By: Rachel Neifeld, RD, CDN

Healthy Food for Pregnancy CravingsMany women reach for fries, chips, or other processed and packaged foods when they have a craving for salty foods. Unfortunately, these foods can be high in sodium which can contribute to high blood pressure. The good news is that salt cravings don’t always have to derail your efforts to eat well during pregnancy. There are lots of simple ways to turn a potentially unhealthy snack into both a satisfying and nutritious treat. Do your heart a favor and try swapping the fries and chips for the following snack ideas- you may be surprised at how well these nutrition options can satisfy your cravings!

  • Baked sweet potato fries: not only does this savory treat provide a dose of vitamin A, but it can also be a source of heart healthy fats if prepared the right way. Just peel a sweet potato and slice into quarter inch thick strips. Prepare 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in small bowel with sodium-free seasoning of your choice such as chipotle powder, smoked paprika, Chinese five-spice, Mrs. Dash, pumpkin pie spice, and/or even a little sugar. Bake at 450 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes flipping the strips over half way through. This version of fries nixes the artery clogging trans fats found in the deep fried version and replaces them with monounsaturated fats in heart healthy olive oil- not to mention they can be completely sodium free.
  • Kale chips: Instead of potato chips, try this nutritious and potentially even more satisfying snack. Simply coat kale leaves with just 1 tablespoon of olive oil as too much will make the leaves soggy. Add spices of your choice- good options include paprika and a dash of sea salt. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes or until crisp. Lightly dust chips with Cheyenne pepper if you prefer a spicy kick. This savory snack will provide you with more vitamins and minerals and less sodium than the original version. 
  • Soybeans: also known as edamame, these protein-packed legumes provide 14 grams of protein in a half cup and are also a source of omega-3 fatty acids (in the plant form- alpha-linolenic acid). Eating these healthy beans steamed in their shell with a little sea salt on top for a burst of flavor will satisfy a craving with only a small percentage of the salt that a packaged food would contain.
  • Peanut butter and pretzels: This perfect combination of sweet and salty can satisfy any craving. The peanut butter provides a good source of protein to keep you full until your next meal- though look for natural varieties that do not contain partially hydrogenated oils which deliver unhealthy trans fats. Another option is almond butter which can be used instead of peanut butter (both provide healthy fats!). The salty crunch from the pretzels will contain less fat than chips and can also be found in whole grain varieties to help meet some of your daily fiber needs.

Stay tuned for some healthy and satisfying options for when a sweet cravings strike!