In case you missed my latest article in the Tallahassee Democrat on October 4th. Here it is, recipes and all! Enjoy!
October is an opportunity to bring attention and awareness to breast cancer and highlight prevention, early detection, education and research.
Often when we think of food and nutrition our thoughts immediately go to what we should cut back on. That thought process can also seep in when our goal is cancer prevention. Recently I got an email from a potential client who said that she had had several family members diagnosed with various types of cancer and was interested in helping her family change their diet to avoid toxins in food.
While of course this is a reasonable concern and one to have awareness of, my immediate thought went instead to all the foods that most of us don’t get enough of that can help to protect us from all types of cancer. So instead of a focus on cutting back or getting rid of, it is a thought of abundance and eating more of what brings us health. It is a slight twist in mindset, but one that can make all the difference when we are interested in nutrition and how it impacts our and our family’s healthy and longevity.
Eating well is one important way you can lower your risk of breast cancer and other types of cancers too. The American Cancer Society recommends eating a plant-based diet filled with mostly vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, beans, peas, and nuts. Just focusing on getting more of these, for most of us, would be a big change in the right direction. The recommendations do also include things to cut back on, including, consuming less alcohol, red meat (beef, pork, and lamb), processed meat (bacon, sausage, luncheon meats, and hot dogs), and fewer sweets.
Because pink is the official color of breast cancer awareness month I thought I would share some especially nutritious pink foods with you. Did you know that fruits and vegetables get their gorgeous and varied color from something called flavonoids, natural pigments that give plants their color? These flavonoids have antioxidant properties that help our bodies fight disease.
Every color- green, orange, yellow, purple, red, pink – represents a different combination of disease fighting naturally occurring plant chemicals. The deeper the color, the richer in antioxidants and disease fighting potential. The pink (and red) colors of various produce contain several difference antioxidants and natural plant compounds, specifically, lycopene and anthocyanins known to reduce risk of disease, decrease inflammation, and improve immunity.
Here are 5 pink foods to include on your plate this month.
Salmon is packed with nutrition and is so easy to cook. In addition to being an excellent source of protein, it is low in saturated fat and a good source of heart healthy omega-3 fats. Some people avoid seafood because of a concern for mercury levels. Fortunately, salmon, along with shrimp, canned light tuna, pollock, and catfish are all low in mercury, so no worries there. Wild salmon is your best bet when you can get it. Fresh isn’t your only option either, frozen and canned salmon are great options too.
Most Americans get far more red and processed meat in their diet than they do other healthier sources of protein, like seafood and plant-based sources like beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds. Including more salmon and other seafood in your diet is an easy way to boost your nutrition and it truly is one of the easiest things to cook. Check out my recipe for a quick easy way to get salmon on the dinner table – see below!
Even though it is called “red cabbage” it really is a gorgeous bright purply pink color. Not only is it pretty it packs a nutrition punch. It is rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, B6, and folate. It is also high in fiber, specifically gut-friendly insoluble fiber, a type of fiber that helps keep your digestive system healthy. Red cabbage is super versatile and can be eaten cooked on its own or added to soups or stews or raw and added to salads or slaws. Overall, red cabbage offers many health benefits and is cheap and easy to include in a variety of ways. Check out my quick and easy recipe for Red Cabbage & Pink Lady Apple Slaw below.
Pink lady apples
You know the saying…”an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples are high in fiber and nutrient rich. They are a good source of vitamin C and potassium. They are high in the antioxidants quercetin, known to have anticancer, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory effects, and catechin, also an anti-inflammatory antioxidant. Pink Lady apples are especially crunchy, juicy, and tart with a little bit of a sweet finish. I’m kind of picky about my apples and am a big Honeycrisp fan, but these are a close second. They were developed in Australia in the 1970’s and are the first apple with a trademark. They are actually a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Lady Williams apple. As a little bonus, they are slow to oxidize, meaning they won’t turn brown as quickly making them great to throw in a lunchbox or bring along sliced and ready to go for a snack along with a travel pack of peanut butter. Pink Ladies are also included in my slaw recipe. Whether it’s Pink Ladies or any other apple, that old saying of having one a day is one to live by.
Shrimp All onions, no matter their color, are packed with beneficial nutrients, such as vitamin C and potassium. They are a particularly good source of healthy soluble fibers called fructans, which can feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Red onions, though, contain a higher amount of antioxidant compounds than do white, represented by their vibrant color. Red onions are not only sources of those anthocyanins I mentioned above, but they also contain quercetin, a powerful anti-inflammatory. When it comes to onions and nutrition, the red ones are your best bet.
Shrimp is one of those foods that people are confused about…are they healthy or not? Well, short answer is yes! They are a great source of lean protein and are good sources of certain vitamins and minerals, namely vitamin B12 and phosphorus, as well as choline, copper, and iodine. Shrimp are also good sources of two powerful antioxidants, selenium and astaxanthin. Astaxanthin gives shrimp its pretty pink color and is shown to help reduce inflammation.
I get asked about shrimp and its cholesterol content frequently. It is known as a high cholesterol food and some mistakenly shun it from their diets for that reason. Yes, shrimp is a higher cholesterol food and for years was on the “do not eat” list for anyone with high cholesterol or heart disease. We’ve learned through scientific study though that what impacts blood cholesterol levels the most is not dietary cholesterol, but saturated and trans fats. The good news is that shrimp is low in both, which means we can put them back on the “eat often” list.
So, there it is, your list of vibrantly colorful pink foods to try to incorporate this month and beyond. One thing to remember…no one food can cure or create cancer, but the combination of foods we regularly include can be powerful cancer fighting weapons and can have a positive impact on our health.
A few ways other ways you can GO PINK and bring awareness to breast cancer prevention…
- schedule your mammogram – even if you aren’t due for a few months, go ahead and get it on your calendar.
- set a recurring reminder each year in your phone’s calendar to get scheduled
- remind your friend, Mom, Sister, or other relative to schedule theirs too
- pick one of the pink foods each week that you aren’t currently including and fit it in. Maybe that means trying one of my recipes or finding your own.
Salmon & Asparagus Foil Packets
4 (6 oz) skinless salmon fillets
1 lb asparagus , tough ends trimmed, and chopped to 1 inch pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic , minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon thinly sliced
2 tsp fresh or dried dill, divided (or more to taste)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut four sheets of aluminum foil about 14-inch long. Divide asparagus pieces into 4 equal portions and layer in center of each length of foil.
In a small bowl stir together oil with garlic. Drizzle 1 tsp of the oil over portion of asparagus then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Rinse salmon and pat dry. Layer fillets over asparagus.
Drizzle top of each salmon fillet with 1 tsp of the olive oil mixture and season top with salt and pepper to taste. Top each with ½ teaspoon dried dill (or more if desired) and 2 lemon slices.
Wrap sides of foil inward over salmon then fold in top and bottom of foil to enclose.
Place foil pouches in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until salmon is cooked through, about 25 – 30 minutes. Unwrap and serve warm.
Calories: 386 Fat: 22 g Saturated Fat: 2.5 g Carbohydrates: 7 g Cholesterol: 105 mg Sodium: 384 mg Protein: 40 g Calcium: 63 mg Fiber: 4 g Potassium: 374 mg
Serving Size: 1 packet
Red Cabbage & Pink Lady Apple Slaw
This side dish is packed with three foods from my list. It is full of nutrients and antioxidants, comes together quickly, and has great flavor. For the best flavor be sure to let it sit for a bit before digging in. I cheated a little and bought a red and green already shredded mix from Trader Joe’s making prep even easier. This would be a great side with turkey burgers!
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon celery seed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 head red cabbage, cut into roughly 1 1/2-inch chunks (or 1 pkg Trader Joe’s Green and red cabbage)
½ cup shredded carrots
¼ cup red onion, chopped
1 Pink Lady apple (or your favorite apple), chopped
In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar and honey until dissolved. Slowly whisk in oil, celery seed, salt and pepper to taste. Toss in cabbage, carrots, red onion and apples to coat well. Cover and let sit at least 1 hour.
Calories: 81 Fat: 3 g Saturated Fat: 0 g Carbohydrates: 12 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Protein: .75 g Fiber: 1.5 g Sodium: 51 mg Calcium: 23 mg Potassium: 130 mg
Serving Size: 1 cup