We often crave comfort foods when we’re pregnant. One of my big ones was meat loaf. The problem was, I couldn’t stomach meat. So I set out on a mission to create the comforting flavors and textures of my mom’s classic without the beef. With over 220% of your RDA of folate, this delicious, vegetarian lentil loaf is a pregnant, meat-aversion managing mama’s delight.
Our lentil loaf naturally begins with folate-rich lentils. Believe it or not, just 1 cup of cooked lentils contains 90% of your RDA for this uber important B vitamin! We then toss these with another huge B-booster, nutritional yeast, upping that total folate per serving to over 220%. But wait, is folate the same thing as folic acid?
Not quite. Folate is the natural, food-based form of folic acid, its synthetic counterpart. Adequate folate intake is crucial to preventing neural tube defects and spina bifida in a baby (if you’ve recently had your 12-week ultrasound, this might sound particularly relevant). It’s also required for proper DNA synthesis, a crucial part of development that impacts long term health. For mama, folate is utilized to help the body make red blood cells, which can aid in preventing pregnancy anemia.
2 c. green lentils, uncooked
- 4 cups water
- ¼ c. oats
- ¼ c. walnuts, toasted
- 3 T. olive oil
- 1 ½ medium onions, diced small
- 3 carrots, diced small
- ½ c. fennel, diced small
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 t. dried oregano
- ¾ t. sea salt more for water
- 3 eggs
- ½ c. nutritional yeast
- ½ c. carrot tops, fennel fronds, parsley or kale
- 2 T. flaxseed meal
- 12 oz. heirloom baby tomatoes
- 1 T. apple cider vinegar
- 1 T. coconut sugar
Preheat oven to 350°
Bring water to boil (add a little salt to season) and cook lentils until tender, approximately 25 minutes
Pulse nuts and oats into flour
Dice onions, carrots, and fennel. Mince garlic
Sweat onions in 2 T. olive oil with a generous pinch of salt until translucent; add rest of veggies and caramelize; add garlic and stir. Taste to make sure they are tender and well seasoned. Cook another 1-2 minutes
Combine vegetables with ½ t. salt, lentils, oat/nut mixture, eggs, flax, nutritional yeast, and carrot tops (or substitution). Spoon into greased loaf pan and bake 20-25 minutes until outside skin is formed. If using a convection oven, cover loaves with tin foil after 15 minutes
Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 T. olive oil over medium heat in a medium sauce pan. Add heirloom tomatoes, sprinkle with ¼ t. salt and coconut sugar and cook until bottoms are browned and skin starts to blister. Deglaze with apple cider vinegar and cook down until juices bubble out and mixture becomes “jammy”
Remove loaf from oven and coat top with heirloom tomato jam
Bake another 10-15 mins uncovered until browning at edges and bubbly
Serve this lentil loaf with your favorite mashed potatoes and a sauteed vegetable. We like a creamy cashew chive mash and a citrus braised fennel or garlicky kale.
Ashly Yashchin, Founder of Barley Oats
Barley and Oats develops nutritionally optimized recipes to support fertility, pregnancy, and breastfeeding female health. The company was founded by Ashly Yashchin, a mother of one (and soon to be two!), who was inspired to start this service after coming across overwhelming research about the effect of food on female health. Barley and Oats is now in the process of partnering with top nutritionists, registered dietitians, hormone experts and chefs to develop a DIY protocol for women to get the nutrition they need, taste they crave, and convenience they deserve.
- “The amazing significance of what a mother-to-be eats”. BBC News. BBC. September 2014. Web.
- Chris Kresser, MS. “The little known (but crucial) difference between folate and folic acid”. Chris Kresser. March, 2012. Web.
- James Hamblin. “Concerns about folate causing autism are premature”. The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group. May, 2016. Web.