Pumpkin: Beyond the Pie

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Pumpkin

This time of year pumpkins are everywhere, usually either adorning front door steps or being readied as a lantern for their Halloween outing. Pumpkins next big hurrah will come on Thanksgiving Day (here in the U.S.) when pumpkin pies will be on most holiday tables. Once Thanksgiving is over, poor pumpkin gets forgotten about for the next 11 months. Well it’s time that changed! This healthy cancer-fighting food should be included in your diet in more than just a yearly pie. Pumpkins are actually a fruit and belong to the squash family along with some popular varieties like acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash.

How can pumpkin help fight breast cancer?

What elevates pumpkin to superstar status is its magical combination of carotenoids. Pumpkin contains one of the richest sources of bioavailable carotenoids known. Its super cute color isn’t just for looks! Carotenoids give fruits and vegetables their deep orange, yellow or red color.
Foods rich in carotenoids have been associated with a wide variety of health benefits and disease fighting capacity. They have been shown to decrease the risk of several different cancers, including breast cancer. These carotenoids can reduce precancerous cell changes that may lead to the formation of breast cancer. Also, women with the highest blood carotenoid levels have a reduced risk for breast cancer.
Pumpkin is also packed with fiber. Studies show that women who eat higher amounts of dietary fiber reduce their risk for breast cancer compared to those who eat less. Pumpkin is also a highly nutritious, low calorie food, which can help keep your weight stable. Maintaining a healthy weight also reduces your breast cancer risk. Fresh pumpkin contains just 30 calories per cup! Crazy! Let’s not forgot about the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of dietary zinc, which is important for immune function. Adequate amounts of zinc are also necessary for the production of enzymes that digest our food. Enzymes play a vital role in helping with absorption of nutrients and protein, therefore promoting overall health while reducing your cancer risk. Unlike fresh pumpkin, pumpkin seeds are higher in calories, about 285 calories per cup, so keep that in mind when using them. They’re healthy, nutritious calories though :)

Added Benefits

The nutrients in pumpkin are truly amazing. Pumpkins contain disease-fighting nutrients like potassium, magnesium, vitamins A, C and E. The pumpkin seeds contain protein, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron and fiber and offer many health benefits including, strengthening your metabolism, boosting your immune system, detoxifying the body, protecting your bones, boosting heart health, reducing inflammation in the body and helping with kidney stones. If you’re feeling wired and stressed after a long day, pumpkin seeds can help to calm you down and allow you to get a good nights sleep. Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan and magnesium, both of which are associated with sedation and calming qualities. Reach for pumpkin seeds to help you achieve the restful sleep you need! I just have to confess, that while writing this, I found myself reaching into the pantry for my bag of pumpkin seeds. I’m trying to push the bag away…they are just a wee bit more-ish :) This is the perfect time of year for pumpkin and there are so many delicious, simple ways to prepare it. If you haven’t tried to use fresh pumpkin for cooking before, why not give it a try, as fresh pumpkins are plentiful at the moment. If you do buy it canned, make sure it’s the pure pumpkin version and not the sugar laden pie mix variety. Danger! Pumpkin seeds can be enjoyed in so many ways. You can sprinkle them on salads, add them to sautéed veggies, toss them in to cereals or granola and even add them to your veggie burger mix!

Pumpkin Quinoa Chili

This savory pumpkin recipe from Julia at Julia’s Album www.juliasalbum.com would make a nice, healthy change from your usual chili! http://juliasalbum.com/2015/01/pumpkin-quinoa-chili/ 16030350749_dc6924ef83_c

Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

A grab and go breakfast option from Regina at Leelaliscious www.leelaliscious.com. http://leelalicious.com/pumpkin-breakfast-cookies/ Pumpkin-Cranberry-Breakfast-Cookies

Protein Pumpkin Shake

A healthy, delicious shake from Liz at Love Grows Wild www.lovegrowswild.com http://lovegrowswild.com/2014/09/pumpkin-protein-shake/ Pumpkin-Protein-Shake-final

Simple Pumpkin Soup

And because I can’t seem to end without a soup… this one is delicious from Dana at Minimalist Baker www.minimalistbaker.com. http://minimalistbaker.com/simple-pumpkin-soup/#_a5y_p=2741230 SIMPLE-Pumpkin-Soup-with-Sesame-Kale-Topping-vegan-glutenfree Dana also takes you through step-by-step accompanied by beautiful photos, how to roast your own pumpkin. Happy Halloween! Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe or a special memory of pumpkins at the holidays? Share below. email_signoff1

Ginger: Ginger Galore!

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Ginger

Ginger has been used for thousands of years in Chinese and Indian medicine systems and has long been treasured for its aromatic, culinary and medicinal properties. Ginger actually comes from the root of the ginger plant, hence its gnarly, root-like appearance. This spicy, aromatic herb is probably best known for providing relief from nausea and motion sickness, but more recently it’s being studied for its cancer prevention properties. Ginger contains several components shown to have anti-cancer effects including gingerols and shogaols. Gingerols are a powerful anti-inflammatory and are also responsible for giving ginger its distinctive flavor. Shogaol is also an anti-inflammatory and has been shown to suppress cancer cell invasion in breast cancer cells. Shogaol has also been to shown to promote breast cancer cell death while also protecting healthy cells. Both raw and cooked ginger, appear to provide these benefits against breast cancer.
The powerful anti-inflammatory effects of ginger alone make it an ally in cancer prevention. We know that inflammation can be at the root of many different cancers. Ginger has shown particularly great promise in fighting colon cancer and ovarian cancer.
If possible choose fresh ginger over the dried version, as it contains higher levels of gingerol and anti-inflammatory compounds, not to mention the fresh flavor is fantastic! Ginger can also alleviate the nausea caused by chemotherapy. SPECIAL NOTE: Always ask your doctor about adding in anything new to your diet, especially when going through any type of treatment.

Added Benefits

Ginger contains numerous compounds that have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal and anti-arthritic effects. Amazing! It can also help relieve muscle aches, headaches and migraines. Ginger is also very effective at treating colds, coughs, bronchitis and the flu. This is where a nice cup of warm ginger and honey come in! Ginger has been traditionally used to aid in digestion and is added to many Asian dishes for this purpose. It can also treat a stomach upset and as mentioned before nausea of any kind! You don't have to use very much to receive its beneficial effects. For nausea, ginger tea made by steeping one or two 1/2-inch slices (one 1/2-inch slice equals 2/3 of an ounce) of fresh ginger in a cup of hot water will likely be all you need to settle your stomach. Fresh ginger can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks if it is left unpeeled and will keep for up to six months in the freezer if stored unpeeled. So don’t be put off by that big piece of ginger root and think you won’t be able to use it all. Keep it in the freezer and it will be ready to grate or chop in to tea or any recipe whenever you need it. Ginger can be used in so many ways. It’s great in homemade juice, smoothies, salad dressings, soups, stir fries and so much more!

Honey Ginger Green Beans

Delicious and healthy in so many ways! From Aly at Cooking in Stilettos www.cookinginstilettos.com http://cookinginstilettos.com/honey-ginger-green-beans/ Honey-Ginger-Green-Beans-URL-2

Raw Gingerbread Cookies + Balls

A wee seasonal treat from Amanda at Raw Manda www.rawmanda.com http://rawmanda.com/raw-gingerbread-cookies-balls/?utm_source=community%20board&utm_medium=gingerbread&utm_campaign=pinterest  raw-gingerbread-cookie-balls-easy-recipe-glutenfree-lowfat-vegan

The Anti-Bloat Smoothie

This smoothie from Maryea at Happy Healthy Mama www.happyhealthymama.com really showcases gingers anti-inflammatory properties! http://happyhealthymama.com/2015/07/the-anti-bloat-smoothie.html#_a5y_p=4289208 Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 8.11.06 AM

Carrot and Ginger Soup

I know I’m getting carried away with the soup recipes, but there are just so many fabulous ones, like this one from Marie at Citron Limette www.citronlimette.com, and it IS soup season :) http://citronlimette.com/recipe_archive/soups/carrot-and-ginger-soup/ Carrot-and-Ginger-Soup1 Do you have any fun or unusual ways you include ginger in your life? Share below. email_signoff1

Cabbage: Ravishing in Red

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Cabbage

Let’s face it…cabbage just isn’t sexy! It doesn’t receive all the attention the rest of the cruciferous vegetable family do, but it should! There are three main types of cabbage: green, red and Savoy. Red and green cabbage have a more distinctive taste and crunchy texture, while Savoy is more delicate. Bok choy and Chinese (Napa) cabbage are two other popular varieties. Bok choy has a mild flavor and Chinese cabbage with its pale green pretty ruffled leaves is perfect for salads.
When it comes to research on the outstanding health benefits of cabbage (and there are many) cancer prevention tops the list. Cabbage contains numerous substances with suspected or demonstrated cancer-fighting properties shown to be beneficial in several types of cancer including breast cancer.
Like its other cruciferous friends, cabbage contains indole-3-carbinol (I3C) which converts the stronger more dangerous type of estrogen to a safer, less active form of estrogen. When the stronger form of estrogen is most active in the body, it is more likely to promote tumor growth than the less active form. Research on cell cultures in the lab, have shown that I3C also inhibits growth of existing breast cancer cells. Another cancer fighting component in cabbage is sulforophane, an antioxidant that protects the body from DNA damage by fighting free radicals and also helps the body detoxify carcinogens. Green cabbage is the most commonly eaten variety of cabbage, but I’d love for you to give red cabbage a try if its not already part of your diet. Red cabbage is not only beautiful to look at but it also contains additional health benefits not found in green cabbage. You won’t be disappointed! The red pigment polyphenols called anthocyanins in red cabbage are what make it extra special. These anthoycanins give the red cabbage significantly more protective phytonutrients than green cabbage. They have been shown to have a protective, preventative and therapeutic role in a number of diseases including cancer. Despite having highlighted the red cabbage, the key to gaining the broadest health benefits from cabbage is to include all the different varieties in your diet. Cabbage is an inexpensive, high value vegetable that I hope you learn to love, if you don’t already!

Added Benefits

Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C, offering more than oranges, which are thought to be the richest source. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that reduces free radicals in the body that can cause premature aging and can help with various skin disorders. Cabbage is also a rich source of beta-carotene that promotes good eye health. Cabbage is also a great source of vitamin K and has a huge amount of fiber. It is very low in calories and can aid in weight loss. It’s also been shown to help lower cholesterol, offer heart protection, relief from arthritis and protect bone health.

Sesame Carrot and Red Cabbage Stir Fry

The perfect fall stir-fry from Shundara at Savvy Naturalista www.savynaturalista.com http://www.savynaturalista.com/2013/10/15/sesame-carrot-and-red-cabbage-stir-fry/

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Winter Salad with Red Cabbage, Almonds and Oranges

This is as delicious as it is beautiful! From Kasia at My Full House www.my-full-house.com http://my-full-house.com/zimowa-surowka-z-czerwonej-kapusty-z-pomaranczami-i-migdalami/ 1f3121f8-d8d2-4a42-9c09-1c44c3949059 *Kasia is Danish now living in Poland. Be sure to scroll down to find the English version of the recipe – its worth it! I found this great little article called “Know Your Cabbage” in case you’d like to check some new varieties. From The Kitchn www.thekitchn.com http://www.thekitchn.com/know-your-cabbages-green-red-s-112856 What’s your favorite variety of cabbage? Share below. email_signoff1

Turmeric: Turbo Charged Turmeric

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Turmeric

If you’re a fan of curry, then you’ve most likely had the pleasure of eating turmeric. Turmeric gives curry its vibrant yellow-golden color. A member of the ginger family this spice has been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both Chinese and Indian medicine for centuries to treat a wide variety of conditions. Western scientists are now paying a lot of attention to this amazing compound.
Turmeric and its most important active ingredient, curcumin is one of the most extensively researched spices with hundreds of lab studies published in the last few decades.
A number of laboratory studies on cancer cells have shown that curcumin has a wide variety of anti-cancer effects. It seems to be able to identify potential cancer cells, kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing – LOVE! Studies have been conducted on several types of cancer including breast cancer. Another important way that turmeric and curcumin help prevent cancer is by reducing inflammation in the body. Inflammation can lead to many different diseases including cancer so reducing inflammation is an extremely important factor to maintaining good health. Everyone needs a best friend and Curcumins is Black Pepper! There is a special relationship between curcumin and a compound called piperine, found in the black pepper. Piperine slows down the absorption of curcumin making it more available and effective in the body. The bioavailability of curcumin skyrockets when eaten with black pepper! (I told you it was turbo charged :) Special Note: It is not advised to eat Turmeric while you are undergoing chemotherapy.   The strong antioxidant properties of turmeric can make the chemotherapy less effective. Always ask your doctor about adding in anything new to your diet, especially when going through any type of treatment.

Added Benefits

There are SO many other health benefits of turmeric, but I’ll highlight just a few. Turmeric can help lower cholesterol, offer cardiovascular protection, balance blood pressure, help balance blood sugar, soothe stomach irritations and offer relief of depression. Turmeric has been found to improve liver function and help remove toxins from the body. The anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric also make it your friend when it comes to offering relief from arthritis. Perhaps one of the best-known benefits of turmeric is as a brain boosting spice. Growing evidence suggests that turmeric offers protection against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Studies of the elderly population in India whose diet regularly includes this spice, show very low levels of neurological diseases. Don’t be intimidated by turmeric if you’ve never tried it. Just because it looks exotic to us westerners, doesn’t mean it’s complicated to use. You can buy it in a jar like any other spice or if you want to feel more “at one” with it, you can find it whole at certain markets, and peel and grate it yourself. I do both, depending on how much time I have. The one warning I’ll pass on is that the bold yellow color can stain light surfaces! Living with an all white kitchen, I know all about this :) There are so many ways to include it in your diet. An easy one is to include it in a smoothie, which I do every morning. You can include it in salad dressing or add it to your brown rice or quinoa. It’s also great on sautéed or steamed veggies. Turmeric goes hand-in-hand with lentils, so if you’re a fan of these this is a great place to use it. Having grown up in Scotland and having lived in Birmingham and Manchester, England, eating curry was the norm and I absolutely love it! When I arrive back in the UK for a visit, it’s one of the first things I crave. Luckily there are many Indian restaurants to choose from and there are so many healthy vegetarian dishes available. During the time between college and starting my first “proper job” I lived in Glasgow with my friend Jane. Our across the landing neighbor was an Indian lady who brought us a plate of food almost every night…whatever she had cooked for her own family. Wow – we were so spoiled and so grateful. How nice is that?! I know some of you may not be as into curry as I am, so here are some other ways to cook with turmeric.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Smoked Paprika and Turmeric

A simple, seasonal recipe from Katie at Healthy Seasonal Recipes www.healthyseasonalrecipes.com. http://www.healthyseasonalrecipes.com/roasted-butternut-squash-smoked-paprika-turmeric/ smoky-roasted-butternut-squash-024-682x1024

Cauliflower Steaks with Ginger, Turmeric and Cumin

A fun variation on cauliflower from Emily at The Kitchn www.thekitchn.com. http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-cauliflower-steaks-recipes-from-the-kitchn-195541 2015-03-09-Cauliflower-Steak-1

Red Curry Lentils

OK, I had to include a yummy curried dish :) This one is from Lindsay at Pinch of Yum www.pinchofyum.com. http://pinchofyum.com/red-curry-lentils lentils3 Are you also a curry lover? If you have a favorite place to eat curry or have enjoyed a curry in some exotic place, please share below. We'd love to hear! email_signoff1

Apples: It’s True What They Say…

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Apples

It’s true what they say… an apple a day keeps the doctor away! This old phrase still has merit! Apples are a delicious, thirst-quenching, health promoting sweet treat that are easy to eat “on the go”, no wonder they’re one of the most popular fruits around.
The nutrients are found in both the skin and the flesh of the apple. The real magic of an apples antioxidant powers, come from its phytochemicals and flavonoids.
Quercetin and epicatechin are flavonoids, which contain anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Quercetin has been shown to promote apoptosis (programmed cell death) in breast cancer cells. Anthocyanins are another important flavonoid found in the skin of red apples giving them their rich color and triterpene is found in the apple peel. Triterpene has proven anti-tumor action has been shown to slow breast cancer cell growth. The role of apples in the prevention of several different cancers has been studied for some time with the highest benefit being seen in breast cancer and colon cancer but the most significant discoveries has been its effect on lung cancer. Apples show a capacity to reduce lung cancer and slow its spread if it does develop. The exact reason for this is still not clear, but what a fabulous thing it is!

Added Benefits

Apples are a wealth of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6 and riboflavin, as well as minerals like potassium, manganese and magnesium. They are also a very good source of dietary fiber. The many other health benefits of apples include improved digestion, better eye health, lower cholesterol, balanced blood sugar which helps manage diabetes. They are also helpful in treating anemia, they’re great for your teeth and gums and have been shown to speed up your metabolism and aid with weight loss. A special note here about buying organic versus conventionally grown. Apples are #1 on the 2015 “not so hot” list of the Dirty Dozen.   For those not familiar with this list, please check out the Environmental Working Group. Please try to eat organic apples if possible. Even washing them doesn’t remove all the pesticides. Sadly, they’re not #1 on the list for no reason :( Also when buying apples, be sure to pick the nice firm ones. If they already have wrinkly skin they have already lost most of their health benefits and nutritional value.

Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad

The perfect autumn salad from Tiffany at Crème de la Crumb www.lecremedelacrumb.com.

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Apple and Sweet Potato Bake

A perfect cozy dish for the season and starring another of my fav’s – the sweet potato! Apple and Sweet Potato Bake from Kristin at Live Simply www.livesimply.me http://livesimply.me/2013/11/11/apple-sweet-potato-bake/ applebake

Apple Almond Energy Bites

I just had to include this super quick and easy snack from Melissa at My Whole Food Life www.mywholefoodlife.com. http://mywholefoodlife.com/2015/01/02/apple-almond-energy-bites/#oKb35UAyK00G9M0J.32

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What’s your favorite variety of apple and how do you enjoy them? Share below. email_signoff1

Carrots: Beta Believe It

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Carrots

"Eh... What's up, doc?" Bugs Bunny may have encouraged generations of children to eat carrots, and that’s a truly wonderful thing! Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables in the world, and apparently one of the most recognizable to children. Carrots are probably best known for their rich supply of the antioxidant nutrient that was actually named for them: beta-carotene, which is also what gives them their vibrant color. However, these delicious root vegetables offer so much more, including a wide variety of antioxidants and other health promoting nutrients. The most extensive research conducted on the effect of dietary intake of carrots on our health, is in cardiovascular benefits and anti-cancer benefits.
Eating carrots has been associated with reduced risk for several types of cancer including breast cancer. The high amounts of antioxidant carotenoids in carrots can reduce precancerous cell changes that may lead to the development of breast tumors.
Scientists believe that the alpha-carotene and beta-carotene in carrots reduce oxidative stress and free radicals in the body and therefore, reduce your cancer risk.  It is worth including here that carrots have been found to be very beneficial in reducing the risk of lung cancer (among the top 3 cancers in women) probably due to their extremely high vitamin A content, which is vital to lung health. Taking supplements of beta-carotene and vitamin A are not as beneficial as eating the carotenoid rich foods, nor nearly as delicious :) When possible, opt for organic carrots as conventionally grown carrots are among the most contaminated vegetables in terms of pesticides. If organic isn’t available to you, wash them thoroughly or peel them.

Added Benefits

Carrots are also an excellent dietary source of fiber and contain some vitamin C and B vitamins, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese. As well as their antioxidant properties they have antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory effects. Their many other health benefits include reduced cholesterol, prevention from heart attacks, improved vision and reduced signs of premature aging. They can also boost your immune system, improve digestion, detoxify the body and improve oral health. Whew! Something I learned recently, is if you buy those pretty carrots with the green leafy tops, you should remove the tops before storing them in the refrigerator, because they will cause the carrots to wilt, as they pull moisture from the roots!

Time to cook!

We’ve all enjoyed a crunchy carrot stick with hummus or dip. Another super easy way to prepare them is to steam them. Simply fill the bottom of the steamer with 2 inches of water and bring to a rapid boil. Slice carrots ¼-inch thick and steam for 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. To add a little pizazz, toss the carrots with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and your favorite herbs.

Carrot Apple Ginger Soup

I LOVE this soup recipe from Angela Liddon at Oh She Glows www.ohsheglows.com! In fact, I LOVE just about everything Angela Liddon makes. Her book “Oh She Glows” is one of my absolute fav’s and is one of my go-to gift giving books! http://ohsheglows.com/2011/05/03/carrot-apple-ginger-soup/ IMG_5301

Garlic Roasted Carrots

Colorful and delicious! This recipe for Garlic Roasted Carrots from Chungah at Damn Delicious www.damndelicious.net is simple, quick and easy. http://damndelicious.net/2015/01/17/garlic-roasted-carrots/ IMG_7146edit

Baked Carrot Fries

I just had to include a little healthy fun with this wee treat fromHannah Healy at Healy Eats Real www.healyeatsreal.com! The better fry... give them a try! http://healyeatsreal.com/baked-carrot-fries-paleo-vegan/ IMG_3094-1 Did you grow up watching Bugs Bunny! Did he make you a carrot fan? Share below. email_signoff1