6 Recipes to Satisfy Your Pregnancy Cravings

By Laura Scholz
Reviewed by Alyssa Quimby, M.D.
February 16, 2024

Are you pregnant and craving the bracing saltiness of a pickle or the crumby sweetness of a glazed donut? That’s perfectly normal, says E.J. Aspuru, M.D., an ob-gyn at Northside/Northpoint OB-GYN in Sandy Springs, Georgia. He attributes many pregnancy food cravings to hormone-altered taste buds.

“People might need extra salt or sugar to experience the same flavor intensity as they did before,” Aspuru says. Which is why you may find yourself making extra trips to get frozen yogurt or seeking out super salty foods like anchovies, which Tamar Samuels, a registered dietitian in New York City and co-founder of Culina Health, consumed regularly during her pregnancy.

Balancing Pregnancy Cravings with Nutrition

Typically, cravings are a natural part of pregnancy, but sometimes they signal that your eating habits could use improvement. For example, if you constantly crave sweets, artificially sweetened food and drinks might be to blame. “Sometimes, people use all these sugar substitutes to avoid gestational diabetes, but they aren’t necessarily healthy and can make you crave foods with sugar in them,” Aspuru says. There’s also no data showing that avoiding sugar will keep you from getting gestational diabetes.

He suggests switching to natural sweeteners like agave nectar and getting sugar from natural sources like berries. Add them to low-fat Greek yogurt for a satisfying snack that delivers both protein and calcium—two key nutrients for supporting a healthy pregnancy.

“Protein during pregnancy activates amino acid response pathways and is important for brain and tissue development in the baby,” explains Aspuru, who recommends that pregnant people consume 70 to 75 grams of protein per day via Greek yogurt, lean meat, fish, eggs, or plant-based sources like tofu, nuts, and beans.

He also says that expectant parents should get 1,000 milligrams of daily calcium, which is responsible for building healthy teeth and bones, and 27 milligrams of iron, which is necessary for hemoglobin to carry oxygen to growing cells in both you and your baby.

To ensure that you get sufficient iron and avoid anemia, Aspuru recommends upping your intake of leafy green vegetables, like kale and broccoli, as well as red meat, beans and peas, berries, and tomatoes.

And while the adage “eating for two” is commonplace, Alissa Palladino, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Atlanta, says you really only need to up your caloric intake by 300 to 400 calories a day during pregnancy: the equivalent of a snack or small meal.

Dividing your meals into smaller increments at regular intervals may help prevent the cravings that drive impulsive and unhealthy food choices.

“If you’re eating every three to four hours, you can keep blood sugar steady and never get to the point where you’re all-out hungry,” Palladino says.

6 Healthy Recipes for Pregnancy Cravings

Whether you want something salty or sweet, cold or hot, crunchy or smooth, these recipes created by Pallladino and Samuels can help satisfy common pregnancy cravings while delivering essential nutrients for both you and baby.

1. Peanut Butter-Banana Green Smoothie

peanut butter-banana green smoothie

Samuels created this green smoothie, which is packed with protein and calcium and contains fiber-rich spinach and flax seed, both of which “help to stabilize blood sugar and minimize cravings for sweets,” she says.


1 frozen banana

1 cup baby spinach

1 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon ground flax seed

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 cup almond milk

Instructions: Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Add more almond milk or water if needed. Serve immediately.

2. Veggie Frittata

veggie frittata

This Samuels creation is savory, filling, and high in protein and choline—the latter is an essential nutrient for fetal brain development.


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small sweet potato, chopped

1 shallot, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup kale, chopped

8 eggs

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 375 F.

In a medium-sized skillet over medium, heat the olive oil. Add the sweet potato, shallot, and bell pepper. Cook for about 6 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Add garlic and kale and cook until the kale is wilted. Then, add cooked veggies to a pie dish.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and then pour into the pie dish over the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper on top and then cook approximately 20 minutes, until the top of the frittata is golden and the inside is set. Serve immediately.

3. Easy Greek Salad with Shrimp

greek salad with shrimp

Samuels likes this dish for its high amounts of protein, calcium, and iron. The black olives and feta are nutritionally dense alternatives to salty foods like potato chips, and shrimp deliver additional protein and choline.

Shrimp Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds uncooked extra-large frozen shrimp, cleaned and peeled

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Salad Ingredients:

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon garlic, chopped

2 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Assorted greens

2 large tomatoes, chopped with seeds removed

3/4 cup cucumber, peeled and chopped

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped with seeds removed

1/2 cup black olives, chopped

1/2 cup pasteurized feta cheese, crumbled

Instructions: Set the oven to broil on high and place a baking sheet about 6 inches under the broiler to heat for about 10 minutes.

Rinse the shrimp with cold water in a colander to remove any ice. Then, shake off excess water.

Mix salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and oregano in a bowl; then coat shrimp with spice mixture. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and quickly add the shrimp to it, ensuring they are spaced out in a single layer. Broil shrimp on high for 5 minutes, until they are cooked through and pink. Set aside.

Combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, oregano, salt, and pepper; then toss with vegetables and olives and add feta. Once shrimp are cool, cut into bite-size pieces and combine with the salad. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

4. Plant Protein Power Bowl

plant protein power bowl

Palladino created this spicy plant-based meal for vegetarians and people with animal protein aversions, but anyone can enjoy it. In addition to protein, iron, and folate, the bowl is high in dietary fiber, which “can help manage blood sugar levels while reducing risk for gestational diabetes, preventing constipation, and keeping hunger and cravings in check,” Palladino says. Amp up the protein by adding chicken, fish, tofu, or steak, if you like.


1 cup quinoa, cooked

1/2 cup black beans (rinse if using canned)

1/4 cup Mexican or cotija cheese, shredded (make sure it’s pasteurized)

1/4 cup bell peppers, diced

1/4 cup tomatoes, diced

1/4 cup red onions, diced

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1/2 medium avocado

2 teaspoons lime juice

2 teaspoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: Combine ingredients in a bowl and toss with lime juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

5. DIY Trail Mix

diy trail mix

Palladino created this snack recipe for managing energy levels and cravings. This portable sweet-and-salty trail mix incorporates protein, fiber, folate, choline, and iron.

Servings: 6


1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup dried apricots

1/2 cup peanuts

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 cup Cheerios

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions: Combine all ingredients in an airtight container or large zipper bag. Or divide into single-serving containers or bags for convenience and portion control.

6. Greek Yogurt Parfait

greek yogurt parfait

Palladino likes this recipe for a breakfast or a midday sweet treat. Greek yogurt provides a “powerful package of high-quality protein, calcium, and gut-friendly probiotics,” she says.


1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt

1/2 cup strawberries, sliced

1/2 cup blueberries

2 tablespoon pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon honey

Instructions: Spoon 1/2 cup of yogurt into the bottom of a bowl or mug. Cover with a layer of berries and 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds. Repeat the layers and drizzle with honey. Serve immediately.

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