Non-dairy calcium options

non-dairy calcium optionsAre you a female?
Are you pregnant or a mom of littles?
Do you have bones?

I would guess you can say yes to at least one of those categories. As a Registered Dietitian I work primarily with women and most of them are pregnant or young moms. I’m either pregnant or getting un-pregnant & breastfeeding in this season of life with a 3 & 1 year old so naturally I attract that niche. Your bones continue to grow through your 30s and beyond that is maintenance but calcium is a misunderstood and often neglected nutrient. Let me explain.

D comes before C
You need calcium but in order to absorb it you need vitamin D. Some foods are fortified with it but the best source is from the sun. However, if you live in Michigan where winter is hangs around longer than it should then you need some additional vitamin D support. I highly recommend a quality vitamin D supplement if you are not outside in the sun for at least 20 minutes each day.

Skip the milk, you don’t need it
With that said, let’s move on to calcium. Contrary to popular belief and billboards I see on the highway, you don’t need to drink milk. It’s fine to have in small amounts (count it as a carb if you do, not a protein. You can learn why in my article on balanced eating basics) but you can get all the calcium you need from other non-dairy sources.

Non dairy options
Aside from milk, calcium is high in yogurt and cheeses. If you are avoiding dairy due to lactose intolerance, a milk allergy, or just because you don’t buy it often, here are a few  non-dairy options that are non-fortified (meaning naturally occurring in the food, not added in) and will give you plenty of calcium.

Broccoli, dark leafy greens (think kale, Swiss chard, turnip greens, bok choy… make some stir fry), canned salmon with bones (don’t worry; the bones are so soft you can make salmon burgers and won’t even notice), almonds, almond milk. Be sure to check your nutrition label with almond milk; one cup has about 50% of your daily needs! Check labels though; I just learned that the Kirkland brand from Costco only has 2% of your calcium needs.

If you aren’t sure how much calcium you are getting I highly recommend keeping a food log for a week. You can either enter it in something like MyFitness Pal to verify your intake or simply look up the calcium content of each food I mentioned above. You need more calcium when you are pregnant so be sure to accommodate the higher need. Lastly, calcium is best absorbed in smaller amounts so don’t eat all the calcium-rich foods in one meal and can it good; space it out throughout the day. For example- sauté some kale with your morning eggs. Grab a handful of almonds (fat) with your small piece of fruit (carbs) and a hard boiled egg (protein) for an afternoon snack. Stream broccoli to serve alongside dinner.

Take good care of your bones, mamas! You need them to carry around those wiggly, talking 10…20…40# dumbbells.

What are your favorite calcium-rich foods? Any clever ways you use kale?

Budget Review: April – June 2015

Each quarter I share a quarterly budget review of our spending so you can see the breakdown of how we allocate our money. It’s also great accountability for me and helps Dave and I to see how we are stewarding our finances.

Budget Review: April – June 2015 (actual spending)

April-June spending breakdown What happened this quarter?

Extra mortgage payment progress
As of this month we are at 82% of our goal to pay off and additional $12,000 toward our mortgage principal. We have another 3-paycheck month coming in October so between that and the extra income I make from my part-time job I was confident we were going to rock this goal. That was until we decided to refinance our mortgage! We will prioritize the closing costs to refinance and then see where we stand in regard to putting extra payments toward the mortgage. The cost of refinancing will even out what we would pay in interest in just two years so it was worth it. Even if we don’t make the $12,000 goal I’ll still celebrate that we threw an extra $10k at the mortgage!

5-year anniversary
I celebrated 5 wonderful years with Dave on the beautiful Lake Michigan. We camped a night in Holland and spent a couple of days exploring and hiking in Grand Haven. Dave’s family watched Nora while we were gone so even got free babysitting with the deal! 

we are expecting another girl We announced baby #2!
We found out we’re having another girl and are due early November. Woo!! I have 3 sisters and will have 2 daughters… I wonder when/if this girl streak will end?

Free patio furniture
We had leftover money from when Dave put in our patio himself and we originally planned to buy some patio furniture with it. My neighbor beat us to it so we gladly inherited her older, perfectly functional set. Dave and I voted that the leftover $200 should go toward our vacation fund since we have a family vacation planned at the end of the summer with his side of the family.

steak, veggies, and avocadoBeef share
We split 1/4 of a 100% grass-fed cow with another couple. It came out to almost 50 pounds for each of us. I wanted to start with a smaller share to first see how it fit in our deep freezer and also to figure out what we use most so I can be more specific with how I’d like the meat prepared next time. The standard for our order was 30% steaks, 30% roasts, and 40% ground meat. So far we’ve made tacos with the ground beef, grilled a sirloin steak, and made some AMAZING barbacoa using a chuck roast.

swim lessonsFree swim lessons for Nora
Every summer our local YMCA holds a week of free swim classes. We have a pool in our condo’s neighborhood and my parents who live 45 minutes away have a pool so I don’t see a reason to actually spend money for her to swim in a pool but this was a fun occasion. She might have had more fun playing in the locker room beforehand.

Weekend trips
We went to Louisville to visit friends & spent a weekend in Frankenmuth, Michigan, to help watch toddlers while their parents attended a conference. All expenses and food were paid for at Frankenmuth! As for Louisville, we only had to pay for food & the derby tickets since we stayed with friends. This money came out of our vacation fund.

Dave’s first trip to Japan
He couldn’t turn down a free trip to Japan for work! He was only gone 6 days total so it wasn’t enough time to get used to the 13-hour time difference but he still enjoyed his time and had some delicious sushi. We got to keep the miles from his flights so we hope to take a fun trip somewhere next year.

What fun events do you have planned for the summer?

Budget Review: April – June 2013

Budget Review: April – June 2013(Actual Spending)
*note: for some reason I can’t copy or upload an actual picture of the pie chart showing the breakdown. Click the link above to see it in PDF form. Sorry guys!

WOW a lot has happened over the past three months. To give you some background behind these numbers, I’ve listed my top ten events (in random order) so you know what’s been going on since my last quarterly budget review for January – March 2013. This article looks lengthy, but stick around to the end for some exciting news 🙂

1. We moved to Canada! We’ll be here until the end of the year for Dave’s job. Here’s an awesome shot of Moraine Lake in Banff National Park. No photoshop needed, that’s actually the color of the lake!!

2. We are blessed by Dave’s company to have our flights to/from Canada, housing, and our car rental covered by his company. They also gave Dave a boost in his salary for doing this field assignment and added a little extra per diem for cost of living.

3. Our friends are renting out our new home while we’re gone. I’m a little jealous they get to enjoy all the new renovations before we do! We’re thankful it’s in great hands.

4. Because of points 2 & 3, we have been able to make DOUBLE and TRIPLE mortgage payments while we’re here! Hence the giant portion of our budget going toward the home category.

5. Our grocery budget has nearly doubled since moving to Canada! However, there are other budget categories that have gone down- we changed our car insurance to minimum coverage while it sits in my parent’s garage and we spend way less on gas here.

6. My career as a dietitian is on a mini break and I have been working as a Barista at Starbucks while we’re in Canada. Thankfully I have great bosses and I’ll return to two of my three jobs when I get home.

7. We bought plane tickets for my sister’s Nashville wedding this fall. One of our tickets only cost $40 thanks to our credit card rewards!

8. I ran my first half marathon in July and surprised myself with a time of 1:54:50! Be sure to check out that article for some sweet pictures and details.
Stampede Road Race Half Marathon

9. We only brought Dave’s work computer with us and I’ve opted to spend the 3 hours we get between the time he gets home from work and the time we go to bed to hang out instead of using the computer to write articles. Therefore, my number of posts has severely decreased. I apologize for this! It may be a slow time at Budget for Health until we get back to Michigan but I promise the few articles I write in the meantime will be of great quality and practical for your life. Thanks for sticking with me.

10. Lastly and, in my opinion, the most exciting update of the past three months:

I’m pregnant!!!!!!


As of August 2nd I am at 18 weeks and feel great. A little bump has popped up and we find out very soon if we’re having a boy or girl! I am due early January which will give me about a month to get settled back in our Michigan home and prepare for our little arrival 🙂 We have begun saving for hospital expenses and set aside a chunk each month so we’re on top when the bills arrive.

Past Budget Reviews:
April – June 2012
July — September 2012
October — December 2012
January – March 2013