Good Eats: Bone-Healthy Summer Foods

PJ Hamel Health Guide
  • At last – summer’s here, and the days are longer. More daylight means you can get a refreshing walk in before work, and have plenty of time for pulling a few weeds and enjoying your garden after dinner.


    Where you don’t want to spend a lot of time right now is the kitchen – but that doesn’t mean you can forget about your bone-healthy diet. Enjoy these five easy ways to increase your intake of key vitamins and minerals vital to bone health – without sweating in front of a hot stove.


    Easy gazpacho with tzatziki: Wow, that looks like a mouthful – a tasty one! Gazpacho, a wonderful summertime soup, doesn’t even require you to turn on the stove. Made from fresh vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and scallions, it’s served cold, and is a wonderfully refreshing lunch on a hot day. It’s also an excellent source of magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C, all of which have been shown to increase bone health.

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:

    Tzatziki, often found as part of a Greek appetizer plate, pairs thickened Greek-style yogurt with chopped cucumber and garlic. A dollop atop your gazpacho is the perfect complement – and is a great source of calcium and vitamin D.

    Kale chips: They’re all the rage now, and for good reason – this crisp, light-as-air snack is a healthier clone of potato chips. Kale, one of those dark-green leafy vegetables you’re always hearing about, is a prime source not only of calcium, but of vitamin K, which helps maintain your bones by blocking the formation of osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone.

    Want to give these crunchy chips a try? Wash and dry a head of kale. Remove the thick center stem from the large leaves, and tear them into bite-sized pieces. Toss in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, using your hands to rub the oil thoroughly over the leaves. Season sparingly – very sparingly – with salt; you can always add more later.

    Put the kale on two large cookie sheets, and bake in a preheated 250°F oven for 60 to 90 minutes, until dry and very crisp. Remove from the oven, taste to see if it needs additional salt, and store at room temperature – if there’s anything left to store once your family has learned about this addictive treat!

    Salmon chowder: You’ve heard of clam chowder, right? Fish chowder? Salmon chowder pairs this delicious, healthy fish with potatoes and onions in a flavorful milk or cream broth. Sounds tasty, eh? Not only that, both salmon and milk are great sources of calcium and vitamin D, your bones’ main building blocks.

    Trust me, this is an easy soup to make; it goes together in a few minutes, and simmers just briefly, so don’t worry about heating up your kitchen. Here’s how to do it:

    Peel and dice 1 medium onion. Sauté it with 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil in a saucepan, until softened. Add 2 potatoes (boiling, not baking – e.g. chef or Yukon Gold potatoes), which you’ve washed, peeled (if you like; not necessary), and cut into ¾” chunks. Add a regular-size can of vegetable or chicken broth – enough to barely or almost cover the potatoes. Put the lid on the pan, and simmer until the potatoes are nearly cooked.

  • Add a piece of fresh salmon; about ¾ pound is enough. Return the lid to the saucepan, and simmer just until the salmon is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add 1 ½ cups milk (skim, reduced-fat, or full-fat); or evaporated milk or half & half (regular or fat-free). Stir gently to combine. The salmon will break into bite-sized pieces. Season to taste with salt (about ¾ teaspoon should do it), and pepper. Serve hot, with soft rolls or crusty bread.

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:

    Ricotta cheese with fresh fruit: Who knew ricotta cheese is one of the highest-calcium foods you can eat? With 255mg calcium in just half a cup, it’s a better source of this vital mineral than milk, yogurt, or cottage cheese.

    But how do you serve it, aside from its usual starring role in lasagna? Simple: Mix part-skim ricotta with the sweetener of your choice – anything from sugar to maple syrup to artificial sweetener. Add vanilla extract to taste. Top with chilled berries or sliced fresh fruit.

    Trust me, this is delicious. And if the fruit is bananas, oranges, pineapple, or strawberries, you’re adding vitamin C and potassium to your healthy hit of calcium.

    Sunlight: Yes, sunlight is food – it just enters your body via your skin, instead of your mouth! Sunlight is the very best and easiest way to get your vital daily dose of vitamin D, calcium’s best friend. Without vitamin D, calcium can’t do its job – which is to keep your bones strong and healthy.  

    So, what about skin cancer? “I’ve heard you should protect your skin with sun block at all times…”

    It’s true, there’s a bit of a balancing act here. Just be sensible; there’s no need to spend endless hours tanning yourself out on the deck. The National Institutes of Health, via its Office of Dietary Supplements, states that as little as 10 to 15 minutes of outdoor sun exposure (no sun block) twice a week, between mid-morning and mid-afternoon, is probably enough to give you the vitamin D you need. 


    Calcium content of selected foods . (n.d.). Retrieved from  

Published On: July 02, 2012