“Eat those greens” was the regular admonition administered by my doctor mom. But who pays heed in childhood to well-meaning nagging of parents?
A year ago I weighed 67 kg.
For a person who had not put on any extra weight even after pregnancy, I looked fat. My girth was not at all flattering, my face seemed puffed up and I wasn’t really feeling confident. I had become laid back, my clothes seemed ill fitted and I looked ‘old’ to myself.
I had turned forty… An age they say to be naughty and flirty! But I felt fat and fifty!!
That is when I pulled myself together. I did not want to enter on other side of middle age huffing and puffing with pills and pains. I joined a gym…
It isn’t that I was eating junk all the time, but the nutritionist pointed out that my carbohydrate intake was definitely much more than the proteins and iron. While proteins help in building muscle mass, iron too is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in many bodily functions. Lack of sufficient amount of iron may lead to anemia, headaches, hair fall, brittle nails, breathlessness and even irritability.
I had no clue that my headaches could have been due to insufficient iron.
Found in two forms in foods, heme in animal products and non-heme in plants, the average intake recommended is 18 mg per day which may vary depending on age and gender of a person.
We women often suffer from anemia. Anemic women may even have trouble during pregnancy with mother’s anemia adversely affecting the fetus. With menstruation being added burden on women, we need at least 27 mg during pregnancy.
Meat eaters have the advantage over vegetarians as the iron content from animal products is easily absorbed in our bodies. Hence the vegetarians need to have more iron rich food and more frequently.
So now at 63 kg, though yet miles away from an hourglass figure, I know where I went wrong. Besides a daily exercise routine, I brought some changes in my eating habits especially the breakfast.
Now my breakfast menu looks something like this:
Monday: 2 boiled eggs, 1 bowl oats garnished with almonds, colorful tutti-fruity, raisins, walnuts and sometimes banana slices.
Tuesday: 1 generous bowl of spiced boiled sprouted black gram and 1 boiled egg
Wednesday: 2 boiled eggs, 1 khakra
Thursday: 1 generous bowl of steamed spiced sprouted Moth and Moong (brown and green lentils)
Friday and Saturday repeat either of these. Sunday is for either poha, upma, sabudana khichdi or bread-omelette.
I also changed my dinner habits by eating smaller portions and twice a week I eat only sautéed broccoli and mushrooms. Some may however not relish these exotic vegetables, not to forget the exorbitant price these days. Legumes work best for vegetarians, if I may say so, both in cost and iron content.
Now Livogen, aims to educate women on importance and benefits of iron intake for a healthy lifestyle by sharing iron rich food recipes. So here is an easy recipe for vegetarians with cooked lentils.
RECIPE OF USAL:
- Soaked sprouted whole moong (green lentil) 1 cup
- Soaked sprouted whole moth (brown lentil) 1 cup
- Ginger julienne 1 tbsp
- Cumin seeds 2 tsp
- Seasoning : Mustard seeds, Asafoetida, salt, sugar, green chilies, curry leaves, dry mango powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder
- Soak overnight the two lentils. Drain excess water and let these sprout for a day. These can even be eaten as quick snack. (Quick snack recipe: mix raw sprouts with finely chopped onion, tomatoes, capsicum, spinach, chat masala, pepper powder, salt, pinch of sugar and juice of half a lemon).
- Pressure cook the lentils for just about one whistle to avoid over cooking. The cooked lentils should keep their shape.
- In a pan heat 1 tbsp oil preferably mustard oil or olive oil for added advantage.
- Add hing(asafoetida) and mustard seeds.
- As the mustard seeds crackle, add curry leaves, green chilies, turmeric powder, pinch of red chili powder.
- If the spice in green chili is not very strong add red chili powder; aim is to prepare a breakfast which is easy for digestion and not that will burn your insides.
- Add cooked lentils. Add a pinch of sugar or little more, salt and dry mango powder.
- Add raw ginger julienne and raw cumin seed after the water is almost dried.
- Garnish with chopped coriander(I did not have fresh coriander at home though) . Serve hot.
The best chefs also recommend cooking food in iron skillet for that iron content in food.
There are however some foods that reduce the absorption of sufficient iron which may not be totally avoidable but can be eaten in moderation. Similarly there are foods that facilitate the absorption of iron. White wine is one such thing.
So what are you waiting for?
Grab that bottle of bubbly, a bowl of sprouts or a roasted chicken and get your fill of the iron!