The Iron Man Salad

April 25, 2017

The Iron Man Salad

Packing the iron punch, this recipe has been created with specific iron rich salad ingredients to help you meet your daily iron requirements. Not just iron, it’s also an excellent source of protein, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C and B group vitamins.

This iron rich salad rocks a cool 8mg of your daily iron requirements (RDI females is 18mg and males 8mg). To put this into perspective, one 150g piece of fillet steak will give you just over 3mg of iron. I should explain though that there are two types of iron. The type that comes from meat, poultry and fish (haeme) and the type that comes from plants (non-haeme). Plant iron isn’t absorbed as easily as in the body as iron from animals, so this recipe has been created to optimise the availability of iron, to give you maximum nutrition.

Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency globally.  There are certain foods that help iron absorption and certain foods hinder it and I’ve got a couple of tips for you to get the most out of this meal.

  • Avoid drinking tea, coffee or red wine (a glass of white will go better anyway!). Drinking these can decrease iron absorption by up to 40%.
  • Avoid berries and chocolate for dessert. This can reduce iron absorption by up to 60%, so worth avoiding with this dish.

Iron Man Salad

The Iron Man Salad – Key Nutrients

Tofu – Contributing approx. 4mg of iron to this salad, tofu also adds 22g of protein! It’s also rich in isoflavones, a type of phytochemical that is well researched for its cancer protective properties.

Kale – Using lemon juice to dress the kale, not only softens it, making it easier to digest, but it massively increases the bioavailability of iron.

Cumin – There’s one reason cumin is in this dish. I’ll tell you why. Because one tablespoon gives a whooping 4mg of iron. Say no more.

The Iron Man Salad

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 2 people


  • 250 g tofu (use firm tofu)
  • 100 g kale
  • 100 g broccoli (approx 7 florets)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon (juice & zest)


  • Chop the tofu into slices. Using paper towel, press down to remove the water residue. Then cut the tofu into small cubes.
  • Place 2tbsp of cumin into a bowl and add the tofu and toss/mix until all of the tofu is coated in cumin.
  • Using a non-stick frying pan, turn the heat on high and add 2 tbsp of olive oil.
  • Once the oil is heated through, add the tofu and stir for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and cover the pan with a lid, stirring occasionally for approx. 20 minutes. until crispy.
  • Whilst the tofu is cooking you can prepare the rest of the salad.
  • Remove the kale from the stalks and chop into smaller pieces.
  • Add the juice of one lemon to the kale mix and 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and using your hands rub the lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil into the kale (you want to massage the kale as this will help to really soften it).
  • Grate the zest from the lemon into the salad mix.
  • Finely chop the broccoli and add to the mix.
  • Cut 1/2 avocado into small cubes and add to the salad mix.
  • A few minutes before the tofu is ready, add 2 tbsp of pumpkin seeds to the frying pan and toast for a couple of minutes until lightly browned.
  • Add tofu and pumpkin seeds to the salad mix and toss through.


Essential Equipment

Frying pan


Broccoli - I chop the broccoli really small because its raw. I find it easier to eat this way.

Find your Ingredients

Tofu - Fridge aisle
Kale, avocado, lemon - Fruit and veg aisle
Ground cumin - Herbs and spices aisle
Pumpkin seeds - Baking aisle and health food aisle

Course Main Dish


If you like this recipe, you might like to try these iron-boosting recipes too;

The Lentil Chilli

Crispy Kale & Brussel Sprout Salad

Amy Savage is a qualified Nutritionist with a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutritional & Dietetic Medicine and is available for consultations online and in Sydney CBD. Email for further details. 

Saunders, AV, Craig, WJ, Baines, SK & Posen, JS 2012, ‘Iron and vegetarian diets’, MJA Open,

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  • Reply Natalie Tandon April 25, 2017 at 12:03 am

    I tried this salad and it is an absolute 10.
    Easy to make, I didn’t feel tired or bloated after and it tastes delicious.
    Thanks Amy

  • Reply Amy Savage May 1, 2017 at 5:38 am

    So glad you enjoyed it lovely xx

  • Reply Sarah October 9, 2019 at 10:22 am

    If you don’t like tofu what is an alternative in this salad? 🙂

    • Reply Amy Savage February 22, 2020 at 1:40 am

      Hi Sarah, it depends if you are looking for a vegan/vegetarian choice, if you are, you could try tempeh or adding some chickpeas/lentils. Or depending on your dietary preferences could use eggs or 100g meat choice.

  • Reply Anahiza March 10, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    I would love to make this recipe but how would I cook the lentils or chickpeas instead of the tofu ?
    Thank you

    • Reply Amy Savage April 13, 2020 at 5:11 am

      Hi Anahiza, thanks for your question.. Chickpeas could be roasted in some extra virgin olive oil and spices such as paprika or you could use tinned brown lentils, rinse and add to the salad.

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