Milk Alternatives

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People may not drink milk because they have an allergy, are lactose intolerant, or just do not like the taste of it. However, milk is our body’s main source of calcium, which is needed to make strong bones and teeth. If you or a family member aren’t drinking milk, don’t worry, as there are several other ways to get the calcium your body needs.

I personally do not like the taste of milk and found myself searching for ways to meet my calcium needs. Preparing smoothie recipes that were made with yogurt was one way of meeting that need, as one cup of yogurt has the equivalent in calcium to one cup of milk. Every day I made a different smoothie for breakfast. To assure enough fruits and vegetables were included in my diet, I began adding them to my smoothies. Bananas, berries, peaches, spinach, and kale are among some of my favorites. It’s convenient having my breakfast in one container and eating at least three of the five food groups daily at the same time.

Lunch was a bit more of a challenge, since I didn’t want to eat a sandwich with added cheese on a daily basis. Finding that broccoli, collards, and other greens are good sources of calcium, I began adding these to my salads and side dishes. When it was dinner time, some of these vegetables were added to soups, stews, and casseroles. Not only was I getting the calcium my body needed but I was enjoying a new and healthy way of eating. Of course, my family reaped these benefits too.

When you go to the grocery store, you can now find soy, almond, and coconut milks that contain calcium but not lactose. These beverages are very tasty and come in different flavors. You will find that having a lactose intolerance or allergy doesn’t have to hurt your calcium consumption. There are many ways to keep your bones and teeth strong.

For more information, please contact Tamika McLean, Youth Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Associate with North  Carolina  Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 671-3276, by E-mail at Tamika_McLean@ncsu.edu, or visit our website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/.

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