We all want to eat healthier, yet what does that mean? Fewer empty carbs, more protein? Less fat, more fruits and vegetables? All of the above?
Women have special health challenges, such as successfully navigating both the childbearing years and menopause, avoiding women’s cancers, and maintaining bone health. Eating a diet high in specific ingredients — included in the recipes below — can be a simple, yet critical, way to maintain the health of your body and mind as you grow older.
Spicy roasted chickpeas
Crunchy and chewy with a nice hint of spice, these roasted chickpeas are an easy appetizer. They also play well with all kinds of salad ingredients. Chickpeas, a great source of both protein and fiber, are also packed with the vitamins and minerals key to promoting bone health in aging women. Sprinkle with turmeric (shown to lower breast cancer risk) and sauté in olive oil (a heart-healthy fat), and you’ve got a snack that can truly be deemed healthy.
- 2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or garlic oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Season the drained chickpeas with the ground cumin and ground turmeric. Sauté them in the olive oil for two minutes, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer the chickpeas to a baking sheet, and bake 20 to 25 minutes, until they start to brown and are crunchy yet still soft inside. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield: about 6 servings.
Salmon is a favorite healthy main course. This nutrient-dense fish is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute to heart health and can lower the risk of cancer and many chronic diseases. One 4-ounce serving of salmon also provides the typical woman’s daily requirement of selenium, a key player in thyroid health.
- 16-ounce salmon fillet with skin, cut in half crosswise
- olive oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon crushed ginger
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha for heat (optional)
Set a cast iron skillet on the stovetop. Heat the empty skillet over high heat for 5 minutes, while you prepare the salmon.
To make the drizzle: Place all ingredients in a small jar, shaking to combine.
Criss-cross two sheets of foil like a plus sign. Drizzle olive oil into the center. Lay salmon fillet, skin-side down, onto the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. If you’re using the drizzle, pour it atop the fillets, spreading it over the fish with a pastry brush.
Gather up the ends of the foil and seal to make a roomy packet; the foil shouldn’t be touching the top of the salmon.
Place the salmon packet into the hot pan. Cook for 5 minutes (for a fillet under 1 inch thick), or for 7 to 8 minutes (for a thicker fillet).
Remove the packet from the pan and carefully open it up. Serve the salmon hot as a main dish, or cold as part of a healthy salad.
Yield: about 3 servings.
Decadent dairy-free chocolate ice cream
With just two good-for-you main ingredients (fiber- and potassium-rich fresh bananas and heart-healthy unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder), you’ll make a delicious, creamy “ice cream” that no one will guess is both dairy- and gluten- free. Add the optional chocolate spread to go from delicious to decadent!
- 3 medium ripe bananas, peeled
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup chocolate spread or chocolate/hazelnut spread, for extra flavor and richness (optional)
Cut the banana into 1-inch chunks. Place the chunks in a single layer on a pan and put the pan in the freezer for 60 to 90 minutes. The banana should be very hard, but still yield slightly to pressure when you squeeze it.
Process the frozen banana and cocoa powder in a food processor until smooth and creamy. If the mixture remains hard and lumpy, it's simply too cold; let it rest at room temperature for 10 minutes, then continue to process.
If desired, add chocolate or chocolate/hazelnut spread; process until smooth.
Enjoy immediately; it’ll be the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. For firmer texture, freeze to desired consistency.
Yield: about 4 servings.