The first recommendation I received when trying to get pregnant was ‘take folic acid’. This vitamin is a much prescribed and raved about supplement that helps prevent neural tube and developmental defects in (unborn) babies. Now dear mama’s or mama’s-to-be, this part must sound quite familiar, as it is so commonly prescribed. But what you perhaps haven’t heard is the option of taking this vitamin in its natural form.
We as humans are designed to digest and metabolize nutrients in their natural shape and occurrence. To be more precise, a food has a specific combination of nutrients that makes it balanced and optimal to digest and use. The potassium in sea vegetables balance the sodium and thus prevent it from raising your blood pressure. Yet sodium consumed by itself raises blood pressure quite rapidly. You see how a plant food, in all its glory, is naturally constructed to keep you leveled and healthy. There are no side effects and there’s not a chance of overdosing either.
Most folic acid supplements on the other hand (also those added to foods) are synthetic. This means they are artificial and have been created and designed in a laboratory. This synthetic form is metabolized differently than the natural form, which makes it more likely to get an overdose. Several studies have reported health issues related to the intake of the synthetic form of folic acid. Knowing this, it seems logical and extremely smart to get the nutrients you need from real food instead or artificial pills.
There are a lot of amazingly tasty plants that contain high amounts of the natural form of folic acid, called folate. Asparagus, spinach, black beans and chickpeas all have bucket-loads of it but lentils are most dense when it comes to this particular nutrient. One cup of cooked lentils will provide you with almost the full amount of your recommended daily intake!
So what do you need to eat to get all the folate you (plus your baby to be) need? One avocado will provide you with almost half. Have a green juice with it and a bit of (homemade) hummus and you’ll be set for the day. Or have a large bowl of dal and reach the 100% RDI in one gulp! It is really not that difficult to get what you need from real food instead of pills.
Now let’s get cooking and see what that ‘natural pill’ looks and tastes like! Todays recipe will provide you with ALL of the required folate plus opulent sums of mouthwatering gusto.
In case of severe and extended nausea it might be needed to temporarily use a supplement. In that case go for the natural variety, the folate metafolin supplement and stay away from the synthetic folic acid ones. It might be a tad more difficult to find but the virtual world makes natural options accessible to all.
‘A plant food, in all its glory, is naturally constructed to keep you leveled and healthy. There are no side effects and there’s not a chance of overdosing either.’
Sotta la pergola salad
Makes 4 portions
Takes 30 minutes (+pickling)
140 grams daikon (or radish)
Apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dried dill
8 hands beluga lentils
Water for cooking
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 hands arugula
20 kalamata olives, in rings
Fennel pistachio pesto
50 grams fennel
50 grams pistachios, no shell, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes
2 large tsp (6 grams) fresh thyme
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 small cloves of garlic, puffed or fried
4 small pinches of sea salt
Optional: fresh lemon juice to taste
Slice daikon finely, place in bowl and top with apple cider vinegar. Add dill. Let marinate for 60 minutes or so. Cook beluga lentils for 20 minutes at a low fire (no lid) covered by water. Turn heat off, place lid on and let sit for another 5 minutes. Strain and flavour using olive oil, sea salt and pepper. When the lentils are fully cooled, add arugula and rings of kalamata olive. Make a fennel pistachio pesto by blitzing all the ingredients named under pesto in food processor. Add pesto to the lentil salad. Strain daikon and add to the rest. Mix and serve.
*Sotta la pergola means under the pergola so feel free to head outdoors and take time to share this beautiful nutrient and taste dense salad with known and unkown friendly folk.