You know that nasty taste when you bite your tongue? That’s the iron in your blood you’re tasting. Iron in your bloodstream serves a vital purpose — it helps to create red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout your body. So if you don’t have enough iron, you’re quite literally not getting enough oxygen.
Because women lose blood during their periods and their bodies must work to replenish their blood supply, women need around 18mg of iron a day — that’s more than twice the daily recommended dose for men! Whatever your gender, iron deficiency leaves you feeling tired, listless and irritable. It is, to put it mildly, no fun at all.
But that’s enough about the problem. Let’s get to the solution!
This week’s recipe is for a spinach salad that, in addition to being refreshingly crisp and flavorful, is a perfect meal to pick you up when you’re feeling depleted.
Let’s see: We’ve got spinach, an excellent natural source of iron. We’ve got pecans, also a source of iron as well as a source of natural fiber. We’ve got strawberries, which, like most fruits, are iron absorption enhancers which help your body take advantage of high-iron foods. And we’ve got feta cheese, which adds protein to make this salad a satisfying meal.
Note: This is a vegetarian recipe. If you omit the feta cheese, it becomes a vegan recipe. As always, you can experiment to make this recipe better for you — leave out spices you don’t like, or try different fruits and nuts.
Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Pecans
Credit: About.com, with a few alterations
8 ounces of torn spinach leaves or baby spinach leaves
1 ½ to 2 cups washed, sliced strawberries
½ cup pecan halves or pieces, raw or lightly toasted
2-3 ounces of crumbled feta cheese (optional)
¼ cup canola or other salad oil
2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon dried tarragon
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard.
Toss spinach with pecans, strawberries and feta cheese (if using).
Put the dressing ingredients in jar and shake until well blended. Drizzle over the salad and toss lightly.
To toast pecans, preheat your oven to 350˚ F, spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet, and cook for 5 minutes. Keep an eye on them during the baking process, as pecans burn very easily (and smell awful when they burn – take it from me).