Eating and living for optimum health during menopause

Symptoms of menopause

Menopause is a huge transformation in a woman’s life with daunting and sometimes debilitating symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, musculoskeletal pain, depression and the list goes on! However, the way I see it is that we could prevent or lessen the impact of these menopausal symptoms by by prioritising and trying to reset ones health and make lifelong changes towards a healthier diet and lifestyle as we approach this challenging stage in life.

Most of my adult life I ate nutritionally rich foods, exercised regularly and worked towards getting sufficient sleep, even then some menopausal symptoms like the stubborn abdominal weight gain took me by surprise. This is when the penny dropped that there is no limit to fitness and health for the human body. And there is benefit in aspiring to get to the next level of wellness for a healthier life ahead. The following advice is to help you prevent the onslaught of these symptoms or in the least to minimise them through supporting your body with the right nutrition and lifestyle habits.


The primary need for a woman’s body at this juncture is to enhance estrogen levels as they deplete. This is important as estrogen influences how the body utilises calcium and regulates cholesterol in the blood. There is a decline in estrogen at this time and women maybe at risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Menopausal symptoms like hot flashes are also a result of lowered estrogen levels in the body. The following foods help support the body through this period:

  1. Foods containing plant estrogens – 2 servings a day broccoli, cauliflower, chickpeas, lentils, beans, soybeans and soybean products like tofu, tempeh and miso. These phytoestrogens mimic estrogen and help alleviate menopausal symptoms. They also facilitate fat and carbohydrate metabolism.
  2. Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids – 1 serving a day Fish: barramundi, Mackerel, Salmon Seeds: chia seeds and flax seeds are good sources too Supplement: fish oils Women commonly suffer from hot flashes and night sweats, Omega 3 fatty acids are helpful in alleviating these symptoms.
  3. Foods rich in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D – 2 servings a day Fruits: figs, blackcurrants, blackberries, raspberries and oranges Vegetables: kale, spinach, bok choy, mustard, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts and okra Dairy products: milk, cheese and yogurt These foods can help reduce bone loss and the risk of osteoporosis.
  4. Foods high in protein – have 20-30 grams per meal Animal protein: fish, free-range poultry, free-range eggs, grass-fed beef Plant protein : beans and lentils These foods will help prevent muscle loss which is also prevalent at this stage in life.

Foods to exclude:

  1. Processed foods : reconstituted meats like salami, bacon, hot dogs, pastrami, deli meats, frozen meals and packaged soups. These foods are high in salt, sugar and saturated fats which can cause inflammation in the body, further exacerbating menopausal symptoms
  2. Refined carbohydrates : foods that have added sugar (> 1tsp = 4 gms of sugar a day) such as sugary beverages, sweetened yogurts, sweetened breakfast cereals, sweet or savory packaged snacks such as chips and cookies and those that have low fiber such as white bread, white rice and white pasta. These foods cause sugar spikes that can lead to insulin resistance and inflammation in the body
  3. Spicy foods : foods containing red chilli pepper, cayenne pepper or paprika can increase the incidence of hot flashes
  4. Alcohol : if you are drinking more than 1 unit (150 ml) a day you can worsen hot flashes and mood swings

Lifestyle habits

  1. Exercise for 30 minutes 5 days a week moderate-intensity aerobic workouts and twice a week strength training and weight bearing exercises to shed weight gain and strengthen bones.
  2. Restful sleep is essential for keeping our hormones balanced which can be impacted by irregular sleep patterns. Also, restless sleep can lead to weight gain as we wake up tired and search for refined carbohydrates to get the energy boost.
  3. Eat healthy and mindfully ensuring that your plate is half full with vegetables and chewing slowly and stopping when almost satiated. Try putting your fork down between bites.
  4. Reduce stress by doing an activity that you enjoy. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol can worsen weight gain in the abdominal region which is where menopausal weight gain occurs.

This period of life is when your body needs a lot of support to function optimally, so do consider these tips in enhancing your nutrition and lifestyle. You will reduce your menopausal symptoms and also equip your body for a healthful future.


Warm cauliflower, kale, beetroot salad

The purple cauliflower, young kale and beetroot have been sourced directly from a small local organic farm called Quan Fa in Singapore. Do try to get locally grown organic vegetables as they are clean of pesticides. Also, buying locally the nutrients remain intact with less vitamin C lost during transportation.

These rich deep hues are so satisfying as you can be certain that you are taking in some important nutrients into your body. This gorgeous warm salad will boost your levels of Iron, Potassium, Vitamins Bs, C and K! In addition these vegetables will give you ample dietary fiber! We need fiber for our guts to function well and to support the good microbiota in our colon, enabling them to thrive.

The kale and purple cauliflower in this salad have abundant flavonoid compounds called Anthocyanin. These compounds help protect the body from oxidative stress and regulate cellular activity. The purple cauliflower also has more antioxidants than the regular white variety. This salad can be served warm with a chicken roast or grilled fish.

Serves 8


1 whole purple cauliflower – 400 gms

2 medium beetroot – 300 gms

Young kale – 250 gms

Olive oil – 2 tbsp

Garlic – 4 whole pods

Cracked black pepper – 1 tsp

Sea salt – 1 tsp

Lemon – 1

Rosemary – 1 bunch

Feta cheese – 100 gms


  1. Cut the cauliflower into separate florets with the stalks
  2. Peel the skin off the beetroot and slice it in round pieces
  3. Chop the kale into bite size pieces
  4. Place the cauliflower and beetroot in a baking dish
  5. Drizzle olive oil over it
  6. Peel the garlic pods and put them in the dish
  7. Squeeze lemon on the vegetables
  8. Sprinkle the rosemary leaves, black pepper and salt
  9. Then massage altogether with your hands
  10. Place the dish in the oven at 180 C for 15 minutes
  11. Then put in the kale and cook for a further 5 minutes
  12. Remove and crumble feta cheese on top and serve warm!

Barramundi with rosemary and garlic

Barramundi with rosemary, garlic and cherry tomatoes

It’s Monday night and I feel like something light and nutritious to begin my week with. That may set the tone for the rest of the week. I choose Barramundi, a fish that is sourced from a local fish farm in Singapore. At this farm the barramundi are grown in richly oxygenated clean salt water which goes through natural filtration. The fish are not treated with hormones or antibiotics, pesticides or chemicals. This makes me feel like I am putting something that is truly cleanly nutritious into my body!

Barramundi has I have written before is considered a fatty fish, one that is high in Omega-3 fatty acids – the heart healthy fat. It has been recommended to have 200 gms of fatty fish a week. The Omega-3 fatty acids are also beneficial for brain health. So, do try to introduce fatty fish in your weekly diet.

This recipe is simple with just a few ingredients. So, it is easy to cook on a weeknight. You can marinade it a night before and leave it in the fridge till the evening or marinade it first thing in the morning.


  1. Lemon – 1 whole squeezed
  2. Olive oil – 2 tbsp
  3. Cracked black pepper – 1 tsp
  4. Dried red chilli peppers – 4 whole
  5. Sea salt – 1tsp
  6. Garlic – 4 whole pods
  7. Rosemary – 2 stalks
  8. Cherry tomatoes – 10 whole
  9. Barramundi – 1 kg whole


  1. Heat olive oil, garlic, rosemary, red chilli pepper, salt and pepper on low fire for 10 mins
  2. Let it cool
  3. Pour it over the fish and squeeze the lemon on top and marinade it for 30 mins to 2 hours
  4. Place the cherry tomatoes into the pan with the fish
  5. Pre-heat oven at 180C
  6. Grill for 20 mins
  7. Ready to serve!

Lemony herbed Mackerel

Mackerel with herbs and lemon

Mackerel is a fatty fish that is high in good fats such as omega-3 fatty acids but, low in saturated fat. It is rich in vitamin D and it’s protein content is high. The omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for heart health. They can lower blood pressure, heart rate and possibly improve blood vessel function. The American Heart Association recommends we have 2 servings (each serving is 100 gms) of fatty fish a week.

In this recipe I have used lots of lemon and garlic infused olive oil. The olive oil is also high in omega-3 fats. The lemon and herbs add a light and citrusy flavour. Whereas the cumin seeds give it an earthy and warm flavour. The combination is delicious! However, if you are not a fan of cumin seeds you can leave them out. The fish can be served with a side portion of spinach, carrots and potatoes.

Roasted potatoes, sautéed spinach and carrots


Mackerel fillets – 400 gms

Dill sprigs – 1 cup

Parsley leaves – 1 cup

Lemon – 2

Olive oil – 4 tbsp

Garlic cloves – 6

Sea salt – 1 tsp

Cracked black pepper – 1 tsp

Roasted cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp or cumin seed powder 1 tsp

Dried red chilli pepper – 1 tsp


  1. Ground the herbs and 1/2 tsp salt with a mortar and pestle
  2. Toast the cumin seeds in a pan
  3. Add in the cumin seeds and black pepper and grind further until it is a paste
  4. Squeeze half a lemon and slice one whole lemon
  5. Rub the fish with the herb paste and lemon
  6. In a separate pan cook the garlic in olive oil on low fire till the garlic is soft
  7. When the garlic infused oil has cooled down, pour it over the fish
  8. Sprinkle red chilli pepper
  9. Let the fish sit covered for 1 hour to soak in all the ingredients
  10. Place the dish in an oven at 180 C for 8 mins
  11. Take it out when cooked and serve with the side dishes above!
Mackerel soaking in the ingredients

Pesto chicken

Pesto chicken with spinach, cherry tomatoes and free range egg pasta

Pesto is a rich and flavourful sauce made from pounding fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheeses and extra-virgin olive oil. The word “pesto” is Italian and it means “to pound or to crush”. This sauce is not cooked and can be made and refrigerated for a week.

The nuts and olive oil in this sauce make it rich in good fats, which are beneficial for heart health. The basil, garlic, olive oil and nuts are high in antioxidants, which protect cells from oxidative stress.

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is made from unpasteurized raw milk with no additives or preservatives and so is considered a natural and healthy product. It has high protein content and it may also be rich in probiotics and good for digestive health. The Pecorino Romano cheese is made from 100% sheep’s milk and so is easier to digest. It has a salty and nutty flavour.

You can serve the pesto sauce with pasta or even as a sauce over meats. I have used it with chicken breasts in this recipe and cooked it over a bed of spinach and cherry tomatoes. You can also use zucchini, peppers and tomatoes or any other vegetables of your choice.

The pasta is an addition and it can be replaced by brown rice. I used pasta as I had fresh pasta made from free range egg.

I use a mortar and pestle to pound the ingredients as I love the control I have over the consistency of the paste. However, you can use a food processor, which is faster and can be more efficient.

Serves 6


Pesto sauce:

Fresh sweet Italian basil leaves – 4 cups

Pine nuts – 1/3 cup

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese – 1/2 cup

Pecorino Romano cheese – 1/2 cup

Extra virgin olive oil – 1/4 cup

Garlic cloves – 2

Black pepper – 1/2 tsp

Sautéd Spinach

Olive oil – 4 tbsp

Garlic cloves – 4

Dried red chilli pepper – 1 tsp

Sea salt – 1/2 tsp

Frozen whole leaf organic spinach – 400 gms

Organic heritage cherry tomatoes – 10

Cooking the Chicken

Chicken Breasts – 600 gms

Olive oil – 1 tbsp

Sea salt – 1/2 tsp

Cracked black pepper – 1/2 tsp


Preparing the Pesto Sauce:

Pesto sauce
  • Remove the stems from the basil leaves
  • Add the leaves in a mortar and sprinkle some sea salt
  • Pound the leaves with a pestle
  • Add the garlic and pound into the basil
  • Add the pine nuts
  • Add the cheese and olive oil gradually
  • Sprinkle in the black pepper
  • Keep pounding and mixing all of the above until it is a paste
  • Alternatively, add the basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, cheeses and olive oil into a food processor

Sautéing the Spinach

  • Add olive oil to a small sauce pan with the whole garlic pods and the red chilli pepper and salt and let it cook until the pods are soft
  • Pour 2 tbsps of this garlic and chilli infused oil into a pan and then throw in the spinach leaves and cook slowly for a 3-4 minutes and remove from the pan

Cooking the chicken

  • Rub the chicken breasts with salt and pepper
  • Drizzle the olive oil into a skillet and heat on low fire
  • The chicken breasts should be sliced horizontally to give them a 1.5 inch thickness
  • Place the chicken breasts in the heated oil and cook for two minutes on each side and remove from the pan

Cooking the chicken pesto

  • Pour the rest of the garlic and chilli infused olive oil in a skillet
  • Place the spinach at the bottom and throw in the cherry tomatoes
  • Place the chicken on top and cover and cook for a further 3 mins
  • Spread the pesto sauce over the chicken and cover for 2 minutes
  • Cook the pasta separately and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over and twist into coils
  • Remove the cover and then sprinkle some toasted pine nuts, grated cheese and basil leaves on top of the chicken pesto and serve with the pasta coils in the skillet!
Chicken pesto with spinach and cherry tomatoes

Miso bok choy!

Miso bok choy

Bok choy the white chinese cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable and is rich in Vitamin C and K. It also has high fiber which is very beneficial for digestive health and is helpful in reducing the risk of chronic diseases. The miso adds probiotics to the dish, which help boost the healthful microbiome in our guts.

In this dish I have used miso to give it a salty and sweet umami flavour. In addition to this intensely savory taste it has a tangy flavour due to the lemon juice and vinegar. And the ginger gives this dish a spicy kick! It can be eaten with ginger brown rice on it’s own or as a side dish.


Miso sauce

sesame seed oil – 1 tbsp

ginger minced – 1.5 tbsp

miso – 2 tbsp

lemon juice – 1 tbsp

rice vinegar – 1 tbsp

mirin – 4 tbsp

Bok choy stir fry

bok choy – 1 pound

sesame oil – 1 tbsp


  1. warm 1 tbsp of sesame oil in a pan
  2. add the ginger and miso and cook on low fire
  3. add lemon juice, rice vinegar and mirin and continue to cook for a few seconds
  4. in another pan heat 1 tbsp of sesame oil in a wok and throw in the bok choy for a few seconds
  5. place the bok choy in a dish and pour the miso sauce over it and serve!
Miso bok choy

Berry power!

Blackberry, strawberry, blueberry and raspberry power bowl

This gorgeous power bowl is nutritionally dense and a great energy booster for breakfast or for a snack when your energy levels are low.

The berries are a low calorie high fiber food with powerful anti-oxidants and vitamin C. The banana adds some more minerals like potassium and a green banana adds prebiotics to this bowl. The avocado, peanut butter, nuts and seeds are good fats, an important part of our diet especially for heart health. The oats add more fiber and minerals to this super healthy bowl! And the best part is that for all the nutrition it offers you it can be so easily put together!


frozen blackberry – 2 tbsp

frozen strawberry – 2 tbsp

frozen blueberry – 2 tbsp

frozen raspberry – 2 tbsp

frozen green banana – 1/2

avocado – 1

non-stir organic peanut butter – 1 tbsp

chia seeds – 1 tbsp

roasted organic rolled oats – 1 tbsp

roasted organic walnuts – 1 tbsp

raisins – 1 tbsp

pumpkin and sunflower seeds – 2 tbsp

shredded dried organic coconut – 1 heaped tsp


1. Put all the frozen berries in a blender

2. Add the banana, avocado

3. Add the peanut butter

4. Add the chia seeds

5. After blending the above then spoon it into a bowl

6. Sprinkle the walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, raising and coconut on top

Tofu with miso

This fabulous plant protein option, tofu, is sprouted and is creamy and smooth to taste. Tofu has all the nine essential amino acids that we require from food and so we consider it a complete protein. However, it has anti-nutrients as well called phytates that reduce the absorption of important minerals like calcium, iron and zinc. The sprouting helps to break down these anti-nutrients making it even more nutritionally dense.

This recipe has miso, which is made from fermented soybeans. This fermented food is rich in amino acids, vitamins and minerals. The fermentation process enables optimal mineral absorption in the gut. Miso is also a great probiotic food which enhances gut health.

This dish is infused with probiotics as I have also added the Japanese soy sauce tamari, which is made from fermented soybeans. It also adds to the strong umami flavour in this dish.

I added the dried-bonito flakes not only to increase the flavour in this dish but also the nutritional value. Bonito is a popular variety of tuna in Japan. This fish is smoked and dried to make dried-bonito called katsuo-bushi. This is an important ingredient in the Japanese fish broth called dashi. Apart from it’s flavourful addition to food it is also given as a supplement for colds and fatigue.

This nutritionally rich dish can be served with brown rice cooked with ginger to add more flavour to this meal!

Silken sprouted tofu with Miso


Minced red chilli pepper

300 grams organic Non-GMO sprouted tofu

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp chilli oil

4 garlic pods minced

1 tbsp younger ginger minced

1 tbsp dried-bonita flakes

1 tbsp minced big red chilli pepper

2 tbsp brown miso paste

2 tbsp tamari

1 cup warm water

Please note that I have not added any salt. The miso, bonito and tamari sufficiently add the salty flavour to this dish.


  1. Warm sesame oil in a pan on a low fire
  2. Drizzle the chilli oil into the pan
  3. Add garlic, ginger, chilli pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes
  4. Add the bonita flakes followed by miso and tamari and continue cooking on low fire
  5. Add some water and cook for another 2-3 minutes
  6. Separately steam the tofu in a steamer for 6-8 minutes
  7. Gently remove the tofu block from the steamer onto a plate and slice it into thick pieces
  8. Remove the sauce from the pan and add more water if you feel it is too thick
  9. Pour it over the sliced tofu
  10. Serve it with ginger brown rice and it is ready to eat!
Tofu with miso

Spicy beetroot and kale salad

Beetroot and Kale Salad

If you love chilli and enjoy a little kick in your food this salad will satisfy that. The chilli flavor is accompanied with a sweet and sour taste. This can also be your vegetarian option of the week as it gives a non-vegetarian the feeling of eating something bulky and fulfilling as you need to cut the beetroot like you would a piece of meat. It can be eaten as a side dish but, also is a meal in itself. Beetroot (Beta vulgaris) is packed with nutrients, and is a good source of fiber, vitamin B9 (folate), manganese, iron, potassium, and vitamin C. It is associated with a number of health benefits, like lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow and an enhancing exercise performance.

Salad Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic pod minced

1 tbsp chopped onion

1 tbsp fresh big red chilli minced

1 tbsp sliced spring onion

1 beetroot sliced in 1/2 inch round discs

1/2 tsp crushed red chilli pepper

1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

2 cups raw kale

1 tbsp cranberries

1 tbsp cubed feta cheese

1 tbsp roasted sunflower seeds

Tahini dressing ingredients :

2 tbsp tahini paste

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp coconut aminos

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp pink Himalayan salt

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

1/2 tsp minced garlic

2 tbsp molasses sugar or blackstrap molasses

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

This will make a bottle which you can store away in the fridge for future use.


Warm the oil in a frying pan

  • Add the onion, garlic, spring onion, fresh red chilli to the olive oil
Onion, garlic, fresh red chilli pepper in olive oil
  • Add dried crushed red chilli, black pepper, salt and beetroot in a flat pan.
  • Cover and cook for 20 mins on low fire
Cooked Onion, spring onion, garlic, fresh red chilli pepper, beetroot, dried chilli pepper, salt, black pepper
  • Prepare the salad dressing and keep it in the fridge to chill
  • Let the cooked beetroot cool down
  • Toss in the kale, cranberries, sunflower seeds and feta cheese
  • Pour 2 tbsps of salad dressing and enjoy!

Spicy Kale and beetroot salad

Mexican Quinoa Salad

Mexican Quinoa Salad
Mexican Quinoa Salad

This salad was inspired by the fresh hot Jalapeño peppers I bought the other day. It isn’t easy to come by them in this part of the world. The nutritional value of these peppers vary depending on the variety and maturity. The green raw ones contain fiber, folate and vitamin K. One cup of sliced, raw green Jalapeño contains around 60% of the daily requirement for Vitamin C, 14% Vitamin A and 4% Iron. The ripe Jalapeño, which are red in colour, contain vitamin B6 and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. This dish is rich in lycopene as tomatoes contain high amounts of it too.

I wanted to make a plant protein dish and what came to mind is the wonderful grain Quinoa! It is considered a complete protein as it has all 9 essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make on their own. One cup cooked quinoa provides around 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. I wanted to add more fiber to this dish and an additional amount of protein, so I added a cup of small black beans. The Jalapeños added a spicy kick with a delicious peppery flavour!

Serves 6


1.5 cup dry quinoa

12 cherry tomatoes

1 medium carrot

1/4 cup sweet corn kernels

1 bunch kale

2 bunches parsley

2 jalapenos

1 red bell pepper

2 cups cooked black beans

2 garlic cloves

1 tbsp olive oil


1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp molasses sugar

1 tsp cayenne pepper

Pinch of pink Himalayan salt

Back row: Quinoa, cherry tomatoes, carrots and corn, kale Front row: Black beans, red pepper, parsley, jalapeno


Make the dressing and cool it in the fridge for 1 hour

Boil 3 cups of water and add the dry quinoa uncovered

Once cooked, set it aside and cover to let it steam for 5 minutes

Halve each cherry tomato

Chop the carrot into 1/2 inch pieces

Slice the bell pepper into 1 inch squares

Chop the garlic cloves into small pieces

Chop the kale into bite sizes and this should give you around 1/2 cup of kale

Separate the parsley leaves from the stem and this should give you 1/2 a cup of parsley leaves

Toss all the prepared ingredients in a bowl and pour the chilled dressing over it and give it one more turn and serve!

Mexican Quinoa Salad up close!