Pump some IRON


Today is Day 11 of MoFo and we’ve been asked to focus on a nutrient.  I chose IRON.  See I had this idea on a post I would make for last year’s MoFo but I either didn’t have time, or didn’t have the motivation to make it so I never did.  This was the post.  It’s funny how the things I didn’t get to do for MoFo last year are happening this year.  I love it!

I decided to pick iron today because as a woman in my 30’s I’ve found that life has shifted focus from ourselves (life in our 20’s!) to focusing on family- or more specifically creating your own family.  In just a few short years every single one of my friends who were my age got married and started to have children.  I was the only one who didn’t jump on that bandwagon.

Last year at this time my best friend from work, Kelly, was very very pregnant.  Pregnancy for her was probably the roughest time in her life.  Her body did not agree with pregnancy.  The first few months she lost weight.  All I could think of was pregnant Bella from the Twilight series slowly dying while her baby sucked all the nutrients from her…


Kelly just didn’t want to eat.  She said that nothing looked appetizing and that most things made her feel sick.  One day I found her standing over me while I was eating my lunch at my desk.  I don’t even remember what I was eating, but she made some comment about how it looked good- the first time she looked like she wanted to eat in weeks!  I either let her try some, or just gave her the rest.  And that’s how I became her unofficial pregnancy chef.

See there was something about the unprocessed natural foods I was eating that was appealing to her.  Finally she was eating!  Every time I made something for myself I made sure there was a portion for her.  Finally we figured out how to get her through this awful part of the pregnancy!  And it had a little something to do with vegan food 🙂

She eventually started to gain weight and look like a woman who was carrying a child.  I was so happy that she looked and felt better.  There was still one awful side effect that she was going through though and it didn’t seem like anything I was doing was helping.

Early in the morning, when she was driving herself in to work, she would have these blackouts.  She would start to pass out while she was driving!  It was so scary.  It got to the point where she didn’t want to drive herself anywhere.  And for whatever reason her doctor didn’t seem concerned.  Until finally they figured out the problem:  her iron levels were WAY too low.

People often worry about protein and calcium, but what they don’t realize is how important iron is.  Iron is needed to make hemoglobin, which helps your red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.  Iron needs almost double during pregnancy.

If you don’t have enough iron symptoms of pregnancy can be made worse.  That’s what happened to Kelly.

Kelly, even though she’s not a vegan or vegetarian, still didn’t find meat appetizing.  Her doctor suggested eating steak.  The thought made her feel sick.  She was told to also take an iron supplement.  Since steak isn’t the only option for iron in the diet, I got to work to see what else she could eat.

I found this great source for information on iron in the vegan diet.

Food Amount Iron (mg)
Soybeans,cooked 1 cup 8.8
Blackstrap molasses 2 Tbsp 7.2
Lentils, cooked 1 cup 6.6
Spinach, cooked 1 cup 6.4
Tofu 4 ounces 6.4
Bagel, enriched 1 medium 6.4
Chickpeas, cooked 1 cup 4.7
Tempeh 1 cup 4.5
Lima beans, cooked 1 cup 4.5
Black-eyed peas, cooked 1 cup 4.3
Swiss chard, cooked 1 cup 4.0
Kidney beans, cooked 1 cup 3.9
Black beans, cooked 1 cup 3.6
Pinto beans, cooked 1 cup 3.6
Turnip greens, cooked 1 cup 3.2
Potato 1 large 3.2
Prune juice 8 ounces 3.0
Quinoa, cooked 1 cup 2.8
Beet greens, cooked 1 cup 2.7
Tahini 2 Tbsp 2.7
Veggie hot dog, iron-fortified 1 hot dog 2.7
Peas, cooked 1 cup 2.5
Cashews 1/4 cup 2.1
Bok choy, cooked 1 cup 1.8
Bulgur, cooked 1 cup 1.7
Raisins 1/2 cup 1.6
Apricots, dried 15 halves 1.4
Veggie burger, commercial 1 patty 1.4
Watermelon 1/8 medium 1.4
Almonds 1/4 cup 1.3
Kale, cooked 1 cup 1.2
Sunflower seeds 1/4 cup 1.2
Broccoli, cooked 1 cup 1.1
Millet, cooked 1 cup 1.1
Soy yogurt 6 ounces 1.1
Tomato juice 8 ounces 1.0
Sesame seeds 2 Tbsp 1.0
Brussels sprouts, cooked 1 cup 0.9

I think I even printed out this list and gave it to her husband, telling him to feed her these things.  I would make her baked potatoes, cooked edamame, tofu, pasta, and tons of shakes chock full of greens like this Virgin Pina Colada;


I would search through my cookbooks and try to find things to make that would have multiple sources of iron.  I found this recipe in Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen that has both lentils and tofu:


This was delicious!  Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of this from the last time I made it.  Kelly loved it too!

She also really loved the granola bars I made her.  She said that was her favorite out of everything I made.  They are very simple, only requiring 5 or 6 ingredients.  I used the recipe in “Everyday Happy Herbivore”.  I had planned to make more of these for this post, but it was way too hot this week.  Hopefully soon I’ll make them again!

Even though pregnancy was tough for Kelly, the end result was totally worth it!  On November 29, 2014 little Colin was born.  He was 3 weeks early and a total surprise!


And here he is now!  The CEO of his own company!


And to give this post some food pictures- here is what I ate today.  Not exactly full of iron, but it does have some spinach!


Until next time!



2 responses to “Pump some IRON

  1. Oh, wow, what a great story! That’s so wonderful that you were able to cook meals for her that she enjoyed & that were good for her! I’m sure little Colin is grateful, too! 🙂

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