The Pregnant Cook: 5 Tips for Safe, Healthy Lunches for Pregnant Ladies (and everyone else)

So there’s something I’ve been meaning to share with you for quite some time now. Some really exciting personal news that has nothing to do with book launches. Or cooking for that matter.

As you’ve probably guessed from the title of this post, my Irishman and I have been working on a big project called ‘starting a family’. And I’m super happy to report that we’re all on track for delivery of said project in June.

Which is especially nice because I love the idea of a Winter baby and my Mum was born in June. And her name was June so it’s all very fitting. I’ve also been super lucky in inheriting my Mum’s absence of morning sickness. I feel very blessed.

Don’t worry, I’m not planning on turning Stonesoup into a parenting blog. I’ll stick to a topic I actually know something about.

But for today I thought it would be fun to talk about lunches because they seem to be one of the biggest challenges for pregnant ladies. And most of the tips apply to everyone really.

5 Tips for Safe, Healthy Lunches for Pregnant Ladies (and everyone else)

1. Make your own.
No matter how good the safety practices are at your favourite lunch spot, there’s no way it can be as safe as when you’re preparing food for yourself. They just can’t care as much as you do. Take this as an opportunity to save some money AND eat healthier by developing the habit of making your own lunch.

And don’t feel like you need to be super organised, you don’t necessarily need to be. I’m a big fan of ‘cooking’ your lunch at work during your lunch break. For ideas of how to do this see ‘3 uber-simple lunches you can make at work in less time than it takes to go out and buy something‘.

2. Invest in some good quality lunch containers.
Crappy plastic containers that spill your lunch in your bag aren’t going to inspire you to make your own lunch. Years ago, my Irishman bought me a collection of Pyrex glass containers with plastic lids. I can’t tell you how much of a change it made to how I felt about my work lunches.

Plus microwaving plastic isn’t the healthiest for you or your little one.

3. Keep it chilled.
Temperature is one of the biggest factors of food safety. Chilling your food asap and making sure it stays chilled is the biggest thing you can do to keep food is as safe as possible.

If you have a short commute and a fridge at work then you’re laughing. If you have a long commute, and /or you don’t have fridge access, it’s best to invest in a cooler bag and some ‘ice bricks’. Or freeze a bottle of water the night before to use.

4. Serve hot things hot.
The other part of the food safety / temperature spectrum is making sure hot food is reheated properly before serving.

Microwaves can be problematic because you get uneven heating – make sure you take the time to stop and stir and keep going until everything is piping hot, even if there’s a queue of people waiting.

5. Try and focus on what you can eat.
On one of my first visits to my obstetrician, he gave me a booklet on safe food during pregnancy. Even though I have a First Class Honours degree in Food Science, majoring in Microbiology, I found the whole thing a bit overwhelming. And depressing.

Sure I knew the whole motherhood thing was going to require some sacrifices, like curbing my champagne and sashimi intake. But seeing all the things you ‘can’t’ eat during pregnancy was a bit too much.

So I’ve been focusing on what I can safely enjoy. And that’s made life a lot easier (and more fun!).

Here are a few ideas so you know what I mean…
No soft cheese = Hard cheeses and feta.
No champagne = Sparkling water (and yes, it’s definitely no substitute… but better than nothing).
No salami or prosciutto = Crispy grilled or pan fried salami and prosciutto.
No soft poached eggs = Hard eggs with commercial hollandaise.

Looking for healthy lunch recipe ideas?

Then check out these 16 Easy, Healthy Lunch Ideas that Don’t Involve Sandwiches. Apart from the ‘mixed sprout and avocado salad’ the list is suitable for pregnant ladies too. And if you are pregnant I’d recommend swapping the canned tuna for wild canned salmon or sardines as these are less likely to have high mercury levels but still provide plenty of omega-3s. Although I still have tuna from time to time, just not as often.

Enjoyed this?

Then you might like to check out my previous post about pregnant cooks: 12 Meals to Stock Up while Waiting for Baby.

quinoa & feta salad

Quinoa, Feta & Avocado Salad

I’ve really been getting into feta lately. It’s become my go to cheese when I would have normally reached for a soft cheese like ricotta or goats cheese.

If you’re making this in advance, leave out the avocado and toss it in just before you’re ready to eat. Otherwise you’ll have icky brown chunks of avocado in your salad. And just refrigerate as soon as the salad is made so no bugs get a chance to grow.

I normally cook up a big batch of quinoa and then use it for different things throughout the week.

Enough for 2
100g (3.5oz) quinoa
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
200g (7oz) packet feta, I like Greek style best
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 avocado

1. Bring a medium pot of water to the boil. Rinse quinoa and add to the pot simmer for 12-15 minutes or until quinoa is tender. Drain well.

2. Whisk vinegar with 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Toss in quinoa and parsley.

3. Crumble over feta and scoop chunks of avocado on top. Season mostly with pepper and leave the feta to provide the salt.

VARIATIONS
dairy-free / vegan – replace the feta with roasted almonds.

paleo – replace the feta with 3-4 hard boiled eggs. And replace the quinoa with a big bunch of kale – no need to cook the kale, just wash well and chop into super fine ribbons before tossing in the dressing.

cooked quinoa
– if you’ve cooked up a big batch of quinoa in advance you’ll need about 300g (10oz) cooked quinoa for the recipe.

no quinoa? – replace with 300g (10oz) cooked lentils or brown rice or see the ‘paleo’ variation above.

no rice wine vinegar – use lemon juice, sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar instead.

different cheese – If you’re not pregnant, go nuts with your favourite goats cheese or even a creamy blue.

video version of the recipe.

5-Ingredients 10-Minutes!

5 ingredients 10 minutes cover image

My new print book NOW AVAILABLE in good bookshops in the UK and Australia.

There are no plans to launch in the US at this stage but you can order online from amazon.co.uk and bookdepository.co.uk (my favourite book supplier because they have FREE shipping anywhere in the world!).

More details over here:
www.5ingredients10minutes.com/

With love
Jules x

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{ 51 comments }

Carrie March 20, 2013 at 7:45 am

congratulations!!!

chocolatesuze March 20, 2013 at 7:47 am

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

Jamie March 20, 2013 at 7:49 am

Very excited for you both! Congratulations!! Great recipe ideas too, as usual. :)

Emily March 20, 2013 at 7:56 am

Congratulations! Fantastic news!

Krysten March 20, 2013 at 7:58 am

Wonderful to hear! Thanks for the info. It’ll be useful to me as we’re planning for a winter baby in the same time frame as u :)

Libby March 20, 2013 at 8:03 am

Congratulations!
When I was pregnant I was going to town on some hard cheese at a family gathering only to discover that it was not pasteurized, so hard cheese is not always the safest bet. Plus some blue and feta cheeses are pasteurized. Best to check packaging before diving in.

Kim March 21, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Indeed, best to check the packaging. A lot of soft cheeses come in a pasteurized version as well, depending on the brand. So you don’t have to skip on your brie or mozarella, you just have to read everything thoroughly before you buy it (and be looked at like you’re a nutcase by other people in the store).

Julie March 20, 2013 at 8:16 am

Amazing news Jules! congrats!

Jay - Moodie Foodie March 20, 2013 at 8:19 am

Congratulations! I have a June baby too – beautiful. Mind you, I have a November baby too – just as beautiful:)

Rachel March 20, 2013 at 8:21 am

Congratulations! I only wish you had posted this earlier…my due date is in 4 days. I think it’s a great topic for you to tackle because as usual your approach is fantastic – I love that you’re thinking about what pregnant women can eat instead of what they can’t.

Anthea March 20, 2013 at 8:24 am

Congratulations Jules! Very exciting! = )

James March 20, 2013 at 8:25 am

Well done! May and June will work but not sure about July as a name. Hopefully it will be on time!

Nicole Condon March 20, 2013 at 8:28 am

Such exciting news…! Congratulations to you both..!

Adeline March 20, 2013 at 8:31 am

Hey congratulations! I have followed your blog for about a year now and I am very glad to hear your great news!

Jan Lewellen Pagel March 20, 2013 at 8:36 am

I was confused at first when you mentioned wanting a winter baby in June! I’m in North America and I had a winter baby in December…30 years ago!

Congratulations!

K@DragonflyMumma March 20, 2013 at 8:49 am

Congratulations! I have a summer baby and a winter/Spring baby and it’s so nice being able to bundle your baby up :)

Susan Stone March 20, 2013 at 8:51 am

Congratulations!! The quinoa, feta & avocado salad sounds delectable. I did a nutritional analysis on it, and unfortunately the recipe won’t fly with the eating plan I’m on (and my desire to keep my weight under control). I really wish it were a possibility for me, because I like all the ingredients and the combination sounds wonderful.

Katie Mack March 20, 2013 at 9:41 am

As a long time reader and not very often commenter, I would just like to say,

“Congratulations!!!!”

I honestly just got so excited by your announcement, you might as well be my best friend. Knowing that you will find ways to constantly nourish your child makes me feel all happy inside.

Even if I am a grouch. And honestly very cynical.

I am so happy for you!

Jos March 20, 2013 at 10:41 am

Ohh – that’s very exciting news – congrats to you both. One very lucky little baby to be joining your family!

Maureen March 20, 2013 at 11:34 am

Congratulations! I just love hearing about new babies. There’s nothing better in the world than to snuggle into a baby’s neck. ahh memories.

Take care of yourself and these tips for expectant mums is great.

Emily March 20, 2013 at 11:48 am

Congratulations! I’m due in July and I know exactly what you’re going through in terms of lunch ideas. I can skip the sushi & ham but the part that really threw me was no cold chicken. Cold chicken was a stable lunch ingredient for me. Combined with major food adversions in the first tri, I practically lived on fruit for the first 3 months.
I’ve given up the booze, oysters, cold meats etc but I have to admit to sneaking in a soft poached egg. I can’t stand hard yolks. I can’t remember there ever being a poisoning outbreak linked to eggs in Australia.

Sarah March 20, 2013 at 11:58 am

YAY NEW BABY!!! Congrats momma thats fantastic! So happy for you!

Judith March 20, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Congratulations! I am so happy for you and your Irishman!
On another topic – I am a big fan of your quick lemon meringue pie recipe but wonder what you would use as a substitute if condensed milk was unavailable and in what quantities. Also – if only unsweetened condensed milk was available then how much sugar would you add.
Thank you for your great blog.

Brooke March 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Congratulations, Jules!
My go-to lunch when pregnant was a giant salad sandwich with cheddar on wholemeal bread. Had to have beetroot on it, too. Maybe that was a craving.

Lucy March 20, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Congratulations to you and your Irishman!

sally March 20, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Great new – congratulations to you both.

lieslg March 20, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Super-lovely news, Jules!

May the entire journey be nothing short of sweet, sweet, sweet :)

Di McGavigan March 20, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Jules! What a lovely time in your lives! I’m sure you will deliver a very healthy little bundle of joy! Congrats to both you and our Irishman:)…wonderful! thanks also for great books, recipe ideas and free stuff too! You are a gem girl! It is very helpful, and greatly appreciated. Big hugs! X Di

Jennifer March 20, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Happy, happy news!! Pregnancy obviously suits you if your latest video is anything to go by – you look so beautiful. With warmest wishes from another June baby, whose baby was also born in June. Lucky month!!

Diandra March 20, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Congratulations!

And by the way, your book is great. So far I have been making five recipes from it in four days, and even Richard (who is wary of all things healthy) loved them.

Suzanne March 20, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Congratulations to you both!

Received your book today – it is fabulous, I can’t wait to try out all the recipes.

Adriana March 20, 2013 at 8:26 pm

FELICITACIONES para ambos! Congratulations to both!! I <3 June!!!

April March 20, 2013 at 9:00 pm

I’m having a June baby, too. :) Congrats!

Jana Miller March 20, 2013 at 11:39 pm

Congratulations. Babies are so yummy :)

Stacie March 21, 2013 at 2:04 am

Aw, what great news! So excited for you! I had to do a double take when you said you love the idea of a winter baby in June! But then again I’m from the Northern Hemisphere. ;) Look forward to hearing more, and love your site!

birgit March 21, 2013 at 3:58 am

congratulations
wish you all the best for the big project :)))
lg birgit

ladyphlogiston March 21, 2013 at 4:50 am

Actually you can still have champagne – there was a recent study in Denmark that found that 1-8 drinks a week during pregnancy had no effect on the children – they tracked them until they were five, too. Which makes sense, given that women in France and Italy don’t stop drinking wine when they get pregnant. It’s taking a while to percolate through the system, though, in part because women who drink heavily are often in denial about how much they take, and doctors don’t want to give them that opening. (BBC report on it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18506174)

And when the baby is ready for solids, look up “Baby-Led Weaning” – it’s a real relief to give the baby part of my dinner rather than spoonfeeding mush. Really a life saver.

(Sigh. May as well give you my other favorite online pregnancy resources: alphamom’s pregnancy calendar (for staying sane), babynamewizard for cool name trends and things (US-based, but probably still interesting), and thebabywearer for carrier talk)

Jan fairweather March 21, 2013 at 4:47 pm

I have just received my 5 Ingredients 10 Minutes book…. very impressive.
Also Congratulations to you both on your great news!

Kim March 21, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Congrats!
I’m having a September one (which is autumn here in Europe) so every tip you want to share is very welcome :) I too was blessed with the lack of morning sickness running in the family! Jeej for us!
The eating part… well, I’m just glad i’m resistent to Toxoplasmoses, so I can have my raw veggies at the restaurant in relative safety :) Cheese is a matter of reading the packaging. I do miss my wine and beer, it gives me heartaches not being allowed to have any, especially because I do have a nice and varied supply of it in my pantry :(

Petr Porizek March 22, 2013 at 8:54 am

Kindle Edition is only for UK customers :(

It’s a shame, I would have bought it.

Greetings from Czech Republic

amanda March 22, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Jules such lovely news to read. Very happy for you and your irishman!

I am slightly embarrased this is the first time i have commented when I have followed (and enjoyed many a recipe) for years! This week it was the super quick minestrone as well as your mum’s cabanossi recipe. Both winners.

So thank you for a great blog and wishing you well for this next amazing stage.

Vânia March 23, 2013 at 6:54 am

Congratulations and all the best!

I’m a big fan of stonesoup :)

Holly March 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Congratulations!
I started reading your blog shortly after having my son and it was a lifesaver for a new stay at home mom with no time!

Thanks for the great ideas in your post! I’m newly pregnant with #2 and I’m wondering why soft eggs would be bad. Are soft-boiled eggs okay? I thought the issue was the contamination on the shell… so if I washed them first would it be okay?

Johanna GGG March 23, 2013 at 9:16 pm

congratulations Jules – best wishes for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby – isn’t it amazing that our mothers never worried about all these dietary problems and yet we get so worried about them!

Philippa March 24, 2013 at 2:41 am

Congratulations Jules!!! What wonderful news xx

Carmen Santorio Otero March 25, 2013 at 4:03 am

MIL FELICITACIONES, QUERIDA, UN BEBÉ ES SIEMPRE BIEN RECIBIDO.

BESOS PARA TÍ Y TU IRLANDES.

UN ABRAZO

Richard March 25, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Congrats! We have a baby due this year as well.
Morning (actually, all-day) sickness is in full swing. Hence… I’ve recently been assigned cooking duties. So recipes that are minimal fuss, minimal washing and minimal swearing are now essential in our household.

I had two concerns when ordering the book…
That a lot of recipes would be in the original ebook anyway…in reality there’s an occasional overlap, but most is new.
And, that there might be a lot of “paleo” meals, which depending on interpretations, can sometimes mean a lot of meat and veg and not much else. Luckily that’s not the case and there is a wide range of meals for all tastes.

I’ve only had the chance to cook a few things but everything has turned out great and been surprisingly tasty. I think the results so far are 3/4 of the taste of a more advanced meal….but with about 1/4 the effort.
Hope you don’t take that as a backhanded compliment , as it’s a pretty amazing payoff!

The book is also heftier than I thought and really good value.
It definitely delivers what it promises, Ill be recommending it and I hope it sells really well for you!

Richard

Ashley Bee (Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine) March 25, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Congratulations!! I remember my friend was having a baby and I was baffled at all the random things on the DO NOT EAT list! Keeping it all in mind for my very-distant-future baby of my own.

donna April 5, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Can you use parsley AND mint — or just one fresh herb? Recommendations?

SarahN April 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Congrats on the baby! And I love my Pyrex dishes, makes such a difference (though it does make my bag heavier, i feel it’s worth it)

Pop Chef April 18, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Good read. Having kids seems to be the most precious gift for every couple. Thanks for sharing.

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