I’ve been wanting to share some of my favourite meals with you that have made their mark on my pregnancy this time around. Not only for those of you who have been asking for more info on pregnancy nutrition and foods, but also because these recipes are so damn good, anyone will love them! So if you are pregnant, trying to conceive, nursing or just want some crazy-good nutritious- delicious breakfast/ snack/ lunch ideas, I’ve got you covered, plus read on for some exciting news coming to the blog very soon!
Being pregnant brings me even closer to what I choose to eat every day. Everything I make I think of in terms of how it is helping to build a little person, and that makes me want to eat the best food ever (and feel like a superhero!). ‘Eating for two’ for me means fueling my growing body with the most nutrient dense, love-filled meals I can, rather than doubling up on the biscuits with tea. Even during the first few months when all I wanted to eat was toast and miso to get me through the nausea, I still found that I loved to eat greens smothered in lemon juice, avocado and salt. And so much fresh fruit passed my lips in those days where as the thought of chocolate made me feel so sick. My cravings can be so specific, ranging from olives and pineapple in the first few months, salt and citrus, and more recently, anything sweet with a heap of nut butter or tahini on the side. The bodies cravings are so wise as our growing babies need certain nutrients and will take what they need from what we eat and the stores within our bodies, meaning we need to take on extra sources if we want to stay healthy and vibrant ourselves. Iron, vitamin D and calcium deficiencies can be common in pregnancy, so making sure we eat enough foods with these in them is a great idea, as well as upping our essential fatty acids, protein and folic acid intake. A good prenatal supplement ensures that you are covered for the vitamins and minerals, but making sure that you eat a well balanced diet high in these nutrients will help you feel as amazing as you deserve to feel at this special time. I have been taking the Solgar prenatal supplements ever since I fell pregnant with Fern, as they are brilliant to keep your nutrition levels high whilst nursing too, and are also recommended to take pre-conception. I also take extra vitamin D every other day and a probiotic supplement to help culture the good bacteria in my gut. Good gut health is vital during pregnancy as stomach problems and constipation are common, and keeping this area regular and healthy makes for a much more comfortable pregnancy.
I’m giving you three recipes today for foods I’ve been loving during this pregnancy. All have been created out of sheer cravings with my own additions to make them especially full of essential nutrients for pregnancy and post-birth. Our bodies demands for calcium, iron, essential fats and folic acid are particularly high at this time so I aim to eat as many foods high in these nutrients as possible. My favourites are sesame seeds, tahini, figs, leafy greens, chia seeds, pulses, oats, avocados and broccoli. All of these foods are rich in the essential nutrients for pregnancy, as well as being great to top on pre-conception and post birth. But everyone would benefit from eating more of these foods, so pregnant or not, these recipes are delicious and jam-packed with the good stuff (I have to hide the blondies away from my partner and my two year old loves the overnight oats. I simply omit the matcha for her). The overnight oats are what I have been enjoying most mornings for breakfast lately. Oats are a powerhouse of iron, folic acid, b- vitamins and fibre, and I have simply soaked them in a mixture of sesame seed milk, tahini, dates for sweetness and matcha powder for some morning energy! Making it on top of a bed of mashed berries makes an amazing contrast to the creamy oats and a spoonful of coconut or dairy yogurt on top gives it an extra probiotic touch. The fig and tahini blondies are my go-to sweet snack. Based on my sweet hummus blondies, I’ve added in figs and extra sesame, and got all fancy with a chocolate swirl, like I did with these brownies. Everyone will love them so make sure you stash some away for yourself! The muma-bundance bowl is our standard lunch, as you will see from here we love our bowl foods! They take minutes to prepare if you batch cook some grains and roasted veggies, or just use what you have. I try and fill mine up with loads of broccoli and leafy greens at the moment, make sure I add some fermented veggies and have been sprouting fenegreek seeds which are thought to boost milk production. Some pulses or a free-range egg on the side make it a perfectly rounded meal which my two year old loves to dig into. I hope that pregnant or not, you enjoy these recipes as much as I have been lately! All have been taste-tested some expecting-mamas and my willing family, given the thumbs up and I know we’ll be enjoying them long after this baby makes it arrival earth-side very soon. Onto the recipes!
Matcha overnight oats with muddled berries
Notes: I make my own sesame seed milk by soaking 1 cup of sesame seeds overnight, straining and blending in 4 cups fresh water, but feel free to use your milk of choice. I am using frozen berries at this time of year, so I simply let them defrost before mashing them lightly and topping with the oat mixture. The matcha-powder is completely optional. if you prefer to keep completely stimulant-free, simply leave them out or sub with your favourite super-greens powder.
1 handful berries, fresh or frozen
1 cup sesame seed milk, or milk of your choice
2 tbsp chia seeds + 1 tbsp
1 tbsp tahini
4 dates, soaked in water to cover
2 tsp matcha powder
1/2 cup rolled oats
Berries/ yogurt/ bee pollen to serve
Place the berries in the bottom of a jar and mash breifly with a spoon. You don’t want them to turn completely to mush but be broken down underneath the oats. Set aside.
Place the sesame seed milk, 2 tbsp chia seeds, tahini, matcha and soaked dates in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the oats and extra 1 tbsp chia seeds, give it a stir them pour the mixture over the berries. Transfer the jar to the fridge and leave overnight.
In the morning the oat mixture will have set and you will have two layers or tart berries and creamy oats. Top with a few more berries and your choice of topping (seeds/ yogurt/ bee pollen) and eat, straight from the jar.
Fig and tahini blondies
Notes: Cooked canellini beans also work in place of the chickpeas. I’ve tried making these vegan by replacing the eggs with flax ‘eggs’ and although still tasty,they don’t have the light texture that these ones have. Feel free to replace with 3 tbsp ground flax seeds soaked in 9 tbsp water, but be aware that your blondies will be a bit on the heavy side.
230 g cooked chickpeas (1 standard can, drained)
150g dried dates, pre-soaked in 100ml warm water
4 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp olive oil
50g sesame seeds, ground in a dry blender/spice grinder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup finely chopped dried figs
50g walnuts, slightly crushed
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp cardamon powder
For the swirl:
1 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
1-2 tbsp plant based milk
1 tsp cocoa or carob powder
Pre- heat your oven to 180 deg C and line a 9” square brownie tin with baking paper. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until fairly smooth, then add the dates + water, eggs, tahini, olive oil, ground sesame seeds and baking powder. Process until you have a cake-like batter, then add the chopped figs, walnuts, orange zest and cardamon. Pulse to combine, then pour into your prepared tin.
To make the chocolate swirl, combine the tahini, maple syrup, milk and cocoa/ carob powder in a small jug and stir into a smooth paste, just runny enough to pour. Pour it in lines or blobs over the blondie mixture, then make swirl patterns using a tooth pick. Drag the tooth pick in and out of the chocolate making patterns )don’t worry about it looking good at this stage, it will spread as it bakes so just go with your flow!)
Place into the oven for 20-30 minutes until it has risen and is golden on top, checking that a tooth pick comes out clean when stuck into the center. Leave to cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack and letting cool completely before cutting into 12 slices.
Makes 1 huge salad bowl, enough for 1 hungry mama or 2-4 portions to share. I’ve used millet here, but quinoa, buckwheat or brown rice would be great too. Batch cooking some grains enough for 2-3 days cuts down on prep time and makes these bowl-meals even quicker.
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup millet
1 small head of broccoli, cut into bite sized florets
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 handful spinach/ chard/ spring greens
1 small beetroot
1 kiwi/apple, cut into small chunks
1 handful sprouted fenegreek seeds
2 tbsp sauerkraut
serving of hummus/ cooked pulses/ poached egg to serve
Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan then add the millet, toasting until it begins to ‘pop’ before adding 1 cup water. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, the pop the broccoli directly on top of the millet (stalks down, heads up so that they steam). Check that there is still a small amount of water in the pan before leaving for another 5 minutes until all of the water is absorbed, the millet is fluffy and the broccoli just tender. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the whole lot, season with salt and pepper and leave to cool slightly whilst you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Tear the greens into one large bowl or the bowls which you want to eat from. Grate the carrot and beetroot, and arrange them over the greens. Now spoon the warm millet on top so that the greens wilt slightly, drizzling the whole lot with olive oil. Scatter over the chopped fruit, sauerkraut, sprouted seeds (fenegreek if you have it). Just before serving, add a side of hummus/ cooked pulses or a poached egg for extra protein.
And now for some exciting news! Get ready for a brand new look and name coming to this blog very soon! As much as The Nectar Cafe has been an amazing project for me over the last few years, I have decided on a new name and look for the website which sums up my passions for sharing wholesome, nourishing, family-centered foods. I hope to get this up and running before our new baby arrives (any day now!), and plan on sharing lots more recipes with you as our family grows and I have make mouths feed! I’m sorry if I’m a bit slack on posting over the next month or two whilst we settle into life as a four.. I’m sure you’ll understand and you can follow snippets from my every day life over on Instagram.
So much love and big-belly blessings from our nest to yours..