Healthy Bones: How to Build Them for Life and Keep Them Healthy

All of the following is excerpted from “Healthy Bones: Build Them for Life: The Food-for-Bones Cookbook” edited by Paula Jacobson and Sheilah Kaufman for the Osteoporosis Foundation. Copies of the book are available on store.nof.org.

Many of us have heard the term osteoporosis but really do not realize the implications of the disease or what it means to us and our skeletons. Your skeleton is an active, vital organ that has two primary functions: structure and storage. Structurally, bones protect your other organs by creating a framework for the muscles and tendons that allow you to move. As a storehouse, bones stockpile essential minerals to ensure your body can access them when needed, and these minerals (mostly calcium) make it possible for your heart to beat, muscles to contract, nerves to conduct impulses, and other bodily processes to run smoothly. Our bodies need steady blood levels of calcium at all times, and if there is not enough available, your body takes it from your bones. Too much of this loss leads to osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” If you have osteoporosis, your bones are full of holes and empty spaces because your bones have lost the minerals that keep them strong. Weak bones break very easily. “Osteopenia” means “low bone mass,” and is when your bone mass or bone mineral density is lower than normal but not low enough to be called “osteoporosis.”

Risk factors that can be changed include nutrition, exercise and healthful living. This book gives guidelines for what you need, how much, and further explanations on osteoporosis. The book also gives comparisons of the available medications to treat osteoporosis, important nutrients are discussed, and each recipe is labeled according to the important nutrients your body needs for strong bones, and which ingredients are contained in that recipe. This is important because your body needs magnesium and vitamin D for your body to absorb the calcium from the foods you eat.

Cheese and Nut Spread-Girit Ezmesi
By Eda Akarsu-Smith

Serves 4 to 6 people
1 clove garlic
1 pinch kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons finely chopped almonds
5 1/2 ounces feta cheese
3 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 pinch ground white pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill leaves
3 tablespoons ground pistachio nuts
Pita chips for serving

Press the garlic through a garlic press into a mortar. Add the salt and use the pestle to press and form into a paste. Stir in 1 tablespoon oil, and let it sit together while roasting the nuts.

Dry roast the walnuts and almonds in a medium skillet over medium heat while shaking the pan, until the nuts are golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a bowl to cool completely.

Place the cheeses in a large bowl. Use a fork to break up the feta. Add the garlic with the oil, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, red pepper flakes and white pepper. Mash everything together well. Add the walnuts, almonds and dill; mix to combine. Taste to check the consistency and seasoning. If necessary, add a bit more olive oil and more salt and pepper; mix well.

Scoop the mixture onto a sheet of cling wrap and roll it into a log. Refrigerate overnight.

Before serving, remove the log from the wrap. Place the ground pistachios on a shallow plate and roll the log in the nuts. Place the log on a serving plate and serve with some pita chips.

Mini Lasagna Cups
By Kristen Hartke, food and beverage writer, The Washington Post

A package of wonton wrappers and a muffin pan combine for handy single-serving portions of lasagna, ready to grab and go for a quick lunch or dinner. This version is made with vegetables straight out of the freezer but is easily adaptable to your favorite fillings, including crumbled Italian sausage, mushrooms and bell peppers.

Wonton wrappers are available in Asian markets and also are commonly found in grocery stores these days, often in the produce section.

You’ll need a standard muffin pan with 12 wells.

1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
Cooking oil spray
36 square wonton wrappers
1 cup frozen diced carrots, thawed
1 1/2 cups store-bought marinara or tomato sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Miniature rye breads

Note: The cups can be assembled a day ahead, covered and refrigerated in the pan until ready to bake. The baked mini lasagna cups can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Editor’s note: Find more of Sheilah’s culinary treats at www.cookingwithsheilah.com.

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