For the past several months, I have shared my menopause experience in my Facebook community Journey to Joy. During that time, it has been my intention to make other women aware of the many changes and challenges which comes with this season of life and the resources available to help women, like me, live a happy, healthy, joy-filled life.
During a woman's transition to menopause and years beyond, the hormone estrogen begins to decline, which can disrupt the normal patterns of estrogen and progesterone. When estrogen levels decline, one's metabolism is impacted which may lead to weight gain. Yep, the dreaded weight gain. Sigh. Not only that, the changes in the body can also affect cholesterol levels and how the body digests carbs, including (and surprisingly) some foods from the legume family, starchy root vegetables and grain-based food categories (think doughnuts, bagels, croissants)
While I won't dive into the specifics of foods which can help balance hormones, I will say my decision to reintroduce some animal proteins to my diet has been life-changing. The decline in estrogen from menopause has been linked to decreased muscle mass and bone strength.
For this reason, women going through menopause should eat more protein. Guidelines recommend that women over 50 eat 0.45–0.55 grams of protein per pound (1–1.2 grams per kg) of body weight daily — or 20–25 grams of high-quality protein per meal. I recommend consulting with your primary heath practitioner for guidance and to make sure you are consuming adequate amounts of protein. While I am not suggesting you discontinue your plant-based journey, if you experiencing peri/menopausal symptoms, I am suggesting you have an honest discussion with your healthcare practitioner about your health and what makes sense during this season of life. For me, including eggs, fish and wild game meats into my diet made sense for me and I feel so much better.
Now, onto the recipe.
Let me be honest, I love bread and giving up grain-based foods, especially baked goods has been very challenging. However, I have found ways to accommodate my taste buds using ingredients which my body loves. This Herbed Egg Wrap recipe provides the essential protein I need to start my day and it allows me the option of including vegetables or plant-based fillings, as well as animal protein fillings, if I so desire. In this case, I decided to fill my wrap with some leftover turkey taco meat filling since my body cannot tolerate corn or flour at this time, and topped with fresh cilantro and pico de gallo. In addition, I am all about ease and not spending as much time in the kitchen as I used to. This recipe can be prepared in less than 12 minutes and is oh so tasty! Don't believe me? Well, try it out and let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. By the way, you can play with this recipe by adding your favorite herbs and seasonings to suite your personal tastes.
Alrighty then...download the recipe and let's get cooking.
Who doesn't like tuna? This delicate, shelf-stable fish has become a staple in my home. From sandwiches and casseroles to savory turnovers and croquettes, tuna has proven to be one of the most versatile food items in my kitchen to date. This recipe is easy to prepare and uses ingredients which may already be in your kitchen. Although I highly recommend using Old Bay Seasoning, you can always swap it out for traditional sea salt. Preparation for this recipe is less than 30 minutes with a cooking time of 6 minutes. If you are using the air-fryer method, cooking times are slightly longer.
Lemon Dill Dipping Sauce
1/3 cup Reduced Fat Mayo or Vegan Mayo
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1 tsp dried Dill
1/2 tsp Garlic minced
Juice of half lemon Optional: Dash of hot pepper sauce
Combine all ingredients. Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
Click HERE for Smoky Brussels Sprout Slaw recipe
1 c. White Quinoa (uncooked and rinsed)
3 c. Water 1 - 14.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 White Onion, chopped
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 c. White mushrooms, chopped
2 T. + 2 T. grapeseed or avocado oil
3 T. + 2 tsp ISW Veggie & Snack Seasoning
Add quinoa and water to rice cooker. Use "white rice" setting. Once quinoa is done, rice cooker will default to "keep warm" setting.
Tip: The typical quinoa/water ratio is 1:2. However, for this recipe, the ratio is 1:3. The quinoa will need to have a mushy texture which is the key for keeping the mixture together when forming patties.
Combine 2 cups cooked quinoa, black beans and 3 T. ISW Veggie & Snack Seasoning by using a potato masher until mixture is slightly mushy.
In a skillet, heat grapeseed oil. Add onions, peppers and mushrooms. Add 2 tsp. ISW Veggie & Snack Seasoning and cook until vegetables are tender.
Combine cooked vegetables with quinoa mixture. Form 6-8 patties and set aside. In a skillet, heat 2 T. grapeseed oil. Add patties to skillet and cook 2 minutes on each side. For firmer patties, place in the oven at 350 degrees F. for 15 minutes.
Burger Mayo Recipe 1/4 c. Vegan Mayo + 2 T. ISW Veggie Snack Seasoning Stir ingredients until well combined.
Find this recipe and more. Order your copy of FEED today.
One of the things I love most about what I do is teaching others how to live a healthy lifestyle through plant-based food. While love spending time in the kitchen experimenting with plants, herbs and spices, I enjoy sharing the knowledge I have received through hours of research and sometimes simple trial and error. I often encounter individuals who are apprehensive about living a plant-based life because they afraid they won't know how to feed themselves. My approach is simple: Keep it simple. That's it.
There are so many plant-based chef, just like me, who not only have culinary experience, but have spent thousands of hours creating and developing recipes. We take pleasure in pushing our culinary skills to the max, in an attempt to see how we can create new and innovative recipes using plants. While it's perfectly fine to try plant-based cuisine when dining out, I often discourage my clients to prepare these often complicated recipes when starting their journey. More often than note, there are so many components to preparing chef-quality recipes, that making dishes like these every day is not only unsustainable, it leaves you frustrated and, well, hungry. Make food fun to eat, but make it quick and easy. When you're hungry, you really don't want to put much thought into preparing your food.
This is why I love preparing food like this simple Collard Green Burrito recipe. It is simply delicious and takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. I will say, the key to sticking to your healthy eating lifestyle and preparing for success. I recommend taking one day out of the week to shop for groceries and prepping produce in advance. Food prepping will save you valuable time when preparing your smoothies, wraps and salads. Less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying your food.
Whenever I prepare this for workshop participants, they are always shocked at the flavor and texture of this recipe. Many people have never eating collard greens in the raw, which makes this such a fun recipe to demonstrate. This recipe is filled with nutrients and I highly recommend eating it in its natural form. can No cooking or heating elements required! However, if you don't want the earthy taste from the greens, you can always blanch your collard leaves before making your burritos. It's an extra and unnecessary steps, but will soften the leaves if you find raw leaves less desirable.
Collard Green Facts
The collard green plant is grown for its large, dark-colored and edible leaves; it grows in Brazil, Portugal, the southern United States, many parts of Africa, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, southern Croatia, northern Spain and northern India. Similar to kale, it has an upright stalk, often growing up to two feet tall. The leaves are thick and have a slightly bitter taste. Cruciferous vegetables, like collard greens, are unique because they’re rich in sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which support detoxification, and indole-3-carbinol that greatly reduces the risk of breast, colon and lung cancer. Collard greens are a great source of vitamin K and vitamin A; they’re also rich is soluble fiber and have strong antioxidant properties. By adding collard greens to your diet, you reduce disease-causing inflammation, cure digestive conditions, detox your body and boost cardiovascular health.
One of the most important components of collard greens, and other cruciferous vegetables, is glutathione. This peptide consists of three key amino acids that play several vital roles in the body. It helps the liver cleanse and detoxify fat, boosts immune function, fights cancer, protects the body from environmental toxins, and prevents drug resistance. Glutathione is so important to our health that longevity researchers believe the levels that are present in our cells serve as a predictor of how long we are going to live. Collard greens boost glutathione levels and allow this molecule to do its magic.
How to Blanch Collard Green Leaves
About Ice Baths: By placing greens in an ice bath, you "shock" the vegetable leaves and which immediately stops the cooking process. This will keep the greens fresh, bright in color and helps preserve vital nutrients often lost when leafy greens and vegetables are boiled.
Regina Thomas Dillard is a certified chef, founder of Inner Sanctum Wellness, Regina Cooks Culinary School and the author of FEED: Living Food Recipes to be Made and Eaten with Love. Available softcover, digital download and Amazon.