Nutritious Lunch Suggestions During Pregnancy

Skip the sweets: Try a tasty -- and healthy -- treat instead

When those cravings take over during pregnancy, it's difficult to resist the temptation to tackle a chocolate bar or devour a bag of salty chips for lunch. Healthy options, though, can satisfy those cravings and lead you on the path to a healthier lifestyle while your little one grows stronger. Adding protein, vegetables and fiber to your meals is a great start. Make your lunchtime menu one that is tasty and hearty with some creative food choices.

A Southwestern Twist

Ensuring you get enough protein is key during pregnancy, says Dr. Jennifer Hanes, a Texas-based physician and the author of "The Princess Plan." She points out that "lots of pregnant women gorge on carbs and neglect protein. This lowers their energy level but also increases the tendency for swollen ankles and general swelling."

Reduce the swelling and enjoy a hearty lunch with a Southwestern twist by sampling a healthy taco bowl for lunch. Simply mix heated fat-free refried beans, red kidney beans and tomato paste and line the bottom of a bowl with the mix. Brown lean hamburger meat and pile it on after seasoning with salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin powder. Top with sliced avocados, diced onions or crisp lettuce.

"The protein and fiber will help keep you feeling full longer and provide energy throughout the day," says Hanes. "Eating healthy amounts of protein helps mom’s body to clear out the excess fluid and lets her see her ankle bones again."

RELATED: Stretching May Prevent Preeclampsia

Soupy Sensation

Spruce up your midday meal with a hearty soup that is healthy and stocked full of fiber and protein. This 10-minute meal begins with browning a package of turkey-sausage links. Toss in three cans of great northern beans and a large can of chicken broth and heat. Once the soup is ready to serve, top with baby spinach leaves and red-pepper flakes.

"This delightful soup is a great source of protein and fiber to keep you full longer without feeling sluggish," says Hanes. "The spinach adds lots of vitamin A and vitamin K to help your skin, eyes, and bones stay healthy."

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