I had an amazing time last Friday, speaking to the Sixty-Plus group at the Piedmont Hospital in Fayette County. For this engagement, I was asked to talk about anti-cancer foods and demonstrate a couple of recipes using these items. Since my allotted time was relatively slim, I needed to pack as many cancer fighting foods into one dish as possible. To break down healthy eating into its most basic form, know that if you are eating a rainbow of colors (and I am not talking about Skittles or M&M’s here), you are eating healthfully. In addition to thinking about color, I needed to include some of our major talking points for anti-cancer eating and combine it all into to a beautiful and palatable dish. Below are some of the ingredients we use on a regular basis in the healthy kitchen, all of which are included in my Super Salad recipe.
Garlic: Fresh garlic is at the top of the list of anti-cancer foods. Always use fresh garlic and allow it to sit for several minutes after grating or chopping it. This will allow the anti-inflammatory allinase enzymes to activate, which in turn increases the health benefits of the garlic.
Turmeric/Healthy Oils and Black Pepper: Turmeric is a native Indian spice with a beautiful golden color and an earthy smell. This spice, when used in conjunction with a healthy oil (Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Canola Oil), and fresh cracked black pepper, increases the bioavailability of its active ingredient, curcumin. Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory. A teaspoon of turmeric can easily be added to sautéed vegetables or salad dressings, without compromising the flavor of your recipe.
Capers and Red Onions: Both of these foods contain high levels of a flavonoid called quercetin, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
Fresh Herbs: Fresh herbs contain vitamins and add a beautiful pop of color and freshness, without adding a lot of calories or fat.
Whole Grains: Brown rice, quinoa, millet, faro, sorghum, spelt, kamut, amaranth, freekeh and teff are all examples of whole grains. These grains are filling, easily digestible and chock full of antioxidants. Most of these grains gluten-free.
Tomatoes: Not only do tomatoes come in a variety of colors, they are high in the nutrient lycopene. Lycopene is especially important for prostate health.
Red Peppers: Red peppers also contain lycopene and have more vitamin C than an orange.
Low Fat Dairy Products: Naturally lower fat dairy products like feta and parmesan cheese are great sources of flavor. Because these cheeses are stronger in flavor, you can use less of them.
Lentils/ Beans: Both of these foods are wonderful sources of non-animal protein and very economical.
Pomegranate Molasses: This is nothing more than reduced 100% pomegranate juice and a great way to add some extra antioxidants and sweetness to a salad dressing. Pomegranate molasses can be found at Whole Foods, Cooks Warehouse, Buford Highway Farmer’s Market, DeKalb Farmer’s Market and Cherian’s Market.
For the Salad:
1 cup of your favorite whole grain, uncooked (quinoa, faro, kamut)
1 cup of lentils, cooked according to package directions
1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup dry packed sun dried tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped red onion**
1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives
3 TB of capers, drained and rinsed
1 cup of fresh chopped herbs, I like a mixture of dill, parsley and basil
1 oz of crumbled feta
5 oz box of arugula
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses (local honey can be substituted)
1 grated garlic clove (a microplane grater works best)
Sea Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake to combine.
Cook you chosen grain according to package directions. Grains will have different cooking times, but in a pinch, a good rule of thumb for preparing these items is the 1-2-3 method. i.e. One cup of dried grain + two cups of liquid = 3 cups of cooked product.
Combine all of the above items, except the arugula in a large bowl. Drizzle with salad dressing and toss gently to combine. Serve on top of a bed of arugula.
Salad will keep well in the refrigerator for three days. Serves 4-6.
** Soaking raw red onions in a small bowl of ice water for about 5-10 minutes will take a lot of the sting out of the onion, making it more palatable. Just drain the water off before you add the onions to your salad.
I love this salad recipe, but more importantly, I love sharing the knowledge I have accumulated over the past few years, working with healthy chefs and dietitians at all of the Thomas Chapman Family Wellness Centers in the Piedmont Hospital network. How can you not be passionate about what is on your plate, when it is so healthy for you? Enjoy!