Iron Deficiency Day is observed on November 26th every year to raise awareness about the serious health consequences posed by the deficiency.  We have partnered with Lucky Iron Fish to bring you some delicious recipes for iron-enriched drinks that will help boost your iron as they buzz your tastebuds.

What Is Iron Deficiency?

Iron is the nutrient that helps blood move oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, and it helps muscles store and use oxygen.  If your iron levels are low, symptoms can include fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, hair loss, brittle nails, and headaches.  Women can be particularly susceptible, as are those with low iron in their diets, including vegans and vegetarians.  According to the World Health Organization, about 10% of North American women suffer from iron deficiency anemia. In Canadian Indigenous communities, the rates are as high as 60%!

Iron deficiency is often undiagnosed, so speak to your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms.  Unfortunately, it takes a long time to bring your iron levels back up to normal, so the sooner you can address the deficiency, the better.  Iron pills can be hard on the digestive system, which makes addressing the deficiency even harder.  

lucky iron fish- mocktails
Lucky Iron Fish + Leaf make it easy to fortify your drinks + food

Lucky Iron Fish or Leaf

The Lucky Iron Fish is a palm-sized fish or leaf-shaped cooking tool made of iron. When you add it to boiling liquid for 10 minutes, it releases a significant portion of the daily required iron for a family. Clinical studies show that regular use of the Lucky Iron Fish improves anemia status and iron deficiency with the same efficiency, better compliance, and fewer side effects than iron supplements.

Lucky Iron Water

The iron-enriched element of these drink recipes comes from Lucky Iron Water.  

To make iron-fortified water, you will need:

  • 1 Lucky Iron Fish
  • 1L of water 
  • 2-3 drops of acidity (citrus juice- lemon, lime, orange, or vinegar)


  • Bring 1L of water to a rolling boil.
  • Add 2-3 drops of acidity.
  • Add Lucky Iron Fish and let it boil in the slightly acidic liquid for 10 minutes.
  • Remove and clean your Fish.

You can consume the Lucky Iron Water as is, or it can be used in various dishes throughout the day (rice, oatmeal, smoothies, etc.). Your Lucky Iron Water can be stored in the refrigerator or at room temperature for 2-3 days.  If you only make one of the recipes below, increase the iron content of the drinks and use the remaining Lucky Iron Water to make ice cubes!

Basic Science Behind the Recipes

The acidity from the drops of citrus or vinegar in the Lucky Iron Water is required because it adjusts the liquid’s pH to optimum levels for the iron particles to release. 

These recipes are all made with citrus fruits, which are high in Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron.

Before making these recipes, make a litre of the Lucky Iron Water (see above), and let it cool. 

Make your simple syrup ahead of time, too, so that you will not have to wait for any ingredients to cool.   To make simple syrup, dissolve one cup of sugar in one cup of boiling water.  All of these recipes yield a light syrup (liquid: sugar ratio of 2:1) once you add the Lucky Iron Water.

lucky iron leaf- cilantro, makrut lime thai chili
Light and effervescent, this beverage packs a punch!

Cilantro, Makrut Lime & Thai Chili Syrup

This was the first time I’ve used Makrut limes, and I am head over heels in love.  You will know their fragrance and flavour from Thai food.  I was bowled over by their incredible combination of bright citrus and dusty earthiness.   I found mine at Eataly, which stocks all kinds of wonderful ingredients.  You can substitute Persian limes (the kind commonly found in the grocery store) if you can’t find Makrut.

Thai chilis are mighty strong, and very little goes a long way. Aim for just a hint of heat.  Use the tiniest sliver and add more if you want to increase the heat.  You can garnish with a whole chili.  As long as you haven’t cut into it, it won’t burn!  

1 small bunch cilantro, leaves stripped (about a cup of leaves; reserve some stems for garnish)

1/3 cup freshly squeezed Makrut lime juice 

1 cup simple syrup

1 cup Lucky Iron Water

1 slice Thai chili

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for a few hours, so that the cilantro flavour infuses the liquid. Strain and store in a clean jar or bottle.  Syrup will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.  

Makes 8 drinks.

You can enjoy this syrup mixed with soda water over ice.  Add 2 oz of syrup to a glass filled with ice and top with soda water or sparkling iron water.  Stir gently.  Garnish with cilantro and a whole chili. 

It also makes a fabulous cocktail shaken with 2 oz of gin or tequila.

lucky iron fish leaf- kumquat shrub
Kumquat Shrub is an energetic and exciting beverage with globally inspired flavours

Kumquat Shrub

Shrubs are drinking vinegars.  The word comes from the Arabic sharab, and it is a centuries-old method of preserving fruits or vegetables in sugar and vinegar.  Dating back to 17th-century England, where the practice of preserving fruit in vinegar had been imported from the Middle East, shrubs were a way to make the summer harvest last all year.  Today, they are often used in craft cocktails.  

The taste of a shrub will vary greatly with the type of vinegar you use.  Experiment with what you have around, bearing in mind how the colour of the vinegar will affect your drink as well.  If you like vinegar, use a more pungent apple cider vinegar; if not, try white balsamic vinegar or rice wine vinegar, which are milder.  

1 cup kumquats, cut into quarters

1 cup of sugar

1 cup Lucky Iron Water

1/2- 1 cup white balsamic vinegar

Rosemary or mint or basil sprig for garnish

Sparkling water

Add chopped kumquats and sugar to a container you can seal tightly, and muddle the fruit to release the juices and oil from the peel.  Seal the container and leave this mixture on the counter at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to two days.  Shake occasionally.  The sugar will continue to pull the oil from the peel.  Strain through a sieve, pushing on the fruit to extract as much liquid as possible. 

Measure the liquid and then add an equal amount of Lucky Iron Water.  You now have your light syrup (you should have about 1 1/2 cups).  Begin by adding half a cup of vinegar to the mixture.  If that’s enough, stop there.  If you’d like more zing, add up to 1 cup.  Shrubs will keep for up to six months in the fridge.  

Shrubs perform best in a Collin’s style drink, in a long glass over lots of ice. 2 oz of shrub to 6 oz of sparkling iron water.  Add 1 oz of gin or vodka if you’d like to add alcohol.

lucky iron fish- coconut drink

Lime and Coconut Milkshake

I was going for a key lime pie vibe with this liquid dessert.  It’s rich and creamy and decadent.  The vanilla is a nod to the graham crust, and the coconut milk lends the creamy texture.  Dairy can inhibit the absorption of iron, so do not substitute dairy for this recipe.

1 cup Lucky Iron Water

1 cup simple syrup

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, strained of pulp

1 can coconut milk

vanilla extract

Makes 8 drinks.

Add Lucky Iron Water, simple syrup and strained lime juice in a bottle.  Shake to combine ingredients.  Syrup will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.  

For one cocktail

2 oz of lime syrup

2 oz coconut milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients in a shaker with ice, and shake vigorously to froth.  Strain into a coupe and garnish with toasted coconut or grated lime zest.  

For more on Lucky Iron Fish, see our interview with Anne Pringle here and recipes here.

All images by Libby Roach.

This post has been generously sponsored by our friends at Lucky Iron Fish.