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…
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!