Category: Balanced Nutrition

Alternative sources of calcium with dairy allergy

Here is a list of the amount of calcium everyone needs (by age), and sources of where we can get it.  I got this list from Anne Gibbens, who got it from her nutritionist:


100 grams = about 1/2 cup

Daily Recommendations for Calcium
(Age – Calcium (mg))
0 to 6 months – 210 mg
7 to 12 months – 270 mg
1 to 3 years – 500 mg
4 to 8 years – 800 mg
9 to 18 years – 1,300* mg
19 to 50 years – 1,000 mg
Over 50 years – 1,200 mg

Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium (Amount needed to consume listed first; mg of calcium received listed second)

Fortified Rice Milk – 1 cup – 300 mg
Fortified Apple Juice – 1 cup
Calcium-fortified soymilk – 1 cup – 350 mg
Calcium-fortified orange juice – 1 cup – 350 mg
Oatmeal made with alt. milk – 1 cup – 300 mg
Calcium-fortified dry cereal – 1 oz. – 200-300 mg
Collards, cooked – 1 cup – 266 mg
Spinach – 1 cup – 291 mg
Blackstrap molasses – 1 Tbsp. – 172 mg
Turnip greens, cooked – ½ cup – 124 mg
Cowpeas, cooked – ½ cup – 106 mg
Kale, cooked – 1 cup – 90 mg
Broccoli, cooked – 1 cup – 71 mg
Other veggies and most fruit – 1 cup – 10-60 mg

I made her broccoli soup and she loved it. To thicken the soup, I use potatoes instead of cream/milk. It made for a very hearty soup that added to her calcium count.

Anne Gibbens
Loudoun Allergy Network

Fortifying Almond/Rice Milk with Calcium

I’m looking into making my own Almond Milk and Rice Milk to save a little bit of money.  My biggest concern in making my own is making sure that it has enough calcium for my children (or that I supplement calcium in other ways).  When making almond milk, I am going to use a soy milk maker, though you can also use a blender or VitaMix, you just need to strain the almond/rice pulp out before sweetening and drinking.  I’ll let you know how it goes:)

For 6 cups of Almond Milk, I will use 1/2 c raw almonds + 1/4 c brown rice, soaked for 8 hours first.  I will then add 6 cups of water and process in my soy milk maker.  (If using a blender, blend until milky white and strain pulp.)  To sweeten I am going to add Raw Sugar and a little bit of vanilla, to taste.  I may also add a little bit of salt if I think that it needs it.  If you want to avoid any sugar, there are plenty of other options which I will discuss below.

Naturally Occurring Calcium Content in 1 c of Almond/Rice Milk:  38.08 mg of calcium

(1/2 c of almonds is roughly the same as 2.7 oz. (this is based off of the number of servings in my package of raw almonds).  This would make roughly 216 g of calcium in 6 cups.  The 1/4 c of brown rice will add 12.5 mg of calcium to the 6 cups of milk giving a total of 228.5 mg of calcium in 6 cups of almond/rice milk.)

Options for adding more calcium:

  • If you have calcium supplements (we have chewable), then you can add them to the rice/almond mixture before processing or blending them to add more calcium per cup (add as much as you need to compensate for lack of calcium, or to taste).

  • In trying to find the calcium content of certain items in g/mg, it is a little bit more difficult because many products label calcium as a percentage of the Daily Value rather than the exact mg.  Fortunately, I was able to find out what the recommended Daily Value for Calcium is (according to packages).  It is 1000 mg, so you can adjust your measurements based upon your needs.  Oat groats contain 20 mg per 1/4 c, so if you substitute oat groats for the brown rice (in the recipe above), then you will be able to add a little bit more natural calcium, though not much.  1 c almond/oat milk will give you 39.3 mg calcium.  Oat milk also has a really nice flavor, so I’m definitely going to experiment combining oats and almonds to see what results I can get.

(For more Daily Values, go here:

Options for sweetening almond/rice milk:

  • Although I haven’t tried this, in looking at the chart below, I am very interested in trying to add dried figs and blending them into the almond/rice milk as they have 300 mg of calcium per cup.  I think it’s worth trying to see if it sweetens it nicely.
  • Dried dates also are a great sweetener.  I would soak them in freshly made almond/rice milk (HOT) and then blend them together to form a smooth mixture.
  • Stevia and agave nectar are also other options for sweeteners.

If you have any good almond, rice, or oat milk recipes that you’d like to share, please feel free to comment below and add them:)  According to what I currently spend on Rice and Almond milk each month (I have 6 kids), making my own will save me well over $60 a month.  That’s over $720 a year, and I will know exactly what is going into it, so no cross-contamination!  I’ll post my results later:)


In doing my research, I ran across this chart that lists the calcium content of certain foods (obviously we have to leave out the dairy right now):

Calcium Content of Selected Foods
Dairy and Soy Amount Calcium (mg)
Milk (skim, low fat, whole) 1 cup 300
Buttermilk 1 cup 300
Cottage Cheese .5 cup 65
Ice Cream or Ice Milk .5 cup 100
Sour Cream, cultured 1 cup 250
Soy Milk, calcium fortified 1 cup 200 to 400
Yogurt 1 cup 450
Yogurt drink 12 oz 300
Carnation Instant Breakfast 1 packet 250
Hot Cocoa, calcium fortified 1 packet 320
Nonfat dry milk powder 5 Tbsp 300
Brie Cheese 1 oz 50
Hard Cheese (cheddar, jack) 1 oz 200
Mozzarella 1 oz 200
Parmesan Cheese 1 Tbsp 70
Swiss or Gruyere 1 oz 270


Acorn squash, cooked 1 cup 90
Arugula, raw 1 cup 125
Bok Choy, raw 1 cup 40
Broccoli, cooked 1 cup 180
Chard or Okra, cooked 1 cup 100
Chicory (curly endive), raw 1 cup 40
Collard greens 1 cup 50
Corn, brine packed 1 cup 10
Dandelion greens, raw 1 cup 80
Kale, raw 1 cup 55
Kelp or Kombe 1 cup 60
Mustard greens 1 cup 40
Spinach, cooked 1 cup 240
Turnip greens, raw 1 cup 80


Figs, dried, uncooked 1 cup 300
Kiwi, raw 1 cup 50
Orange juice, calcium fortified 8 oz 300
Orange juice, from concentrate 1 cup 20


Garbanzo Beans, cooked 1 cup 80
Legumes, general, cooked .5 cup 15 to 50
Pinto Beans, cooked 1 cup 75
Soybeans, boiled .5 cup 100
Temphe .5 cup 75
Tofu, firm, calcium set 4 oz 250 to 750
Tofu, soft regular 4 oz 120 to 390
White Beans, cooked .5 cup 70


Cereals (calcium fortified) .5 to 1 cup 250 to 1000
Amaranth, cooked .5 cup 135
Bread, calcium fortified 1 slice 150 to 200
Brown rice, long grain, raw 1 cup 50
Oatmeal, instant 1 package 100 to 150
Tortillas, corn 2 85

Nuts and Seeds

Almonds, toasted unblanched 1 oz 80
Sesame seeds, whole roasted 1 oz 280
Sesame tahini 1 oz (2 Tbsp) 130
Sunflower seeds, dried 1 oz 50


Mackerel, canned 3 oz 250
Salmon, canned, with bones 3 oz 170 to 210
Sardines 3 oz 370


Molasses, blackstrap 1 Tbsp 135

* When range is given, calcium content varies by product.
* The calcium content of plant foods is varied. Most vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit contain some calcium. Listed are selected significant sources of well-absorbed calcium.

  • USDA database, Handbook 8 palm program
  • Bowes and Church

How Much Do You Need?

Age Calcium (mg)
1 – 3 year old 500 mg
4 – 8 year old 800 mg
9 – 18 year old 1300 mg
19 – 50 year old 1000 mg
51 – 70 year old 1200 mg
> 70 year old 1200 mg
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.
This website is also a great resource for nutrition information on fruits and vegetables!!!

For example, we’re going to have butternut squash (from our garden:)) tonight.  I looked it up on the above website, and one cup of butternut squash has 84 mg of calcium in it!!!  In looking at all of our options, I feel confident that having enough calcium with a well balanced diet will not be a problem.

Dairy-free and Soy-free Protein Shake

I’ve started working out again and wanted to find a dairy-free and soy-free protein shake (as we have both allergies in our home). I found vanilla flavored Hemp Protein powder, and despite its color, found it quite tasty. Here’s the recipe I used:

8 oz. Rice Milk OR Almond Milk
2+ T Hemp Protein Powder
1 frozen banana
1/4 c blueberries or strawberries (frozen or fresh)
1 tsp. vanilla (optional)
Blend all the ingredients except for the ice together. Add ice one cube at a time until you reach desired consistency. This is a great post-workout shake as well as an energy shake. Warning…the Hemp Protein powder is GREEN and your shake will look like it came from the movie Shrek! My kids, however, liked this perk:) Although it is a little bit powdery, I find it quite enjoyable and not too different from other protein shakes.
(I’ve posted this earlier, but another quick protein shake is to take pasteurized egg whites (1/4-1/3 c) and mix them with orange juice, pineapple juice, or berry juice. You can even blend in a banana and ice, if desired.)

What solid food can I feed my baby?

Someone asked me what solid food they could feed their babies who were intolerant to milk/dairy. Here’s what I shared with her:

This is a list of foods to introduce to your baby with recommended ages that I got from one of my cookbooks (“Set For Life”):

0 – 6 months – breast milk, formula, or goat’s milk

7-8 months – cereals (brown rice, millet, oatmeal, barley) You can buy the Gerber-type baby cereal and mix it with water and applesauce to flavor it, or you can make your own (healthier, but not fortified with iron). Make the cereal by putting the whole grain into the blender until it’s a fine meal consistency. This cereal cooks in minutes using about a one tablespoon of the grain to one-third cup water.

8-10 months – in addition to the cereals, add vegetables and fruits, such as: squash, carrots, potatoes, green beans, peas, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, applesauce (unsweetened), bananas, peaches, pears, etc. These items are easy to cook up and mash or puree in the blender. I’ve also tried Cheerios later on as a finger food, and my babies have loved chewing and sucking on them with no problems.

10-11 months – add cooked eggs and legumes (NOTE: My oldest son was allergic to both eggs and milk, so if you are worried about that, then wait to introduce the eggs until you see an allergist or until they are 1 year old.) Black beans might make a nice finger food. Just rinse, heat, and serve, otherwise, mash up to a fine consistency.

11-12 months – add lean meats (cut up really small or pureed) and bread, cubed or diced

A few things that we did were when my kids were old enough, I gave them little bits of what we were eating for dinner (provided you are making dairy-free dinners). If we had steamed veggies, then I pureed some for them or let them try a couple of peas. If I had chicken, then I would puree or cut up a little bit for them to try (when they were older or could chew okay). To grind foods up quickly, I used a baby food grinder (like this: That said, a blender or food processor can work just as well, just add a little bit of water if it’s dry. You could also try brown rice on the side either ground up or see how they do. I have some free recipes (like a dairy-free chocolate cake for the 1st birthday:)) on my website: and also on my blog.

As far as the teething biscuits go, I found these recipes, but haven’t tried them yet:

Although I love whole wheat, I would wait until your babies are 1 year old before introducing it if you are worried about other food allergies. Stick with oats and rice. The same goes for strawberries, peanuts, honey, fish, etc.

Here are a few “meal” ideas that you could let them taste as soon as they are old enough or can chew well enough:

Chicken with rice and steamed veggies (make sure you flavor your chicken dairy-free or just salt and pepper theirs…you can boil the chicken and it will be tender.)
Cooked Macaroni Noodles with tomato-based spaghetti sauce and hamburger (you may have to cut this up; also the tomato sauce is a little bit acidic, so you’ll have to see how they do. You could also offer plain pasta cut up very small.)
Oat pancakes with blueberry syrup (diced really small to try as a finger food. If you’re worried about wheat allergy, then use white flour. If you don’t have oat milk available, you can use rice milk or make your own.)
Turkey (cut up small) with peas and a baked potato, mashed up
Chicken ‘n rice soup (you’d have to make sure that everything is cut up really small, or puree it in the blender)
Chicken Pot Pie (a little more of a complex meal)
Shepherd’s Pie (another more complex meal)

Your babies will be just fine with fruits, veggies, and whole grains. They really don’t need anything complicated at this point. Just try adding a new food every week and see how they do. Good luck!!!


Protein post-workout drink options

As I’ve been looking for more ways to increase my protein (without dairy and soy), I have run across a few options for a quick post-workout drink.

1. 1/4-1/3 c egg whites (you can buy pasteurized egg whites for safety) + 1 c orange juice or pineapple juice. Blend together. You can add fresh fruit and ice to make a thicker drink (banana, strawberries, blueberries, etc.)
2. Buy a pea, hemp, or rice based protein mix from a health food store or online at

Quick and healthy dairy-free snack ideas

Here is a list of some balanced snacks that are healthy and dairy-free (with a protein and a produce and sometimes a whole grain):

– 1/4 c almonds with a fruit smoothie and toast, if desired
– Chicken salad with Triscuits and veggie sticks
– Apple slices dipped in peanut butter
– Kashi Bar (granola…check for dairy!!!) with grapes
– Deli-meat roll-up, veggies dipped in hummus, and fruit
– 1/4 c walnuts with apples and celery (or make a Waldorf salad)
– Fruit smoothie with a scoop of dairy-free protein powder added
– 1/4 cup cashews with 3 c popcorn and grapes
– Hummus and Triscuits, 1/4 c nuts, fresh fruit
– Beef Jerky with fresh fruit or natural fruit leather

Even though there are dairy allergies, it is still possible to eat a balanced meal:) If you have any more quick snack ideas, feel free to post them here!!!!

Quick and portable LUNCH ideas that are dairy-free!

Here is a list of some quick and easy lunch ideas that are dairy-free and balanced (including a whole grain, produce, and protein). Keep in mind that we do not have any nut allergies, and that I am aware that many children who have dairy allergies are also allergic to nuts. Also, ALWAYS double check the labels to ensure that they are dairy-free!!! To make these meals portable, I use little tupperware containers (there are so many sizes now) or ziplock bags. I typically drink water with all my meals, but you can also get 100% juice boxes to go with them. You can also add dried fruit or nuts.

– Whole wheat tortilla with peanut butter and sliced banana rolled into a wrap (so simple, tasty, and satisfying!)
– Chicken salad (cooked, finely chopped chicken with dairy-free mayonnaise – you can use the canned chicken), 6 Triscuits (I LOVE the flavored kind…olive oil and cracked pepper, fire roasted tomato, rosemary and olive oil…), Veggie sticks and hummus as dip
– Black beans or refried beans, whole wheat tortilla, salsa, and lettuce with a side of fruit
– Whole wheat tortilla with hummus, sliced turkey or chicken, lettuce or baby spinach, and tomato or salsa rolled into a wrap (These wraps came in very handy on a picnic, and I was amazed at how tasty the hummus was used instead of mayonnaise. I pre-made them and put them into ziplock bags. I then had water and little natural applesauce cups with disposable plastic spoons. These worked perfectly at the park and were filling.)
– Calzone or empanada (kind of like a pizza pocket without the cheese…I like to make them ahead of time and freeze them for a quick meal. If making the empanadas, put some of the spaghetti sauce on the inside so that it’s not as messy), Salad or veggie sticks
– Whole wheat bread (I like using the little Arnold’s rounds as a special treat. They are a fun shape and you can make a sandwich with them or make a quick pizza using sauce and any toppings you want), Tuna or Egg Salad, carrots and grapes
– Chili (in a tupperware) and cornbread (make your own, dairy-free)
– Pasta served with a spaghetti meat sauce with a fruit or vegetable on the side
– Classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich with fruit or veggie sticks

If you have any more quick lunch ideas, please feel free to post them here! The more, the merrier!!!

Top 5 Ways to Have a Balanced Diet Without Dairy PLUS cooking tips


Milk often fills an important nutritional
niche. It’s rich in protein, vitamins and
minerals, and many toddlers will drink milk
even when they’re not enthusiastic about
solid foods. Many families worry about
staying healthy and maintaining adequate
nutrition when they remove dairy products
from the diet. Happily, though, all the
beneficial components of milk are found in a
variety of common foods. Read on to learn
how to balance your milk-free diet.

1. Protein
Adults and teens require fifty to sixty grams
of protein daily. Children’s needs range from
nine to 34 grams, depending on age. People
who eat meat even infrequently are likely to
far exceed their minimum protein needs. Six
ounces of lean ground beef has over 45
grams of protein. It’s not difficult for
vegetarians to get enough, either. Great
vegetarian sources of protein include:
• Tofu (ten grams per serving);
• Legumes like kidney beans,
chickpeas, or nuts (seven to nine
grams per serving);
• Eggs (six grams per egg);
• Whole grains (quinoa has thirteen
grams per serving; wheat and oats
have six each)

2. Calcium
Calcium is a vital mineral for building bone
mass, and milk is a rich source. Adult
women have the highest calcium needs, at
1,000 to 1,500 mg per day, while children
require between 500 and 1,300 mg. There
are two ways to replace dairy calcium in the
diet. The first is to eat foods that have been
supplemented with calcium or to take
supplements. The second is to eat nondairy
foods that are especially high in calcium.
Here is a list of some good sources of
Calcium (Amount needed to consume listed
first; mg of calcium received listed second):
Fortified Rice Milk – 1 c – 300 mg
Fortified Apple Juice – 1 c – 300-350 mg
Calcium-fortified soymilk – 1 c – 350 mg
Calcium-fortified orange juice – 1 c – 350 mg
Oatmeal made with alt. milk – 1 c – 300 mg
Calcium-fortified cereal – 1 oz. – 200-300 mg
Collards, cooked – 1 c – 266 mg
Spinach – 1 c – 291 mg
Blackstrap molasses – 1 Tbsp. – 172 mg
Turnip greens, cooked – ½ c – 124 mg
Cowpeas, cooked – ½ c – 106 mg
Kale, cooked – 1 c – 90 mg
Broccoli, cooked – 1 c – 71 mg
Other veggies and most fruit – 1 c -10-60 mg
(List given by Anne Gibbens’ nutritionist,

3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is used in the body to help absorb
dietary calcium. Vitamin D deficiency can
cause serious disorders of the bones like
rickets and osteomalacia. These are very
rare disorders, however, since vitamin D can
be produced naturally by the body upon
exposure to the sun. Ten to 15 minutes per
day of direct sunlight is sufficient to prevent
vitamin D deficiency. Good nondairy
dietary sources of vitamin D include eggs,
fish, oysters, fortified cereals, and cod liver

4. Riboflavin
Riboflavin, or vitamin B2, is one of the Bcomplex
of vitamins vital for processing
carbohydrates in the body. It has recently
become popular as a treatment for migraine
headaches, as it has been clinically shown to
reduce their frequency. While riboflavin is
available in supplement form, it is not
particularly difficult to get vitamin B2 from
an otherwise well-balanced diet. The RDA
(recommended daily allowance) for
riboflavin is 0.5 mg per thousand calories
eaten on a daily basis. Leafy greens, sweet
potatoes, whole grains, and meat are good
sources. Some cereals and breads are
enriched with riboflavin as well.

5. Phosphorus
Milk is among the richest dietary sources of
phosphorus, a mineral that helps regulate
cell function in the body. It is a major
component of bones and teeth. Meat eaters
should easily get adequate phosphorus in the
diet without dairy; fatty fish, in particular,
are an efficient way to meet your phosphorus
needs. Vegetarians’ best options for
phosphorus are legumes, which are high in
phosphorus but not absorbed as easily in the
body as the phosphorus found in animal
products. Another good source is bread,
especially if the bread has been leavened
with yeast.
Information taken in part from: http://

It has been so much fun adapting recipes
and creating new ones that are dairy-free.
Here are a few tips you can use in adapting
your personal favorites:
• Try substituting rice milk or soymilk for
ordinary cow’s milk or buttermilk (for 1 c
buttermilk use 1 cup soymilk + 1 tsp. lemon
• Use dairy-free margarine or olive oil in
place of butter or regular margarine (Earth
Balance® dairy-free margarine (sold at
health food stores and some grocery stores) is
BY FAR the best dairy-free margarine I’ve
• To substitute 1 can of cream of chicken or
mushroom soup in a recipe, take 1 T dairyfree
margarine and 1 T flour. Melt the dairyfree
margarine in a sauce pan. Add the flour
and whisk together. Slowly add 1 c soymilk
and 1 tsp. chicken bouillon (double check
label). Stir constantly over medium heat
until thick. This makes 1 can of condensed
soup. For cream of mushroom soup, add
chopped mushrooms at the end.
• To substitute a 12 oz. can of evaporated
milk, mix together 1 1/4 c water, 3/4 c + 1
T powdered soymilk and 1 1/2 tsp. dairyfree
margarine. Mix together over medium
heat until dairy-free margarine is melted and
mixture is smooth. Store in fridge. Use in
recipes calling for evaporated milk. (Note: A
lot of powdered soymilk has casein in it.
We’ve been pleased with Better Than Soy®
powdered soymilk.)
• In working with dairy-free cheeses, my
children have not liked any of the brands
we’ve tried. I’ve found it easiest to just go
without at this time. That said, I do
sometimes like using Tofutti’s Better Than
Sour Cream® and Tofutti’s Better Than Cream Cheese.