Fishy Fish

Note: For the lowdown on salmon, visit http://www.eatandbeatcancer.com. The bottom line is that pink salmon–yes, the kind you find in cans–is the cleanest.

As fish go, some are good for you, due to their high levels of Omega- 3 fatty acids, and some are suspect, chock full of heavy metals and chemicals from polluted waters.  In general, look for cold-water fish from clean waters and  for relatively small, short-lived fish that eat lower on the food chain, hence are less contaminated.

Here’s a list of some common fish to help you choose the healthiest ones that are not endangered.  Be careful how you cook them, though. Frying in oil will create harmful transfatty acids. Adding herbs, lemon and spices, rich in anti-oxidants, protects the Omega-3 fats during the cooking process.

Best (up to 4 times a week):  anchovies, Arctic char (farmed),  herring (but avoid the Baltic), mackerel (Atlantic, not King, Spanish, Gulf of Mexico), rainbow trout (farmed),  salmon (wild Alaskan or Pacific, except as discussed below and including canned sockeye, chum, pink packed in water), sardines (in water), sole (Pacific), striped bass (farmed), tilapia (US farmed)

Medium: (once a month):  black cod (Alaska or Canada), cod (Pacific; Atlantic is overfished), flounder (Pacific),  halibut (Pacific), mahi mahi,  salmon (California, Oregon, Washington), sole (Pacific), tilapia (Central America farmed), tuna (fresh from US or Canada or canned light in water, not Bluefin, Bigeye or Yellowfin, not canned albacore)

 Avoid: Artic char (freshwater),  flounder (Atlantic), grouper, haddock, halibut (Atlantic), mackerel (King and Spanish, Gulf of Mexico), pike, salmon (Atlantic, farmed), sea bass (wild)  and Chilean sea bass, snapper, shark, sole (Atlantic), swordfish, tilapia (China, Taiwan farmed), trout (Great Lakes), tuna (fresh Bigeye, Bluefin, Yellowfin. Of the canned tunas, Albacore has the highest mercury content and chunk light, the lowest.)

Check out www.thegreenguide.com for more details, and note that this list was compiled without regard to the environmental impact of fish farming and prior to Japan’s Spring 2011 disaster.  That’s another story–or three. For now, avoid fish from Japanese waters and large migratory fish from the  Pacific–primarily tuna,  which could potentially feed on smaller fish and plants in Japanese waters.  Japan’s government has been reporting radiation in many species of fish.    

Green Tea

Green tea is rich in catechins, which reduce the proliferation of blood vessels needed for tumors to grow and metastasize. It also acts as a powerful antioxidant, activates enzymes in the liver that help rid the body of toxins and facilitates the death of cancer cells. (Black tea, on the other hand, is fermented, which destroys catechins.)

Buy either the Japanese leaves (They’re considered the best)* or the Chinese Dragonwell brand, and drink a few cups a day (Some say 2-3; others say up to 6.) It does have caffeine (about 20 percent the amount in coffee),  so don’t drink it on an empty stomach and switch to decaffeinated in the p.m. Caffeine raises your blood sugar.

Here’s how to make the perfect cup:  Bring water to boil, and then let it settle down for a minute or so ‘til the bubbles disappear.  Add leaves (2 grams/.07 ounces per cup, but you don’t have to be so perfect), and let them steep for 10 minutes so that they release the catechins.  Drink within the hour; with time, the steeped tea loses its catechins. You can re-use the leaves later in the day for a second  cup.

*Author’s note: Since the writing of this post, Japan has unfortunately experienced a nuclear disaster that leaves its food supply in question.  For the moment, you’ll probably want to find an alternative source–from Sri Lanka or India, for example.

Cauliflower Creations

CAULIFLOWER & CHICKPEA SOUP WITH TURMERIC

Prep Time: 30 minutes (20 prep/ 10 min to cook)    Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 cauliflower (flowers and stems chopped into small pieces)
2 medium or 3 small onions (diced)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 t red chili pepper (minced)
1 T turmeric
1 t cumin
1 t salt
1 cup chickpeas (1 can drained and rinsed until foam disappears or 1/2 cup dried beans soaked overnight and cooked)
6 cups vegetable broth (or 1 box plus 2 cups water)

1-2 T olive oil, for sauteeing

1 bunch watercress

cracked black pepper and extra salt,  to season

Directions:

● Saute onion, garlic, red pepper in olive oil until soft

● Add turmeric, cumin, salt and toss with onions

● Add cauliflower, chickpeas and then toss to coat with seasonings

● Add broth and bring to boil, then simmer for 10 minutes

● Season to taste with salt and cracked black pepper

● Serve immediately, adding handful of watercress on top or bottom of  bowl

Leftovers?  Blend remaining soup in blender and keep in fridge.

Kale Chips

CRUNCHY KALE CHIPS

Prep time: 30 minutes (5 minutes work. Then, put in oven.)  Serve as snack.

The kale dehydrates, so plan on preparing a few batches.

1 medium-sized head of kale

1 T olive oil

Salt

Pizza pan (with holes in it) or baking sheet

Directions:

● Remove stems from kale and chop leaves into 3 -4 inch pieces. Toss with olive oil.  Give it a good sprinkling of salt. Place one layer of kale on a pizza pan or baking sheet.  (Do not pile up kale in layers.) Bake at 275 F for 20-25 minutes, until all leaves are crispy. (If using baking sheet, turn it midway.)

● To re-use chips, just heat them up at a low temp for a couple of minutes.

Variation:

Instead of adding olive oil and salt, use a couple of tablespoons of tahini and some Indian spices to taste. Using your hands, toss the kale in the tahini, making sure the greens are evenly coated. Then add some of your favorite mix of spices.

Chickpeas

HOW TO COOK CHICKPEAS

Soak chickpeas overnight with kombu, a sea vegetable, and lots of water (at least 3 inches above the chickpeas). Discard the kombu and soaking water, and transfer the beans to a large pot. Cover with fresh water 3 inches above the beans. Bring to boil and simmer for approximately 1 ½ hours, until they’re soft but not mushy.  Add salt towards the end. Skim off the foam as you cook. (Using kombu and eliminating foam will help with the gas.)

A postscript on kombu: Most is sold dried in packages and comes from Japan. If you buy it, make sure it’s been sitting around a long while–harvested, that is, prior to the Spring 2011 disaster. Your store should ask the distributor.

BALILA, A LEBANESE SIDE DISH

Prep time: 5  minutes (once chickpeas are cooked)

1 cup cooked chickpeas (1 can or ½ cup dried, soaked overnight and cooked as above)

1 piece kombu  (if you’re cooking the chickpeas)

2 T olive oil

2 T lemon juice

3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped

½ t ground cumin powder

Salt to taste

Parsley for garnish

Directions:

● Follow recipe above for cooking chickpeas or rinse canned several times in running water, making sure to get rid of the foam.

● Mash about half of the chickpeas—but just a little bit. You want them to be a but soft, but not mushy like humus.

● Mix the remaining ingredients (except the parsley) and pour over chickpeas. Garnish with parsley.

Turmeric

Turmeric’s Many Talents

Turmeric concoction with chickpeas

Turmeric, the yellow spice that gives curry its bright color and peppery flavor, has been revered in India and China for thousands of years for its wide range of medicinal properties.

It’s nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatory and has shown great promise in many studies as an anti-cancer agent—reducing tumor growth and metastases, helping stimulate cancer cells to commit suicide and enhancing the effectiveness of chemotherapy.  (Read “The Role of Curcumin in Cancer Therapy,” published in 2007 in Current Problems in Cancer, for a review of the studies.)

The theory is that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, interferes with NF-kappa B cells, considered the black knight of cancer because they protect cancer cells against the body’s natural defense mechanisms.

If you’re planning on adding turmeric to your diet, however, you can’t just rely on curry powder, with its relatively little turmeric, or pop a few turmeric tablets. If taken alone, turmeric is poorly absorbed by the gut. To cross the intestinal barrier, turmeric must be combined with black pepper (which increases its effectiveness somewhere between 1 to 2000 times) and olive oil. Heating it also increases its bio-availability.

The right dose? Nobody really knows. If you’re fighting active cancer, ask your doctor what s/he would do if s/he were you, based on the evidence thus far and the dosages used in studies. Otherwise, a teaspoon a day might even be better than the ole apple trick.

Here’s how to make your daily dose more palatable:

Turmeric Concoction

1  T turmeric

1 T ground cumin

1/2 T ground black pepper

salt to taste

Mix well. Add to mustard and heat it up. Mix with eggs or chickpeas. Add tomatoes, onions, cilantro or dill if  desired.

Warning: At very high dosages, turmeric can cause diarrhea.

Broccoli Puttanesca

A tasty meal in 15 minutes max

Forget the pasta. It’s loaded with carbs, which wreak havoc with your blood sugar–and you probably know by now that sugar metabolism is linked to heart disease, diabetes and even cancer growth.  Here, broccoli stands in for pasta and gives you cancer-fighting nutrients to boot.             

Ingredients:

•Broccoli– 1 head, stems cut on diagonal

•Olive oil– 2 T, for sautéing (Use regular, not extra virgin, which smokes too easily.)

•Onions– 2 medium (or more), cut into quarter moons

•Garlic–2 cloves, chopped

•Anchovies (optional)– 1/2 to 1 tin, packed in olive oil. Pat off oil, cut into pieces.

•Cherry tomatoes– 5 to 6, cut in half

•Capers– handful, to taste

•Kalamata olives–6 or more whole, without chemical preservatives. Cut in half.

•Tomato sauce–1/2 jar. Buy your favorite. Look for glass jar, without sugar.

•Salt–to taste

Prep:

• Steam broccoli in steamer with a pinch of salt and a little bit of water until bright green and crisp. Then quickly spray cold water over broccoli to stop the cooking process.

• In a large pan, saute onions in olive oil on low heat. (Don’t let the oil smoke. If it does, throw it out and start over.) Add garlic, sauté briefly, then add anchovies and olives. Add sauce and heat it up. Add capers and tomatoes. Cook slightly, until tomatoes start to wilt.

• Take sauce off heat. Pour over broccoli. As always, chew well.

Greek Lima Beans

Beans are not just good for your heart, as the saying goes. Their high-fiber content helps control your blood sugar and moves foods through your gut. That makes them good for preventing other chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cancer.

Montreal cook/blogger Holly Botner has a great recipe for Greek lima beans, inspired by the wealth of great Greek restaurants in Montreal.I like to add some oregano for extra flavor as well as its cancer-fighting properties.(Scroll down to the last post called “Eat Your Avastin.”)

Of course, beans can leave some incendiary after-effects. Once upon a time, many of us cooked beans with kombu, a Japanese seaweed, to mitigate this problem, but sea vegies soak up radiation so that’s probably not a good idea these days.  Try some Beano instead.  Chew foods well, and do as the Indians do–Chomp on some fennel or cumin seeds at dessert time. Ironically, many foods that give us gas are also good for us.

p.s. If you have a healthy recipe you want to share, please send it to me at hsugarmill@sympatico.ca.

Carb Substitutes

Resolved to cut carbs? Good idea. Carbs are linked to high blood sugar, which in turn is linked to diabetes, heart disease, cancer and gaining weight. 

Here are some creative substitutes:

Rice: Cauliflower pieces, cut small

Mashed potatoes: Mashed cauliflower, mixed with turnips or celery root, seasoned with herbs or spices

Lasagna noodles:  Zucchini, sliced lengthwise and thinly

Spaghetti: Spaghetti squash

Buns:  Portobellos, lightly cooked 

Wraps, tacos, burritos: Lettuce or rice paper, rolled with beans or veggies

Pasta:  Broccoli spears, onions, mushrooms, smothered in sauce

Have you other ideas? Please share them. Simply comment below. 

Kale Super Salads

holistic recipes kale salads
Kale blueberry salad at http://www.supersaladsandmore.com

Eating raw crucifers is ideal for getting the anti-cancer benefits, but hard broccoli and cauliflower just don’t cut it for most of us. 

Kale, however, is a kinder, gentler choice. Smother her in a soothing sauce, then let her wither. Chew well for a happy gut.

This supersalads blogger has loads of ideas for raw kale salads.  Omit the sweetener, if you’re minding your sugars, which I’m sure you’re doing.   Kale and berries? Kale and apple? Kale and mint?

p.s. I used a third of the amount of walnuts in the kale blueberry salad recipe–and was happy with the results.