Table for one / Use milk to up calcium intake

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Milk tonjiru

The Yomiuri ShimbunMilk-based dishes

For elderly people living alone, a lack of appetite and an unbalanced diet can be a problem when it comes to maintaining healthy eating habits.

Through December, this column will feature nutritional advice on dietary components essential for the elderly, as well as recipes using foods containing these components with advice from cooking expert and nutritionist Chinami Hamauchi. The second installment is about calcium.

Calcium is used to build bones and teeth. If we do not get enough of it, bones tend to become brittle. This is particularly a problem among elderly people.

“Seniors should focus on preventing their bones from becoming any weaker, rather than on strengthening them,” Hamauchi said.

Hamauchi recommends getting calcium mainly from milk and other dairy products.

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Miso and cheese doria

Jako dried baby sardines, niboshi dried small sardines and other small fish, freeze-dried tofu, sakura-ebi shrimps, and some other foods are high in calcium, but it can be difficult for people who live alone to eat ingredients like these every day.

“It’s easy to habitually have milk and other dairy products. And they have a high absorption index,” she said.

Dairy products can become part of one’s daily life, such as by eating yogurt in the morning or having milk at 3 p.m.

Milk can also be used in cooking as a substitute for broth. It makes food rich, flavorful and smooth.

Hamauchi gave us a recipe for tonjiru, a kind of pork soup, made with milk.

She recommends making enough for three meals. “For people who live alone, dishes like this are a way to make a lot of food using multiple ingredients. It brings out the delicious flavor of the root vegetables,” she said.

You can store the soup in the refrigerator and heat it up when it’s time to eat.

Miso is added twice. The first time is to flavor the vegetables. The dish is then cooled so the ingredients absorb the flavor of the soup.

The second time miso is added is after the milk has been mixed in to adjust the soup’s flavor. Milk softens the flavor of miso, making the dish more gentle and easy to eat.

“Whenever you have leftover miso soup, you can add milk the next day for a different flavor,” Hamauchi said.

Leftover milk tonjiru can be turned into doria rice gratin. Just mix with rice, cover with cheese and bake it. Aromatic cheese goes well with miso to create a unique flavor.

The weather is getting colder and colder. “Making soup with milk provides calcium and warms the body. Find other ways of getting more calcium, like using milk when you make nabe,” Hamauchi added.

Recipes for milk-based dishes

Milk tonjiru

1. Peel 150 grams of daikon radish, ½ carrot and ¼ burdock root, then cut up into bite-sized pieces. Soak the burdock root in water, then drain to remove the bitterness. Peel and cut up 100 grams of taro. Slice 100 grams of pork ribs and half a piece of konnyaku (100 grams) into bite-sized pieces about 5 millimeters thick.

2. Heat a pot and fry the pork and konnyaku until they brown, then add the other ingredients.

3. Add two cups of water and bring to a boil, then remove the bitter froth. Cover and simmer until everything is thoroughly cooked.

4. Dissolve 3 tablespoons of miso in the soup, simmer, then turn off the burner and wait until the dish cools.

5. Reheat the dish, adding two cups of milk and 1½ tablespoons of miso to taste. Ladle into a bowl and flavor with shichimi-togarashi seven-spice mix.

Miso and cheese doria

1. Put 1 cup (200cc) of milk tonjiru soup and 100 grams of solid ingredients into a pot, add 150 grams of rice, and place over medium heat until the mixture thickens.

2. Pour (1) into a baking dish, cover with 20 grams of shredded cheese, and bake in a toaster oven until the surface browns.

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