Recipes for optimal breastfeeding nutrition

Posted on December 5th, 2013

Breastfeeding can take quite a toll on your body, so it’s important to stay healthy. Nutrition expert, Annabel Karmel, gives her advice on the optimum breastfeeding diet – for you and Baby.

If you are able to breastfeed, it’s important to maintain a good food and fluid intake, particularly in the first few weeks of breastfeeding, in order to help with your milk supply.

Be aware of food allergies while breastfeeding. Your baby might be at a higher risk of developing a peanut allergy if there’s a history of allergies in your family (such as hay fever, asthma, eczema, or a food allergy). If your baby is in the high-risk group then you may be advised to avoid peanuts during breastfeeding, although there are some studies that suggest that peanut allergies may actually be prevented if children are exposed to peanuts during weaning.

Foods you should and shouldn’t eat while breastfeeding

  • Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt are important as they’re rich in calcium. Both energy and nutrient levels are higher during breastfeeding than in pregnancy so both protein and calcium requirements increase.
  • Eat red meat or other sources of iron as many mothers are deficient in iron. If you’re a vegetarian you can get iron from green leafy vegetables such as spinach or a variety of pulses, however you need to have vitamin C with these foods in order to absorb the iron more easily, for example a glass of orange juice.
  • Oily fish should still be eaten after pregnancy, as it’s good for the development of your baby’s brain and vision, but again, no more than two portions a week is what’s recommended, as these fish contain tiny amounts of pollutants, some of which can be passed into your breast milk. It’s fine to eat as much white fish as you like.
  • Wholegrain and high fibre or starchy foods such as breads, pasta or breakfast cereals are good for helping prevent bowel problems such as constipation (which many women experience after childbirth).
  • It’s important to have a good intake of fruit and vegetables, especially those rich in vitamin C such as kiwi fruit, strawberries, and broccoli, as these help boost iron absorption.



Honey and soy toasted seeds

Pack this nutritious snack in individual portion bags that you can grab whenever you’re feeling peckish. These seeds will provide you with fibre, omega-3’s and vitamins A and E.


  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 75g pumpkin seeds
  • 75g sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce


  1. Heat the sunflower oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the pumpkin and sunflower seeds and cook, stirring constantly for about two minutes until the seeds are lightly browned.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the honey and soy sauce. Return to the heat for one minute. Spread out on a non-stick baking tray and leave to cool. When cold, store in an airtight container.

Chicken, Broccoli and Mange Tout Pasta Salad

*Makes 2 portions


  • 110g pasta spirals
  • 55g small broccoli florets
  • 30g mange tout, cut into matchsticks
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • ½tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp clear honey
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 110g cooked chicken, thinly sliced
  • 30g (handful) pumpkin seeds


  1. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions, adding the broccoli two minutes before the end of the cooking time, and the mange tout one minute before the end of the cooking time. Drain and immediately rinse well with cold water. Drain well.
  2. Whisk the oils, vinegar, honey and soy sauce together in a large bowl. Add the pasta and vegetables, and toss to coat. Cover, and refrigerate until needed.
  3. Just before serving, add the chicken and toss again, then sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the salad.

Frittata Provencal

*Makes 3–4 portions

A flat omelette bolstered with a delicious mixture of vegetables makes a lovely quick lunch or light supper. This works with a combination of most vegetables, so you can play about with it. This omelette is also good cold, so keep leftovers in the fridge for whenever you need a quick snack.


  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves, chopped (or other herbs such as chives, parsley, tarragon)
  • 4 tbsp crème fraîche (or double cream)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium courgette, thinly sliced (approx 125g)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 or 4 new potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 110g Gruyere, grated
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan


  1. To cook the potatoes, place them in boiling salted water for about 12 minutes, or until just tender. When cool, cut them into slices and set aside.
  2. Beat the eggs in a jug with the thyme and crème fraîche. Season well and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a medium, non-stick frying pan and sauté the onion, pepper and courgette for 8–10 minutes, until just soft. Add the garlic and potatoes and cook for a further minute.
  4. 4. Pour in the eggs and cook the frittata for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Leave it to cook for a further four to five minutes, until the frittata is just set underneath, but still wobbly on top. Meanwhile, preheat the grill to high.
  5. Scatter the cheese over the frittata and grill for two to four minutes, until the cheese is golden and bubbly and the frittata has set. Remove from the grill and leave to stand for five minutes.
  6. Loosen the frittata from the pan using a spatula, then slide out onto a large plate. Cut into wedges, and serve.

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