Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

February 22, 2005
Calcium beats figs, rhubarb as source of calcium

So you don’t like milk. Nevertheless, you know that milk is good for you. What is a person to do? After all milk has lots of calcium. Although people can choose other foods to supplement their calcium needs, getting enough of this mineral in that way is difficult at best.

You may have noticed that many products including some juices and other items that do not normally contain calcium are fortified with extra calcium and the amount in any product is quantified on the labeling. That is because calcium is one nutrient that tends to be lacking in most American diets.

An adult needs about 800 milligrams of calcium per day — although a pregnant or nursing mother requires about 400 milligrams more. Growing teenagers from age 11 to 18 need about 1200 milligrams per day. Children from 1 to 10 years need about 800 milligrams daily while infants from six months to a year need 540 milligrams and tiny infants, up to six months old need about 360 milligrams each day.

Calcium strengthens teeth, builds strong bones, helps nerve function and staves off osteoporosis in older years.

Filling the sizable need for calcium is important in each category and dairy products are the best source.

For example, one cup milk supplies about 300 milligrams of calcium. The amount is similar whether the milk is whole, skim, low fat or buttermilk. Most non-dairy products are woefully short on calcium.

Other calcium rich foods include almonds, rhubarb, dried figs and spinach.

However to get that same amount of calcium, you would have to eat nearly a cup of almonds or about a cup of rhubarb. (Have you ever tried eating that much three times a day?) A person would need 1 1/3 cups dried figs. To further complicate the matter, the human body absorbs calcium from milk and dairy products more easily from vegetables or almonds. Go for the spinach and you need one cup after cooking to provide about 265 mg.

Canned fish that contains the bones such as sardines or salmon is considered another excellent source of calcium. Three ounces of sardines holds 371 milligrams calcium and three ounces canned salmon provides 167 milligrams.

These are all good sources; nevertheless, to get 800 mg without dairy products requires creative eating.

There are some tricky ways to get milk from dairy products — hide it! Eat an ounce and a half of cheddar or similar cheese to get that same 300 or so milligrams of calcium. One cup of fruit flavored yogurt provides 345 milligrams of calcium. Cottage cheese, unfortunately, provides only 70 milligrams of calcium per half cup.

You can always create milk based desserts such as ice cream and puddings or disguise it by hiding it in something unrelated. Try some of these desserts and snacks from the Extension Food and Nutrition Program to slip a little more milk into your diet.

Peanut Butter Chews

 1 cup peanut butter

3/4 cup light corn syrup

2 cups nonfat dry milk powder

Crisped rice cereal

Stir all ingredients together in the mixing bowl. Press into an ungreased pan (1/2 inch thick) or shape into balls.

Roll the balls in the crisped rice cereal if desired. Wrap balls individually in waxed paper. Refrigerate.

Rice Pudding

 2 cups rice, cooked

2 cups skim or reconstituted nonfat dry milk

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon margarine

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cook rice according to package directions. Place cooked rice, milk, sugar and margarine in the saucepan. Place saucepan over medium heat. Cook 25 to 30 minutes without covering or until thickened, stirring often.

Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in vanilla.

Pour into a casserole dish. Serve warm or cold. Refrigerate leftover pudding.


– Add 1/4 cup raisins to rice mixture before cooking pudding. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

– Spoon pudding into dishes. Top with slices of fresh or drained canned milk.

Baked Rice Pudding

 1/2 cup rice, (regular, not instant) uncooked

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoons cornstarch

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups skim or reconstituted nonfat dry milk

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

(optional) Vegetable oil or cooking spray

Bring water to a boil in the saucepan and add rice. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Do not stir.

Mix sugar and cornstarch in the mixing bowl. Beat the eggs and milk together. Add to the sugar mixture and mix well.

Stir in rice, raisins and cinnamon. Pour into lightly oiled casserole dish. Bake 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees stirring occasionally until pudding is creamy and liquid is absorbed.

Variation: 1 cup cooked rice can be used instead of the uncooked rice. Omit the 1 cup of water. Add dried fruit (chopped) as a substitute for raisins.

Serving suggestion: Serve with fresh blueberries, raspberries, bananas or strawberries.

Stovetop Hamburger Noodle Casserole

 1/2 cup onion finely chopped.

1/2 pound ground beef

4 cups noodles, cooked

3 cups boiling water

5 carrots thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup white sauce (below)

1 bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon bouillon granules

(optional) Chop onion. Brown ground beef and onion in frying pan.

Drain off excess fat. Add all other ingredients to the beef/ onion mixture. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

White Sauce

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash pepper

1 cup milk

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Blend in flour, salt and dash pepper. Add milk all at once. Cook quickly stirring constantly until mixture thickens and bubbles.

Yogurt Salad Dressing

 2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup plain, low fat yogurt

1/2 teaspoon paprika

Mix all ingredients together in a blender and blend for 5 minutes or beat with rotary beater until smooth.

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