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Nutrition & Good Eating

Menopause and Good Nutrition

Menopause is an inevitable part of every woman’s life. Menopause, or the cessation of menstruation and the end of the fertile years, is often a signal to the woman that her body is changing drastically. Symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, mood swings and increases in health risks such as osteoporosis, high cholesterol and diabetes. However, being mindful of your diet and making sure you are consuming the right foods will go a long way in increasing your quality of life and help ameliorate many of the symptoms of menopause.

Menopause is caused by a change in hormones. Most importantly, the woman’s ovaries begin to produce less and less estrogen and progesterone, two of the main reproductive hormones. As a result, it is easier for women going through menopause to gain weight, retain fat, especially around the abdominal area, and lose muscle. In additional, your basal metabolism slows down due to the change in hormones as well as the natural aging process. Thus, it is especially important to monitor your diet to ensure that you are eating nutrient dense foods such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains, fruits, low-fat dairy products and lean meat. Alcohol, caffeine, and sugary food should be limited. Moreover, you should increase your intake of calcium and Vitamin D by eating foods such as low-fat dairy products, fish, broccoli, and tofu. This will help prevent bone loss and osteoporosis.

To stave off weight gain, it is important to consume 25-35 grams of fiber a day as fiber helps to keep you full. In addition, consuming soy products such as soybeans, tofu and soy milk can help alleviate some of the symptoms of menopause. This is because soy products contain phytochemicals such as soy isoflavones, which, when digested, serves as a weak form of estrogen in the female’s body.  Additionally, eating often and smaller portions will help to maintain blood sugar levels and keep you from overeating. Last but not least, keep in mind to do a combination of cardio and strength training for at least 150 minutes a week to help you maintain a healthy weight.

Carena Lowenthal is a Registered Dietitian and is Certified in Adult Weight Management by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  She is a consultant to physicians and clients specializing in wellness and weight loss and weight management programs.  Carena works with clients who have a range of medical conditions, including Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Obesity.  Carena is passionate about helping others make good choices when it comes to food, health, and physical activity, and believes that by following a healthy eating plan, we can achieve long term health.

Carena Lowenthal, MS, RD, CDN

Nutrition 365 LLC

(917) 882-5033

carena@carenalowenthal.com

Creamy Tofu Palak Paneer

Makes 4 to 6 servings

For the tofu paneer: 
1 16-ounce (500 g) block firm tofu
1 tablespoon (15g) grated fresh ginger or ginger paste
1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon or lime juice
1 teaspoon (2.5 g) garam masala
salt, to taste

For the palak: 
1 teaspoon (2.5 g) ground cumin
1 teaspoon (2.5 g) ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon (1 g) chili powder or crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon (1 g) turmeric (optional)
1 teaspoon (5 g) grated fresh ginger
2 tomatoes, chopped
salt, to taste
1/2 cup (75 g) chopped onion
2 bunches fresh spinach, chopped roughly and boiled in about 1/4 cup (60 ml) water until tender, or 1 16-ounce (315 g) bag frozen spinach (approximately 4 cups steamed)
1/3 cup (80 g) plain soy yogurt or other plant-based yogurt

To prepare the tofu, place it in a flat colander (or plate) with a weight on top for at least half an hour, or preferably overnight, keeping it in the refrigerator. One can also use a tofu press to prepare it. Ensure all the water is drained and the tofu is suitable to marinate. Cut tofu into cubes or roughly one-inch (2.5 cm) squares.

While tofu is being pressed, mix together ginger, lemon or lime juice, garam masala, and salt in a bowl adding water to the mixture if it’s too thick.

Put the tofu cubes in the freshly-prepared marinade in a baking pan and let it stand about 30 minutes to an hour, turning it a couple of times to make sure all the surfaces absorb the marinade.

Optional step if oven is available, otherwise just simmer tofu along with spinach in step below: 
Bake tofu for about 20 minutes at 300 F (150 C).
While tofu is cooking, heat a large sauté pan and dry roast cumin, coriander, chili powder or crushed red pepper, and turmeric over low heat, otherwise the spices will burn. Add ginger and tomatoes with any liquid from the tomatoes. Cook mixture over medium heat until the juice from the tomatoes is almost evaporated and the tomatoes are cooked.

Separately, in a large sauté pan add a little salt to the chopped onion and “fry” it in its own juice. Add steamed spinach (and tofu if no oven). Add tomato and spice mixture and let the mixture simmer for a few minutes to absorb the water. Then add plant-based yogurt, mixing thoroughly. Add tofu cubes and cook until warmed through.

Per serving (1/4 of recipe):

  • 144 calories
  • 5.9 g fat
  • 1.1 g saturated fat
  • 34.5% calories from fat
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • 14.8 g protein
  • 12.9 g carbohydrate
  • 4.8 g sugar
  • 5.3 g fiber
  • 420 mg sodium
  • 466 mg calcium
  • 8.2 mg iron
  • 32 mg vitamin C
  • 8945 mcg beta-carotene
  • 3.4 mg vitamin E

(Recipe by Nandita Shah)

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