Monday, March 30, 2009

Feisty Bento #320: Anemic


Double stacked!  Everything is two high. 

Mini quiches; edamame (soy bean pods); vegetarian/vegetable rolls; pack of soy sauce

So I whipped up some mini-quiches yesterday using my best approximation of how to do that.  I used wonton wrappers for the shells and pre-baked those, then added a mixture of egg, salt, pepper, three cheese blend and shredded broccoli/carrot stems.  I learned a few things - probably would make it easier had I cooked the broccoli/carrot mixture first, softened it up a bit, because it was a little hard spooning them into the shells without getting drops of egg everywhere as I tried to squish the strips into the shells, haha.  Also, it turns out, I don't like quiche all that much and I'm not sure why.  I love eggs, I love cheese, I love broccoli, so how could putting all of them together in little mini shells (which I was OK with) make them something I only find alright tasting?  I have a decent number left so those will wind up being lunch this week as I struggle from lack of planning.  I was unable to go grocery shopping this weekend and am staring at a fridge full of mishmash uncooked (I also had no time to cook what's in my fridge... mostly because of what prevented me from going grocery shopping.  Whee!). 

I don't have a lunch bento for today (that's dinner) because I decided to head to a cheap sport to check out their $3 sandwich.  Damn that thing was huge and I'm super full now :)

Oh... and I'm beginning to feel nauseous, light headed, dizzy, headachey, exhausted... I'm pretty sure I officially am anemic.  I'll try to go to the doctor this weekend to verify this, but I have been and continue to be really busy so that might not be an option.  Grrrrrrr.  What am I not eating that regular vegetarians eat to maintain their iron levels?  Besides iron supplements.  Seriously.  Enough vegetarians swear they can eat enough to be well balanced and nourished properly!  And please don't tell me spinach, although I have two big bundles in my fridge right now that will get the rinse treatment soon and will be devoured with some garlic and lemon juice.  Yummm! 

Think outside the lunchbox!


  1. I'm not a vegetarian, but: Try eating more of all the dark leafy greens - kale, chard, kohlrabi, collards, etc. Vitamin C helps the uptake of iron in the less available form that veggies tend to have it in, so have some citrus with your greens. And also, no caffeine or tannin when you're eating the greens. At least I think its those two - they impede iron uptake (one of those might impede calcium uptake instead of iron - I can't remember).

    PS Love the bento :)

  2. I don't know how you feel about breakfast cereal but Total has 100% DA of iron and Special K is also high in iron too [I think 80%] with milk and a glass of juice like Mead Chick suggest you would be good to go...

  3. You might have a B12 deficiency which causes anemia. It's very common in vegetarians. If you don't want to take a supplement, they have vitamin waters and juices that have B12 in them. This is what I have to do if I run out of my B12 pills. =/

    It could be that your body just doesn't absorb B12 properly even if you're getting a lot of it. I know a friend of my mom's who is a vegetarian has to take B12 shots in order for his body to even absorb it. The pills and other sources just don't cut it. =/

  4. Nicole from DetroitMarch 31, 2009 at 10:50 AM

    I haven't eaten meat in 13 years so there are a couple things I've figured out.

    The first thing I thought of when you said "nauseous, light headed, dizzy, headachey, exhausted" was not anemia but low blood sugar. I'm hypoglycemic and that is EXACTLY how I feel when I've either gone too long without eating or haven't eaten a healthy enough meal. Maybe your body isn't adjusting well to a sudden lack of protein. I found eating regularly and including some protein every time I eat helps, as well as choosing complex carbs (whole grains, veggies, some fruit) over refined starches (white flour, white rice, sugar, etc.). Obviously if you need protein there's tofu, eggs, cheese and "fake meats". But the protein in things like yogurt, nuts, and whole grains adds up too and helps keep you fuller and feeling better. And fiber is good for that too. I'm sounding too much like a nutritionist now so I better stop. :-)

    Like Katie said, you could also be lacking in B12. The problem is, our bodies don't always absorb it in supplement form very well. The BEST B12 supplement I've found is at Trader Joe's. They're dissolvable pills and you just put one under your tongue each day and wait for it to melt (the area under your tongue has thin skin and a lot of blood vessels so your body absorbs it more effectively than when you just swallow a pill). They have a version that's just B12 and one that has B6 and Folic acid as well (that's what I take). If I skip it for a few days, I do notice a difference!

    I hope you start feeling better! I know how miserable it is to try to get through a full day feeling like that. :-(

  5. Wow, thanks for all the great comments everyone! First I want to apologize for being so flip about it, I was in a rush posting and kind of just ended it without properly explaining. There are some really good suggestions here!

    SkippyMom- I didn't even consider cereal - that is an excellent idea that wouldn't have occurred to me! Thanks!

    Nicole from Detroit - I'm very against taking supplements as I'm only going meatless temporarily. Actually, I have 9 more days and I'll be done. But it's good to know that Trader Joe's has a good supplement - that sounds pretty easy to take, too! I had just finished a meal of chickpeas, vegetables, eggplant, a good mix of stuff, so I'm pretty sure it wasn't low blood sugar, but that's a good point about hypoglycemia as well! I am going to start paying even more attention to how my body reacts today (I started the day off with whole grain, high fiber toast) and will report back.

    Thank you to everyone who commented! I really appreciate all the feedback and concern :)

  6. Eating for more iron is hard without meat. Heme iron is only found in meat products, and that's the type that is most readily absorbed by the body. Non-Heme iron from plant sources is less available, but your best there are the enriched cereals (as mentioned), pumpkin seeds and cooked beans and lentils. Dark leafy greens, while high in iron themselves, are actually a really poor source for us because they inhibit the bodies uptake of iron. Soy products are another iron inhibitor, so pairing soy milk, edamame, or soy meat replacements with an iron rich meal is not a good idea(caffeine, red wine and sweet potatoes are also iron uptake ihibitors). As Mead Chick mentions, some foods do the opposite, helping our bodies absorb instead -- such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries, broccoli, and bell peppers -- so a veggie stir fry over lentils or a fruit salad with your morning cereal (if you're using regular milk) would make good choices for upping your iron intake.