Matt & I are expecting our first child in August. A baby girl. A daughter whose reality feels as unknown as the other side of death. Parenthood, for me, is an ineffable mystery that I can’t pretend to know anything about until I myself experience it. Right now all I know is what 16 weeks with a child growing inside me feels like. And I love it. I feel the first flutters of quickening, and my eyes have traced her delicate bird bones on the ultra sound screen—eye sockets, femurs, tiny toes. Whenever we see her, Matt cries with joy. I’m more reserved. If his emotions are like the lapping surface of the ocean, mine are more like a subterranean lake, some antediluvian cavern churning with bizarre life far beneath the surface in inky blackness. Quiet as a tomb but so alive.
Every choice I make from what I eat to what worries I indulge are imbued with a significance I could have never imagined. I’ve gone from a diet heavy in pie to a diet heavy in pulses (dry peas, lentils, beans, chickpeas) over night. I was always moderately healthy, but my pregnancy diet is a new world of whole foods, and it’s a diet I hope to continue for life and a journey I’m excited to share.
In my limited experience, there’s nothing like the knowledge that you’re bringing a child into the world to encourage you to look at yourself. From my psychological make up to my eating habits, I’ve started examining, because we, her parents, we’re the legacy she gets. I don’t know if I want her to inherit my subterranean lake or my penchant for microwaving tortillas with shredded cheese in them when I’m stressed. And so, in every way since the day I found out, I’ve tried to make healthier choices and examine the status quo of me. I’m striving to feel more, be vulnerable, soothe my anxiety, let go of the need for everyone I encounter to understand & like me (cause lord knows they don’t), practice yoga again (instead of just wearing yoga pants), and eat even more whole foods that meet the high nutritional requirements of my body & baby while we grow together.
Since 2016 is the International Year of Pulses and because they’ve been one of the main protein sources in my diet (they have double that of quinoa!) as well as my go-to source for vital pregnancy nutrients like folate, iron, and zinc—this post is devoted to the world of pulses. I choose them for my every day diet because they contain loads of other nutrients like potassium, fiber (mamas to be, you want this), antioxidants, magnesium, and vitamin B; are heart healthy; and because they’re a water-efficient, sustainable source of protein. All of that and they’re far more affordable for everyday eating than sustainable meat. I look at the latter as a treat, the former as daily sustenance. Treating my body well, helping the planet, and saving money. All very baby-on -the-way friendly. That said, if I didn’t love eating them, nothing in the world could convince me. I’m a hopeless bon vivant at heart, and the visceral pleasures of this life are just as important to me as anything. I feel as much joy (different but as much) eating this chickpea salad or a lentil stew as I ever do a steak. And admittedly better afterwards.
So the backbones of this new found diet are pulses (I love lentils & chickpeas but am exploring them all!), whole grains, and dark + leafy greens. Combined with a whole grain or quinoa like I have here, you get a complete protein containing all of the amino acids you need just like meat. You don’t even have to eat them at the same time to get the benefits of a complete protein: consuming pulses and whole grains in the same day will meet your body’s needs for that day. And since I’m not vegan, the addition of eggs to this really sky rockets the protein, but it would be great without them for the vegan cooks & mamas out there. If you’d like to join me in taking the Pulse Pledge, a simple commitment to eating pulses once a week for ten weeks to help start a global food revolution, you can learn more and take the pledge here! Can’t wait to share my lentil + collard stew and my secret recipe for black-eyed pea hoppin’ john…
This superfood salad of chickpeas, avocado, and quinoa is a one of my pregnancy go to's because it's rich in protein, healthy fats, folate, fiber, iron, and so much more! And it's easy to make a big batch of chickpeas for the week to use in all kinds of healthy recipes. Don't forget to soak them the night before!
- 1 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans), soaked overnight (or 1 organic, low sodium can drained & rinsded in a pinch but dried is highly preferable)
- 2 cups cooked quinoa (3/4 cup well-rinsed uncooked + 1.5 cups water + 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt)
- 5 soft boiled quail egg halved (2.5 minutes in boiling water) or 4 soft boiled chicken eggs quartered (6 minutes in boiling water)
- juice of one meyer lemon (or regular lemon)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white miso paste
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/8 teaspoons cayenne
- 1/8 teaspoon cumin
- 1 ripe avocado, diced
- 4-6 scallions, sliced thinly
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh, course ground coriander
- sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
- You will want to soak your chickpeas the night before you intend to make them. My tip is to soak and cook more than you need for the recipe and refrigerate or freeze the rest.
- When ready to cook your chickpeas, drain them, place them in a large pot and cover with a good few inches of water. Do not salt the water as this can make them less tender.
- Bring the pot to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook 1 hour to 1.5 hours or until tender. (I cook longer for hummus, less long for soups, salads, etc.)
- Drain and cool the cooked beans. You can store them in a ziplock or other container for 3-4 days in the fridge or in the freezer (pat dry, freeze in single layer on parchment lined sheet tray for 30 min, then bag) for one year!
- While the chickpeas cook, cook the quinoa if you haven't already (can be made the day before) by bringing it to a boil with the water and salt, reducing to a simmer, covering, and cooking for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let sit covered for another 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
- Make your dressing while the grains and beans cook. In a bowl combine the miso, lemon juice, honey, olive oil, cumin, and cayenne.
- In a mixing bowl combine the cooked chickpeas, quinoa, and avocado. Toss with the dressing to thoroughly combine, being careful to not be too rough with the avocado. Toss with the scallions and coriander seed. Top with eggs and salt & pepper to taste. Love this with a glass of kombucha or green juice alongside it for the perfect fresh lunch!
When boiling the eggs, don't start them in cold water. Put them directly in boiling water and once their time is up, place them in an ice bath to prevent them from cooking further and to make for easy peeling!
A big thanks to USAPulses & Pulse Canada for partnering with us for this post & for helping raise awareness about the benefits of more pulses in our diets!