A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine who was wondering if her daughter is getting enough iron from food sources. Her question is a legitimate one, as children are growing and their bodies need more and more iron as years pass in order to function optimally (especially girls during puberty). Studies show that almost 15% of children develop iron deficiency by the age of two. Besides the obvious sources of iron (meat, and particularly organ meats), iron can also be found in:

  • Legumes – Lentils and Beans (Lima, Garbanzo – also known as Chickpeas, Navy, Black, Kidney, etc.)
  • Green leafy vegetables – Spinach, Swiss chard, Romaine lettuce, etc.
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Olives
  • Parsley
  • Spices – Cumin, Turmeric, Chili peppers

Olives are a surprisingly rich source of iron. Both my children love eating olives, so I often offer them olives as part of a morning or afternoon snack.

One more fact about iron: when we eat a meal rich in iron, we help its absorption if we add a vitamin C rich food to it. This applies even more to iron that comes from plants than from meat. For example, if you serve a spinach salad to your family, make sure you add some drops of lemon juice as part of the dressing. A great snack rich in iron is a mixture of sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and roasted garbanzo beans served with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice to increase iron absorption.

Making a recipe rich in iron is going to help children get enough iron from food, instead of relying on iron supplements (which are known to cause constipation as a side effect). This stew features lentils, beans, spinach, and parsley which are all sources of iron. Delicious and nutritious!

Lentils Beans and Spinach Stew
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
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Serves: 8
Lentils, Beans, and Spinach Stew
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 big garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 cups uncooked lentils, rinsed and drained - I like to use split red lentils
  • 6 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
  • 1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans - I prefer Eden brand as it is BPA-free
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans - also BPA-free Eden brand
  • 1 (25 oz.) jar crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups spinach, finely chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • Additional: parsley, parmesan or nutritional yeast, lemon juice
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent.
  2. Add the celery, carrots, lentils, broth, oregano, basil, and bay leaves. Stir well to combine.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer the stew uncovered for at least 20 minutes.
  4. When the vegetables and lentils are almost cooked, stir in the beans and tomatoes. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and add spinach during the last minute of cooking, as iron is removed almost completely from the spinach leaves boiled for more than 3 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle grated parmesan or nutritional yeast (if you avoid dairy) just before serving.
  7. Immediately prior eating, sprinkle finely chopped parsley.
  8. Do not forget a squeeze of lemon juice that helps bind all the flavours together.
Do you want to add more iron to this meal? Serve it with sausages or grilled chicken.

You can make it more “soupy” if you add more broth (extra 3 - 4 cups).
My whole family loves this stew. We enjoy eating it with a side of polenta. I am sure it is equally delicious with garlic bread.
Do you worry about your child not getting enough iron from their diet? What do you do to ensure that this does not happen?


Source for nutritional information: www.whfoods.com[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]