Preventing Cancer Through Diet

Last Updated on Tuesday, 1 November 2011 10:05 Written by Flax Monday, 31 October 2011 02:12

As October becomes November the Cancer Awareness society moves their focus from Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) to Lung and Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month (November).   While the Breast Cancer Awareness society has brought home the  “one in nine”  the more correct statistic for Jewish Ashkenzi women is “one in eight”.  The high rate is attributed to the “Jewish gene” – three mutations in the genes BRACA1 and BRACA2 – which raise the likelihood of breast cancer by 60-80 percent.  4,000 Israeli women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and 900 die of the disease.  Lung cancer however, is the most dangerous of all cancers and is responsible for 29% of all cancer related deaths.

The cancer society has acknowledged a link between unhealthy lifestyle choices and higher cancer risk.  Two significant ways to reduce the risk of cancer are through exercise and diet.  Healthy dietary choices include eating a plant based diet,  eating whole grains, reducing saturated fats (animal products), reducing trans fat omega-6 oils (hydrogenated vegetable oils) and instead, using oils that are high in omega-3.  The two foods that I consider to be the most beneficial to both preventing and curing cancer are flax seed and seaweed.

Flax, high in omega-3 is also one of the best sources of vegetable lignins, compounds that have anti-tumor, anti-estrogenic, and anti-oxidant properties.  While flax appears to have value in treating all cancers, it is of extra value in treating both colon and breast cancers as the cells of these cancers have estrogen receptors and can be inhibited by the anti-estrogenic compounds in lignins.

Seaweeds are vegetables that are  easily digested, contain ten to twenty times the amount of minerals as regular (land) vegetables and have an abundance of vitamins and minerals.  Seaweeds detoxify the body, remove residues of radiation, are beneficial to the thyroid, and improve liver function.  Seaweeds ability to help reduce growths and tumors is noted in ancient Chinese texts which claim “there is no swelling that is not relieved by seaweed”.

To mark the occasion of October and November Cancer awareness months, I offer a recipe which uses both flax-seed and seaweed.  Satisfyingly enough, no-one, other than yourself, will  know that they are eating seaweed, or flax-seed for that matter. I served this dish for Shabbat lunch (when we had company),  I didn’t get a single seaweed comment, and there were no left overs.

This recipe has two parts but it’s not complicated. If making the crust is overwhelming, then buy a frozen ready-made whole wheat crust and just enjoy the health benefits of the filling. I promise you though, the crust isn’t hard to make, and from beginning to end, it adds only 5 minutes of work and one mixing bowl. If you are up to it, it’s worth the effort because while my recipe calls for olive oil and flax-seed, you know that they what you are buying contains  margarine galore and not even a single, solitary, flax-seed.

Wishing everyone good health and happiness ad meah ve’esrim.

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 1 cup whole flour (spelt or wheat)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground flax-seed
  • 1/2 tsp Atlantic grey sea salt
  • 3 tbsp hot water
  • 1/2 cup water (apx.)

Preheat oven to 180 c (350 f)

Allow the the flax-seed and the salt to soak  in the hot water for 5 minutes. Pour the dissolved salt flax mixture into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients.  knead the dough until it is smooth. Roll out the dough into a thin layer and place in either a pie dish or a baking pan (any size or shape will work). Prick with a fork and bake at 180c (350f) for 10 minutes, until it is partially baked. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Wakame Filling

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2″ (1 cm) ginger, grated
  • 1 bunch beet leaves (mangold or kale), coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced into matchsticks
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp wakame
  • 1 tbsp ground flax-seed, soaked in 4 tbsp water for 5 minutes
  • 1 small kohlrabi, slice into thin roundels
  • 1 thinly sliced carrot roundel

Soak the wakame in cold water for ten minutes.  Squeeze out the excess water and set aside.

Preheat oven to 180 c (350 f).

Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan.  Add the onion, garlic, ginger and spices and saute for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the beet leaves and the carrots and saute until the beet leaves are limp.   Remove from the flame and stir in the wakame and the the flax-seed. Spoon onto the half-baked pie crust.
Spread the kohlrabi roundels in a circle over the top of the pie to form a flower shape. Place the carrot roundel in the center of the circle. Carefully brush the kohlrabi flower with olive oil.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden.

Serve hot.

Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

Enjoy!

Sima Herzfeld Navon has a clinic for holistic medicine and nutritional healing.  She also teaches healthy cooking.

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Simchat Torah Choucroute

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 October 2011 10:50 Written by Flax Tuesday, 11 October 2011 10:19

Choucroute, a popular French dish, is traditionally eaten by Jews from Alsace-Lorraine on  Simchat Torah as well as on Purim. Choucroute, or choucroute garnie is French for dressed sauerkraut.  The word choucroute, pronounced Shoo-kroot,  is a phonologically francophonic form of the Alsacian word Sürkrüt, which is the German word for sauerkraut. This dish, German in origin became part of French culture after the French annexation of Alsace-Lorraine in 1648. The culinary preferences of the French and the Germans is extremely obvious in the ingredients of this recipe.  Both recipes call for fatty meats, sausages, potatoes and sauerkraut, the difference being that the Germans stew their dish in beer while the French stew their dish in white wine.

My wonderful readers might now be saying to themselves, “this dish doesn’t sound very healthy”.  So, here’s a little secret, this dish is about as unhealthy as you can get.  So to answer those of you who might be wondering why I make this dish, here’s the answer in a nutshell-my husband’s mother (z”l) came from Strausberg (hamevin yavin).

Two things I have learned about this dish.  First of all, people either love it or hate it.  Secondly it actually makes sense to serve it on Simchat Torah and on Purim.  Children, even children who have eaten a lot of candy can always find room for a hotdog and for grown-ups who like to have a l’chaim on these occasions, let me just say, this meal screams out for beer.

For those of you who are missing the healthy recipes, they will return next week, after the holidays are over.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 juniper berries
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper corns
  • 2-3 cans sauerkraut, rinsed and squeezed
  • 1 bottle Emerald Riesling, medium quality
  • 1 kilo (2.2 lb) corn beef
  • marrow bone (optional)
  • 12 frankfurters/sausages, assorted flavors (the stronger flavors are better here)
  • 6 chorizo sausages
  • 6 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and halved

Method:

Heat the oil in a very large pot.  Lightly saute the onion until it begins to soften.  Squeeze and rinse the sauerkraut and add one of the cans.  Add the wine, spices, corn beef and the remaining sauerkraut. If necessary, add a little bit of water or some more wine so that the corn beef is completely covered.  Cover the pot and cook for two-three hours or until the corn beef is tender.  Add the chorizos, potatoes and assorted sausages and cook for thirty minutes more.

Serve hot on a bed of mashed potatoes.

Serves 12-15.

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Stuffed Trout with Pomegranate Seeds for Rosh Hashanah

Last Updated on Wednesday, 7 September 2011 01:09 Written by Flax Monday, 5 September 2011 11:20

I love the holidays.  Yes, they are a tremendous amount of work, but they are also a wonderful time to refresh, to count our blessings, and to connect to G-d, ourselves, and to our families.  The special traditions and foods associated with the holidays always serve to remind me of my childhood and connect me to my roots.  Yet, I am no longer a child and I no longer live in the same way that I did as a child.  I live in a different country, far from where I grew up, my husband’s traditions are different from those of my father, and my children are sabras–along with everything that entails.  Like all families do, we have blended and merged and now we have new traditions that sit alongside the familiar old ones.  This is a dish which has become a tradition in our family and a way of combining both the old and the new.  Here I retain the idea of serving a stuffed fish (gefilte fish), but I no longer stuff  carp with carp but rather trout with pomegranates.  The flavor of this dish is Oriental. The spice that I use in this recipe is cardamom, the same spice commonly used in Turkish coffee and one which I naturally associate with Israel.  Thus this recipe symbolizes to me the fusion of the old and the new, where I came from as well as where I am now.  I am using the same symbols as my parents (ad meah ve’esrim) use,  but in a completely different fashion.

This dish uses two of the Rosh Hashanah symbols, the pomegranate and the fish.  The fish is a symbol of luck as well as of fertility. We serve a fish head  on Rosh Hashanah and ask to be larosh veloh lazanav (to be the head and not the tail).  Pomegranates are  eaten with the blessing sheneheye melaim mitzvot karimon (that our good deeds should be as plentiful as the seeds of the pomegranate).  Another ingredient in this recipe is pine nuts.  Some Ashkenazic Jews don’t eat any nuts on Rosh Hashanah because the hebrew numeric value for nut (egoz) is the same as the numeric value of  misdeed (chet).  Others hold that the prohibition against nuts applies only to walnuts.  If your tradition excludes all nuts then pumpkin seeds are a good alternative.

As a nutritional counselor as well as cooking instructor I always look at the health benefits of a dish as well as at the flavor. The nature of a holiday is one of excess.  Holidays are a time when we strive to reach beyond the ordinary, to set ourselves new goals, and to appreciate all that is special and holy in our lives.  While I am a big believer in reducing the amount of animal products that we eat, I think that holidays are the time to eat it.   The richness of the animal products corresponds to the general holiday atmosphere and emphasizes our celebration.  When asked to choose between animal products, fish is of course the healthiest.  Fish is the animal product that is lowest in saturated fat and cholesterol and also a source of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

Pomegranates are a great health choice as well. They are high in the Vitamins A, C, and E and contain folic acid, niacin and potassium.  They are rich in anti-oxidants, beneficial in healing breast and prostate cancer, help prevent hardening of the arteries and help to lower blood pressure.  They are used in remedies for bladder disturbances and are also used to strengthen gums as well as soothe ulcers of the mouth and throat.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pomegranate
  • 2 fresh trout
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of cardamom
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Scoop out the seeds of the pomegranate and set aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the onions with the salt, pepper, and cardamom.
  4. Clean the fish and set on a lightly oiled ovenproof dish.
  5. Mix the fried onions with the remaining ingredients and use it to stuff the fish.  If necessary, use a toothpick to keep the trout closed.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  7. Serve on bed of lettuce and garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Note:  To make for easier eating, ask your fish-seller if he will fillet the fish for you without removing the head.

Sima Herzfeld Navon has a clinic for holistic medicine.  She is also a cooking instructor and a nutritional counselor.

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