Sunday, November 04, 2007


"You really need to eat more vegetables, organic preferably... I hear broccoli is one of the best anti-cancer vegetables around... have you tried eating broccoli raw or juicing it?" ... That last one came from my good friend, C who tried to get me to chomp on raw florets of broccoli. For the sake of friendship, I managed one raw floret and there and then made up my mind that some vegetables are never destined to end up on my dining plate in its raw form no matter how convincing the proponent may be!

With modern cancer literature stressing the importance of a plant-based diet in the prevention of cancer and to ensure proper nutrition during cancer-treatment, it is no wonder that every other concerned relative, friend and colleague has urged me to eat like a cow, but ahh... here's the thing, few have actually stepped up to share with me in the "joy" of chewing and ruminating on raw greens (even my very supportive hubby has days when one more scrap of green lettuce, just like the final straw on a camel's back, can send him scurrying for cover)!

To get more greens into my system and preferably through an appetizing and enjoyable manner - salad lunches (especially the kind where a single plate covers most of the requirements in the food chain) are the easiest. The following, a simple home-style "Salade Niçoise", is one of my favourites - it has the requisite greens (in the form of romaine lettuce and blanched french beans), carbohydrates (blanched quartered potatoes), protein (quartered hard-boiled eggs and tuna flakes) - and finally the zing of sliced kalamata olives!
The recipe is a bit sketchy in terms of quantities but should be sufficient to serve two persons:
  • cook 4 peeled potatoes in a pot of slightly salted water - bring to a boil, and simmer potatoes for about 10 minutes until tender - drain, cool and quarter the potatoes
  • cook 2 eggs in a pot of water - bring to a boil, cover, remove pot from heat and let stand for about 10 minutes - drain, cool eggs under cold running water - peel eggs and cut into quarters
  • cook a handful of french beans in a pot of salted boiling water (about 1 minute) - remove beans from pot and plunge into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process for a slightly tender yet crunchy texture
  • arrange salad with romaine lettuce leaves, french beans, potatoes, eggs, tuna flakes and sliced kalamata olives
  • drizzle with dressing, which is basically whisking together 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of honey, salt and black pepper, whilst adding in a slow stream less than 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil until emulsified
The following Roast Pumpkin, Tofu and Broccoli Salad is another great salad to try - a mish mash of hot and cold textures containing all the stuff that's supposed to be good for me - pumpkin (containing alpha-beta carotene), broccoli (containing high levels of sulphoraphane, indoles and flavonoids), fresh spinach leaves (a good source of iron and other antioxidants), and egg-tofu (source of protein), and a tasty Asian-style dressing of mirin, fish sauce and lime juice.
  • cut half a small pumpkin (peeled) into bite-sized cubes and toss in a baking dish with a tablespoon of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper - roast in a preheated oven at 180C for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and tender
  • steam or blanch the broccoli florets
  • stir-fry the egg tofu slices in a tablespoon of garlic-infused olive oil until slightly golden brown on both sides
  • arrange salad of spinach leaves, broccoli florets, cubed pumpkin and tofu rounds
  • toss gently with dressing - made from a combination of grated zest and juice of 1 lime, half a tablespoon of fish sauce, half a tablespoon of soy sauce (or Bragg's amino acids), and about 50ml of mirin
  • finish off by sprinkling with toasted sesame seeds
As I 'vege-out' during this period of chemotherapy and recovery (and I meant that both in the literal sense of 'passive relaxation away from stress' and in the culinary sense), I'm beginning to think that being a cow is not such a bad idea after all - Moo-moo-moo!

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