Iron-Rich Foods

The clams in these fritters are high in iron.

The clams, egg, and, parsley in these fritters are high in iron.

Yesterday I visited my friends at the television program Mass Appeal. We were originally scheduled to make simple appetizers and an even simpler dessert.

The producers decided to devote the entire episode to the worthy cause of donating blood, however, and asked me whether I would change the menu to feature foods with a lot of iron.

Here’s what I know about iron in food. (I started to tell this story on the air but got distracted; I’m still learning how to work on TV!)

My great-grandfather died of pernicious anemia in 1917 at the age of 56. He was a physician—but in 1917 even physicians didn’t know that iron could help with anemia.

His granddaughter, my mother, was understandably worried about anemia. When my brother and I were growing up, our mother served us liver on a fairly regular basis in order to make sure we had enough iron in our diets.

It was NOT my favorite food, and my mother learned to watch me carefully as I ate it to make sure I didn’t surreptitiously feed most of my portion to the dog.

As I grew older, I realized (and quickly informed my mother) that the liver was unnecessary. As this chart from the Red Cross illustrates, any number of foods—most of them tastier than liver, in my opinion—contain that mineral.

So of course I told the producers at Mass Appeal that I would be delighted to whip up a little iron.

We began by making clam fritters and spinach salad. Here is the video.

And here are the recipes. The fritter recipe is (slightly) adapted from Narragansett Beer; the company kindly provided me with this formula for an upcoming book!

Next, we made Kate’s Fantastic Ginger Snaps from my Pudding Hollow Cookbook. The Kate in the recipe is Kate Stevens of Charlemont, Massachusetts, who generously shared her recipe with me.

These cookies get iron from both molasses and ginger—and I have never served them to anyone who has not fallen in love with them.

Here’s the video.

And here is the recipe.

I’ll be back on Mass Appeal in a couple of weeks playing with zucchini. In the meantime, I hope my readers will make sure to eat foods with lots of iron—and of course to donate blood.


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4 Responses to “Iron-Rich Foods”

  1. Loyce says:

    Thank you again. I’ve been recently diagnosed with a genetic blood disease, Thalassemia, I am Iron Deficient Anemic and am trying to gather information on iron rich foods. This is God sent dear Tinky, everything will depend on whether iron can be absorbed into my blood. I am with hemotologist so have expert advice but even he does not know all about my blood disease that I inherited from my mother. Love you once again for being there. Love, Loyce

  2. tinkyweisblat says:

    Oh, Loyce, I’ll be thinking of you. I know you have the strength to beat this thing, and I’m glad you have a good doctor—but YUCK.

  3. Grad says:

    You had me at “heat the oil…” Who doesn’t love fritters? I must make these this weekend! You say we can use both fresh and canned. Do you find a difference in taste? I will probably use fresh, but I always have canned clams in the pantry for pasta sauce. And I love Spinach Salad. Think I’ll add strawberries to that since they are in season now. Did I hear you hint at another cookbook? Please let me know when it’s published. I’ll want to add it to my cookbook library (right next to Pudding Hollow – by the way the best name ever for a cookbook).

  4. tinkyweisblat says:

    I used the canned clams, Grad, since I don’t live near fresh ones—and since as you say the fresh ones are always available. I should think the fresh ones would be tastier—and you would be able to choose the size of your chunks; the minced clams were a little small. And, yes, VERY SLOWLY another cookbook is being created. You will hear more soon!

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