So what do you think of when you hear the word CANCER? I personally think of these cancer cells without boundaries:
Okay, now we know what the enemy looks like. How do we fight it?
One way to fight it is with the ally of a family that can make a difference, the CRUCIFEROUS FAMILY. These are the TRUE family of stars in the vegetable show, the cruciferous vegetables. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy and swiss chard are all members of this family.
Please don’t think I’m discriminating against other vegetables, I love most vegetables to the core. However, the cancer fighting properties of this family of vegetables (see Vegetables Are A Well Kept Secret!!!) certainly put it among the top tier of vegetable families.
The key is to get your family on board with eating this family of vegetables on a regular basis. Below are some tried and true recipes that have received the thumbs up from my family, friends and acquaintances.
Highlight/Tips for Cruciferous Vegetable dishes:
1. ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS WITH CAPERS, WALNUTS AND ANCHOVIES-If you are not a fan of brussels sprouts or if you have members of your family that really don’t groove on vegetables, please try roasting vegetables first. By roasting firm vegetables you release the natural sugars, otherwise known as caramelization. My family was not a fan of vegetables or certainly brussels sprouts until we discovered the sweetness roasting brings out in this super-star vegetable. This particular dish is my go-to every Thanksgiving, either I bring it, or if I’m in charge, I make it as a side. The addition of the shallot, walnut, anchovy, caper vinaigrette to the roasted brussels sprouts makes my mouth water just thinking about it!
2. KALE CAESAR SALAD-Kale is THE super-healthy star of all vegetables BUT it needs a little TLC in cooking preparations to overcome it’s natural bitterness and fibrousness. In preparing the vegetable for this dish, you need to break down some of the fiber in the kale leaves. This is accomplished by soaking it in warm water and then chilling them before serving. The dressing, you will note, is a little more pungent than your normal caesar dressing. That is to further mute the bitterness of the kale leaves. Put it together and you have a new healthy (tasty) classic salad!
3. VIETNAMESE CARAMEL CHICKEN WITH STIR-FRIED BOK CHOY AND CHINESE FIVE-SPICE FREEKAH- The three portions of this dish’s flavors marry together nicely. Just visualize simply sautéed bok choy with the Vietnamese inspired chicken thighs, caramelized in a small amount of brown sugar, ginger and fish sauce over a bed of freekah that is lightly spiced with Chinese Five-Spice. This can qualify as your new carry-in dinner!
4. SWISS CHARD SALSA VERDE-This is a super simple sauce with not only a super-healthy main player, swiss chard, but a delightfully delicate tasting one too! Swiss chard, with the addition of olive oil, lemon zest, vinegar and shallots is surprisingly refreshing and delicate tasting. I chose to serve this with the healthier grass-fed version of beef: marinated grass-fed sirloin steak (see The Grass-Fed vs. Grain-fed Beef Debate: You Are What You Eat, Eats) BUT, it can be a sauce for any type of meat or a side for any entree!
ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS WITH CAPERS, WALNUTS AND ANCHOVIES
*3 lbs. brussels sprouts, quartered or halved
¾ cup olive oil (not extra-virgin because of the high heat)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup walnuts
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 T. grainy mustard
2 T. honey
3 T. capers
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 Tbs. anchovy paste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the brussels sprouts in ¼ cup olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the brussels sprouts on 2 large rimmed baking sheets and roast for 45 minutes, stirring once or twice until they are tender and charred in spots; shift the pans halfway through roasting.
- Spread walnuts in a small cooking container and toast for about 8 minutes, until golden. Let cool, then coarsely chop the nuts.
- In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar with the mustard and honey. Whisk in the extra virgin olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Add capers, garlic, shallots and anchovies; season with salt and pepper. Add the brussels sprouts and toasted walnuts and toss well. Serve right away.
*The brussels sprouts can be halved or quartered depending on their size, just don’t bother quartering really small sprouts.
NOTE: Experiment with your family, some members of our family like the brussels sprouts just roasted with no extras, others like the dressing just “dribbled” on the brussels sprouts, not coated. The good thing about the “dribbled” option is a lesser calorie count per serving.
† Recipe adapted from “Food & Wine” November, 2011
KALE CAESAR SALAD
12 oz. curly kale, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (16 cups)
1 oz. parmesan
3 oz. baguette or french bread, cut into ¾ inch cubes (3 cups)
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
¼ tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. salt
½ cup light olive oil mayonnaise
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. white wine vinegar
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. Dijon mustard
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
1 garlic clove, minced
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- FOR THE SALAD: Place kale in large bowl and over with warm tap water (110 to 115 degrees). Swish kale around to remove grit. Let kale sit in warm water bath for 10 miutes. Remove kale from water and spin dry in salad spinner in multiple batches. Pat leaves dry with paper towels if still wet.
- FOR THE CROUTONS: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Toss all ingredients together in bowl. Bake on rimmed baking sheet until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes. Let croutons cool completely on sheet (cooled croutons can be stored in airtight contain at room temperature for up to 24 hours).
- FOR THE DRESSING: Process mayonnaise, Parmesan, lemon juice, vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, anchovies, garlic, salt, and pepper. With blender running, slowly add oil until emulsified.
- Toss kale with ¾ cup dressing in large bowl. Refrigerate dressed kale for at least 20 minutes or up to 6 hours. Toss parmesan and croutons with dressed kale. Serve, passing remaining ¼ cup dressing at table.
†Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
VIETNAMESE CARAMEL CHICKEN WITH STIR-FRIED BOK CHOY AND
CHINESE FIVE-SPICE FREEKAH
Vietnamese Caramel Chicken:
4 tsp. olive oil**
1 ½ lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 T. minced peeled fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
½ cup unsalted chicken stock, divided
3 T. dark brown sugar
1 T. fish sauce
1 T. fresh lime juice
¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
6 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil; swirl to coat. Add chicken; cook 2 minutes. Turn chicken; add ginger, garlic and shallot. Cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.
- Combine ¼ cup stock, sugar, and next 5 ingredients (through red pepper) in a bowl. Add to pan; cook 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 7 minutes or until sauce has thickened and chicken is done. Stir in green onions.
- Place on a bed of Chinese 5 spice Freekah (see below).
† Recipe adapted from Cooking Light
**Do not use extra virgin olive oil, the smoke point is much lower than regular olive oil.
Stir-Fried Bok Choy
1 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
8 cups chopped fresh bok choy
2 T. reduced-sodium, soy sauce
Salt and ground black pepper
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.
- Add ginger and garlic and cook 1 minute.
- Add bok choy amd soy sauce cook 3 -5 minutes, until greens are wilted and stalks are crisp-tender.
- Season to taste, with salt and pepper.
† Adapted from Food Network
Chinese Five-Spice Freekah:
1 ¾ cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup Freekah
1 tsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
½ tsp. Chinese 5 spice
1 T. black sesame seed
1 tsp. fish sauce
- Boil stock and add Freekah, return to simmer for 20 minutes with lid on. When Freekah is totally absorbed with all of the stock, take Freekah off the burner.
- Saute shallot and garlic in olive oil until soft, then add in spice, sesame seeds, fish sauce and absorbed Freekah.
- Keep Freekah with spices on the burner on low heat and stir constantly for 5 minutes.
SWISS CHARD SALSA VERDE
½ small bunch Swiss chard, preferably red or rainbow
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
¾ cup (or more) extra-virgin olive oil
2 T. finely chopped fresh chives (or 1 T. dried chives)
1 T. (or more) red wine vinegar
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
Freshly ground pepper
- Remove ribs and stems from chard leaves and reserve.
- Chop leaves (you should have about 1 3/4); thinly slice ribs and stems crosswise.
- Combine chard leaves and ribs and stems, shallot, oil, chives, vinegar and lemon zest in a medium bow.
- Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Add more vinegar or oil, if desired.
- Ladle over dish of your choice. This sauce marries terrifically with grass-fed steak.
** Large leaf spinach or kale can also be used.
† Recipe from BonAppetit