I’m always looking for ways to increase my iron intake without having to take an iron supplement. Those little suckers do not sit well in my stomach. Iron supplements should be taken short term and can be helpful, but I needed a more permanent solution that wouldn’t make me feel sick. Cue whole foods.
A large majority of the population is iron deficient. An iron deficiency is the most common nutritional issue in the world effecting about 30% of the world’s population. Iron is a nutrient in our red blood cells and helps transport oxygen throughout our bodies. A sign you might be iron deficient is fatigue. Even if you are physically fit but get winded easily or feel exhausted at the end of the work day could be signs you are low in iron. Of course, the best way to know what vitamins and nutrients you are low in is to get a thorough blood test done.
Supplements can definitely help fill the gaps of what we do not get from our diet, but the key word here is supplement. We cannot rely on taking vitamins alone to fulfill our nutritional needs. It is always better to fuel our bodies with whole foods and use supplementation to fill in the gaps that our bodies aren’t absorbing from whole foods.
Beyond making sure I have healthy fats and protein with breakfast, I also include foods high in vitamins and minerals. Every time we eat is an opportunity to nourish our bodies. With that in mind, I created this granola recipe and included a few key ingredients that are good sources of iron: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, mulberries, and raisins. If you really want to pump up your iron absorption, add vitamin C rich foods like strawberries and apples to your granola, or sip on a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.
A 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds provides 16% of the daily amount of iron needed. They are great to munch on alone, in trail mix, on muffins, or in salads. Sunflower seeds and sesame seeds (not pictured) are also great sources of iron. Sunflower seeds also contain high sources of magnesium which can decrease symptoms of fatigue.
Mulberries and raisins both contain iron and vitamin C so it’s a win win. Mulberries outrank raisins when it comes to iron content and vitamin C. Just 1/8 cup of mulberries can provide 20% iron and 130% vitamin C! They have a similar flavor to raisins but are a little tougher in texture. I find them pretty delicious.
I use whole spices and grind them as I use them. Whole spices keep longer and the fresh taste is more powerful than already ground spices. My favorite is the Cuisinart Nut/Spice Grinder.
- 3 cups gluten free rolled oats
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1 cup raw pecans
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- pinch sea salt
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/3 cup raw honey
- 1 chopped apple
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 mulberries
- Preheat oven to 325
- In a large mixing bowl, combine rolled oats, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflowers seeds, almonds, pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, sea salt, and chopped apple. Mix thoroughly.
- In a small bowl, mix together coconut oil and raw honey.
- Pour honey mixture over dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. You may need to use your hands!
- Cover baking sheet with parchment paper and speed granola on baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Take out of the oven, stir around, and place back in the oven. Bake for another 20-30 minutes until golden brown but not burnt.
- Remove from oven and let cool.
- Store in glass jars. Mason jars are my favorite!
Question: What do you like to add to your granola?