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Thanksgiving Super Foods to Fight Cancer: Feast for the Fight

With the holidays approaching, food becomes the center of our attention as families gather and parties begin.

If you are undergoing treatment for mesothelioma and your appetite is poor, the thought of eating at all may not be appealing. It is important though to stay as nourished as possible, as this allows you to stay strong and fight cancer.

Similarly, if you have been treated for mesothelioma but your appetite is normal, you may be wondering how holiday foods fit into your healthy eating plan.

The great news is much of what is in season right now is certainly worth adding to our plates. The key is to avoid processed foods, if possible, as they usually contain high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, preservatives and other unknown chemicals that our body does not need.

Making dishes ourselves though can seem like a daunting task.

Luckily, there are some very simple super food recipes to make from scratch that won’t take up too much time or energy.

Cranberries

These small red berries have been well researched and are an extremely rich source of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are chemicals found in plants that help fight disease.

Cranberries have cancer-fighting properties because of these nutrients. Fresh cranberries are available September through November.

If you’d like to use them any other time of year, look for the frozen varieties that are just as healthy and don’t contain added sugars you may find in canned cranberries.

Try this cranberry apple chutney to complement your Thanksgiving meal.

Cranberry Apple Chutney

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cups peeled, diced apple
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • ¼ teaspoon each: cinnamon, ginger, allspice
  • Dash ground cloves
  • 6 oz. Dried cranberries (preferably unsweetened if available)

Directions:

  • Combine vinegar and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  • Add apple and onion, and return to a boil.
  • Add remaining ingredients.
  • Reduce heat to low. Cook for 25 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 1 ¾ cups.

Recipe courtesy of Oceanspray.com.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are considered nutrient powerhouses, packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and those all-important phytochemicals.

It is also one of the cheapest vegetables you can buy almost year-round.

They contain phytochemicals called carotenoids, specifically beta-carotene, which gives the vegetable its deep-orange hue. They are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin B1 (thiamin).

Sweet potatoes can be oven roasted, steamed, boiled or fried for a variety of textures and flavors. Incorporate this immune-boosting food into your diet at least once a week, if possible, and keep the skin on for an extra boost of nutrition.

This simple recipe uses cinnamon — a wonderful spice that is immune boosting like all other spices.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon

Ingredients:

  • 4 sweet potatoes cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup olive oil plus a little extra to drizzle after cooking
  • ¼ cup honey (preferably local)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Lay the sweet potatoes out in a single layer on a roasting tray.
  • Drizzle the oil, honey, cinnamon, salt and pepper over the potatoes.
  • Roast for 25 to 30 minutes in oven or until tender.
  • Take sweet potatoes out of the oven and transfer them to a serving platter.
  • Drizzle with more extra-virgin olive oil.

Serves four.

Recipe courtesy of Food Network.

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are part of a larger family known as cruciferous vegetables. Cauliflower, turnips, kale and collard greens are a few examples of others in the group.

In addition to containing carotenoids, cruciferous veggies such as Brussels sprouts contain glucosinolates. These are broken down during chewing and digestion to release indoles and isothiocyanates — two compounds with anti-cancer properties.

Brussels sprouts are packed full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. These little green gems are also low in calories, meaning unlike the pumpkin pie, you can eat a little extra and not feel guilty!

This recipe taken from the American Institute for Cancer Research is a fresh and colorful slaw that can provide a bright addition to an otherwise rich and heavy table of foods.

Brussels Sprout Slaw with Cranberries and Walnuts

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 1 Fuji or Gala apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3-cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

  • Trim bottom from sprouts and remove any loose or bruised leaves.
  • Place shredding disk or fine slicing disk in food processor. Using feeder tube, gradually shred Brussels sprouts. There will be about 4 1/2 cups (see notes). Transfer shredded sprouts to mixing bowl.
  • Add apple, cranberries, walnuts, salt, pepper and lemon juice and stir with a fork for one minute to combine well.
  • Add oil and stir well.
  • Cover and refrigerate slaw from three hours to overnight. Re-stir before serving.
  • This slaw is best served within 24 hours.

Serves 8 (4 cups).

Notes:

  • If Meyer lemons are not available, use ¼ cup regular fresh lemon juice.
  • If your food processor does not have a shredding dish, quarter Brussels sprouts vertically and place in food processor fitted with a chopping blade. Pulse until sprouts are finely chopped, stopping several times to scrape down bowl. Take care not to leave big chunks or to turn sprouts into mush.

Tejal Parekh

Tejal Parekh is a registered and licensed dietitian in Florida with a master’s in nutrition and dietetics from Georgia State University. She realized her passion more than 10 years ago when she started working with cancer patients. Tejal also is one of the first dietitians in Florida to be board-certified as a specialist in oncology nutrition.

Sources
  1. Weh, K. et al. (2016, September). Cranberries and Cancer: An Update of Preclinical Studies Evaluating the Cancer Inhibitory Potential of Cranberry and Cranberry Derived Constituents. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5039576/
  2. Food Network. (n.d.). Roasted sweet potatoes with honey and cinnamon. Retrieved from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/roasted-sweet-potatoes-with-honey-butter-recipe-1946538
  3. National Cancer Institute. (2012, June 7). Cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cruciferous-vegetables-fact-sheet
  4. American Institute for Cancer Research. (2014, April 15). Brussels Sprout Slaw with Cranberries and Walnuts. Retrieved from http://www.aicr.org/health-e-recipes/2014/brussels-sprouts-slaw.html

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