At my last prenatal appointment, I had my iron levels tested. I've thought for a while I was slightly anemic but the test confirmed it and I've been looking for ways to increase my iron intake with and without supplements.
The common recommendations are to eat leafy greens, cook in a cast iron skillet, and take an iron supplement. I started on a supplement and nearly always use cast iron when cooking but those leafy greens have always been my downfall. With five bags of mustard greens sitting in my freezer from last winters garden I've been mixing up smoothies to get some extra in my diet.
Curious as to how much iron is actually in the 'leafy greens' we're supposed to be eating?
Mustard Greens - 0.9mg
Spinach - 0.8mg
Kale - 1mg
Chard - 0.6mg
*amount in 1 cup
Unfortunately, a smoothie of just leafy greens or even a plate of leafy greens can leave much to be desired. It's far tastier to mix in some extras to make your big green smoothie drinkable. Fruit can be super helpful in upping the taste factor but watch out for the sugar content. Being heavy-handed with the fruit can outweigh much of the benefits from the greens or anything else.
Smoothies are one of the easiest ways to get in essential nutrients - not to mention simple and delicious - for a well balanced diet. Much of my protein comes from nuts or nut milks or butters I add to smoothies as well. Following a plant based vegan diet, especially during pregnancy means taking a little extra time and thought to prepare and make sure you're getting everything the body needs. But even if you're not restricting animal products, you may still be missing key vitamins and minerals from your diet and fruits and veggies are always a good bet for where to find them!
So drink up!
Iron Pumping Smoothie (serves 2)
1 cup leafy greens
1 inch of peeled ginger root
a handful of chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh or frozen pineapple or mango
juice of 1/2 - 1 lemon
I like mixing the greens and coconut water first then adding the frozen ingredients and then the rest. If you're using a good high speed blender, the order shouldn't matter much. Add more or less coconut water if needed.