I have enjoyed this summer as I ventured into new territory featuring my foods at farmers markets and soon to be in some cafes. I have developed some new recipes, met great people and sold a whole variety of prepared foods and jarred fermented vegetables and preserves! It has been an amazing time and I’m thrilled it will continue to the end of October.
As a consumer, I’ve been going to farmers markets for years, but this year there seems to be more variety of foraging vegetables, herbs and berries that farmers and enthusiasts are bringing into the marketplace such as elderberries, purslane, mouse melons, flowers and varieties of tomatoes I’ve never seen before. I’m probably more aware this year because I’m shopping with a purpose (buying produce directly from the farmers) and its been thoroughly rewarding.
The farmer next to me (Nature’s Way Organics) at the Cabbagetown Farmer’s Market (Tuesdays from 3-7 pm), harvests and sells Mouse Melons, these tiny melon-looking vegetables that are a cross between a cucumber and a cherry tomato. They are really cute. Last week, I featured them on The Wellness Wagon menu in a salad of cherry tomatoes, purslane (herb) and feta. They’re delicious, crunchy and flavourful.
Another wonderful vegetable are the squash patty pans available in various colours and shapes. I have been cooking them stuffed with lentils, grains and herbs which I‘ve also sold at the market (bought from another farmer called Jim). They are delicious, you can stuff them with anything and are easy to cook. So coming up there will be an abundance of vegetables and fruits to try. Scout out the markets in your neighbourhood on this site.
As I said, it’s been a great summer exploring new ventures but my body is crying out from the long hours of standing on my feet and lack of good exercise (not getting out to swim, my favourite activity). My joints and muscles are aching with new pains emerging daily. Sunken arches, bunions and swollen ankles are signs of inflammation and wear and tear on the body.
I have found taking magnesium to be very helpful for muscle pain and sleep. It is also preventative in the treatment of heart attacks, kidney stones (increases calcium solubility) heart arrhythmia, asthma, muscle cramps, nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, hyperactivity, alcoholism and a laxative.
Magnesium is a mineral that is hugely underrated and not emphasized enough to be part of our essential daily nutrients. It is also known as the “calming” mineral. A professor from my nutrition studies would say “we could all use more magnesium in our diet and daily life – to chill us out”. It is exactly that kind of mineral that makes us feel good and calms down those aches and pains.
Like all minerals, magnesium is not generated in our bodies but must be provided through diet. It supports our bones (65%), is concentrated in our muscles (25%), in our brain, heart, blood cells and body fluids. Magnesium acts similar to how chlorophyll is for plants.
Magnesium also plays an important part in over 300 enzyme reactions for metabolizing macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) in the production of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) a nucleotide found in the mitochondria responsible for energy production in the cell which affects our mobility by transforming fats and sugars into useable energy. It also helps to keep genes functioning properly.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MAGNESIUM?
- Serves as a nerve and muscle relaxant – Magnesium works with calcium to help regulate muscle and nerve tone (acts as a gate blocker) keeping the nerve relaxed from calcium overstimulating the muscle. The same is true if too little magnesium is in the body, its function can fail and the nerve cells will become overly activated causing muscles to over contract triggering muscle tension, soreness, spasms, cramps and fatigue.
- Supports bone health – Magnesium works with calcium in building bone structure and acts as a reserve for this nutrient. A deficiency in magnesium can lead to osteoporosis causing a softening of the bones and is also known to cause an imbalance in blood sugar levels, headaches, elevated blood pressure, depression and lack of appetite. Low magnesium levels are common in women with osteoporosis as it is associated with abnormal bone mineral density. (This can be genetic or from other deficiency factors).
- Maintains heart health – Magnesium and potassium help support the cardiovascular system. This combination keeps the blood circulating properly by dilating coronary arteries improving delivery of oxygen to the heart, reduces blockages ,inhibits platelets from forming blood clots and regulating heart rate and arrhythmia’s.
It is best to get your magnesium nutrients from food which provides the proper amounts. (It is important to note that magnesium deficiencies can be a cause from a diet that is high in fat, meat, processed foods (phosphorous) and stress. This decreases magnesium absorption in the body).
Foods high in magnesium are:
- Swiss Chard
- Pumpkin seeds
- Summer squash
- Sesame seeds
- Coriander leaf
- Almond butter
Juicing your vegetables also provides an excellent source of magnesium with other minerals and vitamins Organic foods may have more magnesium, as many fertilizers used on conventional farms relies heavily on nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium and less magnesium.
Also some cooking styles can affect the level of absorption of magnesium such as blanching, steaming or boiling depletes the enzymes so for some food such as greens, nuts and seeds it is beneficial to eat them raw as much as possible.
There are a variety of magnesium supplements available on the market. Many are combinations of other nutrients, proteins or acids. Each type includes a different percentage of magnesium with a specific focus on treating different issues such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, muscle cramps, bone weakness or heart symptoms. (Read the label to find out its best application for your symptoms). Here is an explanation of a few of them:
- Magnesium Citrate is the most common of magnesium combinations and refers to the level of absorption the digestive system can tolerate. It is found in many products such as Natural Calm (for sleeping or tension) and supplements. It is combined with ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and has laxative properties.
- Magnesium Malate combines with malic acid good for ATP energy production and muscle relaxation
- Magnesium Glycinate (or Biglycinate) is a chelated form of magnesium the primary source of magnesium and provides the highest levels of absorption and bioavailability.
- Magnesium Oxide is a non-chelated type of magnesium, bound to an organic acid or a fatty acid. Contains 60 percent magnesium, and has stool softening properties.
- Magnesium Chloride/Magnesium Lactate contains only 12 percent magnesium, but has better absorption than others, such as magnesium oxide, which contains five times more magnesium.
- Magnesium Sulfate / Magnesium Hydroxide(milk of magnesia) are typically used as a laxative. Be aware that it’s easy to overdose on these, take only as directed
RDA Daily recommendation is 300-400 mg. Recommended therapeutic dosages is 800-1200 mg.
It is also important to maintain a balanced proportion of magnesium with calcium, potassium and vitamins K2 and D. When taking Vitamin D for example, it needs to have K2 and in balance with calcium and magnesium of a ratio of 1:1. Often with the North American diet the ratio is greater and causes malabsorption. This is why supplements can be beneficial but can also cause an imbalance with proper absorption of nutrients in the body.
Magnesium is an excellent alternative to taking Advil or Tylenol and can be taken in capsule form or powder. (if taking too much can cause diarrhea). Epsom salt is also magnesium so when muscles are sore or wanting to relax after a tough day take a bath using Epsom salt and the magnesium will melt away your stresses. For restless leg (Magnesium Malate) or insomnia (Magnesium biglycinate), take 2 capsules before bed.
Magnesium is the Chill Pill!
- The World’s Healthiest Foods, George Mateljan, GMF Publishing
- The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, M. Murray, J. Pizzorno, Atria Paperback
- Magnesium and its Health Benefits, www.mercola.com
- IHN Nutrition and Health: The Fundamentals
Last week, I gave a cooking class where we made a delicious dinner menu of Polenta Lasagna, Thai Peach Rolls, Heavenly Salad, Ginger Cake and my favourite was the Grilled Zucchini, Yellow Squash and Carrot Ribbons on Skewers lightly grilled on a BBQ covered with a tangy mint and lime dressing. We all liked it so much that I’m sharing the recipe. We used the giant zucchinis and squashes to make the ribbons that are also available in the markets right now too. I’m featuring it in this week’s menu.
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup chopped mint
- 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 medium zucchini, very thinly sliced lengthwise on a mandoline
- 2 medium yellow squash, very thinly sliced lengthwise on a mandoline
- Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. In a small bowl, combine the lime zest and juice with the mint, garlic and the 1/4 cup of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Alternately thread the zucchini, yellow squash and prosciutto onto 4 pairs of 12-inch bamboo skewers. Lightly brush the vegetables and prosciutto with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Grill the skewers over high heat until the zucchini and yellow squash are lightly charred, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Serve with the mint dressing on the side.
Nutritional Details: Zucchini’s are part of the summer squash family. They have smaller seeds and are sweeter tasting. They are high in manganese which helps facilitate proteins and carbohydrate metabolism (good for maintaining blood sugar levels and low in calories) Also contains nutrients such as vitamin C, biotin and Thiamin (B’s).
Have a great week!