{Health} This Thanksgiving: eat to defeat menopause!

This Thanksgiving–eat to defeat menopause. Here, FOF Karen Giblin shows you how.

Karen is the founder of Red Hot Mamas, a menopause education and support program as well as a self-proclaimed FOFoodie. “I wanted to combine my lifelong passions–cooking and educating women about menopause,” says Karen. “It was a natural fit to write a cookbook based on women’s health.”

Last year, Karen partnered up with Dr. Mache Seibel, a leading menopause expert and former Harvard Medical School professor, and the two scoured their own recipes collections, as well as reached out to top chefs in search of recipes with ingredients providing menopause symptom relief. The resulting book, Eat to Defeat Menopause, is part menopause-coping manual and part cookbook. Here, we chat with Karen about symptom-stopping ingredients plus she shares two Thanksgiving recipes sure to dazzle guests while alleviating your menopause ails. Talk about comfort food!

What made you decide to write “Eat to Defeat Menopause”?
I’ve enjoyed helping people all my life. Before I was involved in women’s health, I was selectman for my town in Ridgefield, CT. While I was in public office, I needed a total hysterectomy and it put me into menopause. A lot of my female constituents contacted me to find out how I was doing and asked me their own menopause questions. In response, I started Red Hot Mamas in 1991 to help women through their hormonal changes. Also, cooking has always been one of my passions. I grew up helping out in the kitchen of my family’s restaurant, DeNitti’s in Little Italy in Baltimore, Maryland. As an adult, I still love to cook. I wanted to combine my passions while sharing with women how important our diets are to our health.

Are you a good cook?
Yes. It’s very difficult to go out to a restaurant because my husband complains we eat just as good at home. I included many of my personal recipes in the book.

Tell me about your co-author, Dr Seibel.
He is an excellent OB/GYN who ran the menopause center at the UMass Medical School. He also used to be a professor at the Harvard Medical School. He is one of the medical advisors for Red Hot Mamas and contributed medical advice to the book. Not only does the book have 130 recipes but also an area that carefully explains the process of menopause. He, too, likes to cook and contributed some of his own personal recipes.

How did you choose the recipes?
We contacted chefs from all over the country (including a former White House chef!) and asked them to contribute recipes that would be helpful for menopausal women, particularly ones that included whole grains, good fats, good proteins, phytoestrogens and protective substances. Then, we analyzed the nutritional value of all the recipes. We incorporated the ones we felt would provide dietary strategies for symptom relief. The recipes are not only nutritious but delicious.

Did you taste test all of the recipes?
Yes! That was the fun part.

Can we really eat specifically to combat menopause symptoms or does your cookbook address healthy eating for aging and disease prevention in general?
Yes, we can eat to combat menopause. The way we organized the book was by symptoms and for each symptom we list which foods you should say yes to, and which to stay away from. (See Karen’s slideshow of menopause symptoms and good and bad foods, below.)


Would the recipes in your book be beneficial to husbands and significant others?
Absolutely. The recipes support good nutrition for people of all ages and are based off of a well-rounded diet of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy fats. Those are the key ingredients that will help all people of any age or gender live a healthy life. It’s important that men just as well as women understand the value of a healthy diet.

Are there any dietary supplements you would recommend to help alleviate the symptoms of menopause?
Yes. i-Cool is a hormone-free and allergen-free supplement which contains genistein. Genistein is an isoflavone, and has similar effects in the body to the hormone, estrogen. Some women just don’t get enough isoflavones in their diets. For that reason, many women have said this supplement decreases hot flashes and night sweats.

Karen’s Eat to Defeat Menopause Thanksgiving Recipes

Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Apples

This recipe is a tasty alternative to traditional mashed or baked potatoes, and it goes well with roast chicken, turkey, or pork. Sweet potatoes are fat free and packed with nutrients that help our metabolism and may prevent the development of heart disease and cancer.

2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 medium-size), left whole and unpeeled
1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons butter
½ cup chopped onion
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped coarsely (2½ cups)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg

Chopped dill or parsley

Yield: 8 servings

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the whole sweet potatoes and boil briskly for 30 to 35 minutes, or until tender. Drain and let cool slightly.

In a large skilled with a lid, melt the 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden and tender. Add the apples and 2 ½ tablespoons of water and cook, covered, over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the apples are tender.

Preheat the oven to 375°F and grease a medium-size baking dish.

Peel the potatoes (the skin should slip off), cut into chunks, and put into a large bowl. Add the 1½ teaspoons of butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg and the apple mixture and mash with a potato mashed or the back of a spoon until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the greased baking dish and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Garnish with dill or parsley and serve.

–Cynthia Niles


Per serving: 181 Cal; 45 GI; 2 g Prot; 37 g Carb.; 2 g SFA; 1 g MUFA; 0 g PUFA; 0 g Omega-3; 49 mg Calc; 160 mg Sod.; 434 mg Pot; 1 mg Iron; 0 mg Phytoestrogen; 5 g Fiber

Red Hot Ingredient: Sweet potatoes

  • Vitamins A, B and C
  • Calcium and iron
  • Carotenoids
  • Fiber

Stuffed Pears

This special dessert is easy to make and absolutely delicious, and it is healthy and low in fat. The wine combined with the sweetness of the high-fiber pears makes a scrumptious dish.  Almonds are a rich source of vitamin E, may lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, and may prevent certain cancers.

½ cup sliced almonds, toasted and chopped finely
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
2 large ripe pears, halved and cored
3 tablespoons dry Marsala wine

Yield: 4 servings

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking dish with a small amount of butter.

Combine the almonds and sugar in a small bowl and mix well.

Place each pear half in the greased baking dish so that they fit snugly together. Stuff each pear half with the nut mixture and the pour a little of the marsala on top of each pear.

Bake uncovered for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

–Karen’s Cucina


Per serving: 190 Cal.; 37 GI; 4 g Prot.; 24 g Carb.; 1 g SFA; 5 g MUFA; 2 g PUFA; 0 g Omega-3; 59 mg Calc.; 2 mg Sod.; 261 mg Pot.; 1 mg Iron; 0 mg Phytoestrogen; 5 g Fiber

Red Hot Ingredient: Pears

  • Vitamins B2, C and E
  • Copper and potassium
  • Pectin
  • Fiber

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