Nutrition Breakdown: Iron

Getting the most out of your blenderized tube feed (BTF) recipes is important for individuals with feeding tubes.  Making sure you have all the micro and macronutrients, while avoiding food allergies, plus keeping in mind what you have in the house and what your family likes to eat can become overwhelming for even the pros! The Nutrition Breakdown series is here to help! This series focuses on one micronutrient at a time to help you learn how to incorporate them into you go-to BTF recipes. So today we are diving into Iron!

Iron is a mineral that is found in every living cell in the human body. Iron deficiency, anemia, is estimated to effect 1 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “B”) or more people in the world. So by now hopefully you agree the iron is pretty important. But the great thing about iron is that it is found in a so many types of foods that are readily available and great for all types of lifestyles!

Iron is present in animal products, such as red meat, fish, shellfish, and poultry, as well as plant foods, like spinach, lentils and legumes (beans), tofu, pumpkin seeds, and quinoa. When creating a recipe that is blender friendly, it is important to incorporate a source of iron and protein into the meal, whether it is from animal products or plant sources. My personal favorite food that had iron is dark chocolate!

Fun fact: Iron is absorbed better when it paired with Vitamin C. So add some oranges, strawberries, peppers, kiwi, or any other fruit or vegetable high in Vitamin C to make sure you’re body can absorb what your eating.

Avoid taking the following with your iron sources as they will decrease the amount of iron your body will absorb: 
-Zinc supplements
-Manganese supplements
-Calcium containing supplement

Iron should be consumed daily to help maximize brain function, and stimulate the body so you are ready to start the day! The benefits of iron are crucial for the body at any age because iron plays a large role in the transport and production of red blood cells. Red blood cells help give your body energy and the ability to perform daily tasks. Iron helps to also improve brain function and stimulate brain activity, as well as move oxygen throughout your body, specifically to your muscles.

Below, I have done some experimenting with a few recipes for you to try out. One contains iron from animal sources and the other is plant based.  Feel free to mix and match with fruits and vegetables that are in season and colorful!

Beef & Mango Rice Blend

Beef Mango Blend


  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • ½ cup of prune juice
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • ½ cup cooked brown rice
  • ½ cup of spinach (raw or cooked)
  • ½ cup of kale
  • ½ cup of chopped mango
  • 3 oz. of cooked lean ground beef (96%)
  • 1 tablespoon of protein powder (I used Quest brand, but you can use any brand)
  • 3 tablespoons of safflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons of black strap molasses
  • 1 tablespoon of agave nectar

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth! If you need to make it a little thinner, you can add water or more liquid of your choice to make it the perfect consistency!

**If you do not want to add the lean ground beef, try ground chicken or turkey.**

Nutrition Facts:
Total Volume: 2.25 liters (2250 ml)
Makes about 10 servings – 250 mL per serving

Calories per Serving: 215
Total Fat: 156 grams
Sodium: 84.2 grams
Fiber: 23 grams
Protein: 18.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 48 grams
Iron: 32.6 grams


Blueberry and Banana Blend

B & B blend


  • 2 cups of cashew milk (you can also use almond milk)
  • ½ cup of cranberry juice
  • 2 cup of whole blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa
  • ½ cup of banana
  • ½ cup of chopped peaches (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 ½ cups of cooked whole grain brown rice
  • 2 oz. of pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup of peas (frozen or canned)
  • 2 cups of chopped broccoli
  • 1 tbsp. of protein powder (any brand)
  • 2 tbsp. of agave nectar
  • 1 tbsp. of coconut sugar

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth! If you need to make it a little thinner, you can add water or the liquid if you used canned peas.

Nutrition Facts:
Total Volume: 2.50 liters (2500 ml)
Makes about 10 servings – 225 mL per serving

Calories per Serving: 318
Total Fat: 114 grams
Sodium: 51 grams
Fiber: 48 grams
Protein: 26 grams
Carbohydrates: 32 grams
Iron: 29 grams


Both of these recipes are great sources of iron, and taste delicious too! They are very versatile and you can easily mix and match the ingredients according to what your family likes and what is in season. I hope you enjoy these recipes, and feel free to send us pictures of what you make!

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