3 great vegetarian recipes rich in BOTH protein and iron

3 great vegetarian recipes rich in BOTH protein and iron

Vegetarians can get all the nutrients

I have witnessed  time and time again, vegetarians struggling with creative recipe ideas that are high in protein and also iron. Well help is here. Being new to the vegetarian lifestyle myself, I can resonate with this. And I am here to support your wise lifestyle change.

The misconception that vegetarians cannot get enough iron and protein from a vegan or vegetarian diet is vast and needs to be corrected. The type of iron your body absorbs from  animal iron differs from that of plant-based. Heme is the name of the iron that comes from meat, and non-heme iron is the iron in plant-based foods.


Contrary to meat industry insinuation, vegetarians are not more prone to iron deficiency than are meat-eaters. Anemia is one the most common nutritional deficiencies around the world and the cause is more likely to be parasites than diet. I do a parasite cleanse annually, as I was a meat eater and I have a dog.

“If beef is your idea of ‘real food for real people,’ you’d better live real close to a real good hospital.”

Dr. Neal Barnard, Author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease

“Chicken fat, beef fat, fish fat, fried foods – these are the foods that fuel our fat genes by giving them raw materials for building body fat.”

Dr. Neal Barnard, Author of Turn Off the Fat Genes

The heme iron from meat is far more easily absorbed by the body, thus can cause conditions such as Hemochromatisis,  a serious disease and a common genetic disorder, associated with coronary heart disease, liver cancer. Absorbing too much of iron from meat is detrimental to your health, as the iron builds up, and you end up with too much in your system.

Antioxidants sustain health and help to prevent cancer, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses. Iron, on the other hand, is a potent oxidant.  Excess  heme iron in the body causes the production of free radicals, which in turn damages cells. With non heme iron, it’s a whole other healthier story.

Your body absorbs only what it needs from plant-based, iron-rich foods. When your iron needs are higher, your body takes in more, when lower, it absorbs less. And in this case, the wisdom of the body has a profound implication for health and longevity. Women tend to outlive men with the monthly shedding of the uterine lining women have significantly lower iron levels….which isn’t a bad thing. Men will benefit from making blood donations if they are  regular meat eaters.

Plant foods, rich in non heme iron include whole-grain breads and cereals, legumes, nuts and seeds, and dark green leafy vegetables. Some dried fruits are also good sources, particularly raisins, apricots, and dates.

3 great vegetarian recipes rich in BOTH protein and iron

Protein intake is over rated and high amounts take a toll on your kidneys

The daily protein requirements per Kg. of body weight is: approx. 1.1-1.5  grams per kg of body weight. If you are an athlete or exercise regularly, this number increases to about 1.4 – 1.8.  If fat loss is your goal, then the protein intake is higher. Teens 1.5-2.0 grams/kg of body weight.

Rely on plant proteins such as hemp. The proteins found in hemp are similar to proteins found in the human body. This is important, because hemp provides the correct amino acids in the right quantities to help our bodies make the proteins it needs. Hemp protein consists of globulins (edestin) and albumin. These are two of the three most common types of proteins found in the human body, and hemp has more of these than any other plant-based source of protein. Hemp is also a quality source of the amino acids arginine and histidine, required for growth, and it is a good source of branch-chained amino acids, needed for repair and growth of lean body tissue.

Spirulina contains more than 60% vegetable protein, which is much higher than fish, pork, or beef (which contains about 15 ~20 %). Animal protein is a much bigger molecule than vegetable protein, and is much harder for our system to digest.

Vegetable protein is water soluble, and is much smaller than animal protein. If you eat too much vegetable protein, it is simply discharged by your system, as waste and not stored as fat.

Nuts, legumes and beans are a must for vegetarians to maintain healthy protein levels. Peanut butter is a good snack on crackers and so are almond butters. Undenaturized whey protein is a very good source of protein in your smoothies . One I can recommend is CFN Alpha Whey 97 % pure protein.  Hemp milk, coconut milk, soy milk and almond milk are some healthy options aside from filtered water. Plant-based protein powders for the vegan is a great supplement. My favorite plant-based protein powder is Vega.

I will include 3 yummy recipes for the vegetarian in you

For the vegetarian, who does include dairy products, cottage cheese makes up for 15 grams of protein in ½ cup.

Firstly, some key tools to have for preparing yummy vegetarian dishes as well as raw meals are: a good set of knives, spiralizer to create vegetable noodles, a dehydrator comes in very handy for wrapping your nutrient dense food in say a tomato wrap that acts like bread. A good blender, I use the Vita Mix. With this you can make soups, whole grain breads and smoothies.

3 great vegetarian recipes rich in BOTH protein and iron

Quinoa and black beans

Original recipe makes 10 servings

1 teaspoons of vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

3/4 cup quinoa

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

salt and ground black pepper to taste

1 cup frozen corn kernels

2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir onion and garlic until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Mix quinoa into onion mixture and cover with vegetable broth; season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until quinoa is tender and broth is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes; mix in the black beans and cilantro.

Green Quinoa


2 cups cooked quinoa

1 cup chopped green lettuce

1 cup chopped baby spinach

1 cup chopped cucumber

1 cup chopped avocado

6 artichoke hearts, water pack, halves

1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro

Tbsp of Hemp seeds

10 small black canned olives

1/2 recipe tahini lime dressing


Add quinoa to a bowl. Rinse lettuce, spinach, parsley, cucumber and chop in bite sized pieces. Cube 1 cup avocado. Slice artichoke hearts in half lengthwise. Coarsely chop olives.  Add all other ingredients to the quinoa and mix well.

 Also check out 5 fascinating quinoa benefits for losing weight

Kale smoothie with pineapple and banana


1/2 cup coconut milk

2 cups stemmed and chopped kale or spinach

1 1/2 cups chopped pineapple (about 1/4 medium pineapple)

1 ripe banana, chopped

2 tsp spirulina

whey undenaturized, or plant-based protein powder

tbsp hemp seeds

tsp flax seeds


Combine the coconut milk, ½ cup water, the kale, pineapple, and banana in a blender and puree until smooth, about 1 minute, adding more water to reach the desired consistency.