All Things Iron!

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From the desk of Dr Nandita Shah

Try telling someone that you’ve switched to whole plant-based diet, and be prepared to field a barrage of questions on nutrition deficiency. Invariably, iron features high on the misconception list. “Don’t you need red meat for iron?” is often the question asked. Well, you could perhaps then point out where the cow get its iron from? Iron and calcium are minerals, and minerals are found in the soil. Cows get it from eating grass, and so we too can get it from plants. Higher the quality of soil, higher the nutrients; the reason why we always recommend organic foods!

India is a country with a high incidence of anaemia, and that’s because we love our dairy. Milk impedes the absorption of iron. Every doctor knows this. Yet, because of our conditioning, doctors often recommend milk to their patients. This reminds me of a recent quote written by the well-known vegan advocate, Malvika Kalra, “Doctors telling new mothers to drink cow’s milk to produce breast milk is like telling someone to eat bullshit to produce shit.” That’s so true!

Indeed, there is so much ‘bullshit’ going around about nutrition that for a lay person it’s hard to figure out what’s true and what’s not. But here’s something to keep in mind – nature is perfect, it can never go wrong. If we eat and live the way nature designed us to eat and live, we are unlikely to suffer from any deficiency.



Dubai based Kandanat G Nandkumar has always been a strict vegetarian. Diagnosed with both diabetes and blood pressure, a chance browsing on YouTube led him to Dr Nandita’s video that inspired him to take charge of his conditions.

I am a strict vegetarian since birth. I was under the impression that my diet was under control until I was diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure. With  500 mg metformins twice daily, my random blood sugar averaged 136 mg/dL. I was also on two medications for blood pressure with which my readings rallied around 160/94.

I was advised by doctors to tweak my diet and make some changes in my lifestyle but nothing really made a significant impact on my vitals. One day, while casually browsing on the internet, I chanced upon Dr Nandita Shah’s video on YouTube. Her recommendations inspired me to give up milk and milk products that I would normally have in copious amounts.

I also took the opportunity to attend Dr Shah’s seminar on ‘Reversing Diabetes and Hypertension’ in Dubai. Following the day-long session, I completely eliminated oil in any form from my diet. After being vegan for 14 days and oil free for seven days, I noticed the following changes in my parameters:

  • My fasting sugar readings were consistently stable around 90-95 mg/dL despite taking only 1/2 dosage (instead of my usual two tablets).

  • My blood pressure became stable at around 131/75.

I systematically monitored and recorded these readings so I could share the chart with my physician to taper down my medications.

I am a long time yoga and meditation practitioner. It is my firm understanding that all diseases are the shameful reflection of our anti-natural life style. I realized how a ‘small’ abrasion in my food habits derailed my health and how easily I could begin the reversal process by correcting these food habits.

Dear friends, health is our birthright! If we lose our health, it is only because we do not live, eat and think correctly as intended and designed by God. SHARAN-Vegan is the ‘airplane route’ to help you win back your health – regardless of what your illness is.

Palak ‘Paneer’

One honestly don’t miss anything when on a plant based diet. Check out this delicious and creamy tofu palak ‘paneer’ recipe, which is full of taste, iron, compassion and more!

Ingredients (For the tofu paneer)

  • 1 16-ounce block firm tofu

  • 1/4 cup cashew paste

  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger or ginger paste

  • 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

  • Salt, to taste

Ingredients (For the spinach)

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder or crushed red pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

  • 2 tomatoes, chopped

  • Salt, to taste

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion

  • 2 bunches fresh spinach, chopped roughly and blanched

  • 1/3 cup plain soy yogurt or other plant-based yogurt


Place the tofu in a flat colander (or plate) with a weight on top for at least half an hour, or preferably overnight in the refrigerator. You could also use a tofu press. The idea is to drain out all the water to make it suitable to marinate. Cut tofu into cubes or roughly one-inch squares.

In a bowl, mix the cashew paste, ginger, lemon or lime juice, garam masala, and salt, adding water to the paste if it’s too thick. The marinade should be as thick as cream in consistency.

Add the tofu cubes to the freshly-prepared paste in a baking pan and let it stand for about 30 minutes to an hour, turning it a couple of times to make sure all the surfaces absorb the marinade.

Bake tofu for about 20 minutes at 300°F (150°C).

While tofu is cooking, heat a large sauté pan and dry roast cumin, coriander, chili powder or crushed red pepper and turmeric over low heat to prevent the spices from getting burnt. Add ginger and tomatoes. Cook mixture over medium heat until the juice from the tomatoes is almost evaporated and the tomatoes are cooked.

Separately, in a large sauté pan add a little salt to the chopped onion and “fry” it in its own juice. Add steamed spinach. Toss in tomato and the spice mixture and let the mixture simmer for a few minutes to absorb the water. Then add yogurt, mixing thoroughly. Add tofu cubes and cook until thoroughly warmed.

Food for the Mind


If you love Facebook, then join us to be supported on your plant based journey. We offer 3 possibilities from 1st Jan 2016.

1. SHARAN India This is SHARAN’s main Facebook page which you can like and follow for getting useful daily updates and news from the plant based health world. You will also get news about the latest SHARAN events, see testimonials, and more.

2. SHARAN’s Vegan Support Group This is an open support group to know more about vegan/plant-based lifestyle. Here you can ask questions and share inspiring stories, tips, recipes, etc.

3. SHARAN’s Plant Powered Health This is the new group only for the past attendees of SHARAN’s events: seminars, cooking classes, retreats or longer programs.

All our doctors and presenters will be here to answer your questions and give you tips. If you have attended our events join this group to be a part of our family.

Please like the main SHARAN page and join the group(s) applicable to you.

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Iron Anyone?

In most of the sessions we conduct, people often question us about protein and calcium; rarely does anyone ask about iron! Well, iron too is an extremely vital nutrient for the functioning of our body and a deficiency could result in low energy levels, headache, irritability, dizziness, shortness of breath or anemia. The good news is that those on a whole plant based diet needn’t worry about iron. This is because like calcium, iron is a mineral that comes from soil. So, when we eat plants we get the iron that our body requires. However, it is important to bear in mind that acidic foods such as milk, tea and coffee impede the absorption of iron and eventually lead to iron deficiencies.

Read on to find out foods rich in iron…

1) Leafy Greens

Spinach and beet greens are rich in iron.

2) Vegetables

Vegetables have a higher iron content mainly because they are rich in Vitamin C, which helps enhance iron absorption. Broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms and Brussels sprouts especially are iron rich. Potatoes contain significant amounts of iron, mostly concentrated on their skins.

3) Legumes

Especially when soaked and sprouted.

4) Soybeans

5) Lentils

6) Nuts & Seeds

Almonds, cashews, pine nuts and macadamia are nuts rich in iron. Pumpkin, sesame, hemp and flaxseeds are seeds richest in iron.

7) Fruits

Surprisingly, some fruits such as prunes, olives and mulberries are rich in iron.

8) Whole Grains

There is more iron in whole grains than processed grains.

9) Millets

Especially amaranth and quinoa.

10) Oats

11) Coconut

12) Cacao Beans

13) Cast iron

Cooking in cast iron pans adds in an iron boost.


If you would like to receive regular health tips, recipes and details of our programs in your city on WhatsApp, join the broadcast list by sending a message YES with your full name, city on +919769117747

This newsletter was compiled by SHARAN Associate Reyna K Rupani, who is based in Mumbai. She facilitates the Six Weeks to Health & Weight Loss program and also conducts health talks for schools, groups, corporates and more. Find out how she has benefited in so many ways by going on a whole plant-based diet here.

Sanctuary for Health and Re-connection to Animals and Nature (SHARAN) is a non-profit organisation with the goal of spreading awareness about holistic health and an ecologically sustainable compassionate lifestyle.

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