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Iron-Rich Recipe for Women: Oven Baked Chicken Thighs with Pesto and Summer Vegetables

Updated on August 9, 2012

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5 stars from 2 ratings of Chicken Thighs with Pesto and Summer Vegetables
Rough-Cut Peppers and Courgettes. Photo © Redberry Sky.
Rough-Cut Peppers and Courgettes. Photo © Redberry Sky.
The Dish, Pre-Cooking. Photo © Redberry Sky.
The Dish, Pre-Cooking. Photo © Redberry Sky.
The Cooked Thighs and Vegetables. Photo © Redberry Sky.
The Cooked Thighs and Vegetables. Photo © Redberry Sky.

Although this takes a bit of time to actually cook in the oven - about 45 minutes - it takes only about 5 minutes to prepare, making it perfect to pop in the oven for brunch on a lazy Saturday morning when you want to read all those newspapers while you drink your well-deserved coffee, as the wonderful aromas drift through from the kitchen.

If you are looking for more iron-rich meals, I've also written a recipe article on one of my favourites - Pan-Fried Tomato and Garlic Chicken Livers with Healthy Garlic Bread.

Iron as a nutrient should be close to every woman's heart. Anaemia and low ferritin levels (which is related to the amount of iron stores a person has in her body) are common nutritional deficiencies in our fairer sex. The symptoms can be unpleasant, ranging from fatigue and weight loss to a craving to eat ice and even paper (a symptom called 'pica') - but these symptoms can appear very slowly, sometimes over a period of years, and although they won't go unnoticed, they can easily get overlooked and dismissed as a 'phase' or mistaken for a sign of getting older.

When I was in university and struggling for both time and money, I became iron-deficient, and it took a long time to regain that lost nutrition, so I’m sharing all my iron-rich recipes for any other women who find themselves in the same boat. Of course, the recipe is just as great for men too, but it is particularly important for women to maintain iron levels because we can be so prone to anemia, especially between our mid-teens and mid-fifties.

My iron-rich recipes are those I used in my student days, so they are full of inexpensive and easy-to-find ingredients, and healthy ones too – a serving of this dish has a quarter of a woman's daily iron needs, and almost a half of our recommended folate requirements, as well as two and a half times the daily minimum of vitamin C, and lashings of selenium (70% of the RDA), which can help regulate mood and sleep patterns.

Chicken thighs can contain a lot of fat if you leave the skin on, but I’ve found that they can be bought for the same price already skinned and de-boned by the butcher, which means that a serving of this meal contains only 5g of saturated fat – a quarter of your daily recommended allowance. I drizzle them with olive oil and pesto before cooking, which makes them lovely and moist and flavourful, and although pesto is quite a high-fat sauce, the recipe only calls for a teaspoon or two so that you’ll get all the flavour without adding too much fat. Because I've used olive oil in the recipe it's kept the saturated fat content of one serving of this meal right down to just 25% of the daily allowance for a woman, or about 17% of a man's daily allwance.

As an accompaniment to this dish, I usually have a couple of thick slices of French bread - baguettes - and the 'Nutritional Information' at the bottom of this Hub includes about 2-3 slices of this. If you are trying to keep down your carbohydrates, having steamed green vegetables or a green salad instead of bread as a side-dish will hugely increase your nutrient intake and help you skip a lot of the carbs.

Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 45 min
Ready in: 50 min
Yields: Serves 2 People


  • 4 Boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 Red peppers, roughly cut
  • 2 Medium courgettes, sliced into 1-inch slices
  • 2 teaspoons Red or green pesto
  • 2 tbspns Olive oil
  • 1 stick French loaf (baguette)
Baked Chicken Thighs With Vegetables. Photo © Redberry Sky.
Baked Chicken Thighs With Vegetables. Photo © Redberry Sky.
  1. Pre-heat oven to gas mark 6 (200C or 400F)
  2. Line a baking tray with foil, and spread out the chicken thighs evenly onto it.
  3. Wash and thickly slice the vegetables and arrange the slices around the thighs on the baking tray – don’t cover the thighs or they won’t brown properly.
  4. Mix 2 teaspoons of pesto with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and spoon this mixture over the chicken thighs and vegetables.
  5. Place in the preheated oven for 45 minutes
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 2 thighs
Calories 643
Calories from Fat234
% Daily Value *
Fat 26 g40%
Saturated fat 5 g25%
Unsaturated fat 12 g
Carbohydrates 59 g20%
Sugar 2 g
Fiber 5 g20%
Protein 39 g78%
Cholesterol 121 mg40%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.


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    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 4 years ago from Spain

      Hi Red. I cook these types of things a lot, and do use chicken thighs. Never thought of putting pesto sauce in the mix though. Didn´t know about the lack of iron as we get older either, so thanks for that info-hmmm, food for thought indeed !!

    • beingwell profile image

      beingwell 4 years ago from Bangkok

      Voted up, useful and shared.

      I love chicken recipes. Yum yum yumm!!

    • articlesocean profile image

      Saira Sheikh 4 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      I love chicken recipes, this recipe looks delicious, would love to try it. I have shared this hub !

    • Redberry Sky profile image

      Redberry Sky 4 years ago

      Cheers, articlesocean, much appreciated :)

    • profile image

      Chris Hugh 4 years ago

      Gosh, your pictures look enticing. I love the color. I've gotta try this. My iron is still low. Grrrr.

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