Usually when comfort food conversations take place, the talk centers around carbohydrate-rich dishes (mashed potatoes and gravy, mac ‘n cheese), fried foods (doughnuts, French fries). or the meaty-cheesy selections (cheeseburgers, pizza). Rarely, if ever, have I heard someone say, I love good vegetable-based such-and-such dish, you know with a good wallop of calcium, when I’m feeling in need of an edible hug.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, the day has come, and I — purveyor of healthy plant-based fare with calcium kickers— have come to make your stomachs happy and bones stronger. Get ready for some serious recipes that will have you both smiling and napping in no time, while your body makes the most of good nutrients.
Let’s start with a quick five-point lesson, scroll down style:
- Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body.
- The goal for the average adult is 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day.
- Contrary to popular belief, milk and dairy products are not the richest source of calcium.
- There are lots of plant-based foods full of calcium.
- It’s easy to get your daily calcium without any dairy.
Now that the nutrition is out of the way, let’s get on to the more enlightening topic: food. Comfort food is special in that it isn’t necessarily about the vitamins and minerals, nor is it on any daily recommended food guide. Rather, it’s something we do for ourselves, something that warms our hearts and minds and often warms our bodies as well. Everybody has their own take on which foods do this, but the overall impression is that we eat them for the mental feelings they bring along with any health benefits they may have.
Without further ado, here are some great vegan comfort foods high in calcium:
1. Kale and Mushroom Gratin
If ever there were a comfort vegetable for the plant-loving eater, kale would be in the running. Scrumptious, versatile and packed with nutrients (including calcium), kale is a vegan wonder food. On the other side of this recipe, “gratin” brings to mind a rich and creamy side dish that sticks to the sides of the belly and stays. I grew up with potatoes au gratin from a box, but I’ve learned since how well that comforting quality adheres to many base ingredients.
2. Sour Cream and Onion Kale Chips
Love chips? Do it a little healthier with this calcium-rich recipe. You’ll get all the crunch of potato chips in a healthier form, plus the burst of plant-based calcium you’re looking for.
3. Chinatown Sweet and Sour Bok Choy
Bok choy — and many other greens like turnip, mustard and the classic collard greens — are crammed with calcium and can be very comforting. Having grown up in the south, I’m a sucker for collard greens, but while in college, I remember take-out Chinese food being the most filling and delicious meals. And, I love the thought of recapturing that feeling of putting my chopsticks down and laying back on the sofa after a good sweet and sour vegetables over rice.
Complete your take-out experience with another calcium booster via these delicious and nutritious vegan dumplings. They’re really great-looking, too! This recipe is one plant-based crowd-winner.
5. Baked Broccoli Burger
Broccoli is one of those vegetables that for some reason we are supposed to grow up hating. I never did. I love the stuff, and lucky for me, it happens to be super healthy, with a good burst of calcium. I also love burgers (as do most people), which makes this recipe perfect for a little comfort on a dreary day. As an added bonus, sesame seeds are a great source of calcium, and this burger is flavored with a tahini dressing. So, double dose.
6. Raw Vegan Lasagna with Cashew Cheese and Broccoli Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
Try this delicious calcium-heavy comfort food classic. Who doesn’t love lasagna? Wow!
7. Tofu Scramble (with Spinach and Nutritional Yeast)
Few things say relax and kick off your shoes like a good breakfast or brunch, which is why a scramble — despite not making the run-of-the-mill top ten — suits this comfort food list so well. As for the calcium, this particular recipe works well because spinach and sun-dried tomatoes are good providers, as well as the aforementioned broccoli. Then, there is cheesy flavored nutritional yeast there to provide a little B-12 fix. An awesome way to start a day.
8. Vegan Spanakopita
This dish offers a comforting cut of calcium-rich spinach. Try this Greek favorite for a slam-dunk of calcium and flavor!
9. The BEST Vegan “Chicken” and “Sausage” Gumbo
Baton-Rouge born and raised, there is nothing more comforting for me than a bowl of gumbo. Unfortunately, vegan and gumbo don’t often go together. But, where there is a yearning, there is a way, and luckily, there are some good meat substitutes around to get the job done. What’s more, in my family no good gumbo is complete without of healthy dose of calcium-packed okra. For me, this just screams a Sunday afternoon in Grandma’s kitchen.
10. Winter Potato, White Bean, and Kale Soup
Let’s be honest — nothing says comforting like a big bowl of hearty soup. Try this delectable dish any time of year for a burst of flavor and great-for-you calcium.
While most comfort foods are rooted in childhood memories, and while most childhood diets are not rooted in plant-based principles, plant-based eaters like to be comfortable, too, and we also need our calcium. Moreover, we love to eat so it’s no wonder that there are an abundance of old-school, home-style vegan comfort food recipes out there to choose from. What’s even better is that plant-based options are also often centered as much around being healthful as they are tasty. What’s your favorite dish?
Lead image source: Raw Vegan Lasagna with Cashew Cheese and Broccoli Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
@ Emelie Hagelin Grüter