This month we are talking about musculoskeletal health; the health of your bones, muscles, and joints.
When it comes to food for strong bones and muscles, and functional joints, salmon is at the very top of the list. The recipe we are suggesting you try, to support your musculoskeletal health, is one for healthy, delicious salmon cakes. Salmon cakes can be enjoyed over a bed of green salad, alongside grilled vegetables, or as a replacement patty between hamburger buns. Get creative!
It’s hard not to post a salmon-based recipe for every month’s health focus. It contains so many amazing nutrients and is the most condensed source of many of them. Canned salmon may not seem to be the most gourmet ingredient, but we promise this recipe will take canned fish to a level you’d be thrilled to serve at a dinner party full of discerning palates. Plus, it’s an easy ingredient to have on hand when you need a dinner idea in a pinch.
Salmon and the Musculoskeletal System
Salmon is a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids the human body needs to function. Amino acids are the building blocks for enzymes, hormones, and other proteins, including new muscle.
The reason we suggest canned salmon, not fresh, is due to its higher calcium content. Canned salmon is already cooked, and the tiny bones left inside are safe to eat and can easily be mashed with a fork. You won’t notice them in the finished dish. These bones supply a significant amount of calcium that fresh fish (with bones removed) does not .
If you read our editorial this month on non-dairy calcium sources, you may have learned that calcium and magnesium must be in balance in the body. Too much calcium without magnesium actually puts the body in stress mode . Here again is another reason salmon is so good for you: it is also an excellent source of magnesium.
Calcium and magnesium are both bone minerals, yes, but even more importantly, they act throughout the body as chemical messengers. Essentially all cellular activities are governed in some way by these ions. One of their many important jobs is allowing for muscle movement, both the tightening and relaxation of muscles.
And… just in case you aren’t 100% convinced of the nutritional value of salmon for your musculoskeletal system, we have one more fact for you: fatty fish, salmon included, are the best natural source of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Not only are omega-3’s important for your brain and cardiovascular health, but they are also potent anti-inflammatories. Anti-inflammatory nutrients like omega-3s support healthy joint mobility and comfort .
While it is important to be aware of mercury consumption when eating large, ocean-dwelling fish, salmon is not high on the mercury contamination scale . Salmon also contains a significant level of the mineral selenium. Selenium is known to help the body clear out mercury and other toxins . Cilantro, too, has been shown to help clear heavy metals out of the body, so this herb does more for you than just add great flavor .
So there you have it: a perfect food to support your bones, muscles, and joints. Read on for the ingredients and directions to prepare the main dish in your healthy musculoskeletal meal.
Ingredients (makes 6 burgers/12 small patties)
15 oz of canned salmon (3 small cans, or one full-sized can)
1 heaping cup cooked brown rice
1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 red bell pepper
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons soy sauce (can substitute tamari for GF)
1/2 cup of cilantro, roughly chopped (can substitute parsley)
A generous pinch of black pepper
A conservative pinch of salt
(approximately) 2 cups almond flour (can substitute all-purpose flour)
Start by preheating the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat mat, parchment paper, or foil for an easy clean up.
Finely dice the onion and bell pepper and mince the garlic cloves. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan. Cook the onion and bell pepper with a pinch of salt until the onion turns clear (about 2-3 minutes), then add the garlic and sauté for another minute, or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Remove the pan from heat.
Crack the eggs into a medium/large bowl and whisk until they are evenly light yellow. Add the dijon mustard, soy sauce, pepper, and salt, and whisk until incorporated. Scrape all the cooked onion, bell pepper, and garlic from the pan into the eggs. Then add cooked brown rice and parsley. Open and drain the can(s) of salmon and add the drained salmon (including any fine bones) to the other ingredients.
Use your hands or a hand masher to break up salmon pieces and incorporate all of the ingredients evenly. It will feel very wet, but this moisture will be absorbed by the rice, salmon, and almond flour. Use a ½ cup measuring scoop (or preferred size) to divide the mixture into balls.
*** If you’d like to prepare the mix or patties in advance, this is a good pausing point to put them in the refrigerator for later. Wait to brown and bake until you are getting ready to serve.
When you are about 30-40 minutes from mealtime, put the large pan back on medium heat with 2-3 more tablespoons of olive oil. Put some flour on a plate or shallow bowl. Roll each salmon ball in flour until well coated and then press into a patty shape with palms.
Put each of the patties into the hot pan and flip once, gently after 2 minutes to brown on both sides. They won’t all fit at once, so brown two or three at a time and put them on the baking sheet while you finish the rest. Once all patties are browned and on the baking sheet, put it in the hot oven and bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot with your favorite salad or sides.
Photographed on an herb salad with vegan green goddess dressing.
- Nutrition Data. “Fish, salmon, chum, canned, without salt, drained solids with bone Nutrition Facts & Calories”. Accessed June 8, 2021. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/finfish-and-shellfish-products/4114/21
- Pickering, Gisèle, et al. “Magnesium Status and Stress: The Vicious Circle Concept Revisited.” Nutrients 12.12 (2020): 3672.
- Goldberg, Robert J., and Joel Katz. “A meta-analysis of the analgesic effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for inflammatory joint pain.” Pain 129.1-2 (2007): 210-223.
- Dewailly, E., et al. “Risk and benefits from consuming salmon and trout: a Canadian perspective.” Food and Chemical Toxicology 45.8 (2007): 1343-1348.
- Chang, L.W , Gilbert,M and Sprecher,J: Modification of methylmercury neurotoxicity by vitamin E, Environ.Res. 1978;17:356-366
- Omura Y, Beckman SL Role of mercury (Hg) in resistant infections & effective treatment of Chlamydia trachomatis and Herpes family viral infections (and potential treatment for cancer) by removing localized Hg deposits with Chinese parsley and delivering effective antibiotics using various drug uptake enhancement methods. Acupunct Electrother Res. 1995;20(3-4): 195-229