We're delighted to sharing these delicious recipes written in support of The Gift Wellness Foundation's period poverty campaign. Before you dive in, here's a few words from our resident chef, Naomi:
It’s hard being told what to do when you’re on your period, when all you really want is to eat ice cream and be looked after. “Take a ginger shot!”, “go jogging” “enter a decathlon, it’ll relax your cramps!”- we’ve all felt the frustration of the unattainable goals which will supposedly help us get through our periods. I want to point out though, that there’s no way that these methods can help if we don’t have the motivation to do them!
So here we find ourselves with Peaceful Period Recipes. All of the recipes are meant to help make your period more peaceful, simultaneously doing good for your body, whilst also not being so strenuous that they simply aren’t going to happen. First, there’s a leafy green stir fry, since green veg is full of iron which dips when you are on your period; a quick and easy recipe with very few ingredients but a whole lot of taste. Next, a laksa noodle soup, which is full of anti-inflammatories such as ginger and turmeric, and, importantly, the broth of which can be pre-made and frozen in advance of your period, making it a no-stress wonder. Finally, there’s my best banana bread, simply because it goes without saying that periods mean needing pick-me-ups, and it has dark chocolate in too, which is rich with necessary iron and magnesium. I’ll be honest here though, this one was more about beating those period cravings for something sweet!
Overall, I hope you can find comfort in these delicious dishes whilst on your period, still managing to nourish yourself, without putting in the effort of what feels like entering that decathlon.
Leafy Green Stir Fry
SERVES: Four, but please be warned: though this is great for a lunch, it is not so great for an evening meal, and if eaten as such, your tummy- or at least mine- may be grumbling in the night, forcing you to go and fill a bowl up with cereal at 11pm.
- Broccoli- tenderstem is best, but really any broccoli can be transformed into a wondrous part of this dish. Two-three packets of tenderstem, or one and a half whole broccolis, chopped into florets
- Two packets of bok choi
- Four fat bulbs of garlic, diced
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- A generous handful of sesame seeds
- 2 carrots, peeled, then, using the peeler, cut into strips
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp honey
- Ground black pepper to taste
- In a measuring jug (a bowl is fine too but the tip of the jug helps with pouring), combine the soy sauce, honey, 1 tbsp of sesame oil, half of the sesame seeds, and the ground black pepper.
- Pour the rest of the oil into a frying pan or wok, and heat it up on a low-medium heat.
- Add to this the garlic. Cook it for around half a minute, and reduce the heat if it begins to cook too fast. It will soon be aromatic.
- To these groundworks, add the real party- the broccoli, the bok choi, and the sauce- and turn up the heat slightly. These should take around 5-7 minutes to become tender. If you enjoy your veg without a crunch, then you can add a dash of water to the pan, and cover with a lid, cooking for around 3 minutes further, or until the water disappears. Turn off the heat. To serve, add the thin carrot slices to a bowl, then add the veg, which should be saucy and sesame fragrant, and mix the sauce around with the carrot. Finally, sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds on top for added texture and flavour, and tuck in!
Laksa Noodle Soup
SERVES: Four people, or yourself, four times, mostly depending on just how much you love to eat.
FOR THE LAKSA PASTE:
Note: Laksa paste can be bought pre-made, but may contain crustaceans. This recipe does not contain crustaceans- please forgive me for changing the norm, but I want those little guys in the ocean not my dinner!
- Chillis, numbered according to your tastes, but please note, heavy spice and heat do not mix well with periods, so I would make a mild version. If you want a simple and subtle warmth, just opt for one chilli. If you hate spiciness, feel free to remove the chilli completely. Who am I to reign Chilli Supreme? Again, type of chilli is down to how spicy you would like the dish. Tesco has chillis simply named “Red Chillis” which are very mild in heat, so for a period comfort dish, I recommend these. Fresno chillis work well too.
- 4 shallots, diced roughly
- 5 garlic cloves
- If you can find galangal, then use 3 tbsp of it sliced, but if not, ginger is similar, and the same measurements apply, it is just less citrusy in flavour. Each adds its own unique tang to the mixture, but neither is wrong!
- 2 finely chopped sticks of lemongrass
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
- Two handfuls of fresh coriander, to taste (I know this is a controversial ingredient, but trust me on this, it simply adds a wonderful freshness, and if used in moderation, no coriander haters will be able to detect its presence in the dish overall)!
- 3 tbsp sesame oil
FOR THE SOUP:
- Laksa paste, homemade, or a jarful from the store
- 3 tbsp sesame oil
- 1400ml vegetable stock
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- Salt to taste
- 1-2 bags Tofu King Deep Fried Tofu
- 2 cans coconut milk
- Juice of 2 limes
- Vegetarian fish sauce (this is real and can be found very easily online) to taste
- 450g dried rice noodles
- Fresh coriander
- Sliced cucumber
- Spring onion
- Thai basil
- Lime wedges
All of these can be added to within quantities to your tasting, acting here simply as recommendations of things I find tasty on top of the meal. Vegetables with high water quantities, such as cucumber, are helpful when on your period, contributing to you staying hydrated.
FOR THE PASTE:
- Ensure that all ingredients are at least roughly chopped, if they can be. Take all ingredients except for the oil, and blend together in a processor. If you don’t have a processor then the pre-made paste is just as good! Add the oil to the mix and continue to blend until the consistency is smooth and fine.
FOR THE SOUP:
- Once all of your veg is prepped, cook your rice noodles according to packet instructions, then set aside whilst you begin the Laksa.
- Large soup pans work best for this, but, really, if it’s a hob-safe receptacle and it’s big, you should be okay. I trust your judgement here. Heat the oil with the heat on medium-high, then pop the laksa paste, homemade or otherwise, into the pan, for around three minutes, at which point your kitchen will be smelling delightful, and the paste’s colour will have intensified.
- To this, add the vegetable stock, combining it with the paste, then the kaffir lime leaves, sugar, and salt, whilst bringing the mixture to a simmer.
- Next, add the coconut milk, and continue to simmer, being careful not to overheat the mixture.
- To this mix already brimming with wonderful aromas, add the vegetarian fish sauce and the juice of one to two limes- taste as you go here, to make sure the balance isn't tipped.
- Your soup is almost done! Add the tofu pieces at the last minute- the type listed in the ingredients list are already cooked, so they simply need a few minutes to heat through. If adding a different type of tofu or meat substitute, most of which will be quick to cook, add them at this point too, and simply cook in the soup for as long as instructions require, allowing them to soak up the flavour.
- Put as much soup as everyone you’re serving would like in their bowls, then place in proportionate amounts of the noodles, letting the two become fast and delicious friends. Top your dishes with any of the suggested extras to add final flavour touches, then enjoy.
This broth can be frozen- without noodles in, of course- and so is perfect to make in advance of your period. When you know you’re due soon, make a batch of the broth, and freeze. This way, when your period comes, and you’re feeling tired, or grumpy, or are just desperate to click on deliveroo and order a takeout, you can remember your beautiful broth waiting for you, full of nutrients and goodness, heat it up on the stove, and the only cooking you will have to do is the very brief noodle heating!
Best Banana Bread with Maple Cream Cheese Spread
SERVES: The loaf is large, and can happily feed a family of five as snacks for a few days. However, as you may be able to tell by now, I don’t believe in strict serving instructions, since I would gladly devour half of this, my partner having the other half, over a week. It’s big, it’s filling, and it’s cosy. You know how much banana bread you like- you do you.
FOR THE BREAD:
- 3-4 ripe bananas
- A bag of Bournville dark chocolate buttons, or any other dark chocolate that you like- around 110g
- 75g room temp/soft butter, plus a spoonful for greasing the tin
- 25g caster sugar
- 1 medium egg
- 2 tsp baking powder
- Carnation caramel tin, 397g. For a thicker caramel texture, you can use any pre-made caramel, such as Tiptree caramel spread, or dulce de leche.
- Banana chips, a handful
FOR THE MAPLE CREAM CHEESE SPREAD:
- 225g cream cheese
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
FOR THE BREAD:
- Make sure your oven is preheated to 180 degrees. It’s always 180 isn’t it? Use a knob of extra butter to generously line a loaf tin. Mine is a standard loaf tin weighing in at 450g- 16cm long, 11cm wide and 7cm high (6 x 4 x 3 inches). You can use parchment paper too, but I find that the butter adds a lovely, caramelised crunch to the edges of the bread.
- Beat together the sugar and the butter- you know what’s coming next- until pale and fluffy; the classic phrase. Add the egg to the mixture, then, if using carnation caramel, follow by emptying the tin into the mix. If using a thicker caramel, this will be addressed later.
- Mix the flour and baking powder together; don’t skip over this step! Make sure the two are well incorporated so as to ensure that they become well acquainted, spreading the baking powder evenly throughout.
- Fold the flour and baking powder combo into the sugar and caramel mixture (if you are unsure about the word “fold”, finding yourself amongst other famous members of the Folding Questioners Club, David and Moira Rose of Schitt’s Creek fame, it simply means to delicately and slowly combine the mixture in a pattern akin to folding a sheet, one part over the other, so the light and airy ingredients aren’t smothered by the heavier ingredients).
- Continue folding as you empty in the mashed banana and then most of the chocolate of your choosing to the mix, saving a handful for topping. I like to break the chocolate buttons up into chunks of varying sizes, so you find little pockets of melted dark choc throughout the loaf. Transfer the completed mixture to the tin. If you are using a thicker caramel, pour in a third of the batter, and then drizzle the caramel through. Pour over the next third, and repeat, like you’re making a banana-y lasagne. After pouring the last of the mixture in, top with the final chocolate pieces. Indulgent, yes. Necessary on your period? Yes, even more so.
- Let bake for approximately an hour. Of course, though, this differs ever so slightly depending on what oven you are using. For this reason, check after the one hour stage; it is done if a knife or thin and sharp cooking implement comes out clean. If not, however, return to the oven, covered in tin foil so the top doesn’t burn. Check every ten minutes or so until the knife comes out clean.
- Let the bread cool, and then drizzle over the remaining chocolate, melted (this can be done in the microwave, but I find it easier to control if you put a small amount of water into a saucepan, then place a larger bowl filled with the broken up chocolate atop the saucepan; bring to a simmer but not a boil, and mix the chocolate slowly until it has all melted; finally bringing it all off of the heat). Garnish the banana bread with a handful of banana chips for a fun crunchy-soft texture combo, and voila! Your cosy, dark chocolate filled treat is ready to be eaten whenever those pangs of yearning for something soothing strike.
FOR THE MAPLE CREAM CHEESE SPREAD:
- To enjoy the banana bread even more, combine the maple syrup, cream cheese, and vanilla essence in a bowl, mixing until they are all incorporated, to make a sweet spread. Keep refrigerated until you wish to serve a slice of the banana bread with an added bonus of rich, maple-y goodness!