COOKING 101: Food to help those moods

I was trying to recall if there were any foods that brought relief to those irksome side effects of what has been coyly called “The Change.”

Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? It sort of holds out the promise of something new, different and exciting, rather than a life-changing event that signals advancing age and sweat-soaked sheets without the fun getting there.

I don’t know if my memory has faded through the decade and a half since the onset of that timeline event. Or if I have simply blocked it out. But about the only thing I recall is buying one of those battery-powered mini fans you tried to discreetly aim at overheated body parts.

I do know my time was before the advent of WebMD or other Internet data bases that allow you to Google “foods that alleviate hot flashes” and find instant answers.

Back when I was crossing over, it was strictly word of mouth.

I asked my 60-something friends what foods had spelled relief for them. They offered one word of advice: Cold.

But woman cannot live by ice cream alone.

Obviously, I’m well past the stage of actually testing the research that’s out there today. But it seems to suggest avoiding spicy foods that promote sweat – duh – and focusing on healthy fruits and vegetables as well as foods that replenish all that calcium and iron that is pouring out of every pore, such as fish, soy, dairy, that sort of stuff.

In other words, the sort of diet you are already following if you are trying to stay healthy.

No magic pills. Sorry.

My guess is, you’re still going to sweat. You know the drill: sweater on, sweater off, window open, window closed, hot tea, ice water. No rhyme or reason to the moods of this thing.

So my advice is, keep it cool, keep it healthy and keep it comforting. You’re suffering, remember. You deserve it.

How about a fresh fruit smoothie? A bowl of homemade macaroni and cheese? A filet of grilled maple salmon? A soothing peppermint cheesecake?

All of these recipes have lots of iron, calcium and other healthy stuff your body needs as it’s entering a new phase.

And while they may not keep the sweats at bay, it just might let you kick your feet up and say aaaaahhhhhhh.

But keep the mini fan nearby.


Fresh Fruit Smoothies

I buy lots of fresh fruit and keep it diced in the fridge. At the first hint it’s losing freshness, I toss it in the freezer, where it is ready to be transformed into thick, creamy fruit smoothies.

1 container Greek yogurt

1 cup frozen berries or diced frozen fruit, like mangoes or pineapples

1 banana

1?2 to 1 cup soy or almond milk, depending on preferred thickness

1 scoop whey powder

Cinnamon and ginger

Puree all the ingredients in a blender or smoothie maker. Sit back and sip.


Broiled Salmon

Salmon filet

Lemon pepper

Maple syrup

Grated orange zest

Sprinkle salmon filet with pepper. Drizzle with maple syrup, sprinkle with orange zest. Place under broiler, mid rack, and broil 5 minutes until fish starts to cook through. The time depends on thickness of filet. Test with fork. About 1 minute before it’s cooked through, place fish on higher rack and broil briefly to caramelize.


Comforting Mac & Cheese

2 large eggs

1 12-ounce can evaporated milk (you can use fat free)

1 tablespoon mustard

1?2 pound elbow macaroni

4 tablespoons butter

12 ounces shredded cheese (mix of cheddar, monetary jack or other flavors – avoid spicy)

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix eggs, milk and spices in small bowl. Boil water and cook macaroni until it is al dente, or firm. Drain, return pasta to warm pan and toss with butter. Pour egg mixture over macaroni in pan. Add cheese and stir over low heat until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately. Or: Pour mixture into casserole dish, top with buttered crumbs and run under the broiler until crumbs are golden brown.


Peppermint Cheesecake

Crust

11?2 cups chocolate cookie wafers, crushed

3 tablespoons sugar

1?4 cup melted butter

Topping

Whipped cream

Crushed peppermint candies or candy canes

Filling

4 8-ounce packages cream cheese

1 4-ounce package white chocolate, melted

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Make crust: Melt butter, mix with sugar and crumbs. Press into bottom of cheescake pan that has been lined with foil. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes.

Make filling: Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, extract, sour cream and melted chocolate. Then add eggs, one at a time. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes. Refrigerate at least 4 hours to set.

Serve: Top with whipped cream and crushed peppermints.

4 eggs

1 cup sugar


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