Monday, January 24, 2011

Recipes for the Caffeine Sensitive and Menopause-Afflicted

One of the less fortunate effects of perimenopause (I really dislike that word speaking of cranky) for me is that my usual sensitivity to caffeine has skyrocketed making it absolutely impossible for my body to tolerate even microscopic amounts of caffeine, no matter how beneficial the supposed source (so no green tea, dark chocolate, or "decaf" items). This to me is actually a tragedy, not just an annoyance. During the periods (no pun intended) I want or need caffeine and chocolate the most, I am not able to partake—a cruel twist. So I have come up with my own substitutes. I hope those of you similarly afflicted will find some solace in these recipes.

I need to preface the following by saying that I am not a huge soy-food fan. I do like tofu if it is fresh, especially when it is combined with pesto (just about anything mixed with pesto is delicious in my book), and I like fresh miso, but that is about it. Most other soy products make me gag. So my concoction below was a happy discovery since I seem to benefit from the mild suppression of excess estrogen which soy milk offers.

My Cup o'Joe
1) In a French Press Coffee Maker (about 1 Qt size) put in 3 small scoops (about 3 Tablespoons) of Orzo (see more on Orzo below)*
2) Fill the Press with just-boiled water, place the cover on but do not press, rather let it sit
3) Separately grind cardamon, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg (sometimes ginger, fennel and/or black pepper too as to mood and preference) in a mortar & pestle
4) Mix the spices with 1 cup of soy milk—not just any soy milk, but Vermont Soy Plain soy milk which is prepared from Vermont-grown, organic and GMO-free soy beans. The Unsweetened "flavor" has no sweeteners or flavors and has the highest protein content so also the highest isoflavone content—phytonutrients which some women find helpful with their menopausal symptoms.
(For some more information about soy and menopause see Women to Women)
5) Press the orzo and add about half of it to the soy milk and spice mixture. Pour into a mug and enjoy.

(Save the other half for a cold Orzo-latte or drink plain—it is delicious and reminiscent of black-coffee)

*For more information about Orzo/Caffe Orzo, see Orzo You Say?
Orzo—finding the good stuff in the U.S.: Fortunately for those of us who do not find ourselves in Italy, Two Leaves and a Bud, purveyors of fine teas, imports what I found to be one of the best Orzos in Italy from Alce Nero. You can order it online or find it at local stores. It is available locally in the Upper Valley at the Upper Valley Food Coop, 185 North Main St., White River Jct, VT 05001; Tel: 802-295-5804

I have recently found that I can tolerate very small amounts of raw cocoa nibs and raw cocoa, although even these I must limit. Raw cocoa is not stimulant-free, it contains theobromine, a compound similar to caffeine. Raw cocoa can also contribute to excess estrogen so moderation is extremely recommended if you suffer from caffeine-sensitivity and excess estrogen. I find that if I stick to moderation, for some reason also easier to do with raw rather than regular cocoa, I can be satiated with something relatively healthy when I am having a wild chocolate craving.

Chocolate Truffle Fix
6 whole dates- soaked for 30 to 60 minutes
1 Tablespoon Raw Agave nectar

1 Tablespoon Raw Coconut Oil
1/3 cup raw, dried shredded coconut

1/6 cup raw cocoa powder

1-2 Tablespoons water from the soaked dates

Optional: 1 teaspoon organic peppermint extract (for those that like mint-chocolate (guilty)

Pit the dates and throw all the ingredients into a food processor. Blend until a thick paste.
Place 1/4-1/2 cup of raw cocoa nibs on a plate and roll teaspoonfuls of the paste into balls in the nibs. I recommend making small balls so that you protect yourself from eating more than might be tolerable.

Eat plain, or with sliced bananas, and serve with an orzo Cup o'Joe. Enjoy!

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