How to Ascend the Iron Throne…in the Kitchen

How to Ascend the Iron Throne…in the Kitchen

Want to be King of the kitchen? Look to Game of Thrones for some un-boring advice on how to reign supreme. That being said, iron often ends lives in Game Of Thrones, but in this case, we’ve prepared some advice on how iron can actually improve your health.

Game of Thrones fans around the world are pretty handy when it comes to crafting their own Iron Thrones. There is, however, a better way for guys to get more iron in their lives: By eating it.

Why is iron important?

We’re not talking about sword-swallowing here. As it turns out, iron is an essential nutrient that carries oxygen to your muscles and brain, all the better for any combat you might encounter. It’s crucial for both mental and physical performance, as low iron levels may result in a lack of focus, increased irritability and reduced stamina. Who needs that when you’re facing being late for work or have to find the energy to do an activity with your family.

Win with these iron-rich foods

Health Canada recommends that adult men consume around 8 milligrams of iron per day. Red meat contains a lot of iron, with a nine-ounce steak just about fulfilling a guy’s daily needs. However, there can be a lot of fat in red meat, so men should substitute with other sources once in awhile. For example, 1 cup of soybeans actually contains more iron than steak. The good news is that many other tasty foods are packed with iron, such as:

  • Steamed mussels: Contain nearly twice as much iron as steak!

  • Turkey: Yup, Thanksgiving’s culinary centrepiece is on par with steak.

  • Chicken and fish: About a third as much as turkey, but still very good sources of iron.

More than meat

Generally speaking, plant based foods also contain iron, but that iron is not absorbed quite as easily. However, this list of vegetables contributes to your daily intake while offering additional health benefits:

  • Baked beans

  • Pumpkin, sesame, or squash seeds

  • Lima beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas, or split peas

  • Potatoes

  • Broccoli

So put some nice steamed broccoli and a baked potato next to that barbecued salmon steak (go easy on the butter and salt!) and you’ll have more than enough energy to do anything you want!

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Mighty Kale: The new spinach!

Mighty Kale: The new spinach!

If Popeye wants bigger pipes – and who doesn’t? – he should give kale a try. The leafy green vegetable contains more muscle-building protein than spinach does, and it blows the sailor man’s secret weapon away when it comes to essential vitamins such as A, C and B6, and minerals like manganese, calcium and iron.

But how does it taste? The good news for Olive Oyl’s hero, and for other guys who want to reap the nutritional benefits, is that kale is as versatile and delicious as it is nutritious. It’s also easy to prepare: Steaming chopped kale on the stovetop for a few minutes, or scrunching it in your hands until it turns dark green, makes it tasty and tender. (No more canned veggies for you, Popeye!) You can also grill or bake the stuff – more on that in a moment.

Here, then, are five satisfying options that can make you “as strong as a gale, ’cause you eat your kale” – to paraphrase Popeye – while reducing some of the health risks revealed by the YouCheck.ca survey:

  • Kale lasagne: Anything canned spinach can do kale can do better. While layering this Italian staple make sure some shredded kale goes between the pasta sheets and the low-fat cheeses, veggies and lean ground meats you choose to use.   
  • Kale chips: Chop the raw leaves into bite-sized pieces, transfer them to a baking sheet, drizzle them with olive oil, and bake them in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes or until the edges of the leaves turn brown. Once they cool, season this nutrition-packed snack with gusto – garlic powder and cayenne pepper are two popular options.
  • Burger with grilled kale: Barbecue those lean patties as you normally would, but then add a nutritious twist by topping them with kale that’s been grilled for a couple of minutes (turning often). Believe it or not, its meaty texture could be mistaken for bacon!
  • Kaleslaw: Goodbye cabbage, hello steamed kale. Use white wine vinegar instead of mayo, throw in some grated carrots and diced bell peppers, and coleslaw is transformed into a nutritious side dish bursting with colour.
  • Kale Caesar salad: Replacing romaine lettuce with kale adds flavour, texture and nutrition, while going light on the dressing, croutons and bacon bits slashes fat, carbs and calories. All hail Caesar! All hail kale!

This doesn’t mean kale should become your new secret ingredient. After all, the dozens of healthy, tasty recipes on the Don’t Change Much Blog are made for sharing. Your buddies, and their bodies, will thank you…

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