OK, let’s cut to the chase: we menopausal women often love the ease and comfort of processed carbs… toasty warm bagels, breakfast muffins, crunchy crackers and maybe best of all, a plate of pasta with a glass of wine.
Mmmm, I can feel the opiate-like effect of those simple carbs hitting my bloodstream right now.
That’s why we love them so much! But this is a love fraught with danger and ultimate heartbreak…processed carbs like sugar, flour and alcohol will always be there for us. But, if we want to experience hormonal harmony we must limit our relationship to the occasional fling.
Carbs, blood sugar and menopausal symptoms
Here’s why: processed, or simple rather than complex, carbs affect your insulin levels, which cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate madly. This, in turn, creates a cascade of hormonal reactions which lead to hot-flushes, weight gain, mood swings, insomnia, depression, anxiety and so on. Truly, I can’t think of one menopausal symptom that isn’t affected or caused by fluctuations in blood sugar.
So finding ways to stabilise and keep your blood sugar as even as possible is very important.
I love pasta but admittedly, this glutinous food can be a dampener on the system, causing bloating and inflammation, on top of the blood sugar issue.
These are obviously not the effects we are looking for, but deny myself the simple, sensual pleasure of noodles? Simply not an option…
Alternatives for noodle lovers
I’ve tried all the wonderful lookalikes out there – brown rice, quinoa, black bean and buckwheat with their respective pros and cons. The primary pro: they are gluten-free. The main con: they are still processed carbs, albeit with more fibre.
What’s a noodle lover to do? Luckily, in the middle of the raw food revolution, way back when, I discovered an even lighter, more refreshing, and beautiful option…
How about zoodles? Or boodles? Or poodles? Okay, maybe that last one went a bit too far 🙂 I am talking about fresh vegetables like courgettes (zucchini), beetroots and parsnips, turned into spaghetti-like strips with a tool called a spiralizer.
Simply changing the way these vegetables are processed will completely change your experience of them. A spiralized parsnip has no relationship to the roasted, boiled, sautéed or mashed parsnip you are used to. And it’s a perfect carrier for your favourite pesto or creamy cashew sauce.
The possibilities are endless. Any vegetable that can be eaten raw, and is firm enough and wide enough to fit the tools can be used. One of my favourite veggies to make pasta with is celery root. It’s so firm you could say it’s naturally al dente, with the subtle flavour of celery to enhance tomato-based sauces. Courgette makes a softer noodle and works well with creamy sauces and pestos, or added last minute to miso soup and stir-fries. Beetroot (beets) are great with just a little extra-virgin olive oil tossed with walnuts and rocket (arugula) to balance their sweetness and will turn any creamy sauce a lovely pink colour. Parsnips are sweet, not as firm as celery root, and not as soft as courgette. They cry out for a tart and lively Puttanesca, or creamy Alfredo-like sauces with peas, mushrooms and a touch of nutmeg. Carrots are more brittle and retain their crunchiness, so I like them best in salads.
Here are two of my favourite recipes:
Beetroot pasta – serves 2
- 3 cups* spiralized beetroots = 3-4 medium sized beetroots – peeled if the skin is tough
- 3/4 cup (1/2 of a 14.5oz can) cooked chickpeas (garbanzos) or other beans
- 1/2 cup raw walnut halves
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 3 cloves garlic – crushed
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp grapeseed oil for cooking
- 1/2 tsp mixed Italian herbs or Herb de Provence
- white pepper
- 1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar – start with one, add more as needed
- sea salt to taste – this means add only enough salt to bring out the flavours, stop before it tastes salty
- 2 big handfuls of rocket (arugula) or other salad greens
*American cup measures
If you are using one of the smaller, Vegetti style spiralizers, I recommend using a salad fork as a handle, rather than trying to hold it in your hand. Impale one end of the veggie with the fork to keep it stable, put the other end in the opening and then twist the tool, not the beet.
How to make it
- Spiralize the beetroots, toss with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and set aside
- Heat up a frying pan on a low flame, add the grapeseed oil and everything except the balsamic, salad mix and beetroot
- Sauté until garlic is cooked and beans are heated through
- Add balsamic vinegar and stir until it is mostly soaked up, taste and add more if necessary
- Place green salad in two bowls
- Toss the beetroots with the bean mixture and place on top of the salad – serve!
“As yoga practitioners, being free, flexible, and strong in body and mind requires the best, most vibrant and nutritious foods.”
Zoodles with Red Pepper Cashew Sauce
You will need approx. 1 medium zucchini/ courgette per person
Toss zoodles with a little olive oil and sauce and serve soon after they are made. Whatever you do, don’t add salt! It will draw the moisture out of the courgette and make it soggy and limp.
Red Pepper Cashew Sauce
You will need a good strong blender to get this sauce really smooth, a Nutribullet, Vitamix, or Blendtec. If you don’t have a good blender, make this with cashew butter. You’ll get the same creaminess, and the flavour will be different, but still good.
Makes 2 1/2 cups or 10-12 servings, keeps for 5 days in the fridge, or freeze some for later.
- 1 cup organic roasted red pepper – jarred or fresh
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 3 tablespoon capers – with the juice
- 2 spring onions
- 1 cup hot water for a warm sauce, or cold water or ice for a chilled sauce
- ½-1 tsp sea salt and herb salt
How to make it
- Blend all the above together until creamy and toss with the courgette noodles.
- Garnish with fresh oregano and toasted cashews.
Let us know what combinations you come up with in the comments below.
Yoga class for menopausal symptoms:
For EkhartYoga members
In this sequence, Véronique focuses on pacifying Pitta. This will help you to manage menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, skin eruptions or irritability.
About the author:
Katherine Miller is a Certified Health Coach, Menopause Guide & Master Chef with over 30 years of experience in meditation, yoga, women’s leadership development, and optimal nutrition.
She helps professional women struggling with fatigue, weight gain and hormonal imbalance, to increase their energy and reduce stress. Her passion is showing women how to free up their bodies and brains so they can live ambitious, adventurous, and creative lives. When you feel great in your body and have more energy, you can play on your leading edge!
Katherine works with women in private and group coaching programs, in person and online. You can visit her website to see more details: Mbodied.com