Middle age has had a makeover. What was once deemed a downhill dip – a grey point in life in more ways than one – is now considered a golden opportunity for men and women everywhere to re-boot their lifestyle and refresh their outlook as they nudge towards their 40s, 50s and beyond.
For pals Mimi Spencer and Sam Rice, approaching ‘the second half of life’ is an exciting time. As far as they’re concerned, modern mid- life isn’t the burden it once was. Instead, the pair see it more as a time of opportunity than loss. A chance to grab life by the horns and reinvent yourself in whichever way you like.
For them, getting healthy the mid-life way starts in the kitchen – and if you’re in the same frame of mind, or fancy kicking off middle age by sorting out your middle, then you’d be wise to pick up a copy of their new and colourful cookbook, The Midlife Kitchen.
Serving up more than 150 easy-to-follow recipes, showcasing wholesome, health-giving ingredients used and combined in the most mouthwatering of ways, it’s something of a culinary bible – a real life-saver for any hapless home cook looking to get on the path to mindful, sin-free eating.
The idea is that the food is simple and sustaining; meals that can be prepared with minimal fuss, cater to a more mature palette and give the body what it needs to function efficiently.
Because, as the pair say, midlife is not the time to be concerned with food fads – but rather a glorious opportunity to wrest back control of your eating in the interests of health, happiness and a long life.
“We knew that there were many mid lifers out there who, just like us, wanted to improve their diet,” the chums say.
“We’d both cruised through the drinking years and the party decades without much of a thought for nutrition; we ate – like so many of us – as if the future would never come.”
“As we worked through our twenties and thirties, skipping breakfast, eating lunch on the run, relying on white carbs and fast food to get us by, nutrition barely registered, and if it did, it was only because we wanted to lose weight for summer.”
It wasn’t until the pair had kids (four between them) that their energies, particularly in the kitchen, were soon devoted to them. But now, as their sproggs have become more independent, they’ve found they have more time to invest in themselves.
And so, while on a trip to Bali (where Sam now lives), the idea of creating a wholesome cookbook, aimed at guiding fellow mid-lifers through the foodie maze on the road to a healthier way of life, was born.
Of course, you don’t need to be in your 40s or 50s to appreciate the book’s deliciousness. Offering a great variety of easy-going, good-for-you recipes (everything from brekkie and brunch, to lunch and sides, mains, drinks and gut-friendly sweet stuff) and plenty of nifty nutrition facts and handy health tips dolloped throughout, it’s a tasty read for foodies of all ages.
All recipes follow ‘The Midlife Manifesto’ – a basic set of guiding principles that the women applied during the creation process. They wanted them to be speedy and practical – so they are, made with accessible, non-fancy ingredients. They wanted taste to come first, too, so they tested and experimented with each one until they made mouths around them drool.
And knowing that a diet rich in fresh produce and low in processed and refined foods seems to be the most effective long-term health insurance, they wanted the meals to be as balanced and as kind to your insides as possible – and so they are.
All embrace ‘good’ carbs, wholegrains and slow-burn cereals (things like brown and black rice, quinoa and oats – no porridge sachets!), ‘better’ fat (the likes of avocado, coconut oil and good quality olive oil) and only fruit-sourced sugars, such as honey and date syrup, to keep your energy and cholesterol levels in check.
Health nuts will no doubt also love the pair’s clever colour-coded system which flows throughout the book, showing which areas of health each recipe benefits.
There are eight, including digestive, heart, bone and joint health, and blood sugar and hormone balance, and each are represented by a colour. Simply check which shade the recipe corresponds with and there you have it – you know exactly what to rustle up to help with your area(s) of concern.
And if you’re interested in finding out about the benefits individual ingredients bring, there’s a handy guide in there on the best foods to start introducing into your life, giving you the basis for a vibrant diet, full of variety and vitality.
The book also helps you shop; flick to page 14 and you’ll discover ‘The Midlife Larder’ – a concise list of ingredients needed to create the recipes that take your fancy. Once stocked up, there isn’t much from the book you can’t make, without the addition of a few fresh finds, such as chicken or fish.
You’ll also be able to create the pair’s ‘midlife must-haves’ – things that can be made ahead of time and used to enhance and bring life to other recipes elsewhere in the book.
Think staple spice rubs and seed mixes, go-to meals with a sophisticated edge and that can be prepared in mere moments, like their ‘grown-up granola’ and ‘power porridge’, as well as fool-proof salad dressings, curry pastes, salsas and even yogurt recipes. Have a go at making a few of them, practice ’til you make perfect, and you’ll never reach for the shop-bought stuff again.
It’s safe to say, there’s plenty to salivate over. Get inspired, and begin cooking the mid-life way today.