Guest blogger JJ Virgin: These days, it's common sense to take care of yourself during pregnancy by eating healthily and exercising. But some aspiring mothers don't know that it's just as important to prepare your body for baby before conceiving in the first place!
A few months in advance of conception, start exercising and eating well, and cut out tobacco and alcohol in order to provide your baby with the best beginning to a healthful life. Nutritionally, you should focus on consuming dark leafy greens, grains, poultry, legumes, fish and foods
rich in vitamin C, calcium and fiber (fiber helps detoxify stored toxins so you don't offload them to your baby). Here are some easy and healthy pre-conception recipes
Collard Greens: Collards are incredibly high in calcium. A staple food of the South, they're pretty tasty, too! Wash and chop 12 cups of collard greens. Set aside. Cook 5 pieces of turkey bacon in a skillet until crisp; remove from pan. Chop up a Vidalia onion and saute in the same skillet until onion is translucent, adding a little olive oil if needed. Add the greens to the skillet and stir to coat. Cover and cook 5 to 10 minutes over medium heat until greens are soft but still bright green. Sprinkle the collards with a little salt and pepper, a splash of red wine vinegar and a dash of hot sauce. Add the crumbled turkey bacon and mix together.
Spicy Salsa: Chop up 5 green, skinned chilies, 1 red onion, a couple sprigs of cilantro, 2 jalapenos, 4 tomatoes and 2 garlic cloves. Add a tablespoon of lime juice and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Let everything sit for at least an hour, so all of the flavors can marinate together. Mix the salsa with brown rice. The result is a delicious concoction that packs some vitamin C punch!
Go-to Fresh Fruits: Cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi, tomatoes, oranges, red peppers and guava all contain high concentrations of vitamin C. Chop 'em up and snack away!
Boil 2 cups of green lentils in 7 cups of water along with 2 vegetable bouillon cubes, 1 diced onion, 2 diced carrots, 4 chopped garlic cloves, 2 diced celery ribs, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon basil, Ā½ teaspoon rosemary and 3 bay leaves for 1 hour. Add 14.5 ounces of crushed tomatoes, a pinch of salt and pepper and 1/8 teaspoon of hickory salt, and cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Pour 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar into the soup just before serving.
Celebrity nutrition and fitness expert JJ Virgin is the author of "Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy" and the costar of TLC's "Freaky Eaters" reality series. Visit her at jjvirgin.com to grab her free audio, "7 Steps to Break Your 'Freaky' Food Habits Fast & Forever."