In the past two years I have spent a considerable amount of time learning to listen to my body, to try to understand and piece together the process of how body, mind and spirit communicate seamlessly in an ongoing, ever evolving symphony of maintaining homeostasis. Sometimes these observations are an internal “knowing” and sometimes I discover something by observing external signs in my environment. What I’ve discovered is that our hormones drive all of our bodily functions as well as our emotions and if they are not balanced, the navigation system that takes us through life is very disjointed.
Recently I planned a cooking class for students who wanted to learn how to eat better and keep unruly hormones in check. I was on my way to the Coop Grocery to pick up some supplies for the class. As I crossed the bridge into town, the tide was out and various flocks of birds were on the tidal flats foraging for food. I watched them and realized they were part of the natural order and foraging for food, reproducing and raising their young was their sole purpose in life. Following that train of thought in the midst of planning my cooking class made me realize that as a culture we no longer forage for what sustains us. We rely on huge agricultural businesses and an elaborate transportation system to bring food to us and place it in delightfully appealing displays in air-conditioned supermarkets. The process is void of anything closely related to the natural order. Small children think milk comes from cartons because they have never been to a farm to see a cow being milked. Recently, a local grade school boy was introduced to an eggplant in a food education class. He innocently exclaimed, “Wow, I always wondered where eggs come from!”
I decided that I wanted to take my class to a different level, to get more than a bunch of recipes and a great meal. It was important that they have a connection to the food, to know what it was doing for their bodies so that they could make good decisions when shopping for nourishing foods to balance hormones. I also wanted them to learn to reconnect with the earth in a way that put them back in the flow with nature. We did a garden tour around my raised beds before class and foraged for tender greens of lettuce, chard, kale and spinach along with herbs of lemon balm, calendula petals, lemon verbena, nasturtium flowers, sorrel leaves and violet blossoms. Butterflies fluttered among us and bees buzzed around. Birds chirped as we foraged, reconnecting with a part of us that has been forgotten, lost in our daily routines. The salad was amazingly beautiful and had a savory taste of a connection to earth, rekindled.
Today I will share with you how that class brought land and sea together to create a beautiful hormone balancing meal, foraging in the garden for tender greens and herbs, sharing stories and laughter and connection with others as we all navigate this beautiful life that we are given. Enjoy the recipes and feel free to share them and to comment.
Side note: A word about MCT oil. You will see Medium Chain Triglyceride, known as MCT oil used or suggested in several of the recipes. Some of you may think, what the heck is MCT oil. I know I did when I first saw it. MCT is derived from coconut and palm kernel oil. It is an oil that is more easily and rapidly digested than other fats. They require lower amounts of enzymes and bile acids for intestinal absorption. MCT oil is metabolized very quickly in the liver thus giving you more energy and less storage as fat. This oil also has a high heat tolerance so you can sauté with it. This amazing oil boosts metabolism and turns into energy not fat in your body. Cool right? I love this oil! A word of caution though, introduce MCT oil slowly into your diet. If you go gung-ho at first it can cause a stomach ache.
Let’s start hormone balance by dialing down on the caffeine! Caffeine hijacks cortisol and leaves you feeling very tired before the day is over and doesn’t allow you to recuperate and restore your energy reserves at night. Alas you wake up tired, grab a cuppa to get started in the morning and begin the cycle all over again. Here is a recipe that will not only get you off caffeine but help detox your liver too. Dandelion root helps to detox the hepatic system.
Better than Coffee - Dandy Blend Latte
2 T dandy blend beverage powder (found in health food stores)
2 cups hot water
2 T ghee or coconut oil or MCT oil
2 pitted dates or 2 drops liquid stevia
dash of nutmeg
Place all ingredients except nutmeg in blender and hit puree. Pour into 2 mugs and sprinkle with nutmeg. This delicious drink will have you off coffee in no time.
Often times when hormones are not balanced we get cravings. I know I do. When those cravings hit it makes us angry and irritable. When this happens, take a moment to stop and listen to what may be deeper. Breathe deeply and go below the surface and listen. Are you thirsty and your body is asking for hydration? Are you tired and your body is asking for more energy? Are you searching for spiritual nurturing? These can all be the root of cravings. If you are just down right HUNGRY here is a recipe that can sustain you until you figure out the rest of it. Cashew butter protein balls are loaded with nutrient density. A handful of cashews is equal to a dose of Prozac for depression. Yes that’s right cashews help stave off depression. Full of good fats, they help support brain health.
Cashew Butter Protein Balls
3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
2 T coconut oil, melted or MCT oil
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup almond flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
2 T water
1/2 cup dried chopped cranberries or cherries
Drain the cashews, place all ingredients in food processor and blend until cashews are chopped and smooth and mixture has stiffened. Form into balls and place in freezer.
Hormone balance using root vegetables helps keep insulin levels in check, boost progesterone and metabolizes estrogen. This delicious summer salad will have you coming back for seconds on salad!
Juicy ripe peaches on the grill are a real treat anytime.
Grilled Peach & Beet Salad with Hazelnut Yogurt Dressing
1 1/2 lbs. beets boiled, peeled and chilled
3 ripe peaches
1 cup vanilla sheep milk yogurt
5 T hazelnuts
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 T olive oil
1/4 tsp pepper
2 T chopped cranberries
4 cups dark leafy greens
fresh mint leaves or basil
Prep the beets by cutting the tops & bottoms off and boiling in water until tender. Allow to cool and slip off the skins and chill. Cut in to bite size pieces & sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt.
Combine yogurt, 3 T chopped hazelnuts, lemon juice and 1/4 tsp salt and blend in food processor. Refrigerate.
Cut peaches in half and remove the pit. Lay face down on an oiled grill until properly marked. Cut in bite size pieces and toss with beets.
To assemble salad, make a bed of greens, Place beet and peach mixture on top of greens and drizzle with dressing. Top with a few dried cranberries and remaining hazelnuts. Garnish with mint or basil leaves.
This final recipe is where land and sea meet in perfect harmony and hormone balance. Hazelnut coconut crusted rock fish offers a perfect protein and omega fatty acids to feed your brain and get hormones firing correctly. Fish is also a heart healthy food and keeps insulin in check. Using hazelnut and coconut creates a gluten-free crispiness and gives your body fiber and added nutrients and minerals.
Hazelnut Coconut Crusted Rock Fish
1 cup hazelnut flour
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 pounds rockfish
1 large egg
2 T coconut oil or MCT oil
Combine hazelnut flour, coconut, salt & pepper in a small bowl and mix.
Rinse fish and pat dry. Cut into 1 inch strips.
Beat the egg in a separate small bowl.
Submerge fish in egg wash and roll in dry mixture.
Heat coconut oil over medium heat in large skillet
Fry fish 2 minutes on each side or until opaque in the center.
All of these recipes and tips are part of a 5 week Hormone Balance Reset Program that I teach.