Iron Boost: Asian Stir-fry with Oyster Mushrooms
Just about every vegetarian or vegan knows that they need to pay attention to how much protein they are getting in their diet. If you happen to experience feelings of exhaustion while eating a plant-based diet, you might soon realize that you also need to pay attention to how much iron you’re eating.
Last week I was SHOCKED to discover that drinking coffee or tea with iron-rich meals can reduce your body’s ability to absorb the iron by 60-90%! So I stepped up my iron game and started working on making meals that will give my body more of this essential mineral.
Hail the Oysters, Iron King of Mushrooms
Interestingly, oyster mushrooms lead the fungi kingdom as the top source of iron. You’d think all mushrooms would have similar amounts of iron, but apparently, oyster mushrooms stand out on their own. I find them at my local Asian grocery store, Ocean Mart.
You can check out our post on iron for more info on iron-rich plant-based foods, but here’s a lowdown on why this delicious dish is so rich in the essential mineral:
Oyster Mushrooms: 15-20% of your Recommended Daily Intake (RDI)
Tofu: 20% of your iron RDI
Pea Shoots: 10% of iron RDI
Slivered Almonds: 8% of iron RDI
Sesame Seeds: 10% of iron RDI
As you can see, this simple stir-fry combines a number of iron-rich foods to help you load up on this essential mineral. If you really want to boost your iron intake, consider topping the stir-fry with a few slices of orange, as vitamin C helps your body absorb more iron from your food.
Meet Your New Friend, Ponzu
Meanwhile…. Let me introduce you to a delicious Japanese ingredient you NEED in your kitchen. Friends, meet Ponzu. Ponzu is like a lighter version of a soya sauce, so you get lots of flavor in your meal without it tasting like you doused it in a salt bath.
Sometimes ponzu is made with bonito (fish flakes), but luckily, my local Asian grocery Ocean Mart stocks a vegetarian yuzu ponzu by Marukan that is fish-free and good for us green peeps. Marukan uses a type of seaweed called konbu instead of fish to create the delicious umami (fifth) taste. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus that takes everything to the next level. It’s a magical flavor that’s neither exactly lemon or lime. Get yourself some ponzu, and have fun playing with this umami magic. But if you can’t find it, you could try making this dish with soy sauce and water.
2 tbsp Avocado oil
Approx 1lb / one package oyster mushrooms
2 cups chopped eggplant
One package of firm tofu (I use a pre-fried tofu from my local Asian grocery)
3 cups pea shoots (also at my local Asian grocery), use iron-rich spinach instead if you can’t find any
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp ponzu
1 tbsp coconut aminos (or tamari / soy sauce)
Black sesame seeds
Heat the avocado oil in a frying pan. Clean and chop the oyster mushrooms, then sauté them in the pan with the lid on. Chop the eggplant into slices about the size of your mushrooms, and add them to the pan. Keep the lid on so that the mushroom moisture can add flavor to the eggplant.
Meanwhile, chop the tofu into small cubes. Rinse the pea shoots to ensure that they are clean.
Add the ponzu, sesame oil and aminos (or soy sauce) to the pan. Add the tofu and pea shoots, mix well, turn the heat down to medium and put the lid back on to let the flavors mix while the shoots warm and wilt for a few minutes.
When ready to serve, sprinkle plenty of slivered almonds on top for extra iron and delicious crunch. If you have some on hand, you can also sprinkle with black sesame seeds for another iron boost.
Enjoy as a warm dinner salad stir fry, or serve with rice/cauliflower rice.
Remember – a few slices of orange on top will help your body get even more iron out of your meal! I didn’t have any orange so I added some hot pepper sauce to make sure I added some vitamin C.
BONUS: Want even more iron? Add a cup or two of shelled edamame with the tofu and pea shoots!