I love having salads for lunch because they are easy to make, healthy and they are delicious! Plus I can customize any salad to my taste preference and based on what food I have on hand. To make things even easier I will often prep a few of these salads at the beginning of the week and store them in mason jars. All I have to do is open the jar, pour out the ingredients, and top with dressing. You can’t get easier than that!
2 cups leafy greens
½ cup edamame
1 hard boiled egg
½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp. walnuts
½ cup cucumber, sliced
2 tbsp. ranch or creamy dressing
Directions: Combine greens, edamame, egg, avocado, tomatoes, walnuts, and cucumber in a medium bowl. Top with dressing.
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For the salad base, I like to use romaine lettuce or a dark green or red leaf lettuce. The general rule with lettuce is that the darker it is, the more nutritious it is. The second rule of thumb is that the more closed the head of lettuce is, the less nutritious it is. For example, a head of iceberg lettuce is very tight in a ball compared with a red leaf lettuce that is more loose and open. A few varieties that are even more nutritious include
- radicchio, and
Romaine and other dark lettuces are great sources of vitamin A and folate—both of which are crucial during pregnancy. Vitamin A is essential for all cell growth and differentiation. It is especially important for lung development and maturation. Folate helps prevent neural tube defects and is needed to help prevent anemia.
It is important to make sure you are adding some protein to your salad as protein needs increase by about 25gm/d during pregnancy. Some of my favorite non-meat protein additions for salads include eggs, edamame, nuts, and seeds. Eggs, in particular, are something that I think pregnant and nursing moms should eat most days. They are chock full of essential nutrients needed for optimal fetal and infant development including DHA and choline. They are also an inexpensive and easy source of
- vitamin B12,
- riboflavin, and
I also like to have a whole-wheat roll or another whole grain side dish when I have salads to add some complex carbs to my meal. This is important to provide adequate energy for your growing body and to help maintain stable blood sugar levels both for you and your baby.