Hey mamas-to-be, I have amazing news for you. Did you know that even before your baby is born, you can influence your little one’s food preferences? At their 7-month gestation mark, your baby’s taste buds are fully developed. What you eat flavors the amniotic fluid and is enjoyed (or not!) by your growing baby.  Research has proven that once your baby is born, they remember those first flavors they tasted in utero.

Here is some evidence:

  • Pregnant women in their third trimester were divided into two groups where one group received a dose of daily carrot juice while the control group drank water.  Six months after their babies were born and able to eat solids, researchers offered the babies plain cereal or carrot infused cereal. Not only did the carrot-exposed babies eat more cereal when mixed with carrots, they also appeared to enjoy it more compared to the plain cereal (per facial expression observation).  Their uterine experience persisted, and mom’s healthy choice influenced her mini-me.

I am now halfway through my 7th month of pregnancy, and am embracing the cooler St. Louis temperatures. There is something about the first crisp day that sends me straight to the coffee shop for a pumpkin latte.  On an even healthier note, I also seek out canned pumpkin to pump fall flavor into my favorite foods. Who decided to hide canned pumpkin in the baking aisle vs. the canned vegetable aisle anyway? Don’t they know that canned pumpkin can play a much bigger role than its star part in pie?

While whole pumpkins can be easily roasted in the oven and incorporated into any recipe (see the Thai Pumpkin & Sweet Potato Soup recipe below), let’s hit the easy button, and be grateful for its canned version. One half cup of canned pumpkin has a mere 40 calories, yet packs in 3.5 grams of fiber, a fatigue busting dose of iron and eye protective carotenoids.

Both baby and I are now reaping the flavors and nutrients of pumpkin on a daily basis. I stir several tablespoons of canned pumpkin into oatmeal, vanilla yogurt, or smoothies with a dash of pumpkin pie spice.

Beyond these simple additions, here are several other pumpkin-based recipes that are current family favorites in the McDaniel home:

Pumpkin, Zucchini & Chocolate Chip Muffins – Very little fat, LOTS of flavor in these mini-muffins!

Thai Pumpkin & Sweet Potato Soup – In this recipe, I show you how you can roast a whole pumpkin (quite easily!)

Pumpkin & ricotta pancakes  Fantastic way to pack protein in to morning pancakes

Pumpkin enchiladas: Skip the fat-free cheese in this recipe and go with “light.” The slight calorie difference makes a HUGE difference in taste and texture!

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.