Folate, also known as folic acid in its synthetic form, is a highly recommended nutrient for women who are pregnant or are trying to conceive. While prenatal supplements and fortified foods containing folic acid can boost the intake of this vitamin, there are also a variety of natural sources of folate found in whole foods. Cooked lentils contain 358 mcg of folate in 1 cup! (Recommended daily intake is 400 mcg.)
The March of Dimes recommends all pregnant women or those trying to conceive should include folate in their diets to reduce the risk of neural tube defects, or abnormalities in the formation of the spine and brain. Folate is critical in the formation of DNA and cell division and supports rapid growth of the placenta and fetus. It also reduces the risk for anemia in pregnant women and safeguards against miscarriage and premature birth.
Since folate is at the top of the list of important nutrients for both Moms and babies, a recipe using a high folate food such as lentils is a perfect one to pass along to Mommies-to-be! This recipe is super easy and one where you may already have most of the ingredients on hand.
Orange Lentil Soup
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: approx. 1 hour
2 Tbs olive oil
2 yellow onions, sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
1 1/3 C red lentils (Rinsed, sorted & dried on a sheet pan. Dried lentils may contain small rocks)
1 C orange juice
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
ground black pepper to taste
5 C chicken or vegetable broth
In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and add the diced onions. Cook until soft & transparent.
Add the lentils, celery, carrot, thyme, pepper & bay leaves and stir.
Add the orange juice and 3 cups of the chicken or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook approx. 40 minutes until the lentils are tender, stirring once or twice.
Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. If you do not have an immersion blender, a regular blender will also work.
Add remaining 2 cups of broth, stir and heat through. Serve immediately.