Category Archives: Nutrition and Breast Cancer

Eggplant Zucchini Parmesan

This recipe was published in Women’s Health magazine.  It provides protein, antioxidants, heart-healthy fats, calcium, fiber, Vitamin C and iron, all in an updated version of the classic dish.


1 large eggplant

2 zucchini

2 T. olive oil, plus more for roasting vegetables

1/4 t. sea salt

1 c. low-fat mozzarella

1 c. freshly grated parmesan

1/4 c. chopped fresh oregano

3/4 c. quinoa

1/4 c. chia seeds

1/4 c. fresh basil

1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

1 jar marinara sauce (24 oz), no salt or added sugar

2 c. fresh spinach

Prehat oven to 400 degrees.  Peel the eggplant and zucchini and slice lengthwise.  Brush both sides with oil and arrange on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and roast until tender, about 12 to 14 minutes.

Combine the mozzarella, half the Parmesan, and oregano.  Separately, mix quinoa, chia seeds, remaining parmesan, 2 T. oil, basil and pepper.

Spread half the marinara in a baking dish.  Layer with half the vegetables, spinach, and cheese-oregano mixture.  Repeat.  Top with quinoa blend and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.


White Turkey Chili

White Turkey Chili

whitie chili

This recipe comes from Ellie Krieger’s cookbook, “So Easy”.  Ellie is a registered dietician, ccokbook author and host of “Healthy Appetite” on the Food Network.  Because she is an RD, she always gives the nutritional information for all her recipes, which I love.  I have made this chili many times, my husband loves it, and it is a nice alternative to the traditional red chili.  And of course, it’s healthy – high in protein and fiber, low in sodium, and delicious.  For me, squeezing the lime wedges into the chili puts it over the top!


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
3 medium poblano peppers (about 4 ounces each), seeded and white ribs removed, finely diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more to taste
1 pound ground white meat turkey
2 (15.5-ounce) cans white beans such as cannelini, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (15.5-ounce) can hominy, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek-style yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Lime wedges

Heat the oil in large pot or Dutch oven over moderate heat. Add the onion, celery, poblanos, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the ground turkey and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink about 2 minutes. Add the white beans, broth and oregano. Cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes.

Add the hominy and salt and more cayenne pepper, to taste, and continue cooking, partially covered, 10 minutes longer. Ladle into individual bowls and top each serving with 1 tablespoon of yogurt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of cilantro. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Makes 6 servings; 1-1/2 c. each
Per Serving:
Calories 320; Total Fat 6 g; (Sat Fat 0.5 g, Mono Fat 2 g, Poly Fat 1 g) ; Protein 31 g; Carb 37 g; Fiber 9 g; Cholesterol 30 mg; Sodium 310 mg


Meatless Protein Options

Whether or not you were on a vegan based diet prior to your breast cancer diagnosis, protein is one of the three essential nutrients (carbohydrates and fats the other two) and is responsible for the repair and rebuilding of all cells and muscle tissue, and even helps to strengthen the immune system. If you have sworn off meat due to your breast cancer diagnosis, or have simply decided to include more vegetarian meals into your diet, here is a list a great plant-based protein sources:
Lentils – 18 g. per cup, cooked; also low in fat and high in fiber

Beans – 13-15 g. per cup of pinto, black or kidney beans; also good source of fiber

Hemp seeds – 10 g. per ounce; also rich in EFAs, including omega-3s

Quinoa – 9 g. per cup; this versatile relative of beets and chard is also gluten-free

Tofu – 9 g. in 4 ounces; I suggest buying organic to avoid tofu from genetically modified soy beans

Nut butters – a couple of tablespoons will provide around 8 g.; choose all natural nut butters, and remember – nut butters are high in fat – albeit a heart healthy fat. Be careful to stick to a serving. Fat is still fat, and will add pounds if too much is eaten.
Veggies – French beans – 13 g. per cup; cooked Green Peas – 9 g. per cup; cooked Broccoli – 6-7 g. per cup; cooked Spinach – 7 g. per cup; cooked Kale – 5 g. in two cups; plus all the fiber, vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidents and immune boosting properties in vegetables!

Sprouted Grain Bread – 5 g. per slice; one sandwich will provide 10 grams of protein.

Sources: IDEA Fitness;

Is Soy Safe After Breast Cancer?

Should you eat soy if you have breast cancer?  A big question for many breast cancer survivors, especially those with hormone-receptor positive tumors, is whether or not it is wise to include soy in their diet. After completing my chemotherapy, I had several people (none of whom had breast cancer) tell me I shouldn’t eat soy. But I like soy and feel it is a healthy component of a balanced diet, and did not want to omit it completely.

Good news – according to some of the most recent studies, soy is most likely safe for breast cancer when eaten in moderation. Three studies involving breast cancer survivors in the United States and China showed that women who conusmed 10/mg or more per day had a 25% lower risk of recurrence. Soy is also linked to a lower rate of heart disease, lower cholesterol, and is an excellent source of protein.

Personally, I stick to whole soy foods and products like soybeans and tofu. And since the majority of soy beans grown in the United States are genetically modified, I always purchase organic soy products.

I urge to read the following blog posted on the American Cancer Society website:
The Bottom Line on Soy and Breast Cancer Risk
This is an excellent explanation of the soy/breast cancer risk issue.

Apple, Cabbage and Carrot Chopped Salad
This recipe is from Eating Well magazine. It is a beautiful twist on a slaw – colorful, nutritious and delicious! Don’t save it just for summer with the burgers and dogs – the hint of cinnamon in the recipe makes it a wonderful fall side dish as well.


2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon orange blossom water or orange juice
2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups shredded carrots (3-4 medium)
1 cup chopped red cabbage
1 large crisp red apple, chopped
1 cup sunflower sprouts
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Lime wedges for serving

Whisk oil, orange blossom water (or orange juice), vinegar, salt, cinnamon and cumin in a large bowl.
Add carrots, cabbage, apple, sunflower sprouts, cilantro and sunflower seeds; toss to combine with the dressing. Season with pepper. Serve with lime wedges, if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 124 calories; 8 g fat (1 g sat, 5 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 13 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 7 g total sugars; 2 g protein; 3 g fiber; 137 mg sodium; 305 mg potassium.


Curried Lentil Stew

After a breast cancer diagnosis, some people decide to eat a more vegetarian-based diet. I found this AMAZING recipe out of the Trader Joe’s Skinny Dish cookbook. With surprisingly few ingredients, it packs huge flavor and is absolutely delish! It’s a super easy, vegetarian one-pot meal full of fiber, protein, Vitamins A and C, calcium and iron. Enjoy!

CTJ_SkinnyDish_COV_Low res_0

Curried Lentil Stew

1 T. olive oil
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. curry powder
2 T. turmeric (I added this for the anti-inflammatory bonus)
3 c. filtered water (I use non-filtered)
2 tomatoes, chopped (I used one BPA-free can of No Salt Added Organic Diced Tomatoes)
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced (preferably organic)
1/2 of a 16-oz bag of kale, collard greens, spinach, or other dark leafy green, ripped into pieces
2  17.6 oz packages of Trader Joes Steamed Lentils, or 5 cups cooked lentils
1 t. salt

In a large pot over medium high heat, saute onion, garlic, curry, and turmeric in olive oil until onion is translucent, about 4 min.
Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, 10 minutes. Serve hot.
Store leftovers in refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Alcohol and Breast Cancer

Women who have breast cancer, or anyone with any type of cancer, should consider keeping alcohol consumption to a minimum, or none at all. Alcohol consumption is one of the few lifestyle activities that has been linked to several different types of cancers. The current guidelines from the American Cancer Society for alcohol consumption are no more than one drink a day for women, and no more than two for men.

The following article is from the Nutrition Action Health Letter, published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

“Alcohol is related to both premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer,” says Walter Willett, chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health. “And the more you drink, the higher your risk.”

Drinking over more of your life also matters. “Women who started drinking earlier in life and then stopped, their risk goes down,” Willett explains. “The highest risk is in women who started consuming alcohol early and continued.”

And it’s not just women who overdo it. “We now see a 17 percent increased risk with only one drink every other day,” notes Willett. “What’s remarkable is how modest that amount is. With colorectal cancer, you don’t see much increase in risk until you get to over two drinks a day.”

Alcohol’s ability to raise blood estrogen levels appears to explain at least part of the increased risk. “But we’re still not entirely sure whether it’s limited to the increase in estrogen or whether there’s more to it than that,” adds Willett.

Could teenage drinking pose a particularly potent threat?

“That’s been a worry from the beginning, because the breast is more sensitive then,” says Willett.

When he and others tracked nearly 6,900 teens aged 13 to 20 for five years, each daily serving of alcohol they consumed was linked to a 50 percent higher risk of benign breast disease. (Some types of benign breast disease are risk factors for cancer.)

“So far we haven’t seen a massive time bomb due to teenage drinking,” says Willett. “But it deserves some more looking.”

Sources: JAMA 306: 1884, 2011; J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 93: 710, 2001; Pediatrics 125: e1081, 2010.

Produce Shopping Guide

Minimizing exposure to pesticides and other harmful chemicals that we put in, on and around our bodies should be a high priority, especially as cancer survivors. While buying organic produce is always a good idea, organic options may not be readily available or affordable to all people.
The Environmental Working Group  has created a shopper’s guide based on the overall pesticide load found in common fruits and vegetables. The “Clean” list contains foods that were tested and found to have the least amount of pesticide residue, and may be perfectly safe to eat if conventionally grown. Conversely, those on the “Dirty” list have higher levels of residual pesticides, and should be purchased as “organic”.

The EWG’s Clean Fifteen – Ok to by non-organic
Sweet Corn
Sweet Peas (frozen)
Sweet Potatoes

The EWG’s Dirty Dozen – should buy organic
Sweet Bell Peppers
Nectarines (imported)
Cherry Tomatoes
Snap Peas (imported)
Hot Peppers
Kale/Collard Greens

If you have a smart phone, you can download the EWG app for free and have convenient access to the list when you are at the grocery store.