The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of calcium rich food is bone broth. But since several people have already mentioned bone broth, and since - despite eating Paleo - I really dislike the meaty flavor of bone broth, I’ve decided on a different meal.
For my calcium rich meal, I’d make pan-fried sardines, kale chips, and sweet potato oven fries. This is actually a meal my 10 year old and I really enjoy. I know.. I know… you’re probably thinking, “Sardines? UGH!” But trust me, if you like seafood at all, this is mild and really delicious! :D
We buy the skinless and boneless wild-caught sardines in olive oil from Trader Joe’s. If you choose bone-in ones, the calcium levels would be even higher. However, a 5 oz tin of boneless ones contains a whopping 10% of the RDA of calcium (1000 mg) for a grown adult (NIH, 2013 & Trader Joe’s can). Additionally, that same five ounces also contains up to 100% of the RDA of Vitamin D, less if without bones (Nutrition Data, n.d). Finally, that same can of sardines also contains 3.6 grams of difficult-to-get Omega 3 fatty acids. There is no RDA for Omega 3’s, but the American Heart Association recommends 1 gram per day as typical and 2-4 grams per day to lower triglycerides (Mayo Clinic, 2013). We all know that Vitamin D is needed to help the body metabolize calcium. Researchers are now finding that Omega 3 fats play an important role as well in bone health. In a study with rats, they found that Omega 3 supplementation resulted in speedier bone formation rates, and they believe this benefit is linked to an alteration of osteoblast functioning (Watkins et al, 2003).
So how do you prepare these ((supposedly)) delicious sardines? So easy! Pour enough extra virgin olive oil to fully coat the bottom of a cast iron frying pan. Bring to a medium heat - not too high as olive oil has a low smoking point and dislikes high heat! Now dredge the sardine pieces in some tapioca starch. You can add a bit of mineral rich Himalayan to the starch or add it at the table. Warning: this dredging part gets very messy. Place the “floured” sardine pieces in the pan and fry until just crisp on both sides. That’s it!
Alternately, if you want to fry them faster, you could use lard from a pastured pig which is also high in Vitamin D.
Kale is also high in calcium, with 101 mg in one cup of chopped kale (USDA n.d.). That’s another 10% of the RDA. We like to chop or shred our kale, pour some garlic-infused olive oil over it, sprinkle with some sea salt, hand massage it, and then place on baking sheets in the oven at 350 degrees til it’s just starting to crisp. I can easily eat an entire head this way! But usually I share with my daughter and we each get in more than a cup.
Finally, some oven baked sweet potato fries would be delicious with this meal. One cup of sweet potato contains another 40 mg of calcium.
In total, this meal would contain almost 30% of the RDA of calcium.
Mayo Clinic (2013). Omega 3 fatty acids, fish oil, alphalinolenic acid. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/omega-3-fatty-acids-fish-oil-alpha-linolenic-acid/dosing/hrb-20059372
NIH (2013) Calcium. Retrieved from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/#h3
Nutrition Facts (n.d.) Sardines. Retrieved from: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/finfish-and-shellfish-products/4114/2
USDA (n.d.) Calcium in kale. Retrieved from: https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=calcium+in+kale&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8
Watkins, Bruce A. & Li, Yong & Lippman, Hugh E. & Feng, Shulin (2003). Modulatory effect of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on osteoblast function and bone metabolism. Prostaglandins, Lukeotrienes, and Essential Fatty Acids. 68(6) 387-398.