We all know family members or friends that have been touched by cancer. But even though we know that cancer can affect as many as one in every two Americans at some point in their lives, it’s easy to forget to take action now to prevent cancer tomorrow! Even now with new research showing that overweight girls are at increased risk of colorectal cancer decades later with busy schedules, prevention can seem like too much of a bother.
But fighting cancer is most effective when it is started early and for our kids, that means now!
Making changes in your diet to include more cancer preventative foods doesn’t have to mean hours of cooking everything from scratch! Some simple and inexpensive shortcuts can mean delicious, healthy meals with almost nothing more required than just a quick assembly. Below are some ideas to get you started:
1. Microwave a cup of frozen corn, covered by a damp paper towel, for 2 minutes in a medium bowl. Add well-rinsed, canned black beans, and heat for an additional 1-2 minutes. Top with fresh salsa and presto – an instant delicious side for chicken, tofu, lean beef or scrambled eggs!
2. While whole-wheat, quinoa, or buckwheat pasta is cooking, quickly pan-cook fresh salmon in just a bit of olive oil (or use canned salmon). Once pasta is cooked, toss in the salmon, chopped tomatoes, olive oil, red pepper flakes and a bit of Parmesan – a delicious dinner is ready in less than 20 minutes!
3. Salads are so important in providing phytochemicals and antioxidants – both are cancer-preventing compounds! Look for already washed, pre-chopped greens, pre-sliced mushrooms, cut-up carrots, broccoli and peppers, and salad assembly is a breeze! Add just a bit of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon for a light and delicious dressing.
4. And why not serve that salad with a healthy baked potato? Poke a few holes in some well-rinsed, Idaho potatoes and microwave for 5-7 minutes. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 375°. Once potatoes are microwaved, transfer to a baking dish and continue cooking in oven for 15-20 minutes. (You can empty the dishwasher while you’re waiting, get one more chore out of the way!) Slice potatoes lengthwise, top with chopped broccoli, black or kidney beans, chopped tomato, plain non-fat Greek yogurt and a some reduced fat cheddar – yum!
5. Don’t forget the herbs and spices! Phytochemicals and other cancer fighting compounds are hiding in the most common spices and herbs. Adding some cumin, pepper and cilantro to the bean and corn dish above can bring it to a whole new level while upping its health factor. Parsley, turmeric and a dash of cumin will liven the salmon. And salads get a flavor boost with fresh cilantro, fresh chives and a dash of black pepper.
Don’t stop with the 5 tips above. Choose a variety of foods that protect your health?
- Leafy greens – keep frozen kale, spinach and already chopped Swiss chard on hand. Add them to omelets, smoothies or soups, or make a quick stir-fry with onions, those already cut up veggies and your choice of protein like tofu, chicken or beef.
- Avocado – besides adding great flavor and texture to your salad, add them to smoothies or spread some on toast instead of butter or cream cheese. Top with a pinch of red pepper flakes or paprika and you’ve got a delicious breakfast or snack!
- Oatmeal – full of healthy fiber and cholesterol lowering power, oatmeal can be added to pancake batter, made in the microwave or placed overnight in the fridge, for a quick and filling breakfast.
- Berries – Add to smoothies, oatmeal or salads, it’s a great way to satisfy a sweet craving and boost vitamin C in your food.
- Be sure to check out these foods that fight cancer!
Being physically active can boost your overall health and help you fight cancer. Download this Super Crew fitness tracker to motivate your family and kids to get moving! You take care not to let your kids go out in the cold without a hat and gloves, you tell them to wash their hands when they finish using the bathroom, and you put a helmet on them when they go for bike rides or skating. You want to keep them from harm as much as possible, so take steps now to help them grow up cancer-free!
Melissa Halas-Liang is a registered dietitian, nutritionist and certified diabetes educator with a masters in nutrition education. She is founder of SuperKids Nutrition Inc. where she is “saving the world, one healthy food at a time.” Read more about her Super Crew characters and visit her site www.superkidsnutriton.com. Then discover how nutrition can help you live your best health potential through her on-line courses and blog, Melissa’s Healthy Living.
Melissa is AICR’s partner in AICR’s Healthy Kids Today – Prevent Cancer Tomorrow campaign.