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


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)