If there’s one thing that has been giving me the fear about trying to get on board with a hormone friendly anti-inflammatory diet it is The Bland. Although I’d say I’m a pretty established cook, I’m also a pretty predictable one on a day to day basis and I rely a lot on using chilli, salt and pepper, tasty meat cuts and a bit of cheese to make the best of my meals. Take all of those away and there is a lot of things left of course, but a lot of those things are also The Bland. And too much bland leads to dinner despair teetering on the edge of falling off the diet wagon and plummeting face first into a dirty burger and two almond magnums. Yeeesh, but I do love an almond magnum.
I’m doing fine in the week, I’ve mastered the quinoa lunchbox and am slowly filtering through various stealth-dairy products without too much grief. I’ve resisted multiple cake and kinder egg offers in the office and stuck to my two-cups coffee rule. Dinners are veg heavy with plenty of herbs and a resurgence of mustard. The week is fine. But then it was the weekend, Saturday night in fact, and despite his assurances that he is on board with the new menu I didn’t want to feed the Mr another boring plate of bland which he can cover in chilli sauce. The bastard.
I’ve also been looking at increasing my intake of vitamins and minerals which are linked with anti-inflammatory action within the body, magnesium in particular. Magnesium is a busy old thing, involved on an average day in cellular responses to stress and oxidation, blood sugar control, muscle and nerve function and DNA, protein and bone synthesis. If this wasn’t enough magnesium supplementation has been used with measurable results in reducing sports-related pain and cramps, relieving migraine attack and reducing PMS symptoms. Is anyone not on board with magnesium being a good thing? Alrighty then.
Dietary sources of magnesium are mostly either green or fatty. So spinach, kale, watercress, green beans, broccoli and sprouts are winners. Oily fish, pumpkin seeds, almonds and avocado do the magnesium business too. Blackbeans and chickpeas also have good levels. Magnesium supplements are available in any healthfood shop and are included in most multi vitamins but I would always rather squeeze them into dinner rather than pop another pill. As with most vitamins, you will maintain the best levels of available goodness by consuming them fresh and raw- other than black beans, don’t try them raw!
And thus, my Magnesium Boost salad came to life. As well as ticking the dietary magnesium boxes I wanted something that tasted of, well, something, and with radishes and watercress there is a real peppery kick to this as a side dish. Carrots and cavolo nero give it plenty of crunch with additional substance from the almonds. At a conservative guess a serving of this salad as a side to a main meal (so 1/3 of the below) should get you around 15-20% of your daily recommended magnesium. Considerably more if, like me, you can’t stop nibbling on the other almonds left in the packet while you’re making it…..
Assuming you get a decent mustard without any egg or milk additives this is a vegan recipe which goes well with other winter salads and root veg. I had mine with a huge pile of baked potato wedges for a really lovely dinner that was in no way naughty. It would also go well with some roast chicken (organic please!!!) or salmon. Don’t be tempted to skimp on the dressing- cider vinegar gives you trace amounts of magnesium and the fats in the olive oil help you absorb it. Many diet resources recommend always having a little bit of fat with your veggies to aid vitamin and mineral uptake, but this is not an excuse to chuck a whole packet of butter on there!!!!
Please let me know in the comments if you make this at home and what you think!
Boomboom Magnesium Boost Salad
Serves 3 as a side dish or 2 as a main meal accompanied with some bread or a baked potato.
3 leaves cavolo nero
A good handful of flat leaf parsley
3 handfuls watercress
75g whole almonds
1tbspn extra virgin olive oil
2tbspn apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Wash everything, peel and grate the carrots, shred the cavolo nero and watercress, pick off the parsley leaves and discard the stems, finely slice the radishes into rounds.
Chuck it all in a bowl.
Make the dressing by whisking the oil, vinegar and mustard together then add to the veg and combine thoroughly. Very roughly chop the almonds an scatter over the top, then chill until ready to serve.
Variations- you could bulk this up to have as a main meal with some chickpeas or chicken or add pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds. Curly kale would work if you don’t have cavolo nero, but I find cavolo nero less bitter to have raw than standard kale. Sub the almonds for walnuts or pinenuts if desired. If for any reason you can’t have mustard try lemon juice in the dressing instead. Up the parsley or watercress volumes to your own taste and walnut oil would work well in the dressing rather than olive oil.