If there's two things I love in life, it's kale and cheese. Though the former is usually a non-negotiable in my day to day, the latter is more of an indulgence.
Dairy products contain saturated fat, cholesterol, allergenic proteins, and often come from sick cows. As most of us aren't meant to digest the proteins contained in dairy (ever felt bloated and gassy after a pizza?), and with dairy seeming to cause a lot more harm than good these days (both health-wise and environmentally), I feel that we should all be limiting our dairy consumption in general-- if having any at all.
But what about calcium, you say? Won't we get osteoporosis if we don't have our glass of milk or yogurt each day? It's the question and thought process our parents and teachers have ingrained in our minds since grade school. They're not to blame though; we were never told otherwise. The National Dairy Counsel provides schools with funding and cheap products in exchange for marketing them as helping your kids have strong bones and grow tall. Unfortunately, most schools are on a strict budget and have to meet certain nutrient goals that comply with the USDA standards, hence the use of their products. I saw this first-hand in my food service rotations back in my internship days. Problem is, many of us then over-do it with animal products and processed foods as we grow up, putting us at further risk of developing chronic diseases as we age.
Here's the scoop on calcium.
99% of calcium is stored within our bones, and the remaining 1% is regulated in our blood stream. We regularly lose calcium from our bloodstream through urine, sweat, and feces. It is renewed with calcium from bone or from the diet. Women and men aged 19-51 need about 1000mg daily of dietary calcium, while those who are between the ages 9-13 along with 71+ need about 1200mg daily. A number of lifestyle choices can help you retain calcium, such as regular exercise, exposure to sunlight (hey-O, Vitamin D!), and consuming calcium from plant-based sources. Conversely, lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking excess caffeine, and diets high in protein/animal proteins have been linked with greater calcium losses and therefore increased risk of osteoporosis later in life.
All being said, my goal here is not to bash on eating animal products, but more so to enlighten you on alternative ways we can attain dietary calcium; that we can meet our nutrient needs via plant-based foods, and to show you how wonderful things can taste without it!
Here are some goodies I like to include in my diet on the regs.
1 C. raw kale, 100mg
1 C. Calcium fortified tofu, 276mg
8 oz Calcium fortified soy milk/almond milk, 300mg
2 Tbsp almond butter, 111mg
1 C. broccoli, boiled, 62mg
Now, onto this kale beast! The dressing is really what makes it; a wonderful blend of plant-based goodness that mimic the creamy richness of caesar dressing, yet without the processed dairy and digestive upset for later!
Kale Caesar Salad
1 bunch of organic curly leaf kale
1/4-1/2 C. Brad's Raw Chips, I used Cheddar Flavor, to garnish
nutritional yeast & sesame seeds, to garnish
For the dressing:
1/4 C. hummus
1/4 C. nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp capers, + 3 tsp brining juice
1/4 tsp mustard
sea salt + pepper, to taste
Directions: Wash and remove kale leaves from stems. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside. In a food processor, blend all your dressing ingredients until a creamy sauce forms. Massage the dressing into the kale leaves for a few minutes, allowing the acidity to soften the leaves.
Garnish salad with raw chips, nutritional yeast, and sesame seeds to give it a good cheezy crunch!