My littlest, Brooks, has had a tough time with food. From severe to mild allergies, I’ve had to really be careful about his food intake. Right now, he’s anaphylaxis to egg, lentil & peas; which, for our meat-light house, has had me scratching my head on good ways to get his protein in because all THREE of those things are amazing meatless proteins. I tried cooking more meat, but he just isn’t a carnivore (unlike his meat-loving sis…proof kids really are just simply different).
So, I wasn’t shocked to find out his iron was, while in the normal range, was at the absolute lowest it could be without being labeled anemic. So, not bad but definitely something I needed to add to the list of “things to consider when cooking for Brooks” list. If you’re in a similar boat and need to boost the iron for you or your kid, here’s some helpful tips:
- Get To Know Your Favorite Heme Iron Sources. Sadly, some of the best iron sources like oysters, clams and liver don’t make it onto the average American’s plate, let alone a picky toddler’s dinner plate. So, if you can’t get the chicken liver down, check out lesser-but-still-good sources of iron are beef and dark meat turkey or start adding a canned sardine into your pasta sauce (it just tastes salty, I swear).
- …And Your Favorite Non Heme Iron Sources. Fortified breads, pastas & breakfast cereals (I love the amount of iron in Trader Joe’s Multigrain O’s Cereal!), cooked beans, tofu, pumpkin or sesame seeds are the top sources for plant-based iron. Other good bets are canned beans, broccoli, dried apricots and baked potatoes.
- A Heme Iron and a Non Heme Iron walk into a bar and only one gets a drink. Ok, I’m bad at jokes. But basically, heme iron comes from animal sources and non-heme iron comes from plant sources. Heme iron gets absorbed by your body very easily — so it’s considered “the best and easiest” way to get iron. Non-heme iron gets absorbed less efficiently, so you need to help your body out so the biological bartender hears it and give it a drink. Apparently I’m also bad at analogies. But, the way you help your body absorb non-heme iron sources is by pairing it with Vitamin C, which can come in forms of oranges, strawberries, broccoli, .A
4 Easy Nutrition Hacks To Make an Iron + Vitamin C Power Couple
Crush iron-fortified cereals and use in place of breadcrumbs to make meatballs with ground dark turkey and chopped spinach.
Tropical Green Smoothies are the easiest way to mix together iron-rich kale or spinach with Vitamin-C powerhouses pineapple & mango.
Chop up a left over baked potato and roasted red bell peppers from the pantry, then lightly sautee with garlic & olive oil. Top with parsley for a dark leafy green.
Power up snack time. Add a clementine to the usual Cheerio’s snack for the perfect Vitamin C kick to iron-fortified cereals.