It's October. The colors of fall are beginning to appear. But in October we are also flooded with a sea of pink. The pink that shows our support for breast cancer awareness.
I'm a firm believer that if we're really going to do something to help tackle breast cancer, we need to talk prevention. We need to be looking at the kind of foods, drinks and products we are putting in and on our bodies on a regular basis. So, if you would, please put aside the bake sales full of sugar and processed, chemically-filled ingredients. Please stop the boozing at bars (yes it's a thing in my town now) as a way to raise money for "the cure" when the very act of consuming alcoholic beverages can significantly increase a women's chance of getting breast cancer. (Click here for more info on alcohol and breast cancer risk).
I know people often have the best intentions and raising money for the cause is very important. But the last thing we need to do is to contribute to the problem by confusing the public.
We need to raise awareness about the need for PREVENTION. Not just the CURE.
According to research from the American Cancer Society, dietary factors play a significant role in cancer risk. At least one-third of annual cancer deaths in the United States are due to dietary factors. Up to 80 percent of cancers, particularly of the large bowel, breast, and prostate are diet related. That's a huge number!
For that reason, the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine put together a campaign, and they want people to consider swapping their pink ribbon for orange to show support for dietary prevention. Research suggests that consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids (those with orange and red hues) can actually help reduce your risk. For more info on this campaign click here.
So, what are some other steps you can take right now to help reduce your risk?
One thing, is to remove as much heavily processed and chemically altered foods from your diet as possible. That may automatically help to reduce the amount of sugar and artificial and nutritionally inadequate calories you will be ingesting. In addition, when much of the diet consists largely of processed foods, it can lead to being overweight and obese, a significant factor in developing cancer. For a great guide on how to minimize processed foods in your diet check out this from 100 days of Real Food.
Next, build up your arsenal of plant-based foods in the pantry and fridge (while minimizing your intake of red meat and dairy products, which have both been linked to increase cancer risk). This blog largely began as a way to show you how to do just that.
Unfortunately, there are many chemicals in our everyday beauty and household cleaning products that can be harmful to your health and could be contributing to your risk of getting breast cancer. Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, a science based advocacy organization whose purpose is to help prevent breast cancer by reducing our exposure to chemicals and radiation, has put together some extremely valuable resources to help make a real difference through prevention. I've also shared some great info related to chemicals in makeup and beauty products on my Facebook page this week. No pink fluff here!
Now...onto the good stuff.
Here is a great salad full all those cancer fighting nutrients I was talking about! Butternut squash, brussels sprouts, apples and cranberries come together in a pasta salad tossed with a sweet and tangy honey apple cider vinegar. Sounds enticing doesn't it?
And what is fregola you ask? Good question.
Fregola are tiny little round pellets of Italian pasta made from semolina wheat. They're a nutty and more flavorful alternative to pasta AND have more fiber and nutrients than regular white pasta. They go very well with all kinds of veggies. You can find it in most grocery stores and Italian specialty markets. If you can't find fregola, Israeli couscous is a good substitute.
The salad makes a great appetizer or side dish for the holidays too. Looks so pretty when presented on the table.
To Make the Honey Cider Dressing:
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp grainy mustard (I use Maille Old Style mustard) *please use a good quality mustard as this will make a difference in the flavor of your dressing
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp coarse salt
pinch of pepper
Directions: Whisk (or shake) together all ingredients in a bowl or ball jar.
Autumn Fregola Salad
- 1 lb fregola
- 2 cups butternut squash cut into one inch cubes use pre-cut squash to save time
- 2 cups baby brussels sprouts halved or regular size (quartered)
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1 golden delicious apple cut into one inch cubes
- few pinches of coriander
- fresh nutmeg
- coarse salt
- olive oil cooking spray
- generous pinch of pepper
- honey cider dressing see above
- Preheat oven to 450 F.
- In a large pot of boiling water, cook the fregola about 8-10 min until tender.
- Drain and set aside in a large serving bowl to cool.
- On a separate baking sheet spay the butternut squash and brussel sprouts with cooking spray then toss together with the salt, pepper, a pinch of coriander and a little freshly grated nutmeg.
- Roast veggies until golden and fork tender about 15 min.
- Add the veggies to the fregola and combine with the dressing.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Option* add in some fresh chopped walnuts for crunch or freshly chopped herbs.