It’s no surprise that clean eating can help you manage menopause weight gain. But did you know that there are other ways clean eating helps support your body throughout menopause too? An Australian study of 6,000 menopausal women found that those who stuck to a Mediterranean-style diet reported fewer hot flashes and night sweats.1 So, to help you get ready for all of this season’s backyard barbeques and picnics in the park, here are three summer recipes that are packed with the nutrients your body needs and the excitement your senses want.
1. Crunchy Vegetarian Spring Rolls
These colorful little spring rolls aren’t just clean, they’re filled with many of the nutrients your body needs during menopause. The spinach in this recipe brings calcium and magnesium to the table—two nutrients that are important for supporting bone health.
The avocado adds biotin to the mix, which helps your body manage the hair and nail brittleness that often comes with menopause. And the peanut dipping sauce packs in the protein—something that’s especially important during perimenopause, when your body is at risk of muscle loss.
Pro tip: Assembling the spring rolls too far in advance might cause the rice paper to dry out. However, the veggies can be chopped, and the sauce can be made and refrigerated a day in advance to cut down on prep time. Just be sure to bring the dipping sauce up to room temperature before serving.
Spring Roll Ingredients:
- 20 rice papers, 9 inches in diameter
- 8 oz. maifun rice noodles
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 2 red bell peppers, cut into matchsticks
- 1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 1 avocado, thinly sliced
- 2 cups alfalfa, broccoli, or clover sprouts
Peanut Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
- ¾ cup creamy peanut butter
- ¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup honey
- 1–2 medium garlic cloves
- ½ tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- Combine all peanut dipping sauce ingredients—except for the green onions—in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth. Garnish with green onions.
- Bring a 2-quart saucepan of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles and cook for 1 minute until the noodles are pliable, but not yet falling apart. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Assemble the spring rolls one at a time. Submerge a rice paper in a shallow bowl of water until it bends easily (about five seconds). Move the rice paper to a dry plate and load the center with rice noodles and a small amount of each veggie. Fold the left and right sides of the rice paper in toward the center before rolling the rice paper from bottom to top to create a nice, tight spring roll. Repeat with the remaining 19 rice papers.
- Cut each spring roll in half and arrange in a single layer on a serving platter. Serve with dipping sauce on the side.
2. Zesty Kidney Bean Salad
Kidney beans are one of the best plant-based sources of calcium, and they happen to pack a punch of magnesium too. But they’re not the only things that make this salad great. The tomatoes in this recipe are a great source of lycopene, a key carotenoid with antioxidant activity. And the cilantro tops off the dish with some vitamin A—which helps support the immune system during menopause and beyond.2 If you’re looking for a side dish that’s as powerful as it is pretty, you can’t go wrong with this recipe.
Pro tip: Tossing the salad with dressing and keeping it in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving allows the veggies to soak in more of the dressing’s zesty flavors.
- 1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 heirloom tomatoes (preferably orange), chopped
- ½ English cucumber, diced
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 3 oz. fresh lime juice (about 2 limes worth)
- 3 oz. olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients. Whisk until smooth.
- In a large bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients. Toss with dressing. Serve at room temperature.
3. Savory Salmon Pilaf With Kasha
There are some pretty good reasons salmon is called a superfood. It delivers omega 3-s for heart health; vitamin D for bone health; vitamin B12 for cellular energy; and biotin for skin, hair, and nail health—all in one savory little package. As if that weren’t enough, this recipe rounds out its nutritional content with kasha (dried buckwheat), which is rich in calcium, iron, and protein.
Pro tip: Kasha can often be found in the rice aisle of the grocery store or through online retailers.
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. pepper
- 1 egg
- 1 cup kasha
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ yellow onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- ½ cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
- ½ red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
- 12 oz. cooked salmon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Begin preparing the kasha by bringing the broth, olive oil, salt, and pepper to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. In a medium bowl, lightly whisk the egg and add the kasha, turning to coat. Cook the egg mixture in a skillet set over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the egg is cooked through (2–3 minutes). Add the kasha to the boiling broth, cover, and simmer for 7–10 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.
- Begin preparing the pilaf by heating the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and vegetables and sauté until the produce is tender (approximately 5 minutes). Add the salmon and cook until heated through.
- Add the kasha to the pilaf, season with salt and pepper, and stir until well mixed. Serve warm.
1Herber-Gast GC, Mishra G. Fruit, Mediterranean-style, and high-fat and -sugar diets are associated with the risk of night sweats and hot flushes in midlife: results from a prospective cohort study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2013;97(5):1092–1099. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.112.049965.
2National Institutes of Health Offices of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin A Fact Sheet for Consumers. Version current 5 June 2013. Internet: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-Consumer/ (accessed 11 December 2018).