Iron is an essential mineral for the human body. Our bodies need it in order to make two very important proteins: hemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells and carries oxygen from our lungs to our tissues, and myoglobin, which helps supply our muscles with life-giving oxygen. Signs of iron deficiency are said to be fatigue, shortness of breath, and a rapid heartbeat. If you suspect that you are deficient in iron, please consult a health professional.
It is said that those who eat plant-based diets need twice the amount of iron than those who are not, but the reality is that it all comes down to one’s intake of Vitamin C. Eating enough foods rich in Vitamin C (such as fruits) boosts the ability of one’s body to absorb iron. You can get Vitamin C from citrus fruits and even vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts. When it comes to iron, try to include leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard, edamame, dry beans, tofu, tempeh, whole grains, potatoes, and seeds in your everyday diet.
Eating a variety of these foods is the best way to include iron-rich plants in your diet, but how to you go about preparing them? That’s where we come in — we have so many ideas in store and we’re just raring to share them. From curries to crepes, these 15 iron-rich recipes are a must-try.
1. Spinach Crepes With Creamy Mushrooms
Think light, fluffy, and tender crepes lovingly wrapped around the most amazing creamy mushroom mix, flavored with punchy hints of garlic, shallot, and thyme. These Spinach Crepes With Creamy Mushrooms are so easy to make, take 15 minutes in total (after soaking the chickpeas the day before), and miraculously don’t fall apart or stick to the pan despite the absence of eggs and oil. The crepes themselves are made from chickpea flour and spinach, both of which are high in iron. You will fall in deep mad love with this creamy, crepey, mushroomy creation. Definitely one to put on your to-do list this week!
2. Healthy Stuffed Potato Skins
These Healthy Stuffed Potato Skins are the perfect quick, easy, iron-rich meal. Russet potatoes skins are stuffed with a mixture of black-eyed peas and lentils inspired by Tamil cuisine. It’s a simple meal you need to taste in order to believe. Serve with mashed potatoes on the side for even more iron!
3. Swiss Chard Lentil Quinoa Burgers
These Swiss Chard Lentil Quinoa Burgers are crunchy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside. Lentils and quinoa give it a meaty and dense texture while Swiss chard adds a unique touch — all three ingredients are rich in iron. Top these burgers with some tahini or guacamole and then serve them on hamburger buns for a crowd-pleasing and mouth-watering lunch.
4. Creamy Pumpkin Seed Alfredo With Kale and Sweet Peas
This Creamy Pumpkin Seed Alfredo With Kale and Sweet Peas is luscious, comforting, and good for you all at the same time. The raw hulled pumpkin seeds used in the recipe are what gives it its richness, as they’re full of healthy fats and along with the kale and peas, give this recipe a boost of iron. Dairy alfredo sauce is so old school.
5. Black-Eyed Pea Teriyaki Bowl
When you want an easy dinner that is still nutritious, piling veggies high in a bowl and drizzling it with a delicious sauce is a solid option. This Asian-inspired Black-Eyed Pea Teriyaki Bowl, for instance, has iron-rich black-eyed peas, mushrooms, eggplant, broccoli, and a sauce made from soy sauce, molasses, tomato paste, and spices. Sometimes simplicity is best
6. Tofu Satay
Satay is a grilled Malaysian dish. This grilled Tofu Satay is a fresh and creative dish to include in your spring and summer cookouts. Sliced tofu is marinated in a spicy curry sauce and then grilled until it’s a little crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Serve with fresh or pickled veggies and Thai curry on the side, or skewer additional vegetables and grill them, to keep things simple.
7. Korean Tempeh Steaks
These Korean Tempeh Steaks are marinated in doenjang, a thick, chunky paste made from fermented soybeans, ketchup, and spices and then grilled so they’re flavorful and delicious. Tempeh is made from soybeans, making it rich in iron and a worthy main course to your weeknight dinner. Added to the marinade here, it gives the tempeh steaks a deep savoriness that’s rare.
8. Red Lentil Loaf
There are many wonderful and delicious meat-free options for your dinner plate, but if you are also gluten-free, commercially available products often don’t cut it. Enter this Red Lentil Loaf. It’s full of protein, has no oil, no soy, no nuts, and no gluten. Iron-rich lentils are the base, plus it’s packed with spinach and kale. This meaty entrée super easy to prepare and one of the things you can make a day or two before and reheat after you slice it up and top it with gravy and mashed potatoes.
9. Roasted Red Pepper, Chickpea, and Spinach Curry
This Roasted Red Pepper, Chickpea, and Spinach Curry is to die for! Chickpeas and spinach are blanketed in a rich, red pepper and coconut sauce. Not only is it spicy and fragrant, it is also good for you. If you’re looking for something that is rich in iron, look no further. What more could you want for dinner?
10. Herbed Edamame Chickpea Burgers
Edamame, chickpeas, tart lemon juice, and fresh herbs are combined to form tasty burgers. These Herbed Edamame Chickpea Burgers are paired with a herby green dressing made from coriander, mint, creamy tahini, garlic, and a squeeze lemon juice. These burgers are even more delicious when served on toasted sourdough buns with plenty of green dressing, lettuce, hummus, avocado, and sauerkraut. Don’t forget the fries!
11. Thai Basil Tofu
This Thai Basil Tofu is a super-easy recipe to make, especially when you have that half-block of tofu lingering in your refrigerator, but even if you don’t, it’s an entrée worth buying ingredients for. Tofu is sautéed in oil and then mixed with a simple Thai basil sauce that’s spicy with cooling herbal notes. Serve it for dinner or bring it along to work or school as an easy lunch with noodles, quinoa, or rice.
12. Rajmah: Indian Red Beans
Simple, home-style dishes like Rajmah, also known as Indian Red Beans, are the perfect weeknight meal. Infused with simple Indian flavors, the core of this dish is loaded with two iron-rich ingredients: red beans and lentils. Serve with greens like spinach on the side and a hefty portion of brown rice.
13. Tempeh Sloppy Joes
Many of us can remember those weeknights during our childhood where sloppy joes were on the dinner menu. This recipe for Tempeh Sloppy Joes recreates them with sautéed tempeh and vegetables, covered in a lightly seasoned tomato sauce. Just like the original recipe, these sloppy joes are easy to make and most importantly, amazingly satisfying!
14. Fresh Spinach Quiche
Savory and satisfying, this Fresh Spinach Quiche is a wonderful spring dish loaded with greens, legumes, and other healthy ingredients. Enjoy it as the recipe dictates or throw in some broccoli, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, or your favorite herbs. The nutritional yeast gives this quiche a slightly cheesy undertone, but if you’d like more of a kick, mix in some red chili flakes or drizzle Sriracha upon serving.
15. Green Edamame Spinach Hummus Pesto
This Green Edamame Spinach Hummus Pesto gets its name from its uniqueness. Edamame, cooked spinach, and tahini are blended together to create a sauce unlike any other. It’s smooth like hummus in its texture, yet it tastes like pesto. Serve it over pasta or enjoy it as a dip.
Lead image source: Herbed Edamame Chickpea Burger