It has been about a year and a half on a vegan diet and I was very curious about what my blood tests would show. I recently went to get new blood tests it showed my iron levels were lower than last time – a bit below ‘normal’.

I am a big believer in diet first, then medicine, and my experience has been that correcting my diet eliminates the need for pharmaceutical drugs. Even though I am not on a raw food diet, my main reference book is Becoming Raw – The Essential Guide to Raw Vegan Diets by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina so I went to look up the section on iron. I learned that iron transports oxygen throughout the body and carries away the waste product carbon dioxide. Iron also improves immune system functioning. I would probably benefit from taking a multi-vitamin (I do once in a while) I wondered what would happen if I conciously set out to create a soup or stew to build iron-rich blood.

There are many vegetarians sources of iron so that is not a problem. Did you know though, that by combining an iron rich food and a calcium rich food, you can increase the iron absorption? Iron absorption doubles with at least 25 milligrams of vitamin C. My goal is to reach about 8 mg of iron per day (the RDI range is 8 to 18 mg: younger women from 18-50 years of age will need to be in the upper limit).

My high iron vegetable ingredients choices include:

  • lentils –  ( 17.3 mg in one cup, dried)
  • quinoa – (15.7 mg in one cup, dried)
  • sun dried tomato – (4.9 mg in one cup, dried)
  • parlsey, chopped – (3.7 mg in one cup)
  • pumpkin seeds, (20.7 in one cup)

My vitamin C vegetable incredients choices include:

  • bok choy, shredded (32 mg in one cup)
  • cauliflower (46 mg in one cup)
  • kale (80 mg in one cup)
  • red cabbage (51 mg in one cup)
  • broccoli (75 mg in one cup)
  • green peas (58 mg in one cup)
  • bell pepper, yellow (273 mg in one cup)
  • avocado (from 15-53 mg depending on size and type)

Of course your list might be different. There are certainly more choices – flax seeds for instance are a great source of iron. But uou can make a lot of different combinations with these ingredients by changing the base, the vegetables, the spices and condiments. Condiments high in vitamin C include hot green chiles (364 per cup!) of course probably less than a teaspoon would be used in a recipe so it is minimal. Parsley packs a punch with 80 mg per cup.

Here is the Recipe I made today:

Soup Stock/Base
In a large pot I browned chopped onion in about a teaspoon of olive oil and when it became soft I added 1 clove of minced garlic, a couple of bay leaves and a tablespoon of dried parlsey. I added a half of chopped turnip and 6 chopped carrots and put them on low to cook until almost tender. You could puree this if you want but I left mine chunky.

Add to the Stock

  • 1 cup dry brown lentils
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomato
  • 1 cup califlower, chopped
  • 1 cup of bok choy, chopped.

I added the lentils, tomato and cauliflower to the pot with enough water to cover.  You could hydrate the dried tomatoes before adding them to the soup and chop – add the liquid you used to soak the tomato in to the stock too – but I just cut them up dry and tossed them in. Simmer until the vegetables are almost tender. The bok choy will take about 15 minutes to cook so I added them last.


Salt and pepper to taste. 1 also added a tablespoon of lemon juice and a quarter teaspoon of pureed chilpotle chili pepper. Here is how to make chilpotle puree by Alan Roettinger.


  • avocado slices
  • pumpkin seeds

Serve up in large bowls with garnishes on the side. This made enough for4 to 6 meals as a main course.

© Deborah Redfern 2012.

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