19 Nutritionists Reveal Their Favorite Iron-Rich Recipes for Vegetarians
It’s hard to be a Vegetarian with Iron Deficiency.
But it’s not impossible.
Even though many nutritionists advised me to eat meat, or at least fish for my Iron Deficiency…
… I just believe in vegetarian lifestyle and kept eating iron-rich vegetarian recipes.
But what EXACTLY should you eat?
It’s a lot tougher to absorb non-heme iron (from plants), so you need smart recipes.
So again, what should you really eat as a vegetarian with iron deficiency?
I reached out to some of my favorite nutritionists out there, and asked them one simple question:
Of all your VEGETARIAN recipes, which one would you suggest to people with iron deficiency and why?
Let me tell you, the recipes they provided are nothing short of amazing.
And I’ve listed all of the recipes below:
19 Amazing Iron-Rich Vegetarian Recipes that the Nutritionists Suggest to You
Increase Your Iron Levels Today: Click here to get access to a free printable PDF of these recipes that will be your daily inspiration for cooking iron-rich recipes.
Sweets, Beans & Greens
Why I would suggest this to my clients with an iron-deficiency:
1. Three out of the four main ingredients are rich in plant-based iron: spinach, chickpeas, and sesame seeds (tahini paste!)
-6 mg of iron per recipe (meets 40% DV iron needs depending on age and gender).
2. The sweet potatoes and lemon juice contain vitamin C. Vitamin C rich unlock plant-based iron’s potential. Other vegetarian examples include: Orange juice with morning cereal, Tempeh in tomato sauce at lunch and strawberries on a kale salad for dinner are all examples of a successful vitamin C + iron marriage.
3. The recipe components are versatile and can be used in other meal ideas.
4. This vegetarian dish packs in 13 grams of filling fiber, and potatoes are considered a high satiety food – some real meal satisfaction!
Nutrition Information per serving:
420 calories; 10.5 grams of fat; 1.5 grams of sat fat, 71 grams of carbohydrate, 13 grams of fiber, 13 grams of protein.
If I had to choose one vegetarian recipe from my blog, it would certainly be Palak Tofu (Spinach and Tofu Curry).
Both palak (spinach) and tofu are a great source of non-heme iron for vegetarians.
In order to increase the absorption of non-heme iron, it is important to combine/add vitamin C along with non-heme iron. Many vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, bok choy which are high in iron, are also high in vitamin C so that the iron in these foods is very well absorbed.
In this recipe, both spinach and tofu are a good source of non-heme iron, while spinach and tomatoes, high in Vitamin C will assist with the absorption of iron.
Calcium and tannins (found in tea and coffee) are known to reduce iron absorption therefore, it is best to take calcium supplements and tannin-containing beverages several hours before or after a meal that is high in iron.
Warm Greens Sauté
A great way to get iron-rich foods on your plate, is with a warm greens sauté! Greens like kale and spinach are high in iron and this recipe is full of both). You can add iron-rich beets to this dish too!
Also, help your body absorb iron-rich foods by including foods high in vitamin C too—like eating an orange with dinner or for dessert! Enjoy.
Dr. Taz Bhatia
The Lentil Salad That Could
A recipe that would offer a great source of vegan iron is the Lentil Salad that CouldTwo ingredients in this recipe are plant based stars when it comes to iron. The lentils and the parsley.
The lentils contain about 7mg of iron per 1 cup serving and the parsley contains about 1mg per 1/4 cup serving (which is a lot of iron per weight).
To increase the absorption of iron in this recipe I would recommend adding some finely diced bell pepper (I do this often) or swapping the apple cider vinegar with lemon juice because these foods are high in vitamin C. The vitamin C helps aid in non-heme (plant based) iron absorption.
Finally, this salad also contains SOAKED beans which increase the rate of absorption of minerals.
Since vegan require higher amounts of iron per day (1.8x more, so ~32mg per day for young females) than an omnivore due to decreased absorption of iron in plant-based foods, it is very important to add soaked beans/legumes into the diet daily as they provide the most bioavailable iron in the vegan/vegetarian diet.
This is a traditional Rajasthani recipe which makes use of only bajra as one of the main ingredients which abounds in iron, along with protein, folic acid and fiber.Khichdi is a comfort food and sure to soothe one and all irrespective of their age. This khichdi has a creamy consistency with mild flavors and is yet light for stomach which makes it a good choice to be enjoyed for lunch or dinner.
You can even perk up this khichdi by adding some spices to it and maybe even throw in some vegetables. Hence, we would recommend this recipe to be served with curds or a raita and you have a completely balanced meal to keep anemia at bay.
Tarla Dalal Team
Swedish Pea Soup
There are many plant sources of iron including legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
You can make these more absorbable by including a vitamin c source at the meal, which is easy to do when you include lots of fruits and vegetables at meals.
Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
One cup of black beans has approximately 30% of your daily value of Iron and this Black Bean Soup is an easy way to achieve that!
Vitamin C is also key for optimal Iron absorption and this dish also contains tomatoes, which happen to be packed with vitamin C!
Morning Hot Cereal
This is a good source of vegetarian iron to start your day.
Cream of Wheat is fortified with iron, and the nuts and dried fruit are also good sources of iron.
The dried fruit also contains Vitamin C, which helps your body to absorb the non-heme iron in these vegetarian iron sources. Top with some fresh or frozen berries for even more vitamin C & flavor!
Crunchy Kale Chips
Kale Is The New Beef.
Kale is a dark green leafy vegetable and a member of the cruciferous, or cabbage family. A nutritional powerhouse, kale is an exceptional source of chlorophyll, calcium, vitamin A , vitamin C and iron.
Iron is an important mineral for good health, crucial to delivering oxygen to every cell in the body. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef making it an excellent staple in vegetarian and vegan diets.
Also beneficial is the vitamin C content in kale, which aids iron absorption and may also help prevent hair loss associated with iron-deficiency.
Kale can be eaten raw or cooked. Add it to soups, stews, salads and smoothies.
Or try my favorite recipe for Crunchy Kale Chips. Enjoy!
Roasted Chickpea Gyros
A vegetarian with iron deficiency should look to legumes for a heavy dose of iron and protein.
My Roasted Chickpea Gyros would be a great recipe for someone in this case. Just 1 cup of chickpeas has 12mg of iron!
Curried Sweet Corn and Chickpeas
By all means, use my sweet corn and chickpea curry. I’d choose this recipe, because the chickpeas are a rich source of iron.
It’s also a recipe that can be made ahead – it actually gets better if it sits overnight – and the flavors of lemongrass, cilantro, and coconut milk perfectly compliment eachother.
Spring Chop Salad
It’s a perfect time of year to enjoy this beautiful (and super simple) spring chop salad.
Iron-rich edamame, black beans and tomatoes coupled with other vitamin C rich vegetables help the body to maximize it’s iron absorption.
Use up any fresh vegetables you may have in the fridge or add chopped spinach, chard or beet greens, parsley or basil, and lentils to boost iron content even more!
Balsamic Black-Eyed Pea Salad
I recommend that anyone with an iron deficiency make sure they are eating at least one high-iron food at every meal.
Legumes: lentils, soybeans, tofu, tempeh, lima beans, edamame, chickpeas, beans, black-eyed peas;
Grains: quinoa, fortified cereals, brown rice, oatmeal;
Nuts and seeds: pumpkin, squash, pine, pistachio, sunflower, cashews, unhulled sesame;
Vegetables: tomato sauce, leafy greens, swiss chard, collard greens, spinach, kale, broccoli;
Other: blackstrap molasses, prune juice, tomato juice.
The iron in beans, grains and seeds is better absorbed when combined with the vitamin-C found in fruits and vegetables (think bell peppers, dark leafy greens, kiwi, broccoli, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, peas, and papayas).
Bonus: Some high vitamin C foods like leafy greens, broccoli, and tomato sauce already on the ironlist.
Avoid coffee and tea when eating high-iron meals. The tannins in them block absorption.
You can also use a cast-iron skillet to cook your foods in to absorb more iron. Seriously!
BONUS RECIPE: Spicy Veggie Chili
Spring Beluga Lentil & Beet Salad
I’ve been enjoying this iron-rich recipe for a beet salad with black lentils, basil and coriander vinaigrette.As most people know, beets contain blood-boosting iron and other essential vitamins and minerals like folate, vitamin C, manganese, potassium and magnesium.
But beyond beets, this salad also uses black lentils, a little legume that packs in protein, fiber and high levels of iron and B vitamins.
Lentils provide slow-burning complex carbohydrates, giving you more sustainable energy and replenishing your iron levels. This recipe is the perfect balance of raw and cooked, both light and nourishing.
It’s paired with fresh herbs and digestion-promoting spices to keep your nourished through spring.
Quinoa Pantry Salad
Approximately 1 cup offers 8+ grams of protein and about 15% DV of iron.Adding tomatoes and red peppers provide Vitamin C to aid in the absorption of the iron.
Afghan Spinach with Dill and Cilantro
The recipe calls for two full pounds of spinach, it’s simple to prepare, a bit unusual, and very delicious.Spinach is one of the best plant-based sources of iron.
Cooking the spinach has a positive impact on the absorption of the iron relative to raw spinach, so that is a plus with this recipe.
BONUS RECIPE: Slow Cooker Indian Tacos
Savory Lentil and Crispy Kale Stew
Most people don’t think of legumes and peas as iron-rich foods, but they do pack a good punch.
Especially, when paired with a sea vegetable and dark leafy greens.
Massaged Kale Salad with Feta & Currants
The kale, hemp hearts, and currants provide a nice boost of iron.
You could even add orange segments or sliced strawberries into this salad for vitamin C, which can help increase your absorption of the iron!
Chocolate Coconut Almond Butter
Making your own almond or peanut butter is a lot easier than you think! Roast your almonds, blend them in a food processor or good quality blender and add your favorite flavors!
My favorite flavor combination is chocolate and coconut, so I infused those flavors into this delicious homemade almond butter.
It makes for an easy, nutritious protein and iron-filled snack that pairs perfectly with fresh fruit or whole grain toast. I also add it into oatmeal and smoothies for a nutrition boost.
Only one 1.5 oz serving of this homemade nut butter contains approximately 15% of your daily iron requirements!
WOW!. What an amazing list of iron-rich vegetarian recipes.
Thanks everyone for your contribution in this amazing recipe roundup.
Before you go, leave a comment below with your favorite iron enriched recipes for vegetarians.