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Delicious Iron-Rich Summer Salad?

For various reasons (possibly due to an early exposure to Neil Young’s “Rust Never Sleeps”), I’ve become interested in the iron content of our meals. Last night Santa Maria and I whipped up healthy, last-minute summer salad that was so delicious I was beside myself as I ate it.

We mixed together raw spinach, avocado, and tomatoes, and I topped mine with slices of Parmigiano-Reggiano. The cheese and the avocado combined to make some kind of mystical flavor in my mouth. I relished every bite, and—given the spinach and avocado—we felt confident that the meal was rich in iron.

But then I started looking around the Internet, and learned that though spinach is rich in iron, much of it cannot be absorbed by the body. The problem is caused by something called oxalic acid, which is also found in spinach. According to Jill Fullerton-Smith’s “The Truth about Food,” oxalic acid combines with the iron, and renders it unavailable.

Apparently, though if you take Vitamin C with spinach, you can combat this effect. Santa Maria had the foresight to dress the salad with limejuice, so maybe we got more iron than we thought. I wonder if anyone can explain how much Vitamin C is needed to facilitate the absorption of iron?

Baby Spinach Summer Salad

  • 1/2 lb baby spinach, washed and dried
  • 1/2 large ripe avocado, peeled and cubed
  • 1 ripe tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • Olive Oil, to taste
  • Slices of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, to taste

Combine the greens and avocado and dress with the lime and olive oil. Salt and Pepper to taste.

Arrange the wedges of tomato around the edge of two plates.

Put the dressed greens in the center of the plate, and top with the slices of cheese.

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