Many people still think Dairy is the best source of calcium, this is not so especially pasturised milk from corn/grain fed cows. Cows need grass and to be milked within their limits and left to pasture and live a natural life for their milk to contain levels of calcium (also all the other vitamins, minerals necessary for calcium absorption to be present in the right amounts- esp Vit D from them being outside in the daylight). Then you need the milk to be in its raw alive state for the body to be able to use the enzymes in milk to digest and absorb calcium. Since this is rare (and impossible to get Raw Milk in Hong Kong) you are better off relying on other natural food sources of calcium to meet child and adult needs.

Don’t believe me check out the research;

” A recent review on dairy products and bone health (Lanou et al., Pediatrics 2005) shows that there is very little evidence to support increasing the consumption of dairy products in children and young adults in order to promote bone health.” (source/review)

What is Calcium?

Calcium is a vital mineral necessary for the human body. Its primary use is to maintain bone density and strength. However blood levels are crucial to keep our heart pumping. Almost 99 per cent of our calcium in our body is found in the bones (98%) and teeth (1%), the other one per cent of its role is in conjunction with Magnesium (which relax muscles) as Calcium is involved in the regulation of muscle contraction including smooth muscle found in the heart and digestive system, blood clotting, ph of the blood (calcium is alkalising) and nervous system function.

Calcium is generally found to be depleted in those consuming western diets. Especially those relying on dairy to supply calcium intake. A high protein (esp red meat and dairy) and starchy carbohydrate (sugar- especially refined and processed foods) diet will both be acidifying to the body (depleting calcium to help maintain the bodies optimum ph) but also will not contain calcium in order to replenish depleted stocks. It becomes a vicious cycle.

Where do we find it?

While milk and dairy products do contain calcium however the body is not able to fully utilise and absorb it. However several plant-based foods provide a more bioavailable source together with the nutrients needed to absorb it successfully.

Good plant-based sources include green leafy vegetables such as spinach, bok choi, broccoli, kale, spring greens, cabbage, parsley and watercress.

Also rich in calcium are dried fruits such as figs and apricots.

Nuts; particularly almonds and brazil nuts and seeds including sesame seeds and tahini (sesame seed paste).

Pulses including peas, chick peas, beans, lentils and fermented calcium-set tofu (soya bean curd like found in Miso).

Fish; especially those where you consume the small soft bones- sardines, whitebait and soft shell crab.

Molasses also provides a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium and many other nutrients.

However, while spinach contains a lot of calcium, it is bound to a substance called oxalate which inhibits calcium absorption, so it is important to obtain calcium from low-oxalate green vegetables (eg broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, watercress) Juicing or lightly cooking (steaming) these veg will help make the calcium more available. Grains, nuts and seeds contain a substance called phytic acid may hinder calcium absorption so soaking (and sprouting if possible) is recommended

What is needed to help Calcium absorption?

Without sufficient vitamin D (in the form of D3 usually) Calcium deficiency is likely to occur even if the diet provides enough calcium. This is because Vitamin D helps to maintain normal blood calcium levels. Magnesium, potassium (another vital component of bone material), vitamin C, and vitamin K, are all required for good bone, muscle and nerve connection health.

If taking a calcium supplement make sure it contains magnesium and D3. Both are necessary and without will render the calcium useless to the body and will be excreted (most doctors may prescribe a pure calcium supplement- please check with a Nutritional Therapist). Mineral powders and egg shells can be very effective forms of supplementing the diet. The way I like to ensure lots of calcium in my diet is by making my own bone broth (including my egg shells, green vegetables) eating lots of fresh leafy greens, nut milk, sesame seeds/tahini in most things and eating soft shell crab in our favourite sushi bar! I also use a great mineral powder in our Homemade Toothpaste.

Stock Pot; How to make Bone Broth in your Slow cooker

stock pot Loula Natural fb

I hate waste. In Hackney, (London) all our kitchen scraps went into a composting bin on the estate. I got so used to there being no food waste in the bin and I loved the idea that our waste was then used to tend the gardens in the area even though we didnt have a garden of our own. Now in Hong Kong on the 27th floor everything goes in the bin (there is some recycling like glass, metal and paper at least!). I have been making stock for a long time now- but that food waste was really irritating me! Now I use everything!

A stock can be made from anything. A bone broth will be fortified with all the nutrients. Nourishing Traditions By Sally Fallon (and here is her book for babies and children) outlines how to make all the different stocks you can make and has a recipe for each one. It is a key component in nourishing our children and is mentioned on most sites advocating the principles of Weston A Price. I like that for me it means that all parts of the food are used that alot of the water based nutrients are saved and used and that you can harness nutrients from things like skins, peels, stones and seeds that you would otherwise throw away. Thats before you think about the minerals and gelatin from the bones are not only nutritious but also in a form that is easily absorb-able.

Here is what I do.

EVERYTHING I trim, have as leftovers, peel, core, take seeds out of gets put in a ziplock bag (which I also re-use! but you could of course use a glass box!) which goes in the freezer. Then once a week I put it all in the slow-cooker add some apple cider vinegar (about a tbs) and put it on low for 24 hours. Strain it and store it in the fridge ready to use or stored in ice cube trays/bags in the freezer.

 What can be used;

All bones (chicken, ribs, porkchops, I also keep fish skins and bones separately, prawn heads and skins for my fish stock- should be cooked first)

Egg Shells (unwashed with membrane intact- they have gone straight in the freezer)

Leftover meat, veg, rice, beans and lentils if they do not get eaten through the week for lunches

All vegetable trimmings eg; (lettuce, carrot, celery, peppers and cabbage. Almost all of my veg is organic, if it isnt then I have washed it prior to trimming it in apple cider vinegar)

All skins (for example; avocado, potato, apple, orange, lemon, lime, melon etc)

All seeds (for example cherry stones, lychee stones, melon seeds, papaya etc)

I also even sometimes add my herbal tea straining!

I also retain water from boiling veg (but that happens rarely as we mostly steam veg!)


I love using my broth to cook my rice, lentils, stews, risottos, spaghetti, stir fry and sometimes will drink it as a broth (especially if feeling run down)


What do you use yours for?

(PS- the stock looks like the picture in the beginning but after the 24 hours it is brown sludgy and sloppy! I strain it and squeeze it satisfied that all the goodness has been extracted from the foods and can now be thrown in the bin!)

Other recipes:

 Bone Broth from Kula Mama

Easy and  nourishing bone broth in the slow cooker: Our Small hours

stock pot Loula Natural pin

Roasted Sweet Potato and Pancetta Risotto

Risotto is one of the most versatile dishes, you can basically put anything in it. I used to think it was a really difficult dish where you had to balance the liquid adding it ladle full at a time- but it works just as well this way!we tend to have it as a pot luck dish and always have a bit of pancetta in the freezer and Sweet Potato is now in season. You can equally make delicious vegetarian (pea, asparagus butter nut squash, Jerusalem artichoke all work well) risotto or leftover roast chicken, lamb or beef works well too. The base for us always stays the same.


Ingredients: (serves 4)

300g Risotto Rice (I normally use Arborio Rice)

1 litre of Liquid (normally use 700-800 mls of bone broth and the rest crisp white wine and the juice of half a lemon)

2 tbs olive oil

1 onion finely cut

1 clove garlic

1 thumbnail size grated ginger

10g Pecarino cheese (optional)

Salt and pepper

1 Sweet potato peeled and cubed

50g Pancetta cubed (we usually buy the end bits from the Deli and keep them in the Freezer)

Asparagus to serve


Put the Sweet Potato into an oven proof dish and cover with the olive oil and salt and pepper. cook in the oven at 200 for 15-20 mins until soft.

Meanwhile, fry off pancetta and add onion garlic and ginger. Add rice and fry for 1 min. Add liquid and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer stirring frequently until starting to thicken. This can take any time between 20 and 40 mins depending on if you have Gas or Halogen in my experience!. When liquid almost disappeared add roasted Sweet Potato and pecarino. salt and pepper to taste. Steam Asparagus and plate up!

If you have leftovers, out in the fridge. The next day ball them up, flour them and fry them in some coconut oil and have risotto balls for lunch or snack- also great finger food for kids!