopped green peppers, and Tabasco sauce to taste.
1 slice whole-wheat toast
1 teaspoon butter
1 cup vegetable or tomato juice
Turkey and cheddar sandwich: 3 ounces turkey, 11/2 ounces cheddar cheese, 4 spinach leaves, 3 slices red onion and 1 teaspoon mustard on an onion Kaiser roll.
1 serving Creamy Carrot Soup*
1 cup sliced watermelon sprinkled with 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 gingerbread cookie
1 cup low-fat milk
Pasta with pesto sauce: 11/2 cups cooked whole-wheat pasta topped with 1/4 cup pesto sauce.
Tossed salad: 3/4 cup fresh spinach, 3/4 cup romaine lettuce,11/2 cups roasted sweet red peppers, 1/2 cup fresh tomato wedges and 2 tablespoons Italian dressing.
1 garlic breadstick topped with 1 teaspoon melted butter
Spiced peaches: 1 cup sliced peaches topped with
1/4 teaspoon each powdered ginger, cloves and nutmeg.
1 cup low-fat milk

1 cup low-fat granola with 1 cup low-fat milk
1 cup green or red grapes
1 cup orange juice with pulp
Turkey bacon sandwich: 3 slices cooked turkey bacon,
4 spinach leaves, 2 slices tomato and 1 teaspoon light mayonnaise on 2 slices whole-wheat bread.
1 cup red, yellow and green bell pepper slices
4 whole-wheat crackers
1 tablespoon crunchy cashew nut butter
1 cup low-fat milk
Beef and peanut stir-fry: 3 ounces lean beef sirloin strips, 2 tablespoons salted peanuts, 1 cup broccoli, 1 cup carrot strips, 1/2 cup snow peas and 1/2 cup chopped onion stir-fried with 2 tablespoons Teriyaki sauce.
11/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 serving Celery and Asian Pear Salad*
2 fortune cookies
1 cup low-fat milk

1 cup whole-wheat hot cereal
1 teaspoon butter
8 ounces low-fat strawberry yogurt
1 medium banana
Bean burrito: Fill a wheat tortilla with 1/2 cup refried beans, 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 1 tablespoon sour cream, 1 tablespoon guacamole and 1/4 cup salsa.
1 cup Spanish rice
1 medium mango
1 cup low-fat milk
1 store-bought roasted chicken breast
1 serving Mashed Potatoes and Gravy*
1 piece cornbread
1/2 Acorn squash topped with 1 teaspoon butter and cinnamon; cook, covered, in microwave for 6–10 minutes, or until tender; or bake in a 350° oven for 20–30 minutes, or until tender.
1 cup low-fat milk

1 whole-grain bagel
2 tablespoons light cream cheese
1 tablespoon orange marmalade
1/2 red grapefruit
1 cup cranberry juice
Reuben sandwich: 3 ounces corned beef, 11/2 ounces Swiss cheese, 1/3 cup sauerkraut and 2 tablespoons Thousand Island dressing on rye bread; pan fry with cooking spray until bread is browned and cheese is melted.
1 cup sweet and sour coleslaw: 1 cup fresh coleslaw mix combined with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette salad dressing.
Mixed berries: 1/4 cup raspberries and 1/2 cup blueberries.
1 cup low-fat milk
Blue-cheese salmon: small piece grilled or broiled salmon topped with 1 tablespoon blue-cheese dressing.
1 cup whole-wheat couscous
1 cup cooked spinach with 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 slice sourdough bread
1 serving Blackberry-Lemon Cobbler*
1 cup low-fat milk

Note: g=grams, mg=milligrams, mcg=micrograms

Banana Pancakes
Serves 5
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter
11/4 cups whole milk
11/2 bananas, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
Nonstick cooking spray

In a medium bowl, stir together first 4 ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, butter and milk. Fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a fork until just blended; mixture will be slightly lumpy. Fold the banana slices into the batter.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Ladle 1/3 cup batter into the pan for each pancake. When air bubbles form on the surface of the pancake and then burst (after about 2 minutes), flip the pancakes and cook until outside is golden. Serve immediately.

Nutritional information per serving (2 pancakes): 337 calories, 24% fat (9 g), 64% carbohydrate, 12% protein, 2 g fiber, 2.5 mg iron, 159 mg calcium, 58 mcg folate.

Creamy Carrot Soup
Serves 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

8 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, freshly
grated (or 2 tablespoons
4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons fresh dill, finely chopped
4 thick slices Italian-style bread or crusty baguette
2 teaspoons butter

Place carrots, onion, ginger and stock in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until carrots are very tender, approximately 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Purée mixture with a hand-held blender (or 1 cup at a time in a counter-top blender). Stir in milk and blend until smooth. For extra-smooth soup, pour it through a mesh strainer.
Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with fresh dill. Butter each slice of bread with 1/2 teaspoon butter and serve with the soup.

Nutritional information per serving (1 1/2 cups soup plus 1 slice bread with butter): 148 calories, 24% fat (4 g), 52% carbohydrate, 24% protein, 4 g fiber, 1.4 mg iron, 125 mg calcium, 31 mcg folate.

Celery and Asian Pear Salad
Serves 4
Prep time: 15 minutes

1 cup celery, diced
1 cup Asian pear, diced
1/2 cup halved red, seedless grapes
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
5 mint leaves, julienned
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
In a large bowl, stir together celery, pear, grapes, walnuts and mint. Add mayonnaise and stir to coat. Serve chilled.
Nutritional information per serving (3/4 cup): 115 calories, 57% fat (7.5 g), 9% carbohydrate, 34% protein, 3.5 g fiber, .6 mg iron, 25 mg calcium, 22 mcg folate.

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Serves 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

Mashed potatoes:
4 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon pan juices from store-bought roasted chicken (or 1 tablespoon butter)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For mashed potatoes, bring a large pot of water to boil and add potatoes. Cover and cook until potatoes are very tender and can be easily pierced with a fork, approximately 25 minutes. Drain potatoes and transfer to a large mixing bowl; use a potato masher or the back of a fork to mash. Stir in butter, milk, salt and pepper. Continue to mash until smooth.

For gravy, heat pan juices or butter over medium heat. Stir in olive oil (if using butter, add olive oil when butter begins to foam). Add flour and stir constantly for about 1 minute. Whisk in chicken stock and stir until thickened, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Nutritional information per serving (1/2 cup potatoes with 1/4 cup gravy): 359 calories, 43% fat (17 g), 50% carbohydrate, 7% protein, 4 g fiber, 2 mg iron, 42 mg calcium, 33 mcg folate.

Blackberry-Lemon Cobbler
Serves 8
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

1/4 cup hot water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup fresh or bottled lemon juice
4 pints fresh blackberries (or 2 16-ounce bags frozen)
1/4 cup sugar

11/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat oven to 350° F. Put hot water in a small bowl, add cornstarch and stir until dissolved. Pour mixture into saucepan; stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, blackberries and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Place 8 4-ounce ramekins (custard cups) on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Fill each ramekin 3/4 full with the berry mixture and set aside.
Combine flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder and salt. Add butter 1 tablespoon at a time; blend with your fingers until mixture is the consistency of cornmeal. Using a fork, stir in milk until a sticky dough forms. Spoon dough onto berry mixture, using all of the dough. Brush each cobbler with butter and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake until crusts are golden and firm to the touch, about 25 minutes. Note: This dish is very tart; serve with 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Nutritional information per serving (3/4 cup): 318 calories, 31% fat (11 g), 63% carbohydrate, 6% protein, 6.5 g fiber, 2 mg iron, 91 mg calcium, 65 mcg folate.