Want to know what sunscreen to buy?

With the beautiful summer weather we have been having it is time to talk sunscreen and sun protection. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. and cases of melanoma have increased 300% in the last 35 years. Unfortunately many sunscreens contain toxic chemicals that can contribute to cancer. You may reduce your risk of some skin cancers but you potentially increase your risk of other cancers, so it is important to know what to buy. Sun exposure is also responsible for 80% of facial aging signs like wrinkles, dryness, and age spots. Even if you don't want to think about cancer, I am sure nobody wants to look older. :)

Here are some tips from the Environmental Working Group to follow when you are out in the sun.

  • Wear a hat, or shirt.
  • Head for the shade.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV radiation.
  • Avoid the midday sun.
  • Don’t get burned.
  • Wear sunscreen. Reapply every 2 hours.

Tip for men: Wear sunscreen! In 2012 twice as many men died from skin cancer as women. Turns out men tend not to practice safe sun or wear sunscreen.

Tips on sunscreens

LOOK FOR:

  • Mineral-based sunscreens with Zinc oxide, Avobenzone or Mexoryl SX
  • Cream sunscreen
  • Broad spectrum protection with strong UVA protection
  • Water resistant
  • SPF 15-50

STAY AWAY FROM:

  • Spray sunscreens — they contain harmful inhalants
  • SPF 50 and above — high SPF claims are misleading
  • Sunscreens containing Oxybenzone, Vitamin A (Retinyl palmitate), added insect repellent
  • Tanning oils

Looking for sunscreen? Here are a few that I like. You can find all of these at Whole Foods and many more at the EWG sun safety shop. You can also see how your sunscreen rates at Skin Deep.

I use this on my face and sometimes mix it with my daily moisturizer.

I use this on my face and sometimes mix it with my daily moisturizer.

This is a good all-over mineral sunscreen.

This is a good all-over mineral sunscreen.

This is a good sunscreen when you are looking for something with less of the white zinc oxide but it also doesn't rate as well. 

This is a good sunscreen when you are looking for something with less of the white zinc oxide but it also doesn't rate as well. 

 

 

Anti-cancer tip: Learn about the Clean 15

The Clean 15 — Fifteen fruits and vegetables that contain the smallest pesticide residues

The Clean 15 — Fifteen fruits and vegetables that contain the smallest pesticide residues

Good news! Here are the fifteen fruits and vegetables that contain the smallest amounts of pesticide residues as tested by the Environmental Working Group. That means you don't have to be as concerned about buying organic with these fifteen. Fortunately this group includes some of my desert island foods — mangoes and avocados. Yay!

I should point out that they are referring to sweet corn — corn-on-the-cob or frozen corn but be sure and buy organic corn meal or other corn products like tortillas or tortilla chips since non-organic corn products are often made with GMO corn.

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet peas (frozen)
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honeydew melon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower

 

Yes this is what I ate on New Years Eve... and it was really good.

Rib eye steak aux poivres

Rib eye steak aux poivres

Me and the crazy big steak and my friend's hands taking a photo of the crazy big steak

Me and the crazy big steak and my friend's hands taking a photo of the crazy big steak

This year on new year's eve we went to Abe and Louie's steak house for a late lunch. We do this once every year or two, go to a steak house that is. When I am there I surprise everyone by ordering a steak. It comes as a shock but when at a steak house I prefer to eat what they do well. Steak. Let me be clear though I did not eat this whole steak. It was obscenely huge and a little gross to be honest but it was delicious. I ate a small portion maybe 3" x 3" and we took the rest home for Furman to eat the next day. 

Normally I try to eat mostly vegetarian. Many of my meals are entirely plant-based and I am perfectly happy eating this way. I don't crave steak or bacon or chicken wings. I do eat chicken and fish occasionally with Furman so that we can happily eat together and I eat steak about once a year. Though I was completely vegetarian when we met, it doesn't really work for me to be entirely vegetarian now. I used to feel guilty that I was eating fish and poultry and being responsible for their deaths but I figure if Furman is eating less meat then we are equalling things out. I didn't really think about it in terms of a health issue back then.

So what got me to become a vegetarian? 

I have been a practicing Buddhist for 30 years and for 20+ years I happily ate meat. Many buddhists are vegetarian because one of the basic tenets is to not cause harm to self or other. It had been a struggle for me ethically to continue eating meat and fish when it was causing harm to them and the planet (The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined), but I just couldn't imagine giving them up... until I went to Spirit Rock, a beautiful retreat center in Northern California. There I discovered a world of delicious, vegetarian food with the freshest organic vegetables. The first night they served a meal of polenta with eggplant ratatouille, arugula salad and homemade rosemary focaccia. I saw the light. 

That was 8 years ago. Now many people have discovered that vegetables are delicious and vegetarian and plant-based food can be both delicious and thoroughly satisfying. In training to become an Integrative Nutrition health coach I also discovered that there are so many health benefits to eating a plant-based diet or at least eating a lot less meat, poultry and seafood.   

Here are some things to think about: 

1.  Meat cooked at temperatures above 350 degrees, that's roasted, pan-fried, grilled and baked contain "cancer-producing substances" called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). HCAs appear to both initiate and promote cancer growth. The Long Island Breast Cancer Study found that women who eat more grilled, barbecued and smoked meat over their lifetime had a 47% higher rate of breast cancer.1 Researchers think this is a result of the HCA carcinogens present in cooked meat. 

2.  A six-year study of 30,000 Californians found that higher meat consumption was associated with a higher risk of colon cancer. People who ate red meat at least once a week had DOUBLE the risk of developing colon cancer and those that ate chicken or fish at least once a week TRIPLED their risk of colon cancer.2

3.  According to the NIH-AARP study of 545,000 men and women aged 50-71 on meat consumption and mortality, meat consumption is associated with increased risk of dying from cancer, dying from heart disease and dying prematurely in general.3 This after controlling for diet and lifestyle factors.

So what is my point here? I strongly recommend eating a plant-based diet as much as you can. Try adding a few meatless meals to your week, but if you are going to eat steak, eat the best quality organic grass-fed meat you can get, don't eat a lot and enjoy it when you do. :)

For more info check out the book How Not to Die by Michael Greger MD and Gene Stone

1. Steck SE, Gaudet MM, Eng AM, et al. Cooked meat and risk of breast cancer — lifetime versus dietary intake. Epidemiology. 2007;18(3):373-82.
2. Singh PN, Fraser GE. Dietary risk factors for colon cancer in low-risk population. Am J Epidemiology1998;148(8);761-74.
3. Sinha R, Cross AJ, Graubard BI, Leitzman MF, Schatzkin A. Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people. Arch. Intern Med.2009;169(6):562-71.

8 tips for raising healthy kids that grow into healthy adults

This adorable little girl reminds me of my niece Hannah, back in the day.

This adorable little girl reminds me of my niece Hannah, back in the day.

As many of you know I do not have children but I have do have a niece and nephew and many friends with kids. I know how hard it is to keep your kids healthy when they are in day care or at school and you are working full time. I think about this a lot because I see how our habits and diets from childhood tend to carry on into adulthood. If you didn’t eat vegetables as a child chances are you won’t as an adult. People who eat poorly as children are much more likely to develop serious illnesses and cancer later in life — not just because the habits persist but because most illnesses, cancer included, take years to develop.

Many of the following tips are from Luise Vindahl and David Frankiel of Green Kitchen Stories, my favorite foodie blog. They seem to be wonder parents to their two beautiful children so I couldn’t resist sharing their ideas.

1. Breast feed for as long as possible.

Breast milk is the ultimate wonder food. It improves immunity and creates a healthy microbiome which prevents intestinal issues later in life. People who were not breastfed as children are far more apt to suffer from intestinal issues as adults. Cow’s milk is no substitute for human milk especially since it often contains hormones and antibiotics. Many baby formula's contain corn syrup, GMO vegetable oils and MSG so be sure to read the label.=

2. Don’t let your kids eat sugar, candy, cookies or ice cream until they are two. 

It starts them off on a healthy track and keeps their moods in check. Remember sugar is highly addictive so if they get on a sugar binge when they are young it will be hard to get them to eat vegetables and other healthy things. Get your friends and family on board with this early. There is plenty of time for sugar later. 

3. Start kids eating vegetables when they are very young. 

Mix sweet vegetables like sweet potatoe and butternut squash with green vegetables so they are more appealing. Green vegetables are bitter to the untrained palette. Generally the more bitter they are the higher in phytontrients and antioxidants they are — the better they are for you. The taste of green vegetables takes some getting used to because historically, bitter foods were often poisonous and sweet foods were safe, so it is a natural response for children to resist bitter tastes. So how do you get around that? Sweeten them up and try, try again. Some children need to try a green vegetable as many as 10 times before it tastes good to them but repetition does work. I even heard one pediatrician recommend putting honey on green vegetables so that kids would like them. You can reduce the honey as they start to like them or maybe they'll like a green smoothie sweetened with banana.

4. Have healthy snack options with you. 

Always have healthy snack options or treats with you if you are out somewhere. (Carrots, almonds, hard boiled eggs, fruit, homemade power bars.) That way you can avoid giving in to candy and junk food. (FYI, gold fish crackers are not healthy.)

5. Limit dairy and gluten when they are young. 

Wheat and dairy are hard for many people to digest and this is especially true for toddlers. 70% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant so your kids may be too.

6. Don’t make separate meals for your kids. 

If you start them eating your food at a young age and limit their sugar and junk food intake you should be able to keep that going as they get older. Also if kids think they have another option like pasta or chicken nuggets they will always take it. In my family our only other alternative was a peanut butter sandwich (no jelly) which my sister and I didn't like, so we were stuck with whatever was on the table. As painful as that was at times I am so thankful that I was exposed to so much good and healthy food at a young age.

7. Be a good role model. 

Kids want to do what their parents do so if they see you are eating junk food or sweets they will want to as well. Make a family dinner a priority so you are all eating the same food and your children see you eating vegetables.

8. Let them walk. 

Children should be able to walk a mile for every year old they are so a 3-year old should be able to walk 3 miles. I kid you not. It is so strange these days how people push 4 and 5 year-old kids around in strollers. This is completely unnecessary if you just get them walking early. Maybe it’s partly our weird affluent society where we drive everywhere so we can’t imagine our kids walking anywhere either. In my neighborhood people have strollers for 3 kids with the baby, 2-year old and 4-year old. Seriously do you think our mothers pushed around 4-year olds in strollers? We are doing our children a great disservice, turning them into stroller potatoes and just creating headaches for ourselves. If you spend anytime in less affluent neighborhoods you’ll notice that toddlers are all walking with their parents perfectly well — hardly any strollers.

Anti-Cancer tip #1: Eat your brussel sprouts

Brussel sprouts_SM.jpg

Newsflash!! Furman likes Brussel sprouts! I kid you not. After 7 years of failed attempts Furman finally announced that he liked the Brussel sprouts he had at Blue Dragon Gastropub in Boston. This proves the adage that people need to try eating many vegetables 8-10 times to acquire a taste for them. This is especially true for children. I know it’s a pain to try and make kids do anything but it will really help them in the long run. I have to warn you they don't have them on the menu any more at Blue Dragon but I love Joanne Chang's version too.

On another note, Brussel sprouts and all the cruciferous vegetables were originally cultivated for their medicinal properties. Turns out they are really good for you. People with a diet high in cruciferous vegetables have a much lower risk of developing different cancers including breast cancer, bladder cancer and prostate cancer. In one study of almost 48,000 health professionals people who ate more than 5 servings of cruciferous vegetables a week (mostly broccoli and cabbage) had half the risk of developing bladder cancer than those who did not. In a study of 5000 Swedish women, those who ate one or more servings of cruciferous vegetables a day were linked to a 40% drop in the risk of developing breast cancer.

Cruciferous vegetables contain the largest variety of phytochemical compounds with anticancer activity of all edible plants. They contain several polyphenols and have high concentrations of glucosinolates. It is very complicated to explain how these compounds work, at least for me, but apparently the glucosinolates help other compounds in our cells to convert into sulfofurane which is a powerful anti-cancer molecule. They help slow the development of cancer by preventing carcinogenic substances from causing damage to cells. And the stars of the show are Brussel sprouts with 237 mg/100 grams. Phew! I hope you got that because I will have forgotten this explanation by tomorrow.

And now for the good stuff. The recipes. Click on the photos below.

The Buttery's Kale and Brussel Sprout Salad

For study references see Foods to Fight Cancer by Richard Béliveau, PhD (Cancer researcher)

I'm back with a new focus — The Anti-Cancer Approach to Life

It has been a busy few months but I am finally back to my Green Tigress blog. A lot has happened. I redesigned my website! Furman and I moved into a new place, which was not the easiest thing to do merging two households of stuff with two very stubborn people, although I think he is more stubborn than I am. :) Two good friends were diagnosed with cancer and heart-breakingly another dear friend passed away from colon cancer. This has reignited the fire in me to focus more on what we can do to prevent cancer.

Most of us feel like it is all hopeless, that there is nothing that we can do. Recently I was reminded of Joe Jackson's song "Cancer." Remember that from the early '80s? (Those of you who are that old. :) "Everything gives you cancer. There's no cure and there's no answer. Everything gives you cancer." There is certainly some truth in that but there are also a lot of things we can start to do to improve our chances.

For instance, did you know that there is an Environmental Working Group app for finding out if your shampoo has cancer-causing ingredients?

That as of January 2015 you can now buy furniture that is not covered in carcinogenic flame-retardants?

That purple beets have cancer-fighting phytonutrients called betalains that have been shown to have positive effects on reducing prostate cancer?

Helping your body to heal itself and fight cancer takes a holistic effort —

  • Reducing toxins from our home and personal care products
  • Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds
  • Reducing stress
  • Daily movement
  • Cultivating joy in our life with friends and family

These are a few of things that I am going to be focusing on. And as a thank you gift, when you sign up for my newsletter I will send you a pdf of my new Soup recipe book — Delicious soup recipes from the Anti-Cancer Approach to Life. All Furman approved!

Soup recipes from the Anti-Cancer Approach to Life

Soup recipes from the Anti-Cancer Approach to Life

Which green vegetable has almost the same amount of protein per calorie as steak?

I know it is surprising, but the answer is broccoli. I kid you not.

According to the USDA there are 9.04 grams/in 100 calories of grilled steak and 8.4 grams/in 100 calories broccoli. So if you want to compare serving sizes, 1 cup of chopped broccoli has the same amount of protein as a 6 oz piece of steak. 

So how much protein do you really need?

For some reason, probably due to the stellar marketing job of the meat industry and the popularity of the Paleo movement, most people think that protein is the most important food group and that you get it by eating meat, poultry, fish and eggs. But how much do we really need? For an adult, a good number to shoot for is around 8-10% of total calories. If you eat 2000 calories a day that would be 160 calories. For most people that is more than enough. (Another thing to consider is that when we eat animal protein our body increases it’s production of the hormone Insulin Growth Factor–1 (IGF-1) which when elevated may promote the spread of cancer cells.1-4  (It’s kind of like giving the cancer cells steroids. Also there have been several large studies that show that eating more than 12% of your daily calories from animal protein encourages cancer tumor growth.)

So how much does that amount to? And how do you get enough protein eating a whole-food, plant-based diet? As a mostly vegetarian, wannabe plant-based eater, the most common thing people ask me is “How do you get enough protein?” Many people are surprised to hear that if you eat a variety of whole grains, beans, vegetables, nuts and seeds you will easily get enough protein without eating any animal products. Yes vegetables have protein. Broccoli as I mentioned has a lot of protein. Even asparagus has 3 grams/100 calories. And you don’t have to worry about the old notion of food combining to get a complete protein. Our body is able to receive all the essential amino acids it needs from a varied plant-based diet.

As an example I entered all the food that I ate the other day into supertracker.usda.gov and I exceeded the necessary protein for the day. 

Here is what I ate.

Breakfast: Blueberries, Muesli (oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, raisins, flax seeds) Almond milk

Lunch: A big salad with mixed greens, broccoli, green beans, edamame, corn, and avocado, balsamic vinaigrette, sesame crackers

Dinner: Tofu and bok choy with brown rice and eggplant.

Snack: Almonds

Surprising isn’t it? So the next time you think about having a meal without meat you don’t have to worry about getting enough protein.

1. Chitnis MM, Yuen JS, Protheroe AS, et al: The type 1 insulin-like growth factor receptor pathway. Clin Cancer Res 2008;14:6364-6370.

2. Werner H, Bruchim I: The insulin-like growth factor-I receptor as an oncogene. Arch Physiol Biochem 2009;115:58-71.

3. Davies M, Gupta S, Goldspink G, et al: The insulin-like growth factor system and colorectal cancer: clinical and experimental evidence. Int J Colorectal Dis 2006;21:201-208.

4. Sandhu MS, Dunger DB, Giovannucci EL: Insulin, insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), IGF binding proteins, their biologic interactions, and colorectal cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 2002;94:972-980.

So if you are thinking that seems like a lot of broccoli, here's a great recipe for Thai Green Curry Broccoli soupThis more than passed the Furman test too ... because it is delicious. :)

Thai Green Curry Broccoli Soup

Thai Green Curry Broccoli Soup