Friday, May 23, 2014

OFFICIAL WIFE: Plant Sources for Dietary Iron, Calcium

When I was younger I went through a period where I wanted to sleep all the time so they took me to the doctor.

PRESCRIPTION: Eat a plate of fried chicken livers every Sunday after church.

Yes, that's actually what the doctor said. He said I could put ketchup on them, if I wanted, and told my mom to ask for a certain guy in Big Star's meat department if she couldn't find any. Liver has an odd texture so we ended up pureeing it and adding it to meatloaf, cornbread dressing, beanie weanies, etc.

Most of my life, I've been iron deficient, but other than that episode, it's not been a big deal.

Boy did I get bad off towards the end of Lent. It got so bad because we didn't think anything was wrong. I was just tired. Then, we put all the symptoms together... Since then, I've been on an iron consumption CRUSADE! I've learned a lot so I'll share. :)

Personal Considerations: I'm obese so all my options need to be low calorie. I'm also not eating commercially processed grains (pasta, cereal, sandwich bread) and am generally tending toward low carb (broccoli, apples, edamame, green beans, salads) options instead of higher carbs (potatoes, corn, bananas, grains). I don't want to spend a lot of money. I don't like pills (loop back a sentence).

To think-- Alex used to be the picky one!

From previous research, I know that thyme is a good source of iron that is very low cal. One teaspoon of thyme yields 9.6%DRV iron and is 3.9cal!
In a previous dieting episode so as to meet my protein and iron goals, I had eight egg whites and three tablespoons of thyme for dinner... No amount of hot sauce can make that pleasant. As an easy way to overall increase your iron consumption, though, this is a useful fact. Sprinkle it on eggs. Put it in your soup. No calories left today and need iron? Sautee sliced mushrooms with thyme and red pepper flake-- but add a skosh* of olive oil if you can spare it. You can even sprinkle it on the mayo/Laughing Cow side of a sandwich or on luncheon meat roll-ups.

The next good source is greens. Baby spinach salads were a go-to: 88g (dinner plate full) baby spinach has 36.2cal and 17.3% DRV Iron. I used a dressing of 1T apple cider vinegar+1/4t red pepper flake+1t olive oil and topped it with either 118g (4oz+) grilled chicken** and 3g (1/2T+) freshly grated parmesan OR 180g (1/2 large) cucumber sliced with a side of tofu slab grilled on cast iron griddle. In addition to fresh spinach, I also added cooked spinach to my diet. Breakfast this week has been:

1 egg
101g (0.4c+) egg substitute
1t thyme
1/3 can spinach, drained
154cal 20pro 34%Fe 18%Ca

I did find something *!NEW!* this go round. Some Thai tea has iron! I just happened to be browsing my favorite bulk and exotics store (upcoming post devoted to this store), when I came upon this thai tea which gives 25%DRV for 15cal. I was all excited about this. It smells divine and tastes pretty good, too. When I ran out, though, they didn't have that brand. I looked through the other offerings which were mostly milk and sugar, but then I found this thai tea, which is actually much cheaper at $4.99/lb. One tablespoon is 5cal and yields 6% iron. Alex brews two tablespoons in a 24oz Tervis cup for me every morning with two tablespoons of sucralose (e.g. Splenda). This means breakfast is 164cal 20pro 46%Fe 18%Ca. That gives me a good start, but you'll see below that I'm still struggling a bit.

I ran out of cooked spinach Thursday, and as of Friday I now have neither cooked nor fresh so I'm adding one cup of turnip greens to my dinner. We have the Farmer's Market on Thursday here, and there were several greens to choose from. Here's a side-by-side comparison:

Cooking on cast iron pans also increases iron intake. Oh, and I've found the solution to my consistently low calcium intake. Silk Light Original Almond Milk:
It has fewer calories and MORE calcium than skim milk! --and look at that B12. I'm drinking one cup after work each day.

A tofu steak also has 94cal 13%Fe 16%Ca. The other thing I've learned is that modest amounts of iron do add up to fill in the last of the gap.
  • 9cal romaine leaves to separate the chicken curry and cantaloupe in my lunch box(or for a lettuce wrap)=3%
  • 82cal cantaloupe=3%
  • 24cal of cucumbers on my salad=3%
While I've been diligent about increasing my iron intake since before Lent ended, I've just now started tracking my meals again. This has also helped me really hone in on that 100% goal this week:

I've also discovered a new snack! For 14cal you get a small potato chip bag's worth of seasoned seaweed along with 3g protein and 3%Fe! You can also get this in packaging that metes them out three 3"X1" strips at a time.

Hoping This is Helpful,

Practical Woman

*From the Japanese sukoshi meaning 'a little, somewhat' inherited as US slang during the Korean War era.
**One might think meat is a good source of iron. Not really... That 118g of chicken is 143cal yielding only 1%Ca and5%Fe-- though 27g of protein.

PS: I'm sending the stars and moons to church this week. Should be tasty! ;)

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