Quinoa Mixed with Chickpeas and Spinach Recipe

Looking for a simple recipe to up your iron intake, but don’t want to sacrifice time or taste?  Pack this quick cook dish − quinoa mixed with chickpeas and spinach − in your lunch and have your coworkers salivating!

Added bonus? Quinoa, a tiny but powerful super grain, has twice as much fiber as many other grains.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 cup water
¾ cup fresh squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
½ teaspoon sea salt
zest from two oranges
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup organic raisins
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1-2 cups spinach leaves, trimmed, washed, drained and dried
salt to taste
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup toasted pine nuts or almonds
1 orange cut into wedges

1. Rinse the quinoa well and drain in a fine-mesh sieve. Combine water and orange juice (to equal 1 ¾ cups) and bring to a boil in a 1.5- or 2-quart saucepan. Add salt, orange zest, and rinsed quinoa. Return to the boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit covered to fluff up.

2. While the quinoa is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Add the onions and sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes, until they have softened and started to brown a bit. Add garlic and sauté until golden.

3. Add raisins, chickpeas, and chopped spinach. Cover and cook over medium heat for five minutes, or just until the spinach has wilted. Adjust heat if necessary. Drain any excess water after cooking the spinach. Season to taste with salt.

4. To serve, fold the vegetables into the hot, cooked quinoa. Stir in cinnamon. Garnish with toasted pine nuts or almonds and orange wedges for a final squeeze of orange juice (for extra iron absorption!).

5 Iron-Rich Snacks & Treats for Holiday Parties

The holiday season is upon us and this often means many parties, potlucks, and social gatherings. So, if you’re going to bring a yummy treat to share, why not give the gift of iron? Here are a few ideas for you:

(1 cup black beans = 9.7 mg of iron)

Substituting black beans into a cake recipe is not only healthier and gets you closer to your daily iron intake goals, but it’s also delicious, believe it or not! There are tons of black bean cake recipes available online, but see below for one of my favourites!

1-15 ounce can of unseasoned black beans
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of honey or other sweetener + 1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract
6 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 tablespoon of water (omit if using honey)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease a 9 cake pan with extra virgin olive oil, or a thin layer of butter.
Drain and rinse beans. Shake off excess water.
Place beans, 3 of the eggs, vanilla, stevia and salt into blender. Blend on high until beans are completely liquefied. Whisk together cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder.
Beat butter with sweetener until light and fluffy.
Add remaining two eggs, beating for a minute after each.
Pour bean batter into egg mixture and mix.
Finally, stir in cocoa powder and water (if using), and beat the batter on high for one minute, until smooth.
Scrape batter into pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 40-45 minutes.
Cake is done with the top is rounded and firm to the touch.

(1 cup sweet potato cubed = 0.8 mg of iron)

I bet that you can’t have just one of these delicious chips. It’s okay to indulge in this snack because it’s a healthier alternative and also contains some iron! Just slice, lightly cover with extra light olive oil, season with pepper, and bake!

(1 cup dry oatmeal = 29.9 mg of iron)

Instead of pairing this classic recipe with chocolate chips (although one of my personal favourites), which can inhibit the absorption of iron, try adding dried nuts like almonds (1 cup ground = 3.5 mg if iron) or dried fruit like apricots (1 cup = 7.5 mg of iron) or raisins (1 cup = 3.1 mg of iron).

(100 grams of gingerbread = 2.9 mg of iron)

When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with gingerbread cookies; a holiday classic! Much of the iron contents come from the chewy, ooey-gooey ingredient molasses (1/2 cup = 7.95 mg of iron).

(1 cup mashed bananas = 0.6 mg of iron ; 1 cup mixed nuts = 3.5 mg of iron)

This serves well as a desert loaf (or even as a slice for breakfast the morning after) and the mixed nuts help to kick up the iron content! Just be mindful with this one because, depending on the recipe, this loaf can be high in fat and calories. Slice into small portions and serve.

Happy holidays and happy snacking!

School is (almost) out for the summer

Iron Deficiency in ChildrenRing those bells. Next week is the last week of the school year!

Did you know that kids are a risk group for iron deficiency? As your kids count down the minutes until the final bell, here are some tips to ensure your child is meeting their iron needs this summer:

  • Got a picky eater? Try some of these clever ways to get iron in your child’s diet.
  • Not sure about what foods are high in iron? Check out this article on the amount of iron in these popular foods.

Think your child might be iron deficient? Use our symptom checker to take with you to your doctor’s appointment.








Content and advice provided on The Iron Maiden is for information purposes only and should not serve as a substitute for a licensed health care provider, who is knowledgeable about an individual’s unique health care needs. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual authors and does not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency or employer.

Let’s Talk Kids…

Children are our future, and we want to give them the best possible shot to be all they can be. However, you’d be surprised to find out that a good number of our young people are actually iron deficient! Based on small recent studies, it’s estimated that almost 12-64% of them are iron deficient!

Is your child at risk?

You may be wondering why so many kids are suffering from iron deficiency. Commonly, for children between the ages of 9 months and 3 years and also during puberty, this can be explained by their growing bodies. Literally, they’re growing, and rapid growth creates a need for increased blood volume (and iron). If children are not absorbing enough iron from their diet, the body may not be able to keep up with the new increased demands. There are other reasons that children at various ages can develop iron deficiency – take a look at all of the child risk groups here.

Iron deficiency not only impacts children in Canada but also children abroad. By the numbers, iron deficiency anemia affects almost 750 million children worldwide. That’s a lot of children who are not getting enough iron, especially since iron deficiency is preventable!

So what happens if a child is iron deficient?

Well, iron deficiency can not only cause your child to feel tired or lethargic and reduce their exercise tolerance, but various studies have shown that untreated iron deficiency can have a significant impact on a child’s cognitive function. A child with iron deficiency may experience changes in their behavior including issues concentrating, learning disabilities, and/or reduced emotional responsiveness.

There are ways to prevent and treat iron deficiency

Add more iron-rich foods (like iron-fortified cereals, poultry, fish, etc…) into your child’s diet. Even if you have a picky eater, there are ways to get around this! Check out my 10 clever ways to get more iron into your child’s diet without them even knowing!

If diet alone is not enough, you could also introduce a pediatric formulated iron supplement (liquids or powders). Learn about the different pediatric iron supplements and talk to your doctor/pharmacist for more information on choosing the right one for your child.

There are effective options for treating iron deficiency, but the key is to stay aware and know how to recognize the symptoms to ensure you can take the best next steps to prevent iron deficiency in your children.

Iron Intake on Summer Weekends

Summer is here! Like me, I’m sure you’re ready to say goodbye to winter and finally enjoy the hot weather.  As we head into summer weekends, here are some ideas on ways to enjoy the food, fun and sun while making sure you and your family are keeping up your iron intake.

Enhance Absorption with These Top 10 Vitamin C Rich Foods

Strawberries? Brussel sprouts? Yes, please! Vitamin C helps your body to better absorb iron. Add these Vitamin C rich foods to your plate or glass this weekend to help you better absorb your iron. As an added bonus, some of these foods are locally grown in the summer!

10 Clever Ways to Get More Iron into Your Child’s Diet

Hosting a BBQ this weekend? Here are 10 clever ways to get your fussy eaters to eat more iron – #3 and #4 sound like a perfect addition to a backyard fiesta!

Adding ‘Superfoods’ to Your Diet in 2015

We’re hitting the halfway point for the year. If you made a new year’s resolution to eat better in 2015, consider adding these superfoods to your plate this weekend!

Top 12 Iron-Rich Foods for Vegans & Vegetarians

For my vegan and vegetarian friends, there are still plenty of foods to eat that are great sources of iron and taste great on the BBQ. Did you know one large potato has 3.2 mg of iron?

Cheers to the weekend!

Top 12 Iron-Rich Foods for Vegans & Vegetarians

Even though you may not be eating meat – or as much meat as the average person – iron deficiency doesn’t have to be a problem. The risk of having low iron is definitely higher when you cut (or limit) meat from your diet, since the heme iron found in meat is easier to absorb than the non-heme iron in plant-based foods.

If you make the effort to choose vegan or vegetarian-friendly foods that are high in iron, there are ways to help keep your iron in check. For instance, I’ve come up with a list of the top 12 iron-rich foods suitable for vegans and vegetarians:

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The Calcium Controversy: Does it Inhibit Iron Absorption or Not?

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then chances are that you’ve seen a mention or two about iron absorption inhibitors, including calcium. This is a bit of a controversial topic since some say that calcium greatly impacts iron absorption and others say it doesn’t. It can get a little confusing when you’re getting conflicting information, so I thought it would be worth discussing further.

There is some evidence to support the impact of calcium on iron absorption, albeit from short-term studies focused on this interaction with single meals. On the other hand, long-term studies have found that calcium and milk products don’t have any adverse effect on iron absorption.

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Enhance Absorption with These Top 10 Vitamin C-Rich Foods

Vitamin C helps your body to better absorb iron – both from the iron-rich foods you eat and from iron supplements – along with all kinds of other great health benefits! In past articles, I’ve mentioned that to enhance absorption you can consume non-heme foods with a good source of Vitamin C, and you can take your iron supplement with orange, grapefruit or prune juice (note: this has been proven beneficial only with iron salt formulations).

So, to help you make the most of the iron you consume, here are 10 Vitamin C-rich foods that you can easily add to your daily diet:

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12 Iron-Rich Foods to Add to Your Diet Pronto

Need to up your iron intake? Well, this list of the top 12 iron-rich foods should help! Generally speaking, foods with an iron content of 1 – 5 mg per serving size are considered to be “good” sources of iron, and those with more than 5 mg of iron per serving are considered to be “excellent” sources of iron. The following 12 foods are not only the highest in iron, but are also found at most grocery stores and can be easily incorporated into your diet.

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Adding ‘Superfoods’ to Your Diet in 2015

Happy to see that you’re out of your turkey coma and ready to get back on track with some healthy choices for the New Year!

You’re not alone in wanting to eat better – most of us crave a healthier diet after a December of making merry with sweets and other holiday goodies. Even those who have made the effort to eat iron-rich foods over the holidays have probably managed to over-indulge in even these foods. ‘Tis the way of the season, it seems! You can have too much of a good thing though, and eating loads of red meat and other iron-rich foods, depending on how you prepare them, fat content, etc., can actually be a not-so-healthy choice.

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A Quick & Easy Guide to Choosing the Right Iron Supplement

So, you’re in need of an oral iron supplement and head to the pharmacy where you’re greeted by an overwhelming selection. How do you pick the right one without resorting to an impromptu game of eeny, meeny, miny, moe? Keeping in mind that every body is different (and a one-size-fits-all iron supplement does not exist), I recommend that the “right” iron supplement is one that patients can tolerate with the least amount of side effects.

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