Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Healthy Living - Reducing Health Risks through Healthy (and delicious) Food Choices

Breast Health Awareness has four main components, Knowing your Risk, Getting Screened, Knowing What ‘Normal’ is for You, and Making Healthy Lifestyle Choices.   While each area is important, Making Healthy Lifestyle Choices is the one element completely under your own control!   
Diet and Nutrition play a major role in living a healthy life and research is showing that what we put into our bodies can have a direct impact on our risk of developing breast cancer.  While there is no one magical food remedy, there is compelling science that confirms that certain foods can be considered preventative medicine!  Taking time to become ‘nutritionally aware’ will help you make healthy decisions everyday that will reduce your overall risk of breast cancer, as well as other illnesses.
Here are some ideas (and recipes!) to get you started:

Eat your Veggies…
And your fruits!  In fact aim for 5 servings a day.  In addition to being loaded with fiber and antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, a diet rich in vegetables and fruit helps cut fat from your diet to promote a leaner you and puts less estrogen into your body – all important factors in lowering your risk of breast cancer.
Plant foods also contain a wide variety of cancer fighting substances. 
For example:
Suforaphane, a protective compound found in dark cruciferous vegetables like arugula and red cabbage, targets and kills cancer cells while leaving normal cells in tact!  Brocolli Sprouts are loaded with Suforaphane! 
The beta carotene found in carrots, sweet potato, spinach and kale improve your white blood cell’s ability to patrol for aberrant cells including cancer cells.  
Folic Acid aids the repair of damaged DNA that could cause cancer and is easily accessed in foods such as asparagus, spinach, black beans, and lentils to name a few.

Try adding a harvest of vegetables and fruits into your daily routine.  Besides those mentioned above develop a fondness for dark leafy greens, pumpkin, tomatoes, peas, legumes, winter squash, plums, grapes, berries, oranges, and cantaloupe.

Pasta With Roasted Veggies and Greens
serves 4
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes
  • 4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1/2 large red onion sliced large
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 lb whole wheat or brown rice penne pasta
  • 1/3 C pitted Kalamata olives coarsely chopped
  • 2 large handfuls arugula or spinach  
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Start a large pot of boiling water for the pasta. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Combine tomatoes, garlic cloves, red onion, thyme and olive oil in a bowl. Toss or stir to coat veggies with oil. Place the mixture onto the baking sheet making sure nothing is overlapping too much. Give the mix a little shake of salt and pep. Put into preheated oven and roast until the tomatoes have leached their liquid and are looking lightly browned. The garlic cloves should feel softened. This takes about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, as the veggies are in the oven roasting, add your pasta when the water is boiling. Cook pasta as directed on packaging. Drain the pasta when done, reserving ¼ C of the liquid. Return pasta to pot.
When the veggies are done, collect the garlic cloves. Peel them with a knife, the inside should be soft and easily part with the skin. Smash the garlic down a bit.
To the pasta pot, add the roasted veggies, garlic, olives, and reserved pasta water. Cook on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes, until everything is warmed together. Turn off the heat and stir in the greens you are using.
A bit of shaved hard cheese is a nice finishing touch.

Love the Whole Grain!
Fiber, fiber, fiber!  A digestive tract with a healthy amount of fiber is essential for eliminating cancer causing toxins from your body.  For example, while estrogens are a normal part of our bodies high estrogen levels put you at an increased risk of breast cancer.  Your body naturally tries to usher   estrogens out through the digestive tract.  Fiber in the digestive tract  
                 ‘sticks’ to the free estrogens in the gut and carries them away.  If your digestive tract is high in
                 meats or other non-fiber foods, estrogen can escape and be reabsorbed into your body.
To up your fiber intake reduce or eliminate processed white flours and rice from your diet and replace them with whole grains like brown rice, oats, and quinoa to name a few.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough Recipe
  • 1 Tablespoon active, dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons luke warm water
  • teaspoon agave nectar
  • 2 cups 100% whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
 Combine yeast, water, and agave nectar in your mixer bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes until bubbly or slightly foamy looking. Add flour, and salt to the bowl and begin mixing on low speed until combined. When combined, turn the mixer speed up to medium and continue mixing until the mix forms a cohesive ball. This takes about 5 to 10 minutes. Once your ball is formed, touch it. If it feels too sticky, add a few more tablespoons of flour. If it looks dry and crumbly, you may need to add a few more tablespoons of water. The dough is just right when you press into it and it doesn’t leave any traces on your hand.
When you dough is ready, brush the ball lightly with olive oil, cover with a kitchen cloth and let sit in the bowl on your countertop for 2 hours. It should almost double in size.
Lightly flour your counter top and press the dough into shape with your hand or use a wooden dough roller. Voila! Homemade pizza dough!
Top with veggies, low fat meats and cheeses, and your favorite pizza sauce!

Be Full of Beans!
In an arm wrestling match between beans and meats, beans will win everytime!  The lower fat content, great fiber, and bunch of cancer fighting nutrients found in Legumes make this an easy contest.  Use beans whole in soups, on salads, or as a side dish.  Combine them with brown or wild rice or whole grain pastas for an excellent source of protein.   Blend them into a spread or dip to dress up a sandwich or veggie platter.  Indeed a magical fruit!

Hearty Lentil and Veggie Soup  

1 onion 3 tbsp of olive oil
2 carrots  2 stalks celery
2 cloves garlic   1 bay leaf
2 large fresh tomatoes   2 cups dry lentils
8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth   1/2 cup spinach
1/4 tsp ground turmeric    1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Place large pot with olive oil over medium heat. Chop onions, carrots and celery and add to pot.
 Cook and stir until onion is tender. Mince garlic and pour into soup. Add bay leaf, and cook for 2 minutes.
 Stir in lentils, water and diced tomatoes, and bring to a boil.
 Reduce heat, and simmer for at least 1 hour. Then, rinse and thinly slice spinach and stir into pot until cooked. Season soup with turmeric and black pepper for flavor, and serve!

Channel Your Inner Squirrel!
Nuts and seeds are a wonderful addition to a healthy diet and an excellent non-meat protein source.  Eaten in moderation, nuts and seeds provide unsaturated fats,   a variety of vitamins and minerals, and cancer fighting Omega 3 fatty acids. 
Oatmeal Nut Waffles

1 ½ c whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups skim milk
¼ c. butter melted
2 Tbsp honey                
1 c. quick cooking oats
1 c. chopped nuts
Sliced peaches or strawberries, optional
In a  large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.   Combine eggs, milk, butter and honey; stir into dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in oats and nuts.
Bake in a preheated waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions until golden brown.  Garnish with fruit if desired. 
Yields 8 to 10 waffle (about 6-3/4 inches)

Go for an Oil Change
While it is ideal to limit your fat intake and use oils sparingly, make the switch to oils that are high in unsaturated fats        for cooking and dressings.  For high Omega 3’s try delicate flax oil on cold dishes or Walnut oil in a salad or for baking.   Olive oil and sunflower oil are both high in antioxidants and excellent for many uses.  Both rich in monounsaturated fats, Peanut oil has a distinctive taste and high smoke point while Canola oil is a great all-purpose mild flavored oil for baking and sautéing.

Kale Chips
1 pound kale
Olive oil spray
Salt (to taste)
Cayenne pepper and other seasonings such as garlic (to taste)
Wash and dry the kale. Tear into bite-size pieces. Lay on a cookie sheet and spray with olive oil.
Lightly sprinkle salt and other seasonings over leaves. Use sparingly. Flavor will be strong.
Bake at 350 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes. When it comes out of the oven, kale should be light and crispy like a potato chip.
Yield: 4 servings

Behold the power of Omega 3’s
Omegas 3’s are especially important for your health because they reduce inflammation that can damage tissue and encourage cells –including cancer cells - to grow.  You’ll find Omega 3’s in many nuts, seeds, and legumes, but an especially good source is fatty fish including deep sea fish including salmon, sea bass, halibut, mackerel and sardines.  Aim for 3 to 4 servings of Omega 3’s daily.
Salmon Cake Recipe
makes 4 good sized salmon cakes
takes 5 minutes to prepare, 6 minutes to cook
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 6 oz canned wild, Alaskan salmon (boneless, skinless)
  • 1/4 of a small onion chopped finely (about 2-3 Tbs)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon (don’t skip this, soo good!)
  • pinch of dried dill
  • pinch of dried parsley
  • small squeeze of lemon if you have it
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbs bread crumbs or whole wheat flour
Put olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Combine all proceeding ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Stir until all ingredients are well combined. The mixture will feel very wet but not soupy.
Reach into bowl and grab a small handful of the mixture (1/4 cup should give you a good amount). Form into a patty with your hands and place directly into warmed skillet. Continue until all salmon mixture is used up.
Cook patties 2-3 minutes on each side. They should be lightly browned on each side.

Keep it Lean, Keep it Healthy
While it may be easier said than done, striving for a healthy body weight is a proactive goal that will reduce your risk of breast cancer.  Excess weight post menopause is a proven breast cancer risk, but adding healthy foods into your diet in the form of tasty and satisfying dishes will help you maintain an ideal weight for a lifetime.  Fat impairs immunity and the body’s ability to defend against cells that turn cancerous.  High fat diets also increase estrogen levels that increase the risk of breast cancer. Try to lower your fat intake overall, aiming for 20 to 30% fat in your diet comprised mainly of unsaturated fats and low fat dairy products.

Use the ideas above to shift your diet in a healthier direction.  Seek out those recipes that help you become a veggie lover, add in the whole grains, go crazy over fruits, beans, and nuts. 

You have the power to lower your breast cancer risk by simply being aware of what you are putting in your body.   Take a proactive role in your own breast health by choosing to incorporate better diet choices into each day.  Every little bit helps…a few nutritional changes here and there will result in a healthier diet and a healthier you for a lifetime.   

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