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Monday, October 29, 2007

Finding Calcium in Baby's Vegan/Vegetarian Diet

One of my biggest concerns in feeding my son a mostly vegan diet was where he would get his calcium. I grew up eating a pretty standard American diet with plenty of dairy products, so it has been hard sometimes for my mind to shift gears. Like most Americans, I had no idea calcium was found in fresh fruits and vegetables. In fact, if you tell most people they can get all the calcium they need just from eating their veggies, there's a good chance they'll think you're kidding.

I ran a check on many of the vegetables I feed my little man, and I'm happy to see that with the variety he receives each day, his needs are being met in the calcium department, as well as other important nutrients. Check out to run your own checks. I had a lot of fun there, and I'm sure I'll visit the site a lot more in the future.

Since the vegetables that tend to be higher in calcium are usually the dark and leafy green ones, there are all sorts of things you can do to make these foods more interesting to the discriminating child. Here's one I do, which is great for babies and young toddlers because it's very mushy. Substitute any leafy green you choose:

2 - 3 shredded leaves of kale, minus the middle tough part, steamed or boiled until soft (retain a little cooking water)
1/2 cored apple
baby cereal, enough for desired consistency

Put the cooked kale and the apple into the blender and blend until smooth, with a little of the reserved cooking liquid. This makes a nice mush. Add cereal until you get the desired consistency. The apple adds a nice flavor, and the cereal is a recognizable texture for babies, so getting them to eat it is pretty easy. Adults can try eating kale sauteed in a little olive oil with garlic and toasted sesame seeds. Yummy!

Another option is to put these leafy greens into smoothies, as discussed in one of my former blog entries. This is even healthier, since the vegetable is eaten raw.


Laura said...

You can also juice them. :) And did you know that when you eat less cooked foods and/or meat foods your body is less acidic and doesn't need as much calcium b/c it isn't taking calcium out of your bones to bring your body closer to neutral and out of an acid state!? :) Good stuff!

Also great sources of calcium: seasame seeds (grind them up to a powder and sprinkle them in stuff), and figs (you can use figs to make your own "lara bars" by using both figs and dates w/ nuts in the food processor - hey throw some sesame seed powder in too! - I roll mine into balls then roll it in shredded coconut.. kids LOVE it!) You could also put soaked figs in smoothies for the kiddo too.. or add to the puree you mentioned. :)

Anonymous said...

Ok, that photo makes me hungry! I love fresh veggies.

pssst... look here

Diane said...

Laura, I learned about sesame seeds and calcium from you, and I've been sneaking it into all sorts of stuff! We've kept it around because it's also great for keeping the cholesterol down, but once I learned they have calcium too, I started putting them in smoothies and sprinkling them on our stir fry. You're a font of good info! Thanks!

And thanks to Laura @ Laura Williams' Musings! I love winning things... :)