The Role of Red Meat in Pregnancy and Childhood

When I was expecting Elsi, I was advised by the midwife to eat one steak a week to increase my iron levels and as it was good for the baby, I felt an instant boost after eating it and as I love steak anyway, it was hardly a chore! As as result, I include red meat in our family meals on a weekly basis.

One Mam who knows a lot more than I do about the benefits of red meat is Elwen Roberts, Consumer Executive for Meat Promotion Wales. In this article she shares her experience and expertise and there’s also a lovely (and easy) recipe for the whole family to enjoy!

I have worked in the red meat sector for twenty years and have a passion for good, home-cooked food. This grew in importance when I became a mum to two girls who have now flown the nest and are pursuing their own passion and interests.

I don’t have time to dwell on the fact that the family home is much quieter than it used to be, as my role with Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) keeps me busy! In recent weeks I’ve worked in Cardiff, creating and styling new red meat recipes with a professional photographer; I’ve led cooking demonstrations with a major retailer on the outskirts of London; and soon, I’ll be heading to Milan to work in a major trade show – all in the name of Welsh Lamb, Welsh Beef and pork from Wales.

What’s the role of red meat?

At HCC, red meat is promoted as part of a healthy, balanced diet for people of all ages. No single food contains all the nutrients we need for good health, so it’s important to eat a wide variety of different foods. Lean red meat is an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals, including protein, iron and zinc.

Pregnancy, infant hood and childhood are life stages where good nutrition can make all the difference. So, where does red meat, including lamb, beef and pork fit into this?

Good nutrition in pregnancy and infant hood

From conception to birth, a woman is responsible for her baby’s nutrition, which is why it’s important to have a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals. Several of the nutrients required for a healthy pregnancy are found in red meat. These include iodine, which supports fetal brain development; iron which contributes towards cognitive function and a reduction in tiredness and fatigue; and Vitamin D, which is essential for bone development.

Studies suggest that including meat in infants’ diets is associated with better health outcomes. Experts recommend that babies are introduced to solids around the age of 6 months and if this advice is followed, there’s no need to delay offering red meat as it’s a valuable source of nutrients required for normal growth and development. Try blitzing it in your baby food and introduce it in small amounts with plenty of veggies, beans and pulses.

How much red meat?

 For infants, include 2-3 tablespoons of stewed minced beef, pork or lamb with main meals once or twice a day. Remember not to add salt. Portion sizes and textures can increase gradually with age. In older children, it is recommended that the NHS’ Eat Well Guide is followed and that healthy cooking options are used.

Lean red meat can be enjoyed in so many ways. It’s typically associated with a Sunday roast, but there are loads of versatile cuts that can be cooked quickly to suit busy working parents who want to ensure that the family is fed a nutritious meal during the week.

Take a look at our website which includes hundreds of fantastic dishes from stir-fries, to stakes, and curries to kebabs.

Scrumptious Welsh Lamb crumble

It was always a firm favourite in our house and brings back happy memories of family mealtimes!


  • 450g (1lb) lean minced Welsh Lamb (alternatively, try Welsh Beef mince)
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped up into small pieces
  • 30ml (2tbsp) plain flour
  • 300ml (1/2pt) lamb or vegetable stock
  • 15ml (1tbsp) tomato puree
  • 5ml (1tsp) dried mixed herbs
  • a little ground black pepper
  • 150g (6oz) plain flour
  • 75g (3oz) butter, cubed
  • 50g (2oz) oats
  • 50g (2oz) grated cheddar cheese


  1. Pre-heat your oven to Gas mark 5/190°C.
  2. Place the mince in a non-stick saucepan and dry fry for 5-6 minutes until browned.
  3. Add the onion and carrots and continue frying for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the flour and stir in well, then slowly add all the stock, tomato puree, herbs and black pepper. Bring to the boil and stir until thickened.
  5. Pour the mince mixture into an ovenproof dish.
  6. Make the crumble by putting the flour in a bowl, add the butter and rub in the flour. It should look like breadcrumbs.
  7. Then add the cheese and oats, mix well and spoon the crumble over the mince mixture.
  8. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 25 mins until it’s a golden colour and crispy. This is lovely served with loads of green veg.

Mam Cymru would like to thank Elwen for sharing her expertise and her lovely recipe. I will certainly be trying out this lamb crumble! If you have any recipes to share with us, email them to

By Heulwen Davies. Mam Cymru


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