What Should I Eat?

What Should I Eat? Iron Deficiency 


Huang Qi, Da Zao, Shu Di Huang that I add to my chili.

I’m a really big foodie! So I actually enjoy cooking and trying new foods. Sadly, that is not true for everyone. I’m often asked “what should I eat? However, most people want to know how to lose weight or “detox.” No one ever asks me about nutritional therapy or using food as medicine. Since it’s about to get cold, and allllllll my anemic peeps are already feeling the drop in temperatures, this bit of kitchen magic is about eating more iron.

Soooooooooo how much iron do you need? Generally, men and non-menstruating women should receive about 10 mg of iron daily, menstruating or nursing women 18 mg, and pregnant women 30 mg daily. Infants and toddlers need more iron than adults, in general, because their bodies are growing so quickly. In childhood, boys and girls need the same amount of iron — 10 milligrams daily from ages 4 to 8, and 8 mg daily from ages 9 to 13.

We live in the “take a pill” society. However, for most people, it’s easy to get in all of your nutrients if you just eat right. I don’t mean cardboard pucks and spinach salads either. 1 cup of raw spinach has 0.8 mg of iron or about 4.5% of the necessary iron for a menstruating female. Less if you cooked it and tossed out the pot liqueur (the juice that comes out of food when you cooked). In other words, a drop in the bucket and nowhere near enough.

In the case of iron, chili served with barely is one of my favorites. My base recipe is:

  • bone broth
  • fresh tomatoes
  • peppers
  • garlic
  • onions
  • kidney, black, and navy beans
  • stew beef chunks

Other favorite ingredients include sausage, chicken, greens, mushrooms, and herbs like shu di huang, da zao, huang qi. All either help boost iron, energy, and or the immune system. 1 cup of my chili takes care of 70% of the iron I need in a day.

Black beans, black rice, red salmon, watermelon beets, dino kale, sugar snap peas, and squash

Other often missed sources of iron include

  • Liver of any animal
  • Turkey neck soup
  • Bone broth of any kind
  • Oysters, muscles, clams
  • Teff
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Barley
  • Most DRY beans
  • Black rice
  • Black strap molasses
  • Seasoning Herbs and spices 

Tips and tricks:

You have to eat multiple sources of iron daily. Having a list of 20 or more iron-rich foods THAT YOU LIKE TO EAT in the kitchen and wallet help you find good iron choices all day long. Finding recipes that you can include multiple iron-rich ingredients in and eat daily is also very important.

Vit C, fats, and B-12 help with the absorption of iron. Caffeine and calcium can slow down iron intake. Slow cooking in cast iron pots especially with high acidic foods (like tomatoes) gives foods an extra iron boost. If you can’t get your hands on cast iron, you can use a lucky iron fish.

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