Plant-based sources of iron for kids

Raising a vegan child is not without its challenges in a world that largely believes he needs to eat red meat to get adequate iron. It would seem he’s neither lethargic nor prone to recurrent infections; he’s keeping up at school, is of the bouncy boy variety, sleeps well and more importantly had normal iron levels when tested.

Like any 10-year-old he can be fussy and his tastes are developing. I’ll freely admit I’ve had my moments through his toddler years (don’t we all!). There were times when I’m sure he was surviving on apples and bananas. Two years of mother’s milk and he was straight onto water with no need for milk substitutes. Now he starts his day with a cup of hot molasses.

So what other iron rich foods are on the menu?

  • Blackstrap molasses – in cookies and morning┬ádrink.
  • Blended greens in morning smoothie
  • Chia seeds in smoothie and lunchbox cookies and muffins
  • Buckwheat – Chocolate cranberry granola
  • Weetbix (this is NZ after all)
  • Fruit juice sweetened corn flakes
  • Pumpkin seeds, prunes, apricots, dates, and other nuts and seeds – iron-rich chocolate truffles
  • Tofu – seared in tamari for sushi or as a side
  • Nori
  • Potatoes (ok he hates them but we live and hope)
  • Frozen peas – pea pesto, leafy greens, broccoli, green capsicums
  • Baked beans
  • Pumpkin soup
  • Lentil soup
  • Black bean dip, brownie or fudge
  • Chickpeas – hummus, falafels and these chocolate-chickpea truffles
  • Dark chocolate Samba sandwich (non dairy version of Nutella)
  • Dark chocolate – sparingly!

There are of course vegan convenience foods that tend to be fortified with iron (especially the plant-based milks as opposed to cow milk which is very low in iron an may cause anemia) and he’s partial to a plant-based “hot dog” or two.

To read more about cow milk induced anemia click here.