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The best foods for pregnant women

You can still eat soft cheese, ladies—if it's pasteurized.

Willow Jarosh and Stephanie Clarke, the duo behind C&J Nutrition, a NYC and Washington, D.C. based wellness company, noticed a common concern among their pregnant clients: many were overwhelmed by trying to keep track of all the foods they’d been told were taboo to eat.

That inspired the duo to write the "Healthy Happy Pregnancy Cookbook", a guide to "all the amazing things that [pregnant women] can and should eat,” including more than 125 easy-to-make, nutritious recipes.

“During pregnancy, you can actually treat some of the discomforts you’re having via your food choices each day,” Jarosh says, adding that the concept of "food as medicine" is integral to their wellness practice.
The two certified nutritionists and registered dieticians give suggestions on the best foods to combat the most common pregnancy discomforts, advice on how to manage cravings — and share a nausea and cramp fighting orange carrot smoothie recipe.

Your cookbook includes recipes to treat common ailments during pregnancy. Let’s start with morning sickness.

With nausea, getting a little bit of protein with each meal really helps combat that. Many protein-rich foods, particularly meat and foods that smell strongly, are really off-putting to women who are experiencing nausea. Smoothies, which are cold and refreshing, are a great way to incorporate protein sources like yogurt and tofu in a way that doesn’t feel protein-y. We wanted to make the recipes easy for someone else to make because you don’t necessarily want to be in the kitchen when you feel that way. Quinoa is a good high quality source of protein with a more carby feeling. We add chicken bone broth to make a carrot ginger soup that’s rich in protein and ginger helps combat nausea.

What do you recommend for alleviating constipation?

We wanted to focus on foods that include fiber naturally. Sometimes you’ll see products that have a concentrated amount of fiber added, and that can sometimes cause digestive discomfort and bloating and gas. We also wanted to use foods that contain a lot of water, because if you increase fiber intake without increasing water, it can actually cause constipation.

We have a recipe for a carrot cake chia pudding — chia seeds are hydrophilic, they can hold onto up to ten times their size in water. We also used foods that are rich in magnesium, which helps to relax the digestive systems: almonds, peanuts, avocado, brown rice.

Tips for dining out while pregnant?

Filling your plate with half veggies is something we recommend. Research beforehand. So many restaurants have information on ingredients and nutrition online now, so you can actually do a lot of planning before you go. On that same token, don’t be shy about asking for what you want,or if something can be swapped out; the worst that can happen is they say no, but most of the time they’ll say yes.

What is your advice for giving into cravings that might not be very healthy?

Our general advice for anyone is that you should have treats that you enjoy each day. If someone’s really craving cheese noodles or something like that, there’s still some room in your diet for whatever it is that you may really be craving. But if you’re filling the day with nutrient-rich meals otherwise, you might not necessarily be hungry for those cravings. We say, give into it a little bit and have whatever it is (as long as it’s safe to eat) and then try to move on. In the ‘Cravings’ chapter in the book we tried to fill it with comfort foods made nutrient-rich, like mac ‘n cheese with roasted cauliflower.

Orange-Carrot Cream Smoothie

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From the "Healthy Happy Pregnancy Cookbook" by Stephanie Clarke and Willow Jarosh
Creamy and bursting with orange flavor, this smoothie reminds us of Creamsicles from childhood. In addition to helping with hydration, the yogurt in this smoothie packs in magnesium to help prevent cramping.
Makes 1 serving. Prep time: 5 minutes. total time: 5 minutes.
1/2 cup shredded or chopped carrots
1 small orange, peeled and divided into segments
1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
5 almonds
1 cup ice cubes
Combine the carrots, orange segments, yogurt, orange juice, almonds and ice in a blender. Blend on high until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds.
Note: Smoothies are a great make-ahead breakfast. Whip up a batch or two the night before, and then refrigerate in a sealed single-serving container (mason jars are perfectly portable). In the morning, stir, and it's ready to walk out the door with you.
Per serving: 360 calories, 7 g protein, 60 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, 48 g total sugar, 7 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 212 mg sodium, 1346 mg potassium (29% DV) 569 mg calcium (57% DV) 96 mg magnesium (24% DV) 1.37 mcg B12 (23% DV) .41 mg B6 (20% DV), mg iron 0.9 (5% DV)
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