The first trimester can be a bit of a challenge food-wise, morning sickness or not. My wife Anni found that the sight of anything green and healthy made her feel sick and that all she really wanted to eat was small and frequent portions of bland, beige-coloured food high in carbs. I do all the cooking in our house so if carbs were all she wanted, that’s what she got, I just cooked with wholegrain pasta, brown rice and sweet potatoes instead of their fattier cousins. Protein is also important in this trimester so I cooked a lot with chicken, prawns and tofu. Fish and beef dishes didn’t go down well in those first few weeks so I steered clear.

Even though she couldn’t stand the sight of them, I also tried to sneak some vegetables into my wife’s food so that she was getting some extra nutrition in those first few weeks. Specifically I tried to find ways of adding folate-rich vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale, asparagus and peas. I found the best way of doing that was by hiding them in pesto, soups, risotto and omelettes.

Here are my top three dishes to cook during the secret trimester to keep both mum and baby healthy.

Psst.. looking for second trimester recipes? Click here.

Chicken, broccoli and carrot soup with a parmesan toast

This is a delicious warming bowl of goodness for cold winter evenings. This particular dish is packed with broccoli which due to its high folate, fibre and vitamin content, is a fantastic pregnancy superfood. The parmesan toast also satisfied my wife’s salt cravings in her first trimester.

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 6 carrots
  • One onion
  • One head of broccoli
  • Handfuls of thyme, sage and rosemary
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • Two slices of brioche bread
  • 60g grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Boil the stock in a pan and then reduce to a simmer. Peel and finely slice the carrots and place in the pan.
  2. Roughly tear up the rosemary, sage and thyme and add.
  3. Finely slice the chicken and add to the pan before roughly chopping the broccoli and also adding in.
  4. Bring the liquid back to the boil and cook for at least five minutes (you want to ensure that the chicken is completely cooked through.
  5. Meanwhile place 2 slices of brioche bread under the grill, toast slightly then remove.
  6. Using a stick blender, mix the soup thoroughly. Reduce the heat to a low simmer.
  7. Sprinkle the grated parmesan over the brioche and place back under the grill for 1-2 minutes until the parmesan has melted.
  8. Pour the soup into bowls and place the toast on top of the mixture.

Why is this good for mum and baby?

Chicken Protein, vitamin B, zinc
Brioche Fibre, protein
Parmesan Protein, calcium, vitamin A
Carrots Vitamin A, C, potassium, fibre, calcium
Broccoli Vitamins A, B, C, E, K, folate, potassium, fibre
Rosemary Vitamin A, B, C, folate
Thyme Fibre, Vitamin B, C, calcium
Onion/shallots Fibre, Vitamin B, C, D, K, Zinc, Iron, Folate, Magnesium, potassium

Spanish-style risotto with king prawns, pea and asparagus

My wife couldn’t stomach large meals in her first trimester, so I wanted to create a dish that gave her the protein she needed, but in small portions, hence the prawns. It’s also a good looking dish and one I served at a dinner party we had early on in Anni’s pregnancy. At that point we were still keeping it secret so I threw a glass of white wine into the risotto to not only add to the taste but also throw our friends off of the scent, (all alcohol gets burnt off in the cooking process so it’s completely safe).

Ingredients

  • 200g king prawns, de-headed and de-shelled
  • 8-10 asparagus stems
  • 100g peas (frozen is fine)
  • 200g risotto rice (arborio or whatever you usually use)
  • Parmesan
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 2 small shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 25g butter

Method

  1. Thinly slice the onions and gently fry in the butter, before adding in the garlic.
  2. Add the risotto rice and paprika to the pan, ensuring that the rice is well covered with the butter and spice.
  3. Pour a cup or so of the stock to the risotto and stir.
  4. Carry on adding the stock bit by bit for around 10 minutes. The stock will slowly absorb into the rice.
  5. Remove the bottom quarter of the asparagus and slice the rest, taking care to keep the heads to one side.
  6. Add the sliced asparagus and peas to the rice and carry on adding in the stock.
  7. In a separate pan, fry the asparagus heads and prawns in a little butter.
  8. When the risotto is almost done, add in the juice of half a lemon and a generous grating of parmesan.
  9. Serve the risotto in bowls and arrange the prawns and asparagus on top. Arrange any way you like but a nice pattern is to place the prawn and asparagus one after each other.

Why is this good for mum and baby?

Prawns Protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, calcium, Vitamins A, E
Parmesan Protein, calcium, vitamin A
Butter Calcium, vitamin A, E K
Arborio rice Fibre, iron
Onion/shallots Fibre, Vitamin B, C, D, K, Zinc, Iron, Folate, Magnesium, potassium
Garlic Vitamin B, C, Calcium, potassium, iron
Peas Vitamins B, C, K, folate, protein, zinc, potassium, magnesium, iron
Asparagus Folate, potassium, magnesium, iron, protein, vitamin K,
Lemons Vitamin B, C, calcium, magnesium, folate

Walnut, spinach and parmesan pesto with roasted chicken, spinach and broccoli

Homemade pesto is another great way of hiding folate-heavy greens and healthy nuts in food. What’s more, pesto is so quick and easy to make and keeps for weeks in the fridge and months in the freezer.

Anni would inhale big bowls of pasta during her first trimester, and so by making my own pesto we knew for sure that both her and our baby were getting enough vegetables at a time when eating fresh fruit and veg was a struggle.

When making pesto, always serve alongside pasta with a few twists in such as fusilli so the pesto has something to cling onto. Spaghetti for example wouldn’t work well with this dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 300g wholemeal fusilli pasta
  • Half a head of broccoli
  • One handful of spinach
  • One shallot and two cloves of garlic

For the pesto

  • Two handfuls of spinach
  • 2 tablespoons of crushed walnuts
  • One tablespoon grated parmesan
  • One garlic clove
  • 3-4 tablespoons of olive
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking tray.
  2. Boil the pasta as per instructions. When cooked, drain and set aside. Keep the pasta water.
  3. Butterfly the chicken and cut in half. Place on the baking tray, season and roast for 10-12 minutes, turning halfway.
  4. Meanwhile, make your pesto in a small blender. Add all the ingredients and blend well. If the mixture is too dry, add more olive oil to bring all the ingredients together. Season to taste.
  5. Dice the onion and garlic, season and cook on a medium heat.
  6. Cut the broccoli into chunks and cook for 3 minutes in the pasta water. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.
  7. Add the pasta and broccoli to the pan and stir in some of the pesto. Add the spinach and cook for a further minute until it wilts.
  8. Divide into two bowls, place the chicken on top and serve with grated parmesan.

Why is this good for mum and baby?

Chicken Protein, vitamin B, zinc
Parmesan Protein, calcium, vitamin A
Wholegrain pasta Folate, magnesium, vitamin B, fibre
Walnuts Omega-3 fats, vitamin B, E fibre, protein
Onion/shallots Fibre, Vitamin B, C, D, K, Zinc, Iron, Folate, Magnesium, potassium
Garlic Vitamin B, C, Calcium, potassium, iron
Spinach Calcium, Iron, Vitamin A, B, C, K, folate, magnesium,
Broccoli Vitamins A, B, C, E, K, folate, potassium, fibre

 


Article by Adam Shaw from At Dad’s Table

Adam is a passionate chef, new dad and recent graduate from Leiths School of Food and Wine. He is on a mission to overhaul the way we think about food during pregnancy and early parenthood. When his wife became pregnant he started researching the best dishes he could make to keep her and the baby healthy. He was disappointed to see that most advice centred on what you can’t have, rather than on what you can and so decided to create his own recipes that celebrate all of the wonderful food that can make you feel good throughout pregnancy.

For more recipes visit AtDadsTable.com or find him on Instagram here.

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