Boning up on healthy eating

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It’s National Osteoporosis Month, so let’s bone up on healthy eating.

And make no bones about it – we really do need to treat our skeletal frame with care, especially since bone health issues can suddenly sneak up to create havoc well before you know you have problems. That’s why osteoporosis – loosely translated meaning porous bones – is called the silent thief.

This special month is telling us all to be more proactive when it comes to bone health. And that includes a lifestyle of staying active and eating nutrient-rich, bone-healthy foods, like leafy greens (the darker the better!), bony fish (sardines and canned salmon), nuts like walnuts and almonds, some fruit like dried figs and prunes (which brim with nutrients that influence bone health, including boron, potassium and vitamin K) and, of course, calcium-rich foods.

According to Health and Bones website (https://www.healthandbone.ca), “a healthy diet can help you to prevent and manage osteoporosis by assisting in the growth and maintenance of bones. Calcium and vitamin D both play an important role in bone health.”

This includes making the right choices, and reaching for the right foods. “The goal is to maintain an adequate supply so that our bodies do not have to dip into the reserve of calcium in our bones,” notes the website.

Foods rich in calcium include everything from milk to cheese to ice cream. Along with the above fish suggestions, look for fortified rice or soy beverages, fortified orange juice, sesame seeds and even blackstrap molasses.

And Vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin! Vitamin D enables us to properly absorb and store calcium from foods we eat. We can produce vitamin D when we are exposed to sunlight, but this may be difficult in the winter months, or as we get older, so consider a supplement. And there’s always castor oil.

No-Bake Prune Power Balls

This bite-sized snack features natural sweetness and a delightful crispy texture for a satisfying energy boost. Courtesy Californiaprunes.ca. #TEAMUP

30 pitted prunes (about 1 cup/250 mL packed)

1/3 cup (75 mL) almond butter

2 Tbsp. (30 mL) honey

1/2 cup (125 mL) rice crisp cereal

1/4 cup (60 mL) unsalted, roasted sunflower seeds

1/3 cup (75 mL) unsweetened, desiccated coconut (approx.)

Pulse prunes with almond butter and honey in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to bowl. Stir in rice crisps and sunflower seeds by hand until well mixed. Scoop level tablespoonfuls prune mixture; form into balls and roll in coconut to coat. Repeat until all mixture is used.

Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for 1 hour to set or for up to 1 week.

Makes about 24 balls.

Tips:

Add in a sprinkle of hemp hearts, flax or chia seeds for added nutrition. For an indulgent twist, stir in 1 tbsp (15 mL) mini chocolate chips. Power balls can be frozen for up to 1 month.

Bok Choy and Beef Stir-Fry

Quick and tasty and full of goodness. Serve over brown rice or rice noodles. Courtesy Foodland Ontario (foodlandontario.ca.)

3 Tbsp. (45 mL) oyster sauce

1 Tbsp. (15 mL) sodium-reduced soy sauce

2 tsp. (10 mL) cornstarch

1 tsp. (5 mL) Asian chili garlic sauce (or to taste)

2 Tbsp. (30 mL) vegetable oil

3/4 lb. (375 g) boneless beef grilling steak, cut across grain into thin strips

1 pkg. (454 g) baby bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. (5 mL) EACH sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds

In small bowl, whisk together, 1/4 cup (60 mL) of cold water, oyster sauce, soy sauce, cornstarch and chili garlic sauce. Set aside.

In wok or large deep skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) of oil over medium-high heat. Stir-fry beef in batches for 2 minutes or until browned but still pink inside; transfer to bowl.

Add remaining oil to skillet. Stir in bok choy and garlic; stir-fry 1 minute. Add 3 Tbsp. (45 mL) of water. Cover and stir occasionally for 3 minutes or until bok choy is tender-crisp. Stir in beef with any accumulated juices and reserved sauce. Stir-fry until sauce thickens, 1 minute. Stir in sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Serves 4.

Delicious Salmon Vegetable Chowder  

This easy, satisfying soup is full of healthy ingredients, including vitamin D. Plus, salmon is rich in heart-healthy, disease-fighting omega-3s. Recipe courtesy Dairyfarmersofcanada.ca.

1 Tbsp. (15 mL) butter

1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped onion

1 garlic clove minced

1/4 tsp. (1 mL) EACH dried thyme and dried basil

1 can (10 oz/284 mL) condensed chicken broth

1 cup (250 mL) peeled, diced potatoes

1/2 cup (125 mL) EACH corn niblets, diced zucchini and diced carrots

2 cups (500 mL) milk

8 oz (225 g) uncooked salmon filet, cut in small chunks

1/2 cup (125 mL) grated Canadian Cheddar cheese

In heavy saucepan, saute onions, garlic and herbs in butter 5 minutes until still transparent. Add broth and all vegetables. Simmer, uncovered, until vegetables are cooked 15 to 20 minutes.

Add milk and salmon. Simmer, until salmon is opaque, 5 to 7 min. Do not boil. Season to taste. Divide into 4 bowls, sprinkle with cheese and enjoy.

Serves 4.

Camembert Filled with Prunes and Truffle Oil

Fast and flavourful and full of goodness. Courtesy Californiaprunes.ca.

1 small, whole Camembert (approx. 125g)

¼ cup (60 mL) diced prunes

1 tsp. (5 mL) truffle oil

Slice Camembert in half horizontally. Cover base with chopped or diced prune pieces. Drizzle with truffle oil and replace other half of Camembert on top and press down gently. Keep chilled until 2 hours before serving.

Serves 2-4.

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