By Karen Gaudette Brewer
February 05, 2015
bowl of Vegetarian Kale Soup
Credit: The Gruntled Gourmand

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.

Mediterranean Breakfast Quinoa
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.

Sean's Falafel and Cucumber Sauce
Photo by JOANNAH

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

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

Andrea's Pasta Fagioli
Photo by House of Aqua

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.

Delicious Black Bean Burritos
Photo by House of Aqua

5. Moroccan Lentil Soup | 6% DV of iron

Satisfying AND fills your kitchen with a wonderful aroma.

Moroccan Lentil Soup
Photo by CookinBug

6. Vegetarian Kale Soup | 5% DV of iron

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

Vegetarian Kale Soup
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.

Kale Chips
Photo by Cinantya Devi

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

Baked Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Style
Photo by Faye

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

The flavor is even better the next day for lunch.

Spicy Vegan Potato Curry
Photo by JC

Middle Eastern comfort food at its iron-rich finest.

Lentils and Rice with Fried Onions
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

Marrakesh Vegetable Curry
Photo by Jake Rathman

Super foods, unite!

Kale, Quinoa, and Avocado Salad with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
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.