The Midlife Kitchen – a review

I’m always on the lookout for new healthy recipes so imagine my delight when I spotted The Midlife Kitchen. Aimed at those of us in our forties, the book promises recipes that will “future-proof your life through your forties, fifties and well beyond.”

The authors are journalist Mimi Spencer, who co-wrote the bestselling Fast Diet, and her friend, Sam Rice. They set out their manifesto at the beginning of the book, eschewing fads in favour of sensible advice and, unlike a lot of healthy cookbooks on the market, this one has a firm nutritional foundation; dietician Dr Sarah Schenker acted as a consultant on the recipes.

As we enter the perimenopause our bodies undergo significant changes. Hormonal fluctuations can play havoc with sleep patterns, moods and energy levels. We can no longer get away with eating what we did when we were younger without gaining weight.

The good news is that food plays a huge part in hormonal balance and by making some simple changes to our diets we can help to reset our hormones.

As the authors state: “Indeed, in midlife, our nutritional needs are very different from those in our twenties and thirties: we need greater fortification from foods full of vitamins and minerals, to guard against loss of muscle mass and – of particularly concern to women – a decrease in bone density. We need more lean protein too (vital for cellular health), a moderate quantity of ‘good’ slow-burn carbohydrates and plenty of gut-friendly probiotics – while women can benefit from eating foods high in phytoestrogens such as flaxseeds (the holy grail for mid lifers), great leafy beg and legumes.”

The Midlife Kitchen is not a diet cookbook. The focus is firmly on health and good nutrition. There’s also an emphasis on simplicity. These recipes are straightforward and relatively quick to prepare – perfect for those of us with busy lives.

There’s a lengthy section at the beginning of the book that lists key ingredients and their benefits as well as a list of recommended store cupboard ingredients. The dried hibiscus flowers are probably the most unusual item on the list; the rest are reassuringly normal.

And the recipes? So far I’ve been impressed. Favourites include Balinese Yellow Chicken Curry and Indian Spiced Fish. The Rich Chickpea Tagine has become my new storecupboard standby. In winter I eat a lot of porridge for breakfast and it can get boring so I particularly love the variations offered here – carrot cake and spiced pumpkin.

I haven’t yet delved into the Good Sweet Stuff Section where some of my favourites are given a healthy makeover but it’s only a matter of time. Midlife Sticky Toffee Puddings, anyone?

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