Food that doesn’t suck, and also might fight cancer

When I was first diagnosed, I told myself that I would immediately change my diet to more healthful foods.
A month and a half, several boxes of Girl Scout cookies, emptied Ben & Jerry’s containers, numerous frozen taquitos, and bags of Cheetos later, clearly something has gone awry. The tipping point was the frozen bean burrito I ate over the weekend. Sinfully good (stretch your imagination. a little harder now) in moderation, but not exactly something I should be eating any more than once a year- especially not with cancer.

It’s easy to get caught up in your inner monologue. “But I have cancer, ordering out isn’t going to kill me.” “But I have cancer, I deserve a break so pass me the ice cream.”  “But I have cancer, I’m allowed to be lazy!” It’s easy to go from one day saying, “I’m taking a break and eating X” to “I CAN EAT EVERYTHING I WANT ALL THE TIME OMGCANCER.”

For instance, I’ve stopped shopping the perimeter of the grocery store. I used to ONLY shop the perimeter of the grocery store (where the healthy things live) except to grab my dried/canned beans, whole wheat pasta, and the occasional matzo ball mix. Now it’s easier to jaunt down to pick up Riceroni than it is to, you know, chop up veggies and make my own rice stir fry.

This bothers me, and after my nutritionist pointed out that I wasn’t getting enough whole proteins, I need to clean up my plate.

Starting tonight.

Of course it will take some time. My worst habit is going to the grocery store with no real plan for what my meals will be for the week. If I plan it out day by day, I have much healthier foods and don’t waste money. My next grocery run will include a meal plan for the week.

Tonight I went to the grocery store and while aimlessly walking through the aisles, came across the meat section. There was a pork tenderloin staring at me. Now, I grew up Jewish. Around 4th grade, I decided I would become *really* Jewish and stop eating all pork, unless it was “foreign” (G-d forbid I gave up my potstickers!). Mostly this was to get out of eating ham and bacon, which I still dislike, but I still ate scallops and cheeseburgers with gusto. Pork tenderloin is therefore foreign territory as far as cooking, though I’ve heard how versatile it is to cook with. Loaded up with pre-marinaded (hey, I’m not that adventurous!) tenderloin and a package of brussels sprouts, I headed home planning to cook a healthy meal.

Om nom! Stolen from Sarah, healthy food porn extraordinaire.

The brussels sprouts were courtesy of my friend Sarah, who has a phenomenal blog called Life Lived Healthfully (I strongly suggest checking it out!). She has long touted their virtues despite my protests with memory of the slimy globs served in middle school cafeterias. I followed her advice and roasted them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper (and a few shakes of garlic powder and thyme for good measure).

These things are like candy.

I mean really, it sounds nuts. How can a relatively bitter vegetable that looks like miniature cabbage be candy? Oh, my friends, it is. I couldn’t stop popping them in my mouth while waiting for my pork tenderloin to finish cooking (also excellent- and I froze the rest of the massive portion to cook later on!).

Liking brussels sprouts is a really good thing. Why you might ask? I’ll tell you! Lymphoma is not a cancer that is caused by something you did or didn’t do. However, eating darkly colored fruits and vegetables are the one proven dietary habit to maintain that helps battle lymphoma. In particular, cruciferous vegetables are considered extraordinarily helpful. Brussels sprouts are cruciferous, along with cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, rugala, bok choy, and collards. The less you can cook them, the better so the 25 minutes in an oven for brussels sprouts is perfect.

“Eat the rainbow,” my nutritionist said. I definitely need to get a bit more creative while making healthy, nutritious, veggie dense dishes that don’t break the bank.

Any suggestions?


Posted in Personal Stuff
8 comments on “Food that doesn’t suck, and also might fight cancer
  1. Roselvr says:

    Just stopping in to say you’re a wonderful writer

  2. Lisa Robinson-Lazaro says:

    Try this soup:

    Roasted vegetable soup

    1 rutabega, peeled, cut into chunks
    3 or 4 parsnips, peeled, cut up
    3 or 4 carrots, peeled, cut up
    1 sm. butternut squash, peeled, in chunks
    several cloves of garlic
    2-3 leeks, wash well and cut into big slices (white part)
    1 med. onion, peeled and chopped

    Spray a cookie sheet or large roasting pan. Spread veggies evenly on pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Add 2 t. rosemary and salt to taste.

    Roast in 350 degree oven until all vegetables are soft and smell roasted — about 45 minutes.

    Bring 4 C vegetable (or chicken or beef) stock to a boil. Add roasted vegetables. Simmer for 15 minutes or more. Blend soup in blender. Serve hot.

    This soup is amazing! Very cheap to make and freezes really well. If you like brussels sprouts, you will love this. 🙂

    • aemorse says:

      Thank you, Senora! I normally hate parsnips, rutabegas, and carrots but I think I might like them if they’re mushed. Something about the texture of them floating in broth (as my roommate normally does when he makes soups) turns me off- but I like butternut squash soup so this could be right up my ally! Plus I can use my new blender!

  3. Sarah says:

    I’m applauding!

    well. not really. roommate is sleeping. But you get it. Thanks for the kind words. And the laughs, etc. I’m glad you’re finding delicious ways to eat the good stuff.

    cabbage is delicious roasted, too. Just chop in into wedges, and rock out the olive oil/salt/pepper/(thyme/garlic powder) combo.

    now i freaking want brussels sprouts a lot.

  4. Joshua says:

    Coconut Curry:

    Fry vegetables (I usually do whatever I have on hand, but when the stars align and my fridge is full it’s carrots, garlic, onion, mushrooms, purple cabbage, and bok choi) in fish sauce (bok choi and mushrooms last, natch). When veggies are mostly cooked, add one can of coconut milk. Add oyster sauce and more fish sauce until the coconut milk is brown, plus some sriracha to taste. Serve over rice.

    For variety, do the exact same thing with regular vegetable oil instead of fish sauce and replace oyster sauce with peanut butter. Voila! Peanut curry.

    Another good one is make a stew with carrots, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, red lentils, and five+ cloves of garlic (don’t chop them up, they gets super gooey-delicious). Add two teaspoons of cumin, 1 1/2 of salt, and a little bit of ground red pepper. It’s my standard cold-season soup, I usually make a giant pot and eat out of it for a week.

  5. Joshua says:

    *peanut curry variation should have some ground ginger as well.

  6. Helen says:

    How do you feel about beets? I remembered they existed a little while ago, and they fit my personal definition of Excitingly Tasty Vegetable.

    • aemorse says:

      There are few veggies that I actively dislike, but beets (and green peas!) are one of them. I think I’m going to try them out juiced and buried under other tastes because they’re really quite good for you. I just wish they didn’t taste like dirt to me.

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