Spicy Basil Pesto

Super simple basil pesto recipe that can be used to top pasta or baked whole-grain bread slices.

Keeps for up to 5 days in fridge. You can also spread cooled pesto on top of whipped cream cheese for a tasty cracker of veggie dip!



  • 2 cups packed fresh Sweet Basil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped slightly
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan
  • 2 medium jalapeños, seeds removed, chopped (could sub 1 habanero)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Remove stems from basil, rinse and pat dry. Add basil to a high quality food processor with pine nuts, garlic and jalapeños. Blend well.
  2. Add 1/2 cup olive oil and blend well into a paste.
  3. Pour into a bowl and fold in fresh parmesan and the remaining 1/4  cup olive oil.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a dash of cayenne pepper if you really like spicy!

Serve over warm pasta with a few slices of tomato or olives for a vegetarian dish, or toss with cooked chicken. I always add a little more parmesan on top of mine!

(Note:  If the thought of 2 jalapeno scares you, reduce to 1. I have made this with just 1 and it’s extremely palatable and not too spicy.) img_6145

My basil comes fresh from my organic garden. I plant it  for a natural garden pest repellent, so I always have plenty for this recipe. 2 cups is not a lot considering I have 6 basil plants!

It’s a prolific and hearty herb that super produces leaves all spring and summer. The more you pluck the more it grows.

Just 2 TBSPs of basil contains 6% of your DV vitamin A and 2% vitamin C.  It also contains phytonutrients.


And, of course,  olive oil contains good heart-healthy fats!

A Few Nutritional Facts about Basil:

“Basil leaves compose of several health benefiting essential oils such as eugenol, citronellol, linalool, citral, limonene and terpineol.

These compounds are known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

  • Basil herb contains exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene, vitamin A, cryptoxanthin, lutein and zea-xanthin. These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.” [1]



  1. Accessed August 3, 2016. Basil Herb Nutrition facts. www.nutrition-and-you.com

Top 15 Cake Decorating Tips

Genbumom’s Top 15 Cake Decorating Tips!

I started out baking birthday cakes when we found out my son was allergic to peanuts. We called local bakeries, searched stores, but had no luck finding a cake that could be deemed 100% peanut free or not made in a facility with peanuts.   So, I started making cakes myself.

It saves me money.  It’s a creative outlet.  It can be time consuming, so I often bake cakes the evening before and ice the next day.

My son has since been cleared to eat tree nuts, which has means I can now use (SOME) Wilton food colorings for my cakes. (Note: A few Wilton colors are still made in a facility where peanuts may be present so always check the Wilton colors before use, but many are just tree nuts). Always check labels.

I stared experimenting with fondant early this year and I’m addicted.  If you can play with playdoh you can use fondant.

Lately, I buy the pre-made fondant at the store (quicker, easier and less mess for this busy mommy!) A tasty homemade marshmallow fondant recipe is linked here: * I have used this before and it turns out very well, but follow the instructions carefully to avoid any lumps.

Needless to say, I’m a proud of hard work I’ve put into these cakes. I really enjoy making them and seeing everyone’s enjoyment!

Top 15 Cake Decorating Tips:

* Indicates the tip came from my decorating mentor Debra S.! Two of her cakes/cupcakes are featured below.
  1. When making a 100% fondant covered cake always do a double layer cake with icing in the middle. It will taste better for the guests who peel off and don’t eat fondant.
  2. Use crafting Popsicle sticks to hold your cake layers together. No need to buy the specialty cake rods! Just warn your guests they are in the cake!
  3. * Coat any pan very well with Crisco and flour (you don’t want to see any shiny spots) this will help your cake slide out easily. If vegan, use cold-pressed coconut oil.
  4. * Always do a crumb icing layer before fondant or your final icing layer using tips. Always.
  5. * Put the cooled off cake in the fridge for 10-15 minutes prior to doing the crumb icing layer and sprinkle with powdered sugar to help avoid crumb sticking to your icing.
  6. Put Crisco on your hands and under your finger nails prior to mixing food coloring into fondant to avoid dyed hands and finger nails.
  7. When using a star-tipped icing cap- wipe if off frequently.
  8. If your icing starts to get runny and not “dot” onto the cake well, put it back in the fridge for  5 minutes so it’s not runny. Your hands will warm up the icing through the plastic accordion so you have to get it cold/more solid again.
  9. Don’t invest in the super expensive accordion style icing and tip decorating kits. I purchased a 3 piece kit at a Dollar Tree store and it has lasted me for 2 years. It came with two plastic accordions and 3 tips.
  10. You can use playdoh shape cutters for shapes. See the dinosaur cake- that was made using a kid’s sandwich cookie cutter. You don’t have to invest in a ton of specialty fondant cutters. Look around your house what you can wash and then use. Kid’s plastic toys can be used to make impressions. I’ve used toothpicks as well.
  11. Invest in a few fondant tools: A cutter with a few interchangeable rollers, a fondant roller are my go-to’s. I don’t feel you need a fondant board to roll out the fondant on. Clean very well, Crisco, and flour your countertop very well to avoid stains.
  12. To make fondant circles: Roll a small amount in your handle into a ball and simply press gently to flatten. It’s easier and quicker (in my opinion) than cutting out small circles with a tool.
  13. Use a dot of icing or Crisco to “attach” fondant decorations.
  14. To smooth out fondant mistakes, rub Crisco or coconut oil on top. If it appears greasy or shiny a TINY amount of flour can be rubbed in to reduce shine.
  15. * To smooth out icing (not fondant); dip your knife in warm water in between spreading the icing. A large icing spatula really helps.

Bonus Tips!: Make a batch of circle-cut sugar cookies (my favorite recipe is here) and use any leftover fondant to make a few simple star or heart decorated cookies for your guests to take home. Never waste!

Share your food colors with another crafty mom. There is no reason to invest in 20 colors yourself, when you can share. Wilton colors last a long time when stored properly and just a few toothpick dots of coloring is all that is needed.

Now the Cake Pictures! {and more tips}

Here are two amazing wedding cakes my cake advisor Debra S. has made. She also makes the most delicious cupcakes with surprises fillings in the middle. Yum!

Traditional Wedding 3-Tiered Fondant Cake with pearlescent shimmer, beading, ribbon and flowers:

Each layer of this cake was a different flavor. It’s simple, classy, and gorgeous.

Penguin Love Cake and Wedding cupcakes:

The cupcakes were dark chocolate with mint chocolate chip frosting and miniature chocolate chips and vanilla with raspberry fililng and white chocolate raspberry frosting.

Tip to liven up vanilla cupcakes: Grate real vanilla beans directly into the cupcake batter prior to baking. *



The Genbumom Cake Menagerie:

Elmo cake pan reused to make a Cookie Monster cake. Reduce and re-use! I had not started using fondant yet…just a lot of star tipped icing work!

To use the  Elmo cake pan to make a Cookie Monster cake: Simply remove the nose and change the mouth shape a bit.  Add some cookies around the face. That’s it.  So easy!

Getting a little more creative with these Dr. Seuss cupcakes I made for Halloween. We love our themed-Halloween costumes at the Genbumom house!

Dr. Seuss Cupcakes:

These were easy. Bake in red liners, print black and white photos of Dr. Seuss characters, color, and glue to toothpicks. Stick in cupcake.

Glue Thing 1 and Thing 2 circles onto another red cupcake liner and add on the outside of the cupcake.


img_5820 I hand drew and colored a favorite Dr. Seuss quote  and glued to cardboard and used a craft stick for the sign below.

My son’s costume was just a red onesie,  felt cut-out letters, and a lot of hand sewing. His hat was bought at a Party City store.

He wore that hat for two winters, he loved it so much! Total cost of costume was about $15. (The onesie was from a used clothing shop).

Winnie the Pooh Cake:

This was a double layer cake, covered in icing and smoothed with the warm water/ knife method above (#15). Piped green icing along the base.  I used store bought decorating gels for the water stream and black outlines.

I had to order the bee decorations (edible sugar) from the internet as well as the (non-edible) Pooh characters.  The flowers sugar decorations were bought at Meijer.

The ‘Hunny Pot’ was made from a fake coconut I found at a dollar store. I then used yellow felt for the ‘honey.’


And the Fondant work begins…

Avengers Cake:

My first fondant cake. I just used this approach to mentally attack my first try at fondant: It’s like playing with play-doh.

I used a few internet pictures to help on the superhero logos. I was so glad I had a fondant cutter!

I use this Wilton cutter/embosser tool:
Wilton Cutter Embosser












The Captain America Shield was easy, a series of circles and a star. The Thor Hammer, super simple. Rolling the fondant and shaping letters was fairly easy.

There are small letter- cutters you can purchase:
Wilton 417-7554 40 Piece Alphabet & Numbers Fondant Cut-Outs Set

Iron Man and Hulk were more of a challenge, but a 4 year does not care for perfection!

Bee Cake for a Spring Birthday Celebration:

The complete Bee Cake how-to is linked here.


Flower Cake {Perfect for Birthdays or Wedding Showers}:

I  used a series of plastic cookie cutters that I bought in varying flower shapes and balls pressed into circles for the flower middles. It was a very easy cake. This was also the last time I made my own fondant. I ended up with a few bubbles and chunks in it and was not happy with that!

The Wilton cutter and embossing tool was used to make the vines/leaves.

I invested in a mid-size cake round set and I’m happy I did. Perfect size for small birthday or surprise cakes.

Dinosaur Cake {Birthday cake}:

img_8265Cookie cutter stars were used.  A dinosaur sandwich-cutter was used for the Dino shape and the embosser tool.

This cake was made so I didn’t waste any cake mix or fondant after making the flower cake, so my son got a bonus dino cake that day!



Hello Kitty {Birthday Cake}:

A faux pas happened here… I forgot Hello Kitty’s whiskers but no one noticed!

I think I like the braided popsicle stick the best.  Just cut three long slices of fondant in 3 colors and ‘weave’ together like a braid.


Fondant Baseball Cookies {Baseball themed BBQ & Baby Shower}:

You only need 1 round cookie cutter.

To do:  Bake cookies, (this is my favorite roll out sugar cookie recipe. ), allow to cool, and add a layer of icing (both vanilla and chocolate were used).

Roll out white fondant and make fondant ‘baseballs’  and press on top.  A red decorating sparkle gel was used for details.

I hope you have enjoyed the run down of the delicious and fun wedding, birthday, and specialty cakes.

It’s a labor of love but worth the effort for lasting memories!

If you are going to make cakes for specialty occasions to sell, make sure you are charging your customers for ingredients used, any special materials ordered,  and your time.   I would suggest charging the labor by the hour.

Some cakes take 2 hours and some 3-4 hours to create so charge accordingly.  And of course, invest in a nice camera and take plenty of pictures!


Lactation Cookie Recipe {with Oats, Flaxseed, and Dark Chocolate}


What is a lactation cookie?

First of all, it’s really just a healthy cookie.  Anyone can eat them! They are simply Oatmeal and Flax-seed Chocolate chip cookies!  BUT,these cookies contain herbs or foods known as galactagogues:

“Galactogogues are herbs or medications used to stimulate an increase in milk production.” [1]

Steel cut oats are known as a galactagogue and are an excellent source of iron for nursing mothers.

Iron is important for fueling our circulatory system.  See my post on Know Your Iron Intake.  It is very important after the blood loss during childbirth to keep your iron levels up!

The Brewer’s yeast  also may be a galactagogue. The oats and fiber from the flax-seed  will  help keep your bowels regular post-baby.  Flax seed is also rich in Omega 3’s and Lignans which is good for baby’s brain development.

These oat cookies make it easy to obtain oats on the go (and the chocolate is a yummy treat). If you are a purest  and avoid caffeine or a vegan you can skip the chocolate or go for carob chips.

Lactation Cookie Recipe:

Preheat oven to 335-340 degrees F. Spray a cooking sheet.


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp allspice or nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (I prefer 2 tsps)
  • 2 TBSP Brewer’s Yeast
  • 3 TBSP flax seed soaked in 3 TBSP warm water (5 minute soak)
  • 1 whole egg (vegan alternative is a flaxseed “egg” (1 TBSP flaxseed soaked in 1 TBSP warm water)
  • ½ cup butter (vegan alternative is ½ to 3/4 cup solid organic coconut oil)
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract
  • 3 TBSP Honey
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup organic Oatmeal
  • ¾ cup organic Steel Cut Oats

How to:

  1.  Cream butter and sugar.
  2. Add flax seed, egg, vanilla, and honey. Mix well.
  3. Mix together dry ingredients then slowly add dry ingredients to the wet mixture.
  4. Mix in both oatmeal’s and the chocolate chips until all ingredients are incorporated.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Do not over bake.
  6. Cool and enjoy. These freeze “okay” but I think they are best fresh.

My kids love these cookies. They are heart healthy and the perfect on the go snack for the breastfeeding mommy!

Note: You can also add 1 TBSP of Chai seeds to the recipe if desired. Add a 1 tsp. water if you add Chai seeds.

Feel free to print this recipe and share with friends! I recommend eating 2-3 cookies per day for lactating mothers.


Also check out this quick article from one of my favorite breastfeeding sites: Kellymom.com  about oatmeal and milk supply:

Also ask yourself, is my supply truly low?  Is baby wetting enough diapers, is baby a “snacker” or “attacker” at the breast, what is enough breast milk anyway?

Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand (and a good latch).  Your body will produce what the baby needs if you are healthy. It matches content and amount to what your baby needs, as baby grows older your breast milk changes to match their needs. Some women produce more than others, so it cannot be compared.

Of course the first time mom has a learning curve. For something so natural, it surely is not easy sometimes. Our bodies are healing, milk arrival can be delayed by a C-section, and if you go back to work pumping and nursing takes time and effort to navigate.


Some women will sware by galactagogues to increase supply and for some women they may not aid much. It is worth a try and I had good experiences with both hops and steel cut oats.

I ate steel cut oats often while breastfeeding my second child and I personally noticed an increase in milk supply the next day when I had oats the previous evening.

Click for  a Kellymom  article on galactagogue’s.


“Remember that any galactagogue will be most effective in increasing milk supply when combined with increased breastfeeding frequency and milk removal.”

– Kellymom.com


Natural Galactogogues include:

  • Fenugreek
  • Alfalfa
  • Fennel
  • Anise/Aniseed
  • Milk Thistle [1]
  • Hops  (herbal or beer) Note: you cannot drink alcohol until your baby sleeps through the night and beer can cause dehydration which can cause a decrease milk supply.  IPA’s often have a higher alcohol % content, so be wary of this as well.

There are teas,  supplements, and tinctures sold at herbal shops and health food stores, but they are not without possible side effects.  For example, Fenugreek may make you smell like maple syrup and increase sweating. True, I tried it. [1]

Always choose high quality products and always consult with your Primary Care Doctor and your baby’s pediatrician PRIOR to use. I cannot stress this enough.

Breastfeeding is trial and error.  So grab a healthy cookie, relax, and nurse your baby!

If you need assistance, La Leche League is a great resource for advice. You can find a local educator that you can call or email for help. www.llli.org

You can also check out this compilation article Mom’s Best Breastfeeding Advice.


  1.  February 2008.  University of Wisconsin: School of Medicine and Public Health Article. Natural Galactogogues-Supplement Sampler.   www.fammed.wisc.edu




Vegan Banana Bread

This is a super simple and hearty banana bread. They key is 4 medium or large super ripe bananas (no less!).

I wanted a way to sneak more protein into our foods so I experimented with adding red lentils and found the perfect amount to add.  This is not fluffy bread- it’s dense, moist, and hearty. Almost like a cake donut but without as much guilt!

The best part of vegan banana bread… sampling the batter with no egg/bacteria worries!

You can also add  a few Tablespoons of milled flax seed for fiber and Omegas.  If you do that – add a few Tablespoons of applesauce or oil to keep it moist.


  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1 tsp brown sugar or honey
  • 1/2 cup water

In 1 minute increments microwave lentils (stirring often) for 3 minutes to soften them. Add a dash of cinnamon, if desired.  If it seems dry- add water a tsp at a time. I leave mine as-is after this step. However, you could purée the lentils.

  • 4  medium sized (up to 4 1/2) very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup oil (coconut, olive or sunflower works best)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (I’ve also used half honey/ half sugar here)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg, if desired
  • 1 and 1/2 cups wheat flour
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Mash bananas. Add oil, vanilla, brown sugar, and softened lentils. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl, gently fold into wet mixture.

At this point, I usually fold in some milled flax seed.  I also have a habit of adding a few more dashes of cinnamon or a squirt of honey.  I just can’t stop myself!

Bake at 330 degrees for 40-45 minutes, in a greased and floured pan.  I almost prefer mine undercooked (vegan so it’s fine)! Yes, 330 degrees is correct.

I like to enjoy mine with a steaming hot cup of coffee.

Thoughts on this recipe?

Have you ever cooked with lentils in baking before?

Feel free to follow this blog on WordPress or the Genbumom -Pinterest Board. You can also follow me on Twitter for more recipes, craft tutorials, and healthy living tips! #genbumom


Bee Cake How-To


When I first set out to create a bee cake I scoured the web for some simple ideas. Most were heavy on fondant with all-fondant bee decorations, but I wanted a super edible and fairly simple cake.

I combined some fondant work with star-tipped icing design and was very happy with this resulting bee cake. The body is a double layer cake and very flavorful (that middle layer of icing really makes a rich cake).

Using a pre-made Wilton fondant made this super easy to work with! Click below if you need to order a small amount of Wilton Fondant for this project or Wilton icing gel colors.

Wilton 710-2301 Decorator Preferred Fondant, 24-Ounce, White

You will need:

  • 2 boxes cake mix (eggs and oil)
  • 3 containers icing-white
  • 1 package Wilton brand- white fondant
  • Food coloring –Yellow and black (Wilton brand works best)


  • 2 large cake rounds- for body of bee (double layer cake)
  • 1 small cake round- for head of bee
  • Flower cookie cutters
  • Fondant cutter (or pizza cutter or knife)


Tips!  * I prefer to mix my two cake mixes separately- one at a time. I bake one round of cakes, then remove and re-grease my pan and bake the second round of cakes since I only have one large cake round and 1 small round.

  • * Use unsalted butter and flour to grease pans. Grease and flour well so the slide out easily! Allow to completely cool before removing.
  • * You can make your cakes a day before decorating, but I recommend adding the one “under” layer of icing to keep the cake moist.  You can do your fondant and star-tip icing the next day.
  • * I sprinkle flour on my surface when rolling out designs so the fondant doesn’t stick.
  • * I keep my hands greased with Crisco (I know, gross!) – it helps to smooth the fondant if needed and prevents the food coloring from staining your hands.

Step 1: Mix cake and bake cakes according to directions.

Pour cake mix in a large round cake pan. (If you have two large rounds, use them both). Pour cake mix in a smaller cake round (for head of bee).

Bake accordingly. After cooled, remove from pan.

Step 2: Slice off top crowns so the cakes are completely flat on top and ice the small cake.

All cake tops need to be level. I use a very large serrated bread knife and slowly “saw” the tops off.

The smaller cake will be your bee head. Add an icing layer with a knife. It’s okay if not perfect. You need this layer, so the cake tastes good under the fondant and the fondant lays smoother.

Step 3: Add yellow coloring and roll out the fondant for Bee head.  Gently place fondant on top of cake, smooth, and cut excess from bottom edge with a cake tool or pizza cutter.   Create fondant eyes and mouth.

Step 4: Ice larger double layer cake for Bee body. In between the large cake rounds add a layer of icing.  You can place cake dowels to hold the layers together.  In a pinch I’ve used Popsicle sticks or wood skewers.

Ice the entire bee body with a smooth layer of icing first. It’s okay if not perfect. Step 5 will cover imperfections…

Step 5: Using a star-tipped Icing tool: Create black and yellow stripes. Patience! Use the star tip so it looks like a fuzzy bee!

Step 6: Add details! Color fondant black and cut out a triangle for the bee stinger. Two long black strips to make the antennae’s and 4 strips for the bee legs. Two long white strips of fondant were used to make the bee wings. Get creative and have fun! I use cookie cutters for the flowers.

Wilton Food Coloring: Lemon Yellow and Black- The colors really pop (see below) in the natural light.

Click below to order this Wilton gel color set via Amazon:

Wilton Set of 8 Icing Colors (Set of 16)

Of course we typically avoid dyes in our foods but the occasional cake never hurt anyone!

Happy decorating!   Of course, please read this article on Bee Colony Collapse and why we need to Save the Bees!  Tips how you can personally help to Save the Bee population.




Meatless Monday: Know your Iron Intake

“Meatless Monday is the concept of reducing our meat consumption. It’s a different approach for how we consume our protein sources. Meatless Mondays is not the stance that you need to become vegetarian or vegan either (but kudos if you are- it’s the most humane way to source your food).

Being mainly vegetarian, I am diligent about incorporating enough protein into my diet: beans, legumes, tofu, soy nut butter, almonds, walnuts and the like. I also eat eggs about twice a week.

However, I still fell into a vegetarian pitfall: a lack of iron in my diet and the end result was anemia.

I used to track my diet on My Fitness Pal and usually fell a little short on protein, so it really helped me track what I needed to consume more of (protein) and less of (carbohydrates).  These tracking apps are a helpful tools and I suggest using one for a month to see where you are at.  You can view if you are consuming excess sugar (proudly always very low on my sugar!), saturated fats, or salt.

 Iron is necessary for creating red blood cells that carry oxygen into your body.

“Iron is a component of a number of proteins… haemoglobin is important for transport of oxygen to tissues throughout the body.” [7]

Your body absorbs meat iron (heme iron) almost 3 times easier than it does from plant sources, so if you eat none-heme iron foods you need to incorporate absorption techniques.

Headaches, dizziness, difficulty exercising, and leg-muscle cramping I attributed to being a working mother, sinuses, the winter blahs, or  perhaps dehydration after exercise.

Turns out all of the above symptoms were interrelated.

I’ve been taking a multivitamin with iron and have been tackling my iron consumption head on. I’ve been using a cast iron skillet, incorporating vitamin C, Vitamin A and beta carotene along with any plant based iron consumption, and multivitamins.

I cannot believe how much better I feel! I should have gone to the doctor sooner. Do not put your health on hold.  I know we do this because of our busy schedules, but you have to take care of your health first! It makes us a better mother/wife, employee and friend if we are recharged and in optimal health.

If you suspect you have low iron ask your doctor for a blood test.  If you eat a plant based diet and have any symptoms, you need it checked.

You do not need to eat more meat to get plenty of iron, you just have to work iron into your diet appropriately.

Signs and symptoms of low iron can easily be dismissed as general fatigue or stress symptoms. Low iron can be the result of lack of iron in your diet or also absorption issues from an underlying disease, like Celiac disease. Do not ignore these symptoms:

 “Iron deficiency anemia symptoms may include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Frequent infections
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
  • Brittle nails
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or starch
  • Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia
  • An uncomfortable tingling or crawling feeling in your legs (restless legs syndrome)” [1]

However, some forms of anemia occur due to  B12 or folate lacking in your system or being absorbed improperly.

“Vitamin deficiency anemia (or megaloblastic [MEG-uh-loh-BLASS-tik] anemia). Low levels of vitamin B12 or folate are the most common causes of this type of anemia.

Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia (or pernicious [pur-NISH-us] anemia). This type of anemia happens due to a lack of vitamin B12 in the body. Your body needs vitamin B12 to make red blood cells and to keep your nervous system working normally. This type of anemia occurs most often in people whose bodies are not able to absorb vitamin B12 from food because of an autoimmune disorder. It also can happen because of intestinal problems.

You also can get this type of anemia if the foods you eat don’t have enough vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is found in foods that come from animals. Fortified breakfast cereals also have vitamin B12. ” [6]

The Good News? You can change this fairly easily if low intake is simply your issue.

If absorption is an issue or an underlying medicial condition, your doctor needs consulted for steps to take.

Chart Courtesy of WomensHealth.gov. Of course, if pregnant or nursing,  have an pre-existing health issues, or on any other medications please check with your doctor first!

Age Infants and children Women Pregnant Breastfeeding
7 to 12 months 11 mg n/a n/a n/a
1 to 3 years 7 mg n/a n/a n/a
4 to 8 years 10 mg n/a n/a n/a
9 to 13 years 8 mg n/a n/a n/a
14 to 18 years n/a 15 mg 27 mg 10mg
19 to 50 years n/a 18 mg 27 mg 9 mg
51+ years n/a 8 mg n/a n/a



Below are some tips to keep your Meatless Meal options but Increase Iron Intake:

You do NOT have to start consuming massive amounts of meat. Meat consumption equals more pollution. Of course, never self-diagnose, schedule a visit with your doctor as these symptoms can also be signs of other issues.

1. “Drink tea and coffee between meals, not with meals. The tannin can reduce iron absorption so drink tea between meals. Coffee contains less tannin than tea but still needs to be considered as it has other compounds that reduce iron absorption.” [2]

2. Avoid Iron absorption disrupting foods when consuming your meals.  Both calcium and tannins (found in tea and coffee) reduce iron absorption. Tea, coffee, and calcium supplements should be used several hours before a meal that is high in iron 5.” [4]    “Antacids can also inhibit the absorption of iron, as stomach acid is necessary for this process.” [3]

3. Add Vitamin C to your Iron meals: “Adding a vitamin C source to a meal increases non-heme iron absorption up to six-fold which makes the absorption of non-heme iron as good or better than that of heme iron.” [4]

4.  Increase your intake of Iron rich foods. Leafy Greens in particular, like spinach or swiss chard. Lentils, tofu, and chickpeas to name a few.

“Examples of iron-rich foods include meat, eggs, leafy green vegetables and iron-fortified foods.” [1]5

5. Cook with a cast-iron skillet. Tofu, tempeh, (or eggs) with spinach or kale and a glass of Orange juice would be a great iron rich breakfast.

6. Oatmeal and Cream of Wheat both contain a good dose of iron, choose low sugar options and add blueberries for vitamin C and flax seed for lignans and Omega-3’s. Also look for Iron fortified cereals.

image  Black Beans, Tofu, and Rice with Sweet Peppers

7.  Beans, Lentils, Legumes. Just one cup of black bean soup contains 26% of your Daily Iron. Pair it with vitamin C to enhance absorption. A salad topped with red and yellow bell peppers or broccoli should do the trick.

8.  When you do choose meat, always choose Grass-Fed beef. It contains more nutrients and vitamins than non-grass fed meat. Try to limit your consumption of meat for the environment. 

9. Multivitamin with Iron or Iron Supplement.


Did you Know YOU Can Help to Save our Earth by Limiting Meat Consumption?!

  • “Reduce Greenhouse Gases —Studies show that meat production produces significantly more greenhouse gases than vegetables, including carbon dioxide, Methane and Nitrous Oxide – the three main contributing sources of greenhouse gas. [5]
  • Minimize Water Usage—The water needs of livestock are much greater than those of vegetables and grains.

– Approximately 1,850 gallons of water are needed to produce a single pound of beef. – Approximately 39 gallons of water are needed to produce a pound of vegetables.” [5]


Click here for a  link to The Vegetarian’s Resource Groups information on Iron. It contains a great table of iron-rich vegetarian foods:



Disclaimer: This article is not regulated or approved by the FDA.  Information is cited from sources below. As always, if pregnant or nursing, on any medications or under doctors care for any disease, illness, or condition consult your doctor before any dietary changes or prior to starting any vitamin supplement or regiment.



1.)  Mayo Clinic Staff: Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia. Accessed February 20, 2016. www.mayoclinic.org

2.) Iron Boosting Tips and Tricks. Accessed February 20, 2016. www.nutrition.getfit.com 

3.) Bruso, Jessica, Demand Media: Natural Ways to Boost Iron Levels In Your Body. www.healthyeating.sfgate.com

4. Mangels, Reed PhD, RD Iron in the Vegan Diet. www.vrg.org


5. Meatless Monday Facts.  Accessed Feb. 2016.  www.meatlessmonday.com

6. Anemia Fact Sheet. Accessed February 22, 2016. www.womenshealth.gov

7. Australian Government Ministry of Health. Nutrient Reference Values. Accessed February 20, 2016. http://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/iron