Non-dairy, Calcium Rich Foods

Calcium is much easier to absorb when we get it from the food, especially from vegetables!

Here are some of calcium rich food and how you can incorporate in your diet:

  • Almond: contains more calcium than other nuts. It can be eat as snack (both savory and sweat), and you can also use the powdered/milled almond as an alternative to flour for baking etc. A handful (20-25) of almond contains about 75-80mg of calcium.
  • Sesame Seeds: black sesame seeds contain about 60% more of calcium than white one. You can get black sesame seeds at Asian grocery and can use them in same way as white one. Using tahini (sesame paste) is also a great way to take  a high quantity of sesame as food. 1/4 cup of white sesame contains about 350mg of calcium
  • Broccoli family: broccoli, kale, collard green, bok choy, mustard green are all in same family and a good source of calcium! See below for calcium rich salad idea! 1/2 cup of cooked collard green contains about 190mg and cooked kale 95 mg to just give you the idea..
  • Dark leafy Vegetables: other than broccoli family, dark greens such as spinach and  turnip green are high in calcium. It is good idea to eat with vitamin C rich food such as lemon based dressing to neutralize the effect of oxalic acid. 1/2 cup of cooked spinach contains about 154mg and 1/2 cup of turnip green is about 132mg
  • Seaweed: There are a many kind of seaweeds, and all are quite high in calcium. See below for recipe idea! A cup of kelp contains 135mg of calcium
  • Blakstrap Molasses: is rich in a variety of minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium, also a good source for vitamin B6. Great alternative to sugar. A table spoon of Molasses contains about 180 mg of calcium!
  • Soy: soy bean is high in calcium, some soy products such as soy milk is usually fortified with extra calcium. Soy is also a versatile foods from savory to sweat. The best way is using the soy in fermented form such as miso and tempe. 1 cup of fortified soy milk contains 300 – 325mg and 150g of tofu contains 230-350mg of calcium.
  • Fish: especially the one you can eat the bones like sardine and salmon. A can of sardine contains about 290mg, salmon contains about 200mg of calcium.

For any of the broccoli family, traditional Japanese side dish/salad, “Goma-ae” (sesame dressing) goes well very well. You can use black sesame seeds and molasess to increase the calcium contents even more!

Other nice recipe using calcium rich foods are Wakame Seaweed Salad. I love the combination of seaweed and Korean Sesame Dressing. You can add different type of seaweed, cucumber, carrot etc to make a wholesome salad! Again, you can use black sesame seeds in this recipe too!

What is Natto?

Natto is a traditional, yet still a common daily Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. It has a distinctive pungent smell, like of aged cheese, and stringy consistency due to the beneficial bacteria, bacillus subtilis. So many people in the West tend to NOT like it…

However Natto is being slowly introduced to the West and becoming more popular due to its many health benefits:

  • One of the best source for vitamin K2 (helps build strong bones, antioxidants, helps cardiovascular health)
  • High in well balanced protein, iron, manganese, magnesium, and calcium
  • Contains Nattokinase, which has been shown to dissolve the blood clots
  • Because of fermentation, natto can enjoy the benefit of soy such as cancer prevention, with much reduced amount of “anti-nutrients” that soy has
  • Enjoy all the benefit of beneficial bacteria (read more from here)
  • Also there are more nutrients in natto yet to discover (such as vitamin PQQ etc), and has a potential benefit in Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension, cardiovascular health, and stroke

How do you eat it?
Traditionally eaten with rice (natto sushi rolls are also common!), it is also possible to mix with more western foods as well such like pasta, salad, etc. You can find your best way to eat it! I found for the beginners, mixing natto with shallot or chive, vinegar, salt and olive oil and have it like a salad is nice way to eat it.

Where can you buy it?
Find them in Asian grocery stores in your area. Try to get the non-GMO, organic types as often as possible. Most of natto comes with sauces or brines that can contain high fructose corn syrups and the like. So do not use the syrups, you can simply use soya sauce, or salt.

“Can we eat to starve cancer?” by William Li

The idea of “Food is Medicine” has becoming a general knowledge, but how is it so? and is it really?

I watched this clip a while ago, and fascinated by what simple, common food can do to protect ourself from developing cancer. I hope this motivate you to eat a plenty of veges today as it did to me!!

William Li: Can we eat to starve cancer? (click to watch)

This video was filmed in Feb. 2010 by TED.

Nightshade Vegetables and Inflammation

Note on the nightshade vegetables and inflammation:

Nightshade family such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and potatoes can cause inflammation in body. these plants contains an alkaloid, solanine, to protect itself from the attack of insects. This plant chemical can promote inflammation, even more in very high doses, this can be toxic. If you have any symptoms that canbe aggravated by inflammation (such as arthritis, pain in general, or irritable bowel syndromes), you should eliminate all of nightshade vegetables and herbs (paprika, cayenne pepper, tobacco etc) for 2 to 3 months to see how much symptoms improves, or try the followings

  • Always eat moderate amount that you can toralate.
  • Choose ripe vegetables as possible (solanine contents are higher in green part of vegetables)
  • Steaming, baking, and boiling process all helps reducing 40-50% of the solanine contents, however it is only reduced, so sensitive person may still affected by the remaining of solanine.
  • Sundried tomatoes has less solanine then fresh tomatoes.
  • Peppers and eggplants are higher in solanine per grams than other vegetables such as potatoes, so avoid them first.
  • Cooking with anti-inflammatory herbs (ie. ginger, termeric) maybe helpful.

What is Kudzu?

Kudzu (pronounce “KooZoo”) is a family of legumes (beans and peas), the starchy property of the root has been used as a thickener in Japanese cooking (you may have seen Kudzu in macrobiotic cooking book and wonder what it is…).

It has been also used as a healing herb in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine for helping digestive system. It is also known for its use in treating alcoholism.

Kudzu is rich in isoflavonoid phytoestrogens including geistein and diadzein which have anti-inflammatory property and can protect body from developing cancer (especially hormone related). Kudzu has also been studied to use in treating high blood pressure.

Kudsu as Food:
As I mentioned above, it is like a thickener. Typically in Japanese cuisine, we use to thicken a source, to make sweets (pudding, jello-like texture), and make tea.  Kudzu itself does not have much taste, so usually we mix with some other flavour to make a tea. My favourite is putting a tea spoon of Kudzu in a cup with fresh ginger and honey and add boiled water and stir. It becomes little thickened ginger tea! It could be just my cultural background, but it’s so soothing to drink this. This is great for indigestion, warming, and improve circulation.

Here are some other recipes with Kudzu