I have an iron deficiency. Have I mentioned that?
One of those pesky side effects of the gluten-damaged system that I am still healing is a lack of nutrient absorption. Combine that with all the running I do and it adds up to a significant lack of iron in my body.
Iron deficiency is no joke, as it results in poor oxygen delivery throughout your system and can leave you feeling weak, tired, and cranky. And, really, who wants that?
While taking iron supplements is great for getting that very low level up initially, I don’t want to have to rely on supplements forever. I’d prefer to get as many of my nutrients from food as possible, and as such, I offer this dish here – brimming with iron boosting ingredients.
Spinach is a favorite of mine, anyway, and I don’t need any extra excuse to eat it. But it certainly is a bonus that is so iron rich. One cup of spinach has just as much iron as 3 ounces of chicken. So, for all my fellow vegetarians and vegans out there, feel free to fire that fact back at those who think iron has to come from animal products. It’s just not so.
Continuing to up the iron ante in this dish, I’ve included navy beans (which, seriously, are just like overflowing with the stuff), the bell pepper (one standard green pepper has the same amount of iron as the aforementioned cup of spinach), and pine nuts. To top it all off, I’ve included lemon juice.
Why is the lemon juice important, you may ask?
Well, besides the fact that it’s delicious, consuming vitamin C (as is found in citrus) with iron increases your body’s absorption rate.
How ‘bout that?!
So if you’re looking to address an iron deficiency of your own, I highly recommend this meal. It will have you covered, nutritionally speaking, and will certainly be more satisfying than popping a supplement.
If your iron levels are just fine and where they’re supposed to be, I still highly recommend this meal.
It’s delicious. And nourishing. And simple to prepare. And, did I say delicious?
Iron or not, that’s a winning combination.
Iron Boosting Spinach Pesto Rice with Navy Beans
** For the pesto (makes about 1 cup):
- 3 cups packed baby spinach leaves
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup packed basil leaves
- 1 tblspn fresh oregano
- 1 tblspn fresh thyme
- ½ tspn black pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 3 tblspns vegetable broth
- 2 tblspns lemon juice
- ½ tspn salt
- 2 tblspns olive oil
- 2 tblspns vegetable broth
- ¼ of a large white onion, minced
- 3 small carrots, cut into matchsticks
- 1 bell pepper, cut into strips about ½ inch long
- 2 cups cooked navy beans
- 2 medium zucchini, cut into half moons
- 1 cup of spinach pesto (recipe above), divided in two
- 3 cups cooked brown rice (about 1 ½ cups dry)
- First, prepare the pesto. Place all pesto ingredients, except olive oil, into a food processor and pulse a few times to chop ingredients. Then, let food processor run while you slowly pour in the olive oil. Continue to process until ingredients are well chopped and combined. Set aside.
- Warm large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add vegetable broth first, then add onion, pepper, and carrots. Saute vegetables in the broth for 5-7 minutes, until vegetables have softened.
- Add beans and zucchini to the pan and continue to cook all ingredients, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
- Add cooked rice and ½ cup of spinach pesto. Stir all ingredients together and mix well over heat. Let all ingredients cook for 3-4 minutes, to warm everything through and combine. Serve immediately with the remaining ½ cup pesto to be drizzled onto individual servings as desired.