Moon Cycle Bakery was founded with a simple mission: to educate and empower womxn through destigmatizing and celebrating the menstrual cycle.
Founder Devon Loftus is a writer and speaker from New Jersey. She is heavily influenced by her time spent living on the West Coast, holistic health, her family and the human experience.
Nutritionist Jenna Radomski is a recipe developer and the founder of Jenna Bee Basics, an online space for exploring the everyday elements of a nourished life. The driven, in-house nutritionist for Moon Cycle Bakery currently lives in Portland, Oregon where she loves to garden, hike, and explore the local food scene.
We asked these two inspiring women more about their business and how Moon Cycle Bakery is achieving its mission of celebrating the menstrual cycle.
What was the inspiration behind beginning Moon Cycle Bakery?
Loftus: Moon Cycle Bakery was founded with the belief that menstruators deserve to be acknowledged, supported and empowered throughout their cycles. I realized through my own health journey and through womxn in my life that more times than not, we feel disempowered and lack the education to care for ourselves in the individualized ways we need. Paired with the stigma attached to menstruation and regulations around women’s health, I was inspired to create a space that served others, made education around the menstrual cycle more accessible and empowered individuals to make choices for themselves that supported them and their lifestyle. Celebrating the menstrual cycle while enjoying a brownie as a means of reclaiming our power doesn’t hurt, either.
In your opinion, what is one of the best ways that womxn can naturally have a comfortable cycle- any tips and tricks?
Radomski: The best way we can have a natural, comfortable cycle is to get properly acquainted with it through data tracking, commonly referred to as the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). The basics of tracking your cycle include taking your daily waking body temperature, observing cervical fluid and position, and recording any other symptoms that might be coming up for you– such as mood changes, cramps, skin breakouts, sleep fluctuations, and energy levels. By doing this, you’ll begin to better understand the ebbs and flows of your cycle and can use this information to work with your health practitioner to resolve any unpleasant or concerning symptoms such as PMS, irregular cycles and more. You can use traditional pen-and-paper tracking or one of the many incredible apps and devices that make doing this a seamless part of your routine. I highly recommend that every person looking to have a natural, comfortable cycle use this as a starting point to get more in tune with their body.
Can you tell us more about the Moon Cycle Cookbook? What are some favorite recipes and rituals?
Radomski: The Moon Cycle Cookbook is a holistic nutrition guide for a well-balanced menstrual cycle. The book is divided into the four phases of the cycle and we dive into what is happening physiologically with our hormones. We then look at how these changes affect other areas of our life, including emotional needs energy levels, and nutritional requirements. We created the recipes with the nutritional needs of each phase in mind to help replenish depleted nutrients and support our bodies’ optimal function. For example, my favorite recipe in the book is the Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs and Lentils found in the menstrual phase; this recipe is decadent and comforting and supports us in the menstrual phase by supplying copious amounts of iron from the beef and the lentils. We lose iron through menstruation each month, so it is important to replenish our stores to avoid fatigue and iron deficiency, something I personally have struggled with for a long time. Another favorite recipe of mine is the Cinnamon Pear-Almond Butter Parfait with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds in the follicular phase. I am a huge breakfast person, and this recipe is the perfect blend of quick and simple yet deeply satisfying and warming.
We also sprinkled holistic self-care practices and rituals throughout the book to support our mental and emotional health in a way that is accessible and simple. Our rituals are meant to be grounding, and a way of pressing pause on the outside world to celebrate and honor yourself without spending hours a day or breaking the bank. My favorite ritual in the book is “Have a Good Cry” in the luteal phase; I am a deep feeler and often feel a huge wave of emotion right before my period comes (like many of us do). Sometimes, I forget about this pattern and this ritual serves as my reminder to make physical and mental space to let my emotions run through me.
Loftus: My favorite go-to recipe for quick nourishment and a serious feeling of simple luxury is our Honey-Cinnamon Latte. There’s no coffee in this recipe (although, it would also be delicious with it added), which means I grab it whenever I need a moment to ground myself. I also love it because it’s so simple and so quick to make. The ingredients are staples most of us have in our homes, and because of that it feels easy and convenient. With a toddler running around and life in the works, I am a huge proponent for all things nourishing and convenient.
One of my favorite rituals is “Journal Prompts for Wide Awake Hours,” geared towards menopause (an area of the menstrual cycle that does not get enough attention and support) but can be used for anyone that suffers from insomnia or has trouble sleeping. It’s a method that focuses on what emotion it is we’re feeling and instead of judging it, we get curious about it. We ask the emotion what it wants us to know and what we need to work on with this feeling. It also offers prompts for how to give ourselves what we need that following day or what about this moment we can more fully integrate into our day-to-day life. Lack of sleep and insomnia can feel jagged and frustrating. This is our way of bringing awareness and insight to a time that can feel challenging.
Can you tell us more about the science behind nutrition contributing to a healthy cycle?
Radomski: Imagine this…your period is coming in a few days and you’re probably experiencing some cravings– maybe a big bowl of pasta, a pint of chocolate ice cream, or maybe some salty potato chips. It sounds like a complete cliché, but this is what many people experience before getting their period and there is some explanation as to why. First, our appetite increases during the luteal phase, generally for carbohydrates. This can partially be explained by the body’s need for extra B vitamins (found in whole grains and complex carbs) for progesterone production. Plus, munching on these complex carbs gives us a serotonin boost, which decreases for some during this phase of the cycle. On the other hand, consistently choosing the processed starches and sweets can lead to increased inflammation and other pesky symptoms. We find this insight so empowering! It doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t eat ice cream when you’re craving it, but instead it can help you understand why you are experiencing your cravings and include more nourishing, hormone-supportive food choices. This is just one example of how learning about the hormonal fluctuations of the cycle can be supported through what we choose to put on our plates. Nutrition truly has an impact on all of our body systems and our menstrual cycle is no exception!
What are your hopes for the future of your business?
Loftus: I’m the kind of human who is open to how things evolve and flow. My hope is that we can continue to focus on education and accessibility and bring this to younger generations who are already doing such incredible work in this area. I also hope we can continue to create more courses or ways of reaching others that support them in reclaiming their power and stepping more fully into themselves.
In your opinion, why should more people be comfortable talking about periods?
Radomski: When I was growing up, I carried so much shame and stigma around my period, especially because I started mine when I was just nine years old. Thankfully, my mom was incredibly open and prepared me for it, but I didn’t talk about it with friends. Boys in my school would constantly laugh at the mention of the topic, and pop culture taught us that it is a hush-hush topic. I feel this shame and stigma leads to a lack of understanding and education; we barely scratched the surface of what really happens in the menstrual cycle in sex ed in school, and it wasn’t until I was in graduate school for nutrition that I learned the nuances of the cycle. When we have knowledge, we have power! Power to ask questions when your doctor prescribes hormonal birth control to “relieve cramps,” to chat with our friends about our symptoms, and to teach all genders about menstruation because it is a natural, biological process that should not be reduced to whispers. Thankfully, the conversation around periods has come a long way and I am honored to be a part of it.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
Loftus: Yes! I’m currently writing my second book with Tarcher Perigee due to release in fall 2022. This book is a collection of my personal writing, a creative and fictional memoir of sorts, that focuses on emotional well-being through personifying emotions, journal prompts and creative writing exercises.