Resources for Your Low-Iron Kitchen
When writing Cooking for Hemochromatosis I found that choosing the correct products at the grocery store was just as important (and sometimes just as challenging!) as simply understanding how iron in food affects iron overload and hemochromatosis. As anyone who has read my book knows, the role that iron-enriched foods plays in the overall iron absorbed from the diet may be significant and is something important to pay attention to when shopping and purchasing food.
This resource list is a constantly-evolving list of brands and products that do not contain enriched iron, or that are for one reason or another helpful in a hemochromatosis diet. Throughout the book Cooking for Hemochromatosis you’ll find references to this webpage, and here’s where I suggest specific ingredients for some of my recipes. When I note a page number below, it’s referring back to the page in the book.
Do you have a product or resource that you think belongs on this list? Share what you’ve found by filling out a quick questionnaire here. I’ll be periodically adding reader submissions after I’ve looked them over and confirmed that they meet the criteria as set out by my book.
Happy cooking and eating!
Dr. Kristina Lewis
Breakfast Cereals Safe for Hemochromatosis
The following list of breakfast cereals meet the criteria as described in the book, Cooking for Hemochromatosis. Many conventional breakfast cereals are enriched with iron, stripped of protective phytates, and may contain other ingredients not recommended with iron overload.
Most of these links go to the manufacturer’s official website for detailed product information. Feel free to purchase these products directly from the manufacturer, from your local grocery store, or from any other preferred retailer.
Bob’s Red Mill is famous for their oats, and they have so many types it’s hard to pick a favorite!
Never enriched, all non-GMO, many organic, and even their “quick cooking” versions are still whole grain with none of the phytate-rich bran removed.
See all varieties here: Bob's Red Mill Oatmeal
Pasta and Rice Brands Safe for Hemochromatosis
A lot of pasta available in grocery stores is enriched, so finding whole-grain versions or unenriched organic versions are good options. In the United States, white rice is also often enriched. The following companies and products provide safer alternatives when shopping for pasta and rice.
- Eden Organic Pasta
- All pasta made by this company is either from the whole grain or from unbleached, non-enriched flour.
- Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta
- This is a favorite at my house. All the pasta is organic and made with whole-grain brown rice without any enriched flour added. Don’t be turned off by their website as their products are really great.
- Bionaturae Pasta
- Crafted in Italy, this company produces all organic pasta and I’ve yet to see any of their products with added iron.
- Gluten-free pasta
- Whole-wheat pasta
- Durum Semolina
- Refined whole wheat that is not enriched with added iron
- Bottom of this page includes lasagna noodles perfect for the Sausage-Pesto Lasagna Rolls on page 215.
- DeLallo Pasta
- Note that their non-organic products are enriched with iron. You’ll want to stick with their organic, whole-grain, or gluten-free products.
- “Made with 100% Italian certified organic hard-durum wheat. No additives or enriched flours.”
Flours Safe for Hemochromatosis
The topic of safe flours and how to identify safe products and brands takes up too many pages and chapters in my cookbook to be able to simply summarize here. If you’ve read the book and are looking for the products referenced in my recipes, here’s where you will find some of the brands I used.
Nonenriched All-Purpose Flour Blends (USA)
(In Appendix 4 of Cooking for Hemochromatosis, I mention three national brands that provide nonenriched versions of all-purpose flour. Since that time, the version from Hodgson Mill seems to have been discontinued, leaving two remaining options. If you know of any others, please use this form and let me know!)
Bob’s Red Mill Organic Unbleached White All Purpose Flour
“Our Organic All-Purpose Flour is a premium baking flour freshly milled from certified organic, hard red wheat. You can use this high quality wheat flour product for all manner of baked goods, including food like yeast breads, quick breads, biscuits, muffins, cookies and cakes. It’s unbleached and unenriched, with no potassium bromate added.” (emphasis added)
King Arthur Organic All-Purpose Flour
“Milled from 100% organic hard red winter and spring wheats, this jack-of-all-trades flour is malted; unenriched; and will strengthen breads, bake up lofty biscuits, and turn out delicately crumbed cakes. We rely on it for all of our baking needs, and it never lets us down.” (emphasis added. Note that it’s malted, so depending on what your purpose in baking is, the Bob’s Red Mill option might be better).
*Do note that many other King Arthur products do tend to have added iron (notably, they love to proudly add iron to their gluten-free flour products).
Condiments, Herbs, Coffee, and Tea Helpful for Hemochromatosis
As described in Cooking for Hemochromatosis, there can be creative uses of these products in lowering iron in the diet. Refer to chapters 7 and 8 for more details.
Snacks and Convenience Foods Safe for Hemochromatosis
In Chapter 10, “Stocking the Hemochromatosis Kitchen,” I discuss convenience foods and grab-and-go snacks that can be incorporated into a hemochromatosis eating plan. Consider this section a hodge-podge of additional products that you may wish to consume at times.
Vietnamese Spring Roll Wrappers
Asian Best Brand, “Bahn Trang Deo Thuong Hang” is what I used making my recipe. It’s difficult to find an online link to share; I found it at my local Asian market.
- Used in Asian Spring Rolls recipe on page 149 of Cooking for Hemochromatosis.
Safe, Iron-Free Cookware for Hemochromatosis
The kitchen equipment and methods used to prepare food can sometimes affect iron, either by changing the chemical structure of the food or by leeching iron from the cooking device itself.
The Problem With Cast Iron Cookware
It is well known that cooking with cast iron will increase the iron in your food and that cast iron should not be used regularly in a hemochromatosis kitchen.
For example, a 1986 study was conducted to find out just how much the levels of iron in food changed if it was cooked in cast iron. The results were significant. Nearly every food tested had increased levels of iron after they were prepared compared to before. The study found that, “Most of the foods (90%) contained significantly more iron when cooked in iron utensils than when cooked in non-iron utensils.” (Helen C. Brittin and Cheryl E. Nossaman "Iron content of food cooked in iron utensils," Journal of the American Dietetic Association 86, no. 7 (1986): 897-901.)
Iron-Free Cookware: Safer Pots and Pans to Lower Iron in Diet
If you are looking for what is least likely to affect iron, a few pots and pans that will not leach any iron at all include the following:
Pure Ceramic Cookware
Ceramic or stoneware kitchen cookware contain no metals (including iron), can be used on the stove and in the oven, heat evenly, and don’t have to be seasoned. The trick is to make sure you’re getting 100 percent ceramic, as some ceramic brands will add toxic nonstick coatings to their products. Make sure to purchase these pots and pans from a reputable dealer.
Recommendations for pure ceramic/stoneware:
Enameled Cast-Iron Cookware
A second category of cookware beneficial in low-iron cooking is enameled cast-iron. This family of cookware allows you to have the benefits of cast iron without the iron. A safe enamel coating protects your foods from touching the iron of the pan. Enameled cast iron is also versatile and can be used on the stove and in the oven, is easy to clean, and doesn’t have to be seasoned. Be careful not to chip the enamel coating.
A famous example of enameled cookware is a Dutch oven (also called a French oven).
Recommended brands for high-quality enameled cookware:
- Staub Enameled Cast Iron (the category heading is “cast iron” but the
products are all the enameled cast-iron form; even the ones that appear black
are covered with an enamel coating)
- Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron: Most of what you think of as coming from
this company, anything colorful and shiny, is likely enameled cast iron.
Corningware ® has an interesting line called Visions ® —these see-through glass dishes are stove-, oven-, microwave-, and broiler-safe. Corningware ® Visions ® products are supposed to be completely free of all metals.
How We Can Help You
About Dr. Kristina Lewis
Dr. Kristina Lewis is a naturopathic physician in practice with her husband, Dr. Eric Lewis, in Asheville, North Carolina. When her husband discovered he had hereditary hemochromatosis and founded the website HemochromatosisHelp.com, she became very involved in researching, writing, and teaching about this condition both as a health-care practitioner and as a concerned wife.
After the publication of Dr. Eric’s book, Holistic Health for Hemochromatosis, it became clear that a companion guide with recipes and cooking instruction was what the readers of Hemochromatosis Help needed next. As someone who naturally loves to cook and who finds inventing tasty and healthy recipes a fun challenge, Dr. Kristina decided to take on the challenge of creating a cookbook for hemochromatosis from a holistic perspective. Little did she realize at the time what an involved project this would become! More than two years and countless hours later, she is excited to finally share her recipe inspirations with the world with Cooking for Hemochromatosis.
Dr. Kristina Lewis is an honors graduate holding a doctorate in naturopathic medicine from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona. In her private practice she works with women on a wide range of health issues, including iron overload. She and Dr. Eric have two young children and she is fully enjoying being a mother as well as a doctor!