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ERIN_FLOWERS SparkPoints: (127)
Fitness Minutes: (720)
Posts: 5
12/16/13 1:01 P

Try Spirulina
It is a complete protein, and it is 50-70% protein in it's dry form. You can add it smoothies, soups etc.
Also, for iron, in addition to eating iron with high vitamin C be sure to avoid high calcium foods an hour before as well.
Also, be careful of coffee, it makes iron absorption difficult

DIDS70 Posts: 5,368
12/16/13 12:32 P

to get iron- yes the foods you listed may be higher in iron, but you also need to pair it with something high in Vitamin C. The vitamin C helps with the processing of iron. For example, you said spinach-- mix it with red pepper. Chia seeds-- mix it with fruits high in vitamin c. I have been raw for about three years and never had an issue with my iron.

My smoothies are full of iron and vitamin C.
Protein has always been a challenge, but apparently I am getting enough of that too. there is more usuable protein in veggies than you think. Kale and broccoli are full of protein. It just may not be measured the way they measure the protein in chicken or red meat.
I will sometimes use the greensuperfood or other reputable protein powders ( ones that are cold pressed and 100% greenfed cows) I have a plant protein powder that ML just started selling. It is by no means cheap and has 17 grams of protein per serving vs the 32 grams in the whey protein, but it is working just fine.

CERTHIA SparkPoints: (22,539)
Fitness Minutes: (16,207)
Posts: 770
12/14/13 4:17 P

My main sources of iron when I ate a vegetarian/vegan diet were broccoli, spinach, beet-root and lentils. I ate several servings a day, still it was not enough to meet my needs..

I know you said you didn't want to supplement, but if you change your mind Floradix Formula is the best supplement I've tried. It's a tonic derived from vegetable sources, and actually taste OK. (I will say it tastes good even.)

Edited to add, cooking your food in cast-iron cookware will add iron to any foods you are preparing.

Edited by: CERTHIA at: 12/14/2013 (16:18)
ALGEBRAGIRL Posts: 1,925
12/14/13 3:39 P

I'm 'mostly a vegetarian.' A burger a week in a restaurant. I figured out that's something like 26 pounds of meat in a year. The rest of the time, I make do with the non-meat protein sources that are part of the vegetarian eating style.

The easiest thing to do is just take an iron supplement. And not even every day. Not a huge amount of iron, but a modest amount (ask your doc to recommend the amount). Vegetarians often run short of B-12 and zinc, so make sure you have those bases covered (my B-12 level is actually just above the high limit because I take a B-vite supplement).

Diets are short of nutrients in areas - the areas differ by diet.

If you don't take ANY supplements, eat a really good fortified cereal faithfully every morning. Problem solved! This also can boost your fiber intake, even though you probably get plenty of fiber if you're a vegetarian.

I have good hemoglobin (I give blood regularly to the Red Cross) but my doctor noticed that my ferritin level was 'on the low side.' He recommended an iron supplement for a limited time (two months). And I actually eat a hamburger, on average, twice a month! (I have a weekly lunch date with a friend. Sometimes we don't meet because of vacations, etc.)

What does your doctor say? I can understand the challenge to get enough protein - have you tried drinking a protein shake as part of your breakfast? Muscle Milk, for example. It's quite tasty!

Here's another thing: eat as your normally do, take any supplements or fortified cereal you feel comfortable with - and track your foods for a week. THEN look at how much your nutrition has averaged over the week. You might be pleasantly surprised. Two days worth of data is not much.

Your doctor probably has your blood chemistry results for the last couple of years. Ask him if you can have the current results if he doesn't send them to you already.

Edited by: ALGEBRAGIRL at: 12/14/2013 (16:09)
RENATARUNS SparkPoints: (4,367)
Fitness Minutes: (2,155)
Posts: 1,379
12/14/13 9:29 A

I'm glad to see you got so many suggestions. In my experience iron is trickier than protein. It's fairly easy to hit the bottom of the OK range in protein with pretty minor tweaks (assuming you're already eating lentils and beans which you indicate you are). Almost everything has a tiny amount of protein in it (even a banana has a gram), so it adds up. Iron takes a bit more effort. I can't think of any major category of iron-containing plant food that hasn't been brought up yet, but if you use google you'll probably find a few more no one's thought of.

Are you going to be trying to lose weight now? All I needed to do, as a very near vegetarian or vegan depending on the whims of the moment, was cut way, way down on junk food and then reduce portions into weight loss range. That's it. I've been in maintenance for half a year now and (with the junk food gone) portions feel great, even abundant; but while I was losing I did consciously have to eat smaller amounts than that. So that may be all you need to do.

MIDNIGHTWOLF27 SparkPoints: (2,726)
Fitness Minutes: (2,213)
Posts: 22
12/14/13 9:14 A

Thanks everyone. I feel like I kinda got stuck in a rut. I already have some of the foods you listed, like potatoes and lentils. I also found out cream of wheat is high in iron. I know you're not going to lose weight just by being vegetarian, I had more reasons for doing this.

RUSSELL_40 Posts: 16,826
12/14/13 7:30 A

First time I ever Googled " foods high in X ", and got a Sparkpeople link. It was kind of cool. As you can see things like pumpkin seeds, and lentils have both iron, and protein.

Edited by: RUSSELL_40 at: 12/14/2013 (07:38)
SUNSHINE6442 Posts: 2,319
12/14/13 7:12 A

Foods rich in iron are chickpeas, lima and kidney beans...sardines and oysters, sweet ,potatoes and green beans...Cashew Nuts, Walnuts...even prune juice

Most often vegetarians crave butter because of their own low saturated fat intake...Peanut Butter is a rich source of B vitamins

Gouda is a good source of protein. Get the low fat version and eat 1 ounce sliced thin.
Wasabi Peas are high amounts of protein, which add up to 4.3 g per 1-oz. serving.

Pepitas are already shelled pumpkin seeds. Badia Brand @ Walmart....1 Ounce has 8 Grams of protein...

Sunflower seeds have protein & almonds are particularly high in protein and also flaxseeds, chia seeds
chicken, turkey, beans, peas, fish, cottage cheese, and peanut butter, parm and Romano cheese

Always keep "All Whites" egg whites on can have a full cup scrambled with some green peppers and diced onions for less than 125 calories. I like these better than any other kind of egg whites because they are fluffier and the taste is better...and have protein
Mix Mash Potatoes and mashed cauliflower together with 1/2 cup of Greek Yogurt for healthful Mashed potatoes and less carbs and protein
Barley has good protein....Barley may aid in weight control because it helps control blood sugar and helps keep you full.

If you do not eat animal-based products, you can combine different types of plant proteins to ensure that you get all the amino acids that you need. A healthy diet should include 2 to 3 servings of lean protein each day...pistachios, lamb, lentils, lobster, crab and tuna too. SARDINES ARE LOADED WITH PROTEIN. COQ10 is one of the good features sardines have and they are heart healthy.

Make a sauce with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, pressed garlic, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper. Serve over sardines.
Mix with chopped onion and a little dry mustard... create a sardine salad

4 walnuts a day should help your heart and is a good iron source as well...they also help keep your skin elastic, reduce cholesterol and have many vitamins and minerals.

Hope this helps

NIRERIN Posts: 14,325
12/14/13 6:51 A

vegetarianism has about as much to do with losing weight as wearing a blue shirt does.
if you share your tracker then you will get better suggestions about what you can tweak to meet those goals.
blackstrap molasses is good for iron. good protein sources are beans, grains, legumes, dairy, eggs, nuts and seeds.

EELPIE Posts: 2,700
12/13/13 9:34 P

I'm not a vegetarian, but I don't eat a lot of meat. I use legumes for sources of protein and iron. I've been on a lentil kick, and they provide (1cup) 50 gm. protein and 80% Iron.

MIDNIGHTWOLF27 SparkPoints: (2,726)
Fitness Minutes: (2,213)
Posts: 22
12/13/13 9:17 P

Hi guys, I'm new here. I've been vegetarian for over a year, but haven't had luck losing any weight. I tracked what I ate yesterday and today, and I got a run down on the nutrients. I was kinda surprised, I'm really low on Iron and protein. I was wondering if anyone had suggestions on how they regularly get enough protein, and especially iron. I find Iron kinda tricky, I know it's in raisins, oatmeal, chia seeds, and spinach, and I can't think of where else it would be. I'd rather stay away from supplements if possible.

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