Article: A Powerful Tool for Cancer Prevention

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On a cold afternoon in a few weeks ago, while I was working at my computer submitting grades for the fall semester, an email from Medscape (WebMD) popped up, with the following title: “Medscape Special Report -Cancer Beats All Other Fields for 2012 New Drug Approvals”. I just shook my head, thinking about all of the pain and suffering that goes along with cancer, muttering to myself, “We need to be working WAY harder to prevent cancer!”  I do not want anyone to have to resort to taking pharmaceutical drugs to treat their cancer, because I want our immune systems to be able to stop cancer cell development in its tracks. Excellent research has shown how powerful a plant-based diet can be at turning your blood and immune system into a cancer-fighting machine! In fact, an easy way to remember this is the prefix “phyto” – meaning “plant”. I want you to also think “phyto” like “fight” – since the phytonutrients naturally occurring in plants can be phenomenal cancer “phyters”! The advice is amazingly straightforward, simply base your diet on “whole plant food” and your body will do the rest! While you already “know” that veggies and fruit are “good for you”, you might not know which offer the most “bang for their buck” or how to quickly prepare them so that they will taste great.  This year, my articles will specifically focus on incorporating the most potent cancer-fighting foods into your everyday eating routine. Eating “real food” will be a no-brainer, and you won’t resort to spending your money on fast food or other heavily processed food-like-substances!

Let’s begin with the gorgeous color green, perfect for bringing in a new year marked by health prosperity, since we all know that health is truly “priceless”, but can’t be bought, only earned.  We are going to combine two foods that can bring cancer cells to their knees – Broccoli and Garlic! When we eat broccoli, fantastic phytonutrients called glucosinolates are transformed into sulforaphane, a compound shown fight all different types of cancer, from breast to lung. Sulforaphane’s positive impact in our body appears to reach well beyond killing the active cancer cells, as it also boosts the ability of our cells to resist DNA damage, (which begins the cancer development process) and can even target cancer stem cells, which may be responsible for enabling a cancer recurrence after years in remission. Research has shown that our body is able to absorb the highest amount of phytonutrients from lightly steamed broccoli, as compared to boiled, fried, microwaved or even raw! Since, garlic also happens to have an extremely impressive resume, recognized as the number #1 vegetable when it comes to decimating cancer cells from top to bottom (brain to colon), let’s make a super combination that is simple and extremely tasty! Start 2013 with a beautiful bowl of perfectly steamed broccoli bathed in roasted garlic, a.k.a. Mia’s Garlic Trees! Now, for those of you “broccoli- skeptics” out there, let me share an excerpt from a text message I recently received from my sister, after sharing my recipe with her, “Broccoli was the one thing that he refused to eat from the beginning of our 14+ yr marriage. I made your recipe, he gave it a whirl and… he LOVED it! Said he’d eat it anytime if it was cooked like that.” Need I say more?

Mia's Garlic "Trees" is a wonderful combination of two cancer fighting foods!

Mia’s Garlic “Trees” is a wonderful combination of two cancer fighting foods!

Mia’s Garlic Trees
1 pound of raw broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
8-10 cloves of roasted garlic
1/4-1/3 cup veggie broth

Roast unpeeled garlic wrapped in foil at 350F for 20-30 mins or until soft when gently squeezed.* Steam the broccoli until just barely tender, about 3-4 minutes. Combine 1/4 c of the steaming water with 1 tsp of veggie broth paste or powder and roasted garlic cloves. Thoroughly smash garlic with a long-tined fork, to make a thick “sauce”, adding a few more tablespoons of the water as needed. Put the broccoli into the bowl with the roasted garlic sauce and gently mix to coat well.

The hardest part for us seems to be getting the broccoli to the serving dish, as anyone who is in the kitchen with me can’t stop eating it!

*You can roast garlic ahead of time, as it will last in the fridge for several days or tightly wrapped in the freezer for months. I often slip a packet or two of garlic cloves into the oven when I am cooking something else, so that we will have the garlic done ahead and can make Mia’s Garlic Trees on a weeknight, when we are short on time.

Timaree Hagenburger, is a registered dietitian and certified health fitness specialist with a master’s degree in public health. She is a nutrition professor at Cosumnes River College, does corporate wellness work, as well as professional speaking engagements and teaches hands-on cooking/nutrition classes.

Read my article as published in Lodi News Sentinel.

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