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International Women’s Day invites us to prioritize women’s health and advocate for our own wellness. Diet plays a big role in women’s health, and it’s often overlooked. “The food and drink choices you make every day affect your health now and later in life,” explains the U.S. Office of Women’s Health. “Choosing healthy foods and drinks more often can help prevent or manage many health problems that affect women. And studies show that when a woman eats healthy, everyone in her household is more likely to eat healthy.” This month, celebrate women and eat your way to better health (and a stronger immune system) with these recipes designed to boost the unique needs of women’s health.

Diet and Food for Women’s Health

The best foods for women’s health are those that provide essential nutrients while supporting overall well-being, hormonal balance, and specific health needs such as bone health and reproductive health. Top choices include:

  • Fatty Fish: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for heart health and may help reduce inflammation. Examples include salmon, trout, mackerel, and sardines.
  • Leafy Greens: Packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are beneficial for overall health, including bone health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Berries: Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are loaded with antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins, which help support immune function and reduce inflammation.
  • Greek Yogurt: High in protein and probiotics, Greek yogurt can aid in digestion and gut health. It’s also a good source of calcium, which is important for women’s bone health.
  • Whole Grains: Foods like quinoa, brown rice, oats, and barley provide complex carbohydrates, fiber, and essential nutrients. They can help regulate blood sugar levels, promote digestive health, and provide sustained energy.
  • Tofu and Soy Products: Tofu, tempeh, and edamame are rich sources of plant-based protein and phytoestrogens, which may help regulate hormone levels and reduce the risk of breast cancer.

These recipes will help you work these amazing foods into your diet today.

BREAKFAST: Greek Yogurt and Berry Smoothie Surprise

Enjoy your refreshing and nutritious Greek yogurt and berry smoothie and see the difference it makes in your day when you start your morning with such a refreshing, nourishing meal. Not only does it contain amazing ingredients for boosting women’s health, but it’s also full of protein, healthy fats, and fiber to keep you feeling full and happy all morning.

Feel free to customize this recipe according to your taste preferences by adding other fruits, such as mango or pineapple, or incorporating ingredients like protein powder, flaxseed meal, or nut butter for additional nutrients and flavor.

1 cup Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla flavored)
1 cup mixed berries (such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
1 ripe banana, peeled and sliced (optional, for added sweetness and creaminess)
1/2 cup spinach leaves (optional, for added nutrition)
1/2 cup almond milk or your choice of milk (adjust for desired consistency)
1-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup (optional, for added sweetness)
Ice cubes (optional, for a colder smoothie)

Add Greek yogurt, mixed berries, sliced banana (if using), spinach leaves (if using), almond milk, and honey or maple syrup (if using) to a blender.

If desired, add a handful of ice cubes to the blender to make the smoothie colder and thicker.

Blend on high speed until all ingredients are well combined and the smoothie reaches your desired consistency. If the smoothie is too thick, you can add more almond milk or water to thin it out.

Once the smoothie is smooth and creamy, pour it into glasses and serve immediately. You can optionally garnish the smoothie with additional berries or a sprig of mint for presentation.

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LUNCH: Barley and Chickpea Salad with Greek Yogurt Dressing

When you think about whole grains, you might be thinking about classics like brown rice or quinoa. But barley has amazing health benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially when it comes to women’s health and heart disease. The soluble fiber beta-glucan found in barley has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels, particularly LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol), which can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Barley also contains antioxidants like tocotrienols and phenolic acids that may further support heart health by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.

This barley and chickpea salad with Greek yogurt dressing is not only high in protein but also packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making it a nutritious and satisfying meal option. It’s perfect for lunch or dinner and can be easily customized with your favorite vegetables or additional protein sources like grilled chicken or tofu.

For the salad:

1 cup barley, cooked according to package instructions and cooled
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 English cucumber, diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Greek yogurt dressing:

1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked and cooled barley, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and parsley. If using feta cheese, add it as well. Toss gently to combine.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, dried oregano, salt, and pepper to make the dressing.

Pour the Greek yogurt dressing over the barley salad and toss until everything is evenly coated.

Taste the salad and adjust seasoning if needed with more salt, pepper, or lemon juice.

Transfer the salad to a serving dish or individual plates.

If desired, garnish with additional parsley and a sprinkle of feta cheese before serving.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate for later. This salad can be enjoyed chilled or at room temperature.

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DINNER: Tempeh Stir-Fry with Vegetables

Incorporating tempeh into a balanced diet can provide women with a range of women’s health benefits, including support for bone health, heart health, digestive health, and weight management. For instance, tempeh is a good source of calcium, which is important for maintaining strong and healthy bones. Adequate calcium intake is crucial for women, especially during adolescence, pregnancy, and menopause, to prevent osteoporosis and reduce the risk of fractures.

This savory stir fry takes just minutes to whip up and tastes like your favorite takeout from a Chinese diner.

1 package of tempeh, cubed
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water (for thickening sauce)
Cooked rice or noodles, for serving
Sesame seeds and green onions for garnish (optional)

Start by marinating the tempeh: In a bowl, combine the cubed tempeh with soy sauce or tamari, sesame oil, minced garlic, and minced ginger. Let it marinate for at least 15-20 minutes.

Heat a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Once hot, add the marinated tempeh to the skillet and cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tempeh is lightly browned. Remove the tempeh from the skillet and set it aside.

In the same skillet, add a bit more oil if needed, then add the sliced bell pepper, onion, broccoli florets, and sliced mushrooms. Stir-fry the vegetables for 5-7 minutes, or until they are tender-crisp.

Return the cooked tempeh to the skillet with the vegetables. Add hoisin sauce and rice vinegar to the skillet and stir to coat everything evenly.

In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with water until dissolved. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the skillet and stir well. Allow the sauce to thicken slightly.

Once the sauce has thickened and everything is heated through, remove the skillet from heat.

Serve the tempeh stir-fry over cooked rice or noodles. Garnish with sesame seeds and chopped green onions if desired.

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