Calcium & Macrobiotic Lunch & Tahini Caramel Balls
For those who follow my blog posts you will know I have had a break from dairy for more than a month. I actually feel my body needs a longer break and I will continue for a few more months without dairy or at least reduce it to a minimum amount. The main reasons being that my digestion seems happier and that I am more creative with my protein when not eating dairy, which I feel is important as I can get a lot more nutrients, minerals and vitamins from wholefoods and plant based foods than I can from dairy.
I know when I visit my mum later in the year and tell her I am cutting back on dairy she will ask me where I am getting my calcium from. I have never really worried about my calcium levels feeling somehow that I was ok and that I have strong bones and also hearing from people that you can get much more calcium from plant based diets have kept any fears away. However I thought I should double check and see if I really am on the right track. I have a brilliant book that is well known in my circle of friends and like minded beings. Healing with Wholefoods by Paul Pitchford. I found some wonderfully confirming information which i will share a little with you in this blog post. To be super sure and to check if others have similar information I consulted many sources, once I got past the mainstream links, sites and opinions I started to find information very similar to Paul Pitchford's on very reputable sites and found a wonderful paper put out by the Harvard University.
So summerising what I read calcium does assist in building and strengthening bones as well as calming and cooling the nervous system. However for calcium to be absorbed in the body it needs to also have adequate magnesium and vitamin D. It is possible to absorb calcium without magnesium however if your magnesium intake is good your calcium levels will rise to a better level. It is commonly known that vitamin D is essential for calcium to be absorbed and that is why some dairy products in USA are often enriched with synthesied vitamin D. Fortunately the Australian Dairy industry did not follow the US in this practice.
You can obtain calcium from dairy products but if your intake of vitamin D and magnesium is not adequate you may not get the required amount your body needs. Also if the milk is pasteurised and homogenised much of the calcium is lost. Some studies suggest that people predominantly eating a plant based diet have stronger bones than those eating red meats and dairy. I can see this could be the case as a lot of the plant based foods that are rich in calcium are also rich in magnesium (if grown in magnesium rich soil) and red meat can actually inhibits the absorption of both magnesium and calcium.
Paul Pitchford suggests that a magnesium rich diet is generally a cure for many bone related problems. If your body does not have enough magnesium it will draw on the magnesium and calcium in your soft tissues of your bones and then problems will arise. So to ensure you get enough calcium and magnesium eat organic seaweeds, beans including soy (if you don't have a thyroid problem), black beans and adzuki beans, wholegrains including millet, corn, rice and for those of you who aren't gluten intolerant barley and rye. Almonds, cashews and sesame seeds, spirulina and chorella, leafy greens and small amounts of chocolate. The problem with chocolate is that it does contain calcium and magnesium but if you find yourself craving it then it is can be an indicator that you are low in magnesium and chocolate can actually inhibit general absorption of minerals in the system if taken too habitually.
Daily calcium levels do vary depending on all sorts of factors, you need more calcium during growth times, from childhood to adolescence, during pregnancy and when breast feeding, when there is any rapid spurt in growth including mental and spiritual, after menopause, older people and when there might be some heart problems.
As it seems with many minerals and vitamins the inhibitors for calcium absorption is red meat, coffee and caffeine, sugar, alcohol, cigarettes, too little or too much salt and too much or too little exercise.
I do not advocate anyone follow my actions but after all of this reading I realise that it comes down to really listening to my body. Eating a wholefoods diet meaning eating as much organic produce as I can, eating complete proteins, making sure I get a range of nutrients from varied and in season fruits and vegetables I can ensure healthy levels of calcium. I have recently cut back on coffee and I feel calmer and it is possible that my nervous system is now resting but also probably that more magnesium and calcium is being absorbed into my body.
Having said this I do need to take magnesium supplements most usually when I am working intensely when my body feels a little stressed and on advice by a naturopath when i start to feel a little cramping in my calves then I know it is time to take some magnesium. If in doubt get a check from a doctor or naturopath and get eating the right amount of seaweads, beans, grains and leafy greens to assist you on your way.
I have included two recipes that have good sources of calcium and magnesium and I sit in the sun as I eat my lunch to soak up some vitamin D.
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Macrobiotic Style lunch
your choice of grain- 1/4 cup uncooked per person
your choice of lentils or beans- in this dish I cooked up red lentils and had 1/2 a cup per person
tahini and coconut sauce- 1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
juice of half small lime
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp grated tumeric
1 small clove garlic
steamed veg- i used brocoli and kale
a side salad using parsley, mint, lettuce, sprouts, hemp seeds, dulce flakes avocado and rosella petals- you can use whatever you like
some local organic sauerkraut
Put your soaked and rinsed beans or lentils on to boil and simmer until cooked. Cook the grain of your choice in another saucepan. Steam your vegetables. To make the sauce mix all the ingredients together and simmer for 5 minutes, add the cooked beans or lentils to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes or so. When everything is cooked arrange each component of the meal on individual plates.
Raw Cacoa Balls with a Twist of Tahini Caramel
1 cup almonds soaked for 6 hours then rinsed
1 cup dates soaked for 30 minutes plus 8 extra dates soaked
2 to 4 tsp raw cacao powder
1/4 cup dessicated coconut
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup crushed macadamias
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp coconut oil
In a food processor blend the almonds till fine then add the dates (reserving 8 for the tahini twist part)and do the same, add the raw cacao and pulse until combined. Remove from the food processor and process the 8 dates until a pulp add the macadamias and pulse to combine, add the tahini, water and coconut oil. Take a small amount of the tahini mixture and roll into a ball then shape the raw cacoa mixture around the tahini ball- the tahini ball will not keep its shape and will end up becoming a bit twisted- it looks great. Basically the end product is still a ball. Roll in the coconut.