Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Morning Breakfast

Breakfast is really my favorite meal of the day (unless I happen to be having an afternoon tea party). On the weekends I can take the time to cook myself a tasty breakfast and sit down to enjoy it with a pot of tea. During the weekdays, alas, I eat my breakfast in the car during my drive to work.

Today's breakfast consisted of: 1 slice Ezekiel bread spread with 1 T Trader Joe's Organic Superfruit Spread; 2 C spinach topped with 1 medium egg and 1 oz New Zealand Grass-Fed Cheddar; and a pot of Harney & Son tea, Florence flavor (a sort of chocolate hazelnut). The meal (which was incredibly delicious and filling, by the way) weighs in at about 300 calories, with 15 g fat, 18 g protein, and 4 g fiber. Plus I've gotten 30% or more of the RDA for calcium, Vitamins A, C, B12, and some minerals. (This is all according to the calculations at FitDay.)

Now, for a vegetarian, every little bit of iron counts, and this meal contains some from the spinach, egg, and bread. There is a difference between dietary iron found in meat and that found in plant products. Due to the nature of the molecules involved (heme versus non-heme), the body is much more able to absorb iron found in meat. This gives vegetarians a double-whammy, as plant products tend to be lower in iron in any case, but now we also have to deal with that iron being much less readily absorbed. To throw some numbers out there, the recommended daily intake of iron for an adult woman is 18 milligrams/day, whereas for a vegetarian woman it goes up to 32 mg/day. That's why I say that every little bit counts.

So what can you do to help the iron get into your system? One of the key things is Vitamin C. Having Vitamin C in the same meal as iron allows that iron to be better absorbed by your body. That's why, at breakfast, I went for jam on my toast instead of honey. Each would provide some sweetness to my morning, but the fruit spread packs a Vitamin C punch that was otherwise missing from the meal.

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