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If You're Trying A Dairy-Free Lifestyle, Eat More Leafy Greens

Kale on wood cutting board
Kale on wood cutting board - masa44/Shutterstock

There are so many reasons one might embark upon a change in lifestyle or a dietary shift, ranging from personal preference to health-related necessity. It might be due to religion or values or availability, or it could be doctor's orders. But whatever the reason, there are times when it's necessary to search for nutrients in alternative ways.

When trying out a dairy-free lifestyle, regardless of motivation, one element you may be in search of supplementing is calcium. Fortunately, you can find this important part of a complete diet in a number of other ways, from figs to sesame seeds and even gingerbread (in fact, tofu boasts more calcium than milk). But one very versatile and delicious place you can turn is leafy greens. That category includes cabbage, watercress, spinach, kale, and more. In fact, a couple cups of cooked kale delivers more calcium than a glass of milk. Even broccoli gets in on the action. When you're looking to fortify in the absence of dairy, or even if you're simply looking to add a little calcium boost to your diet, you can rely on these produce aisle favorites to deliver.

Read more: 12 Vegetables And Fruits That Used To Look Very Different

Why Is Calcium Critical?

Woman preparing spinach
Woman preparing spinach - Anastasia Dobrusina/Getty Images

When it comes to calcium, there are many reasons you'll want to make sure you're meeting the minimum requirements. The most common association may be in relation to bone health, but according to Mayo Clinic, while it's true that calcium contributes to strong bones and teeth, you also need this stuff to help your heart, muscles, and even your nerves to do their jobs. And as if that wasn't enough, it can also keep your blood pressure in check.

As Healthline explains, the human body doesn't have the ability to create calcium, which means it has to come from external sources. And while you can supplement your calcium intake, the preferred way to load up is through the foods you consume. Beyond leafy greens, you can find calcium-rich foods in non-dairy selections like white beans, sardines, and soy products, as well as dried fruit, nuts, eggs, and more. Bonus points if you can combine these calcium-rich foods in some of your favorite dishes.

How To Enjoy Your Calcium-Rich Leafy Greens

Kale salad in bowl on table
Kale salad in bowl on table - Veselovaelena/Getty Images

The great news about these doctor's orders? The fact that leafy greens taste fantastic and that there is no shortage of ways to enjoy them, no matter what pleases your palate! For starters, reach for a snack of easy-baked kale chips, which you can season as you see fit and enjoy any time of day. A kale salad with lemon vinaigrette is an ideal lunch (you can omit any added cheese if you're opting out of dairy), while a pear smoothie with kale, which relies on coconut milk rather than cow, can be a perfect breakfast or even an on-the-go treat.

As a side dish, sauteed spinach and mushrooms pair beautifully with calcium-rich shellfish like scallops, crab, or shrimp. In the morning, an egg, vegetable, and sausage skillet allows you to incorporate a combination of leafy greens like spinach and kale in a powerful way to start the day. With so many delicious ways to incorporate these nutritious elements into any mealtime, trying a non-dairy lifestyle shouldn't leave you wanting for anything.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.