Zoe Bingley-Pullin is a nutritionist and founder of Nutritional Edge – a nutritional consultancy based in Sydney. She’s a strong believer in a balanced, wholefoods-based diet and her mission is to improve people’s knowledge and understanding of nutrition to create and sustain a healthier and more delicious life.
She is also the co-host of Channel Ten’s Good Chef Bad Chef with Adrian Richardson; an ambassador for one of Australia’s favourite plant milk brands, and has recently launched her program, Falling In Love With Food, to help educate Australians on enjoying food.
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Q&A
What are the best ways to include calcium into your daily diet?
We all know that milk is a great source of calcium, however many are not aware that a vast array of foods we eat can also offer a calcium boost. As part of a calcium rich diet, the basicfoods I like to include re milk, yoghurt, calcium-enriched soy milk and soy-based products.
What are some calcium-rich foods that tend to fly under the radar?
Although milk and milk-based products spring to mind when you think of calcium-rich foods, there are also many non-dairy calcium containing foods that may come as a pleasant surprise, including: salmon (canned), tofu, broccoli, bok choy (cooked), spinach, linseeds, brazilnuts, figs (dried) and almonds.
Other than bone health, why is Calcium important?
Calcium is essential for a healthy heart, muscles, blood and nerves. It is stored in the teeth and bones where it provides structure and strength and is used by almost every cell in the body.
Bone mass usually remains constant until later in adult life, when a decrease in bone mass may gradually occur. Therefore without an adequate calcium intake, you may be at risk of osteoporosis and brittle bones, making prevention paramount!
Do any dietary practices affect calcium levels?
There are some dietary practices that can improve how calcium is absorbed and used by the body. These include:
Improving levels of vitamin D – the body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium, you can increase levels by spending time outdoors, through diet or by taking supplements.
Increasing protein levels – try to include good sources of dietary protein at each meal, sources include: eggs, fish, meat, legumes, tofu, milk and cheese.
Healthy changes to your lifestyle – excessive alcohol consumption and smoking can contribute to poor bone health. Limiting or eliminating these factors can improve your calcium levels.
Here is a selection of delicious and easy recipes for you to try; including a few that will help you get some more calcium into your daily diet.
10 dried figs, diced, hard stalk removed
1 cup of walnuts
1 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup Brazil nuts
½ cup sunflower seeds
3 tbsp. honey
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup soy milk (calcium enriched)
½ cup raspberries
1 cup LSA mix (linseed, almonds and sunflower seeds)
- Combine everything except the cocoa powder, the raspberries and half a cup of the LSA mix in a food processor until smooth and slightly sticky.
- Add the cocoa powder a bit at a time. Take a bit of the dough, put a raspberry in the center, and form into a 2.5cm ball.
- Roll the ball in the remaining LSA mix to coat.
- Put the fruit balls in the refrigerator in an air tight container.
These delicious fruit balls make the perfect nutritious and tasty snack for any time of the day. They are rich in figs, brazil nuts and soy milk which means you know you will begetting calcium too!
200 g fresh prawns, peeled and de-veined
2 tbsp soy sauce (Tamari – wheat free)
1 green chilli, chopped
bunch coriander, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
300 grams firm tofu
4 tbsp. olive oil
200 grams snow peas, rinsed and ends chopped
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp sugar or honey
¼ cup vegetable stock
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 1cm strips
- Marinate the tofu in the soy sauce, the rice wine vinegar and the garlic for 10-20 minutes. Dry the tofu first and cut into 2cm squares.
- In a clean wok heat the oil over a medium heat. Stir-fry the prawns for 3 minutes, and then remove from the wok. Add the onion and garlic to he wok and sauté for a few minutes. Add the tofu with the marinade, prawns, snow peas, coriander and stir-fry for 3 minutes.
- Add the ¼ cup of stock and add extra 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, and the sugar and salt.
- Stir for a further 2 minutes or until the prawns are cooked.
A stir-fry dinner that’s packed full of protein and flavor the addition of tofu helps you get a helping of calcium too!