Tag Archives: Cancer Prevention

Fennel

ImageThe edible herb called fennel belongs to the Apiaceae family, which also includes carrots and parsley. It is native to Europe and related to certain herbs that have fragrant flowers widely referred to as seeds, such as anise, cumin and dill. Although some people use fennel for its scent or claimed medicinal properties, the plant is a well-known ingredient in cooking and food products, too. Edible fennel is available in bulb, leaf, seed and stalk form, and cooks use it as a flavouring agent, garnish, herb or vegetable in dishes. You can consume the different parts of the plant in various ways, explains the Herb Society of America, such as by cooking the stalk to use as a vegetable, eating the stalk uncooked, adding the raw leaves to salads or preparing tea from fennel leaves or seeds. The actual nutritional properties of fennel may vary based on such factors as added ingredients, cooking method and the variety used.

Fennel is an excellent source of vitamin C. It is also a very good of dietary fiber, potassium, molybdenum, manganese, copper, phosphorus, and folate. In addition, fennel is a good source of calcium, pantothenic acid, magnesium, iron, and niacin.

Like many of its fellow spices, fennel contains its own unique combination of phytonutrients—including the flavonoids rutin, quercitin, and various kaempferol glycosides—that give it strong antioxidant activity. The phytonutrients in fennel extracts compare favorably in research studies to BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), a potentially toxic antioxidant commonly added to processed foods.

The most fascinating phytonutrient compound in fennel, however, may be anethole—the primary component of its volatile oil. In animal studies, the anethole in fennel has repeatedly been shown to reduce inflammation and to help prevent the occurrence of cancer. Researchers have also proposed a biological mechanism that may explain these anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects. The volatile oil has also been shown to be able to protect the liver of experimental animals from toxic chemical injury.

In addition to its unusual phytonutrients, fennel bulb is an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is the body’s primary water-soluble antioxidant, able to neutralize free radicals in all aqueous environments of the body. If left unchecked, these free radicals cause cellular damage that results in the pain and joint deterioration that occurs in conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The vitamin C found in fennel bulb is directly antimicrobial and is also needed for the proper function of the immune system.

As a very good source of fiber, fennel bulb may help to reduce elevated cholesterol levels. And since fiber also removes potentially carcinogenic toxins from the colon, fennel bulb may also be useful in preventing colon cancer. In addition to its fiber, fennel is a very good source of folate, a B vitamin that is necessary for the conversion of a dangerous molecule called homocysteine into other, benign molecules. At high levels, homocysteine, which can directly damage blood vessel walls, is considered a significant risk factor for heart attack or stroke. Fennel is also a very good source of potassium, a mineral that helps lower high blood pressure, another risk factor for stroke and heart attack.

Just a super food!

Mackerel with Asian-inspired Dressing

First day out fishing at the family cabin we went out for the afternoon bite just to get the hooks wet and see what’s going on just outside the inlet, we were hoping for salmon but all we caught was mackerel.  Mackerel after mackerel and some more mackerel, at one point we pulled the lines just to check them and we had 4 mackerels, so I decided, no way, we are keeping them and I am going to make them good.

My quick online research told me that Mackerel is part of the same family as tuna and actually quite good for you, it is high in fat but unsaturated fat and a filet still has fewer calories than beef and some other meats. It’s loaded with the omega fatty acids EPA, DHA and ALA, all of which are good for brain growth and heart protection.

The people around here’s first recommendation was to batter the heck out of this fish but I decided to treat it like tuna and add a little Asian flare to it.  Being a fatty fish a fast fry without oil in a cast iron skillet worked well.  Here at the cabin I threw the iron pan on the BBQ on high, sea salted, peppered and lemon zested the flesh and cooked it skin side down.   The recipe below is for the sauce I made to top it with but honestly it was totally tasty just off the BBQ!

When cooking the fish you should press it down several times to really char the skin and keep it flat, when it’s just about done you’ll see almost all the purple/pink flesh gone, flip for a few moments to just heat the flesh but do not press here.   Serve with sauce over basmati rice with something like salad or asparagus….seriously delicious. Tried and tested on skeptic fishermen!

Sauce

1              clove of Garlic, peeled and chopped fine

1              thumb sized piece fresh Ginger, fine grated

3             Shallots, trimmed and fine grated

1              tablespoon Red Chilli Peppers

2             Limes, zested and juiced

1              small bunch of fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped

2              tablespoons Sesame Oil

4              tablespoons Wheat-Free Soy Sauce

2              teaspoons Honey or Agave

Splash of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Combine all prepared ingredients except oil, whisk then add a good splash of olive oil and whisk again,  set aside until fish is cooked then simply spoon on top!

Squash

The winter squash group includes pumpkin, acorn, butternut, spaghetti squash, ambercup, buttercup, hubbard, kabocha, banana, carnival, sweet dumpling, golden nugget, autumn cup…ect.  Winter squash, like other richly colored vegetables, provide an excellent source of carotenes.  Generally, the richer the color, the richer the concentration.  They also offer a very good source of vitamins B1 and C, folic acid, pantothenic acid, fiber, and potassium.  Winter squash are also a good source of vitamin B6 and niacin. Studies have shown that, due to their carotene properties, winter squash exert a protective effect against many cancers, particularly lung cancer.  Diets that are rich in carotenes (especially pumpkins) offer protection against cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.  Studies have also shown that pumpkin seeds are helpful in reducing symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).   We think about winter squash as a very starchy vegetable – about 90% of its total calories come from carbohydrate, and about half of this carbohydrate is starch-like in its composition. However, recent research has made it clear that all starch is not the same, and the starch content of winter squash brings along with it some key health benefits. Many of the carbs in winter starch come from polysaccharides found in the cell walls. These polysaccharides include pectins – specially structured polysaccharides that in winter squash often include special chains of D-galacturonic acid called homogalacturonan. An increasing number of animal studies now show that these starch-related components in winter squash have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, as well as anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties.

Seeds from winter squash make a great snack food, just like pumpkin seeds. If you scoop the pulp and seeds from inside the squash and separate out the seeds, you can place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and lightly roast them at 160-170°F (about 75°C) in the oven for 15-20 minutes. By roasting them for a relatively short time at a low temperature you can help minimize damage to their healthy oils. Linoleic acid (the polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid) and oleic acid (the same monounsaturated fatty acid that is plentiful in olive oil) account for about 75% of the fat found in the seeds.

Since summer squash (zucchini, cucumber…ect)  have a high water content, they are not as nutrient-dense as the winter varieties.  Summer squash still provide several nutritional benefits.  They are low in calories and provide a decent amount of vitamin C, potassium, and carotenes.     Studies have shown that juice made from summer squash is equal to juice made from pumpkins, leeks, and radishes in their ability to prevent cell mutations.  Summer squash are especially beneficial during the summer months due to their higher water content.  They protect against dehydration and the carotenes help to protect against the damaging effects of the sun.

Squash is a vegetable that might be especially important for us to purchase organic. Recent agricultural trials have shown that winter squash can be an effective intercrop for use in remediation of contaminated soils. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (pahs), including pyrene, fluoranthene, chrysene, benzo(a)anthracene and benzo(a)pyrene are unwanted contaminants. Pahs are among the contaminants that can be effectively pulled up out of the soil by squash plants. When squash is planted as a food crop (as opposed to a non-food crop that is being planted between food crop seasons to help improve soil quality), the farmer’s goal is definitely not to transfer soil contaminants like pahs up into the food. But some of that transfer seems likely to happen, given the effectiveness of squash in mobilizing contaminants like pahs from the soil. For this reason, you may want to make a special point of purchasing certified organic squash. Soils used for the growing of in certified organic foods are far less likely to contain undesirable levels of contaminants like pahs.

Acorn Squash

Easily found in supermarkets. As its name suggests, this winter squash is small and round shaped like an acorn. One of my favorite baking squashes, it’s easy to slice into halves and fill with butter. A small acorn squash weighs from 1 to 3 pounds, and has sweet, slightly fibrous flesh. Its distinct ribs run the length of its hard, blackish-green or golden-yellow skin. In addition to the dark green acorn, there are now golden and multi-colored varieties.

Available year round

Ambercup Squash

A relative of the buttercup squash that resembles a small pumpkin with orange skin. Bright orange flesh has a dry sweet taste. Peel it, cube the flesh, roast it, and serve like cut-up sweet potatoes. Has an extraordinarily long storage life.

Available June to November.

 Autumn Cup Squash

A hybrid semi-bush Buttercup/kabocha type dark green squash. Rich flavored flesh and high yields. Fruit size 6 inches with a weight of about 2 to 3 pounds.

Flesh is yellow/orange meat that is stringless, dry, and sweet.

Available September through December.

 Banana Squash

In shape and skin color, this winter squash is reminiscent of a banana. It grows up to two feet in length and about six inches in diameter. Its bright orange, finely-textured flesh is sweet. Banana squash is often available cut into smaller pieces.

Available year-round – peak season lasts summer through early fall.

 Butternut Squash

Easily found in supermarkets. Beige colored and shaped like a vase or a bell. This is a more watery squash and tastes somewhat similar to sweet potatoes. It has a bulbous end and pale, creamy skin, with a choice, fine-textured, deep-orange flesh with a sweet, nutty flavor. Some people say it is like butterscotch. It weighs from 2 to 5 pounds. The oranger the color, the riper, drier, and sweeter the squash.  Butternut is a common squash used in making soup because it tends not to be stringy.

Available year-round – peak season lasts from early fall through winter.

 Buttercup Squash

Buttercup Squash are part of the Turban squash family (hard shells with turban-like shapes) and are a popular variety of winter squash. This squash has a dark-green skin, sometimes accented with lighter green streaks.

Has a sweet and creamy orange flesh. This squash is much sweeter than other winter varieties. Buttercup Squash can be baked, mashed, pureed, steamed, simmered, or stuffed and can replace Sweet Potatoes in most recipes.

Available year-round – peak season lasts from early fall through winter.

 

 Carnival Squash

Cream colored with orange spots or pale green with dark green spots in vertical stripes. Carnival Squash have hard, thick skins and only the flesh is eaten. It is sometimes labeled as a type of acorn squash.

The delicious yellow meat is reminiscent of sweet potatoes and butternut squash and can be baked or steamed then combined with butter and fresh herbs. Also great in soups.

Available year-round – is best late summer through early fall.

Delicata Squash

Also called Peanut squash and Bohemian squash. This is one of the tastier winter squashes, with creamy pulp that tastes a bit like corn and sweet potatoes. Size may range from 5 to 10 inches in length. The squash can be baked or steamed The thin skin is also edible.

The delicate squash is actually an heirloom variety, a fairly recent reentry into the culinary world. It was originally introduced by the Peter Henderson Company of New York City in 1894, and was popular through the 1920s. Then it fell into obscurity for about seventy-five years, possibly because of its thinner, more tender skin, which isn’t suited to transportation over thousands of miles and storage over months.

Available year-round – is best late summer through early fall. 

 

 Fairytale Pumpkin Squash

French name is “Musquee de Provence.” The fruits are flattened like a cheese but each rib makes a deep convolution. The Fairytale Pumpkin is a very unique eating and ornamental pumpkin. It’s thick but tender, and the deep orange flesh is very flavored, sweet , thick, and firm. It is 115 to 125 day pumpkin and takes a long time to turn to it’s cheese color. The distinctive coach-like shape and warm russet color make it perfect for fall decorating too.

This pumpkin is usually used for baking.  Cut it into pieces and bake in the oven.

Available September to November.

 

 Gold Nugget Squash

A variety of winter squash, which is sometimes referred to as an Oriental pumpkin that has the appearance of a small pumpkin in shape and color. It ranges in size from one to three pounds. Golden nugget squashes are small, weighing on average about 1 pound. Both the skin and the flesh are orange.

Gold Nugget Squash may be cooked whole or split lengthwise (removing seeds). Pierce whole squash in several places, and bake halved squash hollow side up.

Available year-round – is best season is late summer through early winter.


Grey and Green Hubbard  Squash

The extra-hard skins make them one of the best keeping winter squa

shes. These are very large and irregularly shaped, with a skin that is quite “warted” and irregular.
They range from big to enormous, have a blue/gray skin, and taper at the ends. Like all winter squash, they have an inedible skin, large, fully developed seeds that must be scooped out, and a dense flesh. Hubbard squash is often sold in pieces because it can grow to very  large sizes. The yellow flesh of these tends to be very moist and longer cooking times in the oven are needed. They are generally peeled and boiled, cut up and roasted, or cut small and steamed or sautéed. It’s perfect for pies.

Hubbard squash, if in good condition initially, can be successfully stored 6 months at 50 to 55 degree F. With 70% relative humidity. Less rot will develop in the Hubbard squash if stems are completely removed before storage. Hubbard squash and other dark-green-skinned squashes should not be stored near apples, as the ethylene from apples may cause the skin to turn orange-yellow.

Available year-round – peak season is early fall throughout winter.

Kabocha Squash (Also known as a Ebisu, Delica, Hoka, Hokkaido, or Japanese Pumpkin)

Kabocha is the generic Japanese word for squash, but refers most commonly to a squash of the buttercup type. This squash has a green, bluish-gray or a deep orange skin. The flesh is deep yellow.

Kobocha Squash may be cooked whole or split lengthwise (removing seeds). It has a rich sweet flavor, and often dry and flaky when cooked. Use in any dish in which buttercup squash would work.

Available year-round.

 Spaghetti Squash (also called vegetable spaghetti, vegetable marrow, or noodle squash)

A small, watermelon-shaped variety, ranges in size from 2 to 5 pounds or more. It has a golden-yellow, oval rind and a mild, nutlike flavor.

The yellowiest Spaghetti squash will be the ripest and best to eat. Those that are nearly white are not very ripe. Although it may seem counterintuitive, larger spaghetti squash are more flavorful than smaller ones.

When cooked, the flesh separates in strands that resemble spaghetti pasta.

To prepare spaghetti squash, cut the gourd in half lengthwise and remove the seeds, then bake or boil it until tender. Or, wrap it in plastic wrap and microwave on high for 10 to 12 minutes. Once cooked, use a fork to rake out the “spaghetti-like” stringy flesh (all the way to the rind), and serve.

Spaghetti Squash can be stored at room temperature for about a month. After cutting, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 2 days. Spaghetti squash also freezes well.

Available year-round – season early fall through winter.

 Sweet Dumpling Squash

This small, mildly sweet-tasting squash resembles a miniature pumpkin with its top pushed in. It has cream-colored skin with green specks. Weighing only about 7 ounces, it has sweet and tender orange flesh and is a great size for stuffing and baking as individual servings. Sweet dumplings are tiny but great for roasting and presenting whole.

Available throughout the fall.

Turban Squash

Named for its shape. Turban Squash has colors that vary from bright orange, to green or white. It has golden-yellow flesh and its taste is reminiscent to hazelnut. Has a bulblike cap swelling from its blossom end, come in bizarre shapes with extravagant coloration that makes them popular as harvest ornamentals.

It is popular for centerpieces, and its top can be sliced off so it can be hollowed and filled with soup. A larger variety of the buttercup squash, the turban has a bright orange-red rind. Its flesh and storage ability are comparable to the buttercup squash. Use in recipes that call or pie or sugar pumpkin.

Available year-round – season is late summer through early fall.

Organic Chorizo Sausage, White Bean and Kale Soup

First time I made this soup I did it without the white beans and saffron but I felt in need something, my boyfriend suggested the beans – perfect, and I added Saffron; I think it’s about right now.  This soup would be great to get lots of super healthy kale into a loved one who might prefer lots of sausage =). The sausage I used is McLean’s Organic Chorizo Pork Sausage. If I need a processed meat that I can’t get from my butcher I like to use Mclean Organic Foods. Their deli line is made from meat that was produced without growth hormones, antibiotics, and from farms that meet an animal welfare criteria. Their products are free of common allergens, food additives and are organic too!

Large heavy bottomed soup pot
Large skillet
Potato masher
Paper towel
3           tablespoons Sunflower Oil
1           large Onion, finely chopped
3           cloves Garlic, pressed
2           lbs Yukon Potatoes, thinly sliced
10         cups Broth
1           can, White Beans
1           lb Chorizo Pork Sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1           tablespoon Paprika
Pinch Saffron Threads
1-2        bunches Lacinato/Dinosaur Kale, center ribs discarded and leaves cut crosswise into thin slices
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
Cook onion with oil in heavy bottom pot over moderate heat until translucent and just golden.

Add garlic and sliced potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally for 4 minutes.

Add broth and sea salt to taste and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, sauté chorizo in skillet over moderately high heat until browned. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Coarsely mash potatoes in soup with a potato masher. Stir in white beans, chorizo, paprika, saffron and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in kale and simmer until just tender.

Adjust seasoning to taste.

Adzuki Bean and Yam Hash Skillet

I’ve made this super nutritious bean and potato skillet with eggs for breakfast or as a main for dinner with a side of quinoa.  It’s got so much in the way of healthy-ness with the adzuki beans, yams and collard greens, and yet, so delicious and satisfying – not to mention loaded with easily digestible protein!

If you haven’t heard of or used Adzuki Beans before definitely check out my post about these tangy nutritious legumes.

Large skillet, medium heat:

2          tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1          medium Onion, diced
2          medium Yams, peeled and diced small*
2          teaspoons dried Thyme
1          teaspoon ground Cumin
2          cups Adzuki Beans cooked (or one can)
5          Collard Greens, finely chopped
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

*The key is to this recipe is to dice the yams very small, this way they cook quickly without burning.

Heat oil in skillet, add onions and a pinch or two of sea salt and sauté for a few minutes.

Add yams, thyme, and cumin, sauté for a few minutes uncovered then, cover and cook (stirring occasionally) for about 15 minutes or  until yams are tender.

Add adzuki beans and collard greens.  Sauté a few minutes more, or until collards are tender.

Add Sea salt and pepper to taste.

Collard Green

The cholesterol-lowering ability of collard greens may be the greatest of all commonly eaten cruciferous vegetables. In a recent study, steamed collard greens outshined steamed kale, mustard greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage in terms of its ability to bind bile acids in the digestive tract. When this bile acid binding takes place, it is easier for the bile acids to be excreted from the body. Since bile acids are made from cholesterol, the net impact of this bile acid binding is a lowering of the body’s cholesterol level.

It’s worth noting that steamed collards show much greater bile acid binding ability than raw collards.

Unlike broccoli and kale and cabbage, you won’t find many research studies devoted to the specific health benefits of collard greens. However, collard greens are sometimes included in a longer list of cruciferous vegetables that are lumped together and examined for the health benefits they provide. Based on a very small number of studies looking specifically at collard greens, and a larger number of studies looking at cruciferous vegetables as a group (and including collard greens on the list of vegetables studied), cancer prevention appears to be a standout area for collard greens with respect to their health benefits.

This connection between collard greens and cancer prevention should not be surprising since collard greens provide special nutrient support for three body systems that are closely connected with cancer development as well as cancer prevention. These three systems are (1) the body’s detox system, (2) its antioxidant system, and (3) its inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system. Chronic imbalances in any of these three systems can increase risk of cancer, and when imbalances in all three systems occur simultaneously, the risk of cancer increases significantly. Among all types of cancer, prevention of the following cancer types is most closely associated with intake of collard greens: bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer.

If you want to include collard greens and other cruciferous vegetables you eat on a regular basis to receive the fantastic health benefits provided then, at a minimum, have 2-3 servings per week, and make the serving size at least 1-1/2 cups.  Try using collard greens in place of spinach, like in egg scrambles, soups, stir frys even as wraps!  They stay much firmer and don’t have a very strong taste.

Cooking:
It is very important not to overcook collard greens. Like other cruciferous vegetables overcooked collard greens will begin to emit the unpleasant sulfur smell associated with overcooking. To help collard greens to cook more quickly, evenly slice the leaves into ½-inch slices and the stems into 1/4-inch pieces. Let them sit for at least 5 minutes to bring out the health-promoting qualities and steam for 5 minutes.

Kale

The beautiful leaves of the kale plant provide an earthy flavor and more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around.

Although it can be found in markets throughout the year, it is in season from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring when it has a sweeter taste and is more widely available.

Kale is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family, a group of vegetables including cabbage, collards, and Brussels sprouts that have gained recent widespread attention due to their health-promoting, sulfur-containing phytonutrients. It is easy to grow and can grow in colder temperatures where a light frost will produce especially sweet kale leaves.There are several varieties of kale; these include curly kale, ornamental kale, and dinosaur (or lLcinato or Tuscan) kale, all of which differ in taste, texture, and appearance. The scientific name for kale is Brassica oleracea.

Curly kale has ruffled leaves and a fibrous stalk and is usually deep green in color. It has a lively pungent flavor with delicious bitter peppery qualities.

Ornamental kale is a more recently cultivated species that is oftentimes referred to as salad savoy. Its leaves may either be green, white, or purple and its stalks coalesce to form a loosely knit head. Ornamental kale has a more mellow flavor and tender texture.

Dinosaur kale is the common name for the kale variety known as Lacinato or Tuscan kale. It features dark blue-green leaves that have an embossed texture. It has a slightly sweeter and more delicate taste than curly kale.

Kale’s risk-lowering benefits for cancer have recently been extended to at least five different types of cancer. These types include cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate. Isothiocyanates (ITCs) made from glucosinolates in kale play a primary role in achieving these risk-lowering benefits.

Kale is now recognized as providing comprehensive support for the body’s detoxification system. New research has shown that the ITCs made from kale’s glucosinolates can help regulate detox at a genetic level. Researchers can now identify over 45 different flavonoids in kale. With kaempferol and quercetin heading the list, kale’s flavonoids combine both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits in way that gives kale a leading dietary role with respect to avoidance of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.

Source: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=38