The worst ones for me happen in the middle of the night. I wake up feeling panicked. All focus on my leg.
As Fergal would say… Ouchies!
No fun at all.
But the good news is there’s something you can do to reduce the likelihood of cramps…
Eat. More. Magnesium.
Normally I’m not a fan of the nutritionist approach to thinking about food in terms of nutrients. Like counting calories it takes the joy out of eating. I prefer to focus on getting as much variety as I can from whole foods. So much easier and more delicious!
But I do have 2 exceptions. Iron and magnesium.
As I wrote recently, when I’m feeling tired (especially during pregnancy), I find upping my intake of iron rich foods makes an amazing difference.
The second exception is, you guessed it, magnesium for cramps.
So what are the best food sources of magnesium?
1. Cocoa Powder or Dark Chocolate.
By far the best source. Ever wondered why women tend to crave chocolate at that time of the month?
To be honest this is my go-to when cramps are getting to me. I just have a square of dark chocolate (90% cocoa solids) after dinner.
2. Seeds and Nuts.
Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are the best. Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, pinenuts, cashews and sesame seeds are also good.
Especially oily fish like salmon and mackerel.
4. Leafy Greens.
Is there anything leafy greens can’t do? Think spinach, chard, silverbeet and kale.
See this list for other sources.
Which brings me to this weeks recipe!
I thought it would be fun to create a meal focused on magnesium rich ingredients. And so we have my Anti-Cramp Salmon! Just follow with some dark chocolate or hot cocoa to get the maximum effect…
The name of this dish doesn’t do it justice. I love how the tahini and lemon juice make an instant tasty sauce for the fish. And how the pepitas provide crunch and some pretty visual interest.
I also love cooking fish this way because you don’t have to think (as long as you remember to set your timer!) and it avoids your kitchen smelling fishy.
enough for: 2
takes: 15 minutes
2 salmon fillets
1 bag baby spinach
4-6 tablespoons tahini
handful pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
2 lemons, halved
1. Preheat your oven to 250C (480F). Place salmon in an oven proof dish or tray and roast for 10 minutes or until cooked to your liking.
2. Serve salmon on a bed of baby spinach. Drizzle with tahini and scatter over pepitas and finish with lots of sea salt and black pepper. Serve lemon on the side.
vegetarian / vegan – replace salmon with cooked or canned black eye peas, beans, chickpeas or lentils warmed in a little olive oil.
seed-free – replace tahini with a drizzle of tangy natural yoghurt (preferably Greek style) and replace pepitas with some chopped red peppers or pomegranate seeds.
no oven – just pan fry the fish in a little oil. About 4 mins each side on a medium high heat.
carb lovers / more substantial – toss in some cooked brown rice, quinoa, couscous, barley or buckwheat with the spinach.
more veg – serve with grilled veg such as zucchini, eggplant and/or red peppers. Or some sauerkraut on the side.
carnivore – replace salmon with chicken thighs or pork chops. Adjust cooking time as needed.
ps. I’m really interested to know…
How do you approach healthy eating? Do you focus on specific nutrients or calories? Or do you try eating for variety? Or real / whole food? Share your approach in the comments below.