Smorgasbord Health Column – Cook from Scratch to prevent nutritional deficiencies with Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – Calcium the most abundant mineral in the body

Welcome to the rewind of this series from 2019 where we look at cooking and your diet from a different perspective. Usually we emphasize the health benefits of food and how they can be incorporated into your diet. But, what happens if you do NOT include them in your diet.

We wanted to share with you what happens if your body is deprived of individual nutrients over an extended period of time.

In this series we look at cooking and your diet from a different perspective. Usually we emphasize the health benefits of food and how they can be incorporated into your diet. But, what happens if you do NOT include them in your diet.

Thankfully most of us eat reasonably well, with plenty of variety, but if you take a look at a week’s worth of meals, do you find that you are sticking to a handful of foods, all the time.

Variety is key to good health, to provide your body with as broad a spectrum of nutrients as possible that the body needs. Taking a supplement or relying on shakes and bars to provide your daily allowance of vitamins and nutrients is not in your body’s best interest. Giving it foods that the body can process and extract everything it needs is vital.

Over the next few months we are going to be working our way through the most essential of these nutrients and I will share the symptoms that you might experience if you are becoming deficient in the vitamin or mineral and list the foods where you can find the nutrient.

Carol Taylor is then going to provide you with some wonderful recipes that make best use of these foods… Cooked from Scratch.

Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the body

Calcium is the most abundant and essential mineral in the body. There are about two or three pounds of calcium, which is mainly found in the teeth and the bones. Apart from the more obvious role in their formation it is also essential for the efficient functioning of many essential systems in the body.

There is also some evidence to suggest that women cannot absorb calcium prior to menstruating and that there may be an accumulative deficiency that contributes to PMS and menopause symptoms and also degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis. Certainly women who take in additional calcium have reported a reduction in those symptoms.

Our bones are not static and are constantly being broken down and formed. They are a living tissue made primarily from collagen which forms the framework whilst the calcium hardens the structure. After 40 years old more of the bone is broken down and less is manufactured; which is why it is important to make sure that you are consuming the right balance of dietary calcium to prevent osteoporosis. Other vitamins such as D and K and minerals are involved in the structure of bone and those have been covered in The skeleton, Bone health Vitamins D and K

There are a surprising number of symptoms associated with a deficiency in calcium and here are the key ones to look out for:

  • Frequent feeling of dizziness leading to fainting
  • Chest pains (can lead to heart failure)
  • Numbness or tingling in fingers and toes
  • Frequent muscle cramps in legs particularly.
  • Difficulty swallowing,
  • Shortness of breath and wheezing
  • Fatigue
  • Very dry skin
  • Consistent tooth decay
  • Eye problems leading to cataracts
  • Muscle weakness
  • Reduced bone density (osteoporosis)

Word of warning about supplementation

If you are at risk from kidney stones you need to be careful about taking in calcium supplements and this also applies when taking in additional dietary calcium in the form of dairy products if you are suffering from prostate cancer. One of the reasons for this is that excess calcium depletes the body of Vitamin D, which is essential for our immune systems and may also protect against prostate cancer.

If you are supplementing choose a formula that includes Calcium and Vitamin D to aid absorption. As it is rare for a complete deficiency of calcium in our western culture it is important to ask the advice of a qualified sales person in the health store or the pharmacist. Keep a food diary for a week and take with you so that they can see what you are currently consuming.

Calcium is one of the nutrients that works more efficiently in conjunction with others including Magnesium for better absorption.

The best dietary sources of calcium are through eating moderate amounts of dairy products such as milk, cheese and butter. If you find that cow’s milk does not agree with you then try goat’s milk products from time to time as the different antibody does not usually cause an intolerance.

Eat fish such as sardines and canned salmon with the bones, green leafy vegetables such as spinach, watercress (more calcium than milk) and soy products such as tofu.You will also find good amounts in dried apricots, figs, kiwi fruit and oranges.

Time to hand you over to Carol Taylor who has been creating dishes that include ingredients that are great sources of Calcium.

Today marks the start of the next Cook from scratch to avoid deficiency of minerals in the body we begin with – Calcium…the most abundant and essential mineral in the body.

I am happy to be working with Sally on this…she is the expert on everything to do with Calcium… I have great fun researching and trying out the recipes on my ever happy band of guinea pigs…haha…They are my harshest critics trust me…They do not consider my feelings what so ever if it is not good I get told… I also get suggestions on how I can improve the said recipe…But that is good…I like that as that is the only way to get a better dish…I trust their judgement as they know food and always…well, nearly… offer what I consider good alternatives or additions to a dish…My role was to teach them and I consider it a job well done…

This first dish is a pasta one as although pasta is not a particular favourite with me… I prefer rice…My taste testers love pasta dishes and I know many of you do…

Pasta with spinach pesto and sardines…


• ½ lb spaghetti…I used bows
• 15 cherry tomatoes
• 2 tbsp capers
• ½ cup pesto (see below)
• 1 can pacific caught wild sardines in olive oil…
• Fresh ground black pepper to taste
• Parmesan or crumbled feta for topping.
• Pesto
• 4 cloves garlic
• Zest and juice from 1 lemon
• 4 cups greens (I used 3 cups spinach and 1 cup basil)
• ½ cup walnuts or almonds
• 1 cup grated parmesan
• 1 tsp salt
• ¾ cup olive oil

Let’s Cook

  1. Using the back of your knife crush the garlic…The peel should come right off.
  2. Add all ingredients except olive oil and cheese in your food processor. Puree while drizzling olive oil in. The consistency should be slightly chunky, but the garlic shouldn’t be in large pieces.
  3. Once you get that right consistency, add the Parmesan and pulse until combined.
  4. Reserve ½ cup pesto for the pasta and freeze remaining or store in the fridge if you plan on using it within a week on say eggs, pizza or salmon…Salmon and pesto is one of my favourites and so quick to do…
  5. The next step is to cook the Pasta, bring large pot of water to boil with about 1 tsp of salt.
  6. While waiting for the water to come to the boil…slice tomatoes in half lengthwise. Slice extra if you ate some like I did….Cooks perks…haha…either that or my smallest tester is pinching one or two as I slice…
  7. Add pasta to boiling water and stir so it doesn’t stick. Cover pot and bring water back to a boil then remove the lid.
  8. Cook pasta until al dente, about 5-7 minutes. It should still have a little bite to it since it will cook more with the pesto. Before draining, reserve 1 cup of pasta water. The starchy pasta water along with the pesto will create a nice saucy coating on the spaghetti.
  9. Drain pasta, but do not rinse. Rinsing cools the pasta and prevents it from absorbing the sauce.
  10. Return the pot to a medium heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil.
  11. Add sardines and break up with spoon or tongs.
  12. Add about half of the pesto and then add the pasta. Stir until coated and drizzle in ¼ cup of the cooking water.
  13. Add the remaining pesto and drizzle in ¼ cup more water. Toss until well coated and pesto and water have created a sauce. If needed, add more pasta water.
  14. Toss in tomatoes and capers right before serving. Serve with parmesan cheese or crumbled feta which I did…


My second dish is a dish which I have been craving for a long time and just never got around to making it…When I got to thinking about foods which contain Calcium like milk, cheese and butter…I got to thinking about rice pudding again…I love a baked rice budding with nutmeg which is how my mum always made it…The skin we would fight over as we all wanted the lions share…haha…

I am also very lucky to be able to get fresh goats milk so Rice Pudding it is with just a few tweaks…

Rice Pudding, Rice, Cute, Sweet Dish, Dessert, Yummy

Baked Rice Pudding…


• 750 ml of goats milk
• 100 gm pudding rice
• 75 gm sugar
• 25 gm grass fed butter
• Grated Orange zest..reserve some for decoration
• Grated nutmeg

Let’s Bake…

First wash and drain the rice then grease a 1.5 litre oven proof dish with all the butter.

Stir together the rice, milk, sugar and orange zest leaving some for decoration when serving.

Pour the mixture into your greased oven proof dish and sprinkle the top with the grated nutmeg and just smell that aroma it is one of the best smells I adore nutmeg…

Bake the pudding at 150C/ Gas mk 2 for approx 2 hrs depending on your oven. Stir the pudding gently after about 20 minutes then cook until the rice is thick and creamy and the top golden brown.

My thanks to Carol for these two recipes that will bring calcium into your diet and for reminding me about homemade rice pudding… on the list.

Next time.. we turn our attention to another of the essential minerals in our diet.. I hope you will join us.

About your hosts…

About Sally Cronin

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-four years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain.

Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology: Amazon US

Connect to Carol – Blog: Carol Cooks 2 – Twitter: @CarolCooksTwo – Facebook: Carol Taylor


44 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Health Column – Cook from Scratch to prevent nutritional deficiencies with Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – Calcium the most abundant mineral in the body

  1. I could go for that pasta dish if I can skip the sardines. I’ve never been able to make my rice pudding creamy, no matter what recipe I use. There must be a trick to it that I’m just not getting.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’m wondering about my calcium intake now after seeing that list of possible symptoms. I swapped cow’s milk for fortified soya a little while ago but I do like cheese and fruit. It’s chilly here and that rice pudding has me drooling. We might be having it tonight! Many thanks to both of you. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t eat much pasta, but I recently found a pasta at Sprouts that’s made from Chicpeas and Tumeric and I really like it. I could adapt it to this recipe, minus the sardines. I can’t quite stomach those little fishies. The rice pudding looks like a winner!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yum on the rice pudding recipe and the past, just have to omit the sardines, lol. I did however just eat my dose of spinach so that counts! 🙂 Thanks for all the great info Sally and Carol. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rice pudding is one of my favorite desserts and I, too, will try the Arborio rice tip. Great post Sally and Carol. Thanks for the good advice. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – April 25th – May 1st 2022 – Ella Fitzgerald, Chart hits 1993, St. Kitts, Calcium, Poetry, Book Reviews, Guest Posts, Health and Humour | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  7. I’ve never liked milk very much, although I do eat some cheese and yogurt, but recently I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t tolerate yogurt that well, so I am looking for other alternatives. Thanks for the advice (and I know beans and seeds are quite good as well).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have felt the same way over the last year or so and have rarely.. I find that the really hard cheese such as parmesan in moderation are okay but Pizza etc does not sit well. I have started using lactose free milk and seem to tolerate that better.. I know the digestive system does change as we get older and I am seeing other areas that confirm this too.. xx


Comments are closed.