We’ve heard it time and time again: “Greens contain more calcium per ounce than dairy milk!” But if you’re striving to reach the RDA for this mineral, eating one and a half pounds of leaves per day might be quite unrealistic. Fortunately, getting a whole host of bone-health minerals in your daily dairy-free diet is much easier than you might think! The following includes some of my favorite ways to enjoy plant-based calcium-rich foods on any given day (see our calcium chart for more details). As an added bonus, many of these ideas and recipes are also rich in other bone supporting partners, like magnesium.
Good Old Granola or Hot Cereal
Dousing your granola with fortified dairy-free milk beverage adds the equivalent (or higher! 300 to 450 mg per cup in Silk brand) amount of calcium as dairy milk. To up the ante, use ingredients like almonds (80 mg per 1/4 cup), Brazil nuts (55 mg per 1/4 cup), or chia seeds (170 mg per ounce) when making homemade granola and sweeten it with maple syrup (20 mg per tablespoon) or molasses (100 to 200 mg per tablespoon). I like Earthbound Farm’s Famous Maple Almond Granola Recipe, even the raisins in it provide delicious minerals (20 mg calcium per 1/4 cup).
You can certainly pour some milk beverage on your hot cereal, too, but you can also cook it with the milk beverage. This technique infuses that creamy, mineral-loaded goodness in every tender bite!
- Almond Crunch Oatmeal (pictured below) – Swap the honey for maple syrup to slightly bump up the mineral content and for a strict vegan breakfast.
- Cinnamon Roll Overnight Oatmeal – I spiked this breakfast with chia seeds!
- Cinnamon Breakfast Quinoa – Both oats (40 mg per 1/2 cup) and cooked quinoa (30 mg per 3/4 cup) offer a good range of micronutrients.
- Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal – Believe it or note, even the pumpkin adds some calcium (30 mg per 1/2 cup).
Pudding and Parfaits
There’s no reason that calcium-rich foods can’t be a little decadent. One of my favorites is chia pudding. Those little seeds pack a healthy punch and gel up beautifully with some fortified milk beverage. You can also make straight up pudding from the milk beverage or even puree silken tofu (430 mg per half cup) as a base for the dreamiest high-protein chocolate pudding you’ve ever tasted. Finally, I like to layer dairy-free yogurt with other calcium-rich foods to make parfaits. Shown below is wonderful layers of Silk Vanilla dairy-free yogurt with sliced almonds, dried figs, and some cinnamon.
- Sticky Bun Chia Pudding – Milk beverage, chia seeds and maple syrup enrich this healthy treat.
- Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream or Mousse – Yes, ice cream! You won’t believe how dreamy this tastes. Enjoy it chilled as a mousse or churned and frozen.
- Coconut Chia Breakfast Pudding – Unlike other chia puddings, this one includes dairy-free yogurt!
- Silken Dark Chocolate Pudding – Another chocolaty tofu creation, but a bit lighter than the one above.
Use Your Noodle
Food producers have gotten pretty darn creative and are even using various single ingredients to make beloved pasta. The ones I’m loving most are bean and lentil noodles. These can have up to 250mg of calcium per serving, plus a boatload of protein. Some brands do cut in other ingredients like brown rice flour or quinoa. This does bring the calcium count down, but still keeps it respectable.
Another unique natural option is kelp noodles. These crazy tangles with a unique bite are amazing in soups, on salads, or with some Thai-inspired sauce. They have around 150 mg of calcium per serving, even though they’re extremely light on calories.
- Creamy Plant-Based Pasta Primavera – This is one of my favorite dishes with bean or lentil noodles.
- Vegan Alfredo Cream Sauce (pictured below) – The sauce is actually made with pureed tofu for extra protein and calcium, and pairs well with lentil pasta.
- Easy Thai Almond Sauce – Swap in almond butter for the peanut, stir it into kelp noodles and add some steamed broccoli for an even bigger bone health benefit.
Stir it Up
In my opinion, there is no better way to get more vegetables into your diet than stir fries. Green calcium-rich foods like bok choy (70 mg per cup) and broccoli (40 mg per cup) are custom grown for tossing in a wok. Use tofu or tempeh for the protein to add around 250mg or 100mg of calcium, respectively, per 1/2 cup serving to your meal. You can bump it up another notch by swapping quinoa for the more traditional rice.
- Tahini Vegetable Stir Fry – If you can get your hands on unhulled tahini, then you’ll multiply the micronutrients.
- Mango Fried Rice – Though more modest, the cabbage in this dish adds some calcium, too (30 mg per cup).
- Tofu Stir Fry with Cashews and Baby Bok Choy (pictured below) – An underappreciated vegetable takes center stage in this any day dinner.
Use fortified milk beverages or fortified orange juice (yes, really! It has around 300 mg per cup) to get as much added calcium as dairy milk in your sips and smoothies. Plus, you can pack in quite a few other nutrients with add-ins like carob powder (20 mg per tablespoon), molasses, almond butter (50 mg per tablespoon), greens, chia seeds, and even pumpkin!
- Green Goddess Smoothie – You won’t believe how much kale is packed in this thing! If you can’t do soy, swap your favorite plant-based protein powder.
- Power Pumpkin Berry Smoothie – You can also blend some spinach or kale into this smoothie, the berries will mask the color.
- Molasses Milk (pictured below) – Hot or cold, this is my favorite new beverage. Plus, just one cup has 400 to 600 mg of calcium!
Savor the Southwest
There are several hidden calcium gems in our Americanized Mexican cuisine. Check the labels, but many brands of corn tortillas, like this one, have as much as 80mg of calcium per little tortilla! I don’t know about you, but I can knock back three of those without a problem. Beans, including black (50 mg per cooked cup) and refried (70 mg per cup), are also great sources of calcium. Plus, I think quinoa and tofu, two more good sources of calcium, go rather well with these these foods and flavors.
- Southwest Quinoa Bowl – The quinoa is cooked in milk beverage for a big calcium boost.
- Hearty Black Bean Chili (pictured below) – Packed with two types of beans and quinoa, this is a plant-based protein and mineral powerhouse.
- Tofu Rancheros – Beans, tofu and corn tortillas for a family-friendly, party-ready dish.
You don’t need to eat pounds of greens to garner their benefits. Get creative or sneaky with using them, and you may be able to swallow more than you think. For some of us, kale has a very pronounced taste, but there are many who can tolerate it in smoothies. If you’re one of them, go for it! Otherwise, try a massaged kale salad. Unbelievably the massaging cuts through the bitterness. Other options include cooking it with a creamy sauce, making a nourishing soup, or shredding it with cabbage or even Brussels sprouts and topping with a favorite dairy-free dressing for a wonderfully crunchy salad.
- Creamed Kale (pictured below) – Made with a calcium-rich roux, this is much lighter than your typical creamed greens.
- Good for the Soul Broccoli Soup – Beyond the broccoli, pureed white beans add body and 120 mg of calcium.
Every little bit counts, and you may be surprised to learn that some fruits are even a good source of plant-based calcium. Add blackberries (40 mg per cup) to dairy-free yogurt or sprinkle orange slices (50 mg per medium orange) with cinnamon (25 mg per teaspoon). You can also top toast or rice cakes with almond butter and molasses or maple syrup for a special treat. Or make some snack balls rich with these ingredients. While you’re at it, use carob powder rather than cocoa for a sweeter malted flavor and a higher dose of minerals. Here are a couple fun and tasty recipes to experiment with:
- Cinnamon-Fig Cashew Butter – Dried figs combine with nuts to make a wonderful spread. Feel free to substitute almonds for the cashews. It won’t be quite as creamy, but will be delicious and higher in micronutrients like calcium.
- No Bake Power Cookies – For a bigger boost of calcium, use the almond butter option and increase the chia seeds to 1/4 cup (eliminate the hemp seeds).
Notes on these Calcium-Rich Foods
Please note that the calcium amounts in this post are approximate. They were obtained from reputable sites like Self Nutrition Data, and have been rounded.
This post on plant-based calcium-rich foods is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk for their #DoPlants campaign. But the opinions, text and ideas are all my own! In fact, I’ve been wanting to share this information with you for a while.
You can find out where to purchase Silk dairy-free milk beverages and Silk dairy-free yogurt for the recipes and ideas above using their store locator. Also, if you want to get delicious recipes from the #DoPlants campaign and you like product coupons (who doesn’t?), sign up for the Silk newsletter.