I was inspired to bake this loaf because, since my little one started weaning, prune puree has been by far his favourite. Prunes are dried plums and are an excellent source of fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Also, like other dried fruits such as apricot and raisins, prunes are a good source of iron.
In this post I want to talk a bit about iron. Often, one of the main fears people have about following a plant based diet is the iron intake. I also want to clarify two misconceptions about iron in relation to a plant based diet. The first one: ‘vegans and vegetarians tend to be anaemic’. The most common form of Anaemia is iron deficiency. According to this article, anaemia affects 24.8% of the world’s population. That’s quite high and yet all these people are not vegan or vegetarian. So, anaemia does not affect vegans or vegetarians exclusively. The second is actually a question that many people have: ‘Is it possible to get iron from plant based food?‘ The answer is yes. If you actually look at the NHS advice to treat anaemia (iron deficiency type), plant based foods such as green leafy vegetables, cereals and pulses are included and are highly recommended to get iron levels back on track.
Having said that, I now want to explain briefly the difference between iron from animal sources and iron from plant based sources. There are two types of iron. One is heme iron which is found in animal products such as meat, fish and poultry (milk and dairy products are not iron sources). The body absorbs 7-35 % of heme iron. The second type is non–heme iron. This one is found in plant based food and your body absorbs 2-20% of non–heme iron. The absorption is lower because its optimal absorption can be affected by other dietary intakes. Examples of some foods that affect iron absorption are coffee, tea, chocolate, milk, dairy, egg protein and antacids. However, non-heme iron absorption can also be enhanced by other dietary intakes such as vitamin C. As explained here, vitamin C is highly effective in increasing the absorption of non–heme iron. This is a far healthier option than eating animal products.
I actually have an anecdote to share with you about my own iron levels. During the last trimester of my pregnancy, my iron levels went low. I didn’t experience any symptoms at all, but I remember that my midwife called me one day at around 5.00 pm to tell me that my blood test showed a low iron level. The first thing she asked me was if I was feeling tired, but I honestly wasn’t. I remember it was near Christmas time and I was having dinner with my colleagues and my husband, enjoying the Christmas atmosphere in the city. I would never have thought I had low iron levels. Obviously, my midwife advised me to take iron supplements. Anaemia tends to be common during pregnancy whether you are vegan, vegetarian or omnivore. During pregnancy, your body needs more iron to ensure your baby has enough blood supply and receives oxygen and nutrients.
During this period of my pregnancy I kept a close eye on my iron intake through my diet. Therefore, I not only took supplements as advised, but I also consumed iron rich plant based foods in addition to vitamin C rich foods. So, I remember having prunes, apricots and raisins for breakfast with my porridge and orange juice and kiwis. Plus, other plant based iron and vitamin C rich foods. A month later, I had another blood test to check how all my levels were and my iron level was back on track. My consultant could not believe how quickly it went back to optimal level and she even said to me and my husband “I have never seen someone who improves their iron level so quickly!”. So, as long as you and your little one consume plant based iron rich foods along with vitamin C rich foods on a daily basis, your iron levels should be optimum.
Now, let’s go back to the recipe, Orange and Prune Loaf. Here, I combined two flavours that go really well together. In this recipe, I ‘marinated’ the prunes with the orange juice and the zest overnight. This way the prunes absorb the juice. You will taste the orange, sweet flavour when you chew the prunes in the loaf. The combination of the sweet prunes with the citric of the orange is just super delicious!
This is perfect for those afternoons when you are craving a comforting sweet treat. It can also be served for breakfast with some plant based yogurt on top.
I hope you and your family enjoy it!
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup oat flour
1 cup pitted prunes (chopped in half)
1 ½ large oranges (the juice)
The zest of half an orange
2 Tbsp chia seeds + 6 Tbsp water
1 cup oat milk (or any plant based milk)
½ cup coconut sugar
2.5 g baking powder (I used gluten free)
2.5 g bicarbonate of soda (I used gluten free)
¼ cup creamy oat fraiche (or plant based yogurt)
Pinch of Himalayan salt
- Place the pitted and chopped in half prunes in an airtight container with the juice of 1 ½ large oranges and the zest of half an orange. Let it marinate overnight.
- Preheat the oven 200°C (fan 180°C).
- In a small bowl soak the chia seeds with 6 Tbsp of water. Let it soak for 5-8 mins.
- In a mixing bowl, sift the brown rice flour, oat flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Add a pinch of Himalayan salt.
- In another mixing bowl, mix the soaking chia seeds (they will have a sticky egg-like texture) with the coconut sugar. Mix until well combined.
- Add to the chia seeds and sugar mixture the oat crème fraiche and milk.
- Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix it until well combined.
- Add the prunes with the orange juice and zest to the mixture and mix well.
- Line a loaf tin with baking parchment.
- Pour the mixture in.
- Bake for 40-45 mins or until a knife comes out almost clean. Please keep checking as every oven is different.