Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Feel it in your bones

Diet is a key defence against osteoporosis -- and lucky for us, that diet includes cheese

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AN email arrived on my desk a few weeks ago from the Manitoba chapter of Osteoporosis Canada. They’re holding their annual fundraiser (details on C4) and they sent me a package of information about this stealthy disease.

It's sneaky because the slow but steady loss of bone mass occurs silently, without warning until the day when someone suddenly suffers a fracture.

And it doesn't have to be the dramatic accident most of us imagine, like a bad slip and fall on the ice that results in a smashed hip.

It can be caused from something as mundane as picking up a bag of groceries.

Education is the first line of defence, so I'm including some basic facts that everyone should know. Knowledge must be accompanied by good food habits, and that starts in your kitchen, so you'll also find some very basic nutritional information (which applies to everyone, young and old). Excellent news: cheese is key in this week's recipes!

The 411 from Osteoporosis Canada

-- Osteoporosis is not a normal part of aging and should be treated.

-- Almost two million Canadians are affected by osteoporosis. One in four women and at least one in eight men over the age of 50 have the disease. Numbers will increase as baby boomers age.

-- At least 80 per cent of fractures in people over age 60 are related to osteoporosis.

-- A woman has a one-in-six lifetime risk of suffering a hip fracture.

-- The death rate for women with osteoporosis is greater than that of breast cancer and heart disease combined.

The Manitoba picture

-- Estimates suggest 113,000 Manitobans have the disease but only 25 per cent of those who have osteoporosis have been diagnosed.

-- In Manitoba, there were more than 1,100 hip fractures in 2005. As many as 23 per cent of patients who fracture a hip die within one year and 50 per cent of the remainder will lose their independence.

-- The economic and social costs are high -- treatment for a hip fracture runs between $27,000 and $50,000 just for hospital care alone. Additional costs come from home care, long-term care, medications and money spent on assisting devices.

-- The most common fractures occur in the vertebrae but remain under-reported and often undiagnosed. They often occur in people still active in the workforce.


Treatments to reduce, stop and even reverse bone loss are becoming more readily available.

Risk reduction and early diagnosis are the keys to controlling the devastating effects of this under-diagnosed and under-treated illness.

The food connection

The risk of osteoporosis can be minimized by good diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D, along with regular exercise. (Walking every single day is de rigueur!) That means seeking out a balanced diet and looking, in particular, for those foods that will give you the maximum calcium and vitamin D. If you are showing signs of osteoporosis, see your doctor for diagnosis and seek nutritional counselling as well. You can find more information at

One thing everyone can do is to make sure they are getting an adequate amount of calcium every day. According to Osteoporosis Canada, adults aged 19 to 50 years should be getting 1,000 mg per day. If you are over 50, that goes up to 1,200 mg per day. Kids 4 to 8 need 800 mg and those 9 to 18 years old need 1,300. Expectant and nursing moms need 1,000 mg.

It is also important to consume foods with calcium that is easily absorbed, such as dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt. Skim milk products provide as much calcium as whole milk with less fat and cholesterol. You can use soy beverages and orange juices, but the labels must state that they are fortified with calcium. Read the labels carefully to determine how much calcium will be in a serving.

Vegetables also provide calcium, as do fish products containing bones (canned salmon and sardines) and meat alternatives such as lentils and beans. And if you have difficulty consuming dairy products or just want more information, including detailed charts, just go to the website above.

A great night out

You can have a night on the town and help raise funds to spread the word.

The Manitoba chapter of Osteoporosis Canada is pleased to announce its sixth annual fundraising Cheese & Wine Event presented by The Winehouse and Bothwell Cheese. This event, hosted by Jim Ingebrigtsen from Great Tastes of Manitoba takes place March 3 at 6:30 p.m. (reception) at the St. Boniface Golf Club, 100 Youville St.

Tickets are $75 and a tax receipt will be issued for $25. To purchase tickets phone the office at 772-3498 or email

Say Cheese

Fortunately, one good source of calcium is cheese, and I happily "take my medicine" when it comes in that form. One of the major event sponsors is Manitoba's own Bothwell Cheese, located about an hour south of Winnipeg in New Bothwell. These folks have kindly shared these three recipes with us. You can find more of these recipes on their website, The accompanying photos are also from Bothwell Cheese.


Bothwell Black Truffle Cheese Fondue

15 ml (1 tbsp) butter

30 ml (2 tbsp) shallots, finely chopped

125 ml (1/2 cup) white wine

125 ml (1/2 cup) whipping cream

15 ml (1 tbsp) cornstarch

625 ml (2 1/2 cups) shredded Bothwell black truffle cheese

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over gentle heat. Cook shallots until soft. Add wine and reduce by half. Add whipping cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Mix shredded cheese with cornstarch and add, stirring constantly until all the cheese is melted. Hold over low heat in a double boiler/fondue pot. Be careful not to boil the fondue once the cheese is added. Yield: 12 servings.

Source: Chef Jason Wortzman.


Tortilla Salad with Bothwell Horseradish Cheddar & Beef

1 lb (500 grams) ground beef

30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil

1/4 Spanish onion, finely chopped

5 ml (1 tsp) garlic, finely chopped

2 ml (1/2 tsp) paprika

1 ml (1/4 tsp) ground cumin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 head iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced

2 medium tomatoes, cut in wedges

125 ml (1/2 cup) Bothwell horseradish cheddar, shredded

6 crispy tortilla bowls

Sour cream, salsa, and chopped green onion for garnish

Sauté the beef, onions and garlic together in olive oil until beef is fully cooked. Drain off extra oil, add paprika, cumin and salt and pepper, cook for an additional 5 minutes and then set aside. Place the lettuce in the tortilla bowls, then add the beef. Place the tomato wedges around the beef and garnish with green onion. Serve with sour cream and salsa. Yield: 6 servings.

Source: Jason Gower, executive chef, The Delta Winnipeg


Baked Penne Pasta Primavera with Mozzarella

500 ml (2 cups) dried penne pasta

30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil

625 ml (2 1/2 cups) Italian mild or spicy sausage, sliced

1 bunch green onion, diced

1 medium zucchini, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 yellow pepper, diced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

750 ml (3 cups) Italian tomato sauce

Salt and pepper

500 ml (2 cups) Bothwell mozzarella shredded cheese blend

Preheat oven to 190 C (375 F). Cook pasta in plenty of boiling salted water, drain and reserve. At the same time heat a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan to medium-high and cook sausage, onion, peppers, zucchini and garlic until lightly browned. Remove from heat, add tomato sauce and then stir in pasta. Mix in 250 ml (1 cup) of shredded cheese and pour into a greased 4 l (10x12") baking dish. Cover with remaining cheese, season with salt and pepper to taste and then bake for 15 minutes. Serve hot. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 23, 2011 C1


Updated on Friday, February 25, 2011 at 12:08 PM CST: Added 1 lb (500 grams) ground beef.

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