Healthy Grilling for the 4th of July

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It’s a holiday weekend and many folks will be firing up the grill. Before you do, read this article from Dr. Joel Fuhrman and your backyard BBQ a healthy (and delicious) one.

Warmer weather and outdoor grilling often go hand-in-hand. Yet, research has shown that turning up the heat can cause potentially cancer-causing substances to form. Here are some ways to grill in the great outdoors while reducing your exposure to harmful substances.

  • Make vegetables your main attraction! If you have a grilling basket, fill it with your favorite sliced vegetables, or make vegetable skewers. Mushrooms, onions, garlic, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and summer squash all combine well, but get creative with your top picks or seasonal harvests. Toss with a little water, balsamic vinegar, and some MatoZest or fresh or dried herbs such as basil, oregano or rosemary for a robust and nutritious dish. Try blending spices with walnuts and a bit of your favorite vinegar and brush it on the veggies frequently while grilling. If you are grilling any starchy vegetables you can soak or marinate them first in a water-vinegar mix to add to their water content to minimize the production of acrylamide, which is a cooking-related carcinogen formed when starches are cooked at high temperatures.1,2 Avoid eating the blackened portions of grilled vegetables, starchy or non-starchy.
  • Keep in mind that meats contain several harmful elements including animal protein, arachidonic acid and heme iron.4-7 When grilled or even cooked at high temperatures, carcinogenic compounds are also formed (see box).  Redefine the burger with bean or veggie burgers! Store-bought burgers often have added salt and concentrated soy protein, but you can make your own nutritious burgers. Try this recipe for Sunny Bean Burgers and toss them on the grill.
  •   As an alternative to burgers, serve up grilled portabella mushrooms (marinated in your favorite vinegar) and serve on a toasted whole grain pita with sliced tomato, raw onion and a pesto dressing made from basil, avocado and pine nuts.
  •   Grill corn on the cob in the husk or make party corn cobs by husking, spraying lightly with a mix of extra-virgin olive oil and water, and sprinkling with your favorite herbs. Place on the grill for 6-10 minutes, rotating frequently to minimize browning.
  •   When it comes to grilling, vegetables, mushroom and bean burgers are the safest choices. But for those who choose to grill and eat meat occasionally:
  • To minimize these harms, limit your portions consistent with a Nutritarian diet: Use only small amounts of meat mixed in with a bean burger and some mushrooms and onion. The phytates in the beans sop up the hydroxyl radicals and excess iron from the meat, reducing its toxicity. Also, anti-cancer foods like onions, garlic and cruciferous vegetables may help the body detoxify some of the HCAs.8-11
  • Completely avoid processed meats, such as hot dogs and sausages. NOCs are potent carcinogens; there is convincing evidence that processed meats (and red meats) are a cause of colorectal cancers, and high intake of processed meat is also associated with heart disease, stroke and diabetes.12-15
Meat-related Carcinogens3
Formed in meats cooked at high temperatures

  • Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) – formed in hamburger, steak, chicken, and fish as a reaction between creatinine amino acids and glucose. Higher temperatures and longer cooking times increases HCA production
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) – formed from flames and smoke; when meat juices drip and flame hits meat
  • N-nitroso compounds (NOCs) – formed in the stomach from nitrate/nitrite preservatives, found in processed meats

References:

  1. Parzefall W: Minireview on the toxicity of dietary acrylamide. Food Chem Toxicol 2008;46:1360-1364.
    2. Hogervorst JG, Baars BJ, Schouten LJ, et al: The carcinogenicity of dietary acrylamide intake: a comparative discussion of epidemiological and experimental animal research. Crit Rev Toxicol 2010;40:485-512.
    3. National Cancer Institute. Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/cooked-meats. Accessed July 1, 2014.
    4. National Cancer Institute: Food Sources of Arachidonic Acid [http://appliedresearch.cancer.gov/diet/foodsources/fatty_acids/table4.html]
    5. de Lorgeril M, Salen P: New insights into the health effects of dietary saturated and omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. BMC Med 2012;10:50.
    6. Kaaks R: Nutrition, insulin, IGF-1 metabolism and cancer risk: a summary of epidemiological evidence. Novartis Found Symp 2004;262:247-260; discussion 260-268.
    7. Brewer GJ: Iron and copper toxicity in diseases of aging, particularly atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Exp Biol Med 2007;232:323-335.
    8. Murray S, Lake BG, Gray S, et al: Effect of cruciferous vegetable consumption on heterocyclic aromatic amine metabolism in man. Carcinogenesis 2001;22:1413-1420.
    9. Walters DG, Young PJ, Agus C, et al: Cruciferous vegetable consumption alters the metabolism of the dietary carcinogen 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) in humans. Carcinogenesis 2004;25:1659-1669.
    10. Kurzawa-Zegota M, Najafzadeh M, Baumgartner A, et al: The protective effect of the flavonoids on food-mutagen-induced DNA damage in peripheral blood lymphocytes from colon cancer patients. Food Chem Toxicol 2012;50:124-129.
    11. Wilson C, Aboyade-Cole A, Newell O, et al: Diallyl sulfide inhibits PhIP-induced DNA strand breaks in normal human breast epithelial cells. Oncol Rep 2007;17:807-811.
    12. Continuous Update Project. Colorectal Cancer Report 2010 Summary: Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Colorectal Cancer.: World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research; 2011.
    13. Chen GC, Lv DB, Pang Z, et al: Red and processed meat consumption and risk of stroke: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Eur J Clin Nutr 2013;67:91-95.
    14. Micha R, Wallace SK, Mozaffarian D: Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Circulation 2010;121:2271-2283.
    15. John EM, Stern MC, Sinha R, et al: Meat Consumption, Cooking Practices, Meat Mutagens, and Risk of Prostate Cancer. Nutr Cancer 2011:1.

Eat Healthy & Thrive

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Plant Powered 4th of July Feast

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The 4th of July usually involves backyard BBQ’s and potluck dinners, but those fun festivities don’t have to center around a slab of meat on the grill. Did you know that grilled meat (any meat – chicken, fish, beef and pork) contains carcinogens?

You can still fire up the grill – just toss veggies on instead! Grilled corn on the cob, eggplant, zucchini, onions, mushrooms and peppers are delicious and don’t forget about the fruit – pineapple, nectarines and peaches are simply amazing. Just load up some skewers with your favorites and toss them on the grill for a few minutes.

These plant strong recipes are definite crowd pleasers:

Spicy Watermelon Salad

This recipe is delicious and refreshing – a perfect summer side dish. The sweet watermelon is enhanced with the flavors of lime and mint and the kick from the chili’s rounds it out perfectly.

*adjust ingredients to taste

  • 5-6 cups Watermelon diced
  • 1-2 *chili peppers finely minced
  • 3-4 mint leaves minced
  • lime juice (1-2 limes)

*You can substitute red pepper flakes or sambal for the chili’s if you prefer.

Cut up watermelon into large chunks. Reserve any juice and mix it with the lime juice, mint and chili peppers. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate.

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White Bean & Wild Rice Veggie Burger

  • 1/2 c uncooked wild rice, rinsed
  • 1 c red onions, finely chopped
  • 1 c celery, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp Mrs. Dash Original no-salt seasoning
  • 1/2 c almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1 1/2 c cooked white beans or
  • 1 (15 ounce can) no-salt-added or low sodium white beans, drained 100% whole grain bread crumbs or old fashioned oats if needed to adjust consistency

Instructions:

Combine rice and 2 cups water (or no-salt-added or low sodium vegetable broth for additional flavor) in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until rice is tender. Drain any excess water.

While rice is cooking, water saute onions, celery and garlic over low flame for 10 minutes or until tender. Stir frequently to prevent burning; cover sporadically to soften vegetables, but uncover to let water steam off. Stir in basil, parsley, and Mrs. Dash.

Finely chop almonds in food processor. Add beans and process until beans are pureed and mixture is well combined. Place in a bowl and stir in wild rice and onion mixture.

Form into burgers. If mixture is too wet, a small amount of whole grain bread crumbs or oats may be added. Place burgers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes, turning after 20 minutes.

 

 

Israeli Couscous Salad

  • 1 1/2 c Israeli couscous
  • 1 c cucumber, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c minced fresh flat leaf parsley 10 to 12 basil leaves, thinly sliced (to taste)
  • 3 ripe nectarines, pitted and diced
  • 1 c halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 to 3 TBSP lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Mixed baby greens, as needed
  • 1/4 c toasted pine nuts or toasted slivered almonds green onions, chopped

Bring 5 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the Israeli couscous and simmer for about 8 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water until the couscous is at room temperature.

In a mixing bowl, combine the couscous with the remaining ingredients except the last two. Toss well to combine.

Line a large serving platter with some greens. Mound the salad over them. Sprinkle the top with the toasted nuts and green onions. Serve at once or cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

 

 

Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream (Dairy Free)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cherries, pitted (fresh or frozen is fine)
  • 15 dates, pitted
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • Pinch sea salt

Directions:
Place all ingredients and only 1 cup cherries into the blender and mix well. Add remaining cherries and pulse a bit to break them up. If you don’t like chunks in your ice cream, blend until smooth.
If you have an ice cream maker, chill the mix so it’s cold and process in the ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze in a large, airtight glass container. No ice cream maker? Just pour into a large, airtight glass container and freeze.
Thaw for about 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

 

 

No Bake Berry Cheesecake (vegan)

* even though this is made with healthy ingredients, it is still calorie dense, so watch your portion size!

The recipe is definitely a labor of love – but it’s perfect for a special occasion.

Crust:

  • 1 c raw nuts (any combination works. I use walnuts, almonds and cashews)
  • 1 c unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 8 Medjool dates, pitted (soaked in water for 5-10 minutes)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

In a food processor, process the nuts and coconut to the consistency of course sand. Add the dates and vanilla and process until combined well.  Press the crust into the bottom of a nonstick spring-form pan or a pie plate. Place the crust in the fridge while you make the filling.

Filling:

  • 2 c macadamia nuts (soaked overnight)
  • 1 package (organic) firm silken tofu (drained)
  • 2 TBSP nutritional yeast
  • 2 TBSP vanilla extract
  • ½ c lemon juice
  • 10 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked in water for 5-10 minutes (blended into a paste with the lemon juice, using a blender or food processor)

The day before you plan on serving, blend the soaked macadamia nuts in a Vitamix or other high powered blender with just enough water to blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a cheesecloth and let drain overnight.

To make the filling:

In a food processor or high powered blender, process the macadamia cheese and the rest of the filling ingredients until smooth. Pour the filling into your crust and place in the freezer for an hour.

Topping:

  • 1 package of defrosted raspberries, strawberries, blueberries or blackberries (or a combination of your favorites)
  • 2 TBSP chia seeds
  • 2 Medjool dates (blended into a paste with a small amount of lemon juice or water)

Mix all ingredients and leave in the fridge for several hours.

Right before serving, pour the berry mixture over the cake.

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