Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Strawberry Cheesecake Forever

Besides more daylight hours, spring is also a time when the fare at the table gets lighter (relatively speaking). Spring vegetables like artichokes, spinach, fava beans, and asparagus have recurring roles on many dinner tables. With swimsuit season a mere few months away, many of us are trying to incorporate more vegetables and fruits into our diets. That doesn’t mean the food can’t be tasty or that we must forgo all things sweet.

Spring fruits like pineapples and apricots, add a nice bit of sweetness to any dessert or on their own, but as wonderful as these fruits are, they still stand in the shadow of strawberries. This heart-shaped berry is packed with vitaminsfiber, and has a high level of antioxidants. They don’t contain sodium, are fat and cholesterol-free. According to WebMD, strawberries are a good source of manganese and potassium. They’re also quite versatile. Add them to your favorite yogurt, plain with a little unsweetened whipped cream, or add them to a salad for a pop of color and taste.

Nevertheless, the most popular way to enjoy strawberries is as a dessert. Strawberry shortcake, tarts, pies, and trifles are delicious. Then there’s strawberry cheesecake. I’ve found that like carrot cake, cheesecake tends to be a dessert people either love or loathe, with very little middle-ground, that is until you add strawberries.

There is something about a strawberry cheesecake that seems to defy convention. Usually made with cream cheese or even mascarpone cheese, it has a silky, fluffy, cloud-like texture. You barely chew it, and if you are like me, I can justify calories I don’t chew. How else can I order a caramel macchiato and still call it just coffee.

Although I don’t need an excuse to make a strawberry cheesecake, I made one in time for Easter, but this is a recipe you can use all summer, it’s a no-bake and doesn’t require much hands-on time making it. I love to be sure everyone who would like to make this can. So, there are adaptations in the recipes for different dietary needs, including gluten-free, low-sugar, and no sugar versions.

Strawberry Cheesecake

1 Graham cracker ready-made pie shell (Oreo ready-made pie shell, Gluten-free graham cracker ready-made pie shell

1 lb strawberries* cored and sliced

¼ cup white sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, raw cane, or turbinado sugar, pulsed finely)

1 package gelatin* (2 ½ teaspoons agar-agar powder)

1 ¼ cups whipping cream (full-fat coconut milk)

24 oz cream cheese* full-fat, brick-style (for lighter cheesecake, you can use 2 ½ packages of light cream cheese and  ½ package or 4 ounces of full-fat cream cheese) (non-dairy 2 ½ packages of Violife Cream Cheese, or Miyoko’s vegan cream cheese plus 4 ounces of full-fat coconut cream, you will need the vegan cream cheese to be softened. Once the coconut cream has separated from the full-fat coconut milk, beat it into the vegan cream cheese until light)

¾ cup powdered sugar (organic confectioner’s sugar or Swerve confectioner’s sugar substitute)

To Serve (Optional)

whipped cream

sliced strawberries

Instructions

Cheesecake Filling

Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender.

Push the puree through a sieve to remove the seeds. (Optional, but recommended). 

Add the puree to a medium saucepan with the white sugar and bring to a gentle boil while stirring. You will need to continue stirring. It will begin to thicken and it will reduce to  about ½ of the original volume (about ¾ cup when it’s finished boiling). 

Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the boiling strawberry mixture. Remove from the heat and give the mixture a stir to ensure it’s dissolved.  If you are using agar-agar powder, mix the powder into ¼ cup of water. Let it stand for ten minutes. When the strawberry mixture begins to boil, add the agar-agar to the mixture, stir well and remove from the heat. Stir until agar-agar is dissolved and let cool to about room temperature, don’t put it in the fridge.

In a large bowl beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form.

In a separate bowl beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until softened.

Carefully, beat in the cooled strawberry mixture into the cream cheese a little at a time. You can do this through a sieve as well to make the strawberry mixture is smooth.  Ensure it is fully cooled first.

Gently fold in the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until it’s even.

Spoon the mixture on top of the crust, smooth the top, and place in the fridge to set for 6 hours.

Serving

When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the fridge.

Optionally, decorate the cheesecake with whipped cream and strawberries.

Slice with a very thin, sharp knife ensuring to cut all the way through the crust.

Notes

Frozen berries work too. You’ll need approximately 4 cups sliced strawberries. 

One envelope of gelatin is about 2 ¼ teaspoons. It should be enough to set 2 cups (500 mL) of liquid. 

Cream cheese should be softened to room temperature before getting started. 

Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Still A Chick Lit Podcast introduces Chick-Chat

https://anchor.fm/chamein-stillachicklit

A conversation with women who are north of forty, fifty, and sixty-plus women who have chosen to make the most of their second act, and doing so on their terms. We’ll introduce you to authors, both aspiring and published to discover more about their voices. Take in the stories of the women who switched careers for a dream job or tapped into their entrepreneurial spirit and took a side hustle to new heights. Then we’ll chat with more fearless female artists, actors, singers, dancers, and more who are making their mark in the world of entertainment. The goal is to inspire you to make the most of your second act.

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Spring is in the air again. Why not put blueberry muffins on the table?

https://stillachicklit.com/for-serious-foodies/

The first week after Daylight Savings Time is usually pretty hard for most people. However, the arrival of spring helps make the time change a little more bearable. The days are longer and we begin to see more spring vegetables and fruits in the market.

I love blueberries. They are rich in antioxidants, sweet, and a good source of fiber. I am always on the hunt for a good blueberry muffin recipe. Luckily, the majority of the recipes I’ve tried have turned out well.

I’m sharing this recipe from the Life Made Simple blog. I adapted it for vegetarians, vegans, gluten-sensitivities, low and no-sugar diets. It’s a tasty way to get more fiber in your family’s diets. I hope you try this recipe for one fine spring morning at your home.

Blueberry muffins by Life Made Simple adapted by me

 INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, or brown rice flour)

1/2 cup cake flour ( ½ cup gluten-free all-purpose less 3 tablespoons, then add 3 tablespoons gluten-free cornstarch, sift together)

1 cup sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, raw cane, or turbinado sugar, pulsed fine)

1/4 cup vegetable oil – or coconut oil

4 tbsp unsalted butter – melted (vegan unsalted butter)

3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk (3/4 cup of soy, rice, almond, oat, or light coconut milk with 1 ½ teaspoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, combine and let stand for five minutes before using)

2 eggs ( ¼ cup Aquafaba, ½ cup silken tofu pureed with ¼ teaspoon baking soda, 2 flaxseed or chia seed eggs, or vegan egg replacer)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp baking powder

11/2 tsp vanilla extract

zest of 2 lemons or the zest of 1 lemon and 2 teaspoons of orange zest

1 1/4 cup blueberries – fresh or frozen

3 tbsp coarse sugar or raw cane sugar – optional topping

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 12 standard muffin cups with liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, lightly beat together oil, butter, vanilla, eggs, and milk.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt.

With mixing speed on low, slowly add dry ingredients. Mix until combined.

Remove bowl from stand, gently fold in blueberries. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 2/3 of the way full. Sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Place into oven and bake for 24-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Place muffins on wire rack to cool completely.

  • Notes
  • I used a combination of orange and lemon zest in this recipe. I also prefer adding the zest to the flour. I find that even when you mix the wet ingredients well, the zest has a habit of clumping together. If you add the zest to the flour mixture, it gets evenly distributed, and you don’t run the risk of clumps or over-stirring your batter.

Recipe adapted from Life Made Simple blog

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

As winter wanes, just one more comfort meal for the road

https://stillachicklit.com/food/

Daylight Savings Time is here once again. We have more daylight, although so far I’ve seen more clouds than sun. I’m sure that will change soon. As we begin to think about lighter meals, I decided to make a meatloaf for what’s likely the last time until we break the grill out.

Meatloaf is a favorite meal for many people, especially when the cook knows just how to bring the flavors together. I discovered a recipe for meatloaf on the Kitchn site and I like it a lot. I did adapt it with a few tweaks for vegans. I hope you’ll give this recipe a whirl.

Meatloaf recipe by The Kitchn and adapted by Chamein Canton

INGREDIENTS

1 cup torn-up bread pieces, or 1/2 cup bread crumbs (gluten-free bread or breadcrumbs)

(¼ cup to ½ cup panko crumbs For Vegan meatloaf only)

1/2 cup whole or 2% milk (rice or soy milk)

1 small onion, diced small

1 small carrot, peeled and diced small

1 stalk celery, diced small

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 pounds ground meat, such as beef, pork, veal, lamb, or a mix (1 ½ pounds ground turkey and ½ pound ground turkey breast mix) (2-packages vegan groundless beef, Impossible burger ground, Beyond beef ground, Gardein groundless beef)

2 large eggs, beaten ( ½ cup Aquafaba, ½ cup silken tofu pureed with ¼ teaspoon baking soda, 2 flaxseed or chia seed eggs, or egg replacer)

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (vegan Worcestershire sauce)

1 teaspoon salt

Pepper to taste

1/2 cup ketchup, BBQ sauce, or other sauce to coat (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the oven to 350°F. Arrange a rack in the bottom third of the oven, and heat to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet or other baking dish with aluminum foil.

Soak the bread pieces in the milk. Combine the bread pieces and the milk in a small bowl. Let stand until the bread has broken down into a thick porridge, occasionally stirring and mushing the bread against the sides of the bowl. You can leave the crusts on the bread or trim them off before soaking; if you leave them on, remove any large pieces that haven’t broken down after soaking.

Cook the veggies. Heat a few teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the diced onions, carrots, and celery. Cook until the onions are translucent and the carrots have softened, 6 to 8 minutes. If the vegetables begin to brown, turn down the heat. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the thyme and tomato paste, and stir until coated. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Make the meatloaf mix. Place the ground meat, beaten eggs, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, soaked bread and milk, and cooked vegetables in a large bowl. Working quickly, use your hands to work the ingredients together until just combined.

Shape the loaf. Transfer the meatloaf mixture to the foil-lined baking sheet or baking dish. Shape it into a rough 9×5-inch loaf. (If using a loaf pan, just pat the meatloaf mixture into the pan.)

Coat the loaf with ketchup or bacon (optional). Spread 1/4 cup of the ketchup mixture over the meatloaf (reserve the other 1/4 cup for later). Alternatively, drape the loaf with bacon slices.

Bake for 45 minutes. Bake the meatloaf for 45 minutes.

Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Spread the remaining 1/4 cup ketchup over the loaf. Bake until the middle of the loaf registers at least 155°F on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes more (about 1 hour total).

Cool 15 minutes before serving. Let the loaf cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. If you baked the meatloaf in a loaf pan, carefully drain off the liquid fat before transferring the meatloaf to a clean cutting board. Cut into thick slices and serve.

Notes If using the groundless beef for a vegan loaf, watch if the mixture is too wet. You can adjust by adding more panko bread crumbs to give it more structure. Most vegan ground meat manages to keep it’s toothiness, but the mirepoix might add a little more moisture to the mix. The bread crumbs will help. You’ll be able to judge when it’s right to you.

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Writing and Baking to find my creative Zen place

https://stillachicklit.com/2021/01/29/when-stuck-behind-a-creative-gate-this-writer-loves-to-laminate/

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

President Harry S. Truman

President Truman seemed like the kind of man who liked to take charge. He believed the buck stopped with him. While it might seem like a bit of a stretch to relate this philosophy with creativity, it’s worked for me, in the reverse. When I find my brain is short-circuiting while I’m in the midst of writing, I go into the kitchen to re-wire my thinking, and my first inclination is to bake.

For many people, baking is mysterious and difficult. Cooking allows chefs and home chefs to think outside of the box and add a little of this, or a pinch of that. Whereas baking is a science. The formula is set in the recipe. There is no deviating. It’s that sense of order that calms me. Artists tend to live in their heads, and that’s truly seen in writers. The thought process involved in creating characters, plots, and dialogue, mixed with outside research, could drive anyone bonkers. So, it’s important to find something that aids you in this process. It doesn’t have to be cooking, baking, or anything in the kitchen. Just do something that works for you. It also works wonders if you have a presentation or report due for school or work.

I’m currently working on a novel and a couple of cookbooks. I have a few other fictional works in my queue, but I only work on one novel at a time. Doing more than that, is a recipe for disaster and it’s biting off way more than I can chew. I have begun the process of putting slides together for the cookbook and I hope to have another test kitchen to take photos for the illustrations. It’s why lamination was the way to go for me. The busy work of all the components for puff pastry keeps my hands busy and my mind focused. I figured out the layout I wanted and my family had fresh turnovers for breakfast. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Puff Pastry recipe by Dessert for Two adapted by me

Ingredients

2 cups (125 grams) all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend)

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

20 tablespoons high-quality unsalted butter (5 ounces), cold (vegan butter)

2/3 cup ice cold water

Instructions

In a medium bowl, add the flour and salt. Stir to mix.

Next, cube the butter and then add it to the flour bowl. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the dough. It will be very crumbly, and you’re done when the butter is in uniform pieces all about the size of peas.

Next, make a hole in the center of the dough and pour in all of the water. Using a fork, stir to combine the dough.

Flour a cutting board, and add the dough. Pat it into a rough square. You will still see chunks of butter and it will seem too dry, but do not add extra water. The dough will come together with each roll.

Flour the rolling pin, and roll the dough out in front of you into a rectangle about 10″ long. No need to be too precise here.

Fold the bottom third of the dough over the middle of the dough. Fold the upper third of the dough on top of the middle too. Rotate the dough one-quarter turn, and repeat. Use additional flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking.

Roll out, fold, and turn the dough at least 6 or 7 times.

When done, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour, or overnight. Dough may be frozen, too.

Roll out with flour for desired puff pastry use.

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Hair Today, Loving your tresses through changes

Hair Love
Hair through the Ages

From the moment we come into the world, much attention is paid to what’s on top of our heads. Whether you were born with a thick shock of hair or peach fuzz, your hair was brushed and adorned with barrettes or ribbons. As we got older, hair care was a part of a routine and it likely went through a litany of styles, colors, and phases over the years.

Once we hit forty, many women begin to notice changes in their hair. It might seem a little less thick, a bit more dry, grey hairs are coming in faster, the list goes on. The battle against aging isn’t just about your skin, hair gets in on the act too. According to the article Surprise-Your Hair is Aging (And Changing) Right Along With You Skin, written by Hanna Baxter in Coveteur “While women can see early signs of hair aging in their 30s (grey is normally the first sign and can start well before the others), it is typically in the 40s when the signs become noticeable,” says Dr. Jeni Thomas, PhD, Hair Biology’s principal scientist. “By the late 40s and early 50s, women are seeing multiple signs which change hair’s fundamental needs.” And although changes in your hair can occur due to endocrine disorders, thyroid issues, and the environment, there are a few signs that are universal to the aging process.

When the effects of the pandemic resulted in a lockdown for states in March 2020, hair salons, barbershops, blowout bars, and more, had to close their doors. Not only were hair professionals temporarily put out, we as their clients were too. Furthermore, if you were a woman in your late thirties, forties, or fifty-plus, and dealing with hair changes, we lost our partners in hair care. Now, the health of our hair was literally in our hands. So let’s focus on what some of us are dealing with.

Thinning– Once thought of as a strictly male problem (male-pattern baldness near the crown), hair thinning is an issue for men and women. In general everyone’s hair gets thinner with age to a greater or lesser degree. However, things for women can begin to change with perimenopause and menopause, when hormones began to fluctuate. As stated in Coveteur, by age 45, the relative scalp coverage is 5 percent less than the maximum, and by age 50, scalp coverage is 11 percent less than the maximum,” says Dr. Thomas. The actual diameter of our hair also changes and that directly affects the strength of the strands.

Texture- When hair diameter changes, so does the texture of your hair. If you were born with curly hair, you know hair texture isn’t uniform, you’ve been coping with that for most of your life. However, if you don’t have curly hair, it can be a shock to realize how much it affects the way your hair looks and feels. Dr. Thomas noted that “The curvature of hair tends to lose its uniformity as we age. That also leads to the appearance of increased frizz and flyaways. Even for curly hair, which has an elliptical shape to begin with, the fibers lose their conformity to the fibers around them, resulting in a curl pattern that is less consistent than in earlier years.”

Dryness- Most teenagers and adults know about oily complexions, but there’s a certain amount of natural oil found in our hair. A number of women had to deal with oily hair that needed to be washed daily or every other day. The same hormones that made you break out as a teen into your twenties and early thirties, will strike again, only this time it’s a matter of less production of natural hair and scalp oils.

Grey Hair- This is inevitable for everyone. When we begin to see grey hair can be determined by genetics. If your parents greyed early, you are likely to begin to see those little hairs about the same time they did. “The average age of Caucasians when greying begins is reportedly mid-30s. People of Asian descent tend to grey a little later, late 30s, and people of African descent even later—mid-40s [on average],” says Dr. Thomas. However, it’s important to note that we can’t stop grey hair, and even if you color it, grey hair isn’t the same as natural color hair. Regardless of how healthy we feel, our bodies slow down as we age. A good diet, exercise, and getting enough sleep helps, but it doesn’t stop your system’s slowdown. The cells that produce color in our hair slow down in favor of other processes our cells need to perform. In other words, grey hair happens.

Lifestyle- Most of us have a hectic life. Stress plays a big part in our overall health, and that includes our hair. Finding ways to limit the stresses we can control helps a great deal. Moreover, finding a way to cope with those we can’t, like a pandemic, is essential to our overall health and our hair. It’s also important to note that even if you are pretty healthy, you may have underlying conditions like diabetes, hypertension, or other autoimmune diseases for which you take medication. Medicine affects your hair too, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Just remain mindful and don’t put too much extra on your hair.





What can you do?

  • Eat right. A diet rich in vegetables, lean protein, and fruit helps keep your body and hair beautiful. Supplements haven’t been shown to help hair production, but check with your doctor before you begin taking anything
  • Drink Water. We need to drink enough eater to keep ourselves hydrated. It will help keep your tresses strong. At least 8 glasses a day. JUST PLAIN WATER. If the idea of plain water doesn’t appeal, you can have coffee and tea. There are also flavored seltzers, mineral water, or fruit water. Read the label to be sure it’s low or no-sodium.
  • Sleep. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep. Eight is ideal, but another cute little factoid about menopause is sleeplessness. Many women experience sleep problems during perimenopause , the period of time before menopause when hormone levels and menstrual periods become irregular. Often, poor sleep sticks around throughout the menopausal transition and after menopause.  Try to make your bedroom more sleep-friendly. Turn off the television at least an hour before you turn in. Put your cellphone, tablet, or laptop away and out of sight. Read a book or magazine before bed.
  • Read the labels. When buying shampoo, conditioner, or any hair products, read the label. What goes into a product then onto your hair matters. In the Coveteur article, Dr. Thomas recommends staying away from anything particularly heavy, like an oil or thick balm, as these can weigh down thinner hair. Lightweight and fast-absorbing serums will help you impart more moisture as your sebum levels drop, minus the unwanted weight. She also advises avoiding texturizing products (like those that contain salt) and dry shampoos, as they can leave your hair feeling rougher and dryer. However, if you can’t bear to part with your favorite styling product, just scale back on the amount or use them less frequently. If you’re looking for new products to incorporate into your routine, there are a few key ingredients to embrace to prolong your hair health. Dr. Thomas recommends, “Ingredients like restoring lipids, cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol, and the antioxidant that supports hair’s keratin structure, histidine.”
  • For Silver Foxes- If you have decided to embrace your grey hair. Good for you! Look for products that will keep your tresses looking silver and not yellow. Grey hair has specific needs in terms of shampoos and conditioners. Look for products that will keep it beautiful and healthy looking.
Embrace the Changes

Embrace you. There isn’t any law that says you have to have short hair once you reach a certain age. The way you style your hair is your choice. If you want pink streaks, get them. A cute bob, or locks that rival Rapunzel, go for it. The best part about aging is being comfortable in your own skin.

As the pandemic has subsided a bit, salons and barbershops have begun to reopen. If you miss your weekly chat in your stylist’s chair, make an appointment and make sure everything is as it should be in order to ensure safety for everyone. Most of all, have fun. Your hair is a part of you, it by no means defines you as a woman. How you feel is up to you. Long, short, thick, or thin, you are still a queen. Always remember that.

Sources Coveteur, Hanna Baxter October 2020

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Dating and Relationships North of Forty and Fifty-plus

Thirty-five years ago, Newsweek (wrongly) declared that single women over 40 are more likely to be killed by terrorism than to get married—prompting a nationwide crisis whose anxiety still lingers. Nora Ephron translated that factoid into a little move titled Sleepless In Seattle.

It’s easier to be killed by a terrorist than it is to find a husband over the age of 40″, a male coworker informs Annie.

That statistic is not true!” Annie protests.

Becky (Rosie O’Donnell) settles the debate. “That’s right—it’s not true,” she says. “But it feels true.”

The June 1986 issue of Newsweek titled the piece with the headline “Too Late for Prince Charming?”  According to The Atlantic the piece is very much a product, and a reflection, of its time—a time when Americans were navigating the consequences of the baby boom and the women’s liberation movement and the sexual revolution and the advent of the birth-control pill and economic recession and economic prosperity and the many, many other events that made the ’70s and ’80s times of simmering cultural anxieties.

Like millions of people, I liked Sleepless in Seattle. I felt it was a cute, lighthearted, and funny film. Although Newsweek’s article in 1986 was considered hard facts, I found it to be about as filling as cotton candy, with all of the tooth rot.

Thankfully, we really have come a long way. The traditional roles we were expected to fulfill even in the broad-shoulder pads of the eighties, have changed tremendously. More women are going to college and not putting off a career to get married or have children. The average age of first-time brides has risen. Moreover, now these brides have options to ensure their fertility later on when they are ready to have children. Women can freeze their eggs, undergo invitro-fertilization, use surrogacy, or adopt. The biological clock can be paused and reset. Older mothers aren’t look down on any more, and they’re more common now.

It is also possible to find yourself at a particular age with children and a divorce or relationship under your belt. You may be at a crossroads in determining how you want to move forward, and you have options including

  • Online Dating
  • Blind Dates
  • Church
  • Political/Civic Events
  • Matchmakers
  • Bars, Clubs

Where you chose to meet potential dates is personal and you might have a lot of questions, but don’t know who to ask. Or maybe you know who to ask, you’re just not sure. We want to be a resource for information and a few laughs about the state of dating. No matter who you are, follow the blog for new posts and links to the podcast.

Dating and Relationships over forty and fifty
Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

The Key to Health North of 40 & 50-plus: The Mind, Body, and Spirit Connection

How are you?

When asked those three little words, we have a choice to make. If the person asking the question is a loved one, family member, or a good friend, we might tell them how we’re really feeling. It’s more likely we’ll say fine or good. However, for most women, the person we should ask is in the mirror. There are a plethora of articles in magazines, books, websites, and shows devoted to talking about women’s issues. Now that it’s March and Women’s History Month, the volume is already getting turned up. There are PSAs on television and online touting women’s accomplishments in areas like astronomy, writing, exploration, education, and more. So, it seems like this is the perfect month to look inward to see what is happening inside of our heads and hearts, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

First, it’s important to note that there is a difference between health and wellness. Health is a state of being/ Whereas wellness is the state of living a healthy lifestyle. Health refers to physical, mental, and social well-being; wellness aims to enhance well-being. According Status of Women Data (2018), in the United States overall, women’s health status has improved in some areas and declined in others. Women’s mortality rates from heart disease, lung cancer, and breast cancer have decreased since the publication of IWPR’s 2004 Status of Women in the States report, as has the incidence of AIDS among female adolescents and adults. Women’s incidence of chlamydia and diabetes, however, have increased. In addition, the average number of poor mental health days per month, suicide mortality rate, and average number of days per month of limited activities have also gone up for women. In 2014, the US Department of Health and Human Services found that one in four women in the United States dies from heart disease. Coronary heart disease—which is the most common form—is the leading cause of death among both women and men. In addition, women are at higher risk than men for other forms of heart disease, such as coronary microvascular disease (in which the walls of the heart’s tiny arteries are damaged or diseased) and stress-induced cardiomyopathy (in which emotional stress leads to severe—but often temporary—heart muscle failure. Women have higher incidences than men of certain mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and eating disorders Multiple factors may contribute to women’s greater likelihood of experiencing such conditions, including higher rates of poverty, greater responsibility in caring for disabled or ill family members, and trauma from gender-based violence.


For women north of forty and fifty-plus, their second-act looks different than what many of us planned. With the cost of living increasing and wages that aren’t high enough to allow for an easy retirement, a lot of women are finding themselves working past the age they planned on retiring. On the other hand, with fewer young adults being able to afford to move out of mom and dad’s house, life as a retiree isn’t what they expected when adult children move home with spouses and grandchildren in tow. On the plus side, they get to spend more time with and develop deeper connections to grandchildren, but they are also taking on the responsibilities of babysitting, helping with homework, preparing meals, and getting the kids around to activities. All of this, and we still have to block out time to spend on our relationship and ourselves so both remain whole, happy, and on track.

Keeping it All Together

It would take a lot more than one post to talk about the importance of the mind, body, and spirit connection. Nevertheless, it’s a subject worth talking and posting about regularly. The world is under stress and as women we suffer from it acutely,

. In order to handle both everyday and unexpected stresses, we must develop ways to deal with life’s little issues so we’re prepared to be able to deal with bigger challenges. This means dealing with every aspect of health head-on. We can do it by being in proactive in our doctor’s office, work lives, and at home. Clear communication is the key.

First, it’s critical comes to speak up in the doctor’s office. It seems odd to state something that seems so obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many women don’t pipe up. Doctors are generally thought of as being on a higher level. They’ve had a lot of education and training. Moreover, it’s something that was ingrained by previous generations that looked up to medical professionals.

However, they only assist you with your health. You’re still the pilot. Doctors are copilots. When there’s an issue, they help treat it, but you’re still in charge. They work with and for you. It might seem radical to point it out, but it’s true and important to keep in mind. Look at it this way, business owners want to employ the best people to help make them successful. However, savvy businesspeople continue to evaluate their team to make sure they’re performing. Those who are doing well are rewarded, and the people who aren’t are let go. Dead weight impedes progress. Why we don’t do that with doctors is beyond me. By the way, you should include their office staff in your evaluation. A staff says as much about a doctors practice as the physician. If communication isn’t great in the front office, it’s generally not good in the back. There’s nothing wrong with changing doctors if you’re not getting what you need. It’s imperative to your overall health to have a good doctor you can talk to.

If you have a doctor you love and you’re happy with him or her, that’s terrific. The only thing I’d advise is to keep talking. In almost all relationships there comes a time when we expect the other person to know what we are thinking. They never do. The only way the doctor will know anything is happening is you have to tell him or her.

If you are looking for a new doctor, it’s good to get referrals and read online reviews. Still, there’s more to do.

  • Set up interviews with potential doctors. After all, he or she is under consideration to be your doctor. Conduct a lot of interviews. I know people who have put potential several wedding/event planners through their paces in order to decide if they’d be hired. Just like making sure you have the best people watching your children, you need the best doctors so you can stay healthy and present in their lives.
  • Do a background check of their credentials. Most doctors don’t have a problem with you looking into their education, medical license, etc. This is essential for every specialty, but if you’re looking for a good cardiologist or plastic surgeon, do your due-diligence
  • Trust your gut. A physician might have a wall full of diplomas and is the top in his or her field, but it you don’t feel like you’re vibing with them, move on. It’s in your best interest to see a doctor that you’re comfortable with.

Women are well aware of what stress can do to your health. What must be addressed is making time for yourself. Add artistic outlets to your routine as a way of approaching stress relief in a well-rounded manner. Baking, cooking, painting, drawing, knitting, embroidering, and sewing are great hobbies. Moreover, if you’re the type of woman who likes to be in the garage, add car enthusiast, woodworker, or playing music. According to the New York Times and Wicked Local, whether you learn a new computer program, start scrapbooking or just start reading a good book, the act of engaging in a hobby has been found to increase your serotonin levels (the feel-good chemical that is made in your brain) and exercises your brain in a healthy way.

Finding a way to maintain our health and reduce stress levels is an ongoing fight. There are only so many hours in the day, and everyone you know want to lay claim to your time. But, as nice as it is to feel indispensable, our most important resource is ourselves. If we let other people’s needs come before ours constantly, we will wear out. Then what good would we be to anyone. Focusing inward regularly will allow us to be on top of our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. When these needs are addressed, life feels lighter, brighter, and more fulfilling. It’s everything you could want in your second act as a north of forty and fifty-plus woman.

I still love to laminate dough when I feel stressed. I tried this recipe for rough puff pastry on My Recipe.

How to make your own rough puff

1. Prep the butter.

Start with a chilled, European-style butter  if possible. You can use Plugra or Kerrygold  which many bakeries use for their laminated doughs. It has a higher butterfat content than American butters, which will give you both a richer flavor and a more controlled puff, since there is less water in it.

To prepare, decide if you are going to grate or slice the butter. If you have a food processor with a thin slicing blade, I find that gives a really good result, but a large grating blade or the large side of your box grater will also work.

Take your chilled butter from the fridge and put it into your freezer for 20-30 minutes. This will firm it up but not freeze it solid. I use one 8-ounce brick of unsalted Plugra, but you can use 2 sticks of regular unsalted butter.

Put the butter through your slicer blade or grater blade, or grate by hand. The little chunk that will be left either on top of the blade or at the end of the sticks can be used for another purpose; you’ll end up with between 7-7½ ounces of sliced or grated butter.

Put the butter on a plate or in a bowl and return to the fridge while you make the dough.

2. Make the dough.

If you used the food processor, you don’t need to clean it; just swap out the slicer or grater blade for the regular blade. (Or you can mix by hand in a large bowl.)

Measure ½ cup super-cold water in a measuring cup. Set aside.

Put 1 1/3 cups of bread flour and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt (or ½ teaspoon table salt) in the processor, and pulse to combine. With the processor running, drizzle in the water until it just barely comes together in a ball.

Sprinkle more flour on your work surface, and remove the dough ball, and knead it just until it comes together and feels smooth and pliable, maybe 15-30 seconds. You don’t want to build up too much gluten or it will have trouble rolling.

3. Roll the dough.

Roll your dough on a floured surface to ¼-inch thick and about 8-10 inches wide. This will give you a long rectangle somewhere around 18 inches long. Using a soft brush, brush any excess flour off the surface of the dough. You want the short end of the dough facing you.

4. Layer the butter.

Get your chilled butter, and put it in an even layer, either shingling the slices so that their edges are barely touching or making an even layer of the grated butter. Leave about a 3-inch unbuttered section at the end closest to you.

5. Fold up.

Starting at the end closest to you, fold the 3-inch unbuttered section up over the butter. Brush any excess flour off the dough. Fold this up again and brush off. Keep folding up and over, brushing the excess flour off after each fold, until you have a flat rectangle. Place the seam side down.

6. Do one turn.

Turn the dough so that the short side is facing you and roll out again to about ¼ inch thickness. Repeat the same folding process as before, obviously this time with no butter, but still brushing off excess flour between each fold. Once it is folded up, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes just to rechill the butter. If your kitchen is warm, you might want to chill for 20-30 minutes before continuing.

7. Do two more turns.

Remove from fridge and repeat the process, rolling to ¼ inch thick, folding up while brushing off excess flour, then turn again and fold up. After the third turn you will have a piece of laminated rough puff pastry!

If you want to use it for a recipe within a couple of days, wrap it well in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. If you want to freeze it, wrap it well in plastic wrap then put into a zip-top bag and freeze: It will store for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using.

Sources: Status of Women Data Org. Wicked Deal, New York Times, My Recipes