Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in teenagers in the UK. Surveys have shown that up to 13 per cent of teenage boys and 27 per cent of girls have low iron stores. Rapid growth, coupled with a fast lifestyle and poor dietary choices, can result in iron-deficiency anaemia. Teenage girls need to take particular care because their iron stores are depleted each month following menstruation.
The main dietary source of iron is red meat, but this is a popular time for teenagers to adopt a vegetarian diet. There are plenty of non-meat sources of iron including lentils and nuts (used to make this delicious healthy burger), as well as dried fruit, eggs and green leafy vegetables. The body doesn't absorb iron quite as easily from non-meat sources, but you can enhance absorption by combining them with a food rich in vitamin C (such as orange juice, berries, citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables).
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- 130g split red lentils
- 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 100g unsalted peanuts, chopped
- 100g wholemeal breadcrumbs
- Black pepper
- 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
- 1 egg, beaten
Put the lentils in a pan with plenty of water, onions, bay leaf, cumin and tomatoes. Bring to the boil and simmer until the lentils are soft.
Drain, remove the bay leaf, and beat the lentils until smooth.
Mix the peanuts and breadcrumbs together. Beat half this mixture into the lentil puree. Add the pepper and parsley and stir in the beaten egg.
Divide into 4 flat cakes. Coat with the remaining peanut and breadcrumb mixture.
Grill for about 7 minutes on each side until heated through and crisp on the top. Serve in a toasted bun with salad, spicy potato wedges and salsa.