Eating for fertility: tips, ingredients, recipes and more

Adriana Urbina is an In The Know cooking contributor. Follow her on Instagram and visit her website for more.

If you want to get pregnant, it is very important to start focusing on your health at least three months before you start trying. Your own health is key to improving your chances of conceiving because you may need longer to get your body ready to have a baby if you have health conditions that could affect a pregnancy.

Make sure to go to your doctor for a full check-up. Talk about any pre-existing conditions, any medications you’re taking and any previous pregnancy complications you may have had. They will talk you through the safest choices for your specific circumstances, and chances are they’ll advise you to start taking a multivitamin supplement with folic acid in it.

Nutrition plays a huge role when it comes to improving your chances of getting pregnant and avoiding any pre- or post-pregnancy complications. Surprisingly, you’re more likely to have health problems during pregnancy if you’re either overweight or underweight. These potential health problems include premature birth, diabetes, high blood pressure or congenital disabilities, so make sure to talk to your provider about this as well so that they can advise you accordingly. 

You can start by focusing on eating real, whole, nutrient-dense foods in their most natural state, plus lots of healthy fats and foods that contain folic acid. Also, don’t forget to hydrate at least with three liters of water per day, exercise or walk 30 minutes per day to reduce your cortisol levels and try to reduce your intake of both alcohol and caffeine. The journey to getting pregnant can get a little overwhelming, so I’m leaving you with a sample menu that can help optimize your diet for fertility. It’s always important to start any major journey with small, consistent and achievable goals — so why not start with what you eat day-to-day?

Foods and ingredients to emphasize in your diet:

Organic grass-fed proteins 

Healthy fats 

  • Avocados 
  • Salmon 
  • Walnuts 
  • Olive oil 
  • Complex carbohydrates 
  • Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables

Foods that contain folic acid: 

  • Dark, leafy vegetables (turnip greens, spinach, romaine lettuce, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli) 
  • Beans
  • Peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Fresh fruit, fruit juice
  • Whole grains
  • Liver
  • Seafood

A High-Protein Breakfast: Blueberry Pancakes 

Makes 6-8 pancakes 

Credit: Adriana Urbina

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole eggs + 1 white 
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds 
  • 1 teaspoon flax seeds
  • ⅓ cup oats 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1 ripe banana 
  • Olive oil spray
  • 2 tablespoons blueberries (for topping) 
  • Greek yogurt (optional) 
  • Syrup (optional)

Instructions:

1. Add oats, banana, eggs, chia seeds, flaxseeds and cinnamon into a blender and blend well. If the mixture is still a bit runny, add the extra tablespoon of oats, as the final mixture should be reasonably thick. 
2. Heat the frying pan until hot and add spray on some olive oil. Pour the mixture into the hot pan to form six little pancakes. 
3. Cook on one side until the tops start to bubble, flip over carefully and cook for an extra 30 to 60 seconds — don’t let them dry out! 
4. Place cooked pancakes on a plate and set aside. Pour the blueberries onto the hot pan with a teaspoon of water and cook until soft. Turn the heat off. 
5. Place a dollop of Greek yogurt on top of the pancakes, then add the berries and maple syrup.

Mid-Morning Snack: Green Smoothie 

If you’re hungry before lunchtime, opt for a smoothie, which is packed with healthy fats, greens and energizing superfoods! 

Ingredients: 

  • ½ organic avocado 
  • ½ cup organic coconut milk (try to get one without guar gum!) 
  • ½ banana 
  • 1 teaspoon of local raw honey 
  • ½ cup of mixed organic berries 
  • ½ cup of coconut water 
  • 1 tablespoon of spirulina powder 
  • ½ cup of cooked beets 

Instructions: 

  1. Add ingredients to the blender and blend until emulsified.
  2. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Nutrient-Dense Lunch: Stuffed Sweet Potatoes 

This recipe might sound unusual, but it is truly addictive. Complex carbs, omega-rich salmon, plus nutritious yogurt and veggies make for a balanced meal that won’t weigh you down. 

Ingredients: 

  • 4-6 ounce wild-caught salmon 
  • Avocado oil
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 ounce olives 
  • ½ ounce capers 
  • 2 tablespoon Greek yogurt 
  • 1 sweet potato 
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt 

Instructions: 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
2. Coat salmon in avocado oil and salt and place skin-side down on a parchment paper-lined baking tray.
3. Coat sweet potato in olive oil.
4. Place the salmon tray in the oven and cook for 15-18 minutes.
5. Take salmon out of the oven and swap it out with the sweet potato. Cook it for about 45 minutes, flipping it over halfway through.
6. Combine all other ingredients (olives, capers, Greek yogurt) and add the salmon once it cools. 
7. Scoop salmon salad onto baked sweet potato as you enjoy!

Mid-Afternoon Snack 

  • Medjool dates with 1 teaspoon of peanut butter and flaky salt
  • Berries with sprinkled chia seeds on top
  • Almond butter with an organic apple
  • High-protein yogurt with walnuts and seeds 

Delicious Dinner: Protein & Root Veggies 

Ingredients: 

  • Your preferred protein — animal- or vegetable-based both work!
  • 1 cup seasonal root vegetables (I like to leave the skin on!) 
  • 1 cup trimmed and halved Brussels sprouts 
  • 3 tablespoons of ghee or organic butter 
  • Salt to taste 

Instructions: 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees 
2. Heat up a cast iron or stainless-steel skillet, then add 2 tablespoons of ghee or butter
3. Salt Brussels sprouts and root vegetables generously and sear in the pan until browned on both sides 
4. Move vegetables into oven for 20-25 minutes (flip halfway through) 
5. Heat up a second cast iron or stainless-steel skillet, then add 1 tablespoon of butter or ghee and cook your preferred protein
6. Season with salt and sear each side until browned. 
7. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving all together

Evening Snack: Liver Pate 

Liver pate is wildly nourishing. Try it paired with raw or fermented veggies for a late-night snack that’s easy to digest but still satisfying. 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 pound pasture-raised chicken liver or 1 pound grass-fed calf liver 
  • ½ cup of raw milk cream (or grass-fed cream) 
  • 1 medium onion 
  • 3 teaspoons fresh Italian herbs (rosemary or thyme work well) 
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms 
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt 
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 
  • ¼ cup of ghee 
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic 

Instructions:

1. Heat up a cast iron or stainless-steel skillet, then add duck fat 
2. Add garlic and onion to the pan 
3. Once the onion is slightly translucent, add mushrooms, liver, salt and herbs 
4. Move everything to the blender and use vinegar and milk to deglaze the pan, then add contents to the blender
5. Pulse until a paste forms 
6. Refrigerate or freeze until ready for use
7. Serve with cucumbers, sauerkraut or preferred veggies

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