I’ve realized over the past couple of years how many people, namely runners, are affected by anemia. Low iron levels can be due to a variety of reasons: an inability to readily absorb iron into ferritin, a protein in our blood that stores and releases iron; or from a lack of iron in the diet; or in the case of runners, foot strike hemolysis, which is the rupturing of red blood cells upon repetitive foot strikes.

For anyone who has dealt with anemia, it’s not a good time. It can leave you irritable, totally lethargic and a host of other symptoms. I was severely anemic in 2013, and have learned some different ways of getting my stores up again. Taking an oral iron supplement daily, increasing my intake of iron-rich foods, and ensuring that I don’t have calcium or caffeine two hours before or after taking my iron pills with an iron-rich meal, have all helped raise my levels.

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As I’m not a huge red meat fan, I had to find sources that I enjoyed cooking and eating. Ground beef doesn’t sit well in my stomach, so I started substituting bison in those dishes, which is a leaner and higher in iron. Not all beef is hard on my stomach, and although it can be expensive, steaks can be a great option too. While at the butcher the other day, I noticed that their top sirloin steaks were on special. Having just pinned a southwestern salad recipe, I opted for the steaks and could already feel my red blood cells dancing for joy.

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I marinated the steaks as soon as I got home that afternoon so they had a couple hours to soak up the flavours that the meal centered around. I added the same spice combination to the black bean salsa, which gave the bowls a bit of a kick. I had never cooked steak in a pan before, but I need to make do since I don’t have a barbecue. Surprisingly, I was able to cook them to a perfect medium rare, which thoroughly impressed my father. Throw all the recipe’s constituents together onto the plate, add whatever salad dressing you desire, and enjoy!

Chili-lime steak bowls

Serves: 4


— ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 4 medium limes)
— 1 tablespoon chili powder
— ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
— ½ teaspoon paprika
— 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
— 1 pound boneless thin beef sirloin tip steak (may be labeled as “for carne asada”)
— 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
— 3 ripe tomatoes, diced
— ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
— 1 ripe Hass avocado
— 2 cups hot-cooked rice
— Sliced fresh jalapeño and lime wedges (garnish)


1. Combine lime juice, chili powder, paprika, cayenne and salt in a medium bowl.

2. Place half of the mixture in a large zip-top bag. Add beef to zip-top bag, shake bag to coat meat and marinate in refrigerator at least two hours or as long as overnight.

3. Add black beans, tomato and cilantro to reserved lime juice mixture in medium bowl; toss and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

4. When ready to prepare, heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Remove meat from bag (discard marinade). Grill beef two to three minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from pan and let rest five minutes. Slice into quarter-inch strips.

5. Arrange rice among serving bowls; top evenly with beans and beef. Slice the avocado and divide between the bowls.

6. Top with dressing of your choice and dig in!


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