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(light piano music) – Hello my friends, welcome back to my channel If you're new here, my name is Alyssa

Today we are going on another nutrition exploration And we are gonna be focusing on iron And I am specifically gonna be talking about why iron is important, what kind of functions it does inside of the body The differences between the types of iron that are in our foods And then we're gonna be talking about the best vegan sources of iron and I'll give you some recipe inspiration towards the end

As always, with these types of videos I also have a blog post that goes along with it that details everything that we're talking about, all the specific sources, the amounts in each, so if we you wanna get more detailed you can find that in the description box down below this video Without further ado let's go ahead and dive into iron All right, so the first thing is to talk about what iron is and why it's important Iron is a mineral and it is arguably one of the most important in the body It's also one of the minerals that a lot of people are deficient in or at least has higher probably of being deficient in, especially if you follow a plant-based diet

So iron is responsible for the production of hemoglobin in our bodies And hemoglobin molecules are basically there to transport oxygen throughout our system So most of them can be found inside of our blood, obviously, and that's where a lot of the iron is stored, about 60 to 70% of the iron in our body is found in our hemoglobin molecules Other places that iron is found inside of the body are things like our liver, our kidneys, and some of our other organs, and basically it just lives there so that the hemoglobin can pull from those storage areas if it needs any extra So there are two main forms of iron

There's heme iron and non-heme iron Heme iron, which is more easily absorbed by the body is found in animal products So about, heme iron is about 10 up to 30% absorbable Whereas non-heme iron, which is what is found in plant-based sources, is less absorbable Maybe about 8 to 10%, so that means if you are following a plant-based diet, you'll have to be a little bit more mindful of your iron, and getting in adequate amounts of iron and also insuring that you're absorbing iron

So, if you are at all wondering if you're deficient in iron, the only thing that I can recommend is that you get a blood test done Go to a functional medicine doctor or just any sort of doctor, have a blood panel done, and that will give you a sense of where you fall in the range So now that we kind of know a little bit about what iron is and what it does for us, let's talk about the best vegan sources of iron Number one is soybeans, and soybeans which obviously are a bean, are also the base of a a lot of plant-based protein options for those of us who are following a plant-based diet Things like tofu, tempeh, edamame, those are all forms of soy, also soy milk and that is a really good way to get in some extra iron

The one thing to keep in mind if you are somebody that consumes soy is that you wanna make sure that you're buying organic and non-GMO varieties, just is a little bit easier on your system, easier for your body to absorb and digest and just healthier for the overall world and your own health in geneal The second highest source of iron is molasses And molasses is a natural sweetener, but it actually is, also, surprisingly high in a lot of minerals Molasses is that kind of dark, rich chocolatey flavor almost that you get in things like gingerbread So I pretty much only use molasses in gingerbread-flavored things but I do a few gingerbread recipes on the blog

And molasses is really easy to find at almost every single grocery store I personally always make sure to buy an organic one but you can choose whichever one you want And surprisingly it is high in iron So that's kind of a benefit of all of the gingerbread-inspired recipes Number three on our list are lentils

Lentils and beans in general are great sources of iron and of course also plant-based protein What I personally love about lentils is they are incredibly versatile and there a ton of different varieties So you can choose everything from green or brown lentils, which are kind of the more traditional lentils Black lentils or French lentils which are smaller and they have a little bit of a more, almost nutty, kind of crunchy texture, they're awesome in salads Or you can look for something like a red lentil which is more along the lines of a split pea, it kind of turns to mush as you cook but it's so delicious in curries

I have an amazing sweet potato and red lentil curry on the site that is just to die for So lentils are an amazing source of iron but also a really great source of protein and there are so many ways to add them into your diet Number four on our list is quinoa, the almighty quinoa You guys know that I'm a fan of using quinoa pretty much every which way And just like lentils, quinoa is incredibly versatile

Not only can you find it in the whole seed form, so adding it into salads or things like that Quinoa flour is also incredibly versatile It can be used in pretty much any form of baked good that you want I have tons of quinoa flour recipes on my site Quinoa flour has also been used in gluten-free pastas

So you might even find quinoa pastas at your grocery store, that's another way to get quinoa into your diet And of course there are also quinoa flakes, which I also use in a lot of my baking Things like cookies, and granola, even just like a hot breakfast cereal Quinoa is a great source, not only of iron but also of protein and fiber It's a complex carbohydrate so it digests a little bit more easily in the system and it's also high in a few other trace minerals like magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus

Number five on our list are pumpkin seeds And pumpkin seeds admittedly are not something that I honestly eat all that much, although I know they are incredibly nutrient and mineral rich, they're probably one of the most mineral and nutrient rich seeds out there, so they're a really great thing to incorporate into your diet, I just personally kind of forget about them, even though I always have them in my cabinet You can just do something as simple as sprinkling them on top of your salad or on top of your oatmeal You can add them into your smoothies and they are a great source of plant-based protein They're full of healthy fats and they're full of things like iron as well a few other trace minerals

So pumpkin seeds are something that I definitely recommend that you pick up the next time you're at the store And just keep in your pantry to like use here and there as a simple way to get in little bit of extra iron into your plant-based diet Number six is the all mighty chickpea Another ingredient that I personally use in my cooking, pretty much all the time, like definitely on a weekly basis Love chickpeas, everything from hummus to crispy chickpeas on top of salad

Soups with chickpeas, blending them up to use in baking I think chickpeas are one of those beans that are just incredibly versatile I don't find that they have as strong of a taste as some of the other beans I think they're kind of mild, they're really high in protein, really high in fiber, and again, also really high in iron as well as a few other trace minerals, including calcium The next two on our list are actually both greens

Number seven is Swiss chard And as I was doing some research in my nutrition books as well as online and I was looking for some of the highest sources of iron in the plant-based diet I was actually kind of surprised to come along Swiss chard because I don't feel like Swiss chard makes many lists, although it is a very healthy ingredient Not something that I personally almost ever use, although after doing all of the research and learning more about it, I'm definitely going to start Swiss chard is great because not only is it the highest green source of iron

So in the greens world, it has the highest source of iron, but it's also kind of mild in terms of flavor unlike kale or things like collards or some of the more spicy greens like mustard greens I would say that chard is more taste-wise, along the lines of spinach Really easy to incorporate into things like smoothies Also you can saute it and it's absolutely delicious, with like some olive oil, lemon and garlic You can stir it into salads, you can chop it up finely into ribbons, toss it into your salads

You could add it into a tofu or egg scramble Really there are no end of ways to use Swiss chard And it's also just incredibly good for you and it tends to be a little bit on the cheaper side versus something like kale So maybe next time you're at the store, try picking up a bunch of Swiss chard instead of kale Or spinach, which is our next one And try incorporating it into your diet and see what you think of it

Number eight on our list is spinach Spinach is my one true love when it comes to greens, I buy spinach every single week It's in my staple grocery list that I shared last week And I just think spinach is fabulous I love the taste of spinach, I love the variety of like being able to use spinach

I love adding it into my smoothie bowls I love putting it on sandwiches, I love sauteing it, I really think that spinach is one of those things that you can use in probably a million different ways Even just blending it up into like a green muffin or something like that, so easy to use and incredibly healthy Of course spinach is really high in protein and fiber which is great, packed with chlorophyll which is really great for detoxifying It's high in calcium, it's high in iron, of course

And like I said it doesn't have much of a taste so it's incredibly like, versatile in terms of how you wanna use it So, if you're not already on the spinach train, hop on because spinach is fabulous Number nine is something that I also use quite regularly and that is tahini You guys know I love tahini, I love using it in my salad dressings, it's an amazing thing to just drizzle on top of roasted sweet potatoes, you can stir it into a dip, you can use it in smoothies, you can use it on top of toast It is so good, it has such an awesome flavor to

If you've never tried tahini it isn't quite a sweet as something like almond butter It has a little bit of like a savoriness to it, but it's toasted, it's just like, ah, so good So I highly recommend next time you're at the store, pick up some tahini, it is one of the most versatile, I think, nut and seed butters Love, love, love it, on top of salads I will link my favorite tahini salad dressings down in the description box for you because I've done an entire video and blog post all about about to use tahini

And the last thing on our list is one of my favorite personal snacks and that is dried figs Figs are great, not only are they just delicious, like they are just sweet and they, I'm so excited whenever it's fig season I finally started seeing them in the stores, and I'm just like, ah But dried figs specifically are really high in iron And you luckily can find dried figs at pretty much every single grocery store

And my personal favorite way to eat figs, which it might sound a little bit weird, is honestly just to take one dried fig, spread it with a little bit of peanut butter, maybe if I have some chia jam in my fridge, do a dollop of that on top of it, and eat it like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich It is to die for It's honestly so good, I know it sounds a little bit weird but they are such an awesome snack And, figs are also really nutritious They're super high in fiber, they're great for digestion, they also have some natural sugars in them

So they're a little bit energizing, which is really great, and in addition to all of those amazing properties, they're also nigh in calcium and they're high in iron So, they're one of those things that you could just throw in your bag, bring with you on the way to work or just while you're traveling Or you could chop them up, throw them into a salad, or like a quinoa salad or something like that There's a lot of different ways to eat figs and I will be sharing some of those in the blog post that I mentioned And there you have it my friends, that is our list of the 10 best vegan sources of iron

I hope you enjoyed today's video If you have any questions for me, definitely leave them in the comments down below Like I mentioned throughout the video, I do have a blog post that goes along with this video so I've outlined everything I've given you all the specific measurements and amounts of iron and each of the serving sizes for the different sources Of course you also saw them on the screen

So, if you wanna rewind you can do that, but the reading of the blog post might be easier for you to just follow along and reference back to Of course, I've also included some recipe inspirations so if you're looking for ways to use some of these ingredients, that is found in the blog post as well And if there are any other nutrients or minerals or anything like this that you would like featured on the channel, please let me know We've done calcium as well as protein and I have few more on the blog that I will link down below But I could totally make videos if you're interested

Hope you guys enjoyed it, thank you so much for tuning in Don't forget to subscribe before you go, there's a red button right below this video, it says subscribe and that will subscribe you I would love to have you join this awesome community here on YouTube We have a lot of fun Otherwise, have a fabulous rest of your day and I'll see you guys in the next video, bye

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