According to Mayo Clinic, spending 10 minutes per day in mid-day sun goes a long way toward providing our bodies with the proper amount of vitamin D. But what about those cold, low-light winter days that northern Minnesota is known for? During winter, the earth’s position in orbit means we don’t get the intense sun we enjoy in the summer months. It also means the UV level is lower, which, among other things, results in less vitamin D absorption when we spend time outdoors. The recommended daily amount of vitamin D is 200-400 IU/day for infants up to age one, 600 IU/day for everyone age one to 70, and 800 IU/day for adults 71 and older. During the winter months, we need to look towards supplementation and our diets to get the recommended daily amount.
Eating a diet rich in Vitamin D is another key way to ensure you’re getting enough of this important nutrient. Foods such as salmon, sardines, milk, eggs and fortified dairy products like cheese and yogurt are all great dietary sources of vitamin D. And while one doesn’t need much of an ulterior reason to enjoy fresh caught Lake Superior salmon, foods such as canned sardines may be a little more difficult to introduce into your diet. Mary Zbaracki, registered dietician at the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, comes to the rescue with a great salad recipe that includes this mysterious, salt-packed fish. She recommends choosing sardines with skin and bones (which are edible) as they have more than four times the amount of calcium.
Focusing on foods high in vitamin D, paired with proper supplementation, will help get the body through the cold, dark days that are on Minnesota’s horizon.
By Amy Schmidt
Greek Salad with Sardines EatingWell Magazine, May/June 2010
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 medium tomatoes, cut into large chunks
1 large English cucumber, cut into large chunks
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons sliced Kalamata olives
2 4-ounce cans sardines with bones, packed in olive oil or water, drained
Whisk lemon juice, oil, garlic, oregano and pepper in a bowl. Add tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, feta, onion and olives. Divide among 4 plates and top with sardines.
Ham and Cheese Casserole
6 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
5 cups chopped spinach, wilted
4 cups whole grain bread, in 1-inch cubes
1 cup diced ham steak
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup chopped jarred roasted red peppers
3/4 cup shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 2-quart casserole with cooking spray.
Whisk eggs and milk in a bowl. Add mustard, rosemary and pepper. Toss spinach, bread, ham, and roasted red peppers in a large bowl. Add egg mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to the prepared dish and push down to compact. Cover with foil.
Bake until set, 40–45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese and bake until puffed and golden, 15-20 minutes more. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.