I'm delighted to see so many of you enjoying the Nutritious Menopause Loaf recipe. I've had some lovely feedback and also great questions as to whether certain ingredients can be swapped for others. So here I will answer those questions in the hope you can vary the main recipe to suit your preferences with the ingredients available to you. Of course the nutritional profile of the loaf will be different depending on the swaps you make but you will still have a fibre-rich, nutrient dense and blood sugar-supportive slice of deliciousness. All things supportive in our stages of peri/menopause.
Q: I'm not able to find/access any soy flour - what else can I use?
I have experimented with many different flours at this stage and have come up with some great alternatives. Soy flour has a good amount of fibre that helps absorb the liquid as it is "soaking"- which is what gives it the loaf texture. Using plain rice flour has a similar effect on the loaf texture- simply replace equal quantity (100g). I've also use ground almonds which give a delicious course texture to the loaf. I used 80g of ground almonds instead of the 100g soy flour. Keep the liquid volume the same and soaking time the same too. One tip though if using ground almonds is to really leave the loaf to cool completely before slicing- or there will be quite the crumbs to scoop up! You can also simply double the amount of buckwheat flour (200g instead of 100g), and if you have no issues with gluten, plain wholegrain wheat or spelt flour is also a great substitute.
However the best replacement that I have used is sorghum flour. High in fibre and micronutrients, it gives a wonderful texture and slightly malted flavour to the loaf. Again simply replace the full 100g. It is available in many health-food stores and is definitely my favourite swap.
Q: I'm not a fan of soy milk/ don't use soy milk for anything else- what other liquids can i use?
Any milk/mylk! I've used oat mylk, almond mylk and coconut mylk- all with excellent results. If you want to use dairy milk I suggest using 300ml and dilute with 200ml water.
Q: I can't always get hold of all the dried fruits and seeds- are there other ingredients I can use?
Simply answered yes! As long as you have 400g of some kind of dried fruit with 150g of the seeds (in addition to the flax).
So here we go with some of my favourite alternatives: died cherries, dried blueberries, golden raisins, dried apricots, mulberries and goji berries. All packed with antioxidants, minerals and fibre. The only seeds I've experimented with to replace the sesame are hemp seeds.
Q:I'm finding the loaf quite crumbly- any tips?
1. Firstly make sure you have used the correct volume of fluid to the quantities of dried ingredients. The loaf should be pretty wet when scooping it into the loaf tin and quite quickly solidify as the fibre in all the grains, nuts, seeds and fruit is absorbing the liquid. If the ratio of dry:wet ingredients is not correct, the texture of your loaf may be altered.
2. Secondly make sure you leave the loaf to cool completely before slicing. Yes, this may be tricky as it's so temping to cut the first slice straight out of the oven but it's important for two reasons. It allows the loaf to retain the moisture as its cooling, and helps retain the shape without drying out.
Some More Tips
I make this loaf every two weeks- usually on a weekend which gives me some more time to restock on ingredients and mindfully put the recipe together- it really has become a purposeful self-care activity. One thing I have found is by slightly blitzing the flax seeds (in a nutri-bullet-type appliance) it improves the texture when it comes to cutting after it has cooled, and for freezing in slices. The nutrients from the flax seeds will also be more bioavailable as you are breaking up their fibrous husk by blitzing them. You don't need to grind them to a flour as this will alter the fluid requirements.
Another addition you can add it to replace one table spoon of the buckwheat flour with a heaped tablespoon of cacao powder. Cacao is a good source of magnesium and contains polyphenols to support healthy gut microbes. Other spices that are delicious to add are ground ginger, all-spice, a few saffron strands soaked in the milk, or a little nutmeg.
A Word on Variety
Every time I make this loaf I switch up a number of the ingredients to help vary my breakfast. With the ingredient swaps I've suggested above, and pairing it with different toppings you can offer your body the diverse plant foods it requires to support a healthy gut microbiota. The loaf in itself has approximately 13 different plant foods. Add some nut butter, cacao nibs, some berries, or sliced pear or chopped banana and some other seeds, you are offering your gut microbes a diverse feast that will support their health and production of vital compounds known as short-chain fatty acids.
I hope you have found this Q&A helpful. Do get in touch and let me know how you have got on with making the loaf and if you have any more questions I can help with.
Wishing you joy and creativity in the kitchen,