7 Iron-Rich Plant-Based Recipes to Help Boost Energy and Overall Health

|Updated Dec 12, 2022

Need more energy? You may be low in iron. Check out this list of plant-based recipes full of iron-rich ingredients like dark leafy greens, kidney beans, tofu, and more! Iron helps make the red blood cells that carry oxygen to your body, so eat these foods and look forward to more energy every day!

Your body needs iron to help it make red blood cells that act as the baggage valet for the large oxygen cells that need to get carried from your lungs to every single major organ in the body, including your brain, your muscles, and all of your working cells. Iron is a mineral that helps your muscles work and drive up the need to burn energy, so it affects your metabolism and how many calories your body incinerates when you go for a run. Iron also plays an important role in keeping your immune system turned up, and helps in disease prevention.

A recent study revealed that 10 percent of new heart disease cases that show up later in life are associated with iron deficiency, and unless you take supplements, the best way to get iron on a daily basis is through an iron-filled diet full of leafy greens and beans. The symptoms of low iron levels include fatigue, headaches, frequent infections, lightheadedness, and anemia, which is a condition in which you lack enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body.

How to Get Iron on a Plant-Based Diet

For plant-based eaters, it's especially important to make sure they're getting enough iron because it's more difficult for the body to absorb the iron that you get from plant sources than from animal sources like meat and fish. Heme iron comes from animal products and is much more easily absorbed than non-heme iron found in spinach, beans, tofu, and other plant sources.

How much iron do you need? It depends on your gender, age, and whether you are pregnant or nursing. But on average the recommended daily amount of iron for adults is 8 mg for men and 18 mg daily for women.

Vegan foods rich in iron include beans, tofu, spinach, collard greens, and blackstrap molasses, which you can use as a sweetener. Plus you'll find all of these at least once in the recipes below. Get cooking and enjoy the taste of healthy eating.

1. Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

Looking for an indulgent recipe that also provides health benefits? Make this dairy-free spinach artichoke dip as a snack or appetizer to help boost immunity, and give you more energy.

One hundred grams of spinach contains 2.7 mg of iron or 15 percent of the recommended daily value for adults. Spinach is also a rich source of vitamin C, which helps boost iron absorption.

Broke Bank Vegan Broke Bank Vegan

2. Vegan Spinach Hand Pies

For another delicious, decadent spinach recipe, make these vegan spinach hand pies stuffed with homemade almond ricotta cheese. This recipe calls for two cups of baby spinach.

3. Kidney Bean Arugula Salad

Load red kidney beans onto your arugula salad to boost immunity, brain function, energy, and more. One cup of red kidney beans contains 15.1 mg of iron and is a good source of plant-based protein with 43 grams per cup.

4. Spicy Three-Bean Chili With Tortilla Chips

For an alternative to salad, make this three-bean chili to reap the health benefits of red kidney beans. This delicious, comforting recipe only takes 10 minutes to prep and 30 minutes to cook. Serve it to the whole family with a side of tortilla chips for dipping.

5. Lentil Meatless Meatballs

This recipe calls for one cup of lentils which contain nearly 7 mg of iron and 18 grams of plant-based protein. Throw a pasta dinner party and be sure to serve these meatless meatballs over a bowl of spaghetti.

6. Vegan Baked Tofu Teriyaki

Half of one cup of tofu contains 6.6 mg of iron and 10 grams of plant-based protein. Make this vegan baked tofu teriyaki that's loaded with salty, umami flavor and a meaty texture. Enjoy this dish with a side of rice.

7. Vegan Ginger Molasses Cookies

To reap the health benefits of iron in the most delicious way possible, enjoy these vegan ginger molasses cookies. One tablespoon of blackstrap molasses contains 20 percent of your daily recommended amount of iron. Blackstrap molasses is the key ingredient in these cookies that makes them chewy, soft, and irresistible.

For more great recipe ideas check the more than 1,000 easy vegan recipes on The Beet.