So for the past few months, I’ve had low iron levels and it baffles me given the amount of red meat and spinach I consume. Anyway, when my doctor said, “you have low iron”, well, I just kind of ignored it. It didn’t really mean much to me. Lately, I’ve started having some really annoying symptoms of low iron that have made me finally pay attention. I love my weekly mountain biking rides, trail runs, and any other kind of outdoor fun I can do in my spare time. But, with some shortness of breath and numbness and tingling in my legs/toes, I’ve started to get really annoyed. Here are some other symptoms with low iron:
- Extreme fatigue
- Muscle weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Cold hands and feet
- Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
- Brittle nails
- Hair loss
- Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or starch
So, what can be done to improve it?
First, I thought iron supplements, right? But those just didn’t work well for me. After some research online, I found other people were having issues with supplements. So, I’m working on the next most logical step, which is to eat things with more iron. I already eat grass fed beef, spinach and kale almost daily. So what else could I add with high iron content? The food that has the greatest amount of iron and that is easy to absorb, is…liver, chicken liver that is. Oh no!!! My mouth is watering, and this time, not in a good way.
In addition to the iron, a friend sent me this is a fantastic post on why we should eat liver and tricks to getting everyone to eat it. Click here to see it.
Anyway, I found this oxymoron online that said “The best liver recipe, ever!”. Wow, really? Okay, I’m a sucker, I’ll try most anything that says “the best __ ever!”.
This is what you need for the liver:
- 1 lb Whole Foods chicken livers
- 1 package of precut mushrooms
- 1 small onion
- 6-7 garlic cloves, minced
I made it twice tonight to get it just right. First, if you have a cast IRON pan, use that. Okay, now cut up about 5-6 slices of bacon and cook until brown in your pan. Use a screen if you have one because it will splatter a lot. I love the Trader Joe’s Classic Sliced Dry Rubbed Bacon and not because it’s lower fat, I don’t worry about fat, but because it has more meat, and no nitrates…
While the bacon is cooking and making a mess all over your stove top, cut up your onion, slice your mushrooms (even more than the pre-cut), press or mince your garlic and get your liver ready.
Now add your onions and garlic to get them a little brown. Once you add in the mushrooms (they add so much moisture) you won’t be able to get anything else brown so be sure you’re done browning the bacon, onions and garlic. Now, add in your mushrooms and mix all together. Next scoop everything to the side (pour out any water if there is some in the pan) and cook the liver on one side of the pan.
The trick to liver, I am learning, is to cut it up really, really fine. I think my issue with liver is a texture thing, so if you can cut it up to the consistency of ground beef it helps.
Finally, add your salt, pepper and some paprika to your liking. I used a decent amount of salt.
And you know what, it wasn’t awful. I had Alice and Tate try it and did not tell them what it was because last time they tried beef liver it was a huge disaster. And quite frankly it was pretty funny to see their expressions. I didn’t care for it either. Anyway, for this milder chicken liver, they both said…wait for it….that they “like it”! Alice said “I like it a lot”. Huh? Who would have guessed? Certainly not me!
There were two other things I learned about how our bodies absorb iron. One is about spinach. So I’m eating all of this spinach but it doesn’t seem like it’s helping and I needed to know why. Well, turns out, with cooked spinach, your body absorbs 5x’s more iron than with raw. FIVE TIMES! That is a lot. I couldn’t believe it! I always thought raw veggies were the most nutritional thing you could eat. Anyway, that explains my last post with the sauteed spinach.
The other thing I learned is that your body will absorb iron better if taken with vitamin C. So, I’ve been eating a half of grapefruit and more kale with dinner at night. Kale, broccoli, kiwi, and herbs are all very high in vitamin C.
Anyway, hopefully these few things will help me, and help you too if you have low iron. Would love to hear any other recipes or low iron suggestions if you have them. Thanks for reading. Oh, and I have a casserole I’ll post Sunday that your whole family will love (hopefully!).
Pat - This has nothing to do with nutrition, but Bobbie made the best liver and onions I have ever eaten. We haven’t had it in a while, but the post here has got me thinking liver again. And together with cooked spinach, it sounds like a winner.
landriav - I bet I would have liked it. I remember Nick saying the same thing. I wonder if anyone has her recipe? Hope y’all are doing well Pat!
Penny - Tea does not allow vitamin C to absorb properly. Therefore, don’t drink tea with meals or around the time you take ant vitamin C.
landriav - Hmmm, very interesting Penny. Are there certain types of teas, or is it the hot water possibly? Thanks for the info!
Rebecca Owen - Hey Landria, what issues did you have with iron supplements? Also, on the liver you bought at whole foods, was it in the meat counter or prepakaged?
landriav - Hey Rebecca, the liver I got from WF’s was already packaged. It was all they had when I asked. I know The Catherdral Farmers’ Market has some vendors that sell grass fed beef liver but is a lot more pungent if I remember correctly. And I THINK the chicken has more iron?? As for issue, I was just bloated and my digestion was, well, let’s just say a little sluggish. Floradix is a great supplement though, without side effects!!