Nutritious Menopause Loaf
Updated: Feb 13
With the yoga and nutrition workshops that I co-facilitate with Niamh from Yinstinct Yoga, I always aim to offer realistic, flexible and enjoyable dietary suggestions to help provide the many nutrients our over-40's bodies require to support us through our peri-menopausal years. In our workshop we cover both the nutrients that support our fluctuating and declining hormones such as omega-3 fats, magnesium, B-vitamins and fibre, and also the potential relational challenges we may experience with our food choices.
I feel strongly that within nutritional therapy we don't over sensationalise the effects that single nutrients or groups of food can have on our physiology and that we can take a more general look at the impact that our overall food intake may have on our health. This is not to say that there isn't scientific evidence to support the notion of certain foods and nutrients having a highly beneficial impact on supporting the normal function of our body, but to really consider the context in which we apply this knowledge.
From research studies looking at the role of nutrition in menopause and female health we know that there are certain nutrients and approaches to eating that can help women navigate peri-menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, fatigue, brain and cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity and potential bone and joint issues. A recent scientific review in the journal Nutrients, discussed the specific role of a wide range of wholefoods in supporting age-related physical decline, particularly. Foods such as berries, black tea, celery, citrus fruits, green tea, olives, onions, oregano, purple grapes, purple grape juice, soybean, soy products, vegetables, whole wheat and brassica vegetables have been shown to be health protective due to their high anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
When developing recipes with certain clients in mind it is their relationship to food that is always at the forefront of my approach. There are many creative and inspiring culinary ideas available, particularly online. So when I saw the menopause cake from Liz Earle I knew there was a slice of deliciousness that could offer both nutritional benefits and be a pleasure to eat!
It's a gorgeously wholesome vegan recipe to which I've made a few tweaks such as using dried figs and prunes to boost the calcium, magnesium and boron content. These minerals are super important for our bone health and boron has been shown to also support hormone levels, brain health, cognition and memory. The addition of pumpkin seeds adds a further source of zinc and phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that have a weak estrogenic effect on our cells and have been shown to support menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes. I absolutely love buckwheat flour for its flavour and slightly nutty texture and its further source of magnesium. I buy the buckwheat groats and blitz them into flour in the Nutribullet. It makes this loaf completely gluten free when also using gluten-free oats. I've omitted the honey as I feel the loaf is deliciously sweet enough with the addition of crystallised ginger although if you prefer a sweeter slice add the 2 tablespoons of honey, 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar or 1 tablespoon muscovado sugar.
For me this is more of a loaf than a cake, with its dense and wholesome texture, and although there are a good few ingredients, this loaf is simple to make and freezes exceptionally well. Once cooled I slice it fully and freeze portions to simply pull out and defrost overnight or pop into the toaster. Delicious with butter, some nut butter and (as Niamh enjoys) with grated apple, this loaf is super satisfying as a breakfast or perfect snack with an afternoon cup of herbal tea.
100g soya flour
100g porridge oats
100g of buckwheat flour (If you prefer, you can use any plain wheat or spelt flour)
100g chopped dried figs
100g chopped prunes
100g dried cranberries
50g pumpkin seeds
50g sunflower seeds
50g sesame seeds
8 cubes of crystallised ginger, chopped up.
1 heaped tsp of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
500ml of soya milk
Pre-heat the oven to 160C and have a pound loaf tin lined with baking parchment. Combine all the dry ingredients well, making sure to unclump the dried fruit. Slowly add the soya milk and mix till it becomes a lumpy batter.-it's a simple as that Pack the batter into the lined loaf tin (it will fit:-) ). Now leave to sit for a minimum of 30 minutes, but it can be left overnight. Bake for 1 hour until a skewer comes out clean and leave to cool completely before slicing.
I hope this becomes a staple you enjoy x