Friday, September 11, 2015

VeganMoFo Day 11: I'm Popeye The Sailor Man! Spinach + Iron

Today's MoFo Prompt: "Focus on a nutrient"

Last time I got my blood panels done, the only thing that was a little low was iron. My doctor thinks that was probably because I had just given blood about 10 days earlier, and apparently it takes your body a long time to rebuild your blood after that. How interesting! Anyhow, those results made me a little more aware of iron.

I remembered learning a while back that eating iron-rich veggies alongside some source of vitamin C helped to make the iron more bio-available. I did a little more reading in honor of this post, and learned that the iron in meat is easier for our bodies to access, but that the iron in veggies can be much more abundant but harder to absorb. So we need to give it a little help by adding vitamin C-rich foods like citrus or tomatoes. It's interesting to think of how many indigenious meals already do this - like beans with salsa (tomato and lime), bean soup with orange juice, and so on. 

I also learned something new-to-me that was kind of a bummer, but also probably important for me to know -- the tannins in tea and coffee inhibit iron absorption, so you shouldn't drink tea or coffee within 3 hours of eating your iron-rich meal. This is a bummer for me because I love to have a cup of decaf after dinner... but now I will try to skip that ritual sometimes, especially on nights when I know I've made an iron-rich meal.

high fives, Popeye!

So, one of the single most iron-rich foods ever in the whole wide world is our vegan friend, Spinach. Popeye was on to something! I have a favorite spinach dal recipe that I've shared on my blog before, but I hadn't made it in quite a long time. I got the recipe from a restaurant in India, where I ordered it so many times that when I was about to return home I groveled for the recipe and they took pity on me and gave it to me. 

This dal recipe is pretty fantastic because it calls for a whopping 1.5 pounds of fresh spinach. As you can see, that's really a lot of spinach. Spinach is so weird, because of course it cooks down to almost nothing!

this picture is cuter

Putting my nutrient knowledge in action, I added fresh tomato and a extra generous squeeze of fresh lime juice to the dal in order to amplify my iron-absorption (along with a drizzle of cashew creme, to amplify my yum-absorption). This dal is so thick and delicious, it was quite a treat to make it again after such a long time. 

this picture is greener

I'm not usually a two-pictures-of-the-same-dish kind of blogger, but in this picture, which is less cute, you can see a bit more readily just how deep, deep green the dal is. All that spinach gets cooked down and then pureed into an smooth, emerald paste/liquid that is cooked into the dal. It's quite a sight to behold! Also, as per my newest information, I skipped my evening decaf just to make sure I'd get the most out of my dinner. I felt quite pleased with myself!

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's nutrient-focused posts today! 


  1. Anonymous4:35 PM

    Now I'm earwormed with the Popeye song, Amey, thanks a lot! ;)

    I love how 87 pounds of spinach cooks down into, like, a bowl. I do! It never fails to amaze me!

    Those photos are gorgeous - I see why you wanted to post more than one! (Also, I love that bowl - I want every single thing Jeanette makes, dang it) I always said I wouldn't be a 46-photos-of-a-chickpea blogger (and Instagram helps with that), but... now that I'm blogging, jeez, I kind of am. I just love all my photos and all my food so much. I hate picking.

    Another weird thing: watermelon is high in iron. I find that so bizarre.

    1. I did not know that about watermelon! Good to know for summer.

  2. So many good iron posts, I will have sailor man biceps in no time!
    I love baby spinach, and eat it a few times a day. I must remember to make sure there is vitamin C around as well! In fact, inspired by your post I just googled and learned that mango is apparently good for vitamin C, so as that is in my regular green smoothie with my baby spinach, things are good to go. :)

  3. that's awesome, lovely and iron rich. I had a vegan-friendly doctor tell me the same about tea and how it's more common in people with Mediterranean backgrounds (like me) to have problems with iron absorption. I've always had very low iron despite eating iron rich meals and taking a supp, but I was having lots of tea every day. Better stop that I guess... waaah!

  4. Yeah it's a real shame about the tannins. Before I found out that my iron levels were extremely low I used to have a cup of tea with or after almost every meal - no wonder my iron was low! I especially miss my breakfast cup of tea, and am hanging out watching the clock until 2 hours have passed so I can have a cuppa (I was told to wait 2 hours rather than 3 - my levels have come up now - they hover around borderline normal - may they would be higher if I waited 3 hours, but oh could I do it???).
    Molasses is high in iron so sometimes I have a molasses tea (1 tbsp of molasses in a cup of hot water) but it's not the same......

  5. Wow, I knew that about vitamin C but not about the tannins so thank you for sharing that info. I'm always on the look out for iron rich recipes and love a good dahl. This one sounds amazing with so much spinach and what a colour!

  6. Anonymous7:20 AM

    I don't know about blood donation in the States but in Canada they only let you donate every 52 days so your stores get back up to normal. I use to donate regularly and sometimes I'd be turned away because my hemoglobin was too low, I'm pretty sure I have my coffee intake to thank for that. That's really interesting about traditional meals combining iron and C. That green! I just want to sink into it!

  7. Wow I learned a lot about iron in meat vs veggies and absorption! Very interesting and helpful!

    P.S. I was going through my cook books today and I found one called The Soybean Cookbook, it was my mom's from the 70's! I thought of you right away :) If you are curious about any of the recipes, let me know :)

  8. HA! Loved this pic with you and the bag of spinach!

  9. Very important to amplify the yum-absorption!!


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