How To Get Enough Calicum Without Drinking Milk Or Eating Dairy

by Angela Stanford

baby spinach
photo from familysponge.com website

Q: My kids aren’t fans of milk and we don’t push it. Are we missing out on calcium or other nutrients to build strong bones and teeth? We do drink some almond milk and occasionally coconut milk, but in the back of my mind I wonder if we should be supplementing with something additional.

A: “This may surprise you, but your kids can get all the calcium and other nutrients they need for strong bones and teeth without ever drinking a drop of cow’s milk. Humans like all other mammals were not designed to ingest breast milk after the first few years of life. After weaning, most of the enzymes needed to adequately digest the milk sugars (lactose) and milk proteins (casein and whey) decline in the human body since these substances are not in the other foods we traditionally hunt and gather. This is why so many people have digestive issues, true allergies and sensitivities to milk and other dairy products.”

How to get enough calcium without drinking milk or eating dairy

Kids can get the 800-1300mg of calcium recommended daily by eating a variety of other whole, unprocessed foods including spinach, kale, okra, collards, Chinese cabbage, soy beans (edamame), tofu, broccoli, beans, salmon, and sardines. Calcium is also found in fortified foods like breakfast cereals, orange juice, and most nut, rice, soy and coconut milks.

More importantly, kids need to get enough vitamin D, magnesium, manganese and vitamin K to help the body absorb calcium into its more than 200 bones and teeth. Without adequate calcium absorption, studies have shown that their bodies can be plagued later in life with osteoporosis, heart disease, hypertension, cancer and kidney stones.

Whole food sources of calcium absorption-aiding nutrients

Magnesium – spinach, swiss chard, cocoa powder, pumpkin, squash, sesame seeds, tahini, molasses, dry roasted soy beans (edamame), almonds, cashews, whole grain oats, wheat,

Manganese – spinach, wheat germ, rice bran, oat bran, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pecans, roasted pumpkin and squash seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, tahini, sunflower seeds, dry roasted edamame, chili powder, cocoa power, chili powder

Vitamin K – dried herbs including basil, sage and thyme; deeply colored leafy greens like kale, collards, cress, spinach, turnip Greens, mustard greens, beet greens, swiss chard; broccoli, spring onions (scallions), brussels sprouts, asparagus, pickled cucumber and prunes

Vitamin D –. Vitamin D is in very few whole foods in very small amounts-fatty fish (like tuna, mackerel, and salmon), beef liver, and egg yolks.

Your body also makes vitamin D with exposure to sunlight, but that process is hindered with sunscreen and because kids are spending more time in doors. Therefore some foods have been fortified with vitamin D like dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals. Doctors are also recommending up to 5000 IU of supplemental vitamin D per day to help with calcium absorption and other immune boosting benefits of vitamin D.

Try out these recipes below for a smoothie and a side dish rich in calcium and other nutrients your family can enjoy to grow strong bones and teeth.

Calcium-Rich Recipes

Almond Butter and "Jelly" Green Smoothie

Almond Butter and “Jelly” Green Smoothie Smoothie

Spinach and almonds are packed full of calcium along with other antioxidants and phytonutrients, so this green smoothie is super healthy and yummy. No added sugar or water needed. This is a sweet take on a child’s classic sandwich filled with fresh fruit and leafy greens.

Ingredients

2 cups spinach
2 ripe bananas
2 c. red and/or black grapes
2 c. baby spinach
2 c. almond milk
4 Tbsp almond butter

Directions

1. Blend your spinach and grapes together until you get a juice-like consistency
2. Add remaining ingredients and blend
3. Chill in refrigerator for an hour or use frozen grapes instead of fresh.
4. Top with raw sliced almonds

Find more healthy smoothie recipes at Simple Green Smoothies.

Sautéed Swiss Chard with Toasted Sesame Seeds

Ingredients

1 large bunch fresh Swiss chard
1 ½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic, sliced
Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp Earth Balance or butter
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds (or toasted pumpkin seeds)

Directions

1. Rinse Swiss chard in water and remove the toughest third of the stalk.
2. Chop Swiss chard leaves into 1-inch wide strips.
3. Heat medium-sized sauté pan on medium heat.
4. Add olive oil, sliced garlic and crushed red pepper; Sauté for about a minute.
5. Add chopped Swiss chard leaves and cover for 5 minutes.
6. Add 1-2 Tbsp water and flip chard over, so what was on the bottom is now on the top and cover for 5 more minutes.
7. Check for doneness by removing a piece of cooked chard and tasting to make sure it is tender.
8. Add 1 tsp butter or Earth Balance spread and pinch of salt.
9. Toss to combine.
10. Sprinkle with toasted sesame or pumpkin seeds and serve immediately.

  • Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
  • Recipes are Vegan and Gluten-free.

Angela offers nutrition counseling, workshops and corporate wellness programs. To learn more about Angela, a Registered Dietitian and Holistic Nutritionist, visit www.vitalandwell.com.

This post was adapted from an original post Angela wrote for www.familysponge.com  Family Sponge inspires families to live a balanced, adventurous and healthy lives.

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Ask the Nutrition Expert: 10 Immune Boosting Foods

by Angela Stanford

grapefruit

Q: What foods can I feed my family to ward of colds and flu this season?

A: With fall upon us and temperatures dropping, people are catching colds and getting sick. Help protect your family by feeding them these 10 immune boosting foods.

10 IMMUNITY BOOSTING FOODS

Grapefruits are rich in vitamin C and flavonoids which are natural chemical compounds found to increase immune system activation. If you are not fond of grapefruits, eat their cousins – oranges and tangerines, other vitamin C-rich citrus fruits in season.

Sweet Potatoes are a great source of the antioxidant beta-carotene that sweeps up damaging free radicals and converts to vitamin A to keep the connective tissues in your skin strong and elastic as your first line of defense against harmful invaders like viruses and bacteria.

Mushrooms contain the mineral selenium which if you have low amounts of in your system studies have shown increases your risk of developing a more severe flu.  Also potent in the B vitamins riboflavin and niacin, studies have shown mushrooms have antiviral and antibacterial effects from the beta glucans that increase the production and activity of white blood cells to kill and rid your body of those nasty bacteria and viruses.

Garlic contains allicin, an infection fighting antioxidant that helps ward off immune system invaders and bacteria like H pylori.  A British study showed that people who ate more garlic in their diets were 2/3 less likely to catch a cold than those that did not.

Cooking tip: peel, chop and let garlic sit for 15-20 minutes before cooking to activate immune boosting enzymes. Spinach is an excellent source of folate which is key in aiding your body’s ability to resist infections and support lymphocytes that identify and destroy harmful invaders.

Spinach is an excellent source of folate which is key in aiding your body’s ability to resist infections and support lymphocytes that identify and destroy harmful invaders.

Cauliflower like broccoli and Brussels sprouts is a cruciferous vegetable rich in antioxidant vitamins that gives your immune system a boost. It also contains choline to keep your cells functioning properly and supports a healthy gastrointestinal barrier, keeping bacteria safely confined in the gut. Cauliflower is also a good food to eat when you’re sick because it’s rich in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight off infection.

Cinnamon along with being a tasty and versatile spice, is a potent antiviral and antifungal agent. Add it to smoothies, baked sweet potatoes and roasted carrots, or sprinkle it on oatmeal, yogurt or you favorite toast with a smear of coconut butter. Yum!

Almonds are a not only a source of omega 3 fats, but also a rich source of the fat soluble vitamin E and contain B vitamins to help increase resiliency to stress that can make you susceptible to illness.

Yogurt contains probiotics or “live bacteria” that not only aid digestion, but like other fermented foods that contain the bacterial strains Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus reuteri have scientifically shown to prevent colds, improve immune response and shorten sick leave from work by 33%.

Wheat Germ is the food source part of the seed and is an excellent source of zinc which helps boost immunity.  Found raw or toasted, it tastes great sprinkled on salads, rice, or steamed vegetables.

Eating more of the foods listed above along with proper hand washing and getting enough rest will really boost your body’s defenses to ward of colds and flu this season.

Try cooking up these immune boosting recipes below or make your own creation using several foods listed above.

IMMUNITY BOOSTING RECIPES

Immune Boosting Smoothie Photo

Immune Booster Smoothie

Ingredients


2 cups spinach
1/4 cup carrots
1 banana
1/2 cups orange juice
1 cup water
2 cups frozen strawberries (I defrost them first because the flavor is more intense)
1/2 cup frozen blueberries

Additional immune boosters: powdered probiotics, olive leaf extract and elderberry extract (amount varies depending on how many people are drinking the smoothie)

Recipe and Photo from Simple Green Smoothies.

Sweet Potato, Corn & Kale Chowder

Ingredients


1 Tbsp Canola Oil
2 med. Carrots
1 med. Red Onion, chopped 1 stalk Celery, chopped 1 large Red Pepper, seeded & chopped
1 large Sweet Potato, peeled and chopped
1 sprig Fresh Thyme, minced
¾ tsp Turmeric
1 med Tomato, chopped
5 cups Cold Water or Veggie Stock
1 cup Fresh or Frozen Corn Kernels
3 cups Spinach Leaves, chopped, heavy stems removed and washed
Salt & Freshly Ground White Pepper to taste
Cayenne Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
½ cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
¼ cup Cashew Pieces (optional)

Directions


In a large pot, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Sauté carrots, onion, celery, pepper, and sweet potato for 3 minutes. Add the thyme and turmeric; combine well with the vegetables. Add the tomato and cold water and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the corn, spinach, salt and white pepper, and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with cayenne pepper.

Combine the cornstarch with 2 teaspoons cold water (but see cashew option below). With the soup simmering, stir in the cornstarch mixture, continue to stir, and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

If using cashews, use a blender or food processor to blend the cashews, cornstarch and ¾ cup of soup broth. Return this mixture to the simmering soup and continue to simmer soup, stirring often for 3 minutes.

*Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
*Vegan and Gluten-free.

Source: Whole Foods Cookbook (substituted spinach for kale)

This post was adapted from an original post Angela wrote for www.familysponge.com  Family Sponge inspires families to live a balanced, adventurous and healthy lives.


Do you have a burning nutrition question or recipe you would like to share.  Reply to this post or send your questions and recipe to angela@vitalandwell.com and they might  appear in a future post.

Angela offers nutrition counseling, workshops and corporate wellness programs. To learn more about Angela, a Registered Dietitian and Holistic Nutritionist, visit www.vitalandwell.com.