I have five nieces and one nephew. And, even though I’m not a mom yet I feel like I went through my sisters’ pregnancies.  Women are always getting advice on pregnancy: “don’t drink coffee”, “you need to eat more”, “don’t exercise”, what? “Exercising is great!”, “don’t eat for two”, “coffee is not that bad” and on and on. For every seemingly great tip, it seems that someone else advises the opposite. I turned to one of my favorite experts for help on this matter.

Social nightmare?

You hear a lot of pregnancy health tips regarding the holidays. So, be ready and know how to navigate all the food, drinks and desserts (and yes, pesky comments) during Thanksgiving dinner with Tara Gidus, MS, RD, author of the brand new Pregnancy Cooking & Nutrition for Dummies (Wiley, Nov 2011).

Bring the turkey!

Sweet potatoes are excellent because they have beta carotene, potassium as well as complex carbs for energy.

Turkey/ Beef/steak are excellent for protein, iron, zinc.  Beef has selenium, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, niacin and choline, all of which are necessary in pregnancy. There are 29 cuts of lean beef, so it’s possible to get good nutrients without a ton of unwanted fats.

Nuts:  Snacking on nuts will provide folate, protein and fiber.

Corn has fiber and phytonutrients good for vision.

Look for fruit and veggie sides that are not loaded in butter or sugar.  All fruits and veggies have vitamins and minerals needed during pregnancy.

Drink smart

Ask for pomegranate or grape juice with seltzer so you feel like you’re enjoying a flavorful beverage—that’s alcohol free.  You could also simply sip on seltzer with a twist of lime.

Put the Concord grape juice in a wine glass and you’ll feel like you’re enjoying wine with everyone else!

If you’re showing, obviously no one is going to expect you to drink, but if you’re still not telling all about your pregnancy and you normally drink this could be a bit tricky.  Politely decline, but ask for the fruit juice spritzer instead.

Sweet caution

Gidus explains that all types of sugars provide calories with essentially no nutritional value:

“Use caution with all added sugars, whether it’s table sugar, brown rice syrup, or high fructose corn syrup,” she says. “I recommend avoiding agave nectar while pregnant because some studies report it causing uterine contractions. Also use caution with the non-nutritive sweetener saccharin because it passes into the fetus and has been shown to increase cancer risk in animal studies.

However this does not mean that you can’t have chocolate. Gidus says that dark chocolate, which has more cocoa in it, has higher levels of phytonutrients, which has many health benefits. In fact, in study of pregnant women who ate the equivalent of one dark chocolate candy bar per day had an almost 70 percent reduced chance of having preeclampsia.

Gidus points out that while the chemical compounds found in chocolate are related to relaxing the blood vessels, reducing the risk of blood clots and lowering blood pressure to its magnesium content, don’t stuff your face with chocolate.

This Thanksgiving dinner before going after all the traditional high caloric, sugar and fat pies, try something different that will allow you to taste something sweet without risk while others can enjoy too.

Fudgy Peppermint Black Bean Brownies

Recipe from Pregnancy Cooking & Nutrition for Dummies by Tara Gidus, MS, RD


Nonstick cooking spray

One 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

3 eggs

3 tablespoons canola oil

? cup sweetened cocoa powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

? cup sugar

? cup semisweet chocolate chunks

? cup ground peppermint candies


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray and 8×8 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a blender or food processor, puree the black beans, eggs, oil, cocoa powder, salt, peppermint extract, and sugar until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chunks.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake uncovered for 25 minutes.

Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle the ground peppermint candies on top. Bake for another 5 minutes, or until the edges start to pull away from the pan.

Cut the brownies while they’re still warm before the candy topping has a chance to cool completely and harden.

Prep Time: 10 min            Cook Time: 30 minutes                        Yield: 16 servings

Per Serving Calories: 130, cholesterol 0mg, sodium 62mg, fiber 2g, protein 2g, iron 1mg, calcium 12mg, folate 17mg.

Note: If you’re not a fan of peppermint, exchange it for vanilla extract.

Marta Montenegro inspires people to live healthy lives by giving them the tools and strength to find one’s inner athlete through her personal website MartaMontenegro.com. She created SOBeFiT, a national fitness magazine for men and women, and the Montenegro Method DVD workout series – a program she designed for getting results in just 21 days by exercising 21 minutes a day . Marta is a strength and conditioning coach and serves as an adjunct professor of exercise physiology at Florida International University.

Follow us on twitter.com/foxnewslatino
Like us at facebook.com/foxnewslatino