Whether you're interested or not, hormones affect us all. We all have them, men and women. They affect our moods, energy and feeling of well being, as well as the people around us when we're feeling under par.
For men, the hormone that can be affected is testosterone (levels). Recent studies have demonstrated that low testosterone in men is strongly associated with metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (Miner and Seftel 2007). Male hormones help men beat stress, stay fit and have better sex. Their hormone levels need to be looked after as they age in the same way that women's hormones, especially oestrogen, need balancing to keep us healthy, energised and motivated. Our hormones drive our libido too.
That's what we talked about last weekend to the group of women who attended the Happy Hormones workshop. Of particular interest and importance was the inclusion of phytoestrogens on a daily basis. What are they? Never heard of them?
They're found in pulses - legumes (adzuki beans, black beans, soybeans, anasazi beans, fava beans, chickpeas, kidney beans and lima beans) and lentils - as well as nuts . They're high in protein, low in fat and provide natural fibre in your diet to help clear and prevent Oestrogen reabsorption in your body.
My favourite Hummus
I used to think pulses were for vegans and that I didn't need to consider them. Thank goodness for multiculturalism and the introduction of wonderful Indian, mediterranean and middle eastern foods into Australia. I've discovered two favourite pulse foods, hummus and dahl. They're delicious and so good for you. Here's a Christine Mansfield Hummus recipe that I love making. It takes about 10 minutes once the chickpeas are cooked.
What's in it
100g organic Tahini
4 cloves of garlic
60ml lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
100ml olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chilli oil
How to make it
Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water & cover. Ensure the bowl is large enough as the peas swell. You can use canned chickpeas which are already cooked. I find chickpeas easy to soak and you don't have to worry about the possible affects of the plastic lined can. Just pop the dried peas into a bowl before you go to bed.
Drain the peas. There's no need to de-hull, and in a saucepan cover with cold water and cook for 30 mins or until soft. Drain and keep a bit of cooking water. Cool a bit.
Blend the chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, sea salt and cumin. I add more salt and cumin, if necessary, after tasting. The paste can be quite thick, so add cooking water or just water, to soften, then drizzle in olive oil and chilli oil. Make sure you don't overdo the chilli oil. Just keep adding water to get the consistency you prefer. (I find it doesn't need a lot of water.)
Sprinkle with shredded parsley or coriander and serve. It can be stored for up to a week.
It's great to eat with salads; as a dip with carrot, celery or zucchini; on sandwiches, if you're eating bread, instead of butter. As an accompaniment to almost anything. It's so satisfying, filling and nourishing. I eat it every day in some way.
Happy eating and snacking!
Oranges are in season. That means they’ll be sweet, juicy and full of vitamin C without having been in cold storage for months.
There are many claims about the benefits of vitamin C. It’s suggested it can cure the common cold. There are plenty around this winter. You’ve got to watch whose sneezing around you. Perhaps that’s why oranges are a winter fruit. So you can get plenty of fresh vitamin C to assist your immune system. It’s best to eat the whole orange so that you get the fibre too.
It’s said the benefits of vitamin C may also include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling. It is sometimes given intravenously to cancer patients during and post chemotherapy to help aid recovery.
Whatever the benefits, it’s best taken naturally from a source of fruit or vegetables. Oranges and mandarins are my favourite sources. They’re thirst quenching! Remember those days of playing sport in winter and having an orange wedge or 2 between quarters or at half time? So much better for you than the current fashion of ‘sports drinks’ which can have up to 17 teaspoons of sugar.
I love cooking healthy desserts, particularly one’s without sugar, when I’m having guests. I’m sugar sensitive and need to keep my sugar consumption to a minimum. My body starts to get a bit hyper with soft drinks, processed juices and manufactured sweets. So they’re a ‘no no’ in my fridge and cupboard.
I’ve been trawling the internet looking for a flourless orange and almond cake that is sugarless. I found Nutrition by Gina Rose has a delicious recipe. I’m taking the liberty of sharing it with you.
Healthy Orange & Almond Cake
▪ 2 large oranges
▪ 5 eggs
▪ 125 ml honey or rice malt syrup
▪ 1 tsp vanilla paste
▪ 2 cups almond meal
▪ 1 tsp baking powder
How to make it:
Cooking the oranges is the only time consuming part of this cake.
Place the oranges in a saucepan of water, just covered. Bring to the boil, then simmer for up to 2 hours or until they are soft. You may need to turn them occasionally and add water, if it starts to get low.
Once cooked, drain them and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, chop them into chunks, leaving skin on and remove any pips.
Pre-heat the oven to 190C. (No need to use fan-forced) . Grease well and line a 20cm springform cake tin.
Place chopped orange segments, eggs, honey and vanilla into a food processor and blend until well combined. Add the almond meal and baking powder and blend until you have a smooth batter.
Pour the cake batter into the springform tin and cook for approximately 30 minutes in the middle of the oven. (Gina Rose’s recipe says 50-60 minutes. However, I have found, in my oven, it needs no longer than 30 minutes.) So check after 30 minutes. When you think it is ready, insert a skewer to see if the centre is cooked, before removing from the oven.
Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before releasing it and allow to cool on a cake rack.
The texture of this cake is moist and dense, but not heavy. You’ll enjoy the fresh aroma of citrus from the moment you puree the fruit, through baking when it scents the whole kitchen, and then when you serve it. Delicious, especially when served with plain yoghurt sweetened with honey. You can sprinkle it with some chopped almonds to give it crunch, if you wish.
Enjoy your oranges!
Jill Keyte is passionate about health, vitality and making a difference to people who want a natural, quality life where they are well, fit, energised and feel vital. My knowledge comes from my wellness training and and life experience.