Burdock Root Recipes

Burdock is not something found in the typical western diet. In fact, even the Chinese, who eat everything, don’t generally eat burdock. It’s only inroads to our diet usually comes in the form of tea. And this is a shame, since burdock is a wonderfully healthy treat, and a good supplemental source of magnesium, fiber and vitamin B6. 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of gobo have 38 milligrams of magnesium, about 11-12% of you daily requirement.

It’s called “gobo” in Japan, and so that’s what we’ll call it here. The trick with gobo is to get over the appearance. It is a long root, and when pulled from the ground it looks like a stick of wood rather than something delicious and filled with an earthy umami flavor.

Gobo rootsHere it is in all it’s glory. You can also buy it without all the dirt, but Japanese consumers believe the dirt helps the gobo retain its flavor. Just be sure to wash it before eating.

And, almost as important, be sure to boil it before eating. Otherwise you really will feel as though you are eating tree bark. The best way to prepare it is to cut it into strips, julienne style. Do this if you plan to eat it directly.

(Gobo is also an excellent addition to soups and stews, giving them extra earthy flavor much like a good mushroom would. If you are using it this way, just cut off once inch portions as needed and add them to the pot.)

Once you have washed and julienned the gobo, it’s time to boil it.

Basically, you do this until it’s tender. Maybe 5 minutes or so is enough. Taste a sample and see if you can chew it without too much trouble. If it’s to stringy or fibrous, give it more time.

Once it’s tender enough to chew you have your gobo ready to go. From this point, there are a variety of ways to go, you can pickle it with sugar, you can deep fry it, you can add it to any saute dish. Two of the most common options in Japan are sauted with carrots, sesame oil and chili peppers, often with some pork added. The second option is gobo salad. In the case, you simply add mayonnaise and carrots (and whatever else you fancy). This can be eaten by itself, or added to a sandwich. The first time I had gobo in a sandwich, it was on top of chicken salad and lettuce. I’d still highly recommend this combination. In my case, I’m happy to make a snack of gobo salad on bread. It fabulous.Gobo Salad Sandwich

Magnesium in Coffee

Two coffees and a little magnesiumI was out browsing the lists of magnesium rich foods once again – a weird hobby, but that’s what running a website about magnesium foods will do to you.

I came across this list, and was wowed by the number one magnesium super food right at the top. None other than coffee. 15,999 milligrams! That’s an outrageous number, considering your daily requirements are less than 500, or at most 800 if you follow the strongest proponents of magnesium. What does almost 16 grams of magnesium actually mean here? That’s enough to give diarrhea to you even if all you eat are rocks and starchy white rice.

This demonstrates a problem that many such lists have. If they list according to magnesium per 100 gram (about 4 ounces) servings, you’ll get things at the top of the list such as soy sauce, and fresh ground coffee (not the water, just the ground coffee beans).  Try downing 4 ounces of soy sauce or coffee beans in a sitting. You won’t enjoy it, and most likely you’ll stop to get sick before you get even close.

The items at the top of nutrition lists based on one serving size will be top-heavy with things that aren’t meant to be eaten in those volumes.

Lists based on calories have the same issue. While they can be helpful, you will find very low calorie things such as salt, coffee, and kombu seaweed that, once again, cannot be eaten in any bulk.

This is why we need to talk about magnesium foods one by one. So, let’s talk about coffee…

I love coffee, and so I love any excuse to drink more of it. However there’s a problem. Coffee both drains your body of magnesium and contribute. First the contribution:

One 8 oz. cup of coffee will provide you with 7 mg of magnesium. That’s it. If you drink 5 or 6 such cups per day, you’ll get the benefit of 35-42 mg of magnesium. Now, compare that to a cup of spinach, which will give you about 150 mg of magnesium, and a whole lot more nutrition to boot. So yes, coffee gives you some magnesium, but it’s hardly the preferred source.

Now the bad news. Caffeine causes your body to lose magnesium, mainly through the urine. In the long run, coffee probably costs you more magnesium than it gives you.

So, all in all, coffee is not the place to to to get your extra magnesium. On the other hand, if you enjoy drinking coffee, go for it. It does contribute a bit of magnesium to make up for what it takes, and it is one of the most enjoyable things a person can drink.

For a little more on coffee, head over to the Harvard School of Public Health. No matter how much magnesium in coffee there is, this will make you feel good about drinking it.