It can be difficult to create a balanced diet while you’re pregnant. There are so many foods you have to limit or avoid, and you may find yourself struggling to figure out what you can eat now. You need foods that will leave you feeling full and satisfied and meet your nutritional needs. Lentils can be a great option.
What are Lentils?
They are a type of legume that is highly nutritious. They have exceptional amounts of protein, fiber, and vitamins. Because they come in a wide variety of colors and sizes, you won’t get bored of eating them if you try new varieties. They are an economical option, as they are inexpensive, offer high nutritional benefits, and have a long shelf-life. They are appreciated globally as a staple food.
For pregnant women, lentils offer fantastic benefits. They support your growing baby with a plethora of rich nutrients and help you curb your appetite and feel satisfied. The legumes will help prevent digestive problems and keep your intestinal health on track. They can even fight off some pregnancy-related problems and disorders that might have you feeling nervous.
Appropriate consumption of this type of legumes has been linked to reducing the risk of developing anemia, which is common among pregnant women, as the blood volume increases, reducing the density of plasma in the bloodstream. It can help prevent constipation and hemorrhoids, which plague many pregnant women. They also are effective in combating high stress and migraines, due to their content of B vitamins. Your heart benefits as well, as lentils can lower cholesterol and blood pressure and improve circulation, which can be helpful in preventing blood clots.
Lentils contain about 3.3 milligrams of iron, or 38 percent of your daily recommended intake. This can help fight fatigue and blood-related disorders. One-half cup contains about eight grams of fiber and can help keep your digestive system regular. The high amount of protein assists in the growth of your baby’s new muscles, and the high folic acid content helps with the development of new cells. Lentils also contain minerals like magnesium, potassium and amino acids, which are all vital to your and your developing baby’s health.
Safe Consumption During Pregnancy
It is good to be aware of the varieties that are considered safe for pregnancy. Not all types may be recommended for your diet, so check to make sure that you eat one of the following varieties:
- Masoor Dal
- Moong Dal
- Urad Dal
- Toor Dal
- Chick Peas
- Black Eye Peas
- Kidney Beans
Be sure not to eat too much of them, as over-consumption can lead to bloating, gas, or digestive upsets.
Be sure to soak lentils for about three to four hours before cooking. To achieve an ideal texture, do not overcook them. They can be cooked in a pressure cooker quickly to achieve a soft texture. To enhance the absorption of iron, add vitamin C by adding lemon, oranges or tangerines to your dish.
Great Holiday Recipes
Here are some awesome recipes to integrate into your holiday dinner.
- 2 tbsp. oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 carrots, diced
- ¼ tsp. ground cumin
- ¼ tsp. curry powder
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp. paprika
- 1 cup red lentils
- 3.5 cups vegetable stock
- black pepper, to taste
- ½ tsp. dried oregano
- ½ tsp. dried thyme
- 1 cup gluten-free oats
- 3 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
Creamy Tahini Gravy
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- ½ cup tahini
- juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup Good Karma original flax milk
- 1 tsp. salt
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a loaf pan with oil and parchment paper.
- Heat the oil in a large stockpot. Sauté onion, garlic and carrots until softened. Add spices and cook another minute or two more.
- Add the lentils, stock and herbs. Season with black pepper to taste.
- Stirring occasionally, simmer the lentil mixture for 20 minutes or until softened.
- Add the fresh parsley.
- Gradually add the gluten-free oats until the mixture comes together but is still moist.
- Transfer the mixture to the loaf pan and smooth the top.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is crisp and browned.
- Turn the loaf out of the pan and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving with creamy tahini gravy.
Directions for the Creamy Tahini Gravy
- Puree ingredients in a blender until smooth.
- Drizzle over sliced holiday lentil loaf.
- 1 cup lentils
- 5 cups water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
- 1 cup avocado, cut into cubes
- ½ cup red onion, chopped
- ½ cup cilantro leaves
- 10 oz. cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
For the dressing:
- ½ cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- Clean and rinse the lentils, removing all rocks and broken beans. Set aside.
- In a small pot, add the water and salt. Bring to a boil.
- Add cleaned lentils and bring water back to a boil. Place a lid on the pot and lower the heat to low. Simmer for 40 to 45 minutes. You don’t want them to be mushy.
- Remove from heat and drain all the water. Rinse beans under cold water, and then place them in the fridge for an hour to cool completely.
- In a large bowl, mix the feta cheese, avocado, red onion, cilantro leaves and tomatoes.
- Add lentils and mix well to combine all ingredients.
- In a small bowl, whisk the lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Pour dressing over lentils. Mix to combine.
Ingredients (for 1.5 quarts, approximately 9 servings)
- 1 cup dry pardina lentils, rinsed
- 5 cups water
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup wild rice, rinsed
- 2 tbs. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
- 2 tsp. dried sage
- 2 medium potatoes, boiled and mashed
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup whole-wheat bread crumbs
- 3 tbs. balsamic vinegar
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In a medium saucepan, combine lentils, 2 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in another medium saucepan, combine wild rice, 3 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Cover and boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 50 minutes more. Drain and set aside.
- In a medium skillet, cook onions and celery in olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add garlic and sage and cook 1 minute longer. Add potatoes and mix well.
- In a large bowl, combine lentils, wild rice, onion mixture, walnuts, bread crumbs, vinegar, and salt and pepper and mix well. It is ready to stuff into the bird of your choice. Variation: Bake stuffing, covered, in a 350ºF oven for 30 minutes.
Lentils can help you feel full and meet your nutritional goals, which can be difficult to do while pregnant. Make healthy choices for your diet so that you can ensure the best environment for your baby’s growth and for your own health. Some of the disorders of pregnancy are caused by diet and can be prevented through proper research and planning your meals. Make healthy choices for your growing family and be sure to treat yourself to some of the health benefits lentils have to offer.
Related Content: The Role of Protein During Pregnancy
Most women recognize that the foods they eat play a huge part in helping their child to grow in the uterus. The quality and composition of foods eaten during pregnancy is just as important as the amount of food eaten. Protein is particularly useful because it helps to form new cells and build the body of the fetus.