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Dairy-Free Calcium Food Sources

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When telling someone new that I do not eat dairy, I am inevitably asked, "So, how do you get your calcium?" Actually, contrary to popular belief, many non-dairy foods contain calcium, and pasterized and homogienized milk actually has relatively a very low amount.

Almonds

Pile of shelled almonds on a wooden table
Jon Boyes/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Almonds contain more calcium than any other nut, and they are also good sources of fiber, folic acid, magnesium, potassium and protein.

Incredibly versatile for both savory and sweet dishes, almonds lend a rich flavor and dimension to a variety of recipes. I like to keep a small airtight container of finely ground almonds in the refrigerator for use in baking recipes,such as tart doughs, cookies and breads, for adding texture to the breadings or crusts of meats, poultry and fish, as well as just to sprinkle over oatmeal or cereal in the morning.

Check out these dairy-free almond recipes for ideas:

  • Almond-Maple Pancakes
  • Breakfast Quinoa
  • Homemade Almond Milk
  • Mushroom, Almond & Walnut Pate
  • Roasted Maple Almonds
  • Summer Pasta Salad
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    Blackstrap Molasses

    © 2009 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Blackstrap molasses is the darkest grade syrup that remains after refining sugar, which is done by boiling sugar into cane juice and then spinning the cane juice in a centrifuge. As the centrifuge cycles, the molasses becomes darker in color. The darkest and thickest variety, blackstrap molasses also contains the most minerals, such as calcium, iron and potassium, which are extracted from refined sugar in the refining process.

    Blackstrap molasses is less sweet than other sweeteners and has a "bite" in its flavor, making it excellent for sauces and marinades as well as spiced baked goods.

    Check out some of these dairy-free recipes with blackstrap molasses:

  • Ginger Snowcaps
  • Gingerbread People Cookies
  • Molasses Quick Bread
  • Vegan Molasses Gingerbread
  • Broccoli

    © 2009 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    High in calcium as well as iron, magnesium, potassium and vitamins C and E, this cruciferous vegetable is one nutritional powerhouse!

    Cooking with broccoli is easy, as it is flavorful raw, lightly steamed, boiled or baked, and can be enjoyed on its own or in a variety of dishes.

    Check out some of these dairy-free broccoli recipes for ideas:

  • Creamy Vegan Broccoli Salad
  • Dairy-Free Broccoli Cheese Soup
  • Dairy-Free Cheesy Sesame Broccoli Linquini
  • Vegan Broccoli Stromboli
  • Vegan Quiche
  • Vegetable Coconut Curry
  • Vegetarian Fried Rice
  • Enriched Ricemilk and Soymilk

    © 2008 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    To make up for the calcium found in dairy products, many imitation dairy products are enriched with calcium and other minerals. There are enriched varieties available in most brands, including Edensoy, Rice Dream, Silk, Westwood, and Wildwood, just to name a few. (To see a list of different kinds of milk substitutes, look here.)

    Cooking and baking with soymilk, ricemilk and other imitation dairy products is easy; use "milks" in sauces, baked goods, over cereal and in your morning cup of coffee.

    Here are a few dairy-free recipes that use soy or rice milks as a main ingredient:

  • Basil Cream Sauce
  • Carrot Cumin Soup
  • Creamy Cheesy Sesame Sauce
  • Dairy-Free Cream of Mushroom
  • Dairy-Free Cream of Tomato Soup Recipe
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Vegan Chocolate Pudding
  • Figs

    © 2008 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Figs are an excellent source of calcium, supplying almost 100 milligrams in just four. They are also high in iron, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous.

    Figs can be enjoyed either fresh or dried as purees in baked goods to add density, texture and flavor in place of unhealthy fats, and they are also delicious prepared in sweet and sour dishes and as compliments to lamb, pork, poultry and game bird dishes. I like to keep dried calimyrna figs around for baking and cooking purposes but also as calcium-rich additions to my oatmeal or cereal.

    Check out these dairy-free recipes with figs for some ideas:

  • Healthy Fig Bars
  • Sweet & Sour Fig Chutney
  • Dairy-Free Brie En Croute
  • Raspberry Walnut Salad with Turkish Figs
  • Leafy Green Vegetables

    © 2010 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Dark leafy greens are excellent sources of calcium, including varieties like kale, mustard greens and spinach. In fact, kale contains more calcium per ounce than milk! Spinach has high amounts of oxalic acid which can inhibit the body's ability to assimilate the calcium, so it should not be eaten as a main calcium source all of the time. To increase the body's ability to absorb the many nutrients found in spinach, adding foods high in vitamin C helps to cancel out the effect of oxalic acid.

    Dark leafy greens have the highest nutrient content raw or lightly steamed, and rarely should they be cooked longer.

    Check out these dairy-free recipes for some ideas:

  • Creamed Spinach
  • Crustless Spinach Quiche
  • Mushroom Risotto
  • Vegan Spinach Dip
  • Salmon, with bones

    © 2008 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    While boneless salmon has some calcium, eating salmon with bones is an excellent, not to mention tasty, way to enjoy this fish. Salmon is also high in healthy Omega-3 fats and protein.

    Using salmon in cooking is easy; canned salmond with the bones can be used to make patties that can be enjoyed on their own or as "burgers," and it can also be used in place of tuna in recipes like tuna salad or tuna casserole.

    Check out some of these dairy-free recipes with salmon:

  • Dill Salmon Cakes
  • Salmon Pâté Recipe
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    Sesame Seeds

    © 2009 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Sesame seeds may be small, but they pack a nutritional punch when it comes to calcium. Just a quarter cup of sesame seeds contains about 35 percent of your recommended daily value, as well as magnesium, iron, b-vitamins, and zinc. Who knew such a small seed could do so much?

    Here are a few dairy-free recipes that contain calcium-rich sesame seeds:

  • Baked Tofu
  • Cereal Bars
  • Dairy-Free Pigs in a Blanket
  • Easy Peanut Noodles
  • Homemade Chocolate Energy Bars
  • Olive Oil Cookies
  • Olive Oil Crackers with Hawaiian Sea Salt and Black Sesame Seeds
  • Pasta Salad with Light-Lemon Parsley Vinaigrette
  • Soybeans

    © 2011 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Soybeans are high in calcium as well as iron, protein and healthy fats. They are low in cholesterol and saturated fats and are sold dried, canned and frozen as well as in curd form(tofu) and fermented (tempeh).

    Soybeans can be used in recipes in their whole-form, edamame, as well as pureed for dips, sauces and spreads. Additionally, tofu and tempeh can be used in sweet and savory dishes alike; in its silken form, tofu is great for "custards" or sauces, and both tempeh and tofu in firmer varieties can be chopped into blocks and baked, sauteed, fried or served on sandwiches.

    Check out some of these dairy-free recipes containing soybeans for ideas:

  • Dairy-Free Chicken Potpie
  • Edamame Salad
  • Sweet Potato & Edamame Burrito
  • Spiced Edamame Dip
  • Tofu

    © 2010 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    It might surprise you, but tofu is a great way to add extra calcium to your diet. Just 4 ounces of firm Chinese-style tofu contains 10% of the daily recommended value of calcium, and tofu is also a great source of protein, healthy fats, iron, and magnesium. Easy to bake, scramble, sear, and stir-fry, tofu is a wonderfully nurtitious staple to keep in the house. To see six delicious ways to prepare tofu, check out this article, Tofu, Six Ways or take a look at some of these tasty recipes:

  • Baked Tofu
  • Chocolate Banana Cream Pie
  • Coconut Curry Rice with Tofu
  • Crispy Fried Tofu Fingers
  • Easy Grilled Tofu
  • Eggless Egg Salad
  • Scrambled Tofu
  • Summer Quinoa Stir-Fry
  • Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Parfaits
  • Vegan Quiche
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