Note from Jessica: Today, I am bringing you another awesome guest post from my friend, Heather Pierce. Heather is a master at creating easy, healthy, delicious, and even fun! recipes for busy people. I adore her online cooking program – Go Feed Yourself! I include it with all of my top private coaching programs. It is one of the best out there for making healthy cooking and eating super simple and entertaining. This post is her interpretation of the work of a hilarious writer that I adore – Gabrielle Lichterman. Gabrielle and I have yet to meet in person, but we have been chatting back and forth for awhile now about how both of us see the hormone cycles as being so interesting in their impact on our lives. While, neither of us believe that our hormones are (really) in control of us or that they make us “the weaker sex,” we both believe that understanding their impact can be very empowering. And, Gabrielle’s take is hilarious! This article originally appeared on her blog, Hormonology – Your Free Daily Hormone Horoscope. So, do yourself a favor this week, and check out the work of both of these funny and talented women. Your hormones will thank you!
Week 1: Boost Your Iron
Say goodbye to Captain Cranky-pants by giving your body an iron boost this week. Iron loss from bleeding can make you tired, irritable, and foggy-headed. So add more iron-rich foods like egg yolks, dark leafy greens, prunes, beans, and lean meat. This tasty egg sandwich will help boost your iron and your mood because it’s so darn delicious.
Crispy Kale & Avocado Egg Sandwich
1-2 slices sprouted-grain bread (like Ezekiel or Alvarado Street Bakery)
4-5 leaves kale
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp organic butter
1 organic egg
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees and take slices of sprouted bread out of freezer.
- Rinse kale and dry well with a paper towel or clean dish towel. Tear leaves off each stem and tear kale into pieces with your hands.
- Place kale in a medium sized bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt. Toss gently until kale is totally coated with oil — don’t be afraid to get your hands in there and massage those suckers until oil is absorbed.
- Lay kale in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 3-6 minutes, until crispy and slightly browned at some corners. Keep an eye on it, they go from awesomely crisp to burnt in a split second!
- Pop bread in the toaster, heat a small skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Crack egg into the pan, let bottom set, flip and cook yolk to your desired level of done-ness.
- Slice avocado into thin slivers.
- Place avocado slices on top of toast, layer a few crispy leaves of kale over them, then top with your egg. Enjoy as open-faced or top with another slice of toast for a tasty sandwich.
Week 2: Tickle Your Taste Buds
Healthy veggies do not have to be boring. In Week 2 estrogen and testosterone are peaking – making you most adventurous and your taste buds more sensitive to flavors. Try to get clues when dining out on how to make otherwise “blah” healthy food into sexier, more indulgent dishes. I recently enjoyed an addictive dish, Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan and Truffle Oil over Risotto Cakes, at one of my favorite restaurants and used it as inspiration to create this at home:
- Trim off ends of Brussels sprouts and shred by slicing very thinly with a chef’s knife, a mandoline, or in your food processor. Transfer to a bowl and lightly salt.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium and saute the sprouts until colors turn bright and leaves get soft but not brown.
- Remove from heat, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and lemon juice.
- Lightly toast the walnuts in a dry skillet or toaster oven. Roughly chop.
- Drizzle sprouts with walnut oil and top with toasted walnuts. Taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary.
- Use hazelnut oil instead of walnut, or if you want to get fancy, use truffle oil.
Week 3: Reach for Comfort Food
During this “pre-PMS” week, rising progesterone may make you feel more sleepy and anti-social. This is a great time to curl up with some comfort foods that are warming and easy on the digestive system (and hence don’t eat up as much energy), like this sweet potato ginger soup.
Sweet Potato-Vanilla-Ginger Soup with Potato Croutons
2 tbsp olive oil or butter
1 large onion
1 inch fresh ginger
freshly ground black pepper
5 cups diced sweet potato (about 2-3)
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups chicken broth (or veggie broth)
1 cup of colorful potatoes (I love picking up a few purple potatoes along with the dark orange yams or sweet potatoes)
2 tbsp olive oil
sprinkle of sea salt
Directions – Soup
- Dice onions and potatoes.
- Put the olive oil or butter in large pot over medium heat. Let butter melt.
- Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften. About 5 minutes.
- Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper, vanilla, and sweet potatoes and stir.
- Add the stock to cover sweet potatoes and bring to a boil.
- Stir, lower the heat to a simmer, and cover until vegetables are tender, 15-25 minutes.
- Take soup off heat, puree with an immersion blender or take out veggies with a slotted spoon and puree in a blender.
- Return to pot (if you used the blender), taste and adjust the salt and add any other spices that tickle your fancy. If it’s too thick, you may want to add a bit more broth here too.
To Make the Croutons:
- Cut the potatoes into 1/4-inch cubes. (Slice potato lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Stack a few slices on top of each other and cut lengthwise again into 1/4-inch strips. Arrange 4-5 strips side-to-side in one layer and cut into 1/4-inch cubes. Repeat with remaining potato.)
- Place potatoes in a medium sized bowl and toss with olive oil and sea salt until well coated.
- Lay on a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes until crisp and slightly browned.
- Let cool and serve on top of soup (be careful, these tend to disappear before you even have time to put them over your soup!).
Week 4: Mood-Boosters
During this PMS week, you’ll probably be a bit more irritable and moody as all of your hormones take a nosedive. Lift up your spirits with foods that naturally boost the “feel-good hormone”, serotonin. Serotonin-lifters include: whole grains and complex carbs like oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice and vitamin B6-rich foods like spinach, mustard greens, poultry, lean beef, and fish like tuna, halibut, and salmon.
Quinoa Pilaf with Citrus-Soy Dressing
1 cup cooked quinoa (or brown rice)
2 cups water
Pinch of sea salt
1 bunch of asparagus or broccoli
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup grated carrots
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 tbsp low-sodium tamari soy sauce
1 tbsp raw honey
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Snap off ends of asparagus spears and cut into 2-inch pieces.
- Steam asparagus or broccoli until still bright green and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
- Toast almonds on a baking sheet in oven or toaster until lightly browned.
- Make Citrus Dressing: whisk together olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice, soy sauce, honey, and salt and pepper.
- Grate carrots and lemon zest.
- Place quinoa, asparagus or broccoli, toasted almonds, zest of 1 lemon, 1 cup of shredded carrots in a large serving bowl. Pour dressing over the pilaf and gently toss.
- Peel and slice bananas into 1-inch slices and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Gently spread a dab of peanut butter on top of each banana slice. Sprinkle tops with sea salt.
- Melt 2/3 of the chocolate.
- Microwave option: Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds. Stir chocolate well with a rubber spatula, then heat for another 30 seconds. Stir and repeat if necessary but stop microwaving before chocolate is completely melted. Stir until smooth.
- Double-boiler options: Heat about an inch or so of water in a saucepan until it begins to simmer. Place a heat-proof bowl or pan over the saucepan. Add 2/3 of the chocolate and keep stirring with a rubber spatula until chocolate is almost fully melted. Take off heat.
- Quickly add remaining chocolate and stir so it’s smooth and shiny.
- Gently drizzle chocolate over the banana and peanut butter slices with a spoon. Keep stirring chocolate so it doesn’t harden. (Tip: make them look fancier by freezing the bananas for an hour first then using a fork to dip them in chocolate and completely cover, but I’m too lazy for that extra step!)
- Stick the baking sheet in the freezer and let chocolate harden for at least 1 hour. These are great for just grabbing a slice or two at a time for a quick pick-me-up!
Makes about 15-20 bites.
For more tasty healthy recipes and how-to videos, check out Heather’s Blog.