The Nourishing Health » Whole, nourishing, plant-based health and nutrition

Is dairy the best way to obtain calcium?  Many people believe so, however, obtaining calcium is more than simply how many milligrams we consume daily.  How much you consume isn’t necessarily the issue, rather how much you absorb. Many factors influence calcium absorption, including age, the amount of calcium you require, amount consumed, and other compounds that accompany it when consumed.

Dairy does contain high amounts of calcium, however it also contains high amounts of animal protein, which is acidic within your body causing an increased amount of calcium to be excreted in the urine.  This is an excellent video explaining how the pH of our bodies is affected by various factors, including calcium absorption.


Dietary factors that induce calcium loss in the urine include:

  • Animal protein
  • Salt
  • Caffeine
  • Refined sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Nicotine
  • Aluminum-containing antacids
  • Drugs such as antibiotics, steroids, and thyroid hormones
  • Vitamin A supplements

There are plant foods that are really rich in calcium. A few include…

  • Dark leafy greens, such as bok choy, turnip greens, collard greens, kale, romaine lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Tofu and tempeh
  • Sesame seeds and tahini
  • Lentils
  • Dried figs

Other important factors for bone health are:

  • Strength training – Generally muscle health mirrors bone health.
  • Adequate Vitamin D levels, which are best obtained from the sun.

Your jaw may have dropped at the thought of removing or significantly reducing dairy from your diet.  I promise you don’t have to leave all of your favorites behind!  Explore a few of our “cheesy” favorites to not only omit dairy but to move toward ingredients that nourish as well!

  • Cashew Cheese – We love pulsing in fresh basil and spreading it on crackers.
  • Vegan Mexican Cheese – It is so easy to make the spreadable version of this recipe and store it in the fridge.  Any time you want warm queso, simply add some not water and whisk it up!
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Who doesn’t love to eat out?!  Sharing life with friends and family over a good meal and no clean up!  :) Regardless of how much fun dinner on the town can be restaurants are notorious for salty, calorie-loaded meals that can wreak havoc on your health (especially if you’re dining out regularly!).  Thankfully many restaurants are becoming increasingly mindful of those who are more conscious of their health and new restaurants seem to emerge weekly that are health havens without losing the flavor!

Check out my tips for navigating restaurants regardless of where you go and you’re sure to have a good time without feeling lousy later!


  • Let the Legend Lead  – Many restaurants have a legend on their menu indicating if a dish is low-sodium, free of a specific ingredient, vegan, or vegetarian.  However, simply because the dish has a low-sodium or gluten-free icon next to it does not automatically mean its the most healthful option.  Try to avoid meals with words like “fried” or “sautéed” since both will be heavy on oil.  Rather opt for dishes that use key words such as “steamed”, “baked”, or “broiled”.  The firs, and most important aspect, is to identify dishes heavy on vegetables and then work with the following tips.


  • Swap out the Sides – It’s easy for the side dishes to load on some serious calories, sodium, sugar, and cholesterol.  Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions.  If a sandwich or wrap typically comes with chips or fries try the side salad and steal a few of your neighbors fries (my husband loves it when I do this!) 😉
  • Don’t Get Condiment Crazy – Dips and sauces are typically are sneaky places for plenty of oil, sugar, salt, and dairy.  I love a good sauce, but I typically ask for it on the side so I can determine how much I desire to use and don’t be afraid to inquire about the ingredients in that sauce.  It may be easy to skip the sauce and see if your dish can be flavored with fresh herbs.
  • Get Creative! –  If you’re at a restaurant where the main dishes don’t appeal to your dietary choices get creative by compiling several side dishes to serve as your main dish.  How about some refried beans, salsa, side salad, and steamed vegetables to create a Mexi-style salad.  Or a side of brown rice, steamed vegetables, tofu, and soy sauce for your own little Buddha’s Bowl?  Sounds good to me!
  • Veg Out! – You may not ascribe to consistently eating a vegan or vegetarian diet but that doesn’t mean you have to overlook them on the menu.  More and more restaurants offer fabulously flavorful vegan and vegetarian options using nourishing substitutes like vegetables and tempeh in creative ways.  The chef’s creations may just surprise you.:)
  • Do Your Research – Check out the restaurant where you’re dining in advance.  Happy Cow is an excellent website and mobile app that allows you to search for restaurants based on your zip code using categories such as “veg-friendly”, “vegetarian” and “vegan”.  Searching for a veg-friendly restaurants ensures you’ll have more choices for all those you dine with.
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  • Beth - I am notorious for stealing a few of my neighbors’ fries! It gets me into trouble sometimes…ReplyCancel

    • Stacy Lingle - Hehe. Love it! :) It’s a nice way to enjoy them without having a whole serving, but you have to be sneaky. :)ReplyCancel

As the warm weather arrives its time to ditch the soup (as much as I love a big bowl of it!) and be nourished by refreshing favorites to keep you cool and your tastebuds dancing.  As challenging as it can be to stick to your health goals in the winter when you’re stuck inside and your calendar is bombarded with holiday parties, it can be just as challenging in the summer when popsicles, ice cream, and cookouts are constantly calling your name.

Check out these four tips and my favorite recipes to make your summer fun and keep your body nourished.


  1. Fire up the Grill!  – Toss any veggies on the grill or try kabobs with Green Goddess Dressing.  Whenever we have the grill fired up we always add as many extra vegetables as we can since they make great leftovers on a salad or in a wrap.  These Easy Mexican Stuffed Mushrooms were one of my favorite recipes from last summer.  Again, we made extra and enjoyed them throughout the week.
  2. Make Life Easy & Choose a Dish to Prep Ahead – A favorite of many of my clients, this Creamy Coleslaw by Cathy Fisher is the perfect side dish for your summertime gatherings.  It’s loaded with nutrients and flavor!  Speedy Summer Power SaladRefreshing Cucumber Salad with Creamy Mint Dressing, and California Quinoa Salad are great side dishes that can easily be made in advance.
  3. Lighten Up – Warm weather calls for light and refreshing sides like this Fresh Pineapple Salsa or Salsa Fresca (3 ways – Mango, Strawberry, or Cilantro!).  When you show up to a gathering with one of these served with tortilla chips, baked pita chips, or fresh veggies you’re sure to get some attention.:)
  4. Be Sweet Naturally – No need to ditch sweet treats in the summer.  Cool down with some of my favorites that just happen to be healthy!  Vegan Frozen Chai Latte, Banana Blender Ice Cream (it’s just fruit, so dive right in!!) or these Chocolate Avocado Banana Milkshakes were a that we regularly enjoyed while sitting on our front porch.
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The grocery store can be overwhelming!  You desire to purchase healthful foods, yet are bombarded by advertising that pulls you in different directions.  Below you’ll find my top 4 considerations when selecting a packaged item for purchase.

The easiest and most nourishing way to shop is on the perimeter of the store where labels and marketing is nearly obsolete – produce!  Whole, plant foods provide you with countless nutrients and no additives, making shopping much less confusing.  However, we all need packaged items at times, so let’s make sure you feel confident selecting the best available option!


1.  Skip the Advertising – Ignore what the front of the package is trying to communicate. A product may say it is “100% natural”, but what does that mean? Is it the same as a label that reads “100% organic”? The answer is no, they are not the same. Companies have a lot of freedom regarding what they can communicate in their advertisements. Rather than allowing them to tell you what is best, use what you’re about to learn to make a well-informed decision.

2.  The Ingredients List Matters Most – When pulling a product from the shelf, I immediately go to the ingredients list before anything else. Ingredients are listed on the label in descending order based on weight. The ingredient taking up the most weight in the product will be listed first. I have two rules for whether I’ll purchase a product:

  • Can I pronounce every ingredient? What is Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate? Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters? If its not real food, I don’t want to eat it!
  • Does it have more than 5 ingredients? This is a good rule of thumb, however, it not always definitive. For example, a label for my favorite crackers is below. They have 9 ingredients, but they are all whole foods and herbs!


3.  Sodium Content – After identifying that you can pronounce every ingredient in the product and it has minimal ingredients, then consider the sodium content. Ideally a product will have a 1:1 ratio of calories to milligrams of sodium. If it has 100 calories per serving, it’s best to select a product with 100mg of sodium or less.  This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but an important general guideline.

4.  Serving Size – Always be aware of the serving size of a product. You’ve worked hard to identify that it’s a nutrient-rich product and the bag may not look that big, however a serving size may be ¼ cup and the bag contains 16 servings. Without being aware of serving size you could easily consume 8 servings in one sitting. Keep in mind that the company selects the serving for their product. The serving size represented on the package is not necessarily the “recommended” or “best” amount.

I hope next time you’re buzzing through the grocery store you’ll feel more confident making choices as to what is most nourishing for you and your family!  If you live in the Raleigh area and are in need of further assistance implementing these tips and more my Clean Sweep Kitchen Consult and Grocery Store Tour are excellent options for getting you fully prepared for success!

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