Menopause friendly snacks – Crunchy Date Bark

snack ideas for menopause - date bark

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I often get asked for menopause friendly snack ideas, which is a funny request in a way as all snacking is friendly if it’s meeting a physical hunger need.

Often in midlife we second guess our snacking and feel guilty for doing it. It’s true we snack for lots of different reasons and not always for physical hunger need. Understanding our body signals and the reasons why we might be snacking for non-physical hunger needs, is an important reflective exercise to do as we enter into the menopausal transition. You can find out more about this in the Healthy Habits of Menopause.

Lots to unpack around our relationship with food sometimes, but for today I want to share my version of date bark, which I’m dubbing menopause friendly bark… because it ticks lots of menopause nutrition boxes and can be adapted to what is a priority for you. Win win.

Let’s delve in.

Snack ideas for menopause

The bark trend involves a base of dates… Medjool dates are often used as they’re big and sweet and squelchy. Dates are seen as a useful sugar substitute because they’re higher in fibre, whilst still providing the sweet kick. Most of us don’t get enough fibre in our day (ideally we need a whopping 30g/day) so every little helps!

How to make menopause friendly crunchy date bark

Step one:
Grab some baking parchment and line up your dates (with stones removed). Cut them in half length ways and make sure there are no gaps between them or the row above or below. You can use as many as you want, depending on how much bark you want to make.

Step two:
Drizzle over some nut butter – I used smooth peanut butter, but you could use any you fancy. I used a knife to smooth it down and evenly cover the dates. 

snack ideas for menopause - date bark

Step three:
Time to add some nutritious crunch. This layer is quite exciting because you get to bespoke it to your needs. Use a selection of nuts and seeds that appeal and crush them with a rolling pin or similar, so they lay flatish on top of the nut butter. You could choose the nuts and seeds that best fit your health needs. For example:

Pumpkin seeds
A good source of iron so they are helpful if you’re low in energy or suffering from a heavy blood flow in perimenopause. Also, a good source of magnesium which is a power nutrient for menopause, supporting our muscle relaxation, cognition and supportive of good sleep.

Almonds
All nuts are great, but a handful of almonds a day helps to reduce LDL cholesterol levels, and protect our levels of cardioprotective HDL cholesterol, an important consideration as cardiovascular disease risk increases after menopause. Looking after our hearts with heart-friendly foods becomes even more important as we lose the protective effects of oestrogen. Almonds are also a source of bone-protecting calcium.

Peanuts
A source of B vitamins which are responsible for releasing energy from our food. B vitamins generally are essential for our cognitive function. Other nuts and seeds rich in B vits include pistachios, sunflower seeds and flaxseeds.

Flaxseeds/ Linseeds
As our gut bacteria are subject to change as we go through the menopause, we may notice an increase in symptoms such as gas and bloating. Flaxseeds (also known as linseeds) can help reduce bloating.

I used peanuts and pumpkin seeds and scattered them like this: 

snack ideas for menopause - date bark

Step four:
Now is the time to drizzle some chocolate over the top. Some recipes call for melting it with coconut oil for a smooth texture, but I didn’t do this. I’m not a massive fan of coconut oil, it’s high in saturated fat, which despite lots of controversy, is still not considered to be a good idea for our cardiovascular health. I didn’t have any in the house and wasn’t about to go and buy some, so I just melted a few squares of dark chocolate.

Dark chocolate gets itself a bit more of a health halo as compared to milk varieties as it’s higher in antioxidants, which help to protect our body against inflammation. We are in a more pro- inflammatory state during and after menopause as we lose the anti-inflammatory benefits of oestrogen. Using our diet to help us by boosting our intake of antioxidants is a good shout.

Obviously, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, alongside the dark chocolate is the best way to achieve this.

snack ideas for menopause - date bark

Finally, you can sprinkle a bit of salt over the top to contrast the sweetness. I just used some large, flaked sea salt, so as not to go too overboard. Salt really is something we need to be careful of, it’s the largest modifiable dietary risk factor for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and we all tend to eat more than we think with the rise of foods eaten out of the home. So go steady!

Once you’re done pop it in the freezer to harden for around 20 mins. Then you can chop it up and enjoy with a cuppa.

snack ideas for menopause - date bark

Make snacking moments mindful and nourishing. Don’t shovel it in if you can help it. I have had it on the way to school pick up, so not necessarily practising what I preach there, but still savouring the taste.

The combination of carbs and protein and healthy fats in this bark makes it an ideal menopausal snack. It will help to regulate our blood glucose levels, whilst providing an excellent blend of nutrients and micronutrients to support our menopausal wellbeing. Enjoy!

For more information about menopause nutrition and nourishment in every sense of the word, check out my Pause Power Hours – one hour masterclasses for busy women on a mission to feel better.

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