Those of you who know me in real life know that I have (now inactive) epilepsy and that I had a (“benign,” haha) tumor removed from my temporal lobe some years back, in addition to various medical emergencies subsequent to the tumor and epilepsy. It has given me, not surprisingly, a skewed perspective of the world. I had a therapist once who said I had had my mid life crisis 20 years too early. For the most part it no longer impacts my life other than my very real awareness of all of the things that can go horribly wrong with one’s health (I’d like to have my girls examined head to toe in an MRI machine once a month but the doctors tell me this is just not practical).
I chose to remain on my anti-seizure meds while pregnant. Although the meds come with very real risks (luckily I was already on the least unsafe anti-seizure meds for pregnancy), I felt for my life those risks were more acceptable than risking having a seizure while pregnant, which can have devastating consequences. My meds interfere with folic acid absorption, and as a result folic acid was a huge deal for me when pregnant. I began taking mega folic acid supplements more than a year before becoming pregnant, and I still take extra folic acid to this day, even without pregnancy looming on the horizon. Folic acid is instrumental in preventing spina bifida and other scary neural defects–all of which can be caused by the meds I was on, which gave me double the incentive to increase my folic acid intake when pregnant.
As most of you know, we were extremely lucky and have 2 very healthy little girls. Who knows what role the extra folic acid played in that–maybe it was instrumental. So I am sending this recipe (with its green lentils–an outstanding source of folic acid) over to The Skinny Gourmet‘s Blog For Babies Challenge. Folic acid is also instrumental in preventing premature births, and, Erin had a (now very healthy) boy born early. She is blogging for awareness of preterm births and how to prevent them (therefore raising awareness of the importance of folic acid), and to raise money for the March of Dimes, which is a lifesaver for people in NICU situations. I encourage you to head on over to her blog and read more about what you can do.
This dish is actually a re-run of a side dish I posted a while back here. I loved the lemon rice, but it is not very nutritionally complete on its own–and it is a lot more work to make with a separate entree. I am all about reducing my work load–hence my love of one pot meals–so I started wondering how it would taste with extra veggies, lentils and shrimp.
Shrimp enough for 6-8 servings (I could tell you how much but I find this very individual)
1 T vegetable oil
1 t dark mustard seeds
1 t cumin seeds
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups of uncooked basmati rice, cooked by preferred method and spread out to cool to room temperature
3/4 cup lentils de puy, cooked until tender yet still firm, and mixed with cooked rice to spread out and cool (or any other lentil that does not tend to beak down when cooked)
3 T vegetable oil
1 T dark mustard seeds
1/2 cup roasted cashews, chopped (I used salted ones for convenience)
dried chiles, to heat preference, optional (I left out)
1 1/2 t cumin seeds
1 t turmeric
12-18 curry leaves (more if frozen)
2 t urad dal (skinned black lentils)
1 T minced garlic
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped scallions, white and light greens parts only
2 small-medium zucchini, sliced into half moons
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
remaining dark green scallions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
salt to taste
1/4 cup water
juice of 2 lemons
Place the 1 tablespoon of oil into a large nonstick skillet or wok on medium high heat and add the 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds. After they have have finished popping, add the 1 teaspoon cumin seeds. After they darken and become fragrant, 15-30 seconds, add the shrimp. Cook until pink, opaque and curled (flip over halfway through), sprinkle with the juice of 1 lemon and remove to a bowl, draining the excess oil and juice. Wipe the pan out.
Place the 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon mustard seeds and cashew pieces in the pan, and heat over medium high heat. Cooking, stirring, for 1-2 minutes, until the mustard seeds start popping. When they finish, add the dried chiles (if using), 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, turmeric, curry leaves, urad dal and garlic. Stir fry until the urad dal and cashews are uniformly golden, about 1-2 minutes. Stand back when you first add the curry leaves as they will pop.
Add the onions and white/light green scallions, with a pinch of salt to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized, 7-10 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook another 3 minutes, stirring. Then add the pepper and cook until the zucchini are cooked through. Add pinches of salt with all of the vegetables. Turn the heat down if the onions start to burn.
Add the cooled rice and lentils and stir gently (your pan will be very full) until the rice is completely yellow. Add the water and stir some more, scraping the bottom of the pan if any spices are sticking. Add the lemon juice and cook another 2 minutes to completely heat the dish through. Add the dark green scallion parts and cilantro and taste for additional lemon juice or salt. Sprinkle the shrimp over the pan to gently re-heat them. Serve with red chile pepper flakes for those who want some heat (my husband).