Along with my passion for running I have developed a keen interest in nutrition throughout the years. It wouldn’t make sense to try to get fit while fuelling your body with lousy foods, right? Since I got pregnant I feel even more responsible to eat healthy foods so as to give the baby all it needs.
That being said, eating healthy was quite challenging during the first trimester, when I often felt nauseated or simply too tired to prepare something nutritious. Add to that my first-trimester aversion to salads and many vegetables in general and you get the idea. Luckily, in the second and (current) last trimester I have done better thanks to my healthy appetite as well as lack of strong pregnancy aversions and cravings. Convenience nevertheless remains a key word in my day-to-day menu.
Here are 5 healthy – and easy to prepare – foods I’ve been loving lately.
1. Oats and yogurt topped with fresh fruits, nuts and seeds
After weeks (months? years?) of trying I have finally found the perfect way to prepare a nourishing bowl of oats – my ultimate breakfast favourite. Nutritious powerhouses they may be, I don’t like the slimy texture oats get when you boil them in water or soak them in (soy) milk. However, when I added yogurt and left them overnight the result was a very thick, almost solid meal. My solution: mixing them with water and yogurt and leaving them overnight in the fridge. The following morning they have the perfect texture! I simply add some fresh fruits (banana, apple, blueberries, kiwi, or other fruit), nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts or a combination of those) and seeds (often pumpkin seeds, but also sunflower or chia seeds) and my delicious breakfast is ready.
2. Open-faced sandwich with avocado, tomato and baby rocket
I know I’m quite late to the party, but since we moved to New Zealand – and more specifically, since we started visiting the farmers’ market – I’ve been eating avocado religiously. Offering nearly 20 vitamins and minerals in every serving (about half a piece), they are incredibly nutritious. Did you know these pear-shaped berries (that’s right, they are berries!) contain hefty amounts of folate and vitamin K (very important during pregnancy!), B vitamins, potassium and lutein (which is good for the eyes)? Their creamy texture – avocados are high in cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fat – are a match made in heaven with tomato and rocket, if you ask me.
3. Open-faced sandwich with Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter
I can’t really say that peanut butter is a food I’ve been loving lately, as my love for it goes back to childhood. However, when I visited New Zealand for the first time back in 2012 I made the amazing discovery that peanut butter here is just ground peanuts and perhaps a little salt. How different is that from most brands in Europe and the States that usually add sugar, palm oil, or (partially) hydrogenated oil? Of course I could easily make my own peanut butter, as I did when I lived in Jeddah, but the convenience of buying it in the supermarket and knowing it has only natural ingredients wins. I especially love Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter, which, as the name suggests, is really good indeed. (The story behind the brand is pretty interesting too, and can be read here.) What’s even better is to top it with slices of banana for a real Elvis sandwich. Yummy!
4. Anything with basil
This is not exactly a new favourite either, but it was always hard to find fresh basil in Saudi Arabia. And if I found an overpriced plant in the supermarket it would usually die within a week. The basil plant I bought here has been flourishing and even flowering! I add basil to all kinds of dishes and love how it makes an average meal taste wow! I mostly stick to good ole combo’s like tomato and basil pasta sauce or add basil to a salad. I have yet to make my own pesto, but I’m sure that would be lovely too! And FYI, basil is an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese; a very good source of copper, vitamin A, and vitamin C; and a good source of calcium, iron, folate, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids (Source: The World’s Healthiest Foods)
5. Oven-baked potato wedges
I think I finally mastered oven-baked potatoes! I’ve been making and loving them (as well as oven-baked sweet potato wedges) for quite some time, but I never managed to get them really golden and crispy. Now I do! The secret, I think, is to boil them first for 3 to 5 minutes in some water, drain, then toss in some olive oil, spices and salt, spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and roast them in the oven at 220 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes (turning them after 20 minutes). After that I turn on the oven grill and leave them for 8-10 more minutes until golden and crispy. Delicious on their own or with some aioli (not homemade during pregnancy!), I often combine these with a salad and some sort of protein for a healthy and balanced dinner.
So that is that: Five foods I cannot seem to get enough of! I hope that regularly updating you with my favourite foods will encourage me to try new things. If you have any ideas please let me know! One more thing I’m loving lately: Nespresso soy milk cappuccino (often accompanied by a piece – or two – of dark chocolate). It took us a while to get our coffee delivered, but we appreciate it even more now.