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Here's What A Meatless Iron-Rich Diet Looks Like

Iron matters. It literally helps us to catch our breaths, helps our cells to function, and keeps our immune systems running. We can't produce iron on our own, and millions of women around the world need more of it because, as the CDC points out, iron is a tough mineral for the body to absorb. Eating the right foods in the right combinations makes a difference. Your body absorbs iron best from meat, fish and poultry. But if you're vegetarian, be sure to pair your iron-rich beans, lentils, and dark leafy greens with tomatoes, citrus, squash, broccoli and other foods high in vitamin C to unlock the full potential of the iron available in plants.

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Photo by JJRsMomma

These 13 recipes deliver a good percentage of your daily iron intake. #Efficient

1. Mediterranean Breakfast Quinoa | 6% daily value (DV) of iron

Dig into nutty cinnamon quinoa with dates, apricots, toasted almonds, and honey.

2. Sean's Falafel and Cucumber Sauce | 5% DV of iron

Not into frying? Just bake 'em in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes, flipping once after 10 minutes. Broil each side for 2 minutes after that so they'll crisp nicely. Yum.

Sean's Falafel and Cucumber Sauce 200866 JOANNAH 25309

Photo by JOANNAH

3. Andrea's Pasta Fagioli | 5% DV of iron

Easy and just right with a hunk of your favorite crusty bread.

593710 Andrea's Pasta Fagioli 25690 JJRsMomma

Photo by JJRsMomma

4. Delicious Black Bean Burritos | 7% DV of iron

Uncommonly good burritos that also freeze well. Make a double batch for busy weeknights. #Protip: Wrap in a damp paper towel when reheating a frozen burrito in a microwave to revive its fresh flavors.

5. Moroccan Lentil Soup | 6% DV of iron

Satisfying AND fills your kitchen with a wonderful aroma.

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Photo by CookinBug

6. Vegetarian Kale Soup | 5% DV of iron

Kale, potatoes, and cannellini beans team up for cozy comfort.

7. Kale Chips | 6% DV of iron

There are countless ways to top these crisp, healthy bites, including Parmesan, sesame oil, garlic powder, or nutritional yeast.

8. Baked Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Style | 5% DV of iron

Resist the Same Old Squash route. Try this recipe, inspired by baked rigatoni and lasagna.

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Photo by Faye

9. Spicy Vegan Potato Curry | 7% DV of iron

The flavor is even better the next day for lunch.

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10. Meatiest Vegetarian Chili from your Slow Cooker | 10% DV of iron

Can one recipe meet just about all your nutritional needs? This chili definitely is a top candidate, with more than half your daily needs of dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, magnesium, niacin, thiamin, and folate.

11. Marrakesh Vegetable Curry | 11% DV of iron

"I think this is one of the best things I have ever eaten in my entire existence." — DIVIANA

12. Kale, Quinoa, and Avocado Salad with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette | 7% DV of iron

Super foods, unite!

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Photo by Bibi

13. Lentils and Rice with Fried Onions | 5% DV of iron

Middle Eastern comfort food at its iron-rich finest.

Iron: it's essential, yet we can't make it ourselves. I don't know about you, but to me, that's ironic (see what I did there?). 

About Karen Gaudette Brewer

Karen Gaudette Brewer came into this world craving salmon; thinks orange zest is the best smell in the world; and never met a green chile chicken casserole she didn't like. She's the author of the book "Seafood Lover's Pacific Northwest" and a longtime food writer. Connect with her on Twitter and see what's for dinner: @nwfoodette.