Health & Nutrition with Rosie Shelley, BA, SAC.Dip, ITEC.Dip – [email protected]
I’VE spent the first few weeks of the year going through a pile of lovely nutritionally themed books I got for Christmas (okay I may have asked for them), so I thought that as the schedule allows I’d take a look at the best of them here.
One of my favourites, because of its no-nonsense, non restrictive approach that invites us to eat some really tasty food, is The Midlife Kitchen, by Sam Rice and Mimi Spencer, both experienced food and health authors approaching the age of 50.
They set out a clear group of guidelines that perimenopausal and menopausal women will find valuable, affordable and practical. To sum it up: vary the foods you eat as much as possible, to reap all the different nutrients and feed vital gut bacteria; avoid processed items and go for whole, natural foods cooked from scratch for maximum hormonal support; limit hormone and gut bacteria disrupting sugar, but embrace good fats (olive and coconut oils, butter, oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds) and small amounts of wholegrains; experiment, and eat what you enjoy and what you have time/skills to cook; there’s no need, on the whole, for fancy or expensive ingredients that you can’t find in the supermarket, and you can tweak your diet slowly by just making a few healthier choices over time.
The writers, to make it easier, have come up with a ‘capsule’ of essentials that will further simplify things. I haven’t space to go into the science, but basically to balance hormones, promote bone, heart, brain, eye, skin, joint and emotional health, focus on: brightly coloured veg, green leafy veg, garlic and onions, tomatoes, avocados, berries, apples and citrus; beans, lentils, chickpeas and fermented soya products like tempeh, miso or tamari; nuts and nut butters and seeds and tahini; wholegrains like oats, quinoa, barley and wholegrain rice (well rinsed and boiled in plenty of water); oily fish, organic eggs, butter, plain yoghurt, feta/goat’s cheese and fermented dairy; herbs and spices; extra virgin olive or coconut oil, apple cider vinegar (‘with the mother’ – ie apple cider vinegar that still has the culture of beneficial bacteria that turns regular apple cider into vinegar in the first place), seaweeds, herbal (or green or white) teas, cocoa/very dark chocolate.
• Midlife Kitchen sample recipes:
Egg Muffins (makes 10-12)
Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Oil a muffin tin and put in oven. Whisk 6 eggs with a splash of water and salt and pepper. Pour into the tin to fill half the holes, then top with either crumbled feta and olives or chopped smoked fish, herbs and yoghurt. Bake for 20 mins. Meanwhile, combine chopped avocado, spring onion, parsley, lemon juice and half tsp honey to serve.
Midlife Caesar (serves four)
Preheat the oven to 200C. Rinse and drain a 400g can of chickpeas and place on a baking tray with a little oil, salt and sweet or smoked paprika. Bake for 15-20 mins (keep an eye and shake them up) until golden.
To make the dressing, whisk an egg yolk, 1 tsp mustard, a chopped garlic glove, 2 chopped anchovies and 2 tsp chopped capers. Drop by drop, whisk in 2 Tbsp of olive or flaxseed oil. Add the zest and juice of half a lemon, pepper, and a little water. In a bowl, massage the dressing into 200g of romaine lettuce and 200g of shredded, destalked kale (you can roast it for five mins in a little oil if you like).Plate up topped with some parmesan shavings and the crispy chickpeas. To make a meal of it, add quartered hard boiled eggs or sliced grilled chicken.
Pot Roast Chicken (serves four)
Preheat the oven to 180C. Heat a tbsp olive or coconut oil in a large casserole, add 2 diced onions, then 4 peeled and halved garlic cloves and some finely chopped (or dried) rosemary, sage and thyme. Stir in 225g rinsed red lentils, and 750ml chicken stock. Add the juice and zest of a lemon.
Smear a medium free range chicken with butter and seasoning, and nestle into the lentil mix. Bake uncovered for 75 mins, until golden brown and the juices run clear (you might need to top the lentils up with a little more stock along the way).
Five-Minute Chocolate Mousse (serves six)
In a glass bowl over (not touching) simmering water melt 200g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), stirring, and leave to cool a little. Whisk 4 egg whites in a spotless bowl until stiff. Gently fold in 3 Tbsp caster sugar, a spoon at a time. Mix 150g natural yoghurt quickly into the chocolate, then fold in the egg whites, a third at a time. Serve in glasses with raspberries.