If you’re planning on firing up the grill over Memorial Day Weekend, plan to marinate your food before cooking. Marinating is a centuries-long practice that tenderizes, flavors and preserves vegetables and meat. Some evidence even shows it may reduce formation of cancer-causing substances that are produced when meat is grilled.
Marinating also lets you be creative. Usually, marinades use acidic liquids like lemon juice and vinegar, with herbs, spices, garlic and other condiments such as mustard. But marinades contain a culture’s style – rice wine vinegar and ginger in Asia, mango or lime in Central and Southern America, chiles and yogurt in India and lemon and cinnamon in the Middle East.
Marinade ingredients like these are healthy, fat-free and rich in taste. When you marinate meat, poultry and fish, be sure to discard the marinade in which the meat soaked. If you want, before you add it to the meat, set some aside to use for basting the meat during cooking.
You’ll find curries in Indian restaurants and noodles in Chinese restaurants, but you may not find curried noodles unless there’s a Malaysian place in your neighborhood. If not, we offer AICR’s healthy version of Singapore Noodles, a dish that blends Chinese, Indian and Malay influences in a cancer-fighting dish using whole-grain brown rice noodles.
Like Singapore, an island nation that grew up as a multicultural trading post in the Southeast Asia next door to Indonesia, Singapore Noodles is a mixture of diverse ingredients. Vegetables, rice vermicelli, shrimp, egg and chicken are sautéed with curry powder. Curry itself is yet another mixture of spices ranging from ginger and turmeric to pepper and cardamom. In this recipe, we add a little more turmeric, a mild-tasting spice that is related to ginger. Both are anti-inflammatory spices that studies indicate may help to reduce cancer risk.
The health-protecting spicy red onion, bell peppers, scallions and cabbage are commonly used in Singapore Noodles. Adding egg to stir-fries is also a feature of Malaysian and Indonesian cooking. To include the egg’s bit of saturated fat, we’ve changed the traditional bits of pork (a red meat) in this dish to chicken or turkey breast and used a few small shrimp to produce an authentic flavor. A touch of sesame oil at the end makes it perfect and still lower in fat than you’d find this dish to be in most restaurants.
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At holiday meals we enjoy foods that may not typically be part of our healthy, cancer-preventive plate, like ham. And some holiday foods have religious significance taking a special place on our menu – like eggs or wine.
Both Easter and Passover combine family, religious and cultural traditions full of meaning and comfort, so we savor these special foods and menus. But you can also dress up your plate and menu with seasonal and other holiday foods that add color, nutrition and cancer-fighting substances.
Asparagus: This cheerful bearer of spring adds beauty to your table along with vitamins A, C and K, folate and cancer-fighting fiber to your diet.
Hot Cross Buns: If these are staples at your Easter morning breakfast, this year try substituting whole wheat flour for half of the white flour in your favorite recipe. Whole grains contain many cancer-fighting substances and as foods high in fiber, they help protect against colorectal cancer.
Spring Greens: Look for tender baby greens – spinach, kale, chard – these are packed with the antioxidant vitamins A and C. They’re great as salads, or added to egg dishes, like frittatas, omelets or casseroles. Try our Kale Frittata with Tomato and Basil.
Plate for the Seder
Dark Chocolate: A small amount of this phytochemical rich food can go a long way. Serve a beautiful dessert plate with small chunks of dark chocolate, fresh strawberries and toasted walnuts. Or make chocolate covered matzah for snacks and dessert.
Herbs: A part of the Seder plate, these symbols of spring can add flavor and powerful cancer-fighting substances at any meal. Learn more about herbs and try our Pomegranate Salsa for color and a little bite.
Matzah Ball Soup: So soothing and comforting, you can add a little more color and nutrition with carrots, parsnips, onions and other delicious veggies. You might even try making the matzah balls with whole wheat matzah for more cancer protection.