Running HITT with Pokémon Go

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It will not be the first time it has been said that I am in touch with my inner adolescent. This week, my teen and her friends introduced me to Pokémon Go. I have dim memories of Pokémon cards littering the floor and getting stuck in couch cushions from her siblings. I thought I had this. Wrong! This is MUCH better.
Never one for card games, this appeals to my ‘movement with a purpose’ motto. Although the lack of game directions is particularly vexing to my brain, I figured it was an opportunity to lean on my intuitive side. For anyone who has not yet started to play, I recommend checking out some basic tutorials like you can find here, and here online, to help you get the most out of early game decisions.

Catching the Pokémon in my yard was easy and fun but what to do with this game? I had a scheduled interval run planned and a HITT (high intensity interval training) session to complete for the day.

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My mom multi-tasking mode engaged and I started  Map My Run and Pokémon Go simultaneously. One of my teen friends told me it was ‘cheating’ to run and play Pokémon. To that I say, haters gonna hate dude- you should start running. Here’s what happened.

About 10 mins. into the run, I started getting vibrations of nearby Pokémon. Hunting down the first 1 or 2 was quick- they were standing on the roadside. After having to stop to catch them I did a few burpees, high knee jumps or push ups off my HITT program then sprinted to keep my run times in line. I would just start to tire when another Pokémon would magically appear! A few times, a Pokémon would require me to deviate from my planned route into a neighborhood. Running up to a house where there was an Oddish in the front yard, I hesitated. Do I ring the doorbell and try to explain my urgent need to stand in their yard with my smart phone??  While deliberations circled my brain and my heart rate fell, I heard a man clear his throat. The next door neighbor was sipping his coffee with a bemused look on his face. “Pokémon in the yard right?” he queried. Mutely I nodded. He took a long drag of his coffee then said, “Owner says it’s ok. Go on in. I sit out here every morning now just to see who comes by. You’re a bit older than most”. I thanked Captain Obvious, shrugged and grinned as I caught my prey. In 4 miles I caught a ton of Pokémon. I ran the prescribed  intervals, did my HITT training, met some cool people and laughed out loud during my run like I haven’t since I tried the Zombies, Run! app.

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Adults who run (or walk) errands cover a lot of ground and find themselves in many a parking lot full of targets. This advantage deserves respect. Just saying- the Silo by Walmart, the library and the mall are great spots for Go fans:) I plan to make my to-do list a bit more entertaining and my runs laugh-out-loud fun for awhile.  This may require upping my data plan 🙁 I’m thinking  team Mystic… How about you?

Primal Chocolate

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There are days where chocolate IS medicinal. If you have felt it, you know what I mean. Problem is, most of the chocolate on the market is harmful junk. Typical candy is filled with sugars, waxes and worse. This Easter, I had sticker shock when our whole foods market was selling a 3 inch square of quality chocolate bark candy made with sugar and coconut flakes for $7.00. Even at that price, they were almost sold out. That is a sad situation. The recipe that follows is my answer. It is sugar, dairy, egg and gluten free. Nuts are optional. Not overly sweet, deeply satisfying, easy to make, it comes in at $5.50 per 9×12 inch rectangle.

Instead of sugar, this recipe relies on Xylitol and Stevia. Both are suitable for diabetics, do not seem to harm your gut microbiome (in fact the Xylitol skews the gut bacteria toward the good gram + organisms) and is fine for those battling Candida. Xylitol is good for your teeth! The bacteria in your mouth take it in as a sugar but cannot metabolize it and stop growing. Research has shown a 40% decrease in ear infections among children eating 8.4 grams of Xylitol spread throughout the day. A scant bit of salt enhances the sweet sensation to your tongue. Xylitol and chocolate are both poisons to dogs. Do not share with Fido! For those with a sweet tooth, you may want to increase the Xylitol and Stevia amounts. If sugar is not an issue for you, you can always use it or palm sugar instead. Substitute only solid or granular sweeteners or the chocolate will be too soft to cut.

The key ingredient is the Pascha 100% cacao allergen free unsweetened dark chocolate chips. Their only ingredient is 100% organic cacao mass. Pascha makes many percentages of cacao chips. Make sure you get these if you want sugar/dairy free.

I am hooked on my Wilton Chocolate Pro Pot for melting chocolate even though I take a tough stance on uni-tasking equipment in the kitchen.

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It perfectly melts a whole bag of chips in 10 minutes and beats the heck out of the microwave or double boiler. Originally I bought one at my local craft store with a half off Sunday newspaper coupon so my Girl Scout troop could make holiday candy. Since then, I have used this little pot for melting oils and icings, as well as chocolate and it is idiot proof.

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Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Primal Chocolate Candy

1 8.8 Oz bag of Pascha Organic Unsweetened Dark Chocolate Baking Chips

2 tsp. organic unrefined coconut oil

3 tsp. xylitol

1 tsp. powdered stevia

1-2 pinches of sea salt (you may also sprinkle the salt over the still soft chocolate after it’s on the parchment)

This is the base of the recipe. Into the chocolate melting pot or double boiler, place the chips, oil, salt, xylitol and stevia. Stir until chips are melted and sweeteners/salt dissolved.IMG_3278

Tasty options :

Here is where personal preference and imagination can go wild. In the picture I have added ½ cup unsweetened coconut shreds and ¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds. IMG_3279

Other things I have tried and loved are unsweetened dried blueberries or other dried fruit, toasted nuts, coco nibs, rice puffs, crushed breakfast cereals or pretzels, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds. If you like your chocolate sweeter, increase the amounts of Stevia and Xylitol to taste.

Pour the melted chocolate out onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

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Spread the mixture out to form a rectangle. It should be about ¼ inch thick.

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Allow to come to room temperature and solidify before cutting into pieces.

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This made 30 1.5 to 2 inch squares. Store in the fridge to hide it from the kids. Leave it at room temperature if you want to share.

Can sticky tape make you happier?

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When I was little, mom told me not to make a bad face or it could get stuck that way. Turns out there may be several layers of truth to that adage.

Our emotions are intimately linked with our facial muscles. Just watch a young child when they are happy or sad. No matter the culture, facial movements for emotion are similar and they are linked to our emotional control center- the amygdala. Researchers  found that when the corrugator supercilli muscle (it draws your brows down and together to frown) was paralyzed by botox vs. saline injections in a double blind study, the subjects that could not frown reported feeling 47.1% less depressed than the salt water group who felt only 9.2% improved. Another study asked subjects to keep their faces neutral while looking at positive or negative images. Keeping a blank face seemed to blunt some of the emotional responses to the videos.

So where does the tape come in? I wanted to see if I would feel a difference in my mood by trying to become more aware of frowning and eliminate it, if possible. Botox is an expensive option so I set a reminder on my phone every 30 mins. to tell me to relax my face completely like we do in yoga and meditation. I was surprised to find how much relaxing I had to do. Try it right now and you’ll see what I mean. While I didn’t feel happier per say, the TMJ that makes my jaw hurt sometimes, did improve.

Then I saw an ad for Frownies– expensive bits of tape meant to reduce wrinkles by keeping your face still. Kid you not. It’s real and probably safer than household tape but sometimes one should live on the edge 🙂 I reached for the Scotch tape after finding paper medical tape fell off and duct tape was painful. Trust me- NO duct tape! New appreciation for the sisters who wax. This works best on clean, intact, dry skin and you can’t reposition it or it looses adhesion. Sensitive skinned types should test this out in a less conspicuous location before going to the middle of the face. A small, one inch, piece of tape right between the eyebrows (not over- remember the waxing shout out), will really make you aware of how your face moves during the day! I found out that my reading glasses needed to be refit since I was frowning anytime they moved down my nose. Without sunglasses, I frowned outdoors. After several days of experimentation, I would say I felt more relaxed and optimistic in frown restriction mode, but I count myself lucky to be a generally happy sort, so perhaps the difference was not as large as it was for depressed study subjects.

Is this just silly or do I have a point? When discussing this self experiment with my daughter, she shared the story of the man in the 1970’s who wrote that he was going to walk to the Golden Gate bridge and if anybody smiled at him he wouldn’t jump. No one did and he took his life. It’s never too late to smile more and frown less. Smiles ripple out from you to the world beyond. There is a small pile of win-wins in this world and this is one.

A word of warning- do not forget you have tape stuck on your face if you have to answer the doorbell. Sorry FedEx man. Yes- it was very funny. It certainly made him happier!

Performance smoothie

After giving a few demonstrations on smoothies, the topic always comes up, ‘what do you put in your smoothie?’. Since, ‘It’s complicated’ did not seem to satisfy, here’s the whole story:)

Before I show the ingredients, I want to state that I know it may seem fussy. What I put in my drink is what makes my body perform at it’s best. Since everyone’s biology is different, what works for me, may not for you. Some things to consider about my biology is that I eat a plant centered diet, cannot tolerate unfermented soy or milk, athletically train 5 days a week and I am seeking high states of mental clarity, physical energy, rapid recovery, maximal immune system function and a low state of inflammation. I am frequently adding things to test them (this month it is wild maquis powder) and use metrics such as my heart rate variability (HRV), sleep data, workout stats, Luminosity scores and subjective data from my exercise log to determine if an ingredient stays or goes. So, now you know the goals, here is what I drink at least 5 days a week:

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Into a high speed blender or (if making ahead) a freezer safe container, place the following:

2 scoops Paradise Orac-Energy Protein and Greens

½ tsp. Moringa powder

½ tsp. wild maqui powder

1 tsp. organic matcha powder

1 tsp. maca powder

1 tsp. L-glutamine powder

1 tablespoon hemp-pro 70

½ tsp. creatine

1 scoop GNC Puredge Complete aminos powder

1 tablespoon ground flax seed (not in picture)

1 tsp. chia seeds (also not in pic)

a few sprigs of either parsley or cilantro

¼ of a peeled organic beet

½ frozen banana

1-2 inch hunk of peeled ginger

½ cup slice of frozen pinapple

¼ frozen organic lemon with peel intact

small handful of wheat grass

1 cup frozen mixed berries

2 cups organic spinach

Enough filtered water or coconut water to come about an inch shy of  where the ingredients level out.

Cover and blend for about 30-60 seconds, until no identifiable bits remain. If your blender has a plunger, using it will speed the process.

Put all of the items in the blender with the powders first, the frozen fruit next, the leaves/grass on top then the water or coconut water. Powders first helps to keep the dry ingredients in your drink.

This makes 2 large tumblers for me. I drink 1 tumbler 1-2 hrs. before a workout and the other immediately after.

To make this compatible with a busy schedule, I make the 5 zip-lock bags for the week all at once on Sunday night and freeze them.

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Doing them all together takes about 20 mins. When a health shake is needed, just pull out a bag, dump in the blender, fill with water and blend. Whole thing takes less than a 2 minutes including clean up.

Some notes on the ingredients. Paradise Protein & Greens is simply the best protein powder I have found. It is not creamy and sweet like a whey powder but how it makes you feel is amazing. Smooth onset of energy that lasts for hours with 20 grams of plant based protein for a satisfying fullness. Check out the ingredient panel! Fruits, vegetables, mushroom extracts, adaptogens, probiotics, alkalizing green blend, aquatic superfood and fiber. I contacted the company about heavy metals (such an issue with protein powders these days) and received this reply:
“Our proteins and greens does not contain rice so you can feel good about it , on the other hand every single batch is tested for heavy metals , the ppm allowed by the federal government are 10 ppm and California 5 ppm so our product test below 3 or 4 ppm
So we are below of California standards”

I have found my run times, on average, 1-2 mins. per mile faster with the shake than without. I am also more comfortable during intense exercise and warmer in cold weather. To get an answer as to why, I tested both my before and after shake levels of nitric oxide using the Berkeley saliva strips. Here’s what happened:

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So you can see, especially below where the strips are shown against the scale, that I register as depleted before and at the upper end of the target zone a little over 2 hrs. post ingestion.  Sometimes it’s hard to quantify why something you do makes you feel great but this is some of the answer. My HRV baseline on the Elite HRV app for the morning after I did not have a shake is 7-8 compared to 9 or 10 if I did have one (presuming I am not nursing a cold and slept well).  Clearly, the effects last more than a few hours. My delayed onset muscle soreness from resistance work is much better post shake than if I skip a day.

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The Maqui powder is there to act as an anti-oxidant, helps regulate blood sugar and turns the drink a lovely berry color. Sometimes you just get tired of people asking you, ‘what’s that green stuff you’re drinking?’ with that face. You know what I mean.

The ginger helps with immunity, the beet boosts nitric oxide levels and assists with circulation, the wheat grass, for lack of a more scientific way to put it, makes me feel alive. That being said, I don’t always put it in since it’s not always available at the store or ready to harvest at home.  Moringa stabilizes blood sugar and acts as an anti-inflamatory. Matcha powder is ground green tea giving a slight caffeine boost but without jitters due to the L-theonine calm energy and mood-boosting effect. Parsley and especially cilantro is a detoxifying element as it helps your body rid itself of heavy metals (my old amalgam fillings and I are in the process of parting company). Chia, hemp and flax seeds (once they are ground- store them in the freezer as the oils go rancid quickly) bring in healthy fats and protein while serving to thicken the smoothie. Most athletes are familiar with the muscle promoting properties of creatine and amino acids so I won’t belabor the point except to say that as we age we need to fight sarcoidosis (age related muscle loss) and resistance exercise and sufficient intake of amino acids are key. The fruits are there for taste of course but the banana for potassium and as a thickener, the berries as antioxidants and the pineapple for digestive enzymes. The lemon punches up the taste and acts as an alkalizer in your body which spares bone and may inhibit cancer. Spinach- let’s just say mother was right- it’s really good for you:)

This smoothie is packed with vitamins, protein and fiber and, I think, tastes great. Freezing the ginger, lemon, beets, herbs and even the wheat grass ahead of time makes assembly easy. I just cut the grass off where the green part meets the white near the base and freeze it in a baggie. The grass must be dry or it will not freeze well. My Vitamix blender makes quick work of this but if you are working with a regular blender, frozen items may need to be in smaller pieces and the blending time increased to achieve a good consistency.

You can’t find a smoothie of this quality in a store! Please try it, or at least the Orac-Energy protein and greens and let me know what you think:)

The new world of food- allergens, GMO and more, oh my

It is getting harder to do the shopping. Get one allergy, intolerance, or celiac guest for dinner and it gets complicated. What if you want to avoid GMOs, dyes or artificial sweeteners? I thought I would share some simple tricks to make sense of all the options.

There is much that could be said on the topic of GMOs. The scope of that debate is beyond this post, but what I want to share is a way to use your personal viewpoint to guide your shopping.

Produce items will have SPU stickers on them. If the code number shown starts with an 8 than it is a GMO food. If the number starts with a 9, it is not GMO. Here is an example:

Any other number or a zero mean that the consumer will not be able to tell as the food producer has elected not to share the information. Safe to say, those foods would be, ‘conventionally grown’ as the lingo goes. This means probably fertilized, sprayed with chemicals while growing and perhaps treated with fumigants, irradiation or chemicals to lengthen shelf life. The SPU code is a voluntary system but it’s a start.

For the rest of the market, check out the free App ipitt.

Best Vegan Pancakes

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Sunday is pancake day at our house and we are very picky. It has taken over a year of testing mixes and recipes to finally end up with one that consistently pleases. In my mind, and to my taste testing volunteers, this recipe tastes better than others even if you are not trying to go vegan. It does take a bit more thought and planning but the taste is worth the effort.

To make this more convenient, I make up 6 batches of this at a time in individual zip lock bags or mason jars that I store in the freezer. Pull out a baggie/jar, mix up the dry ingredients with a fork, add the oil and water and you’re ready to cook.

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Vegan Pancakes

1 cup sprouted grain flour (nuts.com has a good one here or One Degree organic foods or King Arthur )

¾ cup All Purpose organic flour

¼ cup organic yellow Masa Harina corn flour

¼ cup coconut flour

¼ cup buckwheat flour

4 tablespoons coconut sugar

6 tsp. aluminum free baking powder

1 very rounded tablespoon ground flax seed

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 rounded tablespoon lemon zest (from organic lemon if possible)

1 tsp. sea salt

2 ½ cups warm water

2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

(Optional) 1 cup fresh blueberries

Mix all the dry ingredients (and the blueberries if you go that route) together and make a well in the center of the bowl. Into the well, pour the melted coconut oil and warm water. Fold the wet into the dry being careful not to over mix the batter. Here is the consistency you are looking to achieve. Depending on humidity and the flours you are using, you may need slightly more or less water than specified in the recipe. I pour about 2 of the 2 ½ cups of water into the dry ingredients then mix gently to get a feel for it, then adjust as needed.

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Ladle onto a hot skillet (this is my ceramic skillet from Scanpan shown here) lightly greased with coconut oil spray and cook on one side until bubbly then flip and cook until the other side is lightly browned.

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Transfer to warm plate and serve.

In case you are wondering about some of the ingredients, here is the inside story. Sprouted wheat flour improves the digestibility and increases the amount of nutrients your body can get from the grain. It lowers the glycemic index of the wheat so that it doesn’t spike blood sugar the way regular flour does and has lowering effects on cholesterol. I find it needs to be mixed with some all purpose flour to get the right texture and air pockets.

Masa Harina is finely ground corn flour made from lime treated corn. Treating with lime turns the corn  into a digestible grain that is sweeter, softer and holds onto moisture better in baked items. Regular corn flour is not usually lime treated so check the label.

Coconut flour increases sweetness while adding additional protein in an easily digestible form. It does not give the final pancake a coconut taste according to my tasters in case you are concerned. Coconut sugar adds inulin, a pre-biotic fiber, that helps your good gut bacteria to thrive while having a lower glycemic index than regular sugar. The coconut oil must be melted and the water warm to mix well and stay a liquid in the recipe.

Buckwheat flour is gluten free and lends a hearty and full flavor to the cakes. All baking powder should be, but sadly is not,  aluminum free due to the link  between ingested aluminum and dementia. Check your pantry and make the switch if you need to.

Ground flax seeds (always store in the freezer or the oils go rancid), serve as a binder while contributing healthy omega 3 fatty acids from it’s alpha-linolenic acid , fiber and antioxidant lignans.

Cinnamon, besides being tasty, helps control blood sugar. Lemon zest sparks up the whole flavor of this recipe so please don’t leave it out. Zest organic lemons if you can since you will be eating whatever chemicals they put on the rind. It also helps the baking powder to bubble by adding some acid. I freeze zest in a zip lock or small shaker so it’s always ready to add. In a pinch you could use lemon juice but it does not have the same amazing aroma as the zest.

So there you have it, pancakes both as healthy and delicious as I can make them. Also good for dinner 🙂

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No Peel Easy Crock-Pot Applesauce

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A strange upside to the storms of last year was that our neighbor lost a tree that had been shading our apple trees. The result this year was a bumper crop of apples. It is SO hard to let anything you grow yourself go to waste! Faced with 20 lbs. of apples in a morning picking, some decisions had to be made. Applesauce won the vote:)

Apples are full of nutrition, but the best part is lost if you don’t use the peels. Apple peels have vitamins A and C as well as calcium, phosphorus, folate and iron. Two thirds of the apple’s fiber is found in the peel. Research you can hear more about here, shows that there are substances in the peel that fight breast and prostate cancer. Bottom line- leave the peels on and with the blended method below, you will get all the taste and benefits from the fruit.

I recall, not that fondly, humid hours spent peeling, coring, cutting and stirring apples over a large pot last time I made applesauce. It was an all day affair and we hadn’t even gotten to canning. Luckily, now there is the mass wisdom of the internet and I, like many others, have discovered the joy of crock-pot applesauce. No peeling or stirring and you can leave the house while it cooks. This method is easy, efficient and doesn’t heat up the kitchen as badly. If you have a glut of apple goodness this fall, you have to try this!

Crock-Pot Applesauce

Apple pieces enough to fill and mound up in the center of your pot

½ tsp cinnamon

1 ½ cups water

½ cup lemon juice

optionals: ½ cup sugar or ¼ cup agave or ¼ cup honey, lemon or orange zest (1-2 tablespoons according to taste). If the apples you use are sweet, you probably won’t need sugar.

Wash, core and cut apples into approximately 1-2 inch chunks. Pack them into your crock pot until they mound up nicely in the center.

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The pot lid rested on the top of the apples should leave a gap between the lid and the crock.

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This is important to let some of the steam out during cooking so the resultant sauce is not too liquid.

Pour the other ingredients over the apples and rest the lid on top of the mounded fruit. Set the cooker to low for about 5 hours or high for 2-3.  Cooking time will vary by cooker brand and density of apple.  This is not an exact science and overcooking is not really a problem here. When the time is finished, mash the cooked fruit with a potato masher.

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You could leave the resultant sauce chunky if that’s your favorite and it will have visible bits of peel like this:

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If you want a classic smooth end result, puree with an immersion blender right in the crock until the desired smoothness is achieved. No immersion blender? Put one on your wish list 🙂 You can use a blender too. Ladle the sauce into the blender and puree in batches until the whole pot is done to the consistency you like.

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At this stage you can eat it immediately, store in the fridge for a few days or can the excess. If canning, ladle the sauce into sterilized canning jars to within 1 cm of the jar rim, top with new sterilized lids, hand tighten the jar bands and process for 15 mins in a boiling water bath according to the jar makers directions. Label jars before storage because we all forget exactly what’s in there and when we made it 🙂

After trying this several times this year, I will never make applesauce any other way. I have fallen in love with my crock-pot all over again.

 

 

Easy Lemon Sorbet

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It has finally gotten hot (95 deg. F) after an unusually tame summer and I found my head resting in the open fridge door after a run. The environmental impact was not lost on me. Still feeling the guilt. But In the fridge with me was a lovely bowl of lemons. Inspiration! Need to make something with lemons.

First let me say, in case you needed more than the word lemon to motivate you, that lemons are VERY healthy. Oddly enough, the healthiest part is the peel which has more nutrients per gram than the juice. The peel contains limonene and salvestrol Q40 which research has shown to help fight cancers of the skin, colon and breast. Although we think of lemons as acidic, they actually act as an alkalizing agent once eaten. The bioflavonoids in the peel reduce oxidative stress and lower LDL cholesterol. The pith (the white soft portion of the rind right under the peel) contains hesperidin (a flavanoid) that reduces bone loss and lowers lipids. The pectin in the lemon rind provides a feeling of fullness and assists with weight loss. There are a few folks that should check with their doctor before using the peel and that would be anyone with kidney or gallbladder stones, as eating the peels can increase the oxalates in your body.

When using the lemon rind, it is important to buy organic and wash them well. I like a vinegar and cold water soak followed by a good rinse or a soak in ozonated water. You can always use a sharp knife, grater or peeler to remove the rind but my favorite way is the microplane. Mine is a Microplane brand zester and it makes quick and easy work of adding zest to any dish.

Having just come from a run, I didn’t want a fussy recipe so here is a drop dead easy lemon sorbet that is better than anything you can buy in a store. I am using a high speed blender for this with a tamper (a Vitamix). Love my Vitamix. Using a regular blender or food processor will not give you the smooth consistency of the Vitamix but it will still taste good.

Lemon Sorbet
Makes 3-4 servings

2 cups ice chips
2 lemons
2-3 tablespoons agave nectar depending on how sweet you like things and the size of your lemons
a cup of water for adjusting consistency as needed

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Remove the outer yellow rind from ½ of the outer surface of each lemon as shown.

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Leave the white pith in place as much as possible. Save the rind for use in other recipes. Cut the lemon into 4 to 8 pieces and remove the seeds. Add the lemons, ice and agave to the blender. Start blending and tamping the ingredients into the blades at a low speed but increase to full speed as you continue the tamping process until the consistency is smooth and thick. This took about 2 mins. in my machine. If the result is too powdery like this,

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add additional water by the tablespoon, blending and tamping for 20-30 seconds until it is fully incorporated before adding any more.

This recipe can also be done sugar free by substituting stevia powder (1 ½ tsp.) for the agave. I personally like the agave better but it’s good to have options.

Scoop the sorbet out of the blender and serve immediately. Extra sorbet can be frozen but it becomes quite solid in the freezer. I pop the frozen sorbet block back into the blender and re-blend before serving.

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Magnesium-What You Need to Know

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Often called the invisible deficiency, low magnesium (Mg) intake is a common problem. Estimates vary but somewhere between 50-80% of us don’t have enough. Scientists have theorized that since farmers do not replace Mg taken up by crops, the soil, over time has become depleted and therefore, the food we eat contains less magnesium with each harvest. Since Mg is involved in over 300 enzyme interactions in our bodies that regulate everything (including energy, digestion, RNA/DNA synthesis, neurotransmitter formation and muscle and nerve function), this is a mineral you want to keep topped up.

Detecting low magnesium levels is tricky. The common blood test only finds the most critically low individuals since a mere 1% of the mineral is found in blood. The truly interested can get a Mg RBC test at www.requestatest.com for $49 that is more reliable but there is little downside to increasing consumption of high Mg foods and, in most cases, supplementation.

Symptoms of mg. deficiency can include:
Weakness                         heart irregularity                      muscle spasm

nausea/vomiting           fatigue                                             personality change

eye twitches                     numbness                                     tingling

constipation                     insomnia

How much do you need? The RDA recommends a minimum of 320mg/day for adult women and 420mg for adult men over the age of 30 with supplement recommendations running 400 to 1000mg/day depending on your health status. Several conditions lead to Mg wasting including type 2 diabetes (diabetics excrete more Mg in their urine and bind more to the sugar in their blood making it unavailable for other interactions), Crohn’s disease, GI resection, celiac disease, alcohol use, heavy soda drinking, high salt or caffeine intake, heavy menses, high stress (physical as well as psychological) and use of any of these medications: diuretics, ACE inhibitors, statins, fluoride, cipro and antacids/acid blockers. Folks who should not supplement Mg until they talk to their doctor include anyone with kidney disease or severe heart disease.

A rule of thumb for supplementing Mg is that you know when it’s too much if you develop diarrhea. While that is largely true, there are several types of Mg supplementation and not all of them lead to loose stools. Magnesium cannot exist elementally by itself and must be bound to another molecule for stability. If considering a supplement, it could matter what form you take.

Magnesium Oxide: cheap, readily available, poorly absorbed, softens stool

Espsom Salts (Mg Chloride) or Mg oil: Well absorbed through the skin, used topically as a bath additive or massage oil, it is cheap, easy to get and harder to take too much. Should not cause GI symptoms

Magnesium glycinate: good absorption, least likely to cause diarrhea, has more of a calming effect as the Mg is bound to glycine which is a calming neurotransmitter

Magnesium sulfate: found in Milk of Magnesia, has a large laxative effect. Not recommended as a Mg supplement source

Magnesium Citrate: Laxative, well absorbed

Magnesium carbonate and gluconate both have poor absorption

Magnesium L-threonate: A new player in the Mg market. The only one to cross the blood brain barrier and show benefit to cognition (see this study if you want more info)

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The safest, and best tasting, way to get your Mg fix is in food. 30-40%  of the Mg in food is absorbed. Foods high in Mg include:

Dark leafy greens                   nuts (brazils, cashews, almonds)

herbs                                              avocado                                        wheat/oat bran

sunflower seeds                      shrimp                                            beans

brown rice                                 artichokes                                     pumpkin seeds

garlic                                             dark cocoa powder

There are also several steps you can take to keep the Mg you have:

Don’t drink soda (the phosphates in the soda bind Mg)

avoid sugar and caffeine

limit alchohol to one drink per day

People who need more Mg, usually need more B6, Vitamin D and selenium to use it well. A good multivitamin should cover these bases. Magnesium is best taken on an empty stomach and not within 2 hrs. of taking a calcium supplement.

Want a recipe for a high magnesium smoothie? Thought so 🙂

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Magnificent Magnesium Chocolate Smoothie

1 cup spinach leaves

1 tablespoon raw cashews

2 tablespoons unsweetened black cocoa powder ( I use Bloomers)

1 ½ frozen bananas

4 ice cubes

1 cup cold water

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Makes a bit more than 2 cups of smoothie. If you drink the whole thing, it will give you 279 mg of magnesium, 224 calories, 4.5 grams of protein, 23% of your potassium, 59% of your daily vitamin A and 12% of your daily iron requirements. Definitely a healthy chocolate fix!

 

 

 

 

S’mores Cookies

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It’s SO summer and what do a girl’s thoughts turn to but…S’mores 🙂 Since going vegan, there are some things I have had to adapt. S’mores, that quintessential summer cookout treat, is one of them. While not a huge marshmallow fan, I do love them melted. The problem is that commercial marshmallows contain gelatin (an animal product) and the chocolate has milk.
One year, I tried to go all Martha Stewart and make my own marshmallows. While they were amazing in hot coco, they just melted off the stick over a campfire and were a ton of sticky work. Since then, vegan marshmallows have become more mainstream. Dandies makes a vegan/ gluten/GMO free version that holds up well to the rigors of S’more making. Milk free chocolate also exists. For baking, Enjoy Life brand makes regular, mini chip and mega chunk options. All of them are great and can either be ordered online or often found in local or whole foods markets.
One rainy summer afternoon, with no campfire in my future, I came up with this recipe to satisfy the craving and it was a family hit. Make up a batch of these and all you will miss is the wood smoke.

Recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup Earth Balance (or vegan butter substitute of choice)
2 tbsp. ground flax seed
6 tbsp. water
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 cup ground up graham crackers (shoot for a mix of finely ground and bigger chunks)
¾ cup chocolate bar chips
¾ cup vegan marshmallows

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Begin by adding the water to the ground flax seed in a small bowl and stir to combine. Set this aside to let it thicken. Next, cream together the sugars, Earth Balance butter, flax seed/water mix and vanilla until smooth.

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Gradually add the flour until combined and then the crumbled graham crackers.

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Once you have all the dry ingredients added, stir in the chocolate chips and mini marshmallows (if you like big chunks of marshmallow, leave the mini ones just as they come from the package. If you like smaller bits, cut them up with kitchen scissors or a knife first, as I have done here).

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Place the dough by rounded teaspoons onto a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart and bake in a 350 deg. F oven for 8-10 mins. Let cool slightly before moving to a cooling rack.

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Try to keep them from being eaten all at once. Just try:)

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