Smarter Snacking

While pregnant, cravings come frequently. Women tell me they get sudden urges to eat, but what they crave is not a meal: they want typical snack foods like potato chips, pretzels, Doritos, corn chips. I get it– snack food in the modern age is delicious! Plus, it has ingredients like salt or sugar which makes the taste more distinct and satisfying. However, it’s those exact ingredients that I discourage women from reaching for when choosing a snack.

The Problems With Packaged Foods

Packaged foods like chips and pretzels require ingredients to make them last a long time on a store shelf or in your cabinet at home. Some of those preservatives are incorporated into the dry mixes that make a chip, or they are sprayed on later. Those preservatives are often like salt– they prevent moisture from accumulating and causing the product to go bad, and they provide flavoring that keep you coming back for more. Salt, while useful in controlled amounts when used to season fresh food, can cause issues for pregnant women.

Salt makes pregnant women hold on to water. And excess water makes edema (or swelling) in areas like the feet, ankles, or fingers persist or worsen. Further, if a woman has issues with her blood pressure, the extra salt in typical snack foods can keep her blood pressures elevated.

Let’s face it: salt is everywhere. During pregnancy, the goal is to limit how much extra salt a woman takes in. We never aim to eliminate salt totally, but we want to help a pregnant woman control how much she takes in during a 24-hour period.

Healthy Alternatives

So, what do I tell a hungry pregnant woman who is craving a delicious salty snack? I offer healthier alternatives that will satisfy cravings. One snack I promote provides women with the flavor they’re craving, and gives them the bonus of fiber: Zucchini chips! Sure, they are not potato chips or Doritos, but they are super easy to make and there are several flavor options to try. Plus, you can make a big batch of them and they keep in an air tight container for several days. Healthy, easy and affordable is a win!

harshal-s-hirve-50029
Photo by Harshal S. Hirve

Make a batch of these and keep these on hand for the next time you have a craving for something salty or tangy. Have a pregnant friend or relative? Make her a batch of these in different varieties and give her a perfect snack gift. 

Snack Smarter: Feel Better

Bottom line: snack food is certainly delicious and easy to get, especially when you’re tired or on the run. However, a simple healthier substitution is far better for your body, your baby, and how you feel overall.

Salt & Vinegar Zucchini Chips

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons malt vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  1. Preheat the oven to 225F.
  2. Use a mandolin to slice the zucchini into discs, approximately 1/8 inch thick. You can also use a food processor or slice by hand. It’s important to keep them thin but not so thin that they burn. If using a mandolin: be careful! They can be dangerous if not used according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  3. Place the discs of zucchini onto a paper towel and pat dry. Tip: It’s important that the discs be dry before putting in the oven.
  4. Mix the olive oil, salt, and malt vinegar in a bowl.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and brush the zucchini discs with (or dip them into) the oil/vinegar/salt mixture before placing them on the parchment-lined sheet.
  6. Bake for 1 hour 15 min. Check the chips occasionally to keep from burning.
  7. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with paprika, and allow to cool completely. before enjoying! Store in an air tight container for up to a week.

For a different flavor, try…

  • Parmesan and Parsley– Omit the vinegar and paprika. After the chips are baked, sprinkle with a ¼ cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese and parsley. Or, sprinkle fresh grated orange zest for a crisp, bright taste
  • Fresh Ground Pepper– Try a crack of fresh grated black pepper added to the oil, vinegar and salt
  • Asian Spice– Omit the vinegar and paprika and substitute ¼ teaspoon of Chinese 5 spice powder after they’re baked for a mild Asian flavor
  • Italian– Omit the vinegar and paprika and substitute ¼ teaspoon if Italian seasoning at the end
  • Cinnamon Sugar– Craving something sweet? Omit the vinegar, salt and paprika and sprinkle the chips with   ½ teaspoon of sugar mixed with ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon or cardamom

Share Your Snacks!

What are some snacks that worked for you?

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