With more and more food trucks joining the Meatless Monday revolution, they are opening up their menus and their bottom lines to vegetarians. We continue to have food truck owners submit questions regarding vegetarian menu items as well as questions about how some foods provide these meat free eaters get different types of nutrition that other usually get through meat and animal products.
In today’s article we will cover Iron and how you can provide vegetarians with menu items that give them the ability to get this nutrient without ordering a burger.
Iron helps your blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body, it helps your immune system fight effectively, and it is necessary to get the energy from the food you eat. If you are low in iron, you may feel tired, due to your body not getting enough oxygen. Over consumption of iron can also be toxic, so finding a good balance is important. Too much iron can make you susceptible to bacterial infections. It is very difficult to get iron toxicity from foods alone; it usually results from too many iron supplements.
Vegetarians may find it a bit more difficult to get the iron they need, but some may not understand the reason why. There are two forms of iron: heme, which comes from animal sources, and non-heme, which comes from plant sources. Non-heme iron is more difficult for the body to absorb than heme iron in general.
Adult women need 33 mg of iron per day. Adult men and menopausal women need 14 mg per day. Women in the childbearing years need more iron to compensate for the iron lost through monthly menstruation. Now… what foods are going to give them what they need?
Bran is a great source of iron. It can be eaten as cereal or baked it into bread or muffins. Oatmeal is also a good source such as old-fashioned oatmeal, or better yet, steel cut oats. They take a little longer to cook, but they have a great flavor and are full of iron and other nutrients. Oatmeal can also be added to muffins, cakes, cookies and other recipes.
Beans are full of iron as well as protein. Add navy beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, and tofu to increase iron providing ingredients to your menu. Beans can be made into veggie burgers or cooked in stews and soups. Tofu may not be a favorite of many chefs but there are many recipes to try for this interesting ingredient.
Fruits and Vegetables
The more veggies you offer the more iron your customers will have to get their iron. Swiss chard, pumpkin, watermelon, raisins, potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, bok choy and dates all have good levels of iron in them. Leafy greens like leaf lettuces, spinach and beet greens are a good source of iron. If you do not to add salads to your menu, try adding greens to soups, pasta sauces, and smoothies. If you do add smoothies to your menu choices, be sure to add some fruit to the smoothies to naturally sweeten them. If you serve Japanese cuisine, stock up on edible seaweeds. It is a great way to add a version of vegetarian sushi. Parsley and watercress are also good sources of iron.
We hope this article helps food truck owners understand the importance to adding iron laden ingredients to their menus if they hope to offer meatless options for their vegetarian customers. If you have any additional suggestions to add meatless iron ingredients, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.
Mobile Cuisine Magazine looks forward to sharing Meatless Monday with our readers!