Are You Getting Your Iron?

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Iron is one of those pesky things…. you only think about it when suddenly, out of thin air, you feel completely wiped out.

There are lots of reasons we feel run down or exhausted; it may have nothing to do with how ace your diet is, but more often than not, it can be because something is missing.

I was one of those brilliant (probably not rare!) cases of having a serious iron deficiency until I went vegan. Pretty cool, huh? Most people would assume it goes the other way around, but not in my case.

I remember always feeling lethargic and tired and getting iron supplements from my doctor (who didn’t tell me to just stop eating crap). I also remember never remembering to take the pills because I was lazy and didn’t take my health seriously.

Those tablets sat in my cupboard whilst I continued to eat fast, convenient, nutrient-void foods that did nothing for my body.

Funnily enough, I also continued to feel tired, unfit and completely exhausted at the end of a normal day.

When I began to take my health seriously and increased the number of wholefoods in my diet, the result was nothing short of miraculous. All of a sudden, energy was zipping out of me, fitness classes were easy, bruises were healing fast, my eyes were white and shining, my skin was clear! All of these benefits, just from changing what I put in my mouth.

So, how are you feeling? How is your diet? Are you getting your iron?

If you don’t eat meat people assume you need to worry about iron, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. The body absorbs iron from plant sources much easier than from meat. Fruits and vegetables digest faster in our bodies and break down more efficiently because they come along with fiber. Fiber is a crucial component in food that makes the processing of it easier (and the elimination!) Meat has zero fiber. Why don’t people question this more?

Here are some of my favorite AND EASY ways to get your hit of Iron. Amazing, plant-based, cruelty free, and delicious (of course).

1) Chickpeas

You know what that means? Yup… you get to make buckets of Hummus and eat it guilt free. Cut up some veggie sticks, oven roast some  Sweet Potato wedges and make yourself an Iron feast!

Here is a “Hummus For Dummies” Recipe to die over:

Hannah’s Ten-Minute Hummus

1 can of Organic Chick-peas (drained)

2 Tablespoons Unhulled Organic Tahini

1/2 cup water (add more if desired)

Juice of 1 lemon (careful of seeds!)

1 garlic clove

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Chuck it all into the blender and blend baby blend!

I have made so many different kinds of hummus in my time and, like anything, simple always works out best! When I make simple hummus it always tastes better than getting all fancy and complicated. Most hummus recipes contain oil, but I don’t think it needs it. Oil is incredibly high in calories and – I want to eat the hummus guilt-free 😉

2) Leafy Greens

Yup, you know it. Good old leafy green vegetables. Is there anything they can’t do? Feast on salads and come up with millions of combinations.

How To: A Perfect Salad.

Most importantly: you need good, tasty staples. Salad won’t taste good if the lettuce is limp and old. Buy lovely, fresh, organic greens and go crazy with the accompaniments. Make sure you wash everything carefully and let your ingredients speak for themselves. One of my favorite salads is simply: spinach, romaine lettuce, fresh cherry tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and a light lemon-based dressing. So simple, so tasty!

3) Oats and Oatmeal

Do you have any idea how happy I am that Oats are good for us? I love porridge more than life itself; it’s cheap, easy to make and so versatile! When delicious foods are also healthy – I want to throw a party.

How Do You Do It?

Oats come in two packages for me: Overnight Oats or Porridge. I have a whole blog post about Porridge you can read here for a few more ideas, but simply – make up your porridge with water/soy milk/almond milk and top with all the fruits and yummy seeds you desire. Soybeans are high in iron also – so if you have organic soy milk – you’ll have a double dose of iron!

4) Tofu

Yup, Tofu. Tofu is a great source of iron and (again) if you buy organic Tofu I think can absolutely be a health food. I wouldn’t eat Tofu every day, as it is processed, but to eat a few times a week I think is great, especially if you aren’t eating a lot of whole fruits and vegetables.

You can buy Tofu already prepared or cook it yourself. Marinating Tofu is a lovely way to soak up extra flavor, or simply sauteing with your favorite vegetables to make into a stir fry or top up a yummy salad. Again – if greens can be involved – even more power to your Iron Will 🙂

Other great sources of iron include: Kidney Beans, pulses, Quinoa (learn to pronounce it first), apricots, pumpkin seeds, most nuts and figs.

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If you are eating a well balanced diet, with plenty of wholefoods, then iron, like everything else, shouldn’t be a worry. I only had to worry about my nutrients when I was eating a very “dead”, lifeless diet, full of processed foods, meat, dairy, refined sugars and packaged, convenient crap. As soon as I switched to fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds and began eating MORE of the right stuff – I stopped worrying about where things were coming from, because I was feeling good. There was no more tiredness, no more lethargy and if I did feel “low” I could focus on what was actually making me down, like a personal matter or a work-related problem.

It’s not rocket science, it’s common sense 🙂 Put the good things in and you will see the results! Iron isn’t a mythical vitamin – it’s a component of food. Eat the right food, feel great and remember that healthy food does NOT mean “boring”!

 

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Hannah Ellis

Food Editor

Hannah is an actor and writer living in Manchester, UK. As well as all things theatre, Hannah's passionate about animal rights, travelling (home to Australia when possible!) and making incredible plant-friendly meals. In her spare time, she sneaks off to spread the vegan message on her website, oopsimavegan.com. Hannah has been a healthy, happy vegan for nearly three years.

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