Best Foods for Expecting Mothers

Congratulations, you are pregnant! The food choices you make every day you are pregnant can affect your heath and the health of your baby.

Attractive pregnant woman holding a bowl of salad while standing

It comes as no surprise that the best foods for expecting women are great foods for everyone. However, when you are pregnant, there are particular foods and nutrients that you need to grow the healthiest baby you can while also staying healthy yourself.


Weight Gain

You will need to eat slightly more when you are expecting, however the idea of eating for two is a misconception. It is more about the quality of food than the quantity. If you are entering into your pregnancy at a healthy weight, you really only need around an extra 300 calories a day. If you are carrying multiples or are underweight your additional caloric intake may be higher. Someone who is overweight may require slightly less. According to the American Pregnancy Association, unless you are expecting multiples or entered into pregnancy overweight, the ideal weight gain during pregnancy would be between 25-35 pounds.

Try to not stress too much about your weight gain, just try and avoid gaining too much and eating unhealthy foods. Be selective about your food choices; choose foods that contain vitamins, minerals, and protein. Pregnancies are not cookie-cutter conditions, your health care provider will help to monitor your weight to make sure you are gaining at the levels healthiest for you. It is important to be open with your doctor and approach them with any diet and weight gain concerns that you may have.


Foods You Should Eat

The USDA states that vitamin and mineral supplements cannot replace a healthy diet. Most doctors recommend that pregnant women take a prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement every day in addition to eating a healthy diet. It is important to choose foods that have the vitamins and minerals that are essential to the needs of your developing baby and your personal health.

You should also avoid food choices that are high in “empty calories.” Empty calories are the calories from solid fats and added sugars in things like fried foods, cheese, whole milk, fatty meats, desserts and soft drinks. Food selections that are fat-free, unsweetened, low-fat or contain no added sugars have fewer or no “empty calories.”


This is a list of foods that are most beneficial to you and your growing baby.


  • Proteins The amino acids in proteins are the building blocks of the cells in your body, but proteins have other benefits beyond that. They can keep your hunger at bay, which is a good way to avoid junk food. Proteins also help to keep your blood sugar stable.

The USDA recommends the following protein rich foods: Beans and peas (pinto beans, edamame, soybeans, lentils, chickpeas, white and kidney beans), Nuts and seeds (sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts, peanut butter, pine nuts), Lean meats (beef, lamb, pork), and certain seafood (salmon, trout, sardines, herring, and pollock). Quinoa, eggs, and low-fat dairy products are also good sources of protein.

In addition to protein, beans and peas contain iron, fiber and potassium. Heme-iron is the most readily absorbed type of iron and it is found in the lean meats along with protein. Seafood has omega-3 fatty acids, and nuts and seeds contain vitamin E.


  • Calcium Your baby needs it for his growing bones, and you need it to help keep yours strong. This essential mineral also helps with the functioning of your nerves and muscles. Dairy foods are your best source of calcium. Vitamin D boosts absorption, so look for dairy products that are vitamin D fortified to get the most calcium out of each serving.

Some of the best dairy choices include: Fat-free milk (skim milk), low-fat milk (1% milk), low-fat or fat-free yogurt, calcium-fortified soymilk, and pasteurized cheeses. Spinach and calcium-fortified orange juice are also good ways to take in calcium.


  • Omega-3-rich foods Pregnancy safe fish (salmon, herring, pollock) are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as protein. If you don’t like to eat any kind of fish, flaxseed is another source of the essential omega-3 fatty acids. Specifically, a type called. DHA. These healthy fats help you metabolize fat-soluble vitamins like A and E and are crucial to the development of the baby’s brain and eyes. (The brain and retina are primarily composed of DHA.) Drizzle some flaxseed oil over your salads or add some ground seeds to your yogurt, soup, or cereal. Making smoothies and adding in some flaxseed is another option.

Avocados and walnuts are also excellent sources of omega-3s. Remember that even though omega-3s are healthy fats, they are still fats. Which means higher in calories, so try and consumption of foods rich in omega-3s to around 30% of your daily calories.


  • Iron A woman’s blood volume increases as much as 50% when she is pregnant. Iron is an important component in red blood cells so not only does your baby need it for his supply, but you need it for yours. Eating foods with iron will help to prevent anemia in pregnancy. Iron also helps to build the baby’s brain by strengthening nerve connections.

Lean meats, such as beef, are high in iron. Dark leafy greens, quinoa, lentils, dried fruit, tofu, and cooked dried beans are also excellent sources of iron. Foods high in vitamin C help your body absorb more iron. So you should eat your iron rich foods along with vitamin C rich foods like citrus, red bell peppers, strawberries, kiwis, and tomatoes.


  • Folic Acid Folic acids are powerful in preventing neural-tube defects like spina bifida in developing babies. Doctors recommend increasing your folic acid intake before you try and conceive because its benefits are so essential early on.

Lentils, dark leafy greens, great northern beans, and asparagus are high in folic acid. Most pasta, cereal, rice, and bread products are now fortified with folic acid as well.


  • Colorful Produce You can eat any kind red, orange, yellow green or blue fruits and veggies as you desire. (Smoothies and juices qualify!) Colorful produce are packed with beneficial phytochemicals and antioxidants.

Beta-carotene is one such benefit found in many fruits and vegetables. Your body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A. Vitamin A is extremely important in the development of your baby’s skin, bones, organs, and eyes. It is better to take in vitamin A in natural forms and your prenatal vitamins only. High levels of “preformed” vitamin A can increase the risk of birth defects.


  • Complex Carbs Whole grains contain complex carbs and are full of fiber (which is a life saver if you are dealing with constipation). The starchiness of whole grains will also help subdue nausea. Eating a variety of whole grains will also up your daily dose of baby-building minerals and vitamins, like the B vitamins, iron and more.

Good whole grain choices include popcorn, quinoa, oats, wheat, rice, barley, and corn.


  • Water Dehydration can up your chances for early labor. Making sure you are well hydrated will help your body to flush toxins, and deliver nutrients throughout your body. Drinking enough water, at least 8 cups a day, will also make you feel more full so you are less likely to reach for that extra handful of chips or cookies.

If drinking two quarts of plain old water a day sounds boring, there is good news. The water you get from all sources (100% juice, soup, milk, tea, and decaffeinated coffee) counts. Don’t set your focus on just water, but overall fluid intake.


Remember that when you are pregnant you should not drink alcohol (including beer, wine, liquor, mixed drinks, malt beverages, etc.). Even moderate drinking during pregnancy can cause behavioral or developmental problems for your baby. Heavy drinking during pregnancy can result in serious problems for your baby, including malformation and mental retardation.

Of course if you have any concerns you should talk with your medical care provider. This is only intended as a quick reference and should not be used in place of information provided to you by your doctor.  We wish you a safe and healthy pregnancy!!



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Let’s Talk About Wine

Arizona’s wine industry has five regions representing our state’s award winning wines. Three of the major growing regions are in the high desert.

Row of vintage wine bottles in a wine cellar (shallow DOF; color

According to the Arizona Wine Growers Association the first major region is in southern Arizona in the Sonoita/Elgin area with. This is the only designated American Viticulture Area (AVA) in the state. The second major area is in the Willcox area in Cochise County, and the Verde Valley is our third major region for growing grapes.

The elevation of these vineyards range between 3800 ft. to almost 6000 ft., allowing nice hot days and cool nights during the grape growing season. The Skull Valley area up north is beginning to turn into a nice grape growing area with three vineyards. Grapes are also growing in other areas of the state like Benson, Payson, Portal, and Tombstone.

In total Arizona has 83 bonded wineries spread out over 942 acres of land under vine. Our top five varieties in terms of production in 2014 were Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre, and Sangiovese. The statewide value of production totaled $2.2 million last year, according to a recent study by the USDA.

As far as wine goes, Arizona’s industry is still rather young. Wine itself however has a rich history. Here are some facts about wine that you may find interesting.

  • The Vintage date on a bottle of wine indicates the year the grapes were picked, not the year of bottling.
  • There are around 2.8 pounds of grapes in one bottle of wine.
  • The US ranks number four on the list of top wine producers in the world. Italy, France, and Spain take the top three spots.
  • The idea that all wines get better with age is a misconception. Around 90% wines should be used within one year of their creation.
  • There are more than 20 million acres of grapes planted worldwide.
  • It takes a crop of newly planted grape vines four to five years to grow before it can be harvested.
  • The residents of New York, California, and Florida drink more wine than residents of the other 47 states combined.
  • Studies have shown that drinking wine in moderation may fight cancer, obesity, and diabetes, and lower high cholesterol, and reduce the risk of blood clots.
  • Red wines loose color as they age.
  • White wines gain color with age. They go from pale yellow to having a brownish hue.
  • The reason wine testers swirl their glass is to persuade the wine to release its aromas. They usually won’t fill the glass more than a third full so that the aromas can collect and not spill when they swirl.
  • To distinguish good wine from inferior wine, hold the wine in your mouth for a moment then either spit it out or swallow it. The aftertaste of a really good wine will linger for quite some time, while inferior wines will have a short aftertaste.
  • The earliest evidence of wine that we have is 8,000 years old and comes from the Republic of Georgia.

Have you tried any Arizona wine lately?  Fill Your Plate has a list of wineries in Arizona, however they are not all represented on our page. You can go on the Arizona Wine Growers Association webpage for more. Cheers!


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National Fruit and Vegetable Month

June is National Fruit and Vegetable Month.

Fresh organic vegetables ane fruits on wood table  in the garden

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans set by the USDA recommends we eat more fruits and vegetables than any other food group. In fact, they say that half of your plate at every meal should be a fruit and/or vegetable. Every step that you take towards eating more fruits and veggies will help you make sure that your body is performing at optimum levels.  What better opportunity than National Fruit and Vegetable Month to add more healthy fruits and vegetables into your diet?

Nutritional Facts

The USDA states that people who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic illnesses.

  • Fruits offer nutrients that are vital to maintaining your health. Many fruits contain dietary fiber, folate (also known as folic acid), potassium, and vitamin C. No fruits have cholesterol and the majority of fruits are naturally low in calories, fat, and sodium.
  • Vegetables are also full of nutrients that are important to your health. Common nutrients found in vegetables are dietary fiber, folate, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C. Most vegetables are low in calories and fat and contain no cholesterol.
  • Both fruits and vegetables are known for their dietary fiber. Diets that consist of foods rich in dietary fiber can reduce your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
  • Fruits and vegetables rich in potassium could lower blood pressure, increase bone strength and mass, and reduce the risk of getting kidney stones.
  • Fruits and vegetables come in many colors, and each color offers its own nutritional focus. This is called “eating the rainbow.”
  1. Green fruits and vegetables contain luteins which can protect your eyes from cataracts.
  2. Beta-carotene is prominent in orange vegetables and help boost the immune system.
  3. Red fruits and vegetables have larger quantities of anthocyanins and lycopene. These help to keep your heart healthy and reduce the risk of some cancers.
  4. Purple and blue fruits and vegetables are rich with antioxidants that improve memory function and protect you from cell damage.
  5. White fruits and vegetables are shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Tips for Fruit and Vegetable Storage and Preparation

The biggest thing to remember when storing fruit and vegetables is to practice the rule FIFO. FIFO means “first in, first out” and is used by grocery stores everywhere- so why not practice it at home? This rule mostly applies to canned and frozen goods as fresh fruits and veggies are typically utilized right away. When you store your fruits and veggies in the pantry or freezer rotate newly bought food to the back and the older ones to the front so that they are used first. This will help prevent the food from going bad and reduce waste.

When it comes to your fresh fruits and vegetables it is important to wash them properly before you eat them. Washing well helps to remove any traces of pesticides or dirt and the wax coating that may have been added to them to keep them looking nice in the store. Use clean, cool running tap water to wash your produce. For porous fruits and veggies you may want to use a “nail brush” to scrub them and get all of the dirt out of the nooks and crannies. You don’t need to use specialized produce scrub, clean water works fine. You should never use soap as there is a possibility that you won’t be able to remove all of it- and eating soap could possibly make people ill.

Ways to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Fruit and veggies consumed in almost all forms count towards your daily total. They can be frozen, canned, dried, fresh, or 100% juice. According to Fruits & Veggies: More Matters, canned and frozen foods are processed within hours of their harvest so that their nutritional value and flavor are preserved. Including more fruits and vegetables can be fun. They are available in almost and infinite variety so there is always something new to try. They are also a natural, quick and convenient snack! Check out these surefire ways to make sure you are adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet every day.

  • Keep in mind that fruits and veggies in all forms matter. So grab some fruit and vegetables throughout the grocery store. Buy some canned and frozen. Buy a bag of dried bananas or cranberries, or whatever your favorite fruit is and make it into a trail mix (or enjoy as is). And, of course, grab a jug of your favorite 100% fruit or veggie juice.
  • Add a can of vegetables to your canned soup or add some mushrooms, peppers, and/or onion to a jar of spaghetti sauce for a quick meal with extra nutrition. To go even further with the spaghetti, use spaghetti squash instead of noodles.
  • When you make lasagna add pureed veggies to the sauce. Another option would be to add vegetables like sliced peppers, shredded carrots or chopped spinach between the layers.
  • When you are out to eat most restaurants offer sandwich/soup/salad options. Order extra veggies on your sandwich (avocados or cucumbers are great choices) or try a vegetable soup. Another option would be to choose a fruit or veggie salad, but remember to order dressing on the side to control the amount of calories you will be eating.
  • Order entrées with a lot of vegetables like fajitas or stir fry.
  • For a quick and healthy snack that is great on the go, spread some peanut butter on a tortilla and add your favorite fruits, fresh or dried, roll it up and enjoy.
  • Add fresh fruit to your yogurt.
  • Bananas, apples, and plums are the natural fast food. A healthy, mess-free choice for a snack or meal on the go.
  • Look up your favorite fruits and vegetables under the Fill Your Plate recipes section for some more inspiration.

Fill Your Plate offers a lot of information about various fruits and vegetables here on our blog. For more detailed information about certain produce items such as watermelons or carrots, for example, you can look them up in our older posts. One thing is certain, fruits and vegetables are an extremely valuable part of our diets, and you can only benefit from adding more to your everyday diet.



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Tolmachoff Farms is Offering AZ Locals an Opportunity to Pick Their Own Produce off the Farm

Tolmachoff Farms would like to invite Arizona locals to eat and think local when it comes to picking out their produce.  Tolmachoff Farms is a four-generation family run operation located in Glendale, Arizona. They grow a wide range of fresh vegetables and fruits.

tolmachoff farms

For the remainder of June, they are holding a U-Pick Produce Garden. It will offer several seasonal crops for people to choose from on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturday from 8am- noon for only $1.75/lb.

Through the month of July they will also have a produce stand open from 9am- 5pm that will feature fresh produce like eggplant, jalapenos, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, watermelon and more.

Tolmachoff Farms is located on 5726 N. 75th Ave in Glendale. For more information call (602)-999-3276 or visit


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Is It Food Poisoning Or The Stomach Flu?

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), even though the American food supply is among the safest in the world, there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses (food poisoning) every year.

Woman Sitting On Bed And Feeling Unwell

Which means around 1 in 6 Americans will come down with a foodborne illness annually. The FDA states that these illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year.

Many of the symptoms of food poisoning mimic those of the stomach flu, which makes it easy to mistake one for the other. Knowing the deviations between the two can help you plan your best course of action when you become ill and seek the proper treatment.

The common symptoms of the stomach flu are watery diarrhea, nausea and/or vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever, headaches and muscle/body aches. Body aches are typically not present in food poisoning cases.  Food poisoning symptoms include abdominal pain (which can be fairly severe), loss of appetite, watery diarrhea, nausea and/or vomiting, fever, and fatigue.

Both food poisoning and the stomach flu will usually go away on their own with rest and by making sure you are replacing lost fluids. They will typically clear up within a day or two. Most of the time it is fine to just let your ailment run its course. However, if any of the following occur, you should call your doctor right away.

  • There is blood in your stool or vomit.
  • You cannot tolerate any fluids, even water.
  • You are showing signs of dehydration such as dry mouth and throat, feeling dizzy when you stand, and have a decrease in urination.
  • You experience vomiting for more than one day.
  • You have chronic diarrhea (sizable, loose stools every one to two hours) that lasts longer than two days.

Paying attention to timing is one way to tell the difference between the two. The onset of food poisoning is usually abrupt. Symptoms will typically appear within two to 24 hours after consuming the contaminated food. The flu usually begins within one to 10 days after exposure to the illness.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the stomach flu, or gastroenteritis, is caused by viruses that invade the digestive system. It is spread by direct contact with an infected person or sharing eating utensils, food, or drinks with an infected person. And, on the other hand, food poisoning is caused by a toxin produced by bacteria in foods that are not stored or handled correctly. It is most likely that you have contracted food poisoning if you have recently eaten unrefrigerated or undercooked foods, or if people who ate the same food as you become ill as well.

The College of American Pathologists states that there are steps you can take to prevent the spread of stomach flu and to protect yourself from food poisoning.  For the flu, practicing good hygiene like thorough and frequent hand washing and avoiding contact with people you know are ill will help to prevent spreading. As for preventing food poisoning, use common sense and follow appropriate food handling procedures. You can refer to for detailed food handling information.



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