It’s All In The Bones

Includes a calcium-rich recipe for Thai Curry

by Elizabeth Yarnell
elizabeth yarnellMy five-year old is obsessed with bones lately. He has assembled scale model skeletons, can name all the major joints, and yesterday announced that there are 206 bones in the human body. “Really?” I wondered. Perhaps we ought to give a little more thought to our bones.
Our bones build up during our youth and then begin breaking down as early as our twenties. They are helped along by soda pop (phosphorus leaches minerals from bones), pregnancy and nursing (your body will steal missing nutrients from your bones to give to the baby), sedentary lifestyles and poor nutrition. Both men and women can suffer from poor bone density.
Luckily, you can continually help your bones regain lost mass. Weight-bearing exercises can help a lot, but you also need to practice good nutrition. Everyone knows that calcium is essential for building bones, but without vitamin D calcium is useless. The best source of vitamin D is one that is free: sunlight. Even just a few minutes outside each day can make a difference.
While dairy foods can be a good source of calcium, they are not the only ones. Tofu and other soy products, nuts and beans are all high in calcium. Sesame seeds and products such as sesame paste (tahini), often used in middle eastern dishes, have almost five times the amount of calcium as milk products. Greens such as kale, arugula and seaweed all have significant amounts of calcium as well.
Here’s a recipe to try that has made many a convert out of non-tofu eaters. It’s seductively spicy and creamy with an addictive blend of flavors. Happy cooking!
Hot & Spicy Thai Curry with Tofu and Rice        
Serves 2
1 cup white rice
6-8 oz. tofu, extra firm
1/2 medium zucchini, cut into 1" sticks 1/2" wide
8 oz. can bamboo shoots, drained and rinsed
1/2 red bell pepper, cut in 1" sticks
1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut in 1" sticks
14 oz can coconut milk, regular or light
1 Tbsp. Thai curry paste
1 1/2 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce (can substitute soy sauce)
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. lime juice
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray inside of 2-quart cast iron Dutch oven and lid with canola oil. Rinse rice in strainer under cold water until water runs clear. Place into pot and smooth into an even layer. Do not add water to the pot. Drain tofu and place on bed of paper towels. Cover with folded paper towels and press firmly to squeeze as much liquid out as possible. Cut into 1" cubes and place on top of rice. Top with layers of zucchini, bamboo shoots and bell peppers.
In a separate bowl, whisk coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, sugar, paprika and lime juice. Be aware that coconut milk separates into liquid and solids when stored; be sure to use all the contents of the can. Whisk until all ingredients are dissolved. Pour mixture over top. Cover and bake for 45 minutes or until rice is tender. You'll smell the full-bodied aroma wafting from the oven when it is ready—3 minutes after first whiff.
My cousin Julie learned this recipe when her sister, Abi, worked in Thailand. Julie throws in whatever vegetables she happens to have on hand and the results are always yummy.
Notice that this recipe does not call for water to hydrate the rice. The coconut milk provides enough liquid to cook the rice and make a wonderful curry sauce that oozes with flavor.
Thai curry paste comes in yellow, red, and green—any of which work beautifully in this dish. Try the Mae Ploy brand found at Asian markets. Use more or less as your taste buds demand; what is presented here is mild to medium heat.
Dead set against tofu? Consider substituting1/2-3/4 lb. raw, cleaned shrimp or scallops, chicken breasts or fish fillets in place of the tofu.
It doesn't seem to make any difference if you use regular coconut milk or reduced fat.
To make this for 4 people, simply double the recipe, use a 3 1/2- or 4-quart Dutch oven, and bake for 53 minutes.
one pot mealsAbout the Author:
Elizabeth Yarnell (  is a Certified Nutritional Consultant, inventor and author of the award-winning Glorious One-Pot Meals: A new quick & healthy approach to Dutch oven cooking. The Glorious One-Pot Meals cooking process holds US patent number 6,846,504. Hundreds of students in her cooking classes have tasted and loved this recipe! Find more healthy eating tips from Elizabeth at