By now we know that milk doesn’t build strong bones and that dairy milk can actually lead to osteoporosis, however, some of us still struggle with the calcium issue. We know that plants are rich in calcium and they’re easy to incorporate into our diets, but can we really get enough calcium without dairy?

The answer is obviously, yes. By combining certain calcium-rich foods in your meals, you’ll get all the calcium you need with no need to count and measure anything. Anyone age 19 years and up needs anywhere from 1000 – 1300 milligrams of calcium. Women are at a greater risk of calcium loss than men since estrogen loss during menopause contributes to osteoporosis, however men can experience testosterone loss which also increases risks for osteoporosis. Dairy milk isn’t the best way to get your calcium and can actually increase calcium loss, so don’t reach for that yogurt just yet.

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An eight ounce glass of skim milk has 305 milligrams of calcium and a typical Greek yogurt has 187 milligrams per 5.3-6 ounce container. In comparison, a cup of cooked kale has 101 milligrams of calcium while two tablespoons of chia seeds has 179 milligrams! You can easily see how plant-based foods may not equal the dairy in calcium per serving, however, because they don’t cause calcium loss and are easy to absorb, they’re a perfect replacement to dairy milk.

Here’s how to combine some calcium-rich foods for five tasty meal ideas:

1. Sauteed Kale, Veggies, Tahini Dressing, and Slivered Almonds

Since kale is an already high source, combine two cups kale (202 milligrams) and add whatever seasonings you like such as garlic, onion, black pepper, curry, etc. Saute in a little olive oil or water, add some veggies like mushrooms (high in Vitamin D to boost calcium absorption), broccoli (which contains 42 milligrams of calcium in one cup), and then make a dressing with tahini, which is rich in calcium from the sesame seeds found in tahini. Finally top the delicious entree with some slivered almonds, also high in calcium. Tahini contains 121 milligrams in a two tablespoon serving and slivered almonds contain a little over 60 milligrams per 1/4 cup. You can adjust the amounts of the ingredients however you like, but as you can see, the calcium quickly adds up to be more than what you’d get in a glass of dairy milk that won’t keep you full or nourished. You might also like Sauteed Kale and Carrots with a Tahini Sauce.

2. Chia Seed and Almond Butter Bars

Make a simple breakfast bar with 1/4 cup oats, two tablespoons chia seeds, two tablespoons almond butter, and non-dairy milk to thin out the batter, plus your choice sweetener. Most non-dairy milks have at least 50 percent more calcium than dairy milk, and almond butter contains around 111 milligrams of calcium per 1/4 cup. Form the dough into bars and serve them no-bake or bake them for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. You can also try these Almond Butter and Chia Jam Bars as another delicious option.

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3. Teff Porridge With Chia and Berries

Teff is the new it superfood to enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Since it has a naturally nutty flavor, enjoy it as a porridge in place of oats as your breakfast. One half cup of cooked teff contains 126 milligrams, so be sure to add some chia seeds to boost the calcium content, and feel free to add some almond butter if you want too. Don’t forget the fresh produce though; berries make a delicious breakfast porridge topping and will boost the antioxidant content.

4. Collards with Onion, Garlic, Sesame Seeds, and Seared Tempeh

Collards are one of the highest sources of calcium of all leafy greens. Containing 357 milligrams in just one cup of cooked collards, it doesn’t take long to get your calcium fill from these delicious greens. To improve the flavor and nutrition, cook your collards with some onion, garlic, and toss on a few sesame seeds for an extra calcium boost. Finally, serve some seared tempeh on top, which contains 184 milligrams in just one cup (about two-three strips.) Here are some more tips for cooking your greens so they taste delicious!

5. Kale, Almond Butter, Blueberry, and Chia Vanilla Green Smoothie

A delicious breakfast option is of course, a smoothie! What an easy, fast way to get in some calcium all in one yummy meal. Here’s what you need: one cup water, one cup of chopped kale (101 milligrams), 2 tablespoons almond butter (111 milligrams), 2 tablespoons chia (176 milligrams), 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/2 a banana or zucchini for a creamy flavor, your choice sweetener, some vanilla extract, and 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (400 milligrams). Add any other superfoods or flavoring you like. Blend, and enjoy a breakfast that has more calcium than a typical container of Greek yogurt and a glass of milk combined! Here are some Creative Smoothie Switch-Ups to Try if you’re not a fan of some of these ingredients.

As you can see, you don’t need dairy to get your calcium fill. Check out all the best sources of calcium, and spread several of these foods throughout your day. You can be sure to get enough by eating a good variety of greens, nuts, seeds, non-dairy milk, and non-GMO soy in your diet. 

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Image Source: Kale Salad with Apricots and Almonds

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