By Virginia George, Contributing Writer
I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. All of the information provided is my opinion based on my own research. Please consult your doctor before making any dietary or lifestyle changes.
Given that I am just on the other side of my own darkness I have been doing some reading on specific nutrients and how they play into our mental health, and I came across magnesium. Here on Modern Alternative Mama, Kate has talked about magnesium, including providing a recipe for magnesium lotion that I can’t wait to try.
I don’t know for sure whether I’m deficient, but Cheeseslave has a great article discussing magnesium deficiency and it’s symptoms. Surprisingly, it appears the best diagnosis for deficiency is looking at your own symptoms rather than a blood test. According to Life Extension Magazine, 68% of the American population is not consuming the recommended daily amount of magnesium.
Magnesium and Depression
Magnesium plays a part in over 300 processes in the body, from nerve function to blood sugar regulation. It’s no wonder we have so much disease and depression. In fact, data suggests that magnesium could be helpful in treating people with depression. A study I found on PubMed concluded:
A higher intake of dietary magnesium seems to be associated with lower depression symptoms though reverse causality cannot be excluded. The results assessing the association between blood and cerebrospinal fluid magnesium and depression are inconclusive.
However, according to the Cheeseslave article (whose information came from “The Magnesium Miracle” by Dr. Carolyn Dean, which I haven’t read), our bodies work to maintain stable blood levels of magnesium. This leads me to believe that blood tests aren’t going to be accurate of the body’s overall magnesium stores, at least not if the body pulls magnesium from the bones to keep blood levels stable.
I decided I needed to come up with a recipe that is high in magnesium. Kale could be supplemented for the swiss chard, but I chose to use swiss chard because it’s a little higher in magnesium and I could use both the stalk and the leaf. Chard leaves are also more tender than kale, and it is happily thriving in my garden, while my kale seeds didn’t germinate.
Rice bran is also high in magnesium, which is why I chose brown rice for this recipe. Brown rice hasn’t had the bran removed, which is where most of the magnesium is. However, this means it’s going to be higher in phytic acid. Brown rice should be soaked for 8-12 hours. Because this recipe only takes 2-3 hours in the crock pot, you could begin soaking your rice the morning you plan to make this recipe. For more information on the brown vs white rice debate, check out this post at The Nourishing Gourmet.
There are several lists online showing which foods are high in magnesium. The problem with this approach is that people with gut damage (ie leaky gut) will not absorb magnesium well through their small intestines and should perhaps supplement their magnesium with something like an oil or lotion.
I should also note that my original intention was to create wraps, much like we did with grape leaves when we were foraging a few weeks ago, but I was worried about how the wraps would hold up on top of all the liquid for the rice. I may try this another time in the oven and use the hamburger mixture as a filling for the swiss chard leaves and make rolls from them to serve over rice.
I have a 6qt crock pot and felt like I needed the 2c of rice in order to cover the whole bottom. If you have a smaller crock pot, 2c broth and 1c rice may be sufficient.
The beauty of this recipe is that it’s a slow cooker recipe, so you don’t have to worry about heating your home up with the oven during the hot summer. However, it doesn’t take all day to cook. So rather than having to remember to throw dinner together before you begin your activities for the day, you can do it during naptime and it’ll still have time to finish cooking before dinner.
My husband thought I should name this recipe “Happy Meal” because of the mood boosting implications, but I’m quite sure that name is copyrighted, so Taco Chard Lasagna it is.
Taco Chard Lasagna
- coconut oil or butter for oiling crock
- 4 c. broth
- 2 c. brown rice, soaked
- 8 large swiss chard leaves (maybe fewer depending on the size of your crock)
- 1 lb. hamburger, browned
- small onion, diced
- 2 c. cooked great northern beans
- 2 Tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp Real Salt
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp arrowroot
- 1 c. milk or half and half
- 4 oz mozzarella cheese
- 1 tsp Real Salt
Soak 2 c. brown rice in 4 c. water and 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar for 8-12 hours to reduce phytic acid. Drain and rinse.
Oil crock with fat of your choice. Put 4 c. broth and 2 c. brown rice in the bottom of your crock, distributing the rice evenly across the bottom.
Line up the bottom of the leaves on your swiss chard and chop the stems. Place 4 large leaves over the top of the broth and rice.
In a skillet brown the hamburger and cook the onion and swiss chard stems until soft. Add the beans, cumin, salt, and chili powder and cook until warm. Layer hamburger mix on top of chard leaves, and put another layer of chard leaves down.
In small saucepan melt butter, add arrowroot, and milk.
Cook over medium heat until thick. Remove from heat and stir in mozzarella and salt. Stir and let it sit until the cheese is melted.
Serve with fresh salsa, olives, avocado, or just as it is and enjoy a mineral boost!