Iron rich diet and a chickpea curry soup

I’ve really been enjoying the warmer weather we have been having lately.  I had an hour to kill before my BodyPump class on Monday, so I decided to get off the train early and walk along the beach.  How lucky am I?!?!?!

walk along the beach, dawlish warren

my walk along the beach

Pump was really hard when I got there!  I’ve been feeling really tired lately.  I thought it was the warmer weather, but considering my recent focus on vegan and vegetarian food, I looked up the symptoms of anaemia. There are different types of anemia, I am considering iron-deficiency anemia here. I can check a few boxes, such as:

  • Easy fatigue and loss of energy – check
  • Unusually rapid heartbeat, particularly with exercise – now you come to mention it…
  • Shortness of breath and headache, particularly with exercise – yep
  • Dizziness – if I stand up suddenly, isn’t that normal?
  • Hunger or craving for strange substances such as paper, ice, or dirt (a condition called pica) – no thank goodness!
  • Soreness of the mouth with cracks at the corners
  • A smooth or sore tongue – yep, but that could have been the hot soup…???

(Lovely bit of self-diagnosis going on here 🙂 )

Iron comes in two forms:

  • haem iron: from haemoglobin (red blood cells), found in animal products such as red meats, fish and poultry
  • non-haem iron: found in plants and fortified foods

The human body is better at using the iron in meat products, but you can improve your uptake by having iron rich food with vitamin c.

According to NHS Choices, the daily recommendation for iron intake is:

  • 8.7mg a day for men
  • 14.8mg a day for women

I’m not sure the last time I really ate much red meat or shellfish – good meat sources of haem iron.  So, I’m going to focus on increasing my intake of iron and see if I feel any better.  I’m not saying I have full blown anemia or anything, but a boost in my iron levels can’t hurt.  Thank goodness I’m not craving paper or ice – that would make an interesting blog post “and then I wrapped the ice-cube in a piece of paper – Yummm” ?!?!?!

So what can vegetarians and vegans eat to improve iron levels?  Taken from Web MD:

Very good sources (3.5mg per portion): 185g (6½oz) cooked beans, 115g (4oz) of tofu, 25g (1oz) pumpkin, sesame or squash seedsWhole grains provide iron – some better than others, while Chickpeas, butter beans, red kidney beans and split peas are good sources, with 2.1mg, similiar levels to a medium stalk of broccoliSpinach has 0.7mg or more per 25g portion.  I see green smoothies, rich in spinach, making a big comeback.

But for now, I’m going to have a chickpea curry soup.

Chickpeas and spinach for the iron, with a dose of black rice.  Tomatoes for Citamin C to help my body to absorb the iron.

chickpea curry soup

chickpea curry soup

Chickpea Curry Soup
serves 1

  • 100g tinned tomatoes
  • 85g tinned (or cooked) chickpeas
  • 40g spinach
  • 40g black rice (uncooked)
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • dash of cider vinegar
  • squeeze of maple syrup (optional)
chickpea curry soup ingredients spinach, chickpeas, black rice, chopped tomatoes

chickpea curry soup ingredients

Cook the rice according to packet instructions.  I used black rice because I had run out of brown basmati, any rice will do.  While the rice is cooking, put the tomatoes, chickpeas, curry powder and a dash of cider vinegar with water or vegetable stock (to taste) in a pan and heat gently.  You could add a dash of maple to bring out the sweetness, it works beautifully with the cider vinegar.  When the rice is cooked, drain it and add to the soup.  Stir the spinach in at the last minute to wilt it.  Serve and enjoy!

You could soften some onion and garlic before then add the other ingredients this would add the sweetness you get from the dash of maple, but I was in the mood for something quick and simple after the gym.

To all the vegans and vegetarians out there: How do you get your dose of iron? And a question for you all:  how have you been enjoying the weather (or have you had nice weather)?

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6 thoughts on “Iron rich diet and a chickpea curry soup

  1. LC June 6, 2013 at 10:12 pm Reply

    Self-diagnosing is the way if the world, I never go to the doctor without some strategic googling 🙂

    Lately I probably get most of my iron from dark leafy greens, but I really need to make more of an effort!

    • Emily Hawkes June 7, 2013 at 7:23 am Reply

      Goodness knows what we would have done before Google!!! 🙂 Leafy greens are good – even better with some vitamin C: a side of tomatoes or just a squeeze of lemon are great options!

  2. […] And I already noted the high iron content of baked beans in my previous post. […]

  3. Real Foods (@realfoods_uk) June 11, 2013 at 9:38 am Reply

    An interesting note: the absorption of iron, calcium and other minerals might be compromised by bonding with the phytic acid present in cereals and legumes. To avoid that, we just have to chew our food well. Our saliva activates a phytase enzyme present in plants, which allows minerals to be free from that bond.

    • Emily Hawkes June 11, 2013 at 9:45 am Reply

      OOh..that’s interesting. Not heard that one. Another reason to slow down, chew and enjoy your food! I have heard that you can also soak your grains which helps to break down the phytic acid.

  4. […] a week or so of eating iron rich food I did a fit test at the gym last night.  And…YAY! My VO2 max has improved.  The way I see […]

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