Recipes for better bone health

You may not have noticed, but your bones were at their best when you were in your early 30s. During the first few decades of our lives, our bodies build more bone mass than we lose. Once we hit middle age — well, that’s a different story. No matter how many birthdays we’ve accumulated, experts say we can all take steps to help keep our bones healthy.

Regular exercise is an important part of bone health at all ages, but our diet can play a big role too — especially when we enjoy plenty of foods rich in calcium and protein. For many people, dairy products are the go-to food category with calcium-rich choices like low-fat milk, low- or non-fat yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese and hard cheeses. Per serving, these foods contain the highest amounts of calcium.

What if you can’t have dairy? Fortified milk alternatives such as enriched soy, rice or almond milk offer a good amount of calcium along with vitamin D — an important nutrient to help our bodies properly absorb the calcium. Calcium-fortified orange juice is another option (in moderation, of course!)

If you’re looking to team your calcium with protein, you can’t go wrong with sources such as enriched tofu, almonds, white beans and other legumes or sardines and canned salmon with bones. We can also get calcium with our daily servings of vegetables such as broccoli and cooked leafy greens — such as kale or turnip greens — which also have bone-building vitamin K. (Want to see the numbers? Osteoporosis Canada and HealthLink BC break down the calcium amounts.)

Remember, healthy eating isn’t about loading up on one or two foods — it’s overall diet that matters. Here are some bone-healthy tasty recipe ideas to try:.

Spinach Feta Rice

This delicious Greek-style dish makes a tasty side to lamb, pork or chicken.

1 cup (250 mL) uncooked long grain white rice
1 cup (250 mL) chicken broth
1 cup (250 mL) water
Cooking spray
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
1 cup (250 mL) fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried oregano
6 cups (1.5 L) fresh spinach leaves, shredded
4 oz (125 g) feta cheese, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped roasted red peppers (optional)

In medium saucepan, combine rice, broth and water. Bring to boil, stirring once or twice. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

In large skillet coated with cooking spray, sauté onion, mushrooms and garlic. Stir in lemon juice and oregano. Set aside.

Add spinach, cheese, and pepper to rice; toss lightly until spinach is wilted. Add onion, mushrooms and garlic. Toss lightly. Garnish with roasted red peppers.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe and courtesy of the USA Rice Federation. For more recipe ideas, visit

Next bone-healthy recipe: Hearty Root Vegetable Soup

Photo © Isaac Santillan