We all need calcium for the health of our bones, from kids with growing bones to adults concerned about osteoporosis. But instead of taking a pill (often made of oyster shells!?), how about the natural, digestible, delicious kind from everyday foods? While milk, cheese and yogurt are all prime sources of calcium, it is found in more than just milk. So pick your favorite ones and indulge!
Your everyday salads can benefit from broccoli florets, chickpeas, or sesame seeds. In addition to being tasty and nutritious, each is a great source of calcium. And don’t forget the cheese! To double the calcium, use pasta as a salad base such as an antipasto, add broccoli, veggies and cheese to it, and toss with Italian dressing or your favorite vinaigrette. With summer on the way, cool salads make a fast and easy supper.
A blockbuster among calcium rich foods is kale. Kale is an underused leafy green vegetable with a somewhat peppery flavor, a member of the brassica family of plants. This green is prepared many ways, the simplest being to blanch in boiling water and serve with butter and salt. For even quicker preparation, wash and chop the kale and saut in olive oil until just wilted. To kick up the flavor, add minced garlic to the oil or caramelize onions first, or serve with cubes of Feta or Mozzarella cheese to mellow it out. Or steam lightly to maintain the most vitamin content. Kale is also easy to add into stir fry recipes. It is also high in vitamins and fiber with very low calories .
Everyday meals can include extra calcium easily. Favorites like pizza (whole grain flour crust and cheese) are already good choices, but if anchovies or sardines agree with your palate, you get a bonus amount of calcium! Macaroni and cheese, the ultimate comfort food, is packed with calcium. Kids having hot dogs or burgers? Baked beans make the meal. And add an extra can of red kidney beans to your pot of chili for a great calcium and protein boost. If you’re making bread or stir fry, add sesame seeds for flavor and calcium. Edamame (green soybeans) in stir fry or mixed vegetables boost calcium, but tofu is the calcium queen of soy products, however you use it.
Dessert is not exempt from the list. Custard and flan are great, and everyone’s favorite, cheesecake, is a nutritious friend. Try rice pudding for a change, and instead of (or in addition to) raisins try adding chopped apricots. Sesame candy is often found at health food stores, but recipes for sesame candy are readily available on the internet and vary from different cultures; the simplest use just sesame seeds and honey, and are a special treat. Figs are also great for snacking on, as well as almonds, dried apricots.
Figs stand out as a storehouse of calcium, and fresh ones are probably best found at local farmer’s markets. Healthy does not need to be boring!