For many of us whose kids are growing up, and are no longer strictly tied to spaghetti bolognese and pasta pesto for dinner, it’s time for us to re-focus on what we want and, perhaps more importantly, what we need to eat as we reach our midlife years. Mimi Spencer (co-author of the international bestseller The Fast Diet) and Sam Rice (Bali-based food and wine writer) have collaborated on The Midlife Kitchen, Health-Boosting Recipes for Midlife and Beyond. The cookbook focuses on midlife health across eight categories including Hormone Harmony, Heart Health, Blood Sugar Balance, Bones and Joints and offers over 150 healthy – but more importantly – fantastically tasty, simple recipes that can help boost your health as you get older. We’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the newly published book, and having tried some of the recipes, cooked by Sam herself, we can happily confirm that we have ourselves a new cookbook best friend…
Why we love it: This is one of those dishes that is so much more than the sum of its parts. On the face of it, a comfortingly retro dish of baked eggs, tomatoes and paprika but, with a few Midlife tweaks such as adding peppers and red onions, the antioxidant content is pumped, transforming it into a delicious and nutritious brunch-time feast.
Ingredients (serves two)
light olive oil spray
1 small red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 small peppers (1 red, 1 yellow), cored, deseeded and chopped
400g can chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp chilli flakes, or more to taste
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp soft brown sugar
a squeeze of lemon juice
sea salt flakes and freshly
ground black pepper
2 tbsp natural yogurt, to serve
a handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped, to serve
Heat a medium-sized frying pan over a medium heat and spray with a little olive oil. Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes until it begins to soften, then add the garlic and continue to sauté for a minute.
Add the peppers and cook for a further 5 minutes until softened.
Stir in the tomatoes, chilli flakes, spices, sugar and lemon juice and simmer for 5–7 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken.
Make four evenly spaced wells in the tomato mixture, then crack an egg into each one. Season well and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the egg whites are firm and the yolks still runny.
Serve with the yogurt and scatter with parsley.
Health Tip: Studies have shown that lycopene, a potent antioxidant found in tomatoes, is boosted by cooking, so by slowly simmering this rich, red sauce you are also maximizing the nutritional benefit.
BLACK BELUGA LENTILS (WITH SWEET POTATO, BALSAMIC AND POMEGRANATE)
Why we love it: As you might expect, Beluga lentils are named after the caviar they resemble – we adore them because they’re such a beautiful jet black, and they have a rich flavour and velvety texture that works perfectly in this good-carb bowl. Like all lentils, they’re high in protein and fibre, so they make for a filling meal, particularly when paired with roasted sweet potato, toasted pine nuts and this sweet, dark dressing.
Ingredients (serves four)
1 sweet potato, about 250g, peeled and sliced
1 tsp olive oil
sea salt flakes and freshly
ground black pepper
250g pouch ready-cooked
Beluga or Puy lentils
1 small red onion, very finely diced
1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
a handful of pomegranate seeds
For the dressing
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp date syrup
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Place the sweet potato slices in a small roasting tin, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes until just softened and starting to brown.
Leave to cool, then cut or tear into 1cm pieces. Tip the lentils into a serving bowl, add the cooled sweet potato and the onion.
Combine all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and stir well, then season. Pour half of the dressing over the lentils and toss together. Top the lentils with the toasted pine nuts and pomegranate seeds and serve with the remaining dressing on the side.
Midlife Hack: Use the lentil and sweet potato mix (undressed) as the base for a stunning soup – just add veg stock, heat through and blend.
Health Tip: Unlike green lentils, black lentils possess anthocyanins, the same potent antioxidants found in dark berries such as blueberries and blackberries, offering added protection against age-related disease.
These recipes and photographs were originally published in The Midlife Kitchen. The Midlife Kitchen is out now in the UK and Australia, will be available in the US and Canada later this year, and can be ordered online for delivery here to Singapore: www.midlifekitchen.com.