Five Healthy Recipes for Nursing Parents
While the breastfeeding journey with my son was successful and amazing, it did come with its own setbacks that I had to learn to work through.
As a first time mom, I had no idea how demanding nursing would be in the beginning. Newborns have very tiny tummies and often feed at the breast every few hours for the first several weeks. This led to a lot of napping, unhealthy snacking, and a real downward spiral for my eating habits overall.
I noticed the hunger was the worst during the overnight feedings.
And, let’s be honest, no one feels like preparing a healthy meal at 3 am with their baby latched on. It became too easy to grab what was fast and quiet to eat while my baby nursed. It was apparent to me that I needed to take control of my diet. I began planning, and preparing easy-to-eat healthy mini-meals and snacks that I could enjoy during our nursing sessions.
One of my greatest finds while I was pregnant was almond milk. As a person who is lactose intolerant, almond milk was a godsend in my life. Not only can I eat cereal again, (yay!), but it was a delicious way to fuel yourself while breastfeeding.
Here are just a few of my favorite healthy recipes for nursing parents.
1. Pumpkin Almond Milk Smoothie
I love Autumn, it is my favorite season. The flavors and scents are wonderful. And, to be completely honest… I secretly LOVE pumpkin everything. Other than hot and spicy fried chicken wings, pumpkin pie was one of the biggest cravings I had while I was pregnant. So naturally, when I found this pumpkin smoothie recipe that also contains almond milk, I had to try it. I was not disappointed.
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 tablespoon agave syrup or honey or maple syrup to taste
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves
- crushed ice optional
- Put all ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth.
- Serve immediately.
- Garnish Pumpkin Almond Milk Smoothie with some crushed graham crackers and a dash of cinnamon or pumpkin spice (optional).
Yum! See the recipe here.
2. Vanilla overnight oats
I found overnight oats with almond milk to be an easy to make and versatile snack option while nursing my son. Almond milk and oats are both rich sources of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. After a night in the fridge, the oats will be nice and soft, making this the perfect meal for those early morning feeding sessions with your baby. There are many variations for overnight oats recipes included below.
Overnight Oats With Almond Milk Base Recipe
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ¾ cup almond milk
- 1 tablespoon sweetener
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup grated apple
- 1 tablespoon flax seeds
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ banana, mashed
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup blueberries
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons raspberry chia jam
- ½ cup fresh or frozen strawberries
- 2 tablespoons almond yogurt
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- Mix the ingredients in a small cup, bowl or mason jar.
- Stir well so the oats are fully combined with the mix-ins.
- Transfer to an airtight container and keep the container in the fridge for a minimum of 12 hours so the oats can fully soak.
- The next day, stir the oatmeal and serve hot or cold.
- Overnight oats can be warmed on the stovetop for 3 minutes or heated in the microwave for a minute.
- If necessary, add a splash of almond milk to loosen the consistency, and garnish with your choice of toppings.
- To maintain freshness, store the oatmeal mixture in an airtight sealed container.
- Overnight oats will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
So many options! See the recipe here.
3. Oatmeal Protein Bites, aka: power balls, lactation bites or protein bites
This oatmeal protein bites recipe is simple to make and they are easy to take with you on-the-go. You can simply pop a few of these in a small bag or container. What could be a better healthy snack for nursing parents? There are several variations of this recipe, which I have included.
- Creamy Peanut Butter: Helps to bind the energy bites together. You can also use your favorite nut butter as well.
- Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips: I love using mini chocolate chips if I have them on hand. Dark chocolate chunks are also amazing in this.
- Old Fashioned Oats: I prefer to use old fashioned oats or rolled oats in this recipe. I would not recommend making these with steel cut oats or instant oats.
- Ground Flax Seed: Adds a boost of fiber and nutrients. If you don’t have flax seed on hand substitute hemp seed, chia seed or add extra old fashioned oats.
- Honey: Adds the perfect amount of sweetness to these energy balls.
- Combine all 5 ingredients in a medium bowl.
- Stir to combine.
- Place in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes so they are easier to roll.
- Roll into 12 bites and store in the fridge for up to a week.
- Can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months
- Always try rolling the bites after they have been refrigerated. This makes rolling them so much easier.
- If you are still having trouble rolling them try wetting your hands or adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of water to the mixture.
- Instead of rolling out into balls the mixture can be placed in a square baking dish lined with parchment paper.
- Refrigerate and cut to make no-bake bars.
- Dark Chocolate Chips
- Shredded Coconut
- Chopped Walnuts, Pecans or Almonds
- Cocoa Powder
Easy for on-the go-snacking! See the recipe here.
4. Antipasto kabobs with Rustic Basil Sauce
Not only are kabobs fun to eat, they are also fun to make. These antipasto kabobs are a portable charcuterie board, packed with protein. This is an easy to make, healthy snack for nursing parents. Since this is a flexible recipe, you can create kabobs with your favorite ingredients. They can be stored in the fridge or taken with you.
- 12 cherry tomatoes
- 12 marinated artichoke hearts – halved
- 24 slices salami – folded in half, then in half again
- 1/2 loaf crusty Italian bread – cut into 1-inch cubes, brushed with olive oil and toasted or grilled (omit for lower carb option)
- 24 mini mozzarella balls
- 12 1- inch chunks roasted bell peppers
- 12 pitted marinated olives
- 12 wooden 12-inch skewers
- Layer ingredients on kebabs and refrigerate until needed.
Rustic Basil Sauce
- 1 c. loosely packed fresh basil
- cilantro (small handful or up to one bunch based on your preference)
- 1 clove garlic
- pinch salt and pepper
- 2-3 tbsp. olive oil – more if needed
- To make the sauce, mince basil and cilantro or process in a small food processor.
- Mix in salt, pepper and olive oil until a sauce forms.
- Using a pastry brush, brush over the mozzarella (and bread or pasta if using).
- Serve immediately.
Protein packed snacking! See the recipe here.
5. Veggie (or create your own) Egg Muffins
Another protein-packed healthy meal for nursing parents is Veggie egg muffins. While eggs are a high protein, whole food snack, they aren’t exactly easy for on-the-go snacking. Sunny side up? I don’t think so. I have made several variations of these recipes including meat lovers, western style, with cheese. Keep things fun and create new ways to try these veggie egg muffins.
- 3 cups mixed vegetables broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, spinach etc
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 12 large eggs
- ¼ cup milk
- ½ teaspoon black pepper & salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
- 3 tablespoons onion minced
- 1 cup cheddar cheese
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Chop vegetables and cook in 1 teaspoon of oil until tender crisp or excess liquid is removed. Cool.
- Spray a muffin tin very well with cooking spray.
- Divide the vegetables, onion, and cheeses over 12 wells.
- In a large bowl combine eggs, milk, and seasonings. Mix well.
- Pour eggs evenly over each well. Bake 22-25 minutes or until set.
- Remove from cups and serve warm or let cool completely and refrigerate/freeze.
How long will the egg muffins last?
Egg muffins generally last about 5 days in the refrigerator (a little less if you add sausage to the recipe). They may also be frozen and reheated.
How do you reheat egg muffins?
To reheat egg muffins, you can pop them into the microwave or you can reheat them in the oven, which I prefer.
Microwave reheat directions
- Place refrigerated egg muffins on a plate and microwave for about 30 seconds; if frozen, microwave 45-60seconds
- They may release a little bit of liquid, this is normal.
- Microwaves can vary so you may need to adjust the cooking time slightly.
Easy to make and take, or freeze for later. See the recipe here.
In conclusion, nursing can make you hungry and increase your caloric needs. So, it’s important to plan ahead. Stocking up on healthy foods, and keeping satisfying meals and snacks on hand, will make it easy to nourish your body as you nourish your baby.
By: Alisha Vought
Also, check out 5 Postpartum Nutrition Tips From a Certified Nutrition Coach.