By Karen Gaudette Brewer

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.

Meatless iron-rich recipes

These13 recipes deliver a good percentage of your daily iron intake.

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

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

Photo by Lissa

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.

Photo by JOANNAH

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

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

Photo by House of Aqua

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.

Photo by House of Aqua

5. Moroccan Lentil Soup | 6% DV of iron

Satisfying AND fills your kitchen with a wonderful aroma.

Photo by CookinBug

6. Vegetarian Kale Soup | 5% DV of iron

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

Photo by The Gruntled Gourmand

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.

Photo by Cinantya Devi

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

Photo by Faye

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

The flavor is even better the next day for lunch.

Photo by JC

Middle Eastern comfort food at its iron-rich finest.

Photo by Octavia

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

Photo by Jake Rathman

Super foods, unite!

Photo by Happyschmoopies

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.

You might also enjoy 13 High-Protein Recipes For Vegetarians. And don't miss our complete collection of Vegetarian Recipes.