Green Super Smoothie

Green Super Smoothie

Happy New Year! Here’s to another year of happiness and continuing the health journey! I have an abundance of goals and ambitions for 2015 and the top of my list is focusing on my health. This means more greens and less sugar. Even those sneaky sugars in fruit and my ultimate weakness, raisins. Dried fruit is candy in disguise. Don’t let it fool you.

An easy way to get in more greens is by adding a handful of spinach to a smoothie. I choose smoothies over juice. Juicing removes all the good stuff and you miss out on the whole food benefits. Why waste all the pulpy goodness? I like to keep my smoothies simple with just a few ingredients. This version is a true green smoothie with no filler fruit. You can play around with different combinations using coconut milk, avocado and lime as a base.

Think of smoothies as a side dish, not a complete meal. It’s important to eat protein at each meal to keep you satiated enough throughout the day. So eat an egg, some sardines or liver to make this a breakfast. Spinach is full of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and folate. Although, our bodies can only absorb about 5% of the calcium in spinach. It has a high oxalate content and this binds to calcium making it unavailable for our bodies to use. Include a source of protein rich in vitamin D to help synthesize the calcium.

Green Super Smoothie
Green Super Smoothie
Makes 1 serving.

½ cup coconut milk
½ avocado
½ cup water
1 ½ tbsp fresh lime juice
1 cup raw spinach – packed down tightly

►Add all ingredients to your blender except the spinach. Blend until fully incorporated.
►When measuring the spinach, really pack it down to maximize the amount. Add into blender and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Green Super Smoothie

Resources:

Calcium and Vitamin D: Important at Every Age, http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Bone_Health/Nutrition/

What are the health benefits of spinach?, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270609.php

Finding Calm in Magnesium

 

“It’s the most, wonderful time of the year!” Christmas songs will be ringing through my ears from now until New Years Day. They bring me a big, fat bowl of J-O-Y. Yet, I also lean on these tunes for emotional support and to help guide my mood. Type A during the holidays means creating dozens of DIY decorations, entertaining multiple times throughout the month, cooking exceptional meals, selecting the perfect presents and baking holiday treats for everyone I know. That’s quite the exhaustive list! So the songs tell me to be merry while I accomplish each item.

Merry for 30 days straight isn’t realistic. Relaxation must squeeze into the schedule if I want to make it through a sane person. Magnesium may be just the thing to help.

Epsom Salt
Magnesium Deficiency & Anxiety

Multiple studies have found a direct correlation between anxiety and magnesium deficiency. A higher dietary magnesium intake reduces stress levels and decreases chances of depression.  Over 6 million Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder, and those are just diagnosed cases. As magnesium decreases in the body, anxiety increases. In a Norway study of 5,700 adults, those with low magnesium were at higher risk of depressive disorders. We all know our society breeds stress with our go-go-go lifestyles. The American diet is also a cause for the increasing stress levels.

Today’s popular diet of calcium rich foods, high amounts of sugar and alcohol are working against us. We’re told to take extra doses of calcium but we need magnesium if we want to absorb it. Our bodies retain calcium better than magnesium so it’s important to regularly replenish those supplies. When we consume large amounts of sugar and alcohol, magnesium is needed to flush it through our systems and then the magnesium is excreted through the urine. Calcium is stored throughout, while magnesium is used to break down the cake and wine you had with dinner. It’s too focused on removing the toxins from your body and doesn’t have anything left to perform it’s other jobs.


This list from Body Ecology shows the roles magnesium play in your health.

►Gives rigidity AND flexibility to your bones
►Increases bioavailability of calcium
►Regulates and normalizes blood pressure
►Prevents and reverses kidney stone formation
►Promotes restful sleep
►Helps prevent congestive heart failure
►Eases muscle cramps and spasms
►Lowers serum cholesterol levels and triglycerides
►Decreases insulin resistance
►Can prevent artherosclerosis and stroke
►End cluster and migraine headaches
►Enhances circulation
►Relieves fibromyalgia and chronic pain
►Treats asthma and emphysema
►Helps make proteins
►Encourages proper elimination
►Prevents osteoporosis


Where to find extra Magnesium

►Foods – Dark leafy greens, chard, spinach and seaweed contain high amounts.

►Epsom Salt Bath – Add 2 cups of epsom salts to your bath and soak for at least 12 minutes up to three times per week. This will also help relieve sore muscles.

Topical Magnesium Oil – Apply this before bed for a restful night’s sleep. Or you can make this nourishing Body Butter recipe from DigPrimal. 

►Magnesium supplements can be tricky for anyone with a compromised digestive system so I’m sticking with the real food and topical treatments for now.

I feel better when I put a stress relief system in place. My pre-holiday gift to myself is a stocked supply of epsom salts and magnesium oil. Goodbye anxiety.


Resources:

Low dietary intake of magnesium is associated with increased externalising behaviours in adolescents., http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25373528

Magnesium deficiency and anxiety-depressive syndrome in elderly patients with chronic heart failure.,  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23289218

Nutrition status of primary care patients with depression and anxiety., http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22551840

Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review., http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20929532

Association between magnesium intake and depression and anxiety in community-dwelling adults: the Hordaland Health Study., http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19085527

Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms & Solutions: What You Need to Know About This Widespread but Woefully Underreported Health Issue, http://bodyecology.com/articles/magnesium_deficiency.php#.VH4k7GTF_xh

Magnesium, http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/magnesium

Magnesium, NOT Calcium, Is The Key To Healthy Bones, http://thepaleomama.com/2014/02/magnesium-calcium-key-healthy-bones/

Bone Broth: Why & How To

Bone Broth

It’s getting back to the philosophy of using the whole animal. No part is wasted. Making broth from bones is steeped in as much tradition as it is in nutrition. Broth serves as the base for key cultural dishes the world over, from French Onion Soup to Shoyu Ramen.

My only memory of any sort of broth making was with the turkey carcasses post Thanksgiving. My grandmother is of the farming generation that lived on the land and knew the importance of using every animal part. She would simmer the carcass until the house filled with its comforting aroma. The turkey stock lasted for several months turning into various soups and stews. Thanksgiving kept on giving through the winter.

Broth can transform the most bland of meals into something rich and rounded. I use it in soups, stews, chili, sauces and to cook any vegetable. The nourishing properties of the broth are quickly absorbed. Add it to a big pot of turnip greens and you’ll never cook with water again.

BENEFITS 
According to the Weston A Price Foundation, the benefits may even outweigh the flavor. Bone broth has a list of essential minerals including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. It is also rich in glycine and proline, which are amino acids that build strong cartilage and bones. When the collagen attached to the bone breaks down into the water, it creates a natural gelatin. This gelatin acts as an aid to digestion, can reduce inflammation and improves irritable bowels.

Bone Broth

INGREDIENTS  
Broth is a simple, basic recipe. It only truly requires two ingredients, broth and water. Heating the two breaks down the bones and all their nourishing content. Apple cider vinegar is added to help draw out more of the minerals, specifically calcium, magnesium and potassium. It is definitely not necessary though. You can still have delicious, beneficial broth without acid added.

Use bones that have a lot of cartilage. Knuckle, neck and feet work well. If you’re intimidated, just ask your butcher for their recommendation. The right bones will produce the best results. When the broth has cooled in the fridge, it will form into a gelatin and jiggle like Jello.

HOW TO EAT IT
I scoop out a few tablespoons of the gelled broth into my favorite over-sized mug then add a cup of boiling water. Stir together and enjoy as I write in my journal each morning. I’ve even added broth to tea. It offers a comfort similar to snuggling under a cozy blanket by the fire. Writing that sentence, even sends a warm feeling to my heart. You can keep it for 5 days in refrigerator and after that it is best to freeze.

For a list of FAQs on Bone Broth, Whole 9 offers a fabulous explanation.

Bone Broth

2 lbs of bones (I used beef knuckle and marrow bones)
1 tbsp Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar
8 cups water

►Preheat oven to 350 degrees
►Place bones in a large cast iron pot and cook in oven for twenty minutes. This browns the bones so the broth has a richer flavor.
►Move pot to the stove top. Add in water and apple cider vinegar.
►Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 12 to 24 hours. As the water cooks down, add more water every six or so hours.
►As an alternative, you can cook the broth covered in an oven at 200 degrees. This works well overnight. Or if you really want to simplify it, use a crockpot.
►Pour into glass jars and refrigerate up to 5 days. Before use, skim off the fat on top and reserve it for cooking later.