Wouldn’t it be great if, while you’re in the throes of painful period cramps and feeling bloated, someone would just do something — anything — to make you feel better?
Enter entrepreneur Devon Porrino Loftus, whose company Moon Cycle Bakery ships out monthly care packages featuring sweet treats that are filled with ingredients they claim will help balance your hormones and satisfy cravings, without the inevitable crash that comes with eating too much refined sugar.
Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, the Washington-based Moon Cycle Bakery will start accepting subscribers on Dec. 15 for bakery boxes, which feature nutrient-dense desserts like matcha coconut bites, gluten-free raspberry black bean brownies with primrose, and chocolate cups sweetened with ginger and honey.
The bakery teamed up with food blogger and recipe developer Katie Lemons of Twist of Lemons to come up with recipes for healthier, crave-worthy desserts that also have ingredients like primrose, ginger and magnesium that may alleviate some premenstrual symptoms. Subscribers download the Moon Cycle app, which includes a period tracker that allows users to order the delivery of bakery boxes according to their cycle.
But can these ingredients actually help you when they’re wrapped up in a sweet package?
“Magnesium, for example, can be good for cramping, it regulates bowels and it can also help regulate blood sugar, and can have a good effect on the mood,” Dr. Sherry Ross, women’s health expert and author of “She-Ology: The Definitive Guide to Women's Intimate Health. Period.” told TODAY Food.
“And green tea [matcha] is full of antioxidants, and it’s a diuretic, which can help alleviate bloating and swelling.”
But, Ross cautions, it’s important to note that these treats are still treats, and need to be consumed in moderation. They’re not exactly magical brownies that give you permission to get your sugar fix without side effects.
“Balancing your hormones is all about knowing what to avoid or minimize,” she advised.
And that includes alcohol, salt, caffeine, and yes, sugar. “Be careful not to buy into these cravings because these foods can spike your cortisol [stress hormone] levels, which end up causing more cravings and can effect your blood sugar level.”
Even though Moon Cycle's products are made with alternative, non-refined sweeteners like coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey, “it’s not like our bodies see the difference,” Ross explained. “Does it hurt to sometimes get supplements in the form of a brownie? No, but don’t buy into this being healthy for you.”
Ross also added that doctors don’t know exactly what causes PMS, but the best way to minimize symptoms is to be careful about what you eat in the 10 days leading up to your period. And — buzzkill alert — that means eating lots of vegetables, fruits, proteins and complex carb ... not loading up on sugary sweets or junk food. Ross suggested foods like celery, cucumbers, watermelon, lemon, and garlic to help with bloating, as well as calcium-rich foods like kale and broccoli to help with cramping.
Have a hankering for chocolate? Why drop 400 calories (and more than a few bucks) on a coffee shop brownie when you can whip up your own for less than 100 calories? These bite-size beauties are a delicious way to satisfy a craving. It's a good day to be a choco-holic!
Swap option: If you prefer, you can swap 2 tablespoons arrowroot flour for cornstarch.99 calories per brownie bite
Nutrition analysis courtesy of Genesis® R&D
- 1/2 cup creamy almond or peanut butter
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 overripe banana
- 1/2 cup maple syrup (or sugar)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup flour (any type, from all-purpose to whole wheat pastry to almond flour)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Liberally coat mini muffin tin(s) with nonstick oil spray.
2. Mix all ingredients, except chocolate chips, until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
3. Add about 1 heaping tablespoon of batter into prepared muffin tin(s). Sprinkle a few mini or regular-size chips over the tops.
4. Bake on top rack for about 22 minutes (longer if you prefer crispy tops).
For some, the emotional effects of eating baked goods that are a little less bad-for-you will surely be worth the price — which, by the way, is steep: There are three different subscription levels that price the treats at $10 - $15 ... per brownie! This is one case where it might actually be less painful to just eat a kale salad, then reward yourself with a bowl of ice cream.
What we can get behind? Moon Cycle's mission to make resenting our periods a thing of the past. "We want your Moon Cycle treat to serve as a quiet reminder for you to celebrate the art of being a woman, rather than wish it away," the bakery's website reads.