There’s more to this meal than an empty plate

When a dinner plate ends up looking like this you know it was a delicious meal. And yes, it was very delicious indeed!

This meal consisted of a very tasty fennel-crusted pork cutlet pan fried and finished in the oven, served with creamy potato mash and a crisp fennel, rocket and apple salad.

I really enjoyed the flavours the fennel and spice rub added to the pork. The mash was light and creamy and the freshness of the salad made it a perfect partner to the dish.

Like many of my posts, there is a story to this meal I would like to share with you that involves Covid-19 and menopause. So please read on if you are curious and want find out more about the story and the recipe.

It all started when Covid-19 hit and, although the lockdowns have been difficult, it has given me the time and space to think about my health and the changes I’ve noticed happening to my body and metabolism over the last couple of years.

Although it has bothered me for some time, I never stopped to think about why these changes might be happening until recently when I came to realise that it’s likely to be the hormonal changes that come with menopause, which is caused by a reduction of oestrogen produced by the ovaries.

Menopause can cause many symptoms including mood swings and reduced energy levels, but the most distressing for me has been the weight gain around my belly and the uncomfortable bloated feeling that I couldn’t seem to shake. So I decided that since I had spare time, I’d take the opportunity to do some research online where I discovered lots of information about menopause.

I came across The Australian Menopause Centre website and learned that I might be able to manage and possibly reduce menopausal symptoms by improving my gut health through eating foods that are low in fat and high in fibre and iron. This website has lots of useful information and a free recipe booklet that I downloaded to start my menopause diet journey.

I then decided to learn more about gut health, which led me to many resources including the CSIRO Healthy Gut Diet where I signed up for a 4 week program. I’ve never been on a diet before, so this was a new experience for me. I found the diet reasonably easy to follow and enjoyable, mainly because of the delicious easy recipes and tools that the CSIRO provided.

By the end of the fourth week, I was really enjoying the food and getting used to the changes in my diet like eating less salt, less fat and more fibre. Although I wasn’t losing weight (which was never my goal anyway), I was losing centimetres from around my belly and my bloating was reducing. Seeing the encouraging results so far, I decided to continue the diet on my own and purchased the CSIRO Healthy Gut Diet cookbook. This book has lots of interesting facts about gut health, meal plans and easy recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snacks and treats.

Needless to say, that’s where I found this delicious recipe for fennel-crusted pork cutlets with potato and pea mash and fennel, rocket and apple salad that my husband and I enjoyed so much. Surprise, surprise … I did adjust the recipe just a little because I just can’t help myself 🙂

My message to anyone who is struggling with the challenges of menopause or getting older, is to take the time to understand more about the changes happening to your mind and body, take care of yourself, and make the adjustments you need to live the best possible life you can.