Iron rich family meals

After writing the last post Iron – Is my baby getting enough? I began to wonder what does 9mg of iron actually look like? How can I make sure Freddie is getting enough iron? Iron is found in a number of foods. The general rule of thumb is the redder the meat the higher the iron content. But your child won’t be getting all their iron from red meat alone.

Iron is categorised into two forms haem and non-haem.

  • Haem iron sources: beef, lamb, liver, kidney, pork, poultry, seafood
  • Non-heam iron sources: vegetables, bread, marmite, breakfast cereals, beans and lentils, eggs, nuts, fruit

Haem iron is more easily absorbed according to New Zealand Beef and Lamb about a quarter of heam iron is used, whereas only aboout 5% of non-haem iron is absorbed. It’s easy to meet your child’s iron needs each day with a combination of both haem and non-haem in their diet. There are two easy ways to increase their iron absorption. Red meat (lamb or beef) boosts the absorption of non-haem iron by up to four times and serving fruit or vegetables containing Vitamin C after a meal has a similar effect.

Vitamin C sources you can include are:

  • Apple, apricot, peach, pear and mango are good first foods that contain a small amount of Vitamin C
  • Berries
  • Rockmelon, Pawpaw
  • Red and yellow capsicum
  • Cauliflower, broccoli
  • From 8 months: citrus fruits, tomato, kiwifruit

Here are a couple of meal and snack ideas that all the family can enjoy. In fact we’ve just enjoyed the lasagne Freddie had for his tea for our dinner this evening! Poor Freddie is still not 100% and is off his food big time so it wasn’t the most successful of mealtimes but it has been a real hit in the past. I hope your little ones enjoy it too.

Marmite on toast
Suitable from around 7 months

1 slice wholemeal bread toasted and spread with a teaspoon of marmite (guidelines suggest limiting marmite consumption to 2 tsps per day because of the salt content)

Mousetraps ~  a ‘real’ kiwi favourite
Suitable from around 7 months
1/2 loaf of sliced wholemeal bread
grated cheese

Spread each slice of bread with marmite and then scatter on a thin layer of grated cheese. The mousetraps should be crispy when they are cooked and too much cheese will make them soggy! Bake in the oven at 180 C until golden. Slice up and eat warm or store in an airtight jar once cool. They are a fantastic on-the-go snack.

Beans on toast
Freddie loves his beans with grated cheese and toast on the side to ‘dip’ into the beans. He has been know to eat each bean with his fingers – messy but fun.

Roast with vegetables
We’ve started having a roast on the weekends which we eat together. I think a roast is a great meal for all ages! Babies just starting on solids can eat the roast meat and vegetables puréed together, older babies who have started eating finger foods can eat the meal with their hands or be spoon fed and toddlers can join in with their own cutlery. Left over roast meat makes a great iron rich finger food snack for the next day.

Cheats Lasagne
Suitable from around 8 months
Freezes well

The mince bolognese that I use in this recipe is also great served with couscous or pasta. I quite often make a big batch and freeze it in individual portions for lazy days when I run out of time or don’t feel like cooking from scratch. This lasagne is super easy using crème fraiche instead of a white sauce – an idea I have adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe.

Makes: 4 adult portions
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 2 1/2 hours

For the bolognese:
400g premium beef mince
1 can whole tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste (optional for younger babies if you want to keep it salt free)
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
200ml stock or water (I use homemade salt free stock)
1 tbsp plain flour
1 carrot chopped finely
1 courgette chopped finely
4 button mushrooms chopped finely
1/2 onion chopped finely
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp dried mixed herbs or 1 handful fresh herbs if you have them
2 tbsp oil

For the lasagne:
200g crème fraiche
100g mozzarella
50g parmesan
200g lasagne pasta (either fresh or dried. If you are using dried soften before cooking)

Heat 2 tbsps of olive oil in a heavy based casserole dish. Add onion, garlic, mixed herbs, carrots, courgette and mushrooms. Fry until the onion has softened.

Add the beef mince and brown.

Sprinkle flour over the mince and mix through.

Add tomatoes, tomato paste, ketchup and stock. Bring to the boil and transfer to the oven at 180 ‘C  for 2 hours (once it’s in the oven you can forget about it for a couple of hours – so a great dish to prepare while you baby has a nap). Once the bolognese is cooked increase oven temperature to 200 ‘C .

Grease an earthenware lasagne dish with olive oil. Create a layer of pasta on the bottom of the dish, spoon over bolognese followed by half the crème fraiche. Repeat. Finish with a layer of pasta topped with the grated cheese.

Cook at 200 ‘C  for 30 minutes until bubbling and golden on top. You may need to cover the dish with foil after 15-20 minutes to stop the cheese getting too crispy.

Freddie ate his with peas, we ate ours with salad. Enjoy!


6 thoughts on “Iron rich family meals

  1. Kate – love the idea of using creme fraiche for a lasagne, but where do you put the mozarella that you mention in the ingredients? Do you grate that with the parmesan?

  2. Yum-yum!! The lasagna was fabulous thanks Kate! We make food for ourselves one night and then we save a portion for Sammy J to eat the next night. The only challenge we’re having is that it takes a lot of discipline to leave a portion for Sammy when the food tastes so good!! Hope to see you soon, lots love, xxxx

  3. Pingback: Slow Cooked Beef and Lentil Lasagne | Freddie's Food

  4. Pingback: Freddie's Friday - Slow cooked beef and lentil lasagne |

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