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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