Classic Holiday Side Dishes Loaded with Calcium

Pam Flores @phflores Health Guide

    Many of us are looking for ways to increase our calcium intake through our diet, so here are some yummy ideas for holiday side dishes you might want to consider that are loaded with calcium.


    This first recipe is one I remember growing up, that my mother made to make our holidays special.  Remember this classic mac and cheese with the buttery golden bread crust on top?  This recipe is so much better than the box mac and cheese; so give it a try and be ready for the chorus of rave reviews.


    Fanny Farmers Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese

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    8 ounces of macaroni

    4 tablespoons butter

    4 tablespoons flour

    1 cup milk

    1 cup cream

    ½ teaspoon salt

    Black pepper to taste

    2 cups cheddar cheese

    ½ cup breadcrumbs, buttered


    Instructions:  Preheat oven to 400° F.  Cook and drain macaroni according to package; set aside.  In a large saucepan melt butter.  Add flour mixed with salt and pepper, using a whisk to stir until well blended.  Pour milk and cream in gradually, stirring constantly.  Bring to boiling point and boil 2 minutes (stirring constantly).  Reduce heat and cook (stirring constantly) 10 minutes.  Add shredded cheddar little by little and simmer an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts.  Turn off flame.  Add macaroni to the saucepan and toss to coat with the cheese sauce.  Transfer macaroni to a buttered baking dish.  Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.  Bake 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.


    Total calories:  836

    Total calcium:  563 milligrams

    Total servings: 4


    This next recipe is an elegant alternative to our regular green salads.  If you want to try something a little different, bursting with fresh ingredients and lots of nutrition, give this singular salad a try.


    Caprese Salad with Caper Vinaigrette

    16 ounces balls fresh mozzarella cheese

    2 large slicing tomatoes

    Salt & fresh ground pepper (experiment with medium coarse Sicilian salt)

    ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

    1 lemon, juice and zest

    1 tablespoon capers divided

    Handful fresh basil leaf (chiffonade)

    Arugula leaves or heirloom lettuce


    Instructions:  Use a serrated knife to slice each ball of mozzarella into 4 slices.  Repeat with the tomatoes, cutting each into 4 slices.  Stack 2 slices of tomato and 2 slices of mozzarella, alternating as you stack, on each of 4 serving plates.  As you stack, season each tomato slice with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Set aside.  In a blender, combine the olive oil, lemon juice and half of the cappers.  Puree until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Drizzle a bit of the dressing over each mozzarella-tomato stack.  Scatter basil ribbons, a few of the remaining capers and a bit of the lemon zest over each stack.


    Total calories:  479 (per serving)

    Total calcium:  584 milligrams

    Total servings:  4


    Spinach Artichoke Dip

    2 cups parmesan cheese

    1 (10 ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed

    1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

  • ⅔ cup sour cream

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    1 cup cream cheese

    ⅓ cup mayonnaise

    2 tsp garlic, minced


    Instructions:  Preheat oven to 375° F.  Mix together Parmesan cheese, spinach and artichoke hearts.  Combine remaining ingredients and mix with spinach mixture.  Bake for 20-30 minutes.  Serve with crackers or toasted bread.


    Total calories:  170 (per serving - 90 grams)

    Total calcium:  206 milligrams

    Total servings:  15

    *(All recipe totals above, are for single servings)


    Finding a creative way of including calcium in your diet is always a challenge.  Many of us have trouble with supplemental calcium, like absorption problems, stomach or bowel issues and some just can't take calcium in a pill form.  Most doctors believe it's best to get the majority of our calcium from foods and getting it this way is a much safer more beneficial way to do so, since there are much less side effects.


    Since our systems can't handle more than 500 milligrams of calcium per serving, getting what you can through your diet and then making up the small difference in oral supplements is a way of accomplishing this.


    To check on your calcium levels to see if you have adequate amounts for your bones, heart, muscles and other organs is to have a total calcium serum (blood) test.  Your doctor will be able to tell you from your resulting score if you are in the normal range and how much you should take to either improve your score or maintain it.  Good luck finding new ways to get your calcium to protect your body from further bone loss as you age.


    Happy Holidays to all here at HealthCentral and our members at our Osteoporosis site and all our other health sites. 


    Here are a couple other links to recipes from around HealthCentral


    Non-Alcoholic Alternatives for the Holidays


    6 Heart Healthy Holiday Snack Ideas


    All recipes courtesy of





Published On: December 21, 2011